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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January 31, 2013

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland's president, 'Let banks go bankrupt'

As Iceland's President, Olafur does speak for Iceland, though he has little formal power. Most power resides with the Prime Minister. Iceland's current unemployment rate is 4.8%. Eat your heart out almost everyone else. Australia is 5.4%. Canada is 7.1% and America's rate is too fudged to be worth mentioning. Obama's statistics are about as believable as Stalin's. You will get no honesty from the Left unless it suits them.


The latest media lie

MSNBC edited tape to make Newtown residents look like “heckling gun nuts”

Twitchy.com has been all over the story of NBC’s latest… I was about to say “latest ethical lapse,” but that would imply they have any ethics to begin with. Let’s just call it the latest example of NBC lying so egregiously, even a few other liberal media outlets are calling them out on it. Twitchy deserves our thanks for catching the lie and presenting the truth.

And now the cover-up begins at NBC. Erik Wemple at WaPo has the latest:
MSNBC is reviewing its portrayal of the testimony of Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, at a legislative hearing in Hartford on Monday. The 33-second video clip in question… features a graphics box saying “Mocked and Loaded. Sandy Hook Victim’s Father Heckled by Gun Rights Advocates.” “We’re reviewing the video in question,” says an MSNBC source.

Smart move, considering that Heslin wasn’t, in fact, heckled. Audience members merely answered a challenge that Heslin posed from the microphone.

Which isn’t stopping “news” outlets like BuzzFeed and HuffPo from continuing to spread the heckling story, because it confirms their biases. It’s too good to check.

So now MSNBC will “review” it, and in a few days they’ll put out a press release saying they’ve taken measures to ensure it won’t happen again, and that’ll be it. If somebody gets fired over it, they won’t tell us who. It’ll be just like their completely opaque response to the deceptively edited George Zimmerman 911 call.

And they’ll continue to do this kind of crap, because they have no incentive to stop. The left will continue to spread lies and disinformation, and it’ll be passed along by willing dupes who can’t or won’t look past their ignorance and lazy prejudices.

All we can do to fight this is tell the truth. Push back. Every day.



The Demonization of Liberty

Individuals enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces must swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” But what happens when the only crime perpetrated by the “enemy” is supporting and defending the Constitution?

Such is the dilemma facing future military officers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — who are being taught to view freedom-loving Americans as violent, racist terrorists-in-waiting. As part of the federal government’s ongoing jihad against common-sense fiscal conservatism and constitutionally limited government, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has issued a new report making some dangerously irrational generalizations about the “far-right.”

Entitled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” the West Point report provides a stunningly one-sided demonization of conservative ideology — and simultaneous embrace of “progressive” liberal thought.

Written by Dr. Arie Perliger, director of terrorism studies at the CTC, the report warns of the rising militancy of so-called “anti-federalists” — or Americans who embrace radical notions like “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.” In other words, anyone expressing support for the fundamental democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded could be a terrorist.

According to Perliger, these “anti-federalists” are dangerous because they “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.”

Wait — government isn’t corrupt? And warrantless wiretaps, forced participation in a Social Security Ponzi scheme and Barack Obama’s health insurance mandate aren’t intrusions on our liberties?

Of course they are — but apparently exercising one’s First Amendment freedom to speak out against these assaults on liberty is a one-way ticket to a government watch list. However, advocating vociferously in support of these anti-American policies is completely permissible.

“While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive-oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo,” the report claims. “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”

In case those racial undertones were too subtle, Perliger’s report proceeds to put a much finer point on it.

“While far-right groups’ ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners, the liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power,” he writes.

Translation? “Extreme right wingers” aren’t just terrorists, they’re racist terrorists.

This shameful playing of the race card is nothing new. Who can forget the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s insidious “See Something, Say Something” video — a disgusting bit of race-baiting propaganda which portrayed white men in hoodies as menacing figures intent on attacking African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos.

Like so many myths propagated by the far left — i.e., “gun control reduces violence,” “tax cuts must be paid for” or “government spending stimulates the economy” — the whole “right-wing radical” myth is easily debunked.

In fact, according to a DHS-funded study released last year by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism, America’s militant left is far more likely to engage in acts of violence than its militant right. According to the report — entitled “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970-2008” — the overwhelming majority of domestic terrorist attacks in America have been “extreme left-wing” in their ideological origins (364) followed closely by single-issue groups whose ideologies were classified as “other” (337).

By comparison, “extreme right-wing” groups accounted for far fewer (58) attacks.

In other words, it’s not tea partiers we need to watch out for, it’s people like Obama’s terrorist buddy Bill Ayers.

As the Obama administration ramps up its assault on our liberties, we must not forget that these intrusions affect Americans of all creeds and colors. It’s also important to remember that taking a firm stand against these intrusions doesn’t make one a radical, a right-winger or a racist — just an American exercising your right to free speech.

This is why West Point must immediately fire Perliger — and publicly repudiate his reckless statements.



The Conservative Temperament and libertarianism

The conservative temperament means accepting the constraints imposed by the current state of the world. Social change is possible, but activists need to acknowledge human nature if they are going to succeed. A plan that involves dissolving the nuclear family or eliminating humanity's selfish instincts fights against millions of years of evolution. It's bound to fail.

Conservative philosophers understand the path-dependency of human culture and the cost of working against it. You will never find a conservative activist calling for a 10 day week or eliminating religion, even among the atheists! Rather, conservatives push for the development of social institutions that work harmoniously with human nature to increase our well-being, including market economies and property rights.

This is why conservatives are not social liberals. All human societies with some amount of social equality have settled on the traditional nuclear or extended family as its smallest unit of organization. Logic does not prevent an enterprising young person from doing a little erotic theorizing to invent novel romantic arrangements, like polyamory. But the conservative's private life isn't some puzzle to be optimized. He knows that people are happiest in long-term monogamous relationships. He knows that being married is the best way to live longer, to stay out of poverty and prison, and to provide a healthy home for his children.

The conservative temperament holds some influence over me. It makes me careful to design my policy recommendations to sell to real human beings, with all their limitations and biases, and not logical robots. But I am too much a libertarian to use the law to support social arrangements that I think are good for people, as conservatives often do. I believe in the primacy of individual liberty as the basis of human dignity. But conservative thought makes me less eager to support or recommend novel social arrangements than many libertarians. It leads me to question the libertarian orthodoxy that says we can be happy by living however we want.



California at Twilight

What starts in California often spreads to the nation as a whole -- so deserves general attention

by Victor Davis Hanson

We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.

Conservati delendi sunt

The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is how Carthaginian will be the victor’s peace, e.g., how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?

The state of Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian is long dead due to the most radical demographic shifts of any one state in recent American history — as far away as Cicero was to Nero. One minor, but telling example: Salinas, in Monterey County where the murder rate is the highest in the state, just — at least I think the news story is not a prank — named its new middle school after Tiburcio Vasquez.

A convicted murderer.

He was the legendary 19th-century robber and murderer who was hanged for his crimes. But who is to say that Vasquez is a killer, and Henry Huntington a visionary?

The New Demography

California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm. Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.

Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not.

Finally, we live in an era of untruth and Orwellian censorship. It is absolutely taboo to write about the above, or to talk about the ever more weird artifacts of illegal immigration — the war now on black families in demographically changing areas of Los Angeles, the statistics behind DUI arrests, or the burgeoning profile of Medi-Cal recipients. I recall of the serial dissimulation in California my high school memorization of Sir Walter Raleigh:

Tell potentates, they live/Acting by others’ action/Not loved unless they give; Not strong but by affection; If potentates reply/Give potentates the lie.

There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.

Their California is long gone (“Lo, all our pomp and of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre”), and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.

Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle (rule of thumb: conservatives always find better restaurants in liberal locales), and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 (if you’re lucky), the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. For examples, read Petronius, especially the visit to Croton.

Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million.

Or, look at it another way: with passbooks paying 0.5-1%, the successful private accountant or lawyer could put away $10,000 a month for thirty years of his productive career and still not match the monthly retirement income of the Caltrans worker who quit at 60 with modest contributions to PERS.

And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.

The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?

How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought.




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January 30, 2013

Shameless Media

Bob Schieffer of CBS News described President Obama's recent opening remarks at the gun control press conference as, "one of the best speeches I've ever heard him deliver". Schieffer went on to praise the president's cause as similar to the ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden and Lyndon Johnson's successful attempt to pass civil rights legislation. Although Schieffer indicated that more than an Obama speech would be required, this wasn't objective journalism but slobbering praise for a man with a checkered record of accomplishment.

Mr. Schieffer's kudos was a reminder of the stunning assessment that David Brooks bestowed upon the President immediately following his re-election. Mr. Brooks, the self-described "conservative" New York Times journalist stated that Obama was a man of "high integrity" and had run a "very clean administration" during his first term. He concluded that Obama would avoid the scandals that plaguedmany Presidents during their second terms. Brooks said very directly, "there have been signs of insularity and arrogance, but there have been no scandals". Huh? Fast and Furious and Benghazi apparently do not reach Mr. Brook's threshold for scandal.

Then there is coverage of President Obama's economy. If the monthly unemployment rate drops Obama receives credit even if hundreds of thousands exited the job market in despair. In November of 2012, 540,000 dropped out as the unemployment rate declined from 7.9% to 7.7%. Workforce dropouts accounted for more than the .2% rate drop but that fact went largely without mention in the media. Conversely, if the rate increases, the media will mphasize the jobs created even if the amount is insufficient to keep up with population growth.

Obama's first term has been marred by political tactics bordering on thuggery. He claimed he wanted not red states or blue states, but the United States. He claimed he would be a unifier, that he would be open and transparent and that if elected he would bring civility to the oval office. Simply put, he lied. With an assist from the media, he and the left have discarded any pretense of civility. Obama's promises of bringing to the table a range of views and seeking the best solutions was also quickly replaced with labeling those that disagreed with his actions or initiatives as morally deficient, racist, or lacking some other important character trait. Where was the media?

This approach has been frequently used by the liberal left in the past. But the use of racism, class warfare, and sexism has been taken to new heights by this president and the power of his office. He browbeats the opposition and blatantly uses allies in the mainstream media (MSM), academia, and Hollywood to reemphasize and trumpet his rightness. The alliance has been so effective that conversation and the art of the possible, politics, has devolved into demagoguery. What has the media reported?

The media, in particular, has repeatedly given Obama a pass on his actions, programs, and tactics. While George W. Bush was ridiculed and pilloried for his positions on the Patriot Act, the use of wiretaps, rendition, Guantanamo, and many other aspects of "his" war on terror. Obama has maintained and extended these policies virtually without comment from the media. And scandals which generally bring intense scrutiny from the media when linked to a president have been soft-pedaled no matter how serious. Why didn't the media profess its usual outrage?

The Obama administration has been rife with scandal since its inception in 2009. Within weeks of the president's inauguration, Timothy Geithner and Kathleen Sebelius, both nominated to important cabinet posts (Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Health and Human Services respectively), were discovered to have income tax problems requiring rectification. Mrs. Sebelius was more recently found to be in violation of Federal campaign laws, which received very limited media attention. Why didn't the media question Obama's selection process?

The "minor" scandals metamorphosed into larger wrongdoing such as green energy cronyism, the EPA-Lisa Jackson record-masking activities and Eric Holder's actions that undermined the rule of law; no prosecution of the New Black Panther's for voter intimidation in Philadelphia andthe reopening of cases against already cleared federal agents for torture. Then Fast and Furious and Benghazi materialized elevating Obama's scandal plagued administration into the major leagues (executive privilege was also used). What has the media reported and how was it reported?

With few exceptions the media has not covered, has downplayed, or made excuses for these significant Obama administration failures in judgment, honesty, leadership, and administrative control. The media's lack of interest in the failings of Obama's first term leads to two obvious questions; first, why? ...and second, will this pattern of behavior change in his second term?

Causes? ...first, the media and key journalists may fear losing access to the president and his subordinates if their scrutiny or reporting becomes notably critical even when warranted. This concern certainly has a basis in fact since Obama attempted to severely limit Fox News' access and coverage in the past. Second, the media can be described as quite liberal/progressive in both persuasion and as measured by scholarly studies and may not feel comfortable criticizing/questioning their own beliefs and biases.

Third, journalists may be attempting to avoid being targeted by administration bullies; a tactic that has been successfully employed to silence other critics (e.g. conservatives, Republicans). This tactic could bring them to the attention of their liberal community and serve to at least temporarily cause personal discomfort. Fourth, a trepidation that race could be employed to silence a pattern of open and persistent negative measurement of Obama's decisions warrants consideration. Again, the past suggests that a racist charge is possible given the treatment that Mayor Cory Booker (and others) received from Obama's minions.

Yet the reasons for such favorable treatment go well beyond those mentioned. Obama has been treated almost as a godlike figure by some. The MSM's coverage of the president has been so obviously prejudiced in his favor that polling surfaces an appreciable decline in the media's credibility/standing with the public. Additionally, traditional MSM outlets have suffered financially due to the emergence of alternative news sources (e.g. internet, Twitter) along with their clearly biased content.

Thus if the past is predictive, little will change in the media's sentiment toward Obama in his second term. The media does not seem repentant for their past coverage of Obama and in fact some narratives have moved to cheerleading (e.g. J. Dickerson-CBS) the goals of future presidential attacks on his political opposition and other dissenters. The memes that insinuate or directly portray Republicans and conservatives as unpatriotic, insensitive, morally deficient, liars, racists, and corrupt have continued. The media's examination of Obama's activities and decisions has been shameful and has progressed to shameless. The material bias in favor of Obama will remain with high probability during his second term.



Shouting Louder

Thomas Sowell

An old-time trial lawyer once said, "When your case is weak, shout louder!"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted louder when asked about the Obama administration's story last fall that the September 11th attack on the U.S. ambassador's quarters in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islamic video that someone in the United States had put on the Internet, and thereby provoked a protest that escalated into violence.

She shouted: "We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Students of propaganda may admire the skill with which she misdirected people's attention. But those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to think that the truth matters cannot applaud her success.

Let's go back to square one.

After the attack on the American ambassador's quarters in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama administration immediately blamed it on the anti-Islamic video.

Moreover, this version of what happened was not just a passing remark. It was a story that the administration kept repeating insistently. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice repeated that story on five different television talk shows on the same Sunday. President Obama himself repeated the same story at the United Nations. The man who put the anti-Islamic video on the Internet was arrested for a parole violation, creating more media coverage to keep attention on this theme.

"What difference, at this point, does it make?" Secretary Clinton now asks. What difference did it make at the time?

Obviously the Obama administration thought it made a difference, with an election coming up. Prior to the attack, the administration's political theme was that Barack Obama had killed Osama bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy SEALs), vanquished Al Qaeda and was now in the process of putting the terrorist threat behind us.

To have the attack in Benghazi be seen as a terrorist attack -- and a devastating one -- would have ruined this picture, with an election coming up.

The key question that remains unanswered to this day is: What speck of evidence is there that the attack in Benghazi was due to the much-discussed video or that there was ever any protest demonstration outside the ambassador's quarters?

If there is no evidence whatever, then the whole attempt to say that a protest over a video escalated into an attack was a deliberate hoax by people who knew better.

There is no point in the administration saying that they did not have all the facts about the attack immediately. All the facts may never be known. But the real question is: Did you have even a single fact that would substantiate your repeated claims that some video led to a protest in Benghazi that got out of hand and led to the attack?

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton herself was not featured in this campaign, even though as Secretary of State she was a key figure. Hillary was not about to create video footage that could come back to haunt her if she runs for President of the United States in 2016.

In a larger context, the Benghazi attack showed that you cannot unilaterally end the "war on terror" or the terrorists' war on us, by declaring victory.

For years, the Bush administration's phrase "war on terror" was avoided like the plague by the Obama administration, even if that required the Fort Hood massacre to be classified as "workplace violence." But, no matter how clever the rhetoric, reality nevertheless rears its ugly head.

Once the September 11th attack in Benghazi is seen for what it was -- a highly coordinated and highly successful operation by terrorists who were said to have been vanquished -- that calls into question the Obama administration's Middle East foreign policy.

That is why it still matters.



The Stuff of Third World Tyrants

David Limbaugh

President Barack Obama is not just a radical leftist; he is obviously so ensconced in his ideology that he believes -- or wants you to believe -- that anyone who opposes him must have sinister motives.

One of his recurring themes is that some Republicans would work with him but can't do so for fear of reprisal from Grover Norquist on taxes, the National Rifle Association on guns, the conservative House caucus, radio talk show hosts and your garden-variety racists, who allegedly oppose Obama just for sport.

In mid-January, Obama accused the "gun lobby" of "ginning up" fears that the federal government would use the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy to seize America's guns, saying, "It's certainly good for business." Is that how presidents should talk?

Obama suggested that GOP congressional opposition was based not on principle but on the fear that unless it resisted Obama's gun-grabbing schemes, it would lose its precious NRA funding. As if the American public agrees with Obama on this issue any more than it did on Obamacare. As if Obama truly cares whether the American public agrees with him on this issue (other than as a means to an end) any more than he cared about the public's view on Obamacare.

Indeed, this is either record-breaking myopia or sophisticated Orwellian deception. Few things are more palpable on the political scene today than the groundswell of grass-roots support for the right to own firearms under the Second Amendment. It is intrinsic to the American character.

Obama didn't just mischaracterize the public mood on the issue of gun control; he threw in an additional allegation of political corruption against Republicans, saying, "The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they're really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies."

Do you see the pattern here? As the leading disciple of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama must delegitimize his political opposition. He can't just debate issues on the merits. He must "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." We've seen Obama do it on virtually every policy he has promoted -- from demonizing health care professionals and insurance companies in pursuit of Obamacare to taunting "fat cat banks" in his quest for financial "reform" to his defamation of "big oil" to his personal attacks on the "rich" to his savaging of Rep. Paul Ryan and other House Republicans as callous toward seniors and the middle class for daring to reform entitlements.

Obama will not stand for House Republicans to be seen as good-faith opponents to his socialist agenda. He has to slander them with charges of nefarious motives. Republicans oppose his gun grab because they jealously guard their corruptly acquired congressional seats (through gerrymandering), which depend upon blood money from the NRA, which is motivated by its own lust for profits. There simply can't be any legitimate public opposition to his position, because, by gosh, he's the president and his views -- and mandate -- are superior.

Obama isn't content just to vilify his congressional opposition. With a newfound cockiness from his re-election that even exceeds his previous levels, he has now called out Fox News and private citizen Rush Limbaugh. Alinsky's cremated ashes must be glowing with delight.

Obama said, "If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it." He added, "The more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word" and that Democratic leaders are "willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done."

That statement alone should tell you how warped Obama's perspective is. The congressional Democratic leadership is already so leftist and uncompromising that it doesn't have to worry about pleasing more leftist elements. And the left-leaning media not only don't recognize what true compromise is but also don't hold Obama to account for his own habitual refusal to compromise.

That Obama is the most ideologically extreme president in history and routinely demonizes his political opponents is bad enough. But he has crossed the line in targeting the sole TV news outlet that refuses to allow his propaganda to go unchallenged and even more so in attacking commentator Rush Limbaugh for the sin of articulating the opinions of millions upon millions of American patriots who are horrified at Obama's statist agenda.

This is the stuff of Third World tyrants, my friends. This is the MO of dictators, who want to control the media and silence any unfavorable coverage or commentary. Even liberals should be outraged at this abominable behavior. And they should have the integrity to say so.




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January 29, 2013

Quote of the Decade:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

-- Senator Barack Hussein Obama, March 2006



Good advice

Texas senator Ted Cruz addressed the NRI Summit earlier today. Wearing a business suit and black cowboy boots, he had the podium removed from the stage so he could roam freely, and spoke without notes. In his remarks, Cruz offered guidance for his fellow GOP lawmakers. On his way out, I asked him to pass along some of that advice for National Review Online readers who couldn’t be here today, and about the role that the NRSC, of which he–along with Ohio senator Rob Portman– serves as vice chair, will play in the 2014 election.

Cruz’s advice: First, “stop listening to the New York Times” and “understand that…you were elected to the House by the same people that elected President Obama.” Second, “stop bad legislation,” and third, “use leverage points…to push forward serious solutions to the crushing fiscal and economic challenge facing this country.” Over the long term, Cruz emphasized the importance of defeating Democrats in the realm of ideas, and offered thoughts on how to do so: “every answer to every question on every policy issue domestically should focus on growth on opportunity,” which have “made the United States a land of such incredible prosperity” and explain why, for centuries, “people have come from all over the world to the United States seeking a better life.”



Too Much Brotherhood

As noted about a month ago in this space, the controversial policy of equipping the Egyptian air force with F-16s will proceed, with the full blessing of the State Department, according to the Washington Free Beacon, which picked up the latest of this long-simmering story from FoxNews.

State, according to the Free Beacon, is eager for the deal to close because it will enhance "U.S. security interests." Deal to close is putting if very liberally, since it is certain who the mark in this deal is: the U.S. taxpayer. The "foreign aid," as State qualifies it, includes as well 200 Abrams tanks, the Free Beacon reports.

The idea that advanced aircraft in the hands of a Islamist regime enhances U.S. security is bizarre. The only possible use of these air craft and tanks is to enhance the power of a government in Cairo that hates us, that hates our only regional ally, Israel, and that shares the philosophy of organizations, such as the Palestinian Hamas, that our government has defined as "terrorist."
It behooves senators in the upcoming confirmation hearings for the top international affairs positions to ask the president's nominees how this massive arms transfer serves U.S. interests.



The New Patriotism

Obama wants to restore liberalism as America’s official faith

President Obama’s second inaugural address wasn’t eloquent, but it was effective. As oratory, it made one false step after another, the result of straining for presidential orotundity. “For we, the people,” he said, for example, “understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” A “shrinking few” makes it sound as if they are declining, or perhaps shy, and a “growing many” as if they are prospering — the opposite of his intention. The words are supposed to reinforce the argument.

And when discussing foreign policy, even speechwriters as young as Obama’s ought to know to avoid Neville Chamberlain’s notorious phrase, “peace in our time.”

Politically, however, the speech drove home its message: that President Obama stands in the tradition of Jefferson and Lincoln, and that those who oppose the Obama administration must also oppose the principles of Jefferson and Lincoln, and are therefore outside the pale of American democracy.

Obama wants to seize the title deeds of American patriotism from the Reaganite Republicans. To do that, he has tried his best, following Bill Clinton’s example, to replace memories of lefty flag-burning from the Sixties with recent images of liberals’ effusively embracing flag and country and the military. After initial resistance, Obama even agreed to wear a flag pin on his lapel. God, too, gets strange new respect: Though He was booed at the Democratic convention and got admitted to the platform only by chicanery, He is mentioned six times in Obama’s second inaugural (seven, if you count a quotation from the Declaration of Independence).

For the strategy to work, Obama must, however, redefine patriotism and its object. Accordingly, he began his inaugural address with a prominent quotation from the Declaration’s most famous sentence. This was not primarily a gesture of civic solidarity. It was his way of reinterpreting American principles, of staking out new territory for the familiar words “equality” and “liberty,” which he proceeded to redefine in the rest of the speech.

This is an old liberal parlor trick. Into the magic hat goes a fluttering canary; presto chango, out comes a fat, complacent rabbit. Several commentators (especially Scott Johnson at Powerline) have already exposed the president’s sleight of hand. But for sheer audacity, it’s hard to beat the ideas juxtaposed and equated in this speech’s couple of thousand words.

To put it briefly: Obama began by saluting “the enduring strength of our Constitution” (not its wisdom or justice) and affirming “the promise of our democracy,” meaning the country as it will be, the America of our imagination, which to a modern liberal is the only thoroughly justifiable object of patriotic sentiments. Then he quoted the great sentence from the Declaration that begins “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . . ” One sentence later — one sentence! — and the Declaration was in the rearview mirror and we were off on “a never-ending journey” to “bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.”

At least those foundational “words” seemed to have a meaning, or to have once had one. Because a short half-page later, Obama explains that “our purpose” is “what the moment requires” and that it is doing what the moment requires that “will give real meaning to our creed.”

So now the meaning of the Declaration’s solemn propositions seems to come entirely, or almost entirely, from our own needs, preferences, and choices. Only urgent and imperative actions such as fighting climate change and protecting entitlements “will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.” The fathers’ Declaration, though perhaps meaningful to them in their age, is empty and meaningless in ours until we fill it up with our own values. The “timeless spirit” of the Founding obligates us to follow the changing spirit of our times — always as interpreted by liberals, of course.

Thus “equality,” which for Lincoln meant the recognition of our equal humanity and therefore equal freedom, means for Obama the compulsory redistribution of wealth. “Liberty,” in turn, transforms into the right to live out the lifestyle of our choice, free from others’ offensive remarks, and with federal subsidies as necessary or demanded.

Even as the Declaration’s original meaning fades, so does the Constitution’s. Toward the end of the speech, Obama mentioned that the oath of office he had taken that day “was an oath to God and country,” not so different from the oath a new citizen or a soldier takes. Actually, though all these oaths are sworn before God, they are properly speaking oaths to support the Constitution. The presidential oath is emphatic, and distinctive, in that regard. He alone (unlike new citizens or soldiers) swears to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Obama overlooked the main element of his own oath, which is not so surprising given his allegiance to the living constitution, which is rather different from the written one.

The galling thing is that his efforts to rewrite the American political tradition may succeed. Franklin Roosevelt’s similar project not only worked, but worked so well that for two generations New Deal Democrats dominated American elections, remade American government, and reinterpreted our Constitution almost at will. Obama is no FDR, but then he doesn’t need to be. Liberalism has already done a great deal to define democracy downward.

Where are the Republican politicians, the conservative statesmen, who will dedicate themselves to opposing, and reversing, this latest installment of the corruption of our republican principles and institutions? By now, all the usual arguments about the bad economy and our burgeoning debt have been exhausted. The usual electoral stratagems urged by the usual GOP consultants have been tried and have failed. It will take uncommon political intelligence and virtue, not to mention good luck, to rescue our free government.



Hope for the Senate

There are 100 seats in the United States Senate, each having a term of six years. Their tenures are staggered so that 1/3 of them face election every two years. Democrats currently hold a 55 to 45 seat advantage. But if the Republicans assert themselves artfully, they could very well take the majority in November of 2014. Here’s how:

Of the 33 Senate seats up for election, 20 are currently held by Democrats and 13 Republican. Nine of the Democrats should comfortably win re-election; Chris Coons of Delaware, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan, Max Baucus of Montana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

The recent announcement by Tom Harkin that he will be retiring as Iowa’s Senator puts that position in play for the Republicans. That makes two confirmed Democratic retirements, adding Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia who is likely to be replaced by Republican Shelley Moore Capito. Saxby Chambliss, Republican from Georgia, also announced his retirement at the end of this term. However, Georgia should be safe for his replacement, having voted 53% to 46% for Romney in 2012.

Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina and South Dakota are unnaturally represented in the Senate by Democrats. The Republicans should certainly be able to pick up those seats.

John Kerry will undoubtably take the assignment of Secretary of State next month, leaving the Democratic Governor of Massachusetts with the responsibility of appointing his replacement. This may give Republican Scott Brown an opportunity to retake his old job as Senator.

If the state-level Republican parties will offer strong nominees and disciplined campaigns, it is possible for Democratic Senators Mark Udall of Colorado, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire to be defeated next year. And for the one that got away in 2009, Saturday Night Live clown Al Franken must stand for an early re-election in 2014. Let’s hope for a successful rematch from the suspiciously jilted Norm Coleman.

Elections like 2014 that take place at the mid point of a presidential second term traditionally go against the president’s party. And Barack Obama’s overreaching this year and next should really get Americans in the mood for tapping on the brakes. With a gain of six seats, the Republicans can control the Senate and block much of Obama’s ambitions. They could even deny more revisionists to the Supreme Court during Obama’s final two years in office.

In 2014, the Republican’s 32 seat majority in the House of Representatives ought to hold, and even extend. My greatest hope; the swearing in of a bellicose, John Wayne federalist as president in January of 2017, along with a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress. They would have two years to hurl the pendulum back within sight of equilibrium. And we just might save this nation.



Obamacare's medical records debacle

Mickey Kaus

After I posted an item about “wonkblogger” Ezra Klein’s confident embrace of Obama’s $19 billion push for electronic medical records, I received several emails from readers who know more than I do. The two excerpted below suggest I was wrong: The effect of the electronic records crusade hasn’t been disappointing, with cost-savings failing to materialize. It’s much worse than that.

From Alert reader #1:

"My wife is an overworked Family Doctor and hates electronic medical records. It was sold as an enormous time saver but turns out to have slowed her down. She used to be able to talk to a patient, check off boxes on her records form as she spoke to them and say goodbye. Now instead of checking a box with a pen, she clicks on a box on her computer screen, waits for it to open, marks the appropriate checkoff, and then closes it. Repeat . Repeat. Repeat. Then close the patients file. Maintaining eye contact is a thing of the past. However. Her billing has gone way up.

Things she used to do but never add to her billing are now added automatically because the nanny program prompts her. I think the electronic records enthusiasts thought that they were pushing best practices. “Was patient advised about smoking” “ Was the patient counseled about weight loss and diabetes/ hypertension etc” My wife always did these things but never added them to her bill-now she gets paid for doing it. It seems like electronic proponents were wrong on BOTH of their selling points … [E.A.]"

From Alert Reader #2

"My wife is a staff physician [at] a major East coast hospital.
Her employer was one of the first to sign up for federal money to implement a system which hospital management freely acknowledges is “terrible” but there was so much money on offer that they couldn’t say no.

Probably the biggest problem with electronic records is simply that it requires the physician to input all notes and orders, rather than dictate them.

As a result, as my bride puts it, “they’ve taken the highest paid person in the department and turned him/her into a data entry clerk”.

On average, she and her colleagues spend more time per patient wading through drop-down menus, clicking boxes and filling in required but utterly irrelevant information than they do at the bedside, actually treating the patient.

In short, it’s her experience that they see fewer patients per shift than they did previously, and spend less time with each one, now that they are required to sit down at a computer after seeing each patient and jumping through hoops to place orders instead of, as previously, simply telling the nurse what is needed and then moving on to the next patient.

But of course things like this always sound good when sales reps are explaining them to bureaucrats. Nobody bothered to actually ask the physicians or to do an independent study to see the results." [E.A.]

Again, it’s possible that electronic records will eventually pay huge benefits, once an entire network (or maybe a better, voice-activated entry system) is in place. Or it’s possible that Dr. Groopman and Dr. Hartzband’s skepticism will be borne out–and that the real purpose of the electronic database will not be to help achieve better, efficient care but to justify the government in stopping treatments deemed cost-ineffective.

Some of the early software systems are apparently particularly kludge-y -– but that doesn’t get Obama off the hook if, as Emailer #2 suggests, his $19 billion incentive encouraged hospitals to hurriedly adopt these inferior systems in order to get federal cash before the 2014 deadline.

Sounds like so far, so bad …


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



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January 28, 2013

Serious questions on Benghazi

The underlying attitude

A rather restrained media comment below. No mention of the blocking of rescue efforts etc.

BLUSTER by outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no answer to the serious questions still surrounding the al-Qa'ida attack on September 11 last year that killed four American officials in Benghazi, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Criticism of Mrs Clinton, of course, has a political motive, with Republicans hoping some mud will stick and thwart any bid by her to win the presidency in 2016. But Mrs Clinton ill-serves her reputation as a hardworking and widely-admired Secretary of State by dismissively telling interlocutors: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

The answer is, it makes a lot of difference. A State Department report and other inquiries have shown the death of the first US ambassador killed on duty in 25 years resulted from systemic leadership and management failures, for which Mrs Clinton was ultimately responsible. The 9/11 anniversary assault caught the US understaffed and ill-prepared in one of the world's most hostile regions, with pleas from US officials on the ground rebuffed.

Mrs Clinton claims she didn't see cables from Stevens outlining his security concerns. Other critics say there was a naive belief by the Obama administration, amid the over-hyped expectations of the Arab Spring, that the war against al-Qa'ida and terrorism was just about over. This has been comprehensively debunked by events in Algeria and Mali, where the Timbuktu Taliban is on the march.

Mrs Clinton cannot be blamed for all these failures, but as a well-regarded secretary and potential presidential candidate, she can do better than bluster when asked legitimate questions about them.



Does Poverty Still Matter?

The Republican Party is picking up the pieces. Speaking of the ticket's loss for the first time since the election, Rep. Paul Ryan noted that many voters "don't think or know that we have good ideas" on fighting poverty and "helping people move up the ladder of life."

It's not surprising that Ryan, who got his start working for Jack Kemp and William Bennett at Empower America, sees the world this way. Though it's a total secret to members of the press and the Democratic Party, conservative intellectuals have been grappling with the problems of poverty in America for several decades and have arguably advanced more reforms (including school choice, charter schools, enterprise zones and community policing) than liberals have. Some of those reforms, such as those adopted by Rudolph Giuliani in New York, profoundly improved the lives of the poor by, among other enhancements, making their neighborhoods far safer.

Still, the popular perception of Republicans as the party of the rich has been reinforced by the party's opposition to tax hikes (always characterized by the press as "even for the wealthiest") and by the Democrats' relentless spin. Six in 10 respondents to a December Bloomberg poll said Republicans were too concerned about protecting the rich. A McLaughlin poll from 2011 found that 88 percent of likely voters considered a candidate's position on poverty to be important in determining their vote.

If Republican politicians do begin to focus more on poverty, as Ryan recommends, they will have the field to themselves. Democrats no longer talk about the poor.

Barack Obama began his career as a community organizer. In 2007, he excoriated George W. Bush for failing those in "vast swaths of rural America" and in inner cities "who cannot hire lobbyists" and "cannot write thousand dollar campaign checks." The government, Senator Obama said, "cannot guarantee success and happiness in life," but can "ensure that every American who wants to work is ... able to find a job and able to stay out of poverty."

The anti-poverty talk was missing from the 2012 campaign. It was all about the middle class. Perhaps that's because Obama's first term created so very much more poverty. There are more poor people in America today than at any time since the Great Depression. There were 32 million Americans collecting food stamps in 2008. Now that figure is 47 million. Spending on food stamps doubled between 2007 and 2011.

Unemployment remained stubbornly high throughout the Obama first term leading many to abandon the search for jobs altogether. In 2008, 7.2 million Americans were getting Social Security disability payments. Today, it's 8.7 million, an increase of 20 percent. A normal increase due to population expansion would have been 4 percent. Obama blamed his predecessor, but the steep decline in labor force participation didn't begin until six months into Obama's term. Forbes magazine calculates that if long term discouraged workers, those who've dropped out to collect disability payments, and those working part time because they cannot find full time work were counted, the real unemployment rate would hover around 22 percent.

Medium household incomes fell by more than 8 percent during the Obama first term, an average of $3040 per household, and income inequality grew compared with the Bush years. For African-Americans, the drop in household income was even more dramatic -- 11.1 percent.

Obama talked about the middle class in 2012 for two reasons: 1) because his record left him vulnerable on the subject of poverty, and 2) because Democrats believe that Americans do not like poverty programs. "People are much less inclined to support something that goes toward a targeted population than something that they can benefit from," Rachel Black of the New America Foundation told Politico. This is why Democrats fight tooth and claw to block reforms of Medicare and Social Security that would decrease benefits or increase taxes for wealthier recipients. They believe that the middle class would stop supporting the programs if they were at all means-tested.

But most voters do not disapprove of TANF, Medicaid, Head Start and dozens of other programs aimed at the poor.

Ryan is right to see an opportunity for Republicans in talking about poverty. It might improve the Republican brand in the eyes of all voters. It opens a door to talk about the best anti-poverty program -- economic growth, which has been conspicuously absent under Obama. It also highlights a fact the Democrats want to bury: All Americans are poorer as a result of Obama's policies, but the poor are hit hardest.



The Old Republic and Obama's America

Pat Buchanan

"Second Term Begins With a Sweeping Agenda for Equality," ran the eight-column banner in which The Washington Post captured the essence of Obama's second inaugural. There he declared:
"What binds this nation together ... what makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago."

Obama then quoted our Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Our "union," Obama went on, was "founded on the principles of liberty and equality."

Nice prose -- and transparent nonsense.

How could the American Union have been founded on the principle of equality, when "equality" is not mentioned in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Federalist papers? How could equality be a founding principle of a nation, six of whose 13 original states had legalized slavery, and five of whose first seven presidents owned slaves all their lives?

What Obama preached in his inaugural was not historical truth but progressive propaganda, an Orwellian rewrite of American history.

Undeniably, the post-Civil War 13th, 14th and 15th amendments established an equality of constitutional rights. And from the Brown decision of 1954 through the civil rights acts of the 1960s, there was established an equality of civil rights. Black Americans were assured equal access to schools, public accommodations, the voting booth and housing. And Congress and the people overwhelmingly supported those laws.

But if the nation did not establish equality of constitutional rights until the 1860s and equality of civil rights until the 1960s, how can Obama claim that "equality" has been the feature that "makes us American" and "binds this nation together."

How can he say that our commitment to equality is what makes us "exceptional" -- when every Western country believes in equal rights for all of its citizens, and it was the French Revolution, not ours, that elevated "egalite" to a founding principle.

And when he says equality "is the star that guides us still," exactly what kind of equality is Obama talking about?

Answer: The equality of which Obama speaks is not an equality of rights but an equality of results, an idea that dates not to the Founding Fathers, who would have been appalled by the idea, but to the 1960s.

This equality is not a founding principle of the republic. It is ideological contraband. For such equality can only be achieved at the price of freedom, our true founding principle.

That idea that "all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still," said Obama in his inaugural, "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."

Astonishing. The president is here making the brazen claim that the roots of modern feminism and gay rights can be traced straight back to the Founding Fathers and founding principles of our republic.

But how? The sanctum sanctorum of modern feminism is Roe v. Wade, the discovery of a constitutional right to an abortion. Yet, for every generation of Americans before 1973, abortion was a heinous crime.

And can anyone seriously argue that a barroom brawl with cops by homosexual patrons of Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969 was but another battle in the long war for liberty begun at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill?

How could that be, when the author of the declaration Obama cites, Thomas Jefferson, believed homosexuality should be treated as rape, and George Washington ordered homosexuals drummed out of his army?

What Obama was attempting at the Capitol, with his repeated lifts from Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, was to portray his own and his party's egalitarianism as a continuation of the great cause that triumphed at Yorktown and Appomattox.

He is hijacking the American Revolution, claiming an ancestral lineage for his ideology that is utterly fraudulent and bogus.

Feminism, the gay rights movement and the post-1965 civil rights movement, with their demand for equality not simply of rights but of rewards, cannot be achieved without trampling on the freedoms for which the patriot fathers fought. And they cannot triumph without creating a permanent, mammoth and redistributionist state more powerful, intrusive and dictatorial than anything George III ever dreamed of.

The freedom of all Americans to compete academically, athletically, artistically and economically must inevitably result in an inequality of incomes, wealth and rewards.

Why? Because all men and women are by nature and nurture unequal. Some are talented, ambitious, industrious, lucky. And in a free society, such men and women will always reap a disproportionate share of fame and fortune.

The only way to equalize rewards is to take from those who have earned and give to those who have not. And that requires the kind of redistributionst regime the Founding Fathers would have risen up against.

As Obama's America rises, the old republic falls.



The Collectivist Party

Illinois you have arrived! Bloomberg [news agency] has declared the dysfunction capital of the U.S. has moved to Illinois. Of course they are just feeding the perception that Moonbeam Brown's prop 30 taxes, the golfer friendly ones, are balancing California's budget.

I suggest Bloomberg writers visit both states more often to see the dysfunction in person. It is quite a sight to behold. However it is easier just to stay out east and watch Illinois' gift to the nation, Barack Obama.

What's the first thing popping into your mind when you read, "years of gridlock and mismanagement have produced .."? Illinois or DC? Both and we have learned why. Barack Obama shared the news with us at his second inauguration.

Having lived in Illinois among the liberals for over thirty years, please allow me to translate what Obama was really saying. You may have noticed from Obama's first term one makes quite a mistake listening to and believing they know what Obama means when he speaks. We learned you'll be better off just watching what he does.

After sounding all supportive of the principles in the Declaration of Independence, followed by a brief history regarding how things change over time, Obama set you up for the roper dope: "For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."

Translated; that old document is about dust, do as we say, we know all the answers therefore surrender your individual identity to the collective and we'll tell you what freedoms you can enjoy. Although Chris Matthews has visions of Lincoln when he heard this speech, I drive past the Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library almost daily. Obama isn't any Lincoln.

This is merely liberal speak for; we have taxed and spent all we can the old fashioned way, now we have to try something new. Or as Chuckie Schumer said more clearly, "oh we'll write a budget alright and it's going to contain lots of new revenue (taxes) and Republicans better get used to it."

