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

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

The original of this mirror site is HERE. My Blogroll; Archives here or here; My Home Page. Email me (John Ray) here. Other mirror sites: Greenie Watch, Political Correctness Watch, Education Watch, Immigration Watch, Food & Health Skeptic, Gun Watch, Socialized Medicine, Eye on Britain, Recipes, Tongue Tied and Australian Politics. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this site. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing)

31 July, 2011

Government-protected cartel overturned

An order of monks — and anyone else — can sell caskets in Louisiana without having a state funeral home license, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Acting on a suit filed by the monks of St. Joseph Abbey in St. Tammany Parish in August, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval said "there is no rational basis" for the licensing requirement to be applied to those only wanting to sell caskets, such as the 38 monks.

The Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors had blocked the monks from selling caskets with simple white cloth interiors for $1,500 to $2,000, saying the abbey had neither a funeral director's license nor a funeral home license as required by state law.

But the judge said "the sole reason for these laws is the economic protection of the funeral industry" and that the monks' constitutional rights were being violated by the ban.

"We are just thrilled for the abbey and for Louisiana consumers and the constitutional rights of all entrepreneurs," said Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Economic Justice, which represents the monks. "This is really a slam-dunk victory for the constitutional right to economic liberty."

Abbott Justin Brown, who heads the abbey, said the monks had about a dozen caskets ready and planned to resume selling them as soon as possible. The monks want to sell caskets to replace their previous lumber production business, which was largely wiped out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The abbey gets no financial support from the Catholic church.

"This is an answer to about two years of prayers," Brown said.

The monks said they built and sold about 50 to 60 coffins before regulators told them they were violating the law. The suit was filed after the Legislature refused to give the abbey exemptions in 2008 and 2010.

An attorney for the funeral board, Michael Rasch, said the decision likely would be appealed.

Bullock conceded the legal fight likely isn't over. One federal circuit court struck down similar restrictions in Tennessee, while Oklahoma funeral regulations were upheld in another.

Bullock predicted that the disputes eventually would land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"This is a very important constitutional question, whether economic protectionism is a legitimate governmental interest," he said. "It's a divided question in law constitutional law today. The Supreme Court has never ruled on this issue."

Louisiana law applies only to caskets sold by retailers physically located in the state. Caskets are readily available for sale at internet sites.



Mystery of TWA Flight 800 Persists, 15 Years Later

Many eyewitnesses saw a missile, all officially ignored

Sunday, July 17th, marked the 15th anniversary of the explosion of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, New York at approximately 8:30 p.m., 12 minutes after it left New York’s Kennedy Airport heading for Paris, killing all 230 people aboard. To commemorate this tragic event, AIM gathered a group of people who have looked into this event, each bringing his own insights and knowledge of the case to the table. Those participating on AIM’s show on BlogTalkRadio, “Take AIM,” on July 14th included John Clarke, an attorney who has worked on this case in several capacities since 1997; Jack Cashill, a journalist and producer who has co-written a book and produced a documentary on the subject; and Retired Captain Mike Larkin, a former Air Force pilot who later became a TWA pilot for more than 30 years, and who often piloted TWA 800 from New York to Paris. I hosted the show, and have produced and written a documentary on the subject called TWA 800: The Search for the Truth.

There were a number of articles this year, since this anniversary was divisible by five, apparently making it more newsworthy. Most of the articles, like this AP story that ran in The Washington Post, focused on families and friends of the deceased, gathering for an ocean-side ceremony remembering the victims. While some of the stories, such as this one, did at least bring up the fact that there were questions raised at the time as to whether the plane was blown up by a bomb or missile, they ultimately accepted the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board which “concluded the plane was destroyed by a center fuel tank explosion, likely caused by a spark from a wiring short-circuit that ignited vapors in the tank.”

The eyewitnesses were explained away, according to the article, as having actually seen “a piece of the plane itself that had broken off in an initial blast that preceded an even larger explosion.” In fact, the findings were that following that “center fuel tank explosion,” the nose fell off, the fuselage rose approximately 3,000 feet, and the eyewitnesses actually saw burning fuel and debris coming down, not a missile flying towards the doomed flight. Or, “a piece of the plane that had broken off.” Regarding the eyewitnesses, there were more than 600, including 260 who saw something streaking toward the plane, of which 92 actually saw it rise from the surface.

I did a show and wrote about this last year as well, which focused on Ray Lahr and his lawsuit, litigated by John Clarke, challenging the findings of the NTSB. Lahr is a former Navy pilot, engineer and crash investigator, who spent more than 30 years with United Air Lines, including 20 years as a safety representative for the Air Line Pilots Association. AIM will continue to follow this story until hopefully, as former TWA pilot Mike Larkin said during this show, the President or Congress gets the courage to demand the release of all the evidence, including satellite images from that evening that he believes exist that would reveal the truth of what happened. According to Larkin, who was a friend and former roommate in the Air Force of the pilot of the downed TWA 800 flight, “definitely, a missile brought the airplane down.”



Even watered down central planning is a failure

The Communists thought that they could plan and control everything. They failed. And the democratic Left can't get their version of it to work either

Robert Samuelson recently described the current economic upheaval as "the crisis of the old order," a collapse of the economic dogmas and institutions of the past few decades. I was particularly struck by one of the items he lists as the pillars of the old order, "faith in routine economic expansion." Except that this doesn't describe what he's really talking about. What he's actually talking about is faith that government officials can manage and control economic growth. "Economists exaggerated their understanding and control. They seem to have exhausted conventional policy approaches." Specifically, he points out that the usual theories of monetary and fiscal "stimulus" have failed. "Central banks such as the Federal Reserve have held interest rates low. Budget deficits are high." Yet here we are.

If anything, Samuelson's summary is understated. Mohamed El-Erian puts it in more alarming terms.

I don't know about you, but whenever I am in an airplane experiencing turbulence, I draw comfort from the belief that the pilots sitting behind the cockpit's closed door know what to do. I would feel very differently if, through an open door, I observed pilots who were frustrated at the poor responsiveness of the plane's controls, arguing about their next step, and getting no help whatsoever from the operator's manuals.
So it is unsettling that policymakers in many Western economies today resemble the second group of pilots.

Ben Bernanke printed massive sums of money and pumped it into the economy, and when that didn't work, he printed more money and pumped it into the economy, heedless of the inflationary risk. He's beginning to look like an incompetent car mechanic: he jams his foot on the accelerator and nothing happens, so instead of taking his foot off the gas, he just keeps it jammed there, guaranteeing that when the engine does spring back to life the car will lurch forward uncontrollably.

Similarly, Obama's economic advisors assumed that the fiscal stimulus would produce the neat little "multiplier" they learned in their Keynesian economics textbooks, so that spending $800 billion would automatically lead to at least $400 billion in new, additional economic activity, an amount that ought to have guaranteed a decent year of growth in 2010. But the multiplier didn't multiply, the growth never happened, and now the ratings agencies are demanding that the US replace this stimulus with contraction, cutting trillions of dollars in future spending to compensate for the money squandered on the stimulus.

In both realms, monetary policy and fiscal policy, the past few years have given the lie to Washington's assumption that competent economic management at the Fed and the Treasury could stimulate growth, maintain it, and burst any speculative bubbles with a brief, painless "soft landing."

This system can be thought of as Central Planning Lite. By the time Communism collapsed in 1989, it was no longer plausible to claim that full-blown socialism or full-blown central planning were the wave of the future. But our political and intellectual leaders were not quite willing to give up on the dream, so they insisted that we could have a watered down Third Way between capitalism and communism. Instead of having the government take over all industries and provide for everyone's needs directly, we would have a welfare state in which the government merely provides a "safety net" of subsidies. And instead of direct central planning, we would have indirect central planning. Rather than outright edicts, we would use subsidies and tax breaks to steer economic activity into the channels our political leaders prefer, such as "green" technology. And at the center of it all, instead of having Gosplan dictating steel production quotas, we would have the Federal Reserve Board dictating interest rates. This is a form of central planning for credit, in which the Fed attempts to direct how much and on what terms bankers will lend.

The debt ceiling debate, which is driven not so much by the immediate prospect of default but by the long-term unsustainability of the federal debt, shows what happens when the welfare state comes crashing down. And the Fed's failure to encourage lending and stimulate economic growth, despite yanking on all of the levers it can reach, shows the illusion of monetary central planning.