In fact Obama isn't Reagan either as the media went nuts reporting the obvious. As Reagan is conservative, Obama is progressive. In reality the one thing Obama shares with Reagan? The same number of people participating in the workforce as 1981.

No matter how a liberal says it, their goals never change. Bigger government, higher taxes, more spending, all to save the children. Or environment, or elderly, or veterans, whatever victim of the week needs rescued, which in turn their media owned outlets report.

How does one come by these psychic powers? Do the names Blagojevich, Quinn, Durbin, Emmanuel, (Bobby) Rush, Rostenkowsky, Schakowsky, Daley (x's 3), or Obama ring a bell? Live over thirty years along side liberals with these pedigrees, with at least one eye and ear open and it's amazing what you can learn.

What caused Bloomberg's attention to be drawn to Illinois? Judy BaarTopinka the state comptroller just released a report, not only is Illinois behind $9 billion in back bills, seems the budget wonks at the Statehouse passed a budget $1 billion short of what is needed to make it through the fiscal year. DCFS is short $25 million to save the children, workers compensation is short $82 million, but the biggie; state group health insurance needs $900 million more to meet expenses this year.

Holy sack of liberalism! Wasn't that free Obamacare going to save all of us? Everyone was going to have insurance, the doctor of their choice, the same coverage as what congress has, and it was all going to save trillions of dollars! How can the state possibly be short? Quinn needs a red phone on his desk directly to the oval office if this keeps up.

As an honorary citizen of Illinois, having duly listened to the inaugural speech with the unique ability to hear what mere mortals cannot, watching the slow motion collapse of Illinois' budget and economy, one that will soon follow to all the land due to Illinois' favorite son of the same ideology, it's time for the Democratic Party to develop a new response to these new challenges to keep with the fidelity to the Democratic principles.

Time to drop Democratic and replace with Collectivist in honor of Obama's second term and pronouncements in his inaugural speech.

The Collectivist Party.




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January 27, 2013

Obama recess appointments unconstitutional

This could wipe out a lot of regulations

In a case freighted with major constitutional implications, a federal appeals court on Friday overturned President Obama’s controversial recess appointments from last year, ruling he abused his powers and acted when the Senate was not actually in a recess.

The three-judge panel’s ruling is a major blow to Mr. Obama. The judges ruled that the appointments he made to the National Labor Relations Board are illegal, and hence the five-person board did not have a quorum to operate.

But the ruling has even broader constitutional significance, with the judges arguing that the president’s recess appointment powers don’t apply to “intra-session” appointments — those made when Congress has left town for a few days or weeks. They said Mr. Obama erred when he said he could claim the power to determine when he could make appointments.

“Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers,” the judges said in their opinion.

The judges said presidents’ recess powers only apply after Congress has adjourned a session permanently, which in modern times usually means only at the end of a year. If the ruling withstands Supreme Court scrutiny, it would dramatically constrain presidents in the future.



A Health Scare for Small Businesses

Obamacare is discouraging job creation

During her two-plus years in business, Elizabeth Turley has steadily recruited new employees for her apparel company, Meesh & Mia Corp., to keep pace with its rapid growth. But this year could be different. Instead of increasing her staff, she plans to hire independent contractors for tasks that can be outsourced, such as marketing and product development.

Her reason? Meesh & Mia is on the cusp of having 50 full-time employees. If the company hits that threshold, it will have to provide health coverage that meets government standards or potentially pay a penalty.

Elizabeth Turley, CEO of Meesh & Mia, plans to hire independent contractors this year because of health-insurance changes. Ms. Turley looked at fabric options at a trade show Tuesday.
"We are poised this year to more than double or even triple business," says the 58-year-old Ms. Turley, whose Idaho-based company makes "spiritwear," or clothes with licensed college and football-team colors and logos. "And then this happened.... We have to find another way to get there."

Even though the rule doesn't go into effect until early 2014, a business could be subject to the so-called employer mandate if, during 2013, it averages 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, according to recently released regulations from the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

Many small-business owners haven't yet realized that the way they structure their firm in 2013 could determine their status under the law in a year's time.

The government issued the little-noticed regulatory guidance on Dec. 28. Ms. Turley says she wasn't aware of the rules until a Journal reporter informed her.

To avoid the health-care law's penalties, many employers are considering hiring only part-time employees or deliberately curbing growth so that they have no need to hire.

For Ms. Turley, that isn't an option. Meesh & Mia needs more hired help. The best solution, she believes, is to hire independent contractors, who would be able to take on certain tasks without upping her headcount.

Typically, independent contractors are less expensive for employers, who don't have to pay taxes on wages or supply benefits, as they would for their employees. Reliance on independent contractors has increased over the years, particularly in the recession, when employers sought less expensive labor.

In December 2012, 6.7% of payroll checks written by small employers went to 1099 workers, or those not considered employees of a company, according to SurePayroll, a Chicago-based payroll firm that caters to 40,000 small employers with an average of seven employees. That's roughly double the 3.5% of payroll checks that went to 1099 workers in December 2007.

The trend is expected to accelerate this year given the framework of the looming health-care law, employment analysts predict.

Ms. Turley knows that hiring independent contractors isn't always ideal. "You have less control over hours they work and how much involvement they have in other parts of the business," she says. "Employees take more pride and ownership [in the company] than contractors."

In the past, in fact, she has hired contractors but later brought them into the fold as full-time employees.

Using independent contractors has long been a sensitive issue because of how they are classified for tax purposes. In late 2011, the IRS vowed to be more vigilant in finding employers who improperly label workers as independent contractors. At the same time it launched an amnesty program for employers to voluntarily reclassify workers in exchange for a reduced payment to cover back taxes.

"If anything, [audits] will increase more" in light of the health-care law, says Monique Warren, partner at workplace law firm Jackson Lewis LLP in White Plains, N.Y. "Employers have to be real careful about calling someone an independent contractor."

Government auditors would determine whether a worker misclassification triggers the health-care law's employer mandate. That means the stakes are higher for employers, particularly those who have close to 50 full-time employees. They could have to pay back taxes in addition to potential penalties associated with the health-care law, should the revised classification push their employee headcount over the threshold.

"Some businesses may be tempted to classify someone as an independent contractor to avoid the headcount that could subject them to the [employer mandate]," says Edward Lenz, senior counsel at the American Staffing Association, an Alexandria, Va., lobbying group for temporary and contract staffing firms. "If anything, the risks of misclassifications are exacerbated by the [health-care law]."

Adding to the confusion for small firms is that an employer's view of who is an independent contractor may not align with the government's. The guidelines defining independent contractors "aren't black and white," says Ms. Warren. "To some extent, it is deliberately vague. The IRS can't... account for every different situation."

Some considerations include an employer's level of control over a worker, the permanency of the relationship and how the business pays the worker. Because the definition lacks strict parameters, employers can file a form requesting the IRS to make the determination.

"This is on the hot list for the Department of Labor and the IRS," says Penny C. Wofford, employment law attorney at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. in Greenville, S.C. "It's not enough to say a worker should be 1099 status just by their work contract. That's just one factor in a test."



The Collectivist Mind Game: Demonizing Human Nature

If Robert Heinlein were to write The Moon today (see Part 1), there's no doubt his notion of the future oppressive global government on Earth would be very different. With such forces at play, the free-market revolution in Lunar colonies would likewise be fought by different means, struggling to overcome the tidal wave of government indoctrination and demonization, in addition to an army of statist looters hiding behind the army of statist moochers, who will be hiding behind an army of statist Blue Helmets of the statist United Nations.

That would be an asymmetrical warfare if ever there was one. The individualist free-market rebels wouldn't be able to respond in kind by playing the collectivist mind games with the statists because it would turn them into their own enemies. Their only hope would be to learn to recognize the game when it is being played, not to fall for any of its seductive illusions, methodically expose the players at every turn, call every little manipulative trick in their arsenal for what it is, and help to immunize the rest against its corruptive influence.

The tidal wave of propaganda notwithstanding, the rebels would still have the most important ally on their side -- human nature. No matter into what society they are born and what mind conditioning they receive, people will never stop being competitive individuals. They will always long for individual freedom, rationality, objectivity, personal achievement, and the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families.

Without these traits humanity would never have risen from the ignorant tribal collectivism of hunters and gatherers, with its brutal mores, dark superstitions, and average life expectancy of 30 years, when few lived long enough to develop complete self-awareness, formulate a coherent individual thought, and pass it onto others. There would be no division of labor, no markets, and no capitalist wealth to sustain the advances in science, arts, and technology -- let alone to feed the multitudes of Marxist intellectuals and statist plutocrats. There would be nothing to lose and nothing to fight for.

Admittedly, the Marxist notion of human progress is a spiral that would return humanity to that stateless, moneyless, classless, and selfless collectivism -- except on a higher level. For that purpose they must, so to speak, put the genie of individualism back into the bottle, and the only way they can do it is by demonizing human nature itself.

However, the 74 years of the morbid Soviet experiment failed to breed the New Collectivist Man. The communist "engineers of human souls" isolated millions of people from the rest of humanity by sealing off the nation's borders and creating a pressurized Marxist bubble. They rearranged the society, rewrote history, and reorganized the culture. They subjected several generations of children to intense mind programming. They blocked all undesirable news sources, books, films, and music. They rewarded "correct" thoughts and impulses, and punished the "incorrect" ones. They demonized greed, selfishness, individualism, and self-interest. They taught altruism, collectivism, and self-sacrifice. They ran relentless campaigns that dehumanized non-compliant individuals.

Ultimately, not a single trait of human nature had changed. In the months before the collapse, the indisputable failure of collective farming forced the Soviet communists to resurrect the idea of individual farms -- and, in order to survive, Chinese communists reverted to private entrepreneurship, while maintaining the pretense of Marxist orthodoxy.

This alone should be enough to discredit the fundamental Marxist doctrine that the human mind is a "social construct" shaped entirely by manipulation and social conditioning. As an unintended consequence, the Soviet experiment proved the existence of something that Marxist science has always denied: that our individual thoughts, motives, and actions are governed, on the most part, by absolute moral standards, which are objectively derived from the unchangeable nature of human beings and the nature of the world.

Obviously, it is more beneficial to accept human nature in its entirety as an absolute standard and to build the society on that foundation, rather than to erect an artificial construct first and rearrange the foundation later, trying to discard parts that don't fit into the design.

And yet that failed philosophy is now flourishing in America's academia and leftist think tanks, which currently formulate U.S. government policies.

From the economy to crime prevention to education to foreign relations, America's policies today are based on the Marxist premise that crime results from poverty, economic crisis results from greed, injustice results from capitalist exploitation, corruption results from the free markets, and militant Islamism results from Western colonialism. Therefore, peace and harmony can only be achieved through equal redistribution of wealth, appeasement, and a global effort to reshape human nature through politically correct, collectivist indoctrination.

Predictably, a faulty premise leads to a faulty outcome: the economy is stumbling, education is failing, corruption is spreading, crime is rising, and militant Islamism is gaining more ground. Instead of creating the New Man, the suppression and demonization of natural human traits breeds moral and intellectual freaks. Where normalcy is outlawed, abnormalities flourish.

The most damaging outcome of this fallacy, however, is also the least visible -- and thus rarely mentioned: the government effort to demonize our individual thoughts, impulses, and human nature itself can only result in the eventual dehumanization of our society, turning independent American citizens into mindless statistical units, spiritless cogs in the machine, and powerless subjects of the state, ripe for abuse by any sociopathic government official with dictatorial tendencies.

The Game can only exist in symbiosis with big government. They equally need each other for survival, nourishment, and expansion. Downsizing the government would not only deprive the Game of its nourishment, but would remove the very reason for its existence. Of course, the Game's state sponsor can also be a foreign government -- as it was with the network of KGB influence agents -- but that is a matter for another discussion.

A free-market revolution's primary function, therefore, would be to discard any policies or government structures that are based on the collectivist philosophy of demonization and dehumanization of the individual, starting with the Department of Education.

Human nature has taken us this far; there is every reason to believe it will continue to help us in the future.



Obama won't allow the best hospitals to expand

The Obama administration says it's identified hospitals that provide patients with the most value under a new ObamaCare bonus program. Unfortunately, the sweeping health law also makes it very hard for such facilities to expand or new ones to be built.

The law's Hospital Value Based Purchasing program rewards hospitals that meet certain quality standards with a small percentage increase in their Medicare payments. Those that fall short face small Medicare payment percentage cuts.

The standards include "process measures," such as the percent of patients receiving an antibiotic within an hour of surgery, and patient satisfaction measures, including how well a doctor communicates with a patient.

Nine of the top 10 hospitals in the first round of HVBP were physician-owned. Indeed, doctor-owned hospitals accounted for 48 of the 100 top spots, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over 3,400 hospitals were included in the program.

Treasure Valley Hospital got the top bonus, a 0.83% increase in its Medicare payments. The Boise, Idaho, physician-owned hospital offers an array of surgical services.

Most physician-owned hospitals tend to specialize in one field, such as cardiac or orthopedic surgery.

Physician-owned hospitals did so well because they "have more focus on patients and patient care. They put more money at the bedside," said Paul Kerens, president of Physician Hospitals of America. "Unlike major hospitals, we don't have as many bureaucratic layers to go through to get quality to the patient bedside."

Nancy Foster, vice-president for safety and patient quality at the American Hospital Association, said, "The measures are dominated by heart care and orthopedic care, which is where physician-owned hospitals are likely to excel. Additionally, hospitals that are new and smaller do better on the (patient satisfaction) measures and those differences make it more challenging for general, acute-care hospitals to score well."

While ObamaCare highlights and rewards physician-owned hospitals for their high patient value, the law also effectively bars any more from ever being built. Provisions withhold Medicare funds from any physician-owned hospital built after 2010.

That was a big victory for traditional hospitals, which claim their physician-owned rivals don't take as many low-paying Medicaid patients and thus are unfair competition. For years the AHA and the Federation of American Hospitals lobbied Congress to stop the expansion of physician-owned hospitals.

ObamaCare also put regulatory hurdles in the way of existing physician-owned hospitals that want to expand. The owners must first apply to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. They can do so only once every two years.

They must then wait while members of the community provide input. Further, the physician-owned hospital must be in a county where population growth is 150% of the overall state's growth in the last five years. Inpatient admissions to the physician-owned hospital must be equal to or greater than the average of such admissions in all hospitals located in the county. Its bed occupancy rate must be greater than the state average. And it must be located in a state where hospital bed capacity is less than the national average.

Even if the physician-owned hospital meets all of those conditions, it is prohibited from expanding more than 200%.




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January 25, 2013

Obama says anything that sounds good -- but there are some consistencies

Over the last few weeks, indeed since his victory at the polls, I have been listening to President Obama’s speeches quite regularly. I wasn’t surprised one bit at his ready exploitation of the Connecticut schools shooting. As one of his hacks, Emanuel Rahm, said a few months ago, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

And more government control of the lives of American citizens is, as I can figure it, the priority of this president. He believes we are a tribe that he rules and whatever chance he finds he will use to make sure everyone does what he envisions is the proper thing to do. Give up your weapons, let the feds be the sole armed group in the country! Treat all wealth as public, collective, and basically abolish private property rights, mostly by way of the constant increase of taxation. Don’t respect anyone’s right to use and dispose of resources but assume full authority over these and set the priorities for what to do with them.

I suppose there is still some semblance of liberty left in the country–mostly having to do with the free flow of opinion and the permission to engage in a great variety of artistic expression (although judging by what kind of works seem to gain the approval of the elite media even this may reasonably be doubted).

If you check the president’s inauguration speech accepting his election to a second term as president of the country, there is in it evidence of a decisive tone of postmodernist political thinking, the road to confusing the public. That is to say, no rhyme or reason can be found in the political ideas Obama has chosen to lump together. There is in the pile a bit of this, a bit of that, a bit of yet something else–socialism, capitalism, fascism, authoritarianism, welfare statism, feudalism, and nearly every other identifiable political viewpoint.

It is almost as if he and his team is deliberately advancing an incoherent agenda, one that will leave the American people with no guide to what to expect from his administration of the American government. There certainly is no loyalty to the central element of the American political tradition, namely the doctrine of individual rights. Indeed, if anything, that is one feature completely missing from Mr. Obama’s political stew. We must all comply with his vision of a human community, a vision the centerpiece of which is that “we are all in it together,” that we are one huge tribe or hive of people who individually are hapless and indeed worthless. But even this collectivist political alternative is buried in mishmash so it’s hard to identify it and so it certainly doesn’t commit Mr. Obama to having to defend it with a coherent political argument.

The philosophical guidance to this kind of political thinking has had serious proponents, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing original about it. Indeed, it is a kind of chicken coming home to roost situation–the founders being the likes of the ancient sophists featured in Plato’s dialogues and the more recent irrationalists such as Paul Feyerabend (check his book Farewell to Reason) and Richard Rorty (whose essay “The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy” is very helpful essay for grasping Mr. Obama’s way of thinking in which the population’s unavoidably hotch potch viewpoint is endorsed as against the aim to forge a rational public philosophy).

I do not know if Mr. Obama has read all these and other irrationalist and post-modernist thinkers and consciously follows them but as a self-proclaimed (but much disputed) radical “pragmatist” the way he presents himself in his most recent political proclamations suggests very strongly that he is being deliberately obscure. Why?

My guess is that his goal of top down control of American society is taken by him to benefit from leaving his audience, indeed the entire American public, baffled as to just what is best in political matters.

The only explicit school of politics this approach comes close to is fascism in which the society’s leadership if left in the hands of a charismatic ruler, like Mussolini or Hugo Chavez. Do Mr. Obama’s supporters realize this about him and his ideas? I do not know.



The Collectivist Mind Game: Demonizing the Opposition‏

Most modern-day leftists in Western countries have abandoned the idea of a violent revolution, having replaced it with "the long march through the institutions" as part of the culture war to transform the society through cultural hegemony. Instead of commanding firing squads, they play mind games of manipulative illusions, in which the demonization of dissent plays a crucial role. The basic premise hasn't changed: as much as the statists want you to love them, they want you to hate their opponents even more.

Until a time when political opposition can be eliminated completely, having opponents can still be useful: you can steal their ideas, take advantage of their desire to help the economy, and blame them for any of your own failures. In the meantime, certain rules must be followed to control the public opinion and, through it, the opposition itself.

Maintain the perception of being constantly under attack. Don't examine the opponents' beliefs, nor answer their arguments. Discredit any media channels that offer them a platform. Enforce the following media template: the opposition is evil, treasonous, unfathomable, and psychotic. They can't be reasoned with. They are inspired by fascism and financed by a conspiracy of shady oligarchs. Defame their donors. Whatever the mischief you're planning to pull off, accuse them of doing it first; then proceed as planned, describing your actions as a necessary intervention. And ridicule, ridicule, ridicule!

This is what made it easy for Stalin to purge his opponents: by the time he charged them with treason, the orchestrated media coverage had already made them universally hated. Having purged all of his enemies, Stalin continued to manufacture the evidence of their presence. There came a time when even the true believers were being rounded up and forced to confess publicly about one or another fabricated "crime" against the people and the Party. Some did it to avoid torture, some to save their families, and some even cooperated out of the altruistic desire to support the illusion and keep everyone else's beautiful dream alive. Unfortunately for them, that beautiful dream required human sacrifice.

At the same time, Stalin used the only remaining high-ranking Jew in his government, Lazar Kaganovich, as a perpetual scapegoat. Himself a ruthless henchman who organized a number of purges, Kaganovich ended up serving in the capacity of an unpunishable bumbling idiot, a "token Jew," and a darkly comic relief. Implicitly blamed for one government blunder after another, this Joe Biden of Stalin's regime was moved from ministry to ministry only to be blamed again and reassigned to yet another top-level position. As expected, the people's reaction was a universal loathing and bewilderment: how can Comrade Stalin be so soft and trusting of this evil Jew? Kaganovich outlived them all; he died in 1991, among friends and family, at the age of 97.

Across the ocean, years later, the same rules still apply. The perception of a relentless struggle with the opposition must be permanent and persuasive. Even in the times of calm and prosperity the people must think that the opposition is holding them hostage and only the firm, wise guidance of the People's Leader is saving them from imminent ruin. When the opponents are too few, too weak, and too disoriented to put up a real fight, their power and influence must be exaggerated.

Ever since "crybaby" John Boehner became the GOP House Speaker, the media grotesquely overstated the effectiveness of his fruitless, anemic leadership. Among other things, this patent exaggeration allowed Obama to maintain his saintly image while shifting the responsibility for the staggering economy onto "Republican obstructionism."

The following quotes by "citizen journalists" exemplify the public outrage created by the media template of demonizing the opposition. Unlike the honed professionals who can mask their agenda with superficial objectivity, these amateurs let their emotions run wild without realizing that they are being played. Like children, they connect the preprinted dots and eagerly tell us what they see:
Opposition is anti-American: The Republican leaders have remained consistent with their agenda of obstructing the President clearly putting their party ahead of the American people.

Opposition is racist: How far do you think Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and his cohorts in the House will go in their campaign to defeat America's first black President?

Opposition is grotesquely absurd: The clowns - Boehner and McConnell - ignored the needs of the nation to do what they thought was best for themselves . . . to solidify their positions of power and secure their own political futures by tearing down President Obama and America in the process.

Opposition is deceitful: In their effort to make President Obama look weak, Republicans played a dangerous game with the debt ceiling and in the process threw away America's triple-A credit rating... Those Republican obstructionists really know how to twist the facts to support the anti-Obama political campaign.

Opposition is undemocratic: They have essentially fought to block anything and everything the Democrats have proposed and offered nothing in the way of alternatives. So egregious is their barricade of democracy that they have no defense against charges of deliberate sabotage at the expense of American citizens.

Opposition is mind-boggling: Missing from President Obama's acceptance speech in Charlotte last Thursday is one potent argument: An attack on obstructionist Republicans in Congress. ... It's a mystery because a major reason the economy has not done better under Mr. Obama is that Republicans have blocked virtually every initiative he has proposed, even when the president, especially in the early months of his administration, tailored many of his proposals to attract Republican support.

Opposition is guilty of treason: If an enemy declared war on the American economy, the United States would spare no effort to remove that threat to its prosperity and national security. So it was with Osama Bin Laden... But when the Republican Party threatens ... to sabotage the U.S. economy if its debt ceiling demands are not met, the media instead calls that treason a "debate." ... And that's not politics as usual. That's treason.
Just like painting by numbers doesn't make one an artist, actors or singers who are good at articulating prepared lines don't automatically become articulate thinkers. Being in the business of selling emotions rather than rational arguments, they connect the same old media dots as any other amateur -- but do it with extra flair and aplomb. Extrapolating the lines allows them to see horns on the head of the opposition. Voilà! They can't shut up about such an amazing insight.

Harry Belafonte even went as far as suggest that Obama should "work like a third world dictator and just put all these guys in jail" -- because, obviously, since the Republicans "are violating the American desire," the "only thing left for Barack Obama to do" is to pull a Stalin: praise Barack and jail the opposition.

Even if he said this in jest, Belafonte's call for political repressions is a logical extension of the ideas shared by many celebrities who have been swayed by and are now promoting the leftist cultural hegemony. That includes Woody Allen, who said this in an interview to a Spanish-language magazine: "It would be good... if [President Obama] could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly."

This begs a question: if Obama is not a socialist, why do his supporters interpret his reelection as "the American desire" to establish a totalitarian dictatorship -- and think this would be a good thing? So much for "socialism with a human face."

No wonder the "hegemonized" Hollywood filmmakers (starting with Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator), can never truthfully depict either the Soviet or Nazi totalitarian regimes. Unable to fathom the motives of their fictional villains, they wind up supplanting the collectivist realities of socialism (be it national socialism or international socialism) with grotesque caricatures of improbable monsters, uncultured brutes, neurotic sociopaths, or sadistic, sexually repressed perverts. It never occurs to them that unspeakable crimes could be committed in the name of "the common good" by very ordinary, altruistic people -- out of an all too familiar desire to "do a lot of good things quickly" through dictatorial powers. Such a notion would be too terrifying, of course, because they might just recognize their own reflection in the mirror.

Though many of them may have seen this quote by C.S. Lewis, it is doubtful that their conditioned minds are capable of grasping its meaning: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive... [T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Their young audiences, deprived of adequate education and learning about history and current events from Hollywood movies and TV shows, will not recognize the symptoms of an encroaching totalitarianism either. Upon hearing a dissenter who disparages the benevolent guidance of the state, they will immediately recognize a stereotype that is being relentlessly demonized and dehumanized on their screens: the ignorant, close-minded, right-wing nut job. Chances are they will smugly ridicule him with the jokes they heard from their favorite media personalities. In another generation, they may as well feel morally obligated to report the dissenter to the authorities -- and be thrilled at the chance to partake in the historic mission of crushing the remnants of the evil reactionaries, even if they happen to be their parents.

Today's American intellectuals are retracing the steps of their Soviet predecessors in the early days of the socialist dictatorship. Having had hopes to see the workers' paradise in their lifetime, many came to regret their misguided enthusiasm, as they themselves fell victim to the popular illusions they helped to induce, when a mere slip of a tongue, a drunken remark, or an accusation by someone in the new generation of socialist intellectuals who wanted to take their job, wife, or apartment, led them to be lumped with any of the large assortment of the thoroughly demonized and dehumanized "enemies of the people."

There is only one way to redistribute wealth: human sacrifice, with optional variations of manipulative mind games to ease the pain and maintain control over the population. All those who claimed they can do it differently were doomed, sooner or later, to retrace the same path.



Phil Isn't the One Who Needs to Apologize

Please tell me this is some sort of a sick joke: Phil Mickelson is a professional golfer. He makes boatloads of money. Millions. What’s more, he makes boatloads of money for a lot of other people in the process, including generating massive contributions to charity. He’s a jobs creator and an engine of economic growth, as are many other pro golfers and athletes.

So Mickelson takes a look at his income tax burden, and is displeased. First we have Obama and the Democrats riding roughshod over the GOP and enacting a 4.6% tax increase on the evil rich. Then we have the voters of California doing what the voters of California have been doing – shooting themselves in the foot – by passing a ballot measure to raise state income taxes on the dastardly rich by another 3.32%. Now Mickelson is facing an income tax burden somewhere between 62 and 63%.

Mickelson is a smart guy, and he hires other smart guys to help him make economic decisions. These other smart guys undoubtedly told Phil to put his clubs in a bag and get the hell out of California. Do what most of the other pro golfers have done, more to Florida. No state income tax. Right there his tax burden goes down by 13.3%, not to mention the advantages in estate taxes and ad valorem property taxes. Trust me. I know.

So Mickelson suggests that he is going to have to make some “drastic changes” due to “what’s gone on in the last few months politically” and being “targeted both federally and by the state.” And now – guess what? Phil Mickelson is the personification of evil for suggesting he’s going to do what tens of thousands of Californians have done … cast his next vote with his feet. Mickelson gets hammered by the ObamaMedia and finally sidles up to the microphone and apologizes. He apologizes --- please sit down for this – to anyone he might have “upset or insulted.”

Whisky Tango Foxtrot!

How upside down can things be in America? Mickelson is being called “greedy.” Really? So now we define “greed” as wanting to keep more of the money you earn? If that’s greed, what do you call the moochers who go to the poll to vote for the politician that’s going to take that money away from you and give it to them? Oh wait! I know! Obama voters!




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January 24, 2013

An Open Letter to my Democratic Friends

by L. Neil Smith

The family of an old friend of mine once tried raising geese to supplement the income of their farm. They soon discovered that geese seem to have a few parts missing in the brains department, including the proverbial sense to come in out of the rain. Water mysteriously falls on their heads and instead of making for shelter, they look up, open-mouthed, to see where it's coming from. Before you know it, you have a waterlogged acre of feathered half-wits drowning where they stand.

I've always thought it fitting that the city government of my home town has chosen the goose as its logo—as its animal totem,if you will.

You Democrats are a lot like geese. It's as if you were standing on the railroad tracks wondering about that pretty bright light that's getting closer and closer. Then, once the messy inevitable occurs, all you other geese, having failed to learn anything from what's just happened, go on about your goosey business until the next train comes along.

Don't get me wrong, here. I've known Democrats I've liked and even admired. Two of my college history professors were old-time classical liberals, genuinely interested in whether we got the stuff, and in whether the stuff was true. I met the great Eugene McCarthy twice and had a longish chat with him on one occasion. Most of my professional colleagues are Democrats, and one or two of them are good company. I admired the way that George McGovern regretted advancing managerial statism.

One of them introduced me to the works of Gabiel Kolko, which eventually helped cure me of corporatism. The other, attempting to wean me off of the academically unrespectable Ayn Rand, by offering alternatives he believed were more worthy of respect, inadvertently demonstrated to me what a consummate waste of skin William F. Buckley was.

The problem with you Democrats—and it's a mindset that I'm not certain is curable—is that even the best of you clearly suffer from the delusion that other people's lives are yours to do with as you wish.

Neither do you seem able to calculate the long range consequences of the policies that you forcibly impose on unwilling others under your thumbs. Your welfare state establishment has all but destroyed black American culture, substituting one that is ludicrous and phony, instead.

Your half-baked attempts to control the lives of others have turned the centers of American cities into theme-parks of horror and death so violently crime-ridden that their statistics completely swamp out the rest of the country, which is peaceful and productive to a degree that is utterly unprecedented in history, anywhere in the world.

Now you find your party taken over by something malign, something so alien in outlook you can barely comprehend it. Call them Marxists, if you have the courage. Call them jihadists, because that is where they draw strength. Call them the spiritual descendents of Al Capone. Call them what you will (personally, I think of them as Obamunists), they are extortionists who delight in torturing and killing people to get what they want, singly or by the thousands. And every injury, every death, every loss of home and hope, is your responsibility. You may not be aware of it—maybe you are—but this administration, your administration has brought America to the very brink of civil war.

Democrats, it's time you cleaned your house, time you purged yourselves of the desire to control others. It is you Democrats who must lead the movement to impeach this snide, sneering, sarcastic crook who despises the Constitution and the Bill of Rights he swore— falsely—to uphold and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic.

It's time.



More on Buying Votes

In a recent analysis of President Obama’s fabulous reelection victory, I argued that one of the reasons he won was his unprecedented use of existing (and new) federal governmental giveaway programs — he played the game of buying votes with taxpayer dollars like no one before him. But the extent of this gargantuan giveaway spree is only now becoming clear.

Take just two of the programs he expanded. First, food stamp programs exploded in size — by 15 million people. The record was set in the year of his reelection. During fiscal year 2012, the main food stamp program — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP” . . . a snappy name, indeed!) — spent a record $80.4 billion, up a whopping $2.7 billion from the year before. (SNAP was spending “only” $55.6 billion when Obama took control, so he raised it by nearly two-thirds.)

When you add in all the other nutritional programs — such as the $18.3 billion spent on the second main food stamp program, the “Child Nutrition Program” — total food stamp spending hit a total of $106 billion.

In the year before the election, the Obama administration aggressively advertised these programs, to increase the number of recipients — no doubt under the theory that people who get the freebies would gratefully vote for the regime that gave them. This was public choice economics of the crudest variety.

Left unexplained by the Obama administration is why such a massive increase in food stamp usage was necessary, given the vibrant, no, glorious economic recovery brought on by its stupendous spending programs.

Also left unexplained is why if people are really needy you need to advertise to them. Everyone has surely heard of food stamps, so is the advertising here intended to amplify the demand?

Another recent report out of New York informs us that at least our tax dollars are being well spent. Welfare recipients are using their Electronic Benefit Cards — really, they don’t so much get welfare checks anymore as pre-paid credit cards — at some fun places, such as bars, porn video stores, liquor shops, and strip clubs. Yes, the cash assistance program of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program has a “cash assistance” program (programs within programs, like Russian dolls) that allows recipients to pull as much as $668 in food stamps, and $433 in cash, each month. The cash can be spent at bars, booze shops, and sex shops.

Finally, let’s turn to the Federal socialist student loan program, nationalized under the Obama administration, so that 93% of all student loans are in effect given out by this administration. The program ballooned by 4.6% in the last quarter before the election, a whopping $42 billion rise — in just three months. Now standing at over a trillion bucks, student loan debts exceed those for auto loans, credit cards, and home equity loans.

This debt is beginning to get problematic for those holding it — delinquency rates are way up. Loan payments that were 90 days past due recently hit 11%, higher than the percentage for credit cards.

But all this has served the purpose of electing Democrats, so the administration has good reason for its current fit of self-congratulation.



Litmus Test for Top Officers: Willingness to Fire on Americans

Anyone familiar with Obama’s radical background will find this Facebook post by author Jim Garrow as believable as it is terrifying:

"I have just been informed by a former senior military leader that Obama is using a new “litmus test” in determining who will stay and who must go in his military leaders. Get ready to explode folks. “The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on US citizens or not”. Those who will not are being removed."

Garrow is a respected activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work rescuing baby girls from one-child China. His source is “one of America’s foremost military heroes.”

This certainly gives the urgent drive to disarm law-abiding citizens some perspective. It could also help us make sense of massive ammunition purchases by the increasingly frightening Department of Homeland Security.

According to the testimony of FBI informant Larry Grathwohl, the Weather Underground crowd that launched Obama’s political career estimated they would have to exterminate 25 million “diehard capitalists” to impose communism on America. This would be done at “reeducation centers” (a.k.a. concentration camps, gulags) in the time-tested oligarchical collectivist tradition.

In possibly related news, Obama is abruptly firing the head of Central Command, Marine Corps General James Mattis. General Mattis has been accused of asking too many questions regarding the Obama policy toward Iran. Could be he wasn’t willing to give the order Obama expects the next four years of Hope & Change to make necessary, and that the Oath Keepers are prepared not to follow.

Once the final pieces are in position, all that remains is for Obama to collapse the economy, Cloward-Piven style. A few more $trillion in wasteful spending should do the trick.



Israel and Islam roundup, courtesy of ICJS

Islamic anti semitism
Yale prof sounds alarm over new anti-Semites by Johanna Ginsberg
Charles Asher Small says few academics grasp radical Islam ... read more (from NJ Jewish News)
Egypt’s U.S.-Subsidized Politics of Hate by Jonathan S. Tobin
Better late than never is the only way one can describe the New York Times’s decision to run an articleabout Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s history of anti-Semitic slanders. ... read more (from Commentary)
Laughing off jew-hatred by Neil J. Kressel
Neil J. Kressel’s ‘The Sons of Pigs and Apes’: Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Conspiracy of Silence,” was published in November. ... read more (from NY Post)
Arab Jew-hate and the western media by the Warped Mirror
The shocking reality of rabid anti semitism has been missed or avoided by the western media. But here it is exposed. ... read more (from Jerusalem Post)
Demographic pressures of Islamism
Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East by Edward Malnick
Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. ... read more (from Telegraph (UK))
Possible school closure reflects Jews’ flight from European cities by Cnaan Lipshitz
An increasingly dangerous neighborhood forces tough decisions at a Brussels institution founded as a symbol of survival after the Holocaust ... read more (from Times of Israel)
Think Tank Analysis
Media Bias and the Erosion of First Amendment Ideals by Matthew M. Hausman
There is no licensing and enforceable standards for news reporters, as there are for doctors, for example. The media’s coverage of Benghazi was colored by the typically unbalanced approach it takes in reporting on the Mideast in general. ... read more (from INN)
The Problem in Historical Perspective: Israel and the Media War by Dr. Joel Fishman
From the 1960s, inversion of truth and reality has been one the most favored propaganda methods of Israel‘s adversaries. One of its most frequent expressions has been the accusation that the Jewish people, victims of the Nazis, have now become the new Nazis, aggressors and oppressors of the Palestinian Arabs. Contemporary observers have identified this method and described it as an “inversion of reality,” an “intellectual confidence trick,” “reversing moral responsibility,” or “twisted logic.” Because Israel‘s enemies have, for nearly half a century, repeated such libels without being challenged, they have gradually gained credence. Since inversion of reality constitutes the basic principle of current anti-Israeli propaganda, it is important to understand what it is and how it works. This propaganda method is a product of Nazi Germany. It is totalitarian both in its methods, particularly the use of the paranoiac myth, and in the absolute solution it advocates. It totally denies all of Israel‘s claims and leaves no room for introspection and compromise. ... read more (from JCPA)
Stealth Islamism
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrated Obama Admin by Elad Benari
Egyptian magazine claims that six Islamist activists who work with Obama are Muslim Brotherhood operatives ... read more (from INN)
Sweep it under the carpet and no one will notice by Editorial
From Thailand... ... read more (from The Nation)



Woman arrested at Detroit airport sues airline: "A Sylvania woman who was taken off an airplane in handcuffs at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and then strip-searched and interrogated by authorities on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Frontier Airlines and state and federal authorities. Shoshana Hebshi, a U.S. citizen who is half Arab and half Jewish, claims that racial profiling and ethnic discrimination were the reasons for authorities detaining her for nearly four hours after she was arrested on Sept. 11, 2011 while she was a passenger on the Denver-to-Detroit Frontier Airlines flight."

Mali: French seize control of two key towns: "French troops in armored personnel carriers rolled through the streets of Diabaly on Monday, winning praise from residents of this besieged town after Malian forces retook control of it with French help a week after radical Islamists invaded. The Islamists also have deserted the town of Douentza, which they had held since September, according to a local official who said French and Malian forces arrived there on Monday as well."



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January 23, 2013

The Collectivist Mind Game: Demonizing the Non-Compliant

By Oleg Atbashian

In the libertarian sci-fi classic, "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," Robert A. Heinlein describes a successful revolution of the individualistic, free-market-oriented residents of the Moon against the Earth's tyrannical big government. The ins and outs of agitating and organizing the masses to fight the oppressive Authority feel just as realistic as the finer points of everyday life in the underground Lunar cities of the future.

The proposed revolutionary scenario could even serve as a workable model for similar real-life endeavors, if only the renowned futurist author hadn't neglected to factor in the immanent function of any oppressive regime: systemic brainwashing of its subjects through the media, education, and entertainment channels.

If the tyrants on Earth were worth their salt, all the freedom-loving colonists would be subjected to an intense, manipulative indoctrination, which would shape their self-image as small and sinful "little guys" vis-à-vis the powerful, virtuous government that serves the powerless and protects them against all enemies, including themselves.

Thus, the government's propagandistic narrative would establish the illusion of a society divided into three major classes: the ruling government class, endowed with benevolent powers to guide or punish; the majority class of hapless losers, whose survival depended on the government's largesse and protection; and an unquantifiable class of demonized mysterious enemies of the government and, by extension, of the people, who would be the perceived culprits of all failures, hardships, and misery of the little guys' everyday existence.

The majority class would itself be divided into an assortment of narrow-interest groups, held together only by the glue of government's redistributive, pacifying and equalizing powers, as well as by their shared hostility towards the designated "enemies."

The prevailing feelings in such a society would be the collectivist fervor, envy of individual achievers, fear of chaos in the absence of the government's protection, hatred of anti-government elements, and hope for a better future once all the hidden enemies are unveiled and eliminated.

This makes Heinlein's scenario of a free-market revolution highly unlikely. No self-respecting oppressive regime would start a crackdown on the rebels without priming the population with a mass-media campaign that would show how big government benefits most of the people, and how the resistance is destroying the lives of the common folk. As a minimum, the government would parade a poor little girl crying on camera because she and her family suffered from the hands of the rebels. Even those who didn't hate the rebels before would hate them now.

In a society shaped by the government's mind games of manipulative illusions, a dissenter sticks out like a sore thumb. Once the resistance has been demonized, its members will be quickly identified and denounced by the compliant citizenry, labeled as the enemy, and be dealt with by law enforcement.

In the end, the self-preservation of modern-day totalitarianism is ensured, not so much by the secret police with its army of snitches and brutal enforcers, as by modern technologies of psychological manipulation through the media, education, and entertainment.

Perhaps, Heinlein's tyrannical regime came off so hapless because the author had had no experience of living in a totalitarian statist system. Writing The Moon in the early 1960s, he likely modeled the actions of the Lunar Authority on the methods used by the U.S. government against the Communists. And, as we now know, the U.S. government failed that mission, just like the Lunar Authority did in Heinlein's novel.

The FBI mostly relied on surveillance, infiltration, and recruiting of informants. Occasional amateur propaganda designed to immunize Americans against the seductive statist rhetoric turned out to be a flash in the pan. It was child's play compared to the vast arsenal deployed by the KGB and its affiliates in Communist countries.

The United States at the time didn't have an all-encompassing, totalitarian propaganda machine like its enemies did. State-enforced mind control, by definition, is incompatible with the principles of living in a free world. Statists, on the other hand, have no such limitations; playing mind games for them is a way of life. This makes it asymmetrical warfare.

Statists, of course, would like to have everything shared -- except their power. In free democracies they always demand their share of political power -- and always get what they want. However, once they are in power, they keep it to themselves and demonize the opposition.

The Marxist ideal of Communism is an altruistic collectivist society of the future, in which there will be no need for government, family, or private property. Freed from capitalist exploitation, people are expected to unleash their full potential and create unprecedented material abundance. The selfish notion of the pursuit of individual happiness will wither away. There will be no money, no greed, no deprivation, and, therefore, no crime.

However, since a society can't directly leap from capitalism into communism, Marx reasoned that a dictatorial socialist state would be a necessary transition in order to develop the required material base, help to spread the revolution around the world, and to condition the people's minds by uprooting greed and selfishness (or to eliminate those individuals who can't be conditioned).

Leaving the debunking of utopian follies for another time, let's just say that the totalitarian socialist state is where they always get bogged down. Despite their ideal of a stateless future, the leftists invariably become ruthless and uncompromising statists. It no longer matters whether it's a doctrinaire Marxist socialism or "corporate" fascism; if the end result is evil, original intentions don't count.

In Russia, the communists used to demonize their opponents long before the Revolution, which made it easier for them to physically eliminate the opposition later. As soon as they were in full control of the government, they began to demonize entire segments of the society, subcultures, and classes of people whom they deemed incapable of change.

Observe a visual example of communist demonization: an agitprop poster titled "Enemies of the 5-Year Plan," more broadly interpreted as "enemies of socialism" and, by extension, "enemies of the people."

A disparaging verse at the bottom describes who the enemies are:

The wealthy landowner
The kulak (a pejorative term for a wealthy farmer who "exploits" hired labor)
The drunk
The clergy (a Russian Orthodox Priest)
The bourgeois press (a non-compliant, independent journalist)
The capitalist (a banker, industrialist, merchant)
The Menshevik (a political opponent from a different communist faction)
The surviving remnants of the pre-revolutionary law enforcement and the military

The wealthy farmers, being the most numerous group and the most likely to resist the collectivization of agriculture, were subjected to the most vicious dehumanization reminiscent of the anti-Semitic propaganda in Nazi Germany.

Note this Lenin quote on another dehumanizing poster: "The kulaks are the most bestial, brutal and savage exploiters, who in the history of other countries have time and again restored the power of the landlords, tsars, priests and capitalists." (Full quote in Russian)

The demonization of the kulaks laid the groundwork for their subsequent annihilation. Facing a peasant rebellion, Lenin sent the following telegram to his henchmen: "Hang publicly (in full view of the people) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers. Make their names public. Take away all their grain. Make a list of the next group of hostages. Do it in such a fashion that for hundreds of miles around the people might see, tremble, realize, and scream: 'they are strangling, and will strangle to death, the bloodsucking kulaks'."

Other non-compliant citizens were dealt with in a similar fashion. "Statements from the few survivors, published in émigré newspapers the following year, describe Sevastopol, one of the towns that suffered most heavily under the repressions, as 'the city of the hanged.' 'From Nakhimovsky, all one could see was the hanging bodies of officers, soldiers, and civilians arrested in the streets. The town was dead, and the only people left alive were hiding in lofts or basements. All the walls, shop fronts, and telegraph poles were covered with posters calling for 'Death to the traitors.' They were hanging people for fun." -- The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al, pg 107

These were not aberrations, but logical consequences of the Marxist theory. According to Karl Marx, "there is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new -- revolutionary terror."



Canadian labor union defends fatal negligence -- and Canadian "First Nations" are not much better

Mischa Popoff

It took 7 years to go to trial, but who’s counting? If you need hard evidence that unions and the public service don’t mix, consider that one of the people allegedly responsible for the sinking of the Queen of the North in 2006 is only now going to finally face justice. And you can thank the B.C. Ferry Marine Workers Union for the delay.

Karl Lilgert was eventually fired for his role in this disaster, but only after his union defended him blindly along with the co-worker with whom he was supposedly having sex on the bridge the night of the disaster. Unlike Lilgert who will face a jury of his peers, quartermaster Karen Bricker gets off scot-free.

Two full years after the disaster, Jackie Miller, a spokeswoman for the union, still insisted that neither Lilgert nor Bricker were actually responsible for what happened, claiming they were “two victims, just like the two people that went down with the ship.” Yup, that’s what she said. Like Lilgert, Bricker was also eventually fired, but in any other non-unionized line of work both would have been fired immediately. Instead, they both sat at home collecting full salaries and benefits until finally the union relented.

The size of their severance packages was never disclosed, and passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, whose bodies were never found, were presumed drowned.

I used to joke that as long as a public-service employee doesn’t have sex or kill anyone at work, he’ll have a job for life. Turns out I was wrong. You CAN have sex with anyone you want at work, kill a few people, and still retain your job! At least for a while, if you have the right union.

This is what happens when a political organization like a union decides it’s above the law and no one in government has the guts to stand up to them. Sound familiar? It’s precisely what’s happening in the nationwide “Idle No More” movement in which a handful of those claiming to represent the proud First Nations people of this country are threatening to shut down the Canadian economy and bring the nation to its knees.

Theresa Spence could serve serious time for embezzlement but for the accident of her birth. She makes just under $70,000 a year, tax free, as chief of the Attawapiskat Indian reserve, she pays her boyfriend $850 a day, also tax free, to be Attawapiskat’s town manager, and between the two of them they can’t seem to account for the better part of a whopping $90 million – I repeat $90 million – that her reserve has received through public and private payments since 2006.

But, like a spoiled member of a public-service union to whom the rules don’t apply, Spence has decided to go on a fake hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of her people who, thanks to her and her boyfriend, are forced to live in homes that should be condemned.

Spence is being aided and abetted by a handful of other radical chiefs across the land that could all benefit from a lesson in Economics 101. Meanwhile, business-minded chiefs who could teach graduate level Economics -- like Robert Louie of the Westbank First Nations and Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band –- don’t have time to join this radical collective because they’re too busy creating jobs for their people.

Message to Spence, there are no homes worthy of being condemned on the Louis’ reserves.

Lilgert’s upcoming trial illustrates why Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the father of the modern welfare state, didn’t allow unions in the federal government. Spence’s actions meanwhile illustrate why the Northwest Mounted Police were founded back in 1873 (upgraded into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920).

In both cases the goal was to uphold the law for all regardless of their race, creed, religion or political affiliation. And in both cases, Clarence Louie’s sage words of advice apply: “Quit your sniffling.”

Received via email



Russia: Laws against “homosexual propaganda” in the works: "Kissing his boyfriend during a protest in front of Russia's parliament earned Pavel Samburov 30 hours of detention and the equivalent of a $16 fine on a charge of 'hooliganism.' But if a bill that comes up for a first vote later this month becomes law, such a public kiss could be defined as illegal 'homosexual propaganda' and bring a fine of up to $16,000. The legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal nationwide to provide minors with information that is defined as 'propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism.' It includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights."

Mali: French airstrikes jolt Islamists in Diabaly: "Backed by French air strikes, Malian forces appeared close to recapturing a key central town in Mali where bands of al-Qaida-linked fighters had holed up, France's defense minister said Sunday. The French military has spent the last nine days helping the West African nation of Mali quash a jihadist rebellion in its vast northern desert."



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January 22, 2013

Saving America From The “Make Somebody Else Pay” Mindset

“I don’t know what ‘moral grounds’ you think you’re standing on, but as far as I am concerned, what you’re saying is very immoral…”

I was an interview guest last month, and the radio talk show host was asking me about the looming fiscal cliff. In the midst of discussing how our government must cut spending, the host had noted the title of my latest book – “The Virtues Of Capitalism, A Moral Case For Free Markets” – and after a few minutes of discussion, asked “do you mind if we take a phone call, Austin?”

Sometimes that word “moral” in the book title gets people very upset. This was one of those times.

“I’m a Pastor,” the show caller said, “and my Bible tells me that the ‘moral’ thing to do is to to love and to pray for our President, not to hate on him.” I noted to the caller that I had not said a word about President Obama. “Yeah, but all this rhetoric about ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘cutting spending’ is code talk for ‘I hate it that Obama won.’ Obama did win, and he did not create this crisis, so get over it…”

Thus was my experience a few weeks ago, being interviewed on a radio talk show in the “Bible Belt” region of the U.S. And the reaction I got from the clergyman (he has since emailed me, and I have every reason to believe that he’s really a Pastor) underscores some serious problems in our country. They are problems that both underlie, and yet transcend, our government debt crisis.

For one, Americans far too often trivialize our nation’s public policy. The Super Bowl is about “my team versus your team,” but debates about the laws and policies of our country are far more important. When Americans dismiss concerns over government debt as “you’re just hatin’ on my guy” – as the talk show caller did to me, and as many other Americans do regularly – then we’re in serious trouble.

Government debt is at a “code red” level of danger, and the choices that elected officials make over the coming two to four years or so will shape the world and our country’s future for decades to come. Save your zealotry for the “big game” – it’s time for Americans to engage their brains, not merely their passions.

And here’s another problem: far too many Americans seem to be illiterate when it comes to basic economics. We understand competition and excellence, success and failure, when it’s on the playing field or American Idol. But success in business is presumed by many to be ill-gotten gain, and people who make lots of money with successful enterprises are frequently dismissed as “greedy,” and deserving of more government confiscation of their money.

Worse yet, many of us seem to lose all sense of reality when it comes to the economic promises of politicians. Most American adults seem to understand that a drunken person cannot drink themselves to sobriety, and that no individual or household can spend their way out of debt. Yet when politicians promise to “help” us by spending more of our money, many of us seem to believe it.

Yet the existing federal government debt, on a per-capita basis, translates to approximately $54,000 per individual citizen, and about $200,000 per household. Simply saying “I don’t understand economics very well” is unacceptable. Americans must grow up and realize that a stable society needs prosperous private enterprise, and government that operates within its means.

And here’s a really tough one that our overwhelmingly religious nation needs to understand: economic systems are neither morally relative, nor are they morally neutral. Big government, little government, high and low taxes – these distinctions are not morally inconsequential. The President and the Congress can be blamed for running up debt, but they are an expression of the American electorate’s desires. If there was sufficient political pressure for fiscal responsibility in Washington, then there would be a sufficient number of elected congressional members who would require it, and the President would get on board with it too.

Likewise, it is not morally inconsequential to support a “make somebody else pay” public policy. Indeed, this is morally reprehensible. Amid an environment where nearly 50% of all households are receiving one or more types of government benefit checks, Americans mostly support the President’s “soak the rich” fiscal policy. Yet many of us are indignant at the thought of paying more taxes ourselves (and many more are outraged that, despite the President’s promises to the contrary, all of us who work are having more taxes taken out of our paychecks this year).

In my native homeland of California, the “make somebody else pay” philosophy could not be more obvious. Last November, voters there rejected a modest state sales tax increase that was on the ballot (a tax that would have impacted all consumers), yet overwhelmingly supported an income tax hike on – you guessed it, “rich people.” “Don’t stop my government services,” a majority of California voters seemed to say, “but make somebody else pay for it.”

Debt, out of control spending, and making somebody else pay – they all amount to a lethal combination. Will Americans grow up in sufficient time to choose more wisely?



Federal appeals court upholds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s restrictions on public unions

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.

The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite massive protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.

The law forced public union members to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which Walker said was needed to address a budget shortfall. It also took away nearly all their bargaining rights.

Walker and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who fought for passage of the bill, called the ruling a win for Wisconsin taxpayers.

“As we’ve said all along, Act 10 is constitutional,” Walker said in a statement, referring to the law’s official designation.

The decision, however, does not resolve a flurry of other lawsuits that have been filed over the law.

The most positive ruling for unions came in September when a state circuit court judge said the law was unconstitutional as applied to school and local government workers. That ruling is under appeal to the state appeals court.

While Friday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 7th Circuit could influence the state appeals court and others hearing the cases, it’s not binding, said Paul Secunda, a Marquette University law professor. It certainly doesn’t signal the end of the legal fights, he said, and it could be appealed to the full federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law in question prohibits most public employees from collectively bargaining on anything except wages. It also requires public unions to hold an annual election to see whether members want the organization to continue to exist, and it bars unions from automatically withdrawing dues from members’ paychecks.

More HERE. Commentary here.


Debunking some current myths

I think Steve Deace has a point below. Readers may have noted that I was very unenthusiastic about the centrist Romney. I posted practically nothing in his favor. Clear conservative leadership is needed from here on in --JR

Lie and clever myth #1: Republicans lose elections because they’re too conservative so independents side with Democrats.

TRUTH: Romney won independent voters in the crucial battleground states of Virginia and Ohio, two of the three states he had to win to win the presidency. In Florida, the other battleground state Romney had to have, he actually did 8 points better among independents than McCain did in 2008. In Colorado, Romney won independents by four points, which was 14 points better than McCain performed there four years ago.

Lie and clever myth #2: Romney lost because of the GOP’s alleged “war on women” so that means Republicans can’t be pro-life anymore.

TRUTH: What the GOP really has is a diversity problem. White voters in every demographic – including women and young voters – voted for Romney. Let me repeat that: a majority of white voters regardless of age and gender voted for Romney. For example, Romney won white women by 14 points. A massive turnout of racial and ethnic minorities – black turnout was equal to 2008 and the Hispanic turnout was a little higher – determined the election and gave Obama the support he needed to win.

Lie and clever myth #3: The Republicans energized their base, but it’s just shrinking so the party has to move left.

TRUTH: Remember the promises of 17 million evangelicals going to the polls that didn’t in 2008? Or perhaps you were sold on that Catholic voter backlash to Obamacare and its threat to religious freedom turning out values voters in a way Romney was incapable? Well, it turns out that neither happened.

The reality is 2.5 million fewer Evangelicals voted in 2012 than 2008. Fewer Catholics voted in 2012 than 2008 as well, despite the presence of two Catholic vice presidential candidates. 6.4 million Evangelicals actually voted for Obama. In the crucial battleground state of Ohio, Obama actually improved his white Evangelical turnout by 8% compared to four years ago. That’s probably because of the automobile bailout, but also pro-choice television ads Romney was running in Ohio that angered some pro-lifers. Romney also ran those pro-choice television ads in Virginia, and CNN’s exit polls found the Evangelical turnout declined by 7% compared to 2008.

Yes, Romney did get the same hefty percentage of Evangelical voters that George W. Bush got in his victorious 2004 campaign, but the turnout wasn’t as large.

Efforts to make Romney’s liberal record on social issues seem palatable in contrast to President Obama’s leftist social policies didn’t pan out, as yet again the social conservative base of the Republican Party proved it doesn’t turn out in full force unless it sees stark differences between the two candidates themselves—regardless of what a candidate’s proxies say. Apparently when Romney told the Chick-fil-a crowd last August you’re “not a part of my campaign” they got the message.

But Christians weren’t the only social conservatives Romney failed to successfully turn out. Get this: Romney even did worse among his fellow Mormons than George W. Bush did in 2004 if you can believe that.


Romney lost the election in the end because his base wasn’t as energized as Obama’s was. All the so-called “skewed” polling that pointed to an Obama turnout of Democrats similar to 2008 turned out to be correct.

If you count the 2.5 million fewer Evangelicals that voted compared to 2008, and the 6.4 million Evangelicals that voted for Obama, a future Republican nominee has almost 9 million potential new voters in 2016 if he actually reaches out to them credibly and consistently.

Adding a majority of those 9 million voters to Romney’s 2012 coalition would make the Republican nominee virtually unbeatable in 2016. But to accomplish that feat he or she will have to make them feel welcome in the party, and assure them that he or she shares their courage of conviction.

These patriots want something to vote for and not just against.

Persistent future attempts to sell them on milquetoast while scaring them into voting against dastardly Democrats may profit those doing the selling, but will likely result in even more of them staying home four years from now—and thus the GOP losing the popular vote for the sixth time in the last seven presidential elections.

The real numbers show patriots are growing increasingly tired of being asked to cast votes they know they won’t be proud of later. Modernization of the Republican Party is one thing, but moderation is another.

The GOP leadership now has a choice: stand for something and win, or stand for nothing and lose. It appears its base won’t move left with it, so if the party moves left it will need a new base.



Left takes aim at corporate political activity

A good rule of thumb in politics is that when someone says he wants to reform the system, he's often just trying to tilt it in his own direction. Somehow, "fairness" always has a way of delivering control to the groups the reformer prefers.

That is the case with the current push to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to require the disclosure of all corporate spending on political activity. This would primarily affect money given to groups that lobby on companies' behalf, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Advocates frame this as an effort to provide openness and transparency. But the real motive here is to pressure corporations to reduce their political spending, in the process undermining a vital counterweight to left-wing environmental and labor groups.

This is the latest front in the Left's war against corporate involvement in politics and policy since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. This effort goes beyond that, though, because that case involved only election-related activity. The proposed SEC rule would involve lobbying and issue campaigns, as well.

The SEC push was initiated by a group of law professors and has since been joined by the usual group of liberal activist groups and Big Labor, in this case calling themselves the Corporate Reform Coalition. "The SEC has a responsibility to protect investors by regulating the securities markets to ensure that they have the information they need to make investment decisions," coalition member Public Citizen said in statement last week. "Shareholders have a right to know how the companies in their investment portfolio are spending their invested money."

Why should shareholders worry about this political giving? Public Citizen explains that it "may endanger the company's brand by embroiling it in hot button issues." Endanger it how? From Public Citizen and the other coalition members, who may try to punish their political spending with PR campaigns, boycotts and other pressure tactics. You know the routine -- you have a nice company here. Be a shame if something happened to it ...

In and of itself, disclosure sounds like a reasonable enough goal, until you realize that shareholders can already require this corporate disclosure by voting for it at shareholder meetings. But liberal groups haven't been able to find shareholders who are fuming over this lack of disclosure. After all, corporate political activity, for good or ill, is usually conducted to help increase the value of the corporations that shareholders own. In short, the activists are now trying to get the SEC to do their work for them.

Everybody affected by the government's rules and regulations has a right to make his or her voice heard and to do so without fear of reprisal. And, yes, that includes companies and the people who own them.

There is nothing wrong with companies making such information public -- and some of them do. But if shareholders don't care to do so, the SEC has no business forcing them to do it. If other shareholders want the information made public but find themselves in the minority, that's democracy. They can always sell their shares and invest in a company whose shareholders see it differently.


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



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January 21, 2013

Hollywood lies

THE film Argo tells the story of the escape of US diplomats from Iran in 1979. Zero Dark Thirty tells of the more recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Both are controversial.

Argo has understandably enraged the British ambassador in Tehran at the time, Sir John Graham, by stating as a fact that he "turned away" the fugitive American diplomats. It left him "very distressed that the filmmakers got it so wrong". The British embassy took in the fugitives and they moved on only when it became exposed to attack. One of the Americans, Robert Anders, has fully corroborated Graham's comments, saying the film "is absolutely untrue. The British made us very comfortable and were very helpful … We are forever grateful."

Zero Dark Thirty depicts CIA waterboarding as contributing to the hunt for bin Laden. Those involved claim this allegation is untrue and, worse, justifies "good cause" torture. The film's director, Kathryn Bigelow, says hers is "just a movie", not a documentary, and pleads her First Amendment right "to create works of art" and speak her conscience. She is apparently engaged in a campaign not for, but against torture.

Makers of films captioned as "true stories" claim either that fabrications do not matter because they are "just making movies", or that they are justified in a higher cause. Yet they can hardly be both. Cinema, in my view, is the defining cultural form of the age. It deserves to be taken seriously, and therefore to be criticised for shortcomings. If the most celebrated of "docudramas", Spielberg's Schindler's List, could go to lengths to authenticate its storyline, why should not any film claiming truth to history?

Commentators may be accused of choosing facts to prove their opinions, but that is different from falsification. Nor do they excuse lies as higher truth. The licence to report carries responsibilities. Inaccuracy in print is vulnerable to litigation. Plagiarism and fabrication are serious journalistic crimes. A newspaper that accused Graham of anti-American cowardice would lead to fierce rebuttal and retraction.

Journalists are told they are making "the first rough draft of history", with the implication that a proper historian will soon be along to take over. Both are now overwhelmed by a tidal wave of filmmakers, claiming the same licence to the word truth, but without any of its disciplines. French director Jean-Luc Godard declared that cinema was "truth 24 frames a second". Bigelow feels justified in using inaccuracy to advance a cause. If they got it wrong, it was art. I wish I had that get-out.

Films matter. The US critic Michael Medved once protested about Hollywood's relentless message, "that violence offers an effective solution for all human problems". He was howled down by the industry. It continued to argue that its glorification of violence and, more recently, Islamophobia, was somehow not influential. Films appeal to inner fears and chauvinist prejudices. That is why Ben Affleck had a mild dig at the British in Argo, as did Mel Gibson in Braveheart and The Patriot. It is why American movies imply America won the war, and British ones that Britain did.

Nothing should be banned, but film censors should make themselves useful and revise their categories. If "true story" appears in a film's preamble and is clearly wrong, the film should carry certificate L, for lie. We would then know where we stood.



French lessons on Marriage?

The English traditionally don't understand the French and I guess I am English in that respect. I once read a fair bit of classical French literature before I found its moral corruption sickening and thereafter read no more of it. So I am a bit surprised at what is related below. The most I can make of it is that the French respect the forms if not the substance of a moral code -- JR

Perhaps the finest book ever written on the natural complementarity of the sexes and on marriage as the core building block of civil society was written by a Swiss who was then living in France. (The book is Emile, and the author is Jean-Jacques Rousseau.) So when Robert Oscar Lopez writes at the Public Discourse, “[F]ew could have anticipated that France would host the West’s last stand for the traditional family,” perhaps France’s salutary stand shouldn’t be altogether surprising.

Lopez writes:

“The international press was shocked on November 17, 2012, when hundreds of thousands of French citizens took to the streets to fight against a parliamentary bill redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and legalizing same-sex adoption….

“The [movement’s] three most prominent spokespeople are unlikely characters: “Frigide Barjot,” a bleached-blonde comedienne famous for hanging out with male strippers at the Banana Café, and author of ‘Confessions of a Branchée Catholic’; Xavier Bongibault, a young gay atheist in Paris who fights against the ‘deep homophobia’ of the LGBT movement, believing it disgraces gays to assume that they cannot have political views ‘except according to their sexual urges’; and Laurence Tcheng, a disaffected leftist who voted for President François Hollande but disdains the way that the same-sex marriage bill is being forced through Parliament…”

Lopez reports:

“In France, a repeating refrain is ‘the rights of children trump the right to children.’ It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor ‘Jean-Marc’ to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him….

“Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift [‘from “child as subject” to “child as object”’] violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. Bunel writes:

"I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that ‘the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration’ (Article 3, section 1).

“Bunel suggests that laws allowing gay people to create unnecessary same-sex households for unwitting children should be brought to Europe’s high court of human rights.”

John Locke actually makes a similar rights-based argument on behalf of children in his Second Treatise of Government (italics in original): “Conjugal Society is made by a voluntary Compact between Man and Woman: and…their common Off-spring…have a Right to be nourished and maintained by them, till they are able to provide for themselves.”

Lopez concludes:

“It is time for Americans to follow France’s lead. Frigide Barjot, Laurence Tcheng, and Xavier Bongibault have presented us with a game changer. They have given us the necessary rhetoric and republican logic to present a strong case against redefining marriage. They have provided us a playbook for mobilizing across party lines. They’ve presented colorful characters whom we can emulate. I will keep translating the news as it comes in, in the hope that American defenders of the family will be inspired to do as the ‘march for all’ movement has done.”

But Lopez’s isn’t the only recent piece in the Public Discourse worth reading. Ryan T. Anderson recently wrote, in the spirit of Rousseau:

“Redefining marriage would abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity as an essential characteristic of marriage. Making that optional would also make other essential characteristics — such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence — optional….

“That…sounds like the abolition of marriage. Marriage is left with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality — it is simply whatever consenting adults want it to be. Some who see this logic, thinking that marriage has no form and serves no social purpose, conclude that the government should get out of the marriage business.

“If so, how will society protect the needs of children — the prime victims of our non-marital sexual culture — without government growing more intrusive and more expensive?”



How will Obamacare affect your tax bill?

by John C. Goodman

In these blog posts and in my book Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, I have focused on the effects of the new healthcare law on quality and access to care. But what about the hidden economic cost to you? Let’s look at some of the taxes that have received too little public attention.

You will join other Americans in paying more than $500 billion in nineteen new types of taxes and fees over the next decade to fund health reform.[1] Some of the new taxes will be indirect and will be passed on to you in the form of higher prices, higher premiums, or lower wages. You will pay other taxes directly. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, about 73 million taxpayers earning less than $200,000 will see their taxes rise as a result of various health reform provisions.[2]

Tax on Medical Devices

These taxes will reach everything from surgical instruments and bedpans to wheelchairs and crutches. Even pacemakers and artificial hips and knees are taxed. All told, the tax on medical devices will collect nearly $20 billion over the next decade.

Tax on Insurance

A $60 billion tax on health insurance, beginning in 2014, will ultimately be reflected in higher premiums. For example, the Senate Finance Committee’s Republican staff estimates the new taxes—including taxes on medical devices, taxes on drugs, taxes on insurers—could ultimately push up health insurance premiums for a typical family of four by nearly $1,000 per year.[3]

Tax on Drugs

A new tax on drugs will collect about $27 billion. In anticipation, some drug makers have already started raising their prices.[4] These taxes and the changes in the treatment of medical savings accounts have been called the “medicine cabinet tax.”

Tax on Medical Savings Accounts

If you have a Flexible Spending Account, a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or a Health Savings Account, you are no longer able to use these tax-free accounts to purchase over-the-counter drugs. That means you will have to buy such items as Claritin, aspirin, or Advil with after-tax dollars (making the cost to you 30 percent higher or more for a middle-income family). In addition, tax-free contributions to an FSA will be capped at $2,500 annually. People setting aside funds for chronic care, corrective eye surgery, or other out-of-pocket medical expenses will be limited to $2,500, regardless of medical need. Taken together, these two actions are expected to cost consumers $18 billion over the next decade.

Taxes on Indoor Tanning

If you plan to use an indoor tanning bed, expect to pay 10 percent more thanks to a new excise tax expected to raise nearly $3 billion.

Taxes on Cadillac Plans

A 40 percent excise tax will be levied on so-called “Cadillac” health plans for the amount in excess of $27,500 for families and $10,200 for single coverage. About one-third of health plans will be subject to the tax beginning in 2019. But since these thresholds are not indexed to increase as fast as medical costs, over time virtually all plans will be subject to the tax.

Taxes on Illness

If you have a lot of medical expenses, today’s tax law allows you to deduct from your taxable income the amount that exceeds 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Under the new law, this threshold is being raised to 10 percent of AGI—making your deduction smaller.[5] The increase is effective in 2013 for people under 65 years of age and in 2017 for those 65 years of age and older.

Additional Taxes on Wages, Investment Income, and Even Home Sales

The Medicare payroll tax will increase by almost one-third for some people—from 2.9 percent today to 3.8 percent on wages over $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a couple. In addition, the 3.8 percent Medicare payroll tax will be levied on investment income (capital gains, interest, and dividend income) at the same income levels. This tax is not only on the rich, however. Under some circumstances, the sale of a house could trigger the provision, making you “paper rich” for a single year and forcing you to pay a 3.8 percent levy on a portion of the appreciated value above a certain limit. Moreover, the threshold above which people must pay the higher tax is not indexed to rise with inflation. Consequently, over time more and more middle-class Americans will have to pay it.



The 40 Greatest Quotes From Winston Churchill

A selection from a selection by John Hawkins

38) “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

37) “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

36) "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

35) “In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity.”

34) “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

33) “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

32) “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”

31) “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

30) "We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

29) Lady Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”

Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if I were your husband I’d drink it.”

28) “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.”

27) “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.”

26) “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

25) “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”

24) “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.”

More here



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January 20, 2013

Can scientists use brain scans to detect whether you are a racist?

The academic article summarized below (journal abstract also appended) is one of a series going back a long way which purport to measure "unconscious" racist attitudes. The tests concerned (such as the IAT) do actually fool some people, as people who are vigorously ANTI-racist do sometimes score high on them -- indicating that they are secretly racist. Such results do however call the validity of the test into question. Does the test measure what it purports to measure?

There are various alternative possibilities for what the IAT measures but it seems most parsimonious to say that those who are not fooled by the test are actually showing that race is more SALIENT to them rather than that they secretly hold racist attitudes. And race might be salient for a number or reasons -- ranging from your being mugged last night to you being involved in civil liberties campaigns. So the conclusions below are probably mistaken

The findings below do fit well with an explanation in terms of minority salience and could even be held as confirmation of the salience hypothesis -- JR

Brain scans could soon be used to detect whether or not people are racist, scientists say.

Researchers found that brain scans were able to pick up on differences in the way that people with implicit negative racial attitudes viewed black and white faces.

Racial stereotypes have previously been shown to have subtle and unintended consequences on how we treat members of different race groups.

But the new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows race biases also increase differences in the brain's representations of faces.

Psychologists Tobias Brosch of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and Eyal Bar-David and Elizabeth Phelps of New York University examined activity in the brain while participants looked at pictures of White and Black faces.

Afterwards, participants performed a task that assessed their unconscious or implicit expression of race attitudes.

By examining patterns of brain activity in the fusiform face area — a brain area involved in face perception — the researchers were able to predict the race of the person that the participant was viewing, but only for those participants with stronger, negative implicit race attitudes.

This, the researchers said, implies that people with stronger, negative implicit race attitudes may actually perceive black and white faces to look more different than others who held no such prejudice.

The scientists claimed that perception of race is shaped by prejudices that we already hold - and that racism runs deeper than we think.

Dr Brosch said that 'these results suggest it may be possible to predict differences in implicit race bias at the individual level using brain data.'

However, Dr Phelps said further work would be needed before the technique could reliably detect whether people really were racists. 'Although these findings may be of interest given the behavioural and societal implications of race bias, our ability to predict race bias based on brain data is relatively modest at this time,' she said.

The new study further deepens the scientific understanding of the processes in the brain that lie behind the racist attitudes that some people hold.

Previous research by Dr Phelps has claimed that racism could be 'hard wired' into the brain, since the neural circuits which allow people to recognise ethnic groups overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.

Because of that, the researchers claimed, it's possible that even people who believe themselves to be egalitarian could harbour racist attitudes without knowing.

The findings published last summer in the journal Nature Neuroscience could lead to fresh ways of thinking about unintended race-based attitudes and decisions.

Dr Phelps and colleagues reviewed previous brain scanning studies showing how social categories of race are processed, evaluated and incorporated in decision-making.

They showed a network of brain regions called the the amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are important in the unintentional, implicit expression of racial attitudes.

The researchers said the brain areas themselves - as well as the functional connectivity among them - are critical for this processing.

Implicit Race Bias Decreases the Similarity of Neural Representations of Black and White Faces

Tobias Brosch et al.


Implicit race bias has been shown to affect decisions and behaviors. It may also change perceptual experience by increasing perceived differences between social groups. We investigated how this phenomenon may be expressed at the neural level by testing whether the distributed blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) patterns representing Black and White faces are more dissimilar in participants with higher implicit race bias. We used multivoxel pattern analysis to predict the race of faces participants were viewing. We successfully predicted the race of the faces on the basis of BOLD activation patterns in early occipital visual cortex, occipital face area, and fusiform face area (FFA). Whereas BOLD activation patterns in early visual regions, likely reflecting different perceptual features, allowed successful prediction for all participants, successful prediction on the basis of BOLD activation patterns in FFA, a high-level face-processing region, was restricted to participants with high pro-White bias. These findings suggest that stronger implicit pro-White bias decreases the similarity of neural representations of Black and White faces.

Review article for the literature concerned here. More on the IAT here


Wake Up, Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservatives

Jonah Goldberg

Dear Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservative Friend,

That's pretty toothy, so I'm going to call you Bob.

But whatever specific name you go by, Bob, you know who you are. You're the sort of person who says to his conservative friends or co-workers something like, "I would totally vote for Republicans if they could just give up on these crazy social issues."

When you explain your votes for Barack Obama, you talk about how Republicans used to be much more moderate and focused on important things such as low taxes, fiscal discipline and balanced budgets.

When Colin Powell was on "Meet the Press" the other day, you nodded along as he lamented how the GOP has lost its way since the days when it was all about fiscal responsibility.

And, Bob, you think Republicans are acting crazy-pants on the debt ceiling. You don't really follow all of the details, but you can just tell that the GOP is being "extreme," thanks to those wacky tea partiers.

So, Bob, as a "fiscal conservative," what was so outrageous about trying to cut pork -- Fisheries in Alaska! Massive subsidies for Amtrak! -- From the Sandy disaster-relief bill? What was so nuts about looking for offsets to pay for it?

Bob, I'm going to be straight with you. I never had much respect for your political acumen before, but you're a sucker.

You're still spouting this nonsense about being fiscally conservative while insisting the GOP is the problem. You buy into media's anti-Republican hysteria no matter what the facts are. Heck, you even believe it when Obama suggests he's like an Eisenhower Republican.

Well, let's talk about Eisenhower, your kind of Republican. Did you know that in his famous farewell address he warned about the debt? "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage," he said. "We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Bob, we are that insolvent phantom, you feckless, gormless clod. The year Eisenhower delivered that speech, U.S. debt was roughly half our GDP. But that was when we were still paying off WWII (not to mention things like the Marshall Plan), and the defense budget comprised more than half the U.S. budget (today it's a fifth and falling). Now, the debt is bigger than our GDP. Gross Domestic Product is barely $15 trillion. The national debt is over $16 trillion and climbing -- fast. The country isn't going broke Bob, it is broke.

When George W. Bush added nearly $5 trillion in national debt in two terms you were scandalized. When Obama added more than that in one term, you yawned. When, in 2006, then-Sen. Obama condemned Bush's failure of leadership and vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling, you thought him a statesman. Obama, who wants to borrow trillions more, now admits that was purely a "political vote."

Yet when Republicans actually have the courage of Obama's own convictions you condemn them.

You nodded sagely when Obama said we needed a "balanced approach" to cut the deficit. He said he couldn't rein in entitlements without also raising taxes on "millionaires and billionaires." Well, he won that fight. We raised taxes on millionaires and billionaires exactly as much as he wanted. We also raised the payroll tax on everyone.

Obama's response to getting the tax hikes he wanted? He says we still need a "balanced approach" -- i.e., even more tax hikes.

Anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative understands we have a spending problem. Do the math. A two-earner couple that retired in 2011 after making $89,000 per year will pay about $114,000 into Medicare over their lifetimes but will receive $355,000. When will it dawn on you that Obama doesn't think we have a spending problem? I ask because when he said "we don't have a spending problem," it seemed to have no effect on you.

And yet you still think Paul Ryan's budget was "extreme." Do you know when it balanced the budget? 2040. What's a non-extreme date to balance the budget, Bob? 2113?

Look, Bob, I don't want to go spelunking in that cranium of yours. I don't know why you think you're a fiscal conservative. The simple fact is you're not. The green-eye-shaded Republicans you claim to miss would be scandalized by the mess we're in, largely thanks to voters like you, Bob. Eisenhower would take a flamethrower to today's Washington.

I don't expect you to vote Republican, never mind admit you're simply a liberal. But please stop preening about your fiscal conservatism particularly as you condemn the GOP for not being fiscal conservatives, even when they are the only fiscal conservatives in town.



A Legal Immigrant and Patriot

Lincoln Brown

On my show this morning, I’ll be talking to a young man in Germany named Marc. He has tried unsuccessfully to enter this country through the front door and has met with red tape and delays each time. I’ll be talking with him today about his fundraising efforts and his attempt to become one of us.

No DREAM act will benefit Marc. He won’t be eligible for a driving privileges card; he will not receive any welfare or in-state tuition. After all, the election is over and Obama got all the votes he needed. Marc is working for his citizenship because he believes it is worth earning.

He has carefully watched the American media and has studied our history and its documents. He has a love of this country that easily rivals that any patriotic American I have ever met. The man chokes up when he speaks of becoming a US citizen. He wants nothing more in the entire world and will labor as long as he must to become an American.

A part of me wants to warn him off, to try to steer him away from our country the way emergency crews blockade the scene of a toxic spill. But he is determined to become an American, even though he knows what a morass this country has become.

And so a part of me wants welcome another newly minted American to this struggle. In the days to come, we will need all the patriots we can find no matter the country of origin.

Witness the President in essence speaking ex cathedra on the issue of the Second Amendment and quislings in the media such as Bob Schieffer parroting the party line, although in Schieffer’s case he has passed the line of “biased” and gone straight to full blown Left-Wing derangement by invoking Osama Bin Laden and Nazis in this Administrations’ opposition to guns. The venerable old newsman might be interested in what the group Anonymous has to say about Obama and gun control. Executive orders or not, when Anonymous compares you to Hitler, you are definitely losing the spin war.

Witness the President issuing a Proclamation on Religious Freedom on Wednesday, while he sends Kathleen Sebelius to battle that very freedom in the courts, while atheist groups continually wage war on those who dare to practice their faith outside of church walls.

Witness the Democrats who have ignored the issue of the debt ceiling or in some cases have even called for it to be abandoned altogether, and even some conservative lawmakers think a short-term hike might be in order to better advance the cause of spending cuts in future discussions. Have we ever lowered the debt ceiling? When was the last time we balanced the budget? No really, someone write me and tell me when we last had a balanced budget. This of course comes amid revelations that you and I have coughed up 4 billion dollars to foreign companies for green energy with no jobs generated here, and a DOE announcement that it will spend up to 10 million of your simoleans to in its words: “to help unlock the potential of biofuels made from algae." And in the interim, democrat leaders and environmentalists alike decry the idea of exporting our surplus natural gas.

Examine your own paycheck to see what the Fiscal Cliff bill did for you. Even the Obamaphone lady is admitting that she was duped by the administration on that one.

Scan the offerings on your cable and satellite boxes or your local movie theaters and ask yourself if these people have your values in mind or your best interests at heart.

Witness our leaders who see to divide us along class and race.

Witness the increasing violence on our streets, most of it occurring without the use of firearms.

Witness our failing schools that cater to unions while leaving our students just this side of illiterate.

I want to warn Marc about these things, but then again, we need patriots like Marc. I need patriots like Marc.

You see, my grandson who will be three this spring had outpatient surgery today. He had his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears. And I had to wonder if under an Independent Payment Advisory Board if he would have been approved for that procedure.

In a few months, my grandson will get a little sister. And my granddaughter shows signs right now of being a special needs child. And this president who surrounded himself with children to herald his hypocritical and sanctimonious gun measures; and his supporters would casually see her butchered in the name of reproductive freedom just as Margaret Sanger would have seen her butchered for being a special needs child.

I need patriots like Marc. My grandchildren need patriots like Marc. And you need patriots like Marc.




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January 19, 2013

The birthday of Robert E. Lee today

Who led the heroic resistance to the racist and Fascist Lincoln, who sacrificed 600,000 American lives to his love of power

Paul Greenberg offers a restrained comment below:

They introduce themselves politely in restaurants or diners, in a movie lobby or at some civic event, even in front of the Little Rock gate in Atlanta, which has become a kind of Arkansas crossroads. ("You don't know me, but . . .") Then they thank me for remembering Robert E. Lee every January 19th with a column on his birthday.

They don't tarry, and I may never see them again. Then they fade away, much like the Army of Northern Virginia (R.E. Lee, General). They have a look about them, or rather a manner. They come in different shapes and sizes, but they all have the same, diffident way about them -- as if they were used to dealing with people as persons, rather than en masse as customers or readers or voters or some other impersonal category. They know how to visit with others. It's a Southern thing, no matter where it happens.

Let's just say they have a shared understanding. They may be older, genteel white ladies or young military cadets. Sometimes they're aging black men, usually with roots in the Deep South, who mention that they had a grandfather or great-uncle named Robert E. Lee Johnson or Robert E. Lee Wilson, much like their white counterparts. Whatever the differences in their appearance, they share a distinctive quality that is never imposing but very much there.

Sometimes they'll let you know they don't make a habit of this sort of thing, that they're not interested in reliving the past or anything like that. They're the furthest thing from the bane of such discussions in these latitudes, the professional Southerner. ("I'm no Civil War buff or big Confederate or anything -- I do well to tell Gettysburg from Vicksburg -- but I just wanted to say . . .")

They're never intrusive. Indeed, they are concise almost to the point of being curt for Southerners, a voluble breed. It's clear they wish to make no display. It's as if they just wanted to . . . enroll. To go on record, that's all, and leave it at that. They know The War is over and, like Lee, they would let it be over.