The failure of Central Planning Lite cannot just be attributed to incompetence or politicization, to shovel-ready jobs that are not shovel-ready, or bailouts organized as favors to political pressure groups. After all, Ben Bernanke was a respected and impartial economist. But the job of central planning is inherently impossible; even the smartest person can't do it.

In discovering this fact, we are emerging from a specific illusion created by one man: Alan Greenspan. When he stepped down as Fed Chairman, I noted the irony that the onetime champion of the gold standard had instead established the Greenspan Standard: the markets' faith that economic contractions would be moderated, growth would continue steadily, and inflation would be kept at bay, all because of one man. It was the illusion that a brilliant, dedicated, all-knowing "maestro" could control the markets and make Central Planning Lite work.

Yet we can now see that in seeking to mitigate the effects of previous economic downturns, Greenspan helped set the stage for a monetary expansion and the resulting housing bubble, and when he handed his power over to the sorcerer's apprentice, all hell broke loose. In dictating an expansion of credit, the central planners at the Fed replaced the individual plans of bankers, investors, and borrowers, deliberately overriding any signals that might have warned of excessive risk and called for a contraction of credit. Yet the central planners did not, in fact, know how to understand and control the easy money forces they had unleashed. So is it any wonder that they have been unable to marshal those same forces to summon up a recovery?

If any good is to come from our current economic ideal, it will be a hard-earned skepticism about any claims that Congress can design an economic stimulus package, or that a gifted maestro at the Federal Reserve can summon economic growth at his command. It will be the death of Central Planning Lite.



When thugs fall out

Ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan over the weekend launched a scathing attack on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of dictatorship and financial corruption.

He said that more than $1 billion have gone missing from a fund that was handed over to Abbas after he was elected president in 2005.

Dahlan’s attack on Abbas came after PA security forces raided the former Fatah commander’s home in Ramallah on Thursday, arresting his bodyguards and confiscating weapons and armored vehicles.

Dahlan was at home during the raid, which was carried out by dozens of security officers, but was not detained thanks to his parliamentary immunity.

Shortly thereafter, Dahlan left for Jordan through the Allenby Bridge, where he gave a series of interviews to Arab media outlets in which he strongly condemned Abbas, 76, and accused him of financial corruption and seeking to destroy Fatah.

“Abbas does not recognize any law, morals or values,” Dahlan said, referring to the raid on his home and last month’s decision to expel him from the Fatah Central Committee. “Abbas feels that he’s above the law.”

Dahlan said that the dispute between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel’s presence in the West Bank, gave Abbas a “free hand to practice dictatorship against the Palestinian people, silence people and deny them their salaries.”

Dahlan said that the dispute with the PA president erupted after he demanded to know what had happened to $1.3b. that was in the account of the Palestinian Investment Fund.

The PIF was established in 2000 as an independent Palestinian investment company “committed to maximizing the assets’ value for its shareholder: the Palestinian people.”

“Yasser Arafat worked strenuously to save this money for the ‘black day.’ Mahmoud Abbas thinks that the people don’t know where this money is and who received it. Now he’s admitting that there is only $700 million in the fund. But the real sum should be about $2b.”

Dahlan, who headed the PA Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the Oslo Accords, also claimed that Abbas was furious with him because he had been badmouthing the PA president’s two sons, Yasser and Tareq, who are wealthy businessmen.

Senior Fatah officials in Ramallah said that if Dahlan returned to the West Bank, he would be immediately arrested and charged with “financial corruption, murder, extortion and collaboration with outside forces.”

The officials said that the offenses were committed during the period that Dahlan was in charge of the Preventative Security Force in the Gaza Strip.

The Abbas-Dahlan rivalry has caused significant damage to Fatah, one official told The Jerusalem Post. “Hamas is already celebrating the infighting in Fatah and is now saying that the accusations against Dahlan prove that Hamas was right when it kicked the Palestinian Authority out of the Gaza Strip in 2007.”

The dispute is also threatening to spark a confrontation between Fatah supporters in the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip. Dahlan continues to enjoy widespread support among many Fatah cadres in the Strip.

Over the weekend, Dahlan supporters in the Gaza Strip expressed outrage over Abbas’s measures against the former Fatah commander. Some pointed out that Abbas and Dahlan had been strong political allies for many years.