The quality they have in common may be deference -- not only to others, and certainly not to the general himself, for deference would not in any way approach their feeling on that subject, but a deference to the human experience, with all its defeats and losses. Maybe that is why so many of them are middle-aged or older, as if they had encountered some defeats and losses of their own -- losses and defeats that can never be erased, that will always be a part of them, but that they carry almost with grace. The pain will always be there, but now it is covered by forbearance. They have learned that there are certain hurts that, in order to be overcome, must be gone through. Continually. Till it is part of their ongoing character.

The name for the kind of deference they exude, unmistakable for anything else, a deference to fact and to sacrifice, is maturity. They have discovered that duty is not only burden and obligation but deliverance. They would never claim to understand Lee, and they certainly would not presume to praise him overtly. They just want to indicate how they feel about the General, to let us know the bond is shared, and go on. For where Lee is concerned, there is a silence, a diffidence, that says more than words can. Or as Aristotle said of Plato, there are some men "whom it is blasphemy even to praise."

Ever hear a couple of Southerners just passing the time, perhaps in some petty political quarrel, for we can be a quarrelsome lot, when the name Lee is injected into the argument? The air is stilled. Suddenly both feel ashamed of themselves. For there are some names that shame rhetoric, and when we use them for effect, the cheapness of it, the tinniness of it, can be heard at once, like tinkling brass. And we fall silent, rightly rebuked by our better selves.

To invoke such a presence, to feel it like old music always new, invariably gives pause. The young officer in Stephen Vincent Benet's "John Brown's Body" pauses before he enters Lee's tent to deliver his dispatch. Looking at the shadow of the figure within bent over his papers, knowing that The War is inevitably winding down, the messenger can only wonder:

What keeps us going on? I wish I knew. Perhaps you see a man like that go on. And then you have to follow.

The Lost Cause still has its shrines and rituals, dogmas and debates. For four exhilarating, excruciating, terrible years, it had a flag of its own -- several, in fact -- and an army and even something of a government. But in the end all those proved only transient reflections of what endures: the South, the ever-fecund South.

What held that disparate, desperate concept called the South together, and holds it together still from generation to generation, from heartland to diaspora? After all our defeats and limitations, why do we yet endure, and, in Faulkner's words, even prevail? What keeps us going on? I wish I knew. Perhaps you see a man like that go on. And then you have to follow. If there is a single name, a single syllable for that shared bond and depth and grief and aspiration, it is: Lee.

. .

No brief outline of the general's career can explain the effect of that name still: After a shining start at West Point, our young officer spends 12 years of tedium on the Army treadmill, followed by brief renown in the Mexican War, then a two-year leave to attend to matters at home. Returning to the service to put down a fateful little insurrection at Harper's Ferry that cast a great shadow, he declines a field command in the U.S. Army as a far greater insurrection looms, one he will lead. He accepts command of the military of his native country -- Virginia. Then there comes a series of brilliant campaigns that defy all the odds, at the end of which he surrenders. Whereupon he applies for a pardon, becomes a teacher, and makes peace.

What is missing from such an abrupt summary of the general, his life and career, is everything -- everything inward that made the man Robert E. Lee. His wholeness. His integrity. His unbroken peace within. There was about him nothing abrupt but everything respectfully direct -- in his manners, in his leadership, in his life and, when he finally struck the tent, in his death.

Yes, he would fight what has been called the most nearly perfect battle executed by an American commander at Chancellorsville, defeating an army two and a half times the size of his own and better equipped in every respect.

Even in retreat, he remained victorious. One single, terrible tally may say it better than all the ornate speeches ever delivered on all the dim Confederate Memorial Days that have passed since: In one single, terrible month, from May 12th to June 12th of 1864, from after The Wilderness to Cold Harbor, Grant's casualties on the other side would total 60,000 -- the same size as Lee's whole, remaining Army of Northern Virginia, poor devils.

In the end, it is not the Lee of Chancellorsville or of Appomattox who speaks to us, who quiets and assures us. It is not even the Lee of Fredericksburg and his passionate dispassion atop Marye's Heights as he watches the trapped federals below, poor devils, being destroyed. He was no stranger to pity. ("It is well that war is so terrible," he murmured, looking down at the carnage he had engineered, "or we should grow too fond of it.")

It is not even the Lee of Gettysburg who speaks to us, the Lee who would meet Pickett after it was over -- all over -- and say only: "All this has been my fault." And then submit his resignation as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Jefferson Davis may not have had much sense, but he had more sense than to accept that resignation.

In the end, it is the Lee who saw through all victory as clearly as he did all defeat who elevates and releases us, like one of the old Greek plays. It is the Lee who, for all his legend, could not command events but who was always in command of his response to them. Just to think on him now is catharsis. That is why his undying presence, just the mention of his name, was enough to lift men's gaze and send them forth again and again. It still does.


January 18, 2013

Whole Foods CEO: Obamacare not “socialism,” it’s “fascism”

Whole Foods has played a key role in propelling organic foods into the mainstream. The specialty supermarket chain has more than 300 stores and plans to continue expanding. But outspoken founder and co-CEO John Mackey is not the crunchy granola liberal one might conjure while perusing aisles of earnestly labeled blue corn chips and gently misted red peppers.

In fact, he's a self-styled libertarian: a vegan who sells sustainably raised meat, a man who compares the government's health care overhaul to "fascism" but wants to improve American diets.

And he thinks big businesses have an obligation to change customers' perception that big corporations are "primarily selfish and greedy." (Not that he's opposed to profits. In fact, Whole Foods posted a 49 percent boost in quarterly earnings in November.)

What he doesn't think is right is President Obama's health overhaul and the new costs that coverage requirements will place on businesses. When Inskeep asks him if he still thinks the health law is a form of socialism, as he's said before, Mackey responds:

"Technically speaking, it's more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it — and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms."

Still, Mackey sees room to cooperate with the administration on another front: efforts to reform the American diet, a pet project of first lady Michelle Obama.



An Imperial President

One definition of "imperial" on dictionary.com is, "of the nature or rank of an emperor or supreme ruler." At his news conference Monday, a petulant, threatening and confrontational President Obama spoke like an emperor or supreme ruler. All that was missing was a scepter, a crown and a robe trimmed in ermine.

This president exceeds even Bill Clinton in his ability to evade, prevaricate and dissemble. I didn't think that possible.

Not only did he supply long answers to relatively easy questions, but much of what he said bore no relation to reality.

He spoke of having had the debate over the economy during the 2012 campaign and boasted, "...the American people agreed with me." By the way, can we now retire the phrase "the American people"? Too many politicians overuse it, including Speaker John Boehner. Forty-seven percent of voters supported Mitt Romney and other Republicans in the last election. Ninety-four million people eligible to vote didn't vote. Can Obama really claim "the American people" agreed with him? The president won the election, but he has yet to win the debate over smaller vs. larger government, and more vs. less spending.

The question Major Garrett of CBS News posed to the president on raising the debt ceiling in tandem with spending cuts exposed his hypocrisy and that of many congressional Democrats: "You yourself, as a member of the Senate, voted against a debt ceiling increase. And in previous aspects of American history, President Reagan in 1985, President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990, President Clinton in 1997, all signed deficit-reduction deals that were contingent upon or in the context of raising the debt ceiling. You yourself, four times have done that. Three times, those were related to deficit reduction or budget maneuvers. What Chuck (NBC's Chuck Todd) and I and, I think, many people are curious about is this new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history of the modern era of American presidents on the debt ceiling and your own history on the debt ceiling. And doesn't that suggest that we are going to go into a default situation, because no one is talking to each other about how to resolve this?"

The president dissembled, talking again (he repeated this at least three times by my count) about how Congress had authorized all the spending and how we must now "pay our bills." But as Garrett noted, the president had a different view of the debt ceiling when he was an Illinois senator and voted against raising it. In 2006, he said, "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure." Except when he's the leader, then it's someone else's failure.

In 2003, during another debate over raising the debt ceiling, Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, said, "The federal debt is like the family credit card. Sooner or later you have to pay down the debts that you have already incurred. If you don't, your credit rating will suffer. The way the government raises the debt limit is also like a family who just keeps calling the bank every time they hit the credit limit and asks the bank over and over again for an increase in their credit limit without regard to anything else. Rather than pay down their debt, they just keep on asking for a higher debt limit."

Many other Senate Democrats, including Senators Harry Reid, D-NV, and John Kerry, D-MA, shared Baucus' concerns, but that was during the George W. Bush administration.

The president says he will reduce debt with a "balanced approach," by which he means offsetting higher taxes on the wealthy with spending cuts, which will never materialize. It won't work. Whatever tax revenue government manages to save, Congress will always find a way to spend it.

The president has submitted a budget to Congress for each fiscal year he's been in office, not always on time, in violation of the law, and never without spurring contentious debate in Congress. That's a staggering repudiation of his leadership.

President Obama will not negotiate about raising the debt ceiling? Not surprising. Imperial leaders don't negotiate.



Obama's Ruling Class

President Obama has spent a lot of time excoriating the "rich" who refuse to pay "their fair share." It's a transparent effort to divide and conquer Americans based on wealth -- as transparent as his hostility to those who prosper as a result of their own hard work and initiative (of course "you didn't build that"!).

But don't misunderstand: President Obama isn't really interested in "leveling." everyone. He's simply determined to establish a different hierarchy of privilege -- one which, conveniently, puts him at the top. In Obama's America, there shouldn't be "rich" and "poor," don't you know.

But it's increasingly clear that he has no problem with making invidious distinctions between the "important" people (i.e., those in government) and the "ordinary" people. It has nothing to do with (evil) money, and everything to do with power over others. It's a literal "Ruling Class" -- and for the most part, you can't just work hard and get ahead to gain access to it. You've got to join up with Big Government.

If you're "important," your children attend schools with plenty of armed guards. If you're "ordinary," your children attend school in "gun free zones."

If you're "important," your average pension is 2-3 times what a retiring private sector executive with a comparable salary could expect to get. If you're "ordinary," you get what you get.

If you're "important," you're part of FEHB, which offers a variety of excellent, competitively-priced health insurance plans with different menus of benefits. If you're "ordinary," you get ObamaCare.

If you're "important" (like Dianne Feinstein) and you fear assassination by a terrorist group, you have easy access to a weapon for concealed carry. But if you're just an "ordinary" woman who fears being murdered at the hands of a stalker or a crazy ex-husband, you'd better hope you can run the regulatory gauntlet before he catches up with you.

If you're "important," you make more money for doing less work. If you're "ordinary," you're lucky to have a job.

As for himself personally, a guy who's so hostile to those who have "built" something in the business world, President Obama seems to have no problem enjoying the cushy vacations, private planes and other perks that far exceed what almost any corporate titan enjoys. But then, he's "important" -- which means, rather than having earned the money he spends so lavishly, the taxpayers have the honor of subsidizing him.



Chris Christie Explains the Difference Between a Functioning Democracy and Washington

The article below extols compromise but for that to work both sides have to bend. The Federal donks show no sign of it

If you want to understand the difference between a functioning democracy and Washington, listen to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: "I wake up every morning knowing that even though I think I'm right," the GOP governor said today, "I'm not going to get everything I want."

In Washington, compromise has become a dirty word. With gridlock the norm, Congress's approval rating is below 10 percent and the public has lost faith in its national leadership. The Republican Party emerged from the November elections with a particularly intense image problem.

Christie, whose approval rating tops 70 percent, acutely analyzed Washington's problem on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He said it's partly structural: Sophisticated redistricting has produced a generation of Democratic and GOP lawmakers whose only worry is appeasing extreme elements in the parties. It's also cultural: For numerous reasons, Republicans and Democrats in Washington no longer put a premium on building relationships.

"This is the place where the president has been the most deficient," Christie said, echoing an analyses I wrote yesterday on Obama's charm deficit.

In his State of the State address on Tuesday, the governor sought to set himself above partisan bickering. He declared New Jersey a model for bipartisanship, which is a bit of a stretch but a politically savvy one to make.

“Maybe the folks in Washington, in both parties, could learn something from our record here,” said Christie, who angered some Republicans by embracing Obama in the immediate aftermath of superstorm Sandy, in the closing days of the presidential campaign.

Standing before a Democratic-controlled Legislature, Christie said, “Let’s put aside accusations and false charges for purely political advantage. Let’s work together to honor the memories of those lost in Sandy. Let’s put the needs of our most victimized citizens ahead of the partisan politics of the day.”

This is not the first time I've written in praise of Christie so I want to make something clear: He is not the perfect leader. His record is middling (the state's unemployment rate, at 9.6 percent, is among the highest in the country). Ideologically, on a national stage, he may be too conservative for moderate voters. And he can be a bully.

But the New Jersey governor is a potential presidential candidate because his rhetoric speaks to the times: Millions of Americans are being left behind by the new economy; they're losing faith in institutions that are suppose to protect them, starting with government; they are empowered, thanks to the Internet and other technologies, unlike any other time in human history to enforce their will on failed institutions; and, finally, Americans want answers to the big unsolved problems including the national debt, gun violence, and climate change.

They want their leaders to lead.

Christie represents the gubernatorial wing of his party that, unlike Republicans in Washington, understands that nothing happens in a democracy unless rivals work to find ways that they can both win. While the GOP in Washington lost the November elections, Republican governors picked up a state capital seat because, Christie said, "we're compromising when we need to."

You see, it's not a dirty word.



No point in buying health insurance under Obama

We are a little less than a year away from Obamacare’s individual mandate becoming the latest tax you will be forced to deal with and already there is trouble in the air with whether or not the law will work.

The mandate says that you must purchase health insurance or else face a fee. That fee, which the Supreme Court ruled was a tax when it upheld the law as constitutional last summer, is considerably smaller than the cost of purchasing health care.

In 2014, the first year that the tax will be collected, the tax is $95. It will increase to $325 or 2 percent of your income in 2015. In 2016, it will increase to its highest amount of $695 or 2.5 percent of your income. Even at its highest point, the tax is cheaper than health care in some cases.

And that fact is scaring many of the people that designed and are in the process of implementing this fatally flawed system.

For Obamacare to work as they claim it would, many more healthy people than sick people need to be paying health care companies for coverage. The more money healthy people spend on coverage makes it possible for the companies to cover the sick.

But many of the uninsured healthy people would probably opt to pay the tax, which is lower than the cost of coverage. This is causing many health care providers and those in the Obama administration to worry that there is not enough incentive to take part in the new system, the result of which could be increased taxes and more fees as well as a spike in the cost of health care coverage.

Many opposed to Obamacare warned about this result. The incentive structure created by such a system would only result in ever increasing penalties to ensure that enough healthy people subsidize the unhealthy people.

As the masterminds behind this system are discovering — even before the system is up and operational — they have no clue how to get the healthy people to participate without increasing the taxes for abstaining from purchasing health care to a higher rate than the cost of health care coverage.

What this whole failure before launch exposes is that incentives matter and that government does not fully comprehend that simple fact. Creating a system where people are forced to purchase a product by penalizing them if they don’t — and the penalty is cheaper than buying the product — it’s odd that they would just now realize that people will pay the penalty.

After all, Obamacare forces insurance companies to insure those with pre-existing conditions, so you only have to buy health care when you need it. It makes little sense to purchase health care when you can go the cheaper route of purchasing only when you need it.

Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center said the following to Politico about the incentive structure that the government faces when trying to sell ObamaCare to the young and healthy: “If you have a positive outreach campaign with the message, ‘Here they are, here are the exchanges, here’s affordable coverage, come and get it.’ Isn’t that more effective than, ‘Come and get it or we’re going to come get you?”

We are about to find out which route is more effective as the government attempts to make Obamacare a success. It is much more likely that they will use the tax system to correct their mistake than use a message of come and buy a product you don’t yet need.

So get ready, Obamacare’s first failure won’t cost the government money, just you as the taxes are increased and the cost of health care rises.




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January 17, 2013

Liberalism Versus Blacks

Thomas Sowell

There is no question that liberals do an impressive job of expressing concern for blacks. But do the intentions expressed in their words match the actual consequences of their deeds?
San Francisco is a classic example of a city unexcelled in its liberalism. But the black population of San Francisco today is less than half of what it was back in 1970, even though the city's total population has grown.

Severe restrictions on building housing in San Francisco have driven rents and home prices so high that blacks and other people with low or moderate incomes have been driven out of the city. The same thing has happened in a number of other California communities dominated by liberals.

Liberals try to show their concern for the poor by raising the level of minimum wage laws. Yet they show no interest in hard evidence that minimum wage laws create disastrous levels of unemployment among young blacks in this country, as such laws created high unemployment rates among young people in general in European countries.

The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals' expansion of the welfare state. Most black children grew up in homes with two parents during all that time but most grow up with only one parent today.

Liberals have pushed affirmative action, supposedly for the benefit of blacks and other minorities. But two recent factual studies show that affirmative action in college admissions has led to black students with every qualification for success being artificially turned into failures by being mismatched with colleges for the sake of racial body count.

The two most recent books that show this with hard facts are "Mismatch" by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr., and "Wounds That Will Not Heal" by Russell K. Nieli. My own book "Affirmative Action Around the World" shows the same thing with different evidence.

In all these cases, and many others, liberals take positions that make them look good and feel good -- and show very little interest in the actual consequences for others, even when liberal policies are leaving havoc in their wake.

The current liberal crusade for more so-called "gun control" laws is more of the same. Factual studies over the years, both in the United States and in other countries, repeatedly show that "gun control" laws do not in fact reduce crimes committed with guns.

Cities with some of the tightest gun control laws in the nation have murder rates far above the national average. In the middle of the 20th century, New York had far more restrictive gun control laws than London, but London had far less gun crime. Yet gun crimes in London skyrocketed after severe gun control laws were imposed over the next several decades.

Although gun control is not usually considered a racial issue, a wholly disproportionate number of Americans killed by guns are black. But here, as elsewhere, liberals' devotion to their ideology greatly exceeds their concern about what actually happens to flesh and blood human beings as a result of their ideology.

One of the most polarizing and counterproductive liberal crusades of the 20th century has been the decades-long busing crusade to send black children to predominantly white schools. The idea behind this goes back to the pronouncement by Chief Justice Earl Warren that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Yet within walking distance of the Supreme Court where this pronouncement was made was an all-black high school that had scored higher than two-thirds of the city's white high schools taking the same test -- way back in 1899! But who cares about facts, when you are on a liberal crusade that makes you feel morally superior?

To challenge government-imposed racial segregation and discrimination is one thing. But to claim that blacks get a better education if they sit next to whites in school is something very different. And it is something that goes counter to the facts.

Many liberal ideas about race sound plausible, and it is understandable that these ideas might have been attractive 50 years ago. What is not understandable is how so many liberals can blindly ignore 50 years of evidence to the contrary since then.



Local Tyranny

Yes, Washington is out of control. For liberty to prevail, it must be confronted, restrained, and redirected. But, so too, our local authorities and institutions can trample our liberties, our privacy, and our domestic tranquility.

Law students learn an aphorism about the development of law: Hard cases make bad law. An incident or two last year in my home state of Colorado illustrate the point: hard circumstances invite bad decisions and establish bad precedents. Citizens can be almost powerless to respond.

First incident: a bank robbery in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, caused a gunpoint lockdown, hand cuffing, and mass detention of dozens of commuters yanked from 40 vehicles, based only on a phone tip that the robber might be at a particular intersection. There was no description of the robber or the vehicle, so police drew their weapons and detained the occupants of 40 vehicles stopped at the light. Police held the detainees for two hours.

In the last vehicle they searched, police found loaded guns and apprehended their man.

Second, in a horrific abduction-slaying, a middle school girl vanished on her way to school in a western suburb of Denver. The local news and news-watching public were consumed with her disappearance and unknown fate. The state and nation mourned when an arrest was made, confession obtained, and the victim’s body recovered.

What was less reported was that police had canvassed door to door and with zero basis, they pressured homeowners to submit to aggressive searches. A friend lives in the neighborhood and reports that police and FBI came to her home, demanded entry, were brusque and insistent about her refusal, returned another day, and unpleasantly warned her they would not be as pleasant when they came back yet again. The case was closed before that happened. Other homeowners who allowed entry reported their homes disturbed, dressers, papers, appliances, and effects probed, rifled through, scattered, and left amiss.

Any decent person is pleased a bank robber was apprehended and anguished that a little girl perished. They would do anything they could to help satisfactory outcomes in either case. But any thoughtful citizen has to be troubled about the broad net local officials cast, and the inversion of traditional American principles of justice: probable cause, particularized suspicion, a reasonable basis to question—these were not the guiding lights of the operations.

The overreach in both cases (I assert it was such) is troubling and challenging for various reasons: it stemmed from powerful public need, in causes we all support. Yet, for those affected, it reversed the normal relationship between citizen and state: innocent motorists with no indication of guilt or involvement were detained, cuffed, guns aimed at them; homeowners were pressured and intimidated to accept entry and search. If they refused, they were left in doubt and threat about the next “visit;” if they agreed, their home was violated and upheaved, and not restored.

The bedrock idea that law enforcement operates within certain standards and limits, and that citizens are protected by certain powerful barriers on state action is fading. It’s being replaced by the thought that solving the case is more important than the safeguards and liberty of innocent people.

Most troubling to me is a lack of an effective venue or mechanism to hold the officials accountable—and to press for reformed policies and standards for decision-making It is my unscientific sense that a strong majority of citizens disapprove these tactics. When I posted my criticism on a social network the responses (not politically representative of all of society, I concede) were about 90% against, 10% in favor.

But, we hold or voice our opinions ineffectually, or with hesitation. First, everyone understands the urgency and benevolence of the motives of the responsible authorities in such exigent cases. Second, in a busy world with headlines and issues stretched all the way from existential global clashes and DC policy standoffs, to pressing work concerns, and delicate parent teacher conferences, there is limited time, knowledge, and drive to go after every important thing. Third, public officials and public bodies command the high ground. They enjoy concerted information, decision-making, and execution. Engaged citizens may as well be the only person who called to express concerns about a particular incident, so far as they know.

When the next crisis incident hits, authorities will make the decisions they feel pressure to make, to do their job. Whether it turns out well or badly, a lot of citizens may feel unease. But the ratchet will turn another notch. And the security of our homes, persons, papers and effects will be a little less sacred by the day.



For Obama, deficits don't matter any more

If you believed that President Obama and his congressional allies had any interest in cutting government spending and reforming runaway entitlement programs, then last week should have dispelled your illusions.

During the presidential campaign, Obama tried to take credit for the meager spending cuts of 2011 -- which he had actually tried to prevent. But with his second term secured, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney began to lay the groundwork for increased government spending in the name of stimulating the economy.

"[D]eficit reduction is not a goal -- a worthy goal unto itself," Carney told reporters last Wednesday. "This is all about making our economy stronger and making it more productive and allowing it to create even more jobs. I mean, that is the most important thing when it comes to economic policy as far as the President is concerned."

That's a far cry from Obama's promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. "It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we've long neglected," Obama said in 2009. "I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay -- and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control."

The federal debt, of course, is over $16 trillion, while the deficit -- the amount of money spent each year that exceeds tax revenue -- will exceed $1 trillion for the fifth year in a row.

Democratic Party leaders have no interest in making those "difficult decisions" Obama referred to, even with the federal government on a collision course with the legal debt limit.

Although House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, believes that government spending should be cut by the same amount that the debt ceiling is raised, congressional Democrats would rather do nothing -- even if that means weakening Congress relative to the president.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., encouraged Obama in a letter Friday "to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis -- without congressional approval, if necessary." Reid's letter outlined a position similar to that of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has long argued that Obama should claim the authority to raise the debt limit under the 14th Amendment -- an unprecedented arrogation of power by the executive.

"Instead of using this opportunity to address Washington's spending problem or begin a dialogue with Republicans on entitlement reform, the leadership of the Democratic Party has chosen to advocate a clearly unconstitutional approach," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told The Washington Examiner in a statement. "To even suggest the president could raise the debt limit 'without congressional approval' is extreme and totally unnecessary."

It is necessary, though, if the Democrats intend to continue spending money while hiding the nation's financial situation from the American people. Reid hasn't allowed the Senate to pass a budget in over three years as Obama and his allies work to create a European-style welfare state.

Polls continue to show that Americans are deeply concerned about government overspending, but that's the opposite of the Democrats' and Obama's agenda. That explains why Senate Democrats would rather cede congressional power to Obama and let him exercise Congress's constitutional borrowing power than hold a recorded vote on their long-term budget plans.



Sandy wrecked our house, but bureaucrats are keeping it broken

Like many people whose houses were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, my family and I have been living in a rented house since the storm. Unlike some whose houses were totalled, we could have repaired things and been home toasting our tootsies by our own fireplace by now. What happened?

Two things: zoning (as in "Twilight Zone") and FEMA.

Our first exposure to the town zoning authorities came a couple of weeks after Sandy. We'd met with insurance adjusters, contractors and "remediation experts." We'd had about a foot of Long Island Sound sloshing around the ground floor of our house in Connecticut, and everyone had the same advice: Rip up the floors and subfloors, and tear out anything—wiring, plumbing, insulation, drywall, kitchen cabinets, bookcases—touched by salt water. All of it had to go, and pronto, too, lest mold set in.

Yet it wasn't until the workmen we hired had ripped apart most of the first floor that the phrase "building permit" first wafted past us. Turns out we needed one. "What, to repair our own house we need a building permit?" Of course.

Before you could get a building permit, however, you had to be approved by the Zoning Authority. And Zoning—citing FEMA regulations—would force you to bring the house "up to code," which in many cases meant elevating the house by several feet. Now, elevating your house is very expensive and time consuming—not because of the actual raising, which takes just a day or two, but because of the required permits.

Kafka would have liked the zoning folks. There also is a limit on how high in the sky your house can be. That calculation seems to be a state secret, but it can easily happen that raising your house violates the height requirement. Which means that you can't raise the house that you must raise if you want to repair it. Got that?

There were other surprises. A woman in our neighborhood has two adjoining properties, with a house and a cottage. She rents the house and lives in the cottage. For 29 years she has paid taxes on both. The cottage was severely damaged but she can't tear it down and rebuild because Zoning says the plots are not zoned for two structures, never mind that for 29 years two property-tax payments were gladly accepted.

Kafka would have liked FEMA, too. We've met plenty of its agents. Every one we've encountered has been polite and oozing with sympathy. Even the lady who reduced my wife to tears was nice. The issue was my wife's proof of income. We sent our tax return to FEMA, but that wasn't good enough. They wanted pay stubs. My wife works as a freelance writer and editor. She doesn't get a pay stub. Which apparently makes her a nonperson to this government agency.

It's not only us, of course. Thousands upon thousands have been displaced, but the bullying pedantry of the zoning establishment never wavers. While our house stands empty, the city authorities even showed a sense of humor by sending us a bill for property taxes. For a house they won't let us repair.

We've spent a few thousand dollars on a lawyer to appeal to Zoning, many thousands in rent, and hundreds getting a fresh appraisal of our house. The latest from our lawyer: Because of our new appraisal, we may be able to "apply for a zoning permit." "Apply," mind you.

I used to think that our house was, you know, our house. The bureaucrats have taught me otherwise. But then I also used to think that Franz Kafka wrote a species of dark fantasy. I know now that he was turning out nonfiction.




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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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 16, 2013

Headphones: Paradigm of Market Progress

We had headphones when I was a kid. They were nothing special, just speakers with puffy foam to fit around your ears and a plastic piece to secure them on your head. They sounded fine. They kind of made your ears sweaty. Others could hear a bit of what you heard. You could hear what was going on outside the headphones. Mostly, they just made the scratches and pops on the vinyl records sound louder in your ears. Otherwise, they didn’t matter much in the scheme of things.

Somehow, over the last few years—and especially over the last twelve months—everything changed. Total headphone mania has broken out. It seems like everyone under a certain age wants a pair. The quality makes the ones I had when I was a kid seem like stone-age relics. Forget the pops and clicks of vinyl. The purpose of the new headphones is to reveal a universe of sound no human being has ever experienced.

In my opinion the sound is sometimes better than you can get in a physical space. It is better than real life for me, sometimes, because headphones can block all outside noise and really target your ears.

Crucially, they have become status symbols. What brand you own and use says something about who you are or who you want to be. They are worn with pride, attached only to tiny boxes that contain thousands of songs—a tiny box that is also a phone, GPS, blood pressure checker, musical instrument, and tens of thousands of other things.

In the beginning of the headphone craze, there was Bose, a company that somehow manages to keep reinventing its products and defying every expectation that it is old hat. It was founded in 1964, long before the digital age, and only just after audio equipment became common in every American home. Bose distinguished itself by innovating with the changing times.

As for its headphones, they were first made only for specialists in industry. Only in the last ten years did the company begin pushing the idea of stellar sound for average consumers. Its most popular models hit the market in 2010 and they changed the market forever. They took a throwaway item and turned it into a must have.

Meanwhile, a competitor was waiting in the wings. Beats Electronics was founded in 2006 by hip-hop artist Dr. Dre. He was not only the owner but he personally promoted their products as the best way to hear all of the sound. His personal credibility mattered. This product quickly found a niche among a group of buyers who had no interest in Bose’s stuffy/scientific approach. By 2010, the mass craving for the perfect headphone experience had entered the mainstream.

Bose and Beats entered a titanic struggle in the midst of a market that was growing ever larger. Bose started working with new designs to make their product more hip, even as Beats started working on new designs for professionals. These companies were learning from each other while invading each other’s market niches. Emulation—or observing and copying the successes of one’s competitors—was an important part of the competitive process in the headphone market.

The profit signals worked as they should, inviting ever more enterprising attempts to capture the buying attention of a newly attentive consumer. New companies flew into the market. By 2012, every shape and size became available. The price ranges widened, with makers such as Beats able to sell their wares for $250 and up.

As of this writing, Bose is asking $350 for its top-of-the-line set. Other companies compete with each other in the $200 price range, variously struggling to charge the highest price while still undercutting each other for market share. A new language has emerged: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear. You have to choose.

At my last visit, my local Best Buy has about 20 feet of shelf space devoted to them. Amazon has dedicated an entire online store to them, featuring dozens of brands, from old audiophile standbys to highly specialized earbuds designed to be worn during athletic training. And within a few weeks after observing this, the market expanded out further to the point that imitators of the high-end models showed up at very reasonable prices at drug stores.

The luxury good had become the standard product over time. And if you find even these products to be too expensive, you can also buy lookalikes in dollar stores, products that are not as good but that allow people on a budget to at least look like they are using high-status items.

They all sound great to me, and I would be hard pressed to discern the difference between them apart from their color and shape. And by the way, they all look spectacular, very much unlike the headphones I had when I was a kid.

A few observations about the market bear repeating in light of this case.

This whole craze illustrates the unpredictability of the marketplace. If someone had told me ten years ago that an explosive industry would emerge in which companies will sell headphones to average kids for hundreds of dollars, I would have said: no way. But, surprise, there it is. And the phenomenon has all the elements of market success: substance, style, and intense competition rooted in emulation and the drive to develop and improve.

No one planned this large outcome in any of its particulars; it emerged from the actions of entrepreneurs, producers, sellers, and buyers, and it involves the division of labor working all over the globe. The producers are profiting, surely, but how? Through service to the common person, and the common person is the one who determines such success and failure.

Some people look at this situation and think: what a gigantic waste. It shouldn’t matter what headphones you own or whether you own them at all. Plus, this duplication is pointless. Dog eats dog eats dog and what do you have in the end?

Well, here is what you have the end: and grand and glorious and productive new industry that gets us closer to experiencing better lives. The products do in fact open new worlds to us. Whether you listen to hip hop or Schubert, whether you thrill to the punch of a bass drum or the delicate balance of an oboe and violin duet, the music is taking on a new meaning in people’s heads, hearts, and souls.

All this so-called materialism ends up feeding a nonmaterial end of letting us experience joy. Poets, philosophers, and theologians have told us since the ancient world of the magical properties that music can have on civilization. But it took the capitalists to make their dreams real and universalize them.

As for the supposed duplication of product availability, this is only evidence of how the marketplace is fully capable of serving the infinite diversity within the human family.

Consider too that all of these undertakings must constantly face the grueling test of the balance sheet. If it works economically, we know that it is not a waste of resources. When it stops working for one company, or all, that too is a sign that the activity must stop.

This is a system that works for everyone. It is filled with surprises and opportunities for both producers and consumers, the product of an unplanned order that no one in particular controls in full. If we could bring the dynamism, economics, element of surprise, and relentless creativity and innovation to other sectors of life that are dominated by State imposition, we would see the emergence of new types of social service that we can’t today even imagine.

In other words, the right way to fix health care, education, transportation, and justice—or any sector that is bogged down in bureaucracy and rules—is right before our eyes, or perhaps right in our ears. For sectors dominated by the State, the music has stopped. For those controlled by market forces, it has just begun.



A rallying cry for taming spending

Democrats not allergic to arithmetic must know the cost of their "fiscal cliff" victory. When they flinched from allowing all of George W. Bush's tax rates, especially those on middle-class incomes, to expire, liberalism lost its nerve and began what will be a long slide into ludicrousness.

Those temporary rates were enacted in 2001, when only 28 House Democrats supported them, and in 2003, when only seven did. But with the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" – did liberals think about that title? – 172 House Democrats voted to make the Bush income-tax rates permanent for all but 0.7 percent of taxpayers – individuals earning more than $400,000 and couples earning more than $450,000.

Liberals could have had a revenue increase of $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Instead, they surrendered nearly $3.1 trillion of that. They cannot now increase government revenue as a share of GDP through tax reform because Republicans insist that the Taxpayer Relief Act closed the revenue question. And because tax reform is dead for the foreseeable future, so are hopes for a revenue surge produced by vigorous economic growth.

No numerate person thinks today's entitlement state, let alone the steady expansion of it that is liberalism's aspiration, can be funded by taxing the income of the 0.7 percent of taxpayers whose rates were just raised. Or the 2 percent whose rates would have been raised had liberals simply allowed the automatic increase of rates for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000.

Because 82 percent of American earners pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes, no politically conceivable or economically feasible middle-class tax rate can fund the entitlement state. And America's political culture rules out funding it with new consumption or energy taxes. By rescuing almost everyone from restoration of Clinton-era rates, liberals abandoned any pretense of paying for ever-expanding entitlements. Instead, they made trillion-dollar deficits their program.

From 1950-2000, economic growth averaged 3.6 percent; since then it has averaged less than 2 percent. Liberals think today's correlation between the slow economic growth and rapid governmental growth – including under George W. Bush – is a coincidence. Conservatives do not. And they note some recent actions, done in December's bright light of public attention and fiscal anxiety, which indicate that this government's indiscipline is incorrigible and shameless.

Years ago, for example, Congress decided that, to save the planet, there should be tax credits to bribe Americans to buy electric cars. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., believes it only fair that buyers of electric motorcycles, some of which are made in Oregon, not get left out of the bribery business. Thanks to the Taxpayer Relief Act, they won't.

People who choose to live in places vulnerable to flooding believe it would be unfair that the cost of their property insurance fully reflect this risk. So government subsidizes their insurance, and hence their decision to live where there is increased risk of property damage.

Today's government has neither wit nor will to stop subsidizing electric motorcycles or to reform flood insurance. Hence Republicans should rally 'round one of several well-refined constitutional amendments requiring balanced budgets. Such an amendment would be popular everywhere, but especially in six states important in 22 months.

Republicans need to gain six seats to win Senate control in 2014, when Democrats will be defending 20 seats, Republicans only 13. Six Democratic incumbents represent states in which Barack Obama got less than 42 percent of the 2012 vote.

Sixty-seven Senate votes are needed to send a proposed amendment to the states for ratification. There are 45 Republican senators. There are nowhere near 22 Democrats who would vote for an amendment Republicans could support. Still, Republicans, whose divisions cause Democratic gloating, could use a balanced budget amendment to divide Democrats who threw the remnants of their fiscal self-respect off the cliff.



Obamacare imposes new fees, cost increases on the public

Obamacare was sold to the public based on the fallacy that it would cut healthcare costs, but each month brings additional evidence that it will drive up healthcare costs instead. The New York Times reported last week that “health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own. In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders.” Earlier, Obamacare resulted in hikes of 41-47 percent in health insurance premiums for some policyholders in Connecticut. The Times notes that in “other states, like Florida and Ohio, insurers have been able to raise rates by at least 20 percent for some policy holders.”

Writing in the The Wall Street Journal today, Merrill Matthews and Mark Litow say that some premiums in individual markets may double due to Obamacare. One reason is that the “Congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing.” “Although President Obama repeatedly claimed that health insurance premiums for a family would be $2,500 lower by the end of his first term, they are actually about $3,000 higher — a spread of about $5,500 per family.”

Most Americans will feel the brunt of a $63 per head fee imposed by the Obama administration, for which they will receive nothing in return. As the Associated Press notes, “Your medical plan is facing an unexpected expense, so you probably are, too. It’s a new, $63-per-head fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The charge, buried in a recent regulation, works out to tens of millions of dollars for the largest companies, employers say. Most of that is likely to be passed on to workers. Employee benefits lawyer Chantel Sheaks calls it a ‘sleeper issue’ with significant financial consequences, particularly for large employers. ‘Especially at a time when we are facing economic uncertainty, (companies will) be hit with a multi-million dollar assessment without getting anything back for it,’ said Sheaks, a principal at Buck Consultants, a Xerox subsidiary. Based on figures provided in the regulation, employer and individual health plans covering an estimated 190 million Americans could owe the per-person fee. The Obama administration says it is a temporary assessment levied for three years starting in 2014, designed to raise $25 billion.”

The Obama administration is also levying a 3.5-percent fee (of dubious legality) on insurers that participate in federal health insurance exchanges created by Obamacare, a fee that will be passed on to the public through higher health insurance premiums. In the District of Columbia, small businesses are being forced to buy overpriced insurance on an Obamacare exchange by the “District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority,” which “voted . . . to require D.C. small businesses to buy coverage through the exchange. Although President Obama falsely claimed when Obamacare was enacted that “if you like your present health insurance, you can keep it,” Washington’s small “employers can stick with their current health insurer” only “if that provider opts into D.C.’s exchange.” Even if it does, employers “may see their rates increase . . . experts said.” The forced participation in the exchange will “apply to any company that has an office in the District with 50 or fewer employees.

Even liberal Democrats in the Senate like Al Franken are admitting that the medical-device tax contained in Obamacare will wipe out many jobs. In a statement in December, “Sen. Al Franken called it a ‘job-killing tax’” that will “impair American competitiveness in the medical device field.” Obamacare has triggered layoffs in the medical device industry. Employers are now cutting full-time workers and replacing them with part-time workers (which helps conceal high unemployment) to avoid Obamacare mandates that apply to full-time employees, a phenomenon chronicled at the Huffington Post and on Fox News. Obamacare will reduce employment by an additional 800,000 due to work disincentives and its bizarre income-cliffs for things like tax credits.

A 2011 study predicted that “790,000 Ohioans will lose their private health insurance and premiums will rise 55%-85% when Obamacare takes full effect in 2014.” Those percentages sound a bit high, but the study was done by reputable consultants and commissioned by the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Obamacare will harm the health care system. It contains racial discriminatory provisions and racial preferences that were criticized by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Dean of Harvard Medical School, Jeffrey Flier, noted that Obamacare will reduce life-saving medical innovation. It arbitrarily discriminates against certain hospitals, and raises taxes starting in 2013 on investors, including, but not limited to, a new 3.8% Medicare tax on investment earnings for individuals earning more than $200,000 and households earning more than $250,000 per year. The Associated Press and others have noted that it breaks a number of Obama campaign promises.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 15, 2013

Quiggin's Fascist dream

The highly-paid ($200,000+ p.a., last I heard) Prof. Quiggin looks down on material striving

Arts and Letters Daily recently linked to this essay by economist John Quiggin arguing that Keynes’s old ideal of the 15-hour working week is both within our economic grasp and a morally desirable ideal that advanced nations should promote. Quiggin, for those of you who are not aware, is a well-known Keynesian economist and ardent social democrat who has blogged prominently at Crooked Timber for a decade. I’ve been reading him for almost as long. In this post, I’m going to criticize the piece on the grounds that its vision of social life is morally impoverished and sectarian

I. Quiggin’s Keynesian Halcyon Days

Quiggin’s article begins with a fascinating trip down memory lane. Quiggin became an economist in the early 1970s, “at a time when revolutionary change still seemed like an imminent possibility.” At this early stage in Quiggin’s life, he was inspired by Keynes’s famous essay, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” (PDF). Keynes saw that utopia was a plausible future. He expected and hoped that the work week would continue to shorten. Quiggin hoped so too, until the sad and destructive rise of “market liberalism” (Quiggin’s derisive term for the sum total of pro-market economic thought that has had some influence over the last fifty years).