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

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


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


30 July, 2011

Leftists DON'T condemn terrorism

Most terrorism is OK to them. They only condemn it when it hits them. Fundamentalist Islam is by far the chief source of terrorism in the world today but Leftists go to great length to cover up and excuse that -- and nowhere is that permissiveness towards Islamic terrorism more pronounced than in Norway

Breivik's manifesto has become the center of the international discussion of his actions largely as a result of the sources he cited.

Kaczynski, like his fellow eco-terrorist Jason Jay Lee, who took several people hostage at the Discovery Channel in Maryland last September, was influenced by the writings of former US vice president Al Gore. A well worn copy of Gore's book Earth in the Balance was reportedly found by federal agents when they searched Kaczynski's cabin in Montana in 1996. Lee claimed that he was "awakened" to the need to commit terrorism to save the environment after he watched Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Aside from Kaczynski, (whom he plagiarized without naming), certain parts of Breivik's manifesto read like a source guide to leading conservative writers and bloggers in the Western world. And this is unprecedented. Never before has a terrorist cited so many conservatives to justify his positions.

Breivik particularly noted writers who focus on critical examinations of multiculturalism and the dangers emanating from jihadists and the cause of global jihad. He also cited the work of earlier political philosophers and writers including John Stuart Mill, George Orwell, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.

Breivik's citation of conservative writers, (including myself and many of my friends and colleagues in the US and Europe), has dominated the public discussion of his actions. The leftist dominated Western media - most notably the New York Times -- and the left wing of the blogosphere have used his reliance on their ideological opponents' arguments as a means of blaming the ideas propounded by conservative thinkers and the thinkers themselves for Breivik's heinous acts of murder.

For instance, a front page news story in the Times on Monday claimed, "The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam."

The reporter, Scott Shane named several popular anti-jihadist blogs that Breivik mentioned in his manifesto. Shane then quoted left-leaning terrorism expert Marc Sageman who alleged that that the writings of anti-jihad authors "are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged."

That is, Shane quoted Sageman accusing these writers of responsibility for Breivik's acts of murder.

Before considering the veracity of Sageman's claim, it is worth noting that no similar allegations were leveled by the media or their favored terror experts against Gore in the wake of Lee's hostage taking last year, or in the aftermath of Kaczynski's arrest in 1996. Moreover, Noam Chomsky, Michael Scheuer, Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer, whose writings were endorsed by Osama Bin Laden, have not been accused of responsibility for al Qaeda terrorism.

That is, leftist writers whose works have been admired by terrorists have not been held accountable for the acts of terrorism conducted by their readers.

Nor should they have been. And to understand why this sort of guilt-by-readership is wrong, it is worth considering what separates liberal democracies from what the great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon referred to as totalitarian democracies. Liberal democracies are founded on the notion that it is not simply acceptable for citizens to participate in debates about the issues facing their societies. It is admirable for citizens in democracies to participate in debates - even heated ones -- about their government's policies as well as their societies' cultural and moral direction. A citizenry unengaged is a citizenry that is in danger of losing its freedom.

One of the reasons that argument and debate are the foundations of a liberal democratic order is because the more engaged citizens feel in the life of their societies, the less likely they will be to reject the rules governing their society and turn to violence to get their way. As a rule, liberal democracies reject the resort to violence as a means of winning an argument. This is why, for liberal democracies, terrorism in all forms is absolutely unacceptable.

Whether or not one agrees with the ideological self-justifications of a terrorist, as a member of a liberal democratic society, one is expected to abhor his act of terrorism. Because by resorting to violence to achieve his aims, the terrorist is acting in a manner that fundamentally undermines the liberal democratic order.

Liberal democracies are always works in progress. Their citizens do not expect for a day to come when the debaters fall silent because everyone agrees with one another as all are convinced of the rightness of one side. This is because liberal democracies are not founded on messianic aspirations to create a perfect society.

In contrast, totalitarian democracies - and totalitarian democrats -- do have a messianic temperament and a utopian mission to create a perfect society. And so its members do have hopes of ending debate and argument once and for all.

As Talmon explained in his 1952 classic, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, the totalitarian democratic model was envisioned by Jean Jacques Rousseau the philosophical godfather of the French Revolution. Rousseau believed that a group of anointed leaders could push a society towards perfection by essentially coercing the people to accept their view of right and wrong. Talmon drew a direct line between Rousseau and the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century - Nazism, fascism and communism.