Quiggin regales us with the tale of the post-war Keynesian golden age of growth, when “the social democratic welfare state, supported by Keynesian macroeconomic management, had already smoothed many of the sharp edges of economic life.” Economic risk was manageable and the thoughts of the people could turn towards cultural and aesthetic rather than mere economic pursuits. “Anti-materialist” attitudes proliferated.

But market liberalism reversed the shortening of the work week and made people more consumerist. Sadly, unlike in the 1960s, “the values of the market have penetrated ever further into every aspect of our lives.” During the period leading up to the Great Recession “avarice and usury … [were] worshipped on an unimaginable scale.”

The economic turmoil of the 70s brought the utopianism of the 1960s to a halt and led to a resurgence of “neoliberalism, Thatcherism and the Washington Consensus” the evil “market liberalism” which has as its central theoretical tenet “the efficient markets hypothesis.” The core “ideology” of market liberalism combined the efficient market hypothesis with the idea that “the best way to achieve prosperity for all is to let the rich get richer” and that all would benefit via the notorious “trickle-down.”

This view of the world leads us away from Keynes’s dream because market liberals believe that the “mega-fortunes piled up in speculative financial markets … are essential to achieve and maintain decent living standards for the rest of us.” Market liberalism thus makes us more money-driven despite the fact that it consists in dead or “undead” ideas (as Quiggin argues in his recent book, Zombie Economics). Because market liberalism is so perverse, it needs not merely economic but moral critique.

Keynes thought the post-scarcity age would come too soon. Instead, we need to add another 60 years to get a sufficient increase of wealth to where no one in the world needs work a long week or needs to suffer from great financial risk. Further, we need some new inventions to help us reduce the amount of housework we need to do.

There is a work inequality that present developed English-speaking nations face, where the rich work long hours and the poor cannot find as much work as they would like. Work should be more evenly distributed, so the poor have better incomes and the rich have more leisure time. But we can only reach this equality if we can substantially reduce the “centrality of market work to the achievement of a good life” and with a “substantial reduction in the total hours of work.”

II. Quiggin’s Social Democratic Vision

How do we achieve Quiggin’s preferred social arrangement? First, we go “back to the social democratic agenda associated with postwar Keynesianism.” The social democratic agenda includes a “guaranteed minimum income, more generous parental leave and expanded provision of health, education and other social services.” If we implement this program, we can produce a society where “even those who did not work, whether by choice or incapacity, could enjoy a decent, if modest, lifestyle, and where the benefits of technological progress were devoted to improving the quality of life rather than providing more material goods and services.” With such social priorities, societies could allocate investment “according to judgments of social need rather than market signals of price and profit” which would thankfully “reduce the need for a large and highly rewarded financial sector.”

In the post-scarcity society, everyone will be insulated fully from dangerous economic risk, even those who choose to do nothing but surf all day so long (as they are prepared to perform a small number of public services. People would be free to contribute “according to their abilities” and receive enough from society to meet their basic needs).

More importantly, Quiggin ends his piece asking whether we would want to live in such a society. Or will we always be so corrupt that we must chase “after money to buy more and better things”? He sees some hopeful signs in the more frugal consumer behaviors following the great recession, where conspicuous consumption is less popular and people buy smaller homes and cars.

And in any case, we don’t have a good alternative to Keynesian social democracy, for market liberalism “has failed on its own terms.” During the reign of market liberalism, most households in the developed world experienced less income growth than in the Keynesian golden age.

III. Quiggin’s Vision is Morally Impoverished Sectarianism

More than anyone in the econoblogosphere, other than Paul Krugman, Quiggin has fought the decline of classical Keynesian and social democratic economic and moral ideals. He has poured heart and soul into outlining a way to return to glory and move beyond. But I think his vision for social life in the developed world is deeply morally impoverished even setting aside his (in my view incorrect) economic beliefs. Let me explain.

I think an ideal is objectionably sectarian when it requires the use of coercion against people who have fundamentally distinct but reasonable worldviews and philosophical commitments. Quiggin seems to think that people who spend all of their time working and accumulating wealth suffer from a kind of false consciousness. In reality, their good would be better promoted if they were to work much less and be less concerned with becoming wealthy.

What Quiggin ignores is the possibility that people in liberal democratic societies work hard and seek high incomes because doing so promotes and embodies personal, moral and religious ideals different than those advocated by secular social democrats like Quiggin. Keynes’s vision of a leisurely life makes sense for a British aristocrat. Of course he’d think such a life was best for all. But one important feature of economic life in industrialized democracies is that while some people could work less, they prefer to work more.

There are a great many reasons why. Some people may accumulate wealth because they want to be beloved philanthropists or because they want to provide the very best lives they can for their families. They may accumulate wealth as the side effect of performing a highly valued service that they find intrinsically rewarding. They may work hard simply because they enjoy working more than leisure or because they think that hard work is more morally virtuous than leisure. A certain style of Protestant might hold that hard work and flourishing in one’s vocation is what God will for his life. He blesses the successful and righteous with riches that they can use to support their churches or charitable causes. Other people of faith may get great fulfillment from exercising their God-given talents.

So we can see many people have deeply moral and philosophical reasons for working as long as they do. Arguably with the decline of manufacturing and agriculture and the rise of service jobs and work in the “knowledge economy,” much work in industrial democracies is less onerous and more customizable than in the past. Some people are able to work at a job that they have dreamed of and so they may well pour sixty, seventy or eighty hours a week into it.

The moral advantage of a market liberal society over a social democratic society is that it does not discourage these forms of life. It allows people to pursue their own work in their own way, giving people the freedom to work less for less pay or to work more for more pay. That is one reason it is essential to protect economic liberties, in order to ensure that people have the right to build the life of their choosing.

Quiggin’s vision of a deeply interventionist and redistributive state would deliberately frustrate the aims of those whose worldviews include hard work and great benefits. His preferred set of institutions would blunt and disincentivize such jobs by design and reward those who prefer extended amounts of leisure. That’s why his vision of social life is sectarian and, I think, morally unattractive, because it not only condescends to those who live to work but it would use state power to actively discourage these forms of life and encourage alternative forms of life that many of these people find worthy of moral condemnation.

In the end, Quiggin is quite similar to mild Catholic establishmentarians in Latin American countries, and European Catholic nations like Spain and Italy. They wish to have the state promote a certain version of the good life by sponsoring certain moral and spiritual ideals via state policy and power, without banning other religions or points of view. Quiggin’s secular vision is no different, no less authoritarian and no more worthy of power.

I suspect Quiggin thinks that a market liberal society is just as authoritarian and sectarian than Keynesian social democracy, if not moreso. After all, market liberal societies reward the hard working at the expense of the leisurely. But in reality it does no such thing. A market liberal society gives people many options. Just because it pays those who work hard and creatively enormous sums does not mean that others are less free to live a more leisurely life.

Of course, Quiggin can trot out the old hard left claim that in a market liberal society people must work to live and have basic amenities, but we do not need a social democratic state to ameliorate this condition, just a modest basic income (which of course Crooked Timber and BHL have argued about before!).

So with that, I think it is fair to conclude that Quiggin’s Keynesian vision is mistaken.



Nothing lasts forever. Is the Entitlement Era Winding Down?

It's often good fun and sometimes revealing to divide American history into distinct periods of uniform length. In working on my forthcoming book on American migrations, internal and immigrant, it occurred to me that you could do this using the American-sounding interval of 76 years, just a few years more than the Biblical lifespan of three score and 10.
It was 76 years from Washington's First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln's Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized.

As for our times, we are now 71 years away from Pearl Harbor. The current 76-year interval ends in December 2017.

Each of these 76-year periods can be depicted as a distinct unit. In the colonial years up to 1713, very small numbers of colonists established separate cultures that have persisted to our times.

The story is brilliantly told in David Hackett Fischer's "Albion's Seed." For a more downbeat version, read the recent "The Barbarous Years" by the nonagenarian Bernard Bailyn.

From 1713 to 1789, the colonies were peopled by much larger numbers of motley and often involuntary settlers -- slaves, indentured servants, the unruly Scots-Irish on the Appalachian frontier.

For how this society became dissatisfied with the colonial status quo, read Bailyn's "Ideological Origins of the American Revolution."

From 1789 to 1865, Americans sought their manifest destiny by expanding across the continent. They made great technological advances but were faced with the irreconcilable issue of slavery in the territories.

For dueling accounts of the period, read the pro-Andrew Jackson Democrat Sean Wilentz's "The Rise of American Democracy" and the pro-Henry Clay Whig Daniel Walker Howe's "What Hath God Wrought." Both are sparklingly written and full of offbeat insights and brilliant apercus.

The 1865-1941 period saw a vast efflorescence of market capitalism, European immigration and rising standards of living. For descriptions of how economic change reshaped the nation and its government, read Morton Keller's "Affairs of State and Regulating a New Society."

The 70-plus years since 1941 have seen a vast increase in the welfare safety net and governance by cooperation between big units -- big government, big business, big labor -- that began in the New Deal and gained steam in and after World War II. I immodestly offer my own "Our Country: The Shaping of America From Roosevelt to Reagan."

The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the colonial status quo and launched a revolution and established a constitutional republic.

Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early 20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s.

We are seeing something like this again today. The welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability.

Entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- are threatening to gobble up the whole government and much of the private sector, as well.

Lifetime employment by one big company represented by one big union is a thing of the past. People who counted on corporate or public sector pensions are seeing them default.

Looking back, we are as far away in time today from victory in World War II in 1945 as Americans were at the time of the Dred Scott decision from the First Inaugural.

We are as far away in time today from passage of the Social Security in 1935 as Americans then were from the launching of post-Civil War Reconstruction.

Nevertheless our current president and most politicians of his party seem determined to continue the current welfare state arrangements -- historian Walter Russell Mead calls this the blue state model -- into the indefinite future.

Some leaders of the other party are advancing ideas for adapting a system that worked reasonably well in an industrial age dominated by seemingly eternal big units into something that can prove workable in an information age experiencing continual change and upheaval wrought by innovations in the market economy.

The current 76-year period is nearing its end. What will come next?




Israeli government vows to build new settlements: "Israel's prime minister has vowed to move ahead with settlement [sic] building in a Palestinian-claimed area near Jerusalem, after Israeli security forces evicted more than 100 Palestinian protesters from the site. In an interview Sunday on Israeli radio, Benjamin Netanyahu said 'there will construction' in the disputed E-1 zone between Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and the major West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim."

France: Pro-family activists rally at Eiffel Tower: "Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday decrying the French president's plan to legalize same-sex marriage and adoptions. They converged near the Eiffel Tower, chanting and waving flags, posters and balloons. 'I do not personally agree with gay marriage as I am a Christian and believe what the Bible says about marriage being between one woman and one man for a life time,' said CNN iReporter Oluwasegun Olowu-Davies, who shot video of the march with his phone."

Jerry Brown wants feds to back off on prisons: "'It is now time to return the control of our prison system to California,' Gov. Jerry Brown declared at a news conference Tuesday morning. Amen to that. Federal lawsuits and federal judges have taken over the state's prison system. Unelected judges don't have to worry about paying for what they command. Nor need they worry about losing their jobs should they incite the public's wrath. Thus, judges have ordered massive increases in inmate health and mental-health spending. Those orders have driven up the annual cost per inmate to more than $55,000."

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



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 14, 2013

Abandoning ‘We The People’

For much of its 236-year history, the federal government has accumulated new power by whittling away at the essential protections afforded to American citizens under the U.S. Constitution. In recent years this wholesale abandonment of our founding principles has rapidly gained momentum — accompanied by a skyrocketing government debt that now eclipses our nation’s annual gross domestic product.

“There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics,” former U.S. President Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address to the nation in 1989. “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

No truer words have ever been spoken — yet in the last half-decade this nation has witnessed a stunning (and astronomically expensive) escalation of neo-fascism in America. And no political party, court nor ideological movement has proven able to blunt its building momentum.

During the debate over “Obamacare” — a massive, budget-busting entitlement funded with money our country doesn’t have — former New Jersey Judge Andrew Napolitano pointedly challenged then-U.S. Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) regarding the constitutionality of this socialized medicine monstrosity.

Clyburn’s response?

“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do,” he said.

Therein lies the root of our problem. The overt contempt for our Constitution displayed by Clyburn and other elected officials is precisely why government has become so unruly, so fiscally unsustainable and so dangerous. Tragically for our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court empowered this view in its Obamacare ruling — inventing a new taxing authority to accommodate this abomination rather than following the law and protecting our liberties.

Decades of legislative overreach, executive power grabs and judicial activism have steadily diminished our freedom and free markets — a disintegration which may have already reached the point of terminal velocity. Our nation now prints unlimited piles of money with no congressional oversight. It taps our phones and emails with no probable cause. It compels us to purchase products or face stiff fines. And now it wants to strip us of our right to keep and bear arms.

Yet even these egregious incursions are not enough for some members of the professional left.

In a recent column published by The New York Times, Georgetown University law professor Louis Michael Seidman argues for the wholesale abandonment of the U.S. Constitution, decrying “all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.”

“We have to give up on the claim that we are a self-governing people who can settle our disagreements through mature and tolerant debate,” Seidman writes, “we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.”

“Real freedom?” From “constitutional bondage?”

These assertions are demonstrably illogical. Arguing one’s freedom would improve by allowing government to tighten its grip is like arguing one’s breathing would improve by allowing an Anaconda to do the same. Yet we are supposed to accept the ongoing suffocation of our freedom and free markets in the name of expediting a socialist agenda that is bankrupting our country? And give up more of our money — and our guns — to the new overlords?

Like so many ivory tower leftists whose anti-American views hold sway in Washington, D.C., Seidman sees the Constitution as something to be shaken off — like a bad cold. Of course what he fails to recognize is that his prescription for constitutional emasculation would kill the very source of the federal government’s power and legitimacy.

Absent the Constitution, there is no government — only anarchy. One cannot destroy our founding document without destroying the nation it created (or what’s left of it). And make no mistake — once freed from any real or implied constraint, government becomes the tyranny our Founding Fathers (and most present-day Americans) fear.

In other words it ceases to be America.



Freedom Lost

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law an astounding 876 new mandates. They all took effect last week. Now, in the Golden State, you cannot do the following:

--Hunt a bear using trained dogs. Untrained canines are OK, I guess. And how would the authorities be able to tell? Would the dog have to take a test in the forest?

--Sit in an off-road vehicle without being in a seat. You can't sit on the floor or on the roof. Do off-road vehicles even have roofs? I don't know.

--Use a boat in a "freshwater body" without paying a separate fee. The purpose of the fee is to raise money to control the influx of "invasive mussels." I thought that was a 1950s monster movie.

--Drive a party bus without a special license. Can't wait to see that test. "Do you know the words to 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang?"

The list of new laws is almost endless, and it is clear that Brown and the California legislature have been very busy thinking up ways to control every aspect of people's lives. And that is what's basically happening throughout this country. Politicians, some of them well-meaning, are trying to legislate everything.

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't want us to be chubby, so he's trying to ban soft drinks in large cups. If a child rides his bike, he often looks like a Roman gladiator with all the protective gear. Drive through a yellow light, and you may be ticketed thanks to a camera tied to a pole. Everybody's watching everything -- and then sending it out to the world via technology.

The more laws that governments pass the less individual freedom there is. Any student of history will tell you that. Totalitarian countries ban pretty much everything. The Taliban whipped people in public for dancing. Mao would execute you for saying a prayer. Hitler would send you to a concentration camp if he thought you were gay.

We Americans need to stop this nanny state stuff. Reasonable protections are fine. It should be a crime to text while driving. But in California it is now against the law to park at a broken meter for more time than you could if said meter were working. I can just see the cops standing there with a stopwatch.

I consider myself a law-abiding person. But I'm exhausted. I don't know where to put the bottles, newspapers, cans and other stuff for garbage pickup outside my house. The rules are so thick you need someone from MIT to explain them.

So here's my pitch to Brown and other elected officials: Relax. The bears will be fine. The mussels will invade no matter what you do. The parking meter deal isn't important. OK?



It's all about Obama

Do you remember what the mainstream media mainly talked about as the country careened toward the fiscal cliff? Did they talk about the harmful economic effects of impending tax increases? Did they talk about which tax increases would be worse than others? Did they talk about the need to get rid of waste in government without causing economic harm?

No. None of that. The taking heads and opinion writers focused like a laser on one and only one question: who was going to get the blame if we went over the cliff.

Up next will be the debt ceiling deadline (in a matter of weeks), then the automatic sequester of federal spending (in less than two months), and then (in three months) comes a close-down-the-government-moment, when Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution, because it can't seem to ever pass a real budget. Through it all, expect more of the same. Instead of real issues, the media will treat these events like a boxing match. Who's landing a blow? Who's getting hurt?

Think about that for a moment. If we don't curtail entitlement spending, we're going to end up like Greece. Even the Democrats are unwilling to tax enough to pay the bills. But none of this is interesting to people who talk and write for a living. Only the blame game holds their attention.

OK. I'm willing to devote at least one column to that topic and here is my answer: President Obama deserves about 90 percent of the blame for these crises. Here's why.

During the 2008 election, I was actually hopeful about Barack Obama. He was the only serious candidate in the Democratic primary who said we need to do something about entitlement spending, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. For this, he took much abuse from the left, including scathing condemnation by Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Yet he stood his ground.

What made me especially hopeful was that Barack Obama was a liberal Democrat. Just as it took a Republican (Richard Nixon) to go to China, I fear it will take a Democrat to reform entitlements. Bill Clinton was about to do what needs to be done with Social Security and Medicare until Monica Lewinski derailed him. Then George Bush proved that Republicans are never going to be able to reform Social Security. Perhaps, Barack Obama could pick up where Bill Clinton left off. Could that really happen?

After the election, I became even more hopeful. When President Obama appointed Alan Simpson and Erskind Bowles to head a commission to tackle the problem of ever escalating federal debt, even the Republicans in Congress were opposed. But the president forged ahead, despite no congressional support. He met personally with Simpson and Bowles and promised them that he would back their recommendations — let the chips fall where they may.

Alan Simpson is a former Republican senator from Wyoming. Erskind Bowles is the former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. This bipartisan approach was exactly what Barack Obama campaigned on and it is why many people (including many Republicans) voted for him.

The Simpson/Bowles recommendations were released in December 2010. But there was no meeting at the White House. In fact, the president greeted the report with stony silence. In January, there was no mention of the report in his State of the Union speech to Congress. There was nothing in the president's budget that year either. It was as though Simpson and Bowles did not exist.

Then the president did something unforgivable. In the spring of 2011, he invited Paul Ryan to a public event with the promise that "Congressman Ryan will really like what the president has to say." Ryan was head of the House Budget Committee and the main person the president would have to deal with if there was to be any bipartisan solution to our budget crises. Then, in front of a national television audience, the president gratuitously lashed out at Ryan — even accusing him of being "un-American" for his views on how to reduce budget deficits.

Many of us were stunned. Politicians rarely attack other politicians if they don't have to. When they're running against each other, it's no holds barred. But when they have to legislate together, there is nothing gained and a lot to lose by publically humiliating a member of the opposite party.

To this day, I'll never understand why Barack Obama chose to pull off that stunt. It was a public repudiation of every principle he ran on in his quest for the presidency. But I do know this. From that day forward, there has been a different Obama in the White House.

In the latest round of negotiations, the president repeatedly mischaracterized the Republican position. Remember: last fall's election is over. The president now has to work with Republicans to solve critical budget problems. Yet in discussing those efforts publically, time and again the president has gone out of his way to insult and demean the very people he is negotiating with.

The Republicans, according to the president, care only about millionaires and billionaires. He, on the other hand, is protecting the middle class by insisting they get to keep their tax cuts. What tax cuts? The Bush tax cuts. The tax cuts that Obama and most other congressional Democrats voted against, campaigned against and attacked time and again as the cause of spiraling federal deficits!

As I wrote last week, the Republicans were foolish to let the president become the public defender of the very low tax rates for the middle class — the very tax rates the Democrats once opposed. But let me return once more to the blame game.

If the press reports can be believed, it was Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell who kept us from going over the fiscal cliff. He did it by recruiting Vice President Joe Biden to help reach a deal, while the president was vacationing in Hawaii.

I'm not sure what makes Obama tick. I have no idea what motivates him. I have no idea what he is trying to do. I am sure about one thing: in the current fiscal impasse, Barack Obama is the one who is most at fault.

To top it off, David Brooks reminds us of this bizarre fact:

"President Obama excoriated Paul Ryan for offering a budget that would cut spending on domestic programs from its historical norm of 3 or 4 percent of G.D.P. all the way back to 1.8 percent. But the Obama budget is the Ryan budget. According to the Office of Management and Budget, Obama will cut domestic discretionary spending back to 1.8 percent of G.D.P. in six years."



Panetta warns of hiring freeze, deep cuts at Pentagon

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday he has ordered the Pentagon to begin planning now for the triple crisis facing the government this March, telling reporters it was a “perfect storm” that could leave the military with a worst-case outcome: a “hollow force.”

Panetta and the nation’s top uniformed officer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in a briefing that March’s potential across-the-board budget cuts, the expiration of the continuing spending resolution that now pays for the government and the potential that the U.S. could default on its debt all were too serious not to begin immediate preparations.

“The fact is, looking at all three of those, we have no idea what the hell’s going to happen,” Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon. “All told this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness.”

He said the Pentagon would pull back on military maintenance that wasn’t critical to immediate missions, freeze civilian hiring, stop issuing certain contracts and take “other steps” against the possibility of a roughly $45 billion budget across-the-board spending cut that could take effect in March, unless Congress intervenes.

An even larger cut would have taken place on Jan. 2, but Congress and the White House agreed to postpone it for two months as part of their deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

Congress’ decision to push back that cut, but not to void it altogether, is what has made Panetta and Dempsey pessimistic that lawmakers would be able to resolve March’s triple crisis a timely fashion.

“I’d like to believe that ultimately, Congress will do the right thing,” Panetta said. Now, however, “my fear in talking to members of Congress is that this issue may now be in a very difficult place in terms of their willingness to confront what needs to be done to de-trigger sequester. So all those reasons, plus the uncertainty about what happen on the CR, the debt ceiling, put all that together, and we simply cannot sit back now and not be prepared for the worst.”

Dempsey described why sequestration would be so devastating — the law requires imposing all the first year’s cuts at once, and each passing day leaves less time in the fiscal year to absorb them. If sequester hit on March 1, that would mean only seven months, instead of a full 12, for example, increasing the blow for the services.

“It’s the burn rate,” he went on. “The burn rate is unsustainable. We have to now take measures to prepare for that eventuality.”

Dempsey said that even though he and the heads of the military services would do their best to protect the readiness of units fighting in Afghanistan, they necessarily would have to cut back on the money available to train and maintain other units returning from or preparing for the war.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 13, 2013

The Hipster Facade

by Victor Davis Hanson

America has always been a country of self-invention. Yet there used to be some correlation between the life that one lived and the life that one professed. It was hard to be a phony in the grimy reality of the coal mine, the steel mill, the south 40 acres, or atop a girder over Manhattan.

No longer in our post-modern, post-industrial, metrosexual fantasyland. The nexus of big government, big money, and globalization has created a new creed of squaring the circle of being both liberal and yet elitist, egalitarian-talking but rich-acting, talking like a 99 percenter and living like a 1 percenter. And the rub is not that the two poles are contradictory, but that they are, in fact, necessary for each other: talking about the people means it is OK to live unlike the people.

In short, we can all be just what we profess to be. The key in our world of blue-jeaned billionaires is being hip — or rather at least professing to be hip.

But what is hip? Mostly it is a state of mind, a religion, a talk, a look, an outward persona that is the key that unlocks you from the ramifications of your ideology.

Hip is like “cool”, whose power I wrote about not long ago: a general sense of tapping into the popular youth culture of music, fashion, food, electronics, easy left-wing politics, and adolescent habit. Hipness is a tool designed to justify enjoying the riches and leisure produced by the American brand of Western market capitalism by poking fun at it, teasing it some, dressing it up a bit to suggest ambivalence over its benefits without ever seriously either understanding their source or, much less, losing them. We feel hip at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but not so much in the organic section of Safeway.

Hip also plays out as professed caring — worrying in the abstract about all sorts of endangered species, starving peoples, or degraded environments. It is being loudly angry at retrograde forces — white males, the rich, gun owners, Christians, family types, and suburbanites, the sorts who ostensibly crafted the toxicity of Western civilization that you are forced to use and enjoy. Yet embrace hip, and all things become possible. A Martian would see the modern university as an elitist enclave, where life-long tenured professors make lots of money overseen by hordes of even better-paid administrators, that together cause tuition for cash-strapped and indebted students to rise faster than the rate of inflation without any promises that their eventual certifications will result in commensurate good jobs. A non-Martian would instead appreciate the hip nexus of diversity, eco-caring, and gender-neutral inclusivity.

Hip is a sort of Neanderthal mentality that is terrified of serious thinking, and thus substitutes the superfluous for the profound.

Palestinians are hip in a way that Israelis are not; but pro-Palestinian reporters stay in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv without a clue why the two cities are different from Ramallah. Hip is loud support for the Dream Act, but avoidance of places like Mendota or San Joaquin, or any serious contemplation about why millions of Mexican nationals wish to cross their northern but not their southern border. Hip is shopping at Whole Foods, but supporting more food stamps for those who shop at a distant Food 4 Less and weigh more than you do. Hip decries school choice and vouchers, but means Sidwell Friends is under armed guards for your own progenies.

Tell an uninformed hipster that Obama wants to outlaw abortion, and abortion can suddenly become very unhip.

Hip is furor over Cheneyite Scooter Libby — tried for an Orwellian crime that didn’t exist, and if it did exist, it was committed by someone else — while snoozing through Fast and Furious and Benghazi.

Hip is certainly not Halliburton, but most certainly is Solyndra. The unhip Patriot Act, renditions, and Guantanamo are suddenly now kind of hip; so are drone targeted-assassinations — a sort of “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Predator.” If we bomb Iran, we will be OK — if only Snoop Dogg high-fives the mission, the pilots are gay, the bombers run on biofuels, and the shrapnel is recyclable. Let us hope that the outgoing F-22s have a Che logo painted on the side as they blow stuff up.

Corporate Hipsters

Take also finance. America loves — and loves to hate — Wal-Mart, the cut-rate discount store that draws in millions in the concrete and repulses them in the abstract, perhaps because it originated in Arkansas and is unimaginatively named after the late Sam Walton, a scheming, up-from-the-bootstraps self-made zillionaire. Could Sam not have been Jacques Cartier — and thus Cartier-Marqueé? The chain, so the writ against it goes, supposedly drives out local small businesses, treats its employees unfairly, and represents the worst of crass American hucksterism.

But if Wal-Mart were just hip — in the sense only of a hipster veneer — it would be mostly exempt from such criticism. Starbucks, for example, is a similar global franchiser. It, like Wal-Mart, has been hit with charges of European tax avoidance, and accused of dodging local planning procedures and of operating at a loss to drive out small competitors. It is also at odds with various unionizing efforts. But Starbucks, in our shallow public imagination, remains hip and thus gets a public pass in a way Wal-Mart does not. Kids brag that they work at Starbucks, not at Wal-Mart. Maybe it is the literary name taken from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (could not Wal-Mart be renamed Gandalf’s, Sherlock’s, or Lancelot’s?)? Or does its hipness derive from the literary quotations that it slaps on products, or its sales of “Ethos” water?

Could not Wal-Mart put memorable lines from Shakespeare on its plastic bags, or a Greek hexameter from Homer, or sell vitamin water called Sophos, Kalos, or Logos, or pipe in John Lennon’s “Imagine”?

Would Google have had more trouble for all its outsourcing and overseas tax avoidance had it been named American Internet, Inc., or if its founders had grown up together as good ol’ boys in Mobile, Alabama, who still had a nagging propensity for putting patriotic slogans under the Google logo when the browser pops up each morning? Imagine waking and hitting the American Internet, Inc. logo — and then reading “Live free or die” before your search. (How odd that liberals — e.g., “the medium is the message” — always lectured us about advertising-driven false demand, and then became past masters of deceptive branding.)

Warren Buffett and George Soros are apparently hip; the Koch brothers are not.

How did that come about, given that there is not much difference in the capitalist modes in which they all became billionaires? After all, a Koch brother did not try to break the Bank of England, or get convicted of a crime in France. Warren Buffett’s choice to leave much of his estate to the Gates Foundation will cost all of us billions in lost federal estate tax revenue. And his efforts to hike estate taxes on the upper middle class would mean that a keystone of his empire — life insurance — might profit handsomely. Could Obama just jet to Omaha and say: “Warren, HHS and HUD have a funding problem; could you steer a few billions their way in your estate?”

The difference is that Buffett and Soros espouse liberal causes and progressive politicians. CEO Jeffrey Immelt not only won lots of tax concessions for GE, but also did so without much public rebuke. You see, he was a loud proponent of Barack Obama and once bankrolled MSNBC. (Did Eugene Robinson ever blast on the air his patron for not paying his fair share?). That in and of itself provided exemption from charges of crony capitalism and insider influence peddling — and the fact that GE paid no income taxes in 2010.

If the executives of Solyndra had been coal-company CEOs, they would now be in deep trouble for squandering public funds obtained through rank cronyism.

We don’t worry much when Facebook or Google invades private lives; we worry a great deal when frackers produce oil without polluting the environment. BP had it right — keep the familiar abbreviation and green color and just say the logo now means an eco-friendly “Beyond Petroleum” (rather than the neo-colonialist British Petroleum) as you pump more gas and oil than ever. Government Motors will soon not be a parody; but Green Motors would be even better.

What’s in a Name?

So: hip is often as easy as changing one’s name. Had Mitt Romney only reminded us of his family’s Mexican ancestry and ran as Zarpa Romneo, and against Barry Dunham. We do not associate the billion-dollar couple — rapper Jay-Z and singer Beyoncé — with the one-percent elite who made zillions through music, endorsements, and scores of cutthroat capitalist subsidiary companies. Would Barack Obama dare lecture them: “You did not build those businesses”? Or “Come on — at some point you made enough money”? Or,“Hey, you two, now is not the time to profit”?

Would the two seem different to the public had they been known as Beyoncé Knowles and Shawn Carter? Would a Barry Dunham or even Barry Obama have quite found the hip resonance of Barack Obama?

Why did we agonize over George Bush’s purported cocaine use while a youth, when Barack Obama, of Choom Gang affiliation, openly bragged in his memoirs of using “blow”? One was a seen as a pampered frat wastrel, the other a literary and confused man “coming of age” in an uncertain world, turning to Niebuhr for solace.

Hipness can be especially hard to acquire for old white guys who have tons of money and will do almost anything to increase it — like a stingy John Kerry who tried to avoid $500,000 in property taxes by moving his $7M yacht to Rhode Island, or a conniving green Nobel Laureate Al Gore who just sold his $100 million interest in Current TV to the anti-American al-Jazeera funded by the fossil-fuel burning royal family of Qatar, and attempted to beat the new 2013 tax hikes in the process. (What a liberal trifecta!) But as exemption for not buying a $5 million dollar yacht and paying his taxes with the savings, Kerry often harangues for high taxes on others. And we remember his passionate 1960s protest career. (Ghhenzzzis Khan made far better senatorial drama than Genghis Khan). For dessert, Kerry wind-surfs and wears spandex while bike riding. Add all that up and Kerry is exempted from the Occupy Wall Street disdain of one-percenters. He is one of the good guys, mansions, yachts, and all.

Al Gore — aging, rotund, white, male, and southern-accented — made nearly a billion dollars. By any classical definition — the house in which he lives in, the transportation that he prefers, the accusations of sexual harassment he has incurred, the modes in which he made his money — Gore is an abject hypocrite. But we do not live in a classical society of reason and logic, and so Al Gore is hip and therefore exempt from such charges. He has become more associated with worrying about poor stranded polar bears trapped on melting ice flows than junketing to his next corporate, profit-maximizing conference on a carbon-spewing Gulfstream V.

Bill Clinton gave us the notion of offsets — one nod to a piece of feminist legislation and, presto, one piece of a young intern subordinate becomes OK.

Do we care that Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews are multimillionaires, live in exclusive districts, or embrace a lifestyle unknown to most Americans, when they so loudly each week warn us about racism, sexism, and the pathologies of the rich white male establishment of which they are such a part? Apparently Ms. Mitchell climbs on her soapbox haranguing about “rednecks” from 9-5, and then goes home to her Ayn Rand-reading, uber-capitalist, stock-buying and selling husband Alan Greenspan without a blink in between.

Again, the one is not so much at odds with the other as explains the other.

If Katie Couric were a spokeswoman for GM or Chrysler, would we resent her $15 million salary, and cite it as an example of the growing divide between the relative compensation of management and labor? But trash Sarah Palin, and Couric is no longer an overpaid one-percenter. Is CBS hip and therefore exempt in the way the New York Times fights tooth and nail against unionization, or Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio are not dubbed parasites for raking in $30 to 50 million per year?

How did David Letterman survive serial affairs with subordinate employees, after creating the classic “hostile workplace environment” that feminists are otherwise so quick to pounce on? Apparently, he is hip enough to be able to slander 14-year-old Willow Palin as a veritable prostitute.

In the Obama world of zero-sum economics, does LeBron James’s $15 million a year come at the expense of an extra dollar or two on the ticket of the hard-pressed fan? Or does the fact that LeBron is hip exempt him from association with his fellow fat cats? Could the Tea Party just change its name to Occupy Washington?

Barack Obama baffles his detractors. How can one who golfs so frequently, or who vacations in only the most tony resorts, keep haranguing the nation about the transgressions of the one percent? When he sees them stroll by on Martha’s Vineyard, does he jump up and shout out at their mansions: “You didn’t build that!”?

How did corpse-man not win the NPR vitriol that nu-cu-lar had in the past?

How could Obama in 2006 vote against raising the debt ceiling, in 2008 call Bush unpatriotic for deficit spending, upon entering office promise to halve the deficit by the end of his first term, and then oversee some $5 trillion in new borrowing? Hip: borrowing became “stimulus”; entitlements, “investments”; and paying it all back became “paying your fair share.” In Obama’s case, he is not just black, but black with an exotic name and a liberal ideology, unlike a Clarence Thomas, who is most unhip — being right-wing, not of mixed race, with an ordinary American name (Clarence?), veteran of the prejudices of the pre-Civil Rights south. Could not Thomas shorten his name to just the single Tomré? Or perhaps go the Van Jones made-up route — Van Thomas?

In a shallow and superficial America you can make all the money you like without being dubbed selfish or greedy, frequent all the most exclusive resorts without being a one-percenter, and commit all the politically incorrect sins you wish without being tagged a reactionary — but you better try to be hip first.



What is the future of conservatism? Jeff Jacoby opines

I DON'T FALL IN LOVE with politicians – the last presidential candidate I voted for with ardor was Ronald Reagan in 1980 – and my heart doesn't break when those I support don't win. Nor am I a party loyalist. As a conservative I vote for Republicans more often than not; for those of us committed to free enterprise, limited government, military strength, and a healthy civil society, there is usually no better option. But the Republican Party isn't the conservative movement. And a GOP defeat doesn't mean conservatism – or the GOP, for that matter – is in crisis.

Yet ever since Election Day, a chorus has proclaimed that that's exactly what Mitt Romney's loss to President Obama means. Scornful foes and anguished friends warn that Republicans are going the way of the Whigs. That demographic change spells liberal landslides as far as the eye can see. That social conservatism, especially on marriage and abortion, is electoral poison. "Obama's re-election marks a turning point in American politics," declares the Los Angeles Times. "With the growing power of minorities, women, and gays, it's the end of the world as straight white males know it."

So what else is new? Whenever Republicans lose a national election, Americans are told that it's curtains for the Right. "Conservatism is Dead," wrote Sam Tanenhaus in a notable New Republic essay shortly after Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration; its "doctrine has not only been defeated but discredited." Soon after, Colin Powell was insisting that small-government conservatism had lost whatever appeal it once had. "Americans," he explained, "are looking for more government in their life, not less."

Then came the Tea Party, an extraordinary wave of civic engagement, and a conservative tide that replaced Democratic control of the House of Representatives with the largest Republican majority in 60 years. Was the reaction to the 2010 midterm elections a flood of commentary admonishing the Democratic Party that the progressive movement was finished? Were liberals advised that henceforth their only hope of relevance was to embrace the policies and moral values of cultural conservatives?

There are many lessons conservatives might draw from the disappointing results on Nov. 6, but a need to radically overhaul the Right isn't one of them. So what if exit polls showed that a plurality of Americans, unlike most Republicans, now support same-sex marriage and higher tax rates on the wealthy? The same polls show that majorities of Americans believe that Washington should do less and that taxes should not be raised to cut the deficit. American conservatism didn't arise from a yearning to conform to public opinion. Its raison d'être was to defend constitutional liberty and economic opportunity – free men and free markets – and to make the case that human dignity and prosperity flourish not when government is all-powerful, but when it is limited. Sometimes that conservative message has been politically popular. Sometimes it has meant standing athwart history, yelling "Stop!"

Meanwhile, fights on the Right are nothing new. In the wake of Obama's re-election, conservatives may be at loggerheads over immigration or gay marriage or defense cuts, but when haven't we clashed over how to translate principle into policy? From Romneycare to waterboarding, from racial preferences to drug legalization, from libertarians to the religious Right, the conservative movement has always bubbled with debate and disagreement, while the Left, for all its talk about "diversity," rarely seems to show any.

Liberalism has done a lot of damage. It is poised, in Obama's second term, to do even more. So the future of conservatism is going to be a busy one. Let's face that future with optimism, patience, and cogent argument.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 12, 2013


January 11, 2013

America's untouchable Leftist aristocracy

Suffering the consequences of hypocrisy is usually reserved for public figures on the political right. The mere rumors of infidelity dissolved Herman Cain’s presidential nomination viability. It is easy to recall famous conservatives who have fallen from grace for not living up to a personal standard. But it is harder to remember the name of a disgraced liberal. The impeachment of Bill Clinton over a substantiated sexual affair seemed to take no more of a toll on his political capital than if he were a French prime minister.

Hypocrisy is simply a matter of common human imperfection. Most of us who pursue a high-minded standard inevitably do fall short. But within the intrinsic position of liberal is a rejection of traditional standards of behavior. So public figures on the left are less likely to agree to being held accountable to some high watermark. Easy.

But it seems that in light of recent election successes, the liberal elite has emerged with a new ennobling status free from the obligations that they themselves have imposed on the masses. Now, I am not talking about the left-wing rank and file. That growing segment of the American electorate has voluntarily exchanged civil freedom for civic security.

But there emerges a new nobility, a special caste of liberal who holds status as an elected official, Hollywood superstar or business tycoon. Examples include conflicted American characters such as Warren Buffett, Rosie O’Donnell, and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Nebraska’s lovable and quirky billionaire Warren Buffett is known for having an unquestionable knack for effective investing. In both of the past two elections, Buffett strongly supported Barack Obama for President. He even supplied Obama with the silly campaign issue known as the “Buffett Rule.” Warren Buffett could have readily subjected his own personal compensation to the higher withholding tax rates by simply paying himself a salary rather than recognizing his income as capital gains. But so far, Mr. Buffett continues to maintain a personal tax rate that is about half that of his famously salaried secretary.

But what really qualifies Mr. Buffett for membership in the new bourgeoisie are his fight to avoid paying the one billion dollars in taxes that he owes and his influence on President Obama to put a stop to the development of the Keystone oil pipeline project. One would think that a businessman like Buffett would welcome the tens of thousands of new jobs that Keystone would have generated in the U.S. However, a Keystone pipeline would potentially have cost Buffett’s company over $2 million per day in lost revenue by competing with his existing rail transportation of oil.

Rosie O’Donnell joins Warren Buffett in the new bourgeoisie club with her position on personal gun ownership. During a broadcast of her talk show, O’Donnell announced her position on the matter, "You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun, I think you should go to prison." One year later, O’Donnell found herself having to defend the public news that her bodyguard had applied for a concealed weapons permit at the Greenwich, Connecticut Police Department. “[My bodyguard] has the right as a person who’s residing in Connecticut a lot of the time due to his work with me to request to carry a gun. … He’s an individual and he works for a security firm,” O’Donnell told Today host Katie Couric.

But Rosie doesn’t hold a candle to R.C. Soles, a Democratic State Senator whom the National Association for Gun Rights called, “one of the most outspoken anti-gun legislators in North Carolina.” In many states, defending one’s home from an intruder with a firearm is a legally acceptable response. Evidently, this is not the environment that Senator Soles has worked to establish in North Carolina. Soles shot 22-year-old Kyle Blackburn in the leg, claiming that he was acting in self-defense after Blackburn and another man tried to kick in the door of his home. Senator Soles has been indicted on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.

Eduardo Saverin is one of the founding principles of Facebook and is estimated to be receiving over three billion dollars from the company’s initial public offering. While Saverin, a 4% original owner, has not played the same high profile role in supporting Barack Obama’s elections as his Harvard classmates, it is generally assumed that he is cut from the same idealistic cloth. But Saverin has had a change of heart about coughing up capital gains on $3 Billion. So much so that he decided to denounce his U.S. citizenship and vanish John Galt style to Singapore. This clever accounting move not only saves Saverin tens of millions in taxes, it also jiggles the handle of Democratic senators who really want that money. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is threatening pursuit and banishment, stating “We aren't going to let him get away with it."

The emergence of the new bourgeoisie is the natural response from the segment of well-to-do liberals who have sponsored the imposition of a new code for commoners. While these folks may appear to be hypocrites, it was never their intent that they should be subjected to the same personal limitations appointed to the common caste. Remember that the same Joe Biden whom President Obama just assigned to develop gun control proposals said of fellow candidate Obama in 2008, “I guaranty ya, Barack Obama ain’t takin’ my shotgun!”



Fascism In America

It is often argued by critics of the Obama administration that it is socialistic, i.e. expanding governmental authority over the means of producing and distributing goods. Alas, there is something to be said for this point of view. As I see it, however, a more accurate way to describe the Obama government is corporatism or a political system in which the principal economic functions are designated and given favorable treatment. The most appropriate way to assign meaning to this phenomenon is fascism.

During the Nazi period firms such as Mercedes Benz and Krupp Steel was given tax advantages and privileges denied other German companies. Not only did these companies favor Hitler's regime, but they were favored by the regime. This inextricable nexus benefited both parties since privilege was conferred by government which in turn bought political and economic support.

The recent U.S. government deal to avert the fiscal cliff by legislating income tax and capital gains hikes obscured another part of the arrangement: 75 special interest tax breaks - a list of corporate interests that receive tax perks and are not publicly revealed. Nonetheless, some of this special treatment has leaked.

For example, there is an accelerated tax write off for owners of Nascar tracks. There is a tax credit for companies operating in American Samoa, including the StarKist factory owned by Nancy Pelosi's husband. Distillers received a $222 million rum tax rebate. Most notable, film and television producers can expense the first $15 million of production costs incurred in the United States. This Hollyood special will cost the taxpayers $430 million over the next year. It obviously paid for Hollywood to back President Obama in the last campaign.

As one might guess, renewable energy in the form of wind and algae received $2 billion of credit even though the nation is going through a natural gas drilling boom. The more one is green, the more green bucks flow. Needless to contend, the total cost will be far greater than these estimates. And even though the stock market hasn't yet revealed its sentiments about this shady deal, this misallocated capital will assuredly slow economic growth.

The question that remains puzzling is the silence of the left about this corporate welfare scheme. Where are the voices of indignation? What happened to the outspoken Occupy Wall Street crowd? Does Obama get a pass for his soothing rhetoric?

Even if one believes tax increases on "the rich," those earning over $450,000, is warranted there certainly isn't a constituency for corporate greed. On the one hand, the administration acknowledges dramatically increased expenditures that must be curbed; on the other hand, it maintains expenditures be damned. Designated friends of the Obama government deserve special treatment because they supported him when he needed their help. If this isn't a classic display of fascism, what is it?

Since the word fascism evokes fear and anger, it is rarely used. But as I see it, the word does describe what is going on. This goes beyond "crony capitalism;" in fact, it doesn't resemble capitalism. In this system markets don't work at all; it is who you know and the kind of influence you can exert.

It is not coincidental that the Obama administration pushed aside the primary bond holders of General Motors in an effort to give the Union of Automobile Workers (UAW) effective control of the company. In this instance, as in so many other cases, the president secured the votes he needed for reelection. The union did not forget what he did for them.

This kind of corporatism eats away at the public confidence in government. After the bill was struck, the president had the temerity to praise the legislation by noting: "further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can't take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most Americans." By any interpretation this is a bald faced lie. The special privileges granted designated corporations represent the loopholes and deductions unavailable to the rest of Americans.

Where is Orwell when you need him? In this administration you say the opposite of what you do. Count on public ignorance to promote the fraud. Speak the language of FDR and apply the principles of Bonnie and Clyde. The public may not realize it, but this fiscal cliff deal makes it clear that fascism has come to America.



A Man's Home Is His Subsidy

John Stossel

The Obama administration now proposes to spend millions more on handouts, despite ample evidence of their perverse effects.
Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says, "The single most important thing HUD does is provide rental assistance to America's most vulnerable families -- and the Obama administration is proposing bold steps to meet their needs." They always propose "bold steps."

In this case, HUD wants to spend millions more to renew Section 8 housing vouchers that help poor people pay rent.

The Section 8 program ballooned during the '90s to "solve" a previous government failure: crime-ridden public housing. Rent vouchers allow the feds to disperse tenants from failed projects into private residencies. There, poor people would learn good habits from middle-class people.

It was a reasonable idea. But, as always, there were unintended consequences.

"On paper, Section 8 seems like it should be successful," says Donald Gobin, a Section 8 landlord in New Hampshire. "But unless tenants have some unusual fire in their belly, the program hinders upward mobility."

Gobin complains that his tenants are allowed to use Section 8 subsides for an unlimited amount of time. There is no work requirement. Recipients can become comfortably dependent on government assistance.

In Gobin's over 30 years of renting to Section 8 tenants, he has seen only one break free of the program. Most recipients stay on Section 8 their entire lives. They use it as a permanent crutch.

Government's rules kill the incentive to succeed.

Section 8 handouts are meant to be generous enough that tenants may afford a home defined by HUD as decent, safe and sanitary. In its wisdom, the bureaucracy has ruled that "decent, safe and sanitary" may require subsidies as high as $2,200 per month. But because of that, Section 8 tenants often get to live in nicer places than those who pay their own way.

Kevin Spaulding is an MIT graduate in Boston who works long hours as an engineer, and struggles to cover his rent and student loans. Yet all around him, he says, he sees people who don't work but live better than he does.

"It doesn't seem right," he says. "I work very hard but can only afford a lower-end apartment. There are nonworking people on my street who live in better places than I do because they are on Section 8."

Spaulding understands why his neighbors don't look for jobs. The subsidies are attractive -- they cover 70 to 100 percent of rent and utilities. If Section 8 recipients accumulate money or start to make more, they lose their subsidy.

"Is there a real incentive for the tenants to go to work? No!" says Gobin. "They have a relatively nice house and do not have to pay for it."

Once people are reliant on Section 8 assistance, many do everything in their power to keep it. Some game the system by working under the table so that they do not lose the subsidy. One of Gobin's lifetime Section 8 tenants started a cooking website. She made considerable money from it, so she went to great lengths to hide the site from her case manager, running it under a different name.

"Here's a lady that could definitely work. She actually showed me how to get benefits and play the system," says Gobin.

Although Section 8 adds to our debt while encouraging people to stay dependent, it isn't going away. HUD says it will continue to "make quality housing possible for every American."

Despite $20 billion spent on the program last year, demand for more rental assistance remains strong. There is a long waitlist to receive Section 8 housing in every state. In New York City alone, 120,000 families wait.

Some are truly needy, but many recipients of income transfers are far from poor.

America will soon be $17 trillion in debt, and our biggest federal expense is income transfers. They are justified on the grounds that some of that helps the needy. But we don't help the needy by encouraging dependency.

Government grows. Dependency grows.



Leftist America: Obama Opponents 'A--Holes'

This week's column is brought to you by the word "a--holes." It's one of the left's favorite words these days, fond as they are of shutting down the debate and casting their political opponents out like lepers.

Take, for example, the website Gawker. The website is liberal. And as liberal Obama backers, they feel the necessity not only to support the Obama agenda, but also silence those on the other side through bully tactics. Hence their decision this week to publish a full list of all the registered gun owners in New York City. The title of their big reveal: "Here Is a List of All The A--holes Who Own Guns in New York City." That's an inaccurate title, of course -- the worst people who own guns in New York City likely own them illegally. But it fits with the leftist conceit that those who disagree on gun policy are just bad people.

It's not just gun owners who are "a--holes" according to the left. This week, restaurant chain Wendy's announced that they would have to cut back worker hours in order to preserve their employment thanks to additional costs imposed by Obamacare. This, of course, is basic economics -- when you impose additional costs on a business, they have to cut back. But to the left, reality is a mere inconvenience. If you experience additional costs from the vaunted Obamacare program, you're supposed to lift your chin and soldier on, even if it means bankruptcy.

And so ultra-thug Dan Savage tweeted, "A--holes: Wendy's Cuts Employee hrs. to Part-Time 2 Avoid Obamacare." Savage is, amazingly enough, one of President Obama's anti-bullying czars -- he runs the It Gets Better Project, which is closely associated with the White House. He also bullies conservatives routinely. When Chick-Fil-A's ownership turned out to be pro-traditional marriage, Savage tried to redefine Chick-Fil-A to mean a graphically perverse sexual act; he did the same with Rick Warren's Saddleback Church after Warren expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage; he did the same with Rick Santorum's name after Santorum had the gall to speak out for traditional notions of heterosexual marriage. Savage has also berated Christian students for walking out on one of his anti-Christian screeds and suggested that politicians with whom he disagrees should be murdered.

Savage wasn't the only one taking on Wendy's for failing to magically exempt itself from the laws of economics. Potty-mouth comedienne Sarah Silverman tweeted, "What lame period faces." And Nathan Fillion's of "Firefly" fame wrote, "I just boycotted Wendy's. And broke up with Wendy. Via tweet."

Leave aside the fact that the leftist solution to Wendy's cutting back hours is to cut their profit margin even further, forcing them to fire people. Focus instead on the morality play leftists shoehorn into the Wendy's scenario: greedy corporation wants to avoid helping people get health care, and so cuts back their hours. Again, the leftist position rests on the thuggish notion that those on the other side are morally inferior to them.

The truth is that the left is morally inferior when it plays these games. Instead of looking for actual solutions to problems of crime and murder and bankruptcy, leftists prefer to grandstand. It makes them feel good to label those who oppose their agenda "a--holes," even if it doesn't save lives. It makes them feel good to rip Wendy's rather than Obamacare, because you don't win points for backing business -- but you do win points for slandering business in the name of the collective.

The left has become a collection of bullies, knee-jerk moralists without the morality. They aren't interested in the best policy. They're just interested in the glow they feel when they self-perceive as having defended a "victimized group." Too bad the only real victims are those who end up on the short end of their insulting cretinism.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 10, 2013

Medicine and government: A bad mixture

by Roderick T. Beaman

When I first started medical practice in 1972, a physician could get started in practice on a shoestring budget. All you needed was a couple of rooms, some furnishings, a few pieces of equipment that you could add too later, a telephone and possibly someone to answer it and schedule appointments. The joke was that you could set up your office in early orange crate style. Overhead was about one-third of the usual expected incomes. Those days are long gone.

One of the first causative things to spring to mind is the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Certainly, that’s part of it but far from the only part and may not even be a major part. The daily costs of simply operating an office have soared as well.

If you go into any medical office consisting of two or more physicians, for starters, you are likely to find a receptionist and one person for the billing. In essence, she chases money. Her salary, including benefits is likely to be in the $80,000 a year range. The receptionist answers the telephone and primarily does the scheduling. Her services come at a cost also.

Each physician is likely to have one or two people assisting him, directly, in patient care. That would include ensuring follow-ups and tests including laboratory and imaging studies such as x-rays. They come at their own costs. There also might be laboratory and x-ray technicians who actually perform those tests if the office does them in-house.

In addition, there is likely to be an office manager who is responsible for office staff scheduling and other tasks which might include PR work. The office manager may be just as likely traipsing around town drumming up referrals. She is the future of the office but the billing manager is the lifeblood of the office. There would be no future without the present lifeblood.

The billing manager spends her time on the telephone talking to claims representatives and sometimes several of them when there are multiple carriers involved. This happens with regularity when a patient has different private insurers and each expects the others to pay. It can get really complicated if, for instance, a patient has also been involved in an automobile accident.

No third party payer issues reimbursement without absolute proof of coverage and a requirement to pay. That proof sometimes will require multiple exchanges of information. It is usual for payment to be delayed months and each day it is delayed, can mean, in aggregate, tens of thousands of dollars in interest. This is a huge unspoken bonus incentive for them, whether government or private.

There is often some blurring of these roles and the physicians’ assistants may do some scheduling and answering of the telephones or assist in the billing but there is a lot that is required in a medical office today as opposed to years ago when a physician might need but one person, a receptionist, to help. All of this personnel and overhead come at costs that you as a patient are paying for, directly or indirectly.

Sometimes the payer demands records so it can determine the appropriateness and necessity of the treatment. The payer can then deny payment and demand a refund and even charge fraud. This is a part of the worry but, sometimes from sheer exhaustion or oversight, the office gives up on obtaining payment and thus the office loses that income for the services rendered. The third party is that much richer.

One of the most worrisome aspects of practice is medical records. Just twenty years ago, a few lines used to suffice. Today, it’s unlikely that any visit generates less than half a page and two or three pages are possible. As you can imagine, this has meant an explosion in the size of records, not to mention an explosion in the consumption of paper. Records of twenty visits used to be able to fit into a thin manila folder. Now they can be the size of a small telephone book.

Often, the job of being a physician includes small talk with a patient. It rarely adds much to the overall impression but it often helps the patient which is, after all, our primary function. In the past, such comments would hardly merit more than a brief blurb in the record but, with a little imagination, that off-the-cuff comment can be parlayed into three paragraphs of logorrhea to snow any reviewer. It takes a while to adjust to this mentality. A maxim of college English is to say the most with the least number of words and physicians experienced this in undergraduate school. Generations of college freshmen have had their papers savaged by an English teacher for verbosity but when you deal with a bureaucrat, the reverse is the operative rule. No one likes verbiage more than a bureaucrat. If you can say the same thing three different ways, you have a leg up. Professor Irwin Corey would have loved it.

When you add up all of the salaries of the ancillary personnel and lost income, it is a staggering percentage and contributes to physician discouragement. It is rampant in the various health care professions. It is only going to get worse under Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. You can expect overhead to soar with little of it contributing to medical care.

Litigation will skyrocket with attendant costs. There are many potential new avenues for litigation. Medical journals are already issuing warnings about possible future liability actions, many of which may not be covered by medical malpractice insurance. It could be years before they are all fully explored. Nothing fills the legal profession with more glee than new laws. You could wind up needing a lawyer every time you seek medical care and every medical office could conceivably need to have one on retainer. “Do you have a question about your rights under the Affordable Care Act? Call the law firm of Dewey, Scruem and Howe.” There’s a maxim in the legal profession that in a small town one lawyer does poorly but two lawyers do well. Just think about that.

To show you how liability can be contorted, a New Jersey attorney once tried to sue every member of a staff due to the purported malpractice of one physician on the grounds that they had tolerated his incompetence and should have done something about it! The case was thrown out but it had to be defended at a cost, possibly by each and every physician and after it was over, the attorney still maintained the case had merit!

Another problem is, when the last round of inflated demands becomes the norm, and physicians have adjusted to them, they up the ante. The monster just grows and grows and grows and adds to the need for more office personnel by both physicians, hospitals, insurance companies and the government, etc., again all at a cost.

It’s no accident that many of the recent great fortunes are governmentally related. H. Ross Perot made much of his fortune designing computer systems for Medicaid. You can hardly turn on the TV, especially to a cable station, without seeing an ad for some product that is ‘guaranteed’ to be covered by Medicare. The Scooter Store is one and there are numerous others, diabetic supplies for example. Indirectly, they’re all feeding at the public trough and you pay for it either with your health care premiums or taxes.

As a government program, health care has become a political football. The budget battles are simply analogues of the school budget battles and they are both approaching break points. Within the past year, there were several proposed reductions of Medicare ’s physician reimbursements. One was nearly 30%. Since many private companies base their reimbursements on the Medicare rates, the effect would have had huge ramifications on physicians’ incomes and their abilities to even pay their staffs. Physician payments are often targeted for cost control but I have never seen the regulations and their costs of administration targeted or even discussed by the politicians and government.

Numerous hospitals across the country have had to close under the burdens of Medicare and Medicaid regulations. In Rhode Island alone, at least two hospitals have closed completely since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted and two others became simply outpatient facilities.

In the late 70s, I was talking with another physician about the financial burdens of those two entitlement programs. He told me that before them a local hospital had gotten along with just two vice-presidents. By our decade and a half later, the hospital had 17 or 19 v.s., all because of Medicare and Medicaid and their regulations. Of course, they all had to be paid salaries with benefits that came out of the health care dollar.

At our small 80-bed hospital, the proliferation of bureaucrats was obvious. We had a woman who used to talk to patients about their follow up care. She’d review their coverage, make arrangements for them and label the talk ‘crisis intervention.’ A fifteen-minute talk - crisis intervention. Wow!

To even get a handle on what Obamacare may mean for the country, consider how our compulsory educational system has become a force for things only very marginally related to education in just our lifetimes. Among them you have the sensitivity, sex education, diversity issues, etc. Now contrast that with what it was in your school days and compare that to what it was probably like when the first governmentally sponsored schooling started in Dorchester, Massachusetts in the 1830s.

Now turn your attention to the medical system and begin contorting your mind as to potential costs, legal, administrative, etc. No matter how far fetched or how unlikely you think it might be, it is likely tame next to what is coming.

Around 1984, (an interesting year for such a thing), the Department of Education decided that if any student used a Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG) for college tuition that should be considered a subsidy to the college, not just the student. It then demanded that Grove City College in Pennsylvania comply with its Title IX regulations. The college fought it and the court agreed.

Ted Kennedy was the most dangerous American demagogue of my lifetime, a peddler of hatred and paranoia, lolling on the lunatic left fringe of American politics. Subsequently, he sponsored his Orwellian titled Civil Rights Restoration Act that required it. It was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan but then Congress overrode his veto. Note, that this entire case arose and came to a head under the most avowedly conservative president of the 20th century. Just think of what will happen under this Marxist administration.

Other seemingly benign things such as government sponsored basic education resulted for years in Jim Crow segregation (bad), later desegregation (decent) and busing to achieve integration (bad) that was opposed even by many blacks. Many people dismissed the possibility of school busing when the idea was first floated during the mid and late 1950s. Hubert Humphrey scoffed at the suggestion that the 1964 Civil Rights Bill would lead to quotas by stating he would eat a copy of the bill on the floor of the Senate if it did. It did and he didn’t.

Finally, (I am sure any reader by now has just heaved a sigh of relief that this is a finally), think the unthinkable. Remember that the involuntary and unknowing sterilization of American citizens was done in this country as late as the 1960s and maybe even more recently. It was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court and continued well after the collapse of Germany’s national socialist government. Realize further, that the sterilizations and exterminations under the eugenics program of German National Socialism and they all occurred under this same banner of Progressivism, something progressives will never address. It is not a question that such horrors can happen here, they have happened here!

The scoffed at Death Panels will emerge with their calculations of comparative worth of the lives of various people. Failures and runaway expenses will be blamed on everything but government just as all they have throughout history, such as the failures of Soviet Socialism.

Get ready for a very rough ride.



My Recent Kafkaesque Experiences

Tibor R. Machan, a refugee from Communist Hungary, experiences the Soviet USA

It may not be the kind of experience many others have had other than at the Department of Motor Vehicles but I recently went through one that brought to mind Franz Kafka.

I have been trying to refinance my house for months but my bank, Wells Fargo, refused to even talk about it. I had there one of the brusquest bankers, as bad as any bureaucrat I’ve dealt with from the feds. But in time my tenacity won out and I divorced Wells Fargo but not before I went through a pretty wild bureaucratic side trip.

To get refinanced I was told I had to come up with my social security card. I received that back in 1956 and haven’t seen it since so I didn’t even try to find it but went straight to trying to get a replacement copy. To do this I had to send Social Security my passport to prove that I am a citizen. (I am a naturalized one of those and having been smuggled out of Hungary, I have no birth certificate.)

I filled out the needed forms and sent in the passport but never heard back from them with the new card I needed. Well, since I was planning a trip abroad, I had to have a passport but social security played deaf and dumb. Finally I went to Los Angeles, a 100 mile round trip, and got a brand new passport (after spending hours on the phone about it all), which cost me a couple of 100 mile road trips to the federal building there, plus some $200 and price of passport pictures, etc., etc. I was to pick up the new passport at 1 PM one day but of course they didn’t get it ready until 2 plus. And dealing with these folks is a pain since they all treat you like you are some subject, never mind being a citizen of a supposedly free country by whom they are supposedly employed.

So in time I did get the new passport into my hands and was ready to board my plane. Since where I was to go requires a visa, that added another small bureaucratic step to the proceedings. (My private sector travel agent was very helpful with this, also very pleasant, in contrast to the public servant federal agents I encountered.)

Of course all the steps I needed to take were routine but no less drab and annoying for that. The federal building in Los Angeles reminded me of that monstrosity in Bucharest that the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceau?esco built over several acres, an architectural obscenity if there ever was one. This American version was just a little bit more tolerable and no more user friendly.

Mind you, thousands go through the experience of dealing with the feds and paying for their ineptitude. I was told that the reason I needed to come up with the social security card is that Homeland Security now requires it when one refinances or buys a home but then just after I did my best to comply with this, I was informed that it wasn’t really needed, after all. But by then I had mailed my passport off and the loss of it was pretty much guaranteed. (It’ll probably turn up somewhere “in the system” over the next year and I will be able to stick it away as a souvenir.)

One element of these relatively petty experiences is that one just has no leverage with the several functionaries one must deal with. Since any one of them can put a monkey wrench in the proceedings, standing there and looking intimidating in their uniforms, even I refrain from arguing with them. (Why do they say 1 PM when it is actually 2 PM? Why do they say they needed the Social Security card but then it turns out they do not?)

Not that these are earth shaking matters but if one multiplies them by several hundred thousands, even millions, one begins to grasp just how inefficient governments are and how readily they muck things up in society. The functionaries certainly do not treat you as citizen-customers to whom they need to show some deference! They all comport themselves with the attitude that they have the upper hand and you should be grateful that they do their jobs for you. Or something.



Chuck Hagel: another RINO

Biographically, the former Nebraska senator and decorated Vietnam War hero makes a great choice. As the president noted, "He'd be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as secretary of defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department."

But temperamentally, not so much. While Obama lauded Hagel for representing "the bipartisan tradition we need more of in Washington," I think that what the president really meant is that Hagel is his favorite kind of Republican, the self-loathing kind.

Make that: the kind whom Democrats like because Republicans do not.

Hagel alienated some on the right when he turned against the Iraq War, for which he had voted in 2002. A lot of people changed their minds about that war, but Hagel went so far as to say in 2007 that "of course" the Iraq War was about oil.

Hagel angered folks from both parties when he said during a 2006 interview, "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here."

The Jewish lobby? Not the Israeli lobby? That's why Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN on Sunday that the Hagel pick was an "in-your-face nomination."

Hagel's opposition to sanctions against Iran led Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, to warn that "nominating a person who is clearly soft on Iran would send exactly the wrong message to Tehran."

The Washington Post, which endorsed Obama in 2012, editorialized that Hagel is the wrong choice because his "stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left" of the president's first-term policies.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 09, 2013

Obama, Race and Affirmative Action: Why the Second Term Will Be Worse (Part II)

The executive branch isn’t the only arena in which the Obama affirmative action crusade will be felt over the next four years. The legislative branch, too, offers manifold opportunities for mischief. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-148), or “Obamacare,” for example, offers a generous supply of tripwire. Section 5301, which defines criteria for federal aid to medical schools, contains a subsection, “Priorities in Making Awards.” It states: “The Secretary [of Health and Human Services] shall give priority to qualified applicants that…have a record of training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups.” Section 5303, which spells out criteria for aid to schools of dentistry, contains similar language. In neither case does the law specify what constitutes “a record.” One thus can expect medical and dental schools to do everything possible to boost minority enrollment, including lowering admission standards, in order to stay clear of being sued. Lowering the standards among today’s students almost by necessity undermines the quality of tomorrow’s health care professionals.

The Obama-backed Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203, or the Dodd-Frank law) also contains a cornucopia of racial favoritism. The law, among other things, gives banks a window of opportunity to escape safety and soundness requirements if they lend heavily to blacks and Hispanics, especially in neighborhoods where they predominate. An orderly liquidation of an insolvent institution, states the law, should “take into account actions to avoid or mitigate potential adverse effects on low-income minority or underserved communities affected by the failure of the covered financial company.” The legislation also created a Financial Stability Oversight Council, to be headed by the Treasury Secretary, which would consider a struggling financial institution’s “importance as a source of credit for low-income, minority or underserved communities” before taking it over. The law also creates an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion within the Treasury Department, the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and other federal housing-related finance agencies.

One only can envision the opportunities for shakedowns of mortgage lenders not getting aboard the diversity express – and the fearful compliance by lenders. Already, the capitulation has begun. Recently, the American Bankers Association advised its roughly 5,000 member institutions to give rejected minority loan applicants “a second look.” Such reconsideration, noted the ABA, “can result in suggested changes in underwriting standards.” Translation: Banks should be more willing to lose money on bad loans if they make them to blacks and Hispanics.

Disturbing as this expanded role for the legislative branch is, it may have an equally potent rival in the judicial branch. Any number of Obama-friendly (if not Obama-appointed) federal judges are working overtime to force racial-ethnic diversity upon for-profit and educational institutions. The affirmative action juggernaut, for example, got a huge boost last November 15 when the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, invalidated a ban on race-based admissions at the University of Michigan and other public colleges and universities in the state. By a thin 8-to-7 margin, the court ruled that the ban, approved by 58 percent of Michigan voters in a November 2006 referendum, violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. With typically convoluted reasoning, Judge R. Guy Cole, writing for the majority, stated that the referendum “targets a program that inures to the benefit of the minority and reorders the political process in Michigan in a way that places special burdens on racial minorities.” The new arrangement, he said, “undermines the equal protection clause’s guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change.”

In the view of Judge Cole (who is black), a race-neutral higher education admissions process somehow creates “special burdens” on nonwhites because of the likelihood of lower admissions rates. This sophistry, in large measure, was made possible by the unwillingness of any branch of government to challenge the doctrine of disparate impact. A silver lining: The State of Michigan plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, especially in light of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling this April upholding a similar ban (Proposition 209) in California.

Racial favoritism possibly got an even bigger boost in September when the City of St. Paul, Minn. unexpectedly withdrew its appeal of a February 2012 circuit court decision to U.S. Supreme Court. The case, which appeared on the Supreme Court docket as Magner v. Gallagher, grew out of an allegation that St. Paul’s aggressive enforcement of its housing code had a disparate impact against minorities. A group of residential landlords, led by Thomas Gallagher, invoked the Fair Housing Act to invalidate the enforcement procedure, though not the code itself. City officials, led by Vacant Building Manager Steve Magner, moved to have the case dismissed. A district court granted the motion, arguing the code enforcement was not discriminatory. Gallagher appealed, and an Eighth Circuit Court sided with him and denied Magner’s request for a rehearing. Magner and other city officials in turn filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted them certiorari. But the City of St. Paul for some reason pulled out.

Some leading members of Congress believe they know why: The Department of Justice had put the squeeze on the city. A group of ranking Republican lawmakers and oversight committee chairmen sent Attorney General Holder a letter in September which stated in part: “Mr. Perez fretted that a decision in the city’s favor would dry up the massive mortgage lending settlements his division was obtaining by suing banks for housing discrimination based on disparate effects rather than any proof of intent to discriminate.” The letter suggested the department made a quid pro quo deal: In exchange for St. Paul dropping its appeal, the DOJ would refrain from intervening in a separate $180 million suit against the City invoking the False Claims Act. Justice Department officials deny using such intimidation. A DOJ spokesperson said, “The decision was appropriate and made following an examination of the relevant facts, law and policy considerations at issue.”

Even if the Justice Department is truthful in letter, it is dishonest in spirit. The department, which for the next four years will be in the hands of affirmative action fanatics, has proven to be unyielding in its application of the disparate impact standard as broadly as possible. Currently the DOJ has at least five active lending discrimination suits and has opened another 30 investigations. At a Columbia University forum last February, Holder asked about affirmative action: “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin? When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”

In a nutshell, Holder has summarized the Obama administration’s arrogance and contempt for constitutional liberty. Never mind that diversity enthusiasts regularly use intimidation to extract financial concessions from their targets under the guise of combating discrimination. Never mind as well that there might be good reasons to oppose such an approach to law. Holder insists the process barely has begun and thus must expand radically. As for his notion that people are morally entitled to the fruits of others’ labors by virtue of not being white (“people of color”), it is nothing less than a rationale for legalized theft.

Affirmative action began in earnest more than 40 years ago. And its pace is accelerating. The real question should be: When will it end? One thing is for sure: It’s not going to end, or even begin to end, as long as Eric Holder’s employer, Barack Obama, occupies the White House. Obama’s success as a presidential campaigner in 2008, if one recalls, rested heavily on his self-constructed image as a racial “healer,” someone who by virtue of mixed-race heritage and uplifting rhetoric could bring the nation together. But just underneath the surface was a man whose self-definition was heavily driven by his patrimonial (i.e., East African) ancestry and animosity toward whites. Even a cursory reading of his 1995 book memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” reveals as much.

Obama and allied anti-white shakedown artists, from Eric Holder to Al Sharpton, see government coercion of white-managed institutions as laudable because the goal is full social equality. Unfortunately, it’s a goal that can’t be achieved without chipping away at the foundations of liberty. And in any event, it is unachievable.

A little over 50 years ago, well before affirmative action platoons swung into action, the late Austrian economist-legal philosopher Friedrich Hayek, in his classic book, “The Constitution of Liberty,” foresaw the futility of this project. He wrote:

"From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either the one or the other, but not both at the same time…(W)here the state must use coercion for other reasons, it should treat all people alike, the desire of making people more alike in their condition cannot be accepted in a free society as a justification for further and discriminatory coercion."

This, then, is the central problem. The current administration believes that because whites as a whole are better off than nonwhites, their advantageous position necessarily must be due to illegal and immoral “discrimination.” Obama, Holder, Perez and other affirmative action soldiers decry any social arrangements that allow whites, even under an assumption of color-blindness, to come out ahead. They see such an outcome, by its very nature, as unfair.

This view is 180 degrees removed from the principle of rule of law. “Discriminatory coercion,” to use Hayek’s term, is precisely what describes the Obama administration’s approach to law and social policy. And it is whites, not nonwhites, who have much to lose. The mandatory “diversity” of Obama’s first term in the White House may be an omen of a far more onerous set of mandates in the second term.



Zombies among us

Without going much into the lore, literature, and filmography of zombies, there is an appropriate analogy to be drawn between the notion of the "living dead" and the living that deserves to be illustrated. Metaphorical zombies rule our current political culture, as well. At least, that is how I often feel when engaging others in a discussion of politics and even esthetics and contemporary human behavior. Try as one might, such people are proof against reason, beyond redemption or reclamation.

So, what is a zombie? It is a metaphysically impossible creature, dead, but magically reanimated by a virus or a curse or other pseudo-scientific jiggery-pokery, with a functioning motor and autonomous system, a non-causal appetite, a robot oblivious to the weather and its surroundings, conscious but not conscious, volitional but not volitional, teleologically driven or programmed to consume living flesh to survive. But, then, how can the dead "survive"? Survive what? And what for? These are paradoxical questions that needn't be examined, because they are semantic follies. Call a zombie a humanoid plant, or a kind of non-religious Golem.

Americans, too many of them, have an unhealthy fascination with zombies, whatever the antecedents of their favorite walking dead. And too many of them also have functioning motor and autonomous systems, perfect digestive systems, and are selectively conscious. They are eclectically volitional from choice or from habit, and their moral codes make them teleologically driven to consume the living flesh of their fellow men - in the way of social services, government-paid entitlements, surrendering to the state their own lives together with the lives, fortunes and purposes of others. As in "The Walking Dead," they gather in herds and move in herds, chiefly aimlessly, until they find the living.

If, after having seen for themselves what destruction has been wrought by President Barack Obama and his nihilistic policies, and they remain stubbornly blind to that destruction and to the guarantee that he will author even more, and they voted him into a second term, then they are zombies.

If they expect the state to solve every real or imagined crisis, and refuse to grasp that most economic and social crises are caused by government interference or mismanagement or corruption or the systematic expropriation of wealth and effort redirected by force into the bottomless pits of subsidies, welfare, and "social justice," then they are zombies.

If they believe that the state can manage, regulate, or juggle the economy and/or their lives for the public good and for their children and future generations, and guarantee a permanently prosperous, vibrant, and stable society, then they are zombies.
If they believe that incalculable wealth can be stolen from the poor to make others rich, or that a nation's wealth is a static entity that should be divided equally among all, then they are zombies.

If they believe that their mere existence entitles them to economic and spiritual support by their fellows via the state, through taxes, special legislation, and protective privileges, then they are zombies.

If they believe that America was founded as a majority-rule "democracy" and that the principles enunciated by the Founders in the Constitution are inapplicable to the "modern" world, or that the Constitution is a "living" one that can be interpreted any way a court or law professor or bureaucrat or politician wishes to conform with the fiat populism or fallacy of the moment, then they are zombies.

If they believe that principles are merely prejudices or con games designed to manipulate or fool the ignorant and superstitious, then they are zombies. If they believe that the greed of a successful businessman is evil, but that their own greed for the unearned is supremely virtuous, then they are zombies.

If they believe that words have no demonstrable and permanent meaning, that all opinions are merely subjective utterances determined by one's race, gender, class, age, ancestry, or education, then they are zombies. If they further believe that words accrue meaning solely by consensus or fiat law, then they are zombies.

If they believe that the state is the author, dispenser, and steward of all individual rights, and that rights are merely privileges bestowed and granted by the state at the behest and will of a real or fictive majority, and can be withdrawn or obviated at any time, then they are zombies.

If they believe that freedom of speech, guns, and the profit motive are the sole causes of massacres and crime, which they call "tragedies," then they are zombies. If they further believe that speech, guns, and the profit motive should be regulated, and even banned, for the safety and benefit of all, so as to prevent more "tragedies," then they are zombies.

If they believe that unquestioning "faith" in the ability of government to solve all their problems is justifiable, then they are zombies. If they believe that government is imbued with the power of a deity to work wonders and promise paradise and salvation, then they are zombies. "Faith," by the way, is responsible for the partial lobotomy of most men's minds, making them the walking semi-dead. To many of these zombies, Earth and existence are just a way station to the future or some ethereal realm. Why bother with freedom? Why overvalue it?
If they believe that government can create a tolerable economic and social condition which amounts to tyranny, these zombies are insensible to the consequent loss of freedom. They never understood it and would not miss it, even in their own penury. If you are not a zombie, there's no place in their paradise for you, the living.

The poverty and hardships imposed by the government today will make possible the luxuries and ease of living for everyone tomorrow. Anyone who believes that is a zombie.

On a final, esthetic note, if a person doesn't see a difference between Michelangelo's "David" and Giacometti's "Walking Man," he is a zombie.

Doubtless many readers have friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, and even family who fit some or all of the foregoing criteria of zombiehood. To know them is not necessarily to love them, but rather to keep them at arm's length before they take a chunk out of one's arm or neck or wallet or bank account.

But today's zombies needn't get up front and personal to be a slobbering, life-threatening menace. They can elect career zombies to do it for them. Herds of them are busy in Washington and every state capital and municipal town hall, day and night, chomping away at the wealth of individuals and businesses.




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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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 08, 2013

Will we ever see his like again?

He still speaks for me


Miss me yet?

You may have supported me as President or not, but one thing I NEVER did to ANY of you as your President is raise your taxes. In fact instead I cut taxes twice for you which led to millions of new jobs and record revenue for the Treasury.


More abuse of executive authority

Federal Court: DOJ Must Reimburse South Carolina for Voter ID Folly

A federal court has ruled that South Carolina was the prevailing party in the unnecessary Voter ID litigation, and therefore the Justice Department is liable for paying the state’s costs. South Carolina spent $3,500,000 to obtain federal court approval of the state’s Voter ID law as non-discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit was made necessary only because of the political and ideological radicalism of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and his deputy Matthew Colangelo

PJ Media had this exclusive report detailing that career Voting Section employees, including Voting Section Chief Chris Herren, recommended that the Voter ID law be approved in the first place by DOJ after a careful written analysis inside the Voting Section. Documents prepared by the career staff urged Perez and Colangelo to grant administrative approval to the South Carolina Voter ID law — but they refused. Their refusal was, in part, designed to energize a moribund political base heading into the 2012 election. The cost to the American taxpayers for their stunt will be significant.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office was quick to respond to the court’s ruling late yesterday:

“The state Attorney General’s Office blamed the U.S. Department of Justice for the high cost of the case. They accused the federal government of delaying the case by 120 days by filing numerous frivolous motions, including challenging the 12-point font size on a document the state filed.

“The Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., bears responsibility for the litigation costs,” said Mark Powell, Wilson’s spokesman. “The decision was so emphatic, even the Department of Justice and Interveners did not appeal it. South Carolina was forced to pay a hefty price because a handful of Washington insiders refused to do the right thing.”

Whether Congress will hold Perez and Colangelo accountable remains to be seen. Members of Congress, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have already demanded that Perez turn over the documents about which PJ Media first reported on September 11, 2012. So far, sources tell me that Graham has not received what he has asked for, though he may already possess the documents from other sources.

Tellingly, DOJ has not denied that such internal approval memos exist. They can’t.

All of this raises the question — will Perez and Colangelo be held accountable for what amounted to an expensive use of the Justice Department to energize President Obama’s political base? As we now know, there was no merit to the objection. A federal court approved the law. The many career staff who looked at it said the South Carolina law did not discriminate.

Congress might get answers if they haul DOJ Voting Section Chief Christopher Herren before the House Judiciary Committee for answers. The Democrats could hardly object — after all, they dragged Bush-era Voting Section Chief John Tanner before the Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about Georgia Voter ID. There is precedent. Democrats could hardly object when the Voting Section Chief during the Bush administration was made to dance the dance before the Committee.



'Toxic Nationalism'? How about toxic religion?

Robert D. Kaplan has long been among America's most insightful analysts of global trends. I'd rather argue with him than agree with most others. Right now, I'm going to do a bit of both.

In "Toxic Nationalism," an essay published in the Wall Street Journal last week, Kaplan observes that "Western elites" regard their beliefs as "universal values." Because they approve of "women's liberation," they conclude that all thinking people from Albania to Zanzibar believe in women's liberation. Western elites place a priority on "human rights," assuming that must be the consensus view. Western elites are convinced that international organizations are breaking down the remaining "boundaries separating humanity," so that must be what they're doing, and what they seek to do.

These are, Kaplan understands, illusions: "In country after country, the Westerners identify like-minded, educated elites and mistake them for the population at large. They prefer not to see the regressive and exclusivist forces - such as nationalism and sectarianism - that are mightily reshaping the future."

He cites, as an example, Egypt, where the hope that decades of dictatorship were giving way to liberal democracy has faded. His explanation: "Freedom, at least in its initial stages, unleashes not only individual identity but, more crucially, the freedom to identify with a blood-based solidarity group. Beyond that group, feelings of love and humanity do not apply. That is a signal lesson of the Arab Spring."

I think Kaplan is right on all points save one: The Islamists who are coming to power are not a "blood-based solidarity group." They are a religion-based solidarity group. Egyptian Islamists feel no solidarity with Egyptian Christians - despite blood ties tracing back millennia. This is a crucial distinction, one that makes "Western elites" - Kaplan included - profoundly uncomfortable. So they ignore it.

Kaplan, who currently holds the catchy title of "chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm," goes on to worry that in Europe there is now "a resurgence of nationalism and extremism." He's not wrong on that, but is it remotely conceivable that the skinheads and neo-Nazis in Finland, Ukraine, and Greece pose as serious a threat to freedom and human rights as do the jihadists of al-Qaeda and Iran, or even the more gradualist Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Similarly, in Asia, Kaplan sees China, Japan, and other nations "rediscovering nationalism," undermining the notion that "we live in a post-national age." He adds: "The disputes in Asia are not about ideology or any uplifting moral philosophy; they are about who gets to control space on the map." True, but is the revival of such nationalistic sentiment really a crisis or even a major problem? Meanwhile, much more significant, Islamists are offering an alternative to both the old nationalist and the newer post-nationalist models.

Islamists insist that one's primary identity is - and must be - based on religion, not nationality, not citizenship, not race, not class. More to the point, they demand that their religion be acknowledged as superior to all others. They are committed to making their religiously derived ideology the basis for revolutionary transformation not only in the so-called Muslim world but also in Africa, Asia, Europe, the U.S. - anywhere there are Muslims who can be enlisted into the struggle. As Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, succinctly put it: "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet."

They see the global map not as fractured into blood-based nations squabbling over "space" but as divided into just two spheres: the Dar al-Islam, the realm where Muslims rule, and the Dar al-Harb, where infidels still hold power and must be fought, and, in time, decisively defeated so that the Dar al-Islam can become universal.

I am confident that Kaplan knows all this. By not taking it into account, he ends up in some odd cul-de-sacs. For example, he charges that among Russians there is a high incidence of "race-hatred against Muslims." No, Muslims do not constitute a race.

That said, there may be conceptual utility in Kaplan's vision of a global "battle between two epic forces: Those of integration based on civil society and human rights, and those of exclusion based on race, blood and radicalized faith." Note that in this last phrase Kaplan has finally acknowledged the disconcerting fact that religion is shaping the international conflict now underway.

Indeed, by including Islamists among the forces whose ideologies are based on exclusion and antipathy toward human rights, he is reopening the idea - "politically incorrect" and therefore rejected by Western elites - that Islamism is a version of fascism, albeit one based on religion rather than race or extreme nationalism. If Western elites, not least those on the left, can accept that unpleasant reality, perhaps they can find the will to combat it. Along those lines, Kaplan argues that the "second force" can and must be overcome, but to achieve that, one "must first admit how formidable it is."

"To see what is in front of one's nose," George Orwell once wrote, "needs a constant struggle." By calling attention to a dangerous truth from which Western elites prefer to avert their gaze, Kaplan has rendered a service. But there's more to it than he's acknowledged and less time than we might like to get it in focus.



People are truly good at heart? Sadly, no

by Jeff Jacoby

ELEVEN YEARS AGO, al-Qaeda terrorist Richard Reid tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 with a bomb hidden in his shoes. As a result, air travelers to this day must remove their shoes to pass through security at US airports.

In 2006, terrorists plotted to destroy as many as 10 planes flying from London to North America using peroxide-based liquid explosives smuggled in their carry-on luggage. So passengers now must limit any liquids they carry through security checkpoints to minuscule containers sealed in clear plastic bags.

On Christmas Day in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit by means of an explosive device sewn into his underwear. The government's response: full-body X-ray scans to detect even contraband concealed in one's groin.

Our irritating, inconvenient airport security rules are one reflection of a common view that the way to prevent evil in this world -- in this case, the evil of jihadist terrorism -- is to intercept the instruments evildoers use. Thus, if the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters to carry out their airborne atrocities, box cutters must be barred from subsequent flights. If other terrorists find other means of committing brutal acts, we bar those means as well.

This fixation on stopping bad things -- as opposed to stopping bad people or bad behavior -- goes beyond keeping air travel safe from al-Qaeda. On the international stage, it shows up in campaigns to reduce strategic arsenals and destroy nuclear warheads, regardless of the moral caliber of the governments possessing them. In schools, zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies have been applied so rigidly, USA Today observes, that "kids have been kicked out of school for possession of Midol, Tylenol, Alka Seltzer, cough drops, and Scope mouthwash."

More recently, the shrill demands for more restrictions on guns in the wake of the Newtown massacre have been a classic illustration of the phenomenon.

For countless people, especially on the left, it's axiomatic that Adam Lanza's bloodbath was caused by America's gun culture. Many angrily demonize guns and the advocates of gun rights; they are convinced that only an ignoramus or a moral monster could oppose tighter gun control. In an interview on CNN, Piers Morgan lashed out at the executive director of Gun Owners of America, calling him "an unbelievably stupid man" and seething: "You don't give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America?" When the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre argued for more armed security rather than fewer arms, he too was drenched with scorn.

"Look, a gun is a tool," LaPierre said. "The problem is the criminal." But that can only be true if crime is rooted in the bad character, depraved values, or evil choices of those who use guns to murder. And that can only be true if men and women, by and large, are not innately good and kind - if decent behavior, like monstrous behavior, is a matter of free choice, not a hardwired instinct.

It is fundamental to the Judeo-Christian outlook that human beings are not naturally good. "The intention of man's heart," God says in Genesis, "is evil from his youth." To use the Christian formulation, man is "fallen." All of us are tugged by conflicting moral impulses, and whether we do the right thing or the wrong thing is up to each of us.

Peace, justice, and compassion are not the natural human condition. With rare exceptions, criminal violence can't be blamed on external culprits. Murder isn't caused by poverty or gory videogames or low self-esteem - or guns. Nor are wars caused by nuclear missiles, or al-Qaeda terrorism by box cutters. We fool ourselves if we imagine that by fixating on missiles and box cutters we can avoid reckoning with the cruel side of human nature.

"It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical," 15-year-old Anne Frank confided to her diary on July 15, 1944. "Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death."

Three weeks after those heartbreaking words were written, the Gestapo discovered the secret annex where Anne and seven others had been hiding. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp the following March.

The desire to believe, like Anne Frank, that "people are truly good at heart" is powerful. Sadly, history refutes the idea that human nature alone will make a good world. Controlling bad things may sometimes be prudent. But it is above all by controlling ourselves - by fortifying the better angels of our nature -- that the struggle against evil progresses.



Been Jealous Much?

Today, NAACP President Ben Jealous spends his time not fighting for his people, not rooting out the true unfairness still baked into the American system, but attacking the Tea Party, Republicans, black conservatives and especially black Tea Party Republicans. Enter U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Scott, a Republican from South Carolina and the only member of the Senate who is black, found himself on the end of an attack from the NAACP for not caring about civil rights. Yes, you read that right. How did the NAACP come to this conclusion? Because Scott, as a member of the House of Representatives, didn’t support unions or progressives for judgeships and other government positions. Because that’s what constitutes “civil rights” these days.

Jealous burns his calories attacking anyone who supports individual responsibility and a sense of self-reliance. So he doesn’t have the energy to address the destruction of the black family, the 50 percent abortion rate of black pregnancies, the 70 percent of black births to unmarried women, the education system that fails its children or the black unemployment rate of 14 percent. As long as blacks vote for Democrats, the progressive agenda will be advanced, and these numbers will get worse. It’s a sad truth the NAACP is more interested in advancing the progressive agenda and maintaining power than in doing anything that remotely resembles its mission. It’s ironic the NAACP would become a de facto arm of the Democratic Party, the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow, and the party that replaced those chains of slavery and inhumanity of Jim Crow with the chains of government dependence and the inhumanity that accompanies it.

Then again, when you realize progressives founded the idea of self-appointed intellectual superiors overseeing those who didn’t measure up to their standards, including the extermination of people they deemed unworthy or unproductive, it only makes sense they’d be silent on a system and culture that does nothing but produce dupable dependent voters to maintain their hold on power. Were Ben Jealous capable of shame, he would be drowning in it. Since he’s clearly not, he’ll just keep cashing those fat checks and attacking role models such as Tim Scott. Sickening.


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



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 07, 2013

Obama, Race and Affirmative Action: Why the Second Term Will Be Worse

The accelerated transformation of the American economy and polity into a mandatory racially-based spoils system was a defining trait of President Barack Obama’s first term in office. Though perhaps understated, it is set to become an even more defining trait of his second.

Obama, by various accounts, wants to be more aggressive about suing banks, employers, schools and other institutions whose practices, however unintentionally, adversely affect “disadvantaged” (read: nonwhite) populations. This is the doctrine of “disparate impact.” Attorney General Eric Holder already has used it to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in coerced settlements from Wells Fargo and other major banks. Its widespread application is further evidence, as if any more were needed, that “civil rights” has become a well-organized shakedown racket.

For too long, whites, including many self-described conservatives, have been muted in their criticism of mandated racial preferences. For them, a struggle somehow isn’t worth the trouble. Thus, they go along with campaigns to rebrand such coercion as “affirmative action” and, even better, “diversity.” The language may be benign, but the desired end is enforceable goals, quotas and timetables, accompanied by close monitoring to ensure “progress.” Equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity, is the overriding goal. If an employer’s work force, for example, is only two percent black and the surrounding labor market area is 10 percent black, that employer may have to explain to a government agency why it has “only” one-fifth the number of black employees it should have. Employee traits such as perseverance, punctuality, intelligence and an ability to work with others don’t matter much, if at all, in such a context.

Ground zero for this egalitarian enthusiasm is the ostensibly race-neutral Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Affirmative action took root during the Johnson administration and then took off during the Nixon administration. In 1969, President Nixon’s Labor Secretary, George Shultz, with approval from Attorney General John Mitchell, oversaw the creation of a mandate known as the Philadelphia Plan, which required contractors working on large federally-funded construction projects to adopt numerical goals and timetables for black hires. Even more far-reaching, however, was the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1971 ruling in Griggs v. Duke Power Company. This 8-0 decision surely must rank as one of the worst decisions in the history of the High Court. It invalidated employee aptitude tests which, though race-neutral, had the effect of reducing the likelihood of blacks getting hired or promoted. The court rationalized that the tests were unrelated to job requirements, though common sense would dictate that if this were the case, the employer wouldn’t have administered the tests in the first place.

Bad law or not, however, Griggs would provide racial egalitarians with an Ur-text. For the first time in U.S. history, it now was possible to file a discrimination suit against organized activity unwittingly producing statistical disparities by race.

“Disparate impact” is at once bad law and a near-guarantee of full employment within the legal profession. It’s noteworthy that not a single presidential administration has ventured to challenge it. Only once, briefly, in the mid-Nineties, has Congress – more accurately, a few Republican members such as Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla. – made a go of it. Facing at best token opposition, affirmative action supporters within and outside government have had almost free reign. As a report released in April 2011 by the Congressional Research Service indicated, affirmative-action federal regulatory mandates are more numerous than ever.

President Obama remains unsatisfied. He has little reason to fear further “progress,” since his administration is home to many diversity zealots, most of all, Attorney General Eric Holder and his chief civil rights enforcer, Thomas Perez. In December 2011 the Justice Department extracted a commitment from Bank of America for $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial Unit had discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during 2004-08 – the period immediately before BoA took over the insolvent Countrywide. Perez and his team of prosecutors this past July also announced a $175 million “settlement” with Wells Fargo Bank for racial disparities in home mortgage lending. The government didn’t demonstrate any intent to discriminate, and for that matter, never looked for such intent. It didn’t matter; Wells Fargo succumbed. This sum, moreover, was in addition to a sizable out-of-court settlement the bank reached with the City of Baltimore and a prodigious one it reached with the City of Memphis and surrounding Shelby County, Tenn. It’s hard to conclude which was more appalling – the enthusiasm of government or the timidity of bank management.

President Obama says he wants to close “persistent gaps” in economic and social outcomes across race. At the same time, he knows enforced affirmative action isn’t popular among the nation’s white majority (with good reason!). While white members of Congress are fearful of acquiring the tag of “racist” if they openly oppose it, at the same time they are fearful of losing re-election if they openly promote it. Thus, the administration has made heavy use of the lawsuit, knowing even the threat of one can strike fear across a wide swath of organizations and not just one organization under a federal microscope. This has been a prevalent pattern at cabinet-level federal agencies that have a civil rights division, such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A new player in Washington, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), may emerge as the most powerful agency of all.

Authorized by the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010, the CFPB is vested with broad powers to sic affirmative action attack dogs on potentially offending organizations to ensure their practices produce the right racial breakdowns. Bureau Director Richard Cordray already has flexed his muscles, remarking that his agency will protect consumers from unfair lending practices – as well as those that have “a disparate impact on communities of color.” Just to make sure lenders get the message, he added: “That doctrine is applicable for all of the credit markets we touch, including mortgages, student loans, credit cards and auto loans.” In his haste to achieve racial balance in loans, regardless of borrower creditworthiness, Cordray intends to subject all credit reporting agencies, including the three major ones – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to “effects tests.” Thus, if applications by blacks and Hispanics for mortgage or credit cards produce significantly higher rejection rates than applications by whites, these reporting agencies could be sued even if their risk analyses in no way took race into consideration.

Institutional lending isn’t the only realm where the Obama administration plans to turn up the temperature. Also likely to be closely monitored are: college admissions guidelines; voter ID requirements (all the better to fight minority “disenfranchisement”); school disciplinary codes; professional licensing examinations; employee background checks; and prison sentencing guidelines. The intent is to minimize or eliminate “disparities.” Because equality of outcome is the goal, equality of process – i.e., rule of law – necessarily becomes an obstruction.

The Obama administration over the last several months has given us a taste of what to expect. Last July, for example, HUD intervened on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center to drop their lawsuit against the State of Louisiana over its administration of federal “Road Home Program” grants to homeowners whose properties were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005. The catch was this: In exchange, the state would agree to make available an extra $62 million to about 1,300 black homeowners (nearly $50,000 per homeowner) in Cameron, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes.

Under the Road Home Program, a qualifying homeowner could receive as much as $150,000 toward rebuilding and temporary resettlement. The black grant program allocated $16.7 billion for resettlement and reconstruction costs, of which $13.4 billion went to Louisiana. This aid package would seem generous to a fault. Certain nonprofit civil rights groups didn’t think so. And so they sued.

The bone of the plaintiffs’ contention was the method of calculating award sizes. The State of Louisiana had used a standard insurance industry practice to derive grant amounts. Homeowners would receive the lower of either the pre-storm fair market value or the cost of repairing the damages. Because most, if not all, homes in black low-income New Orleans neighborhoods had low property values to begin with, Louisiana officials wound up setting aid levels on the basis of the market-value rather than cost-replacement method. The plaintiffs claimed this method had a “discriminatory impact on African-American homeowners.”

The suit, in other words, was preposterous. It was no different in principle than demanding that an insurance company pay $20,000 for parts and labor to fix a $10,000 car totaled in a wreck. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, predictably, sided with the plaintiffs. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan rationalized: “This agreement is a huge help to families who clearly want to get back into their homes but continue to struggle to make the needed repairs to their properties.”

Affirmative action zealots within the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama also have been on the march lately. This past October, department bureaucrats coaxed an agreement from the Oakland, California school district to impose “targeted reductions” in the number of suspensions of black, Hispanic and “special education” students for violent or otherwise disruptive behavior. The district’s suspension policy allegedly had a “disparate impact.”

Russlyn J. Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, thinks such legal actions are overdue. “Disparate impact is woven through all civil rights enforcement of this administration,” she glowed back in 2010. The possibility that blacks, far more than whites, engage in behavior that should result in a suspension apparently is immaterial. Here’s a statistic that might be of interest to Ms. Ali: Nationally, the homicide rate among males ages 14-17 is nearly 10 times higher for blacks than it is for the average of whites and Hispanics in that age range. Here’s another statistic: In Chicago public schools, the very system headed not long ago by Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, black students were arrested 25 times more often than white students during September 2011-February 2012. The Oakland case is one of about 20 similar cases underway across the nation.



Unholy Alliance Comes Out of the Shadows and Into Your Living Room

Al Gore has sold his failing Current TV network to Al Jazeera, which plans to rename it Al Jazeera America - and so the Leftist/jihadist alliance is now official. While the American Left has been cooperating and collaborating with forces of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism for years, now their alliance is open and indisputable. Gore is even slated for a spot on Al Jazeera America's advisory board.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Current TV's co-founder and CEO, Joel Hyatt, explained that Al Jazeera was a perfect fit for the sale. Al Jazeera, he said, "was founded with the same goals we had for Current." Among those goals were "to give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard" and "to speak truth to power."

Some of the voices that would not typically have been heard but for Al Jazeera have included some of the world's foremost jihad terrorists. Pamela Geller has noted that Al Jazeera has "for years been the recipient of numerous Al Qaeda videos featuring bin Laden, Zawahiri, and American traitor Adam Gadahn. Yet they never seem to be able to trace where these videos are coming from. They have repeatedly been set up at the point of attack right before a bomb went off, so that they could take the picture of the slaughtered, dismembered bodies." What's more, "Al Jazeera is the leading terrorist propaganda organization in the world. Jihad murder mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki has praised Al Jazeera, and several years ago one of its most prominent reporters was arrested on terror charges."

Judea Pearl, father of the journalist Daniel Pearl who was murdered by jihadists in Pakistan, has dubbed Al Jazeera "the most powerful voice of the Muslim Brotherhood."

This is the organization that Joel Hyatt says has the "same goals we had for Current." Meanwhile, another group had also approached Current with an offer to buy the struggling network, but was refused - according to the Journal, they were "told on initial calls that [Current] wouldn't sell to someone they weren't ideologically in line with." A Current official explained that "the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view."

The group that was not ideologically in line with Current was Glenn Beck's media company, The Blaze, which, the Journal said, "would have replaced Current programming with The Blaze programming."

So a Qatari network that consistently presents a favorable view of jihad terrorists who are sworn enemies of the United States is "ideologically in line" with Al Gore's network, but a conservative American one is not. Transforming Current TV into Al Jazeera America is so satisfying to Gore that he is going to serve on its advisory board; turning it into The Blaze would have been an unacceptable ideological deviation, a betrayal of its core principles.

Gore and Hyatt have thus confirmed the charges that conservatives have made against the Left for years, and that Leftists, when they have deigned to acknowledge them at all, have dismissed as baseless slanders: above all, that the Left hates America and traditional American values so much that it will sooner ally with the sworn enemies of this nation and its guiding principles than with any group that is dedicated in any way to preserving and protecting them.

This peculiar and suicidal impulse results from a variety of factors. Chief among them is the likelihood that Leftists generally underestimate their Islamic supremacist friends and allies, believing that once the Right and traditional American principles have been destroyed, the jihadis will be easy enough to control. This in turn rests on several false assumptions: one is that Islam is a Religion of Peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists, who themselves are merely reacting to the evils perpetrated by the American imperialist war machine. Once that imperialist machine is irreparably damaged and put out of action, and its client Israel is destroyed, Muslims' grievances will all be assuaged, and they won't have any reason to commit acts of terror.

Or at least so goes the Leftist reasoning, or substitute for reasoning, which completely fails to take into account the martial teachings of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which teach that Muslims must wage war against and subjugate Infidels not because of the ills of their foreign (or domestic) policies, but simply because they are Infidels.

The second false assumption undergirding the Leftist assumption that they will not be co-opted and swallowed up by their Islamic supremacist friends is that religious people are ignorant and easy to manipulate. They believe this more about Christians than they do about Muslims, but Leftists generally underestimate the strength and power of the religious impulse, and believing their own unexamined dogmas about Islam's peacefulness, believe that that impulse doesn't really matter, anyway.

And as Jamie Glazov details in his superb United In Hate: The Left's Romance With Tyranny and Terror, there is an ideological kinship between the two allies as well: both Leftists and Islamic supremacists share a taste for authoritarianism, and a distaste for the freedom of speech and political dissent.

In any case, first the great foe of both must be completely defeated: the American Right, constitutional principles of free speech, and the values of freedom that have been the foundations of American society up to now. Al Jazeera America is certain to be on the front lines of that battle. And that's just the way Al Gore wants it.




France: Famous comic artist refuses top honor: "One of France’s best-known comic book creators, Jacques Tardi, has refused the country’s highest honor saying he does not want to fall under any political influence. Tardi, best known for his works on the horrors of war and his Adele Blanc-Sec fantasy series, said he had learned this week that he was to receive the Legion d'Honneur medal. 'Being fiercely attached to my freedom of thought and creativity, I do not want to receive anything, neither from this government or from any other political power whatsoever,' he said in a statement. 'I am therefore refusing this medal with the greatest determination.'"

Iran to Citizens: Flee Isfahan: "Iranian officials have instructed residents of Isfahan to leave the city, renewing concerns that a nearby nuclear site could be leaking radioactive material. An edict issued Wednesday by Iranian authorities orders Isfahan's one-and-a-half million people to leave the city "because pollution has now reached emergency levels," the BBC reported. However, outside observers suspect that the evacuation order may corroborate previous reports indicating that a uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan had been leaking radioactive material."



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 06, 2013

The West IS racist


The Democratic party was the party of slavery


A New Hampshire Democrat legislator wants laws to chase away conservatives

If that's fair, why not have laws to chase away fat and ugly old ladies?

A New Hampshire legislator wants her constituents to know that she feels conservatives are the "single biggest threat" her state faces today, and she wants to use her powers to legislate to "pass measures that will restrict" the freedoms of Granite State conservatives.

In a blog post made last month on the left-wing site Blue Hampshire, 3rd District State Representative Democrat Cynthia Chase advised her fellow legislators to use their positions to make New Hampshire less welcoming to any conservative or libertarian planning on moving to her state—not to mention those already in residence.

For those unaware, a conservative project of sorts has been underway in New Hampshire since 2001. The idea is that Americans of conservative ideals are to move to New Hampshire, gather in communities, run for office, and work to drive the state toward libertarianism and conservatism. It is called the "Free State Project" and adherents are called "Free Staters."

These Free Staters figure that the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die,” should really mean something and it is these citizens whose freedoms legislator Chase wants to oppress.

In her December 21 post, Chase wrote that, "Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today."

"In the opinion of this Democrat, Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today. There is, legally, nothing we can do to prevent them from moving here to take over the state, which is their openly stated goal. In this country you can move anywhere you choose and they have that same right. What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave. One way is to pass measures that will restrict the 'freedoms' that they think they will find here. Another is to shine the bright light of publicity on who they are and why they are coming."

Of course, it is one thing to be a proponent of laws that might have the unintended consequences of restricting others' freedoms. If one truly believes in such policies, well, they may be disastrously wrong, but at least they'd be honestly wrong. A fine point, to be sure.

But here we have a legislator that doesn't just want to pass laws that are tangentially restrictive. She wants to purposefully use her powers to write laws to target individuals with whom she disagrees, take away their freedoms and liberties, and all in the hopes that the citizens she is oppressing might move away from her state. As New Hampshirite Steve MacDonald notes, "this sounds like tyranny."

Imagine if a legislator had written a blog post targeting the freedoms of gays, or women, or some other minority? One would think that the media would go wild with such a story. But here we have an elected official suggesting that government be used in the United States of America to eliminate freedoms for certain citizens in order to gain political control and the media is silent. Sounds like tyranny, indeed.



'Forward' just a disguise for central planning

The political slogan "Forward" served Barack Obama well during this year's election campaign. It said that he was for going forward, while Republicans were for "going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place."
It was great political rhetoric and great political theater. Moreover, the Republicans did virtually nothing to challenge its shaky assumptions with a few hard facts that could have made those assumptions collapse like a house of cards.

More is involved than this year's political battles. The word "forward" has been a political battle cry on the Left for more than a century. It has been almost as widely used as the Left's other favorite word, "equality," which goes back more than two centuries.

The seductive notion of economic equality has appealed to many people. The pilgrims started out with the idea of equal sharing. The colony of Georgia began with very similar ideas. In the Midwest, Britain's Robert Owen – who coined the term "socialism" – set up colonies based on communal living and economic equality.
What these idealistic experiments all had in common was that they failed.

They learned the hard way that people would not do as much for the common good as they would do for their own good. The pilgrims nearly starved learning that lesson. But they learned it. Land that had been common property was turned into private property, which produced a lot more food.

Similar experiments were tried on a larger scale in other countries around the world. In the biggest of these experiments – the Soviet Union under Stalin and Communist China under Mao – people literally starved to death by the millions.

In the Soviet Union, at least 6 million people starved to death in the 1930s, in a country with some of the most fertile land on the continent of Europe, a country that had once been a major exporter of food. In China, tens of millions of people starved to death under Mao.

Despite what the Left seems to believe, private property rights do not exist simply for the sake of people who own property. Americans who do not own a single acre of land have abundant food available because land is still private property in the United States, even though the left is doing its best to restrict property rights in both the countrysides and in the cities.

The other big feature of the egalitarian left is promotion of a huge inequality of power, while deploring economic inequality.
It is no coincidence that those who are going ballistic over the economic inequality between the top one or two percent and the rest of us are promoting a far more dangerous concentration of political power in Washington – where far less than one percent of the population increasingly tell 300 million Americans what they can and cannot do, on everything from their light bulbs and toilets to their medical care.

This movement in the direction of central planning, under the name of "forward," is in fact going back to a system that has failed in countries around the world – under both democratic and dictatorial governments and among peoples of virtually every race, color, creed, and nationality.

It is one thing when conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan in America and Margaret Thatcher in Britain declared central planning a failure. But what really puts the nails in the coffin is that, before the end of the 20th century, both socialist and communist governments around the world began abandoning central planning.
India and China are the biggest examples. In both countries, cutbacks on government control of the economy were followed by dramatically increased economic growth rates, lifting millions of people out of poverty in both countries.

The ultimate irony is that the most recent international survey of free markets found the world's freest market to be in Hong Kong – in a country still ruled by communists! But the Chinese communists have at least learned, the hard way, a lesson that Barack Obama seems oblivious to. We are going "forward" to a repeatedly failed past, following a charismatic leader, after a 20th century in which charismatic leaders led countries into unprecedented catastrophes.



The war did NOT end the Great Depression

It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

In this article, we ask whether the U.S. economy during World War II can be meaningfully described as having “recovered” from the Great Depression. Our work builds on the earlier contribution to the topic by Robert Higgs (2006c, originally published in 1992). Higgs argues that the traditional macroeconomic measures of economic performance are inappropriate for wartime and that they overstate people’s real economic well-being during the war. We review his contribution in more detail as we proceed. Our contribution complements Higgs’s by examining a number of archival sources to explore how the wartime economy affected individuals and households. Rather than looking at traditional economic statistics, we explore newspapers, diaries, and other primary sources to discover the variety of ways in which the wartime economy actually amounted to a retrogression for many families because they had to supply additional labor, accept inferior goods, and do without many goods altogether as resources were diverted to the war effort and wartime controls constrained the market process.

This question was first explored in a rigorous way by Robert Higgs (2006c), who argues that the economy did not fully recover until after the war was over—in other words, that the war itself did not end the Depression. According to his analysis, the war effort distorted economic metrics such as GNP and unemployment figures because of factors inherent to producing goods that would be used destructively and the significant intervention into markets required for governments to gear all economic activity to the war effort. An economy in which resources are devoted to producing outputs that will kill others or destroy their property and in which priceand-wage controls and a military draft are dominant features is not an economy whose health we can assess by using the standard tools.

Nearly all factories producing consumer durable goods were shifted to production of munitions. This shift forced a change in lifestyle for the American public. For example, new appliances were unavailable, so Americans were forced to maintain old refrigerators and stoves beyond their usual lifespan. Even though GNP statistics signaled a massive increase in production, the American consumer in fact had fewer purchasing options available. Higgs (2006c) offers a number of powerful arguments for his claim that a standard reading of the standard macroeconomic measures vastly overstates the economy’s health during World War II. He points out that unemployment statistics during wartime also deserve critical scrutiny. It is very easy to reduce the unemployment rate through a military draft that removes millions of men from the labor market, and the same processes of creating war materials that boosts GNP also require labor to complement the capital converted to wartime uses.

In view of the draft of 10 million men and the enormous demand for workers to build tanks, guns, and ships, it is no surprise that the war drove down the unemployment rate. Like the increase in GNP, however, this drop in unemployment did not translate into improved standards of living or a genuinely recovered private economy.

Higgs also argues that economies subject to wage and price controls are more difficult to judge in terms of GNP and related indicators. GNP uses market prices to measure the value of final products. If those prices are capped by law, market prices do not reflect the actual value to consumers, and GNP is accordingly distorted. To the extent that such controls cause surpluses and shortages, the deadweight losses and costs associated with nonprice forms of competition (for example, queues, rationing schemes, and side payments) are not captured in standard measures. Because GNP measures only the flow of resources regardless of the uses to which those resources are put, they do not allow us to make a leap from observed changes in GNP to inferred changes in consumer welfare.

Expenditures to blow up a city and rebuild it count the same as expenditures to create new goods and services that add to consumers’ wealth or utility. Therefore, Higgs argues, we should view wartime GNP figures with much skepticism.

The war was referred to as the “people’s war” in newspapers, and everyone was forced to make adjustments (Fleming 1942, 17). Shortages became common as the government tried to manage production and limited the use of many everyday products. During the war, “Americans had less money with which to buy fewer goods.” As one historian asks, “How can this be called anything but economic retrogression?” (Woods 2004, 27). The greatest example of economic retrogression during the war was a return to self-sufficiency. Even with rationing, food supplies remained scarce, and many Americans were forced to grow their own food. Although “victory gardens” did help to supplement purchased food, their cultivation was a major step backward in terms of the economic benefits created through the division of labor. Harvested fruits and vegetables were canned or dried as women sought to ensure a stable food supply through the winter months (Thomas 1987, 104). Rural households might have been able to survive on a diet of home-grown foods, but urban populations often did not have the space or know-how to grow their own food, so the latter were generally affected more by rationing than were rural populations.

The great period of economic advance that occurred during the century preceding World War II was characterized by industrialization. The U.S. economy was transformed from a country of farmers and craftsmen to a nation of massive industrial production. Consider the improvements that were realized following the Civil War. Trains, typewriters, electric lights, manufactured clothing, and automobiles all made products cheaper and life easier for ordinary Americans. With industrialization came greater specialization. This division of labor made workers more productive. Instead of handcrafting an entire product from start to finish or growing a variety of crops to feed a family, the expanding and deepening of the division of labor allowed people to use their talents and knowledge more efficiently on a narrower stage of the production process.

During the war, the opposite movement occurred. As manufacturing was refitted for war production, there was a reversal in the trend toward specialization. Those remaining on the home front were forced to produce for themselves what they had previously been able to purchase. The household again became a center of production rather than consumption alone. The pressures of wartime meant a clear loss in productivity for those forced to engage in the more difficult processes of growing and canning their own food as well as sewing and resewing clothing to make it last longer. Women had less time to spend caring for their children as other household tasks, such as saving cooking grease or tin foil, consumed their time. Although manufacturing continued throughout the war and even increased, it was concentrating heavily on producing war supplies and munitions rather than consumption goods, especially consumer durables.

Every region and community dealt with the changing reality of the wartime economy differently. A study of the wartime experience of families living in El Paso, Texas, makes clear the degree to which rationing affected everyday life, uncovering the advantage enjoyed by those who lived on the U.S.–Mexico border. Richard A. Dugan describes how El Pasoans were largely able to maintain their desired level of consumption by supplementing what their ration books enabled them to buy with goods that were readily available at market prices across the border and that did not require using up any ration tickets (2000, 56). This resort might seem to be an effective way to purchase more without taking more than what the Office of Price Administration (OPA), the agency in charge of the rationing process, considered to be one’s “fair share,” but the OPA quickly spoke out against this conduct, declaring that El Pasoans were not participating in our “shared national sacrifice” and maintaining that the “benefit of location” should not be exploited

Many Americans, in particular those living in cities, did not have this advantage and hence felt the ration program’s full force. Even those who could avoid rationing were able to do so only by incurring significant transaction costs. Not only were various consumer items unavailable, but those that could be found were of inferior quality. Substitute goods were of substandard construction and were often uniform, precluding consumers’ choice of styles, shapes, and sizes. The reduction in variety and precision of sizes is yet another form of economic retrogression, and the consequent welfare losses for consumers are difficult to quantify in traditional measures. Living with shoes a half-size too big or being unable to get the cut of meat one prefers surely entails a reduction in well-being, even if it is not captured in GNP.

As the OPA tightened rations on particular items or items became completely unavailable, consumers turned to clearly inferior substitutes. Several products still sold today became widely accepted as substitutes during the war, including margarine as a substitute for butter. Boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese became popular during the war because they were provided at a two-for-one discount per ration ticket (“World War II Rationing” n.d.). Spam also became a substitute for those craving meat. Other substitutes included “honey for sugar, corn oil for olive oil, cotton or rayon for wool, paper containers instead of tin; and wood furniture instead of metal” (“Making Do With Less” n.d.). The effects of these changes in consumption cannot be measured easily by economic aggregates but were the reality for families during the war. Even if household income remained the same or even increased, Americans were forced to live poorer lives during the war owing to the reduced quality, quantity, and variety of products available.

Shopping became a bureaucratic nightmare. Because there were more ration coupons than supplies, grocery shopping often required women to visit several stores to find needed supplies. These larger transaction costs associated with finding goods to purchase, regardless of the drop in quality of what would eventually be purchased, represent an economic loss owing to the war. In many cases, stores facing both food and labor shortages had to shut down (Thomas 1987, 103). These conditions created an extreme hardship especially for working women: “After eight or ten hours of riveting or welding or soldering, these wives and mothers had to stand in long lines in the stores and cope with rationing. By the time they reached the market at the end of their workday, the limited supplies were often depleted—unless they were fortunate enough to have a grocer who looked out for them, saving a good cut of meat or slipping a package of cigarettes into their grocery bag” (Gluck 1987, 13).

In January 1943, the Women’s Club of Mobile, Alabama, petitioned the OPA to adjust rationing quotas. Because municipal population at the time of the most recent census determined distribution quotas, changes in population had left some areas with less tn their fair share (Thomas 1987, 103). In the absence of market-clearing prices, goods had to be distributed according to criteria other than willingness to pay, and various forms of nonprice rationing outside of the official rationing system emerged, including a great deal of favoritism based on “who you know.” Price controls were put in place to allow all Americans to have equal access to goods during the war, but they created instead a system of payoffs, back-room deals, and black markets that benefited only those with a comparative advantage in exploiting the system rather than those who could best provide demanded goods at low prices and those who needed the goods.

Much more HERE



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 04, 2013

Grading the Fiscal Cliff Deal: Terrible, but Could Be Worse

The faux drama in Washington is finally over. The misfits in Washington reached a deal on the fiscal cliff.

Republicans and Democrats managed to come together and decide that they should get a bigger slice of what the American people earn. Gee, what a surprise.

First, the good news:

Oh, wait, there isn’t any.

Now for the bad news.

The top tax rate will increase to 39.6 percent for entrepreneurs, investors, small business owners, and other “rich” taxpayers making more than $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples). This is Obama’s big victory. He gets his class-warfare trophy.

The double tax on dividends and capital gains climbs from 15 percent to 20 percent (23.8 percent if you include the Obamacare tax on investment income).

The death tax rate is boosted from 35 percent to 40 percent (which doesn’t sound like a big step in the wrong direction until you remember it was 0 percent in 2010).

The alternative minimum tax will still exist, though it will be “patched” to protect as many as 30 million households from being swept into this surreal parallel tax system that requires people to use a second method of calculating their taxes – with the government getting the greatest possible amount.

Unemployment benefits are extended, ensnaring more Americans in joblessness.

Medicare spending is increased as part of a “doc fix” to increase reimbursement payments for providers.

But let’s not delude ourselves. This deal is not good for the economy. It doesn’t do anything to cap the burden of government spending. It doesn’t reform entitlement programs.

And we may even lose the sequester, the provision that was included in the 2011 debt limit that would have slightly reduced the growth of government over the next 10 years.

What a dismal start to 2013.



Becoming Europe

It’s a fair bet that every American who’s travelled outside the United States has heard people complaining about their societies becoming “Americanized.” By this, they usually mean the proliferation of things such as American television and fast-food chains (though that rarely stops them from watching Hollywood films or eating McDonalds).

More recently, however, millions of Americans have begun wondering if our own country is becoming “Europeanized.”

In one sense, to say that America is becoming like Europe seems odd. After all, when it comes to its dominant political ideas, religious culture, institutions and history, America is obviously Europe’s child.

That, however, is not what Europeanization means today. Instead it’s about the spread throughout America of economic expectations and arrangements directly at odds with our republic’s founding.

These lead to the prioritizing of economic security over economic liberty; to the state annually consuming close to 50% of GDP; to the ultimate economic resource (i.e., people) aging and declining in numbers; to extensive regulation becoming the norm; and perhaps above all, to a situation in which economic incentives lie not in work, economic creativity and risk-taking, but rather in access to political power.

Unfortunately there’s a great deal of evidence suggesting America is slouching down the path to Western Europe. In practical terms, that means social-democratic economic policies: the same policies that have turned many Western European nations into a byword for persistently high unemployment, rigid labor markets, low-to-zero economic growth, out-of-control debt and welfare states, absurdly high tax levels, growing numbers of well-paid government workers, a near-obsession with economic equality at any cost and, above all, a stubborn refusal to accept that things simply can’t go on like this.

It’s very hard to deny similar trends are becoming part of America’s economic landscape. States like California are already there — just ask the thousands of Californians and businesses who have fled the land of Nancy Pelosi.

Europeanization is also reflected in the refusal of so many Americans to take our nation’s debt crisis seriously. Likewise, virtually every index of economic freedom and competitiveness shows that, like most Western European nations, America’s position vis-à-vis other countries is in decline.

Between January 2008 and January 2011, for example, there was a marked growth in the amount of regulation in America — the pace being almost 40% more than the annual rate of increase between 1992 and 2008. Similarly, between 2008 and 2011 the number of people working in federal government regulatory agencies rose by 16% — a total of more than 276,000 people — at a time when private-sector employment was falling.

It’s no wonder the Nobel economist Robert E. Lucas asked in his 2011 Milliman Lecture at the University of Washington whether America was now “imitating European policies on labor markets, welfare and taxes.”

Such trends are deeply troubling. But here’s the good news. First, there remain many ways in which America has not succumbed to eurosclerosis. Risk-taking and entrepreneurship-levels remain, for example, much higher than in Europe. America’s labor markets also remain more flexible than those of Europe (despite American unions’ best efforts to the contrary).

Second, the problems of nations like Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain and France are functioning as a type of early-warning system. They’re enough of a “canary in the coal mine” to help us make the right decisions and get back to the principles that made the United States an economic superpower.

And this is the choice which increasingly faces America. We can either continue our long march towards a form of social democracy presided over by an all-pervasive European-like political class and associated insider-groups; or, we can embrace a dynamic market economy that takes liberty seriously and understands that government intervention in the economy must and can be limited.

Of course making such a decision isn’t simple. It involves trade-offs, the prioritization of different values, and fundamental disagreements about the role of government. And these discussions go beyond economics. They are arguments about what type of economic culture we want America to embrace and reflect to the millions throughout the world for whom the United States remains a lodestar for freedom.

But make no mistake, time is running out for America. We don’t have to become Europe. Yet the deeper the debt, the bigger the entitlements, the greater the regulations, and the more Americans look to government for their economic salvation, the harder it becomes for America to turn back from the road to permanent economic decline.

A great European and honorary American citizen Winston Churchill once said: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” I hope and pray he’s still right.



A Bogus Example of Controlling Inflation with Price Controls

As the U.S. government prepared for and then engaged fully in World War II, it made increasingly stringent efforts to control inflation by imposing price controls. Late in 1942, these controls were strengthened substantially, and from early 1943 through mid-1946, when the controls were allowed to lapse, the consumer price index rose very little. These data have often been trotted out to prove that the government can successfully control inflation if only it makes the laws severe enough and the monitoring agency sufficiently large and powerful.

In reality, inflation was not controlled; only the legally revealed prices were controlled. This experience does not require rocket science to understand: if the government makes it illegal and punishable to raise legal prices (or to raise them by more than a stipulated small amount), then sellers will not set legal prices that violate the restrictions.

But legal prices need not be, and during World War II certainly were not, the same as actual prices. Sellers and buyers used a variety of subterfuges to make transactions in violation of the government’s price controls. Sellers might reduce the product’s quality, as many did at the time; require the buyer to wait longer for an order to be filled; require the buyer to purchase unwanted goods in order to purchase wanted ones; require the buyer to pay for bogus goods, as when tenants were required to pay the landlord a hefty sum as “key money,” ostensibly to compensate him for keeping a spare key in case the tenant lost his key; require the buyer to forgo services normally associated with the goods, such as routine maintenance of rented apartments; or require gifts or other ostensible gratuities not ordinarily given to a seller.

Sellers might also simply disregard the posted prices and refuse to sell to anyone except at higher (unlisted and unreported) prices. The methods of evasion were legion.

Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz and other economists who have made corrections for the understatement of the price level during the war years have shown that even partial corrections are sufficient to establish that the government’s price controls were far from the success claimed at the time and often gullibly swallowed later by economists and historians. (For sources and more detailed discussion, see pp. 89-93 of my book Depression, War, and Cold War.)

Economists are trained in theory, statistics, modeling, and other skills. Historians are trained in the careful scrutiny and interpretation of historical sources. Neither economists nor historians, unfortunately, are trained to use common sense in their work. Postwar proponents of the reimposition of price controls have often pointed to the success of such controls during the war. Yet, despite thousands of employees and an army of volunteer monitors associated with the Office of Price Administration and despite the U.S. Attorney General’s prosecutory zeal in hauling alleged violators into court, the government’s price-control efforts during World War II failed to stem the tide of rising prices set in motion by the huge contemporary increases in the money stock.

Price controls, at most, only create a population of liars. True prices continue to do what the existing economic conditions cause them to do. No one can control the amount of precipitation by passing a law against reporting more than a stipulated amount of rain and snow.



A government too grand to help its people

Bill O'Reilly

Jon Hammar saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but his most brutal foreign experience was in Mexico. Last August, the 27-year-old former Marine corporal was incarcerated by Mexican authorities in Matamoros for trying to register an antique shotgun with customs agents. Foolishly, Cpl. Hammar followed instructions given to him by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Brownsville, Texas. He registered the gun with them and brought the paperwork to the Mexicans to get their stamp of approval in order to carry the gun through the country. Hammar and a friend were driving a Winnebago, hoping to have a nice surfing vacation with some hunting on the side.

Even though the Mexican authorities clearly saw that Hammar was trying to follow the rules, they seized the Winnebago and locked the corporal up in the notoriously corrupt CEDES prison anyway. There he was threatened by other inmates and told by guards that he could buy his way out of the hellhole by paying money to the "right people."

Hammar's parents, who live in South Florida, immediately contacted the State Department and were told to be patient. And so they were. Three months later, Hammar was still incarcerated and had not even seen a judge, and things were becoming increasingly desperate.

That's when his parents gave up on the State Department and contacted the media.

When the story crossed my desk, I found it hard to believe. Cpl. Hammar had served his country honorably, returned to the USA with post-traumatic stress disorder, been treated for nine months in California and simply wanted a vacation after his ordeal. It was obvious that he was being held on bogus charges, and the State Department seemed impotent. When we asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a comment, she refused to say anything about the case. A few of her deputies visited Hammar in prison, but the official line was that State could do nothing more.

Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen raised some hell about the situation, but things continued to deteriorate. Mexican authorities actually chained Hammar to his bed. Another inmate sent a picture of that out to the press.

In mid-December, the Fox News White House correspondent asked press secretary Jay Carney about the case. President Barack Obama's spokesman looked perplexed and said he did not know anything about it. As unbelievable as that sounds, I believe that Carney was telling the truth. And by telling one truth, Carney indicated another truth: Neither Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton had come to the aid of an American combat veteran who was being abused by Mexican authorities.

Disgusted by our apathetic government, I took the case directly to the government of Mexico. On national television, I bluntly told the new Mexican presidente, Enrique Pena Nieto, that if he did not release Hammar by Christmas, I would lead a boycott of Mexican tourism and products. The next day, Hammar was released after a Mexican judge ruled there had been no intent to commit a crime.

The ordeal cost the Hammar family tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and untold emotional damage. Thankfully, the corporal did arrive home to South Florida in time to have a nice Christmas with his family. But this story is a cautionary tale for any American traveling outside the USA. If you get into trouble, you will be essentially on your own, even if you are a combat veteran. Our leaders in Washington are basically bureaucrats with short attention spans. If they couldn't work up the energy to help Jon Hammar, they are not going to help you.

True leadership means helping those who are powerless and sincerely need help. That takes time and energy. President Abraham Lincoln set aside one day a week to answer calls for help from the folks. The current administration would not answer a desperate call for months.

As for Mexico, it remains a corrupt country hostile to the rule of law. Let the buyer beware.




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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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 03, 2013

Soaking the rich won't work

And a fat French actor has helped draw attention to that

Governments that are raising tax rates on the wealthy to plug budget holes are doomed to disappointment.

The decision by French actor Gerard Depardieu to flee to lower-taxing Belgium serves as a high-profile example of the folly of targeting the rich for additional taxation.

While the actor stated his reasons for moving were numerous, the 2012 election commitment of French President Francois Hollande to impose a "temporary supertax" of 75 per cent on individuals earning more than €1 million ($1.3 million) annually clearly figured in Depardieu's decision.

Although the French Constitutional Court has recently declared Hollande's 75 per cent rate tax unconstitutional, the French government has signalled its determination to persist with its tax policy, albeit in revised form.

The concerning aspect of the "Depardieu Shrugged" affair is that the French policy stance is hardly an isolated instance in the post-global financial crisis economic environment.

Numerous Western governments have already implemented, or are advocating, extra taxes on the wealthy as an apparent quick-fix to plug burgeoning budget deficits and runaway public debts created by years of excessive expenditure.

Eurozone countries such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain have joined France in raising top marginal income tax rates, while France and Spain have increased or re-introduced wealth taxes respectively.

Over the past few years Britain has introduced a raft of tax increases, including on personal incomes and capital gains, targeting the wealthy. In the US, Barack Obama called for raising taxes on families earning more than $250,000 during his 2012 re-election campaign, and has used this proposal as a key plank of recent "fiscal cliff" negotiations with his Republican adversaries.

Those possessing wealth may well be regarded by politicians as an instant source from which to collect extra revenues, but cases abound where governments pursuing "soak the rich" tax policies are subsequently frustrated by lower-than-expected revenues.

An important reason for such outcomes, as has been witnessed, for example, in Britain, as tax increases have not translated into substantial extra revenues, is that increasing taxation tends to dampen labour supply and capital accumulation, thereby hampering economic growth.

As a result of the disincentive effects of taxation, it is conceivable that present tax rates may be set so high that further increases in rates will actually reduce tax revenues received by the government.

Another important dimension to the problem, which seems to be continually discounted by revenue-hungry governments, is that the wealthy can prevent tax discrimination against them by relocating to lower-taxing jurisdictions.

In France, more than 400 homes have been placed on the Paris luxury property market since Hollande's election victory last May, and a number of French high net worth individuals have reportedly already relocated to countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. It has also been estimated that about two-thirds of Britain's millionaires left the country when the Cameron [It was actually Gordon Brown] government increased the top marginal income tax rate to 50 per cent.

Movements by the wealthy to escape the burden of high taxes are also prevalent within highly decentralised federal systems, such as the US.

Data from the US Internal Revenue Service indicates that the numbers of wealthy tax filers in high-tax states, such as California and New York, have declined in recent years.

By contrast, the numbers of wealthy individuals have grown significantly in recent years in the likes of Texas, which does not impose a state income tax, suggesting some element of mobility from high-tax to low-tax US states in the process.

Even if the wealthy decide to physically remain in their country or region of residence, the integration of the global economy ensures they could relocate their finances or capital to less fiscally oppressive areas of the world with fewer obstacles.

One of the great paradoxes is how the political popularity of taxing the wealthy often overshadows the lack of economic and financial success that such policies deliver.

There seems little question that exorbitant taxes on the wealthy might appeal to the economically prejudiced who believe that rich people attained their wealth through ill-gotten profits raked from poor consumers.

To the extent that tax policies are rationalised on these grounds, the imposition of higher taxes on those with higher incomes in fact represents a political disendorsement of consumer choices.

After all, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs made their abundant fortunes by providing products which pleased customers around the world, just as Gerard Depardieu earned an enormous salary by gaining numerous admirers of his films.

Another populist view is that losing extra dollars in taxation will be far less painful to the wealthy than it would be for those in low to middle income brackets, so the wealthy ought to have their wealth shared about by the force of taxation.

But if high taxes on the wealthy indeed come with little or no pain, why is it that the wealthy often don't sit still, making efforts to relocate their wealth, and even their own person, to lower-taxing environments?

While tax-baiting the wealthy minority might bring politicians some plaudits among the less-wealthy majority, such policies are strewn with dashed revenue expectations and a lack of investor confidence of doing business in countries or regions that partake in such practices.

The weight of economic history will surely adjudge the Hollande supertax experiment as being not unlike a French souffle collapsing upon itself.



Class Warfare Tax Policy Causes Portugal to Crash on the Laffer Curve, but Will Obama Learn from this Mistake?

Back in mid-2010, I wrote that Portugal was going to exacerbate its fiscal problems by raising taxes. Needless to say, I was right. Not that this required any special insight. After all, no nation has ever taxed its way to prosperity.

We’re now at the end of 2012 and Portugal is still saddled with a weak economy. And the higher taxes haven’t resulted in less red ink. Indeed, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, government debt has jumped from 93 percent of GDP in 2010 to 124 percent of GDP this year.

Why did higher taxes backfire in Portugal? For the same reasons that higher taxes have failed in Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and so many other nations.

Higher taxes undermine incentives for productive behavior, thus reducing an economy’s potential for growth. This means less economic output, which also means a smaller tax base. This Laffer Curve effect doesn’t necessarily mean less revenue, but it certainly means that tax increases rarely raise as much money as initially projected.

Higher taxes usually are a substitute for the real solution of spending restraint (i.e., Mitchell’s Golden Rule). Politicians oftentimes refuse to reduce the burden of government spending because of an expectation of additional tax revenue. Heck, in many cases, higher taxes trigger an increase in the size and scope of the public sector.

So did Portugal learn any lessons from this failed experiment in Obamanomics?

Hardly. Indeed, the government plans to double down on this approach – even though it’s increasingly apparent that higher tax burdens won’t translate into much – if any – additional tax revenue.

Amazing. The government imposes huge tax hikes, which don’t generate any positive results. Yet even though “tax revenue has fallen considerably below target,” confirming that there are significant Laffer Curve issues, the government chooses to repeat the snake-oil fiscal therapy of higher taxes.

Maybe it’s time for these fiscal pyromaniacs to realize that revenues might be falling because rates are higher. In other words, Portugal not only isn’t at the ideal point on the Laffer Curve (collecting the amount of revenue needed to finance legitimate activities of government), it may even be past the revenue-maximizing part of the curve.

To be fair, there are lots of factors that determine economic performance, so higher tax burdens are just one possible explanation for why the tax base is shrinking or stagnant.

The one thing we can state with certainty, though, is that Portugal’s fiscal problem is too much government spending. The failure to address this problem then leads to very unpleasant symptoms, such as lots of red ink and self-destructive class-warfare tax policy.

If all that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also a description of what President Obama is proposing for the United States.

At the risk of bearing bad news to close the year, research from both the Bank for International Settlements and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows the United States actually faces a bigger long-run fiscal challenge than Portugal.



Austerity Economics Doesn’t Work?

Re: John Cassidy’s recent New Yorker piece, "It’s Official: Austerity Economics Doesn’t Work"

Is it official? Is austerity economics a failure? Here’s how Cassidy’s piece begins:
With all the theatrics going on in Washington, you might well have missed the most important political and economic news of the week: an official confirmation from the United Kingdom that austerity policies don’t work.

In making his annual Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was forced to admit that his government has failed to meet a series of targets it set for itself back in June of 2010, when it slashed the budgets of various government departments by up to thirty per cent. Back then, Osborne said that his austerity policies would cut his country’s budget deficit to zero within four years, enable Britain to begin relieving itself of its public debt, and generate healthy economic growth. None of these things have happened. Britain’s deficit remains stubbornly high, its people have been suffering through a double-dip recession, and many observers now expect the country to lose its “AAA” credit rating.

Unfortunately, this is the only data in the article and it’s pretty strange data. Which data am I referring to? The fact that in June of 2010, Cameron “slashed the budgets of various government departments by up to thirty per cent.” That’s the official confirmation that austerity doesn’t work. If you slash the budgets of “some government departments” and you still get a recession, that confirms that austerity isn’t good for the economy.

That’s like a guy who drinks too much wine, beer and scotch every day claiming he’s not an alcoholic anymore because he reduced his consumption of some varieties of wine by up to 30%. Wouldn’t you want to pay attention to his overall consumption of alcohol? Some government department budgets were reduced by up to 30%? What happened to overall government spending? Cassidy never tell us. There are no data in the article about the overall level of spending in the UK. Cassidy continues:
One of the frustrations of economics is that it is hard to carry out scientific experiments and prove things beyond reasonable doubt. But not in this case. Thanks to Osborne’s stubborn refusal to change course—“Turning back would be a disaster,” he told Parliament—what has been happening in Britain amounts to a “natural experiment” to test the efficacy of austerity economics. For the sixty-odd million inhabitants of the U.K., living through it hasn’t been a pleasant experience—no university institutional-review board would have allowed this kind of brutal human experimentation. But from a historical and scientific perspective, it is an invaluable case study.

Cassidy continues:
At every stage of the experiment, critics (myself included) have warned that Osborne’s austerity policies would prove self-defeating. Any decent economics textbook will tell you that, other things being equal, cutting government spending causes the economy’s overall output to fall, tax revenues to decrease, and spending on benefits to increase. Almost invariably, the end result is slower growth (or a recession) and high budget deficits. Osborne, relying on arguments about restoring the confidence of investors and businessmen that his forebears at the U.K. Treasury used during the early nineteen-thirties against Keynes, insisted (and continues to insist) otherwise, but he has been proven wrong.

If decent economics textbooks teach their students that “cutting government spending causes the economy’s overall output to fall, tax revenues to decrease, and spending on benefits to increase,” and “the end result is slower growth (or a recession) and high budget deficits” then we should be using the indecent ones. Because there’s no conclusive evidence or natural experiment to support that view.
After mentioning how important it is for Americans to learn the lesson that the UK has now learned, Cassidy continues:
Just like the Bush Administration (2008) and the Obama Administration (2009), Gordon Brown’s Labour government had introduced a fiscal stimulus to help turn the economy around. G.D.P. was growing at an annual rate of about 2.5 per cent. Once Osborne’s cuts in spending started to be felt, however, things changed dramatically. In the fourth quarter of 2010, growth turned negative and a double-dip recession began. So far, it has lasted two years. While G.D.P. did expand in the third quarter of this year, the Office of Budget Responsibility, an independent economic agency that Osborne set up, has said that it expects another decline in the current quarter. For 2013, the O.B.R. is forecasting G.D.P. growth of just 1.3 per cent. With the economy so weak, the O.B.R. says that the unemployment rate will tick up from eight per cent to 8.2 per cent next year. That austerity has led to recession is undeniable.

But Cassidy does not give the reader any actual data on those budget cuts of Osborne’s that undeniably caused the recession other than to say that some departments were cut by 30%. So let’s take a look at what actually happened.

I am not an expert on UK economic data so I’m going to give you the two sources I know about, the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Eurostat.

There is no reduction in nominal spending in either the Eurostat or ONS data. So no nominal austerity.

In real terms, the Eurostat data show a slight drop in 2010. Less than 1%. Let me write that again. Less than 1%. That’s the austerity that plunged the UK into a double-dip recession according to Cassidy and provided the natural experiment that makes our understanding of austerity official. In 2011, according to Eurostat, real spending fell 4.1%.

Draw your own conclusions.

And of course, these changes in government spending are not the only things that are changing in the world. As Jeffrey Sachs writes in the Financial Times:
And the UK’s slowdown has more to do with the eurozone crisis, declining North Sea oil and the inevitable contraction of the banking sector, than multiyear moves towards budget balance.

Mr. Cassidy has helped his readers know something that probably is not true. There has either been no austerity in the UK or at best, very little. There is no natural experiment here.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 02, 2013

A journey through America gives hope

Bill Steigerwald

Big, empty, rich and unchanged - that's a pretty boring scouting report for the America I "discovered" along the Steinbeck Highway. You can add a bunch of other boring but fitting words - "beautiful," "safe," "friendly," "clean," and "quiet."

Like Steinbeck, I didn't see the Real America or even a representative cross-section of America, neither of which exist anyway. Because I went almost exactly where Steinbeck went and stopped where he stopped, I saw a mostly White Anglo Saxon Protestant Republican America, not a "diverse and politically correct" Obama one. Mostly rural or open country, it included few impoverished or crime-tortured inner cities and no over-developed/underwater suburbs.

America the Beautiful was hurting in the fall of 2010, thanks to the bums and crooks in Washington and on Wall Street who co-produced the Great Recession. It still had the usual ills that make libertarians crazy and may never be cured: too many government wars overseas and at home, too many laws, politicians, cops, lawyers, do-gooders and preachers.

But America was not dead, dying or decaying. There were no signs of becoming a liberal or conservative dystopia. The U.S. of A., as always, was blessed with a diverse population of productive, affluent, generous, decent people and a continent of gorgeous natural resources.

Everyday of my trip I was surrounded by undeniable evidence of America's underlying health and incredible prosperity. Everywhere I went people were living in good homes, driving new cars and monster pickup trucks and playing with powerboats, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Roads and bridges and parks and main streets were well maintained. Litter and trash were scarce. Specific towns and regions were hurting, and too many people were out of work, but it was still the same country I knew.

I didn't seek out poverty or misery or pollution on my journey, and I encountered little of it. The destitute and jobless, not to mention the increasing millions on food stamps, on welfare or buried in debt, were especially hard to spot in a generous country where taking care of the less fortunate is a huge public-private industry - where even the poor have homes, cars, wide-screen TVs and smart phones.

I saw the familiar permanent American socioeconomic eyesores - homeless men sleeping on the sidewalks of downtown San Francisco at noon, the sun-bleached ruins of abandoned gas-stations on Route 66, ratty trailer homes parked in beautiful locations surrounded by decades of family junk. I saw Butte's post-industrial carcass, New Orleans' struggling Upper Ninth Ward and towns that could desperately use a Japanese car plant.

But the country as a whole was not crippled or even limping. In the fall of 2010, nine in 10 Americans who said they wanted jobs still had them. The one in 10 who were jobless had 99 weeks of extended unemployment benefits and more than 90 percent of homeowners were still making their mortgage payments.

Most of the states I shot through - including Maine, northern New Hampshire and Vermont, upstate New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana - had unemployment and foreclosure rates well below the national averages.

I didn't visit the abandoned neighborhoods of poor Detroit. I didn't see battered Las Vegas, where 14.5 percent of the people were unemployed and one in nine houses - five times the national average - had received some kind of default notice in 2010. But I spent almost two weeks in the Great Train Wreck State of California, where jobless and foreclosure rates were higher than the national average and municipal bankruptcies loomed.

America had 140 million more people than it did in 1960, but from coast to coast it was noticeably quiet - as if half the population had disappeared. Despite perfect fall weather, public and private golf courses were deserted. Ball fields were vacant. Parks and highway rest stops and ocean beaches were barely populated. Except for metropolises like Manhattan and San Francisco and jumping college towns like Missoula and Northampton, people in throngs simply did not exist. I went through lots of 30-mph towns that looked like they'd been evacuated a year earlier.

As I drove what's left of the Old Steinbeck Highway - U.S. routes 5, 2, 1, 11, 20, 12, 10, 101 and 66 - it was obvious many important changes had occurred along it since 1960. Industrial Age powerhouses like Rochester, Buffalo and Gary had seen their founding industries and the humans they employed swept away by the destructive winds of technology and global capitalism. Small towns like Calais in northeastern Maine had lost people and jobs, and vice versa.

New Orleans had shrunk by half, and not just because of Katrina. The metro areas of Seattle, San Francisco and Albuquerque had exploded and prospered in the digital age. The populations of the West Coast and the Sunbelt had expanded since 1960. The South had shed its shameful system of apartheid and its overt racism, as well as much of its deep-rooted poverty and ignorance. The Northeast had bled people, manufacturing industries and its once overweening role in determining the nation's political and cultural life.

Change is inevitable, un-stoppable, pervasive. Nevertheless, it was clear that a great deal of what I saw out my car windows had hardly changed at all since Steinbeck and his French poodle Charley raced by.

He saw more farmland and fewer forests than I did, especially in the East. But in many places I passed through almost nothing was newly built. Many farms and crossroads and small towns and churches were frozen in the same place and time they were eons ago, particularly in the East and Midwest.

In Maine the busy fishing village of Stonington was as picturesque as the day Steinbeck left it. He'd recognize the tidy farms of the Corn Belt and the raw beauty of Redwood Country and the buildings if not the people of the Upper Ninth Ward. And at 70 mph whole states - North Dakota and Montana - would look the same to him except for the cell towers and Pilot signs staked out at the interstate exits.

Steinbeck didn't like a lot of things about Eisenhower America - sprawl, pollution, the rings of junked cars and rubbish he saw around cities. And he lamented - not in "Charley" but in letters to pals like Adlai Stevenson - that he thought America was a rotting corpse and its people had become too soft and contented to keep their country great and strong.

But Steinbeck had America's future wrong by 178 degrees. Fifty years later, despite being stuck in an economic ditch, the country was far wealthier, healthier, smarter and more globally powerful and influential than he could have imagined. Its air, water and landscapes were far less polluted. And, most important, despite the exponential growth of the federal government's size and scope and its nanny reach, America in 2010 was also a much freer place for most of its 310 million citizens, especially for women, blacks, Latinos and gays.

You don't have to be a libertarian to know America is not as free as it should be. But there's no denying that today our society is freer and more open than ever to entrepreneurs, new forms of media, alternative lifestyles and ordinary people who want to school their own kids, medicate their own bodies or simply choose Fed Ex instead of the U.S. Post Office.

As for the stereotypical complaints about America being despoiled by overpopulation, overdevelopment and commercial homogenization, forget it. Anyone who drives 50 miles in any direction in an empty state like Maine or North Dakota - or even in north-central Ohio or Upstate New York - can see America's problem is not overpopulation. More often it's under-population. Cities like Butte and Buffalo and Gary have been virtually abandoned. Huge hunks of America on both sides of the Mississippi have never been settled.

From Calais, Me., to Pelahatchie, Miss., I passed down the main streets of comatose small towns whose mayors would have been thrilled to have to deal with the problems of population growth and sprawl. If anyone thinks rural Minnesota, northwestern Montana, the Oregon Coast, the Texas Panhandle or New Orleans's Upper Ninth Ward have been homogenized, taken over by chains or destroyed by too much commercial development, it's because they haven't been there.

The America I traveled was unchained from sea to sea. I had no problem eating breakfast, sleeping or shopping for road snacks at mom & pop establishments in every state. The motels along the Oregon and Maine coasts are virtually all independents that have been there for decades. You can go the length of old Route 66 and never sleep or eat in a chain unless you choose to.

Steinbeck, like many others have since, lamented the loss of regional customs. (I don't think he meant the local "customs" of the Jim Crow South or the marital mores of the Jerry Lee Lewis clan.) I didn't go looking for Native Americans, Amish, Iraqis in Detroit, Peruvians in northern New Jersey or the French-Canadians who have colonized the top edge of Maine. But I had no trouble spotting local flavor in Wisconsin's dairy lands, in fishing towns along Oregon's coast, in the redwood-marijuana belt of Northern California, in San Francisco's Chinatown or the cattle country of Texas.

Not to generalize, but the New York-Hollywood elites believe the average Flyover Person lives in a double-wide or a Plasticville suburb, eats only at McDonald's, votes only Republican, shops only at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store, hates anyone not whiter than they are, speaks in tongues on Sunday and worships pickup trucks, guns and NASCAR the rest of the week.

Those stereotypes and caricatures are alive and well in Flyover Country. But though I held radical beliefs about government, immigration and drugs that could have gotten me lynched in many places, I never felt I was in a country I didn't like or didn't belong in. Maybe I just didn't go to enough sports bars, churches and political rallies, but for 11,276 miles I always felt at home.



Happy New Year?

Thomas Sowell

The beginning of a new year is often a time to look forward and look back. The way the future looks, I prefer to look back -- and depend on my advanced age to spare me from having to deal with too much of the future.
If there are any awards to be given to anyone for what they did in 2012, one of those rewards should be for prophecy, if only because prophecies that turn out to be right are so rare.

With that in mind, my choice for the prediction of the year award goes to Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal for his column of January 24, 2012 titled: "The GOP Deserves to Lose."

Despite reciting a litany of reasons why President Obama deserved to be booted out of the White House, Stephens said, "Let's just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose."

To me, the Republican establishment is the 8th wonder of the world. How they can keep repeating the same mistakes for decades on end is beyond my ability to explain.

Bret Stephens said, back at the beginning of 2012, that Mitt Romney was one of the "hollow men," and that voters "usually prefer the man who stands for something."

Yet this is not just about Mitt Romney. He is only the latest in a long series of presidential candidates backed by a Republican establishment that seems convinced that ad hoc "moderation" is where it's at -- no matter how many of their ad hoc moderates get beaten by even vulnerable, unknown or discredited Democrats.

Back in 1948, when the Democratic Party splintered into three parties, each one with its own competing presidential candidate, Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey was considered a shoo-in.

Best-selling author David Halberstam described what happened: "Dewey's chief campaign tactic was to make no mistakes, to offend no one. His major speeches, wrote the Louisville Courier Journal, could be boiled down 'to these historic four sentences: Agriculture is important. Our rivers are full of fish. You cannot have freedom without liberty. The future lies ahead...'"

Does this sound like a more recent Republican presidential candidate?

Meanwhile, President Harry Truman was on the attack in 1948, with speeches that had many people saying, "Give 'em hell, Harry." He won, even with the Democrats' vote split three ways.

But, to this day, the Republican establishment still goes for pragmatic moderates who feed pablum to the public, instead of treating them like adults.

It is not just Republican presidential candidates who cannot be bothered to articulate a coherent argument, instead of ad hoc talking points. Have you yet heard House Speaker John Boehner take the time to spell out why Barack Obama's argument for taxing "millionaires and billionaires" is wrong?

It is not a complicated argument. Moreover, it is an argument that has been articulated many times in plain English by conservative talk show hosts and by others in print. It has nothing to do with being worried about the fate of millionaires or billionaires, who can undoubtedly take care of themselves.

What we all should be worried about are high tax rates driving American investments overseas, when there are millions of Americans who could use the jobs that those investments would create at home.

Yet Obama has been allowed to get away with the emotional argument that the rich can easily afford to pay more, as if that is the issue. But it will be the issue if no one says otherwise.

One of the recent sad reminders of the Republicans' tendency to leave even lies and smears unanswered was a television replay of an old interview with the late Judge Robert Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was destroyed by character assassination.

Judge Bork said that he was advised not to answer Ted Kennedy's wild accusations because those false accusations would discredit themselves. That supposedly sophisticated advice cost the country one of the great legal minds of our time -- and left us with a wavering Anthony Kennedy in his place on the Supreme Court.

Some people may take solace from the fact that there are some articulate Republicans like Marco Rubio who may come forward in 2016. But with Iran going nuclear and North Korea developing missiles that can hit California, it may be too late by then.



The Government That Ate America

On Monday morning, the talk in Washington, D. C. -- a city named for a president with entirely modest aspirations when it came to power -- revolved around more than late-night negotiations.

Matters such as income levels, "chained CPI," alternative-minimum tax patches and Medicare payments, swam before the eyes of our elected representatives who, understandably, looked goggle-eyed as they rehearsed their arguments or recounted their labors. The New York Times highlighted Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin's account of the proceedings: "It looks awful."

That might be because it is : predictably so. Americans have had a good if unsettling look at the number of patch jobs necessary to make the pistons of modern government move with anything resembling regularity.

The trouble here is obvious. Anyway, it becomes so with a little thought. The bigger the policy questions at stake become, the more numerous the stakeholders become; thus, the dimmer grow the prospects for reconciliation of variant viewpoints. Everybody wants his piece of the action. In a democracy, that means, everybody gets it.

If you've gathered by now this is an anti-big government sermon, you have certainly gathered correctly. Americans perennially bat back and forth the arguments over big government's costs and who ought to pay them. How about introducing into the mix the topic of big government's basic unworkability? Too big to pay for equals too big to work. Can there be any doubt of it?

What's been happening the past decade or so in Washington -- not just since the election -- is the slow-paced screening of a disaster flick, "The Government That Ate America," in which demands that Congress and the president do a bit of everything finally overload the machinery of government. The machinery sputters, fizzles, gasps. Orange and red lights start to flicker. YOU CAN'T HAVE EVERYTHING YOU WANT! is the message the control system flashes.

A national government -- leave aside a multiplicity of state and local governments -- that absorbs a quarter of Gross National Product, as ours does, is the kind of government that ... well, look around Washington today, next week, next month. No short-term deal can get the job done. A government grown too large for its old-fashioned purposes ---"to provide for the common defense, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" -- can safely be pronounced in drastic need of reform.

Both political parties in some measure escorted us to the "fiscal cliff." The party now in general charge, led by the biggest big-government lover ever to inhabit the White House, bears presently the heavier responsibility. But back to guns. Wait till Joe Biden is done rebalancing the economy. He can go on from there to replacing rifles with clubs, plus anything else he may have in mind. With big government, it seems, there's no rest, no recess.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


January 01, 2013

Media Bias and the Erosion of First Amendment Ideals

The role of the media in a constitutional democracy is not only to provide information, but also to monitor the affairs of government by exposing excess, hypocrisy and corruption at the highest levels. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press to facilitate this function. But the media can only fulfill its mission if it rises above the partisan and maintains a bright line between objective reportage and editorial comment.

It cannot do so when reporters’ biases affect their presentation, when opinion is stated as fact or when information at odds with the publisher’s views is distorted or suppressed. Sadly, mainstream reporters seem to have little use for journalistic objectivity when it conflicts with their editorial prejudices or political allegiances. Rather than simply report facts, the media often shapes them in order to influence public opinion; and its partisan predilections are evident in the way it covers all news, from domestic affairs to foreign policy.

The press has been referred to as the “Fourth Estate” since at least the eighteenth century to acknowledge that it wasseparate and apart from the “Three Estates of the Realm,” but no less important for the proper functioning of society. In America, the appellation signified its independence from the three branches of government, which would enable it to act as an impartial observer and report facts at odds with official government positions. But journalists today are frequently blinded by ideological loyalties that undercut their independence and neutrality. News reports are often skewed to favor specific candidates, elected officials and political agendas, and unbalanced diatribes are frequently presented as objective analysis. Thus, content published by thetraditional media outlets often resembles public relations copy more than news.

During the recent U.S. election, the mainstream media was transparent in its support of Barack Obama and did its best to depict Mitt Romney as unflatteringly as possible. It downplayed Mr. Obama’s dismal economic policies, ignored his crippling divisiveness, glossed over his apologetic treatment of Islamists, and excused, misreported or altogether avoided commenting on his myriad foreign policy blunders. The failure to critically probe the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya offered but one of the most glaring examples of the media’s bias – although by no means the only one.

Though the fallout from Benghazi continues, the media’s coverage has been marked from the beginning by a reluctance to investigate facts unfavorable to the administration and a tendency to take official statements at face value even when they conflict with facts already known. The press expressed no skepticism regarding the convenient timing relative to the election of the administration’s ludicrous story that the consulate was sacked and four Americans killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, because of an internet video critical of Islam. Instead, it avoided critically parsing that part of the story for as long as possible because any discussion of a planned terrorist attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate could have compromised Mr. Obama’s chances for reelection.

Nevertheless, testimony before Congress revealed that the intelligence community – and presumably the White House – knew almost immediately that the assault on the consulate was a terrorist attack meant to coincide with the anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. The testimony further revealed that there were no demonstrations outside the consulate, that U.S. intelligence never reported any such demonstrations, and that the consulate staff had repeatedly asked for enhanced security before the attack. In light of this testimony, the White House’s narrative – i.e., that spontaneous demonstrators protesting a supposedly offensive video simply ran amok – was clearly false at the time it was first disseminated.

Of course, reporting what really happened – that an al-Qaeda group executed a pre-planned terrorist assault on September 11th – would have undercut Mr. Obama’s attempts to portray himself as strong on foreign policy by claiming that the death of Osama bin Laden had crippled al-Qaeda into irrelevance.

It stretches credulity to believe the White House did not intend to obfuscate when it sent Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on a television talk-show junket to pitch the ridiculous story that four Americans were killed in a spontaneous riot over an anti-Islamic video. The White House’s simultaneous efforts to deny that it was engaging in disinformation were inconsistent with Ambassador Rice’s actions and those of its own State Department, which among other things took out advertisements in Pakistan condemning the video. That it took FOX News’s consistent coverage to prod other networks and print media finally to acknowledge the scope of the story, albeit grudgingly, speaks volumes about the mainstream’s inclination to shield Mr. Obama from political embarrassment.

Even after acknowledging the story, the mainstream press declined any probing inquiry as Mr. Obama’s narrative began to unravel. Though the White House’s strategy of lambasting an inconsequential video was recognized as drivel from the start, the media was reluctant to question the story’s veracity so close to election time.

When it became impossible to ignore during the Presidential debates, the media threw Mr. Obama a lifeline in full view of the millions watching on television. Specifically, CNN’s Candy Crowley, moderator of the second debate, assisted Mr. Obama after Governor Romney had chastised him for failing to identify the attack as terrorism in a Rose Garden press conference the day after. In response to Governor Romney’s comment, Ms. Crowley suggested that video of the press conference showed the president had indeed linked the attack to terrorism. However, footage of the Rose Garden conference in its entirety shows that Mr. Obama never specifically labeled the incident terrorism and that Governor Romney had in fact spoken accurately.

The President’s Rose Garden performance was consistent with his interview for the CBSprogram “60 Minutes” the day after the attack, in which he was asked directly whether it was terrorism. Mr. Obama hemmed, hawed and responded that it was too early to draw such a conclusion. But consistent with their pro-Obama bias, the editors of "60 Minutes" suppressed that portion of the interview when the program aired five weeks later. The president’s refusal to implicate terrorism the day after the attack was certainly newsworthy, particularly when contrasted against his later claim that he almost immediately identified it as a terrorist act. Nevertheless, the deleted segment was reinserted on the network’s website only the day before the election, quietly and with no fanfare.

In truth, Mr. Obama would not discuss the possible role of terrorism until more than a week afterward; and his team continued implicating the video for some time thereafter. But as more people testified before Congress, including former CIA Director General Petraeus, it became clear that the official “talking points” prepared by the intelligence community had originally identified the incident as an al-Qaeda terror attack, but that references to al-Qaeda and terrorism were deleted from the text used by the White House.

Despite the timing of these events in relation to the election, the mainstream media refused to question whether the talking points had been altered to assist Mr. Obama in his campaign efforts. If the press were doing its job, however, it would have asked why the President and his proxies continued to offer false explanations about Benghazi, which seemed designed to preserve the fanciful narrative that al- Qaeda was destroyed, terrorism was no longer a threat, and Mr. Obama was a strong foreign policy leader.

The press had not taken such a deferential approach during the Iran-Contra Affair years earlier, when it accused the Reagan administration of malfeasance and criminal conduct. Neither did it pull any punches when it accused former President Bush of intentionally lying about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war in Iraq – although reliable intelligence reports showed that inaccurate information concerning Iraq’s weapons capabilities actually came from factions within Iraq seeking to topple Saddam Hussein, not from “war-mongering” Republicans, and that chemical weapons did exist but were likely spirited out of the country to Syria.

In addition to its pro-Obama boosterism, the media’s coverage of Benghazi has been colored by the typically unbalanced approach it takes in reporting on the Mideast in general.

News outlets such as the New York Times routinely slant their reporting to portray Islamist extremism as a consequence of Israeli actions and employ moral equivalence to rationalize terrorism against the West. They pander to those who boycott and delegitimize Israel but never question the mythology underlying Palestinian national claims, the doctrinal antisemitism that bars permanent peace with a Jewish nation, or the history of Arab-Muslim rejectionism and extremism. Moreover, they validate a left-wing that vilifies Israel as a Jewish nation, promotes the myth of global Jewish conspiracies, uses historical revisionism to authenticate Palestinian claims, and find common cause with those who call for Israel’s destruction and the extermination of her people.

The media treat Israel’s friends as reactionary simply for supporting her right to exist, and accuse Israel of impeding peace by defending herself, retaliating against terrorists, building in towns and cities derisively labeled settlements, and exercising autonomy over her capital in Jerusalem, a city that never had an Arab majority or served as the capital of any Arab or Muslim nation.

Mainstream reporters consistently ignore the unrequited concessions Israel has made in the naïve quest for peace. They also denigrate the Jews’ historical connection to their homeland, ignore the doctrinal prohibition against the recognition of a Jewish state, disregard the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to amend its charter calling for Israel’s destruction, and rationalize Palestinian incitement as a reaction to Israeli intransigence – despite the PA’s oft-stated commitment to the phased destruction of Israel. Likewise, the press ignores the antisemitic rhetoric that freely flows from the Arab-Muslim world and from leftist news sources that are never properly vetted.

Then there is the compulsion for publishing blood libels, such as the debunked Mohammed al- Dura hoax, in which a French television station used edited film to suggest that Israeli forces had killed an Arab child being shielded by his father during a supposed standoff with the Israelis. As was proven in a French court, unedited footage showed that the scene was staged, that Israelis were not shooting in the boy’s direction, and that he was not killed or even injured.

During the recent hostilities in Gaza, CNN ran a similar story, implying that an Arab child had been killed in an Israeli rocket attack. Unfortunately for CNN, the alleged attack was reported to have occurred during an extended period when Hamas was firing hundreds of rockets into Israel but the Israelis were withholding fire – facts that were corroborated by other media outlets. Even the New York Times, usually a font of anti-Israel disinformation, was skeptical enough to refuse to run the story.

The media’s bias is not limited to misrepresenting dubious allegations as true. It also uses apologetic tones when discussing Islamist terrorism and shows unskeptical deference to an administration that officially refers to Muslim terrorist acts as “manmade disasters,” considers the Muslim Brotherhood a moderate organization despite its jihadist goals, and seeks rapprochement with Islamist dictatorships. Ironically, it has no problem condemning Israel for the simple act of self-defense or describing her as an apartheid state, though her Arab citizens have full political, social and economic rights.

One would think the media has an obligation to report accurately, and in fact the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (“SPJ”) instructs its members to “seek truth and report it.” The SPJ’s Code, among other things, states that “[j]ournalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information…,” admonishes them to “[t]est the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error,” and warns that “[d]eliberate distortion is never permissible.” But these dictates are advisory only and routinely flouted. In fact, the SPJ takes the position that it cannot legally enforce its code, as explained in the following advisory comment:

“The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists, regardless of place or platform, and is widely used in newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behavior. The code is intended not as a set of “rules” but as a resource for ethical decision-making. It is not — nor can it be under the First Amendment — legally enforceable.”

This disclaimer is very convenient for relieving SPJ members of real responsibility. It also constitutes a glaring misstatement of Constitutional law. Specifically, the First Amendment only prohibits the government from restricting freedom of expression and the press (although there are exceptions). It does not bind private citizens, organizations or associations, particularly those claiming to enforce professional standards. The SPJ’s position that the First Amendment prohibits the enforcement of standards by a voluntary association is simply not true. However, this rationalization bespeaks a much larger problem.

Though journalists see themselves as members of a distinct profession, they require no required specialized academic training and have no mandatory standards of conduct. Whereas traditional professions, including law, medicine, engineering and accountancy, have licensing requirements and enforceable standards, journalism has none; and its practitioners claim to be prohibited legally from enforcing any. Yet there is no basis for asserting that the Constitution prohibits groups such as the SPJ from implementing professional or ethical standards.

Unfortunately, though, the Constitution is often misquoted by those seeking to evade responsibility for exercising restraint. In more extreme circumstances, it is even used to defend hate speech, including antisemitic expressions masked as political criticism of Israel. Still, there is nothing in the First Amendment that would prevent news organizations from administering their own professional standards, as long as the government is not involved in enforcement.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contemplates a free and open press to provide accurate information to the public and scrutinize the doings of government. It does not prohibit the press from enforcing standards of fairness, honesty and accuracy.

By failing to require such standards, and by permitting the manipulation of news in order to support specific parties, candidates and causes, the press falls far short of the lofty goals envisioned by the Constitution.

While there certainly is and should be a place for pundits, commentators and diverse opinions in the universe of journalism, reporters should never be permitted to misstate facts to advance their own partisan agendas. In so doing, they transform news into propaganda and abdicate their role as impartial watchdogs of government.



Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East

Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.

And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.

It warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.

The report, by the think tank Civitas, says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree.

"A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

It cites estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”

“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood,” says the author, Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.

He adds: “The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”

The report, entitled Christianophobia, highlights a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them.

The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in countries where Islam is the dominant faith, the report says, quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.

“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” it claims.

The report shows that “Muslim-majority” states make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance by Freedom House, the human rights think tank.

It catalogues hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.

It claims George Bush’s use of the word “crusade” after the September 11 attacks on New York created the impression for Muslims in the Middle East of a “Christian assault on the Muslim world”.

“But however the motivation for violence is measured, the early twenty-first century has seen a steady rise in the strife endured by Christians,” the report says.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable than ever”, highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Fr Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 further priests and two bishops between 2006 and 2010.

“In most cases, those responsible declared that they wanted all Christians to be expelled from the country,” the report says.


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



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for 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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


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.

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. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


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

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

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.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

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

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"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 intelligent people, 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.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

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.

"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 book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

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.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ― John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

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. Freedom needs a soldier

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.


"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

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

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.

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!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora 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.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

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.

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.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


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?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I 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

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.

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

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.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

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.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
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basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
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