Today, those who seek to silence conservative thinkers by making a criminal connection between our writings and the acts of a terrorist are doing so in pursuit of patently illiberal ends to say the least. If they can convince the public that our ideas cause the mass murder of children, then our voices will be silenced.

Another aspect of the same anti-liberal behavior is the tendency by many to pick and choose which sorts of terrorism are acceptable and which are unacceptable in accordance with the ideological justifications the terrorists give for their actions. The most recent notable example of this behavior is an interview that Norwegian Ambassador Svein Sevje gave to Maariv on Tuesday. Maariv asked Sevje whether in the wake of Breivik's terrorist attack Norwegians would be more sympathetic to the victimization of innocent Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.

Sevje said no, and explained, "We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo."

So in the mind of the illiberal Norwegians, terrorism is justified if the ideology behind it is considered justified. For them it is unacceptable for Breivik to murder Norwegian children because his ideology is wrong. But it is acceptable for Palestinians to murder Israeli children because their ideology is right.

There is only one point at which political philosophy merges into terrorism. That point is when political thinkers call on their followers to carry out acts of terrorism in the name of their political philosophy and they make this call with the reasonable expectation that their followers will fulfill their wishes. Political thinkers who fit this description include the likes of Muslim Brotherhood "spiritual" leader Yousef Qaradawi, Osama Bin Laden, Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, al Qaeda in Yemen leader Anwar Awlaki and other jihadist leaders.

These leaders are dangerous because they operate outside of the boundaries of democratic polemics. They do not care whether the wider public agrees with their views. Like Mao -- who murdered 70 million people -- they believe that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun not out of rational discourse.

Revealingly, many not particularly liberal Western democracies have granted these terrorist philosophers visas, and embraced them as legitimate thinkers. The hero's welcome Qaradawi enjoyed during his 2005 visit to Britain by then London mayor Ken Livingstone is a particularly vivid example of this practice. The illiberal trajectory British politics has veered onto was similarly demonstrated by the government's 2009 refusal to grant a visa to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Wilders has been demonized as an enemy of freedom for his criticism of Islamic totalitarianism.

The Left's attempts to link conservative writers, politicians and philosophers with Breivik are nothing new. The same thing happened in 1995, when the Left tried to blame rabbis and politicians for the sociopathic Yigal Amir's assassination of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The same thing happened in the US last winter with the Left's insistent attempts to link the psychotic Jared Loughner who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents, with Governor Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

And it is this tendency that most endangers the future of liberal democracies. If the Left is ever successful in its bid to criminalize ideological opponents and justify acts of terrorism against their opponents, their victory will destroy the liberal democratic foundations of Western civilization.



Bad economic news for America

And for the anti-business morons running the country

Fears that a recovery in the world’s biggest economy is running out of steam were heightened as official figures showed GDP in the US rising 1.3pc in the second quarter, against expectations of a 1.8pc rise.

In a chastening statement, the Commerce Department also downgraded first-quarter growth from an initial estimate of 1.9pc to just 0.4pc. The news helped the Dow to its biggest weekly decline in a year.

The Commerce Department also said household spending had risen at an annual rate of just 0.1pc in the second quarter, prompting fears that high unemployment and a lack of wage growth could mean any resurgence in consumer spending is unlikely to materialise at all in 2011.

“The economy is stuck in a very slow growth scenario,” said Julia Coronado, chief economist for BNP Paribas in New York. “Consumers are still very cautious and vulnerable. This is a very challenging report for policymakers.” That view was echoed by economist Nouriel Roubini: “ This isn’t a soft patch,” he said.

In a further blow to the economy, officials also revised down GDP numbers going back to 2003. The new figures showed the US economy contracted 5.1pc between the final quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009, compared with a previous reading of 4.1pc.

Volatility in stock markets came as figures from trade group Investment Company Institute showed that investors last week pulled more cash from money-market mutual funds than in any other week this year as fears grew over the debt situation.

US inflation figures also showed consumer prices, stripping out food and energy, climbing at 2.1pc between April and June, the fastest pace since the last quarter of 2009.

“This is the worst of all worlds for the Fed,” John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, told Bloomberg. “A little too much inflation, not enough growth, that is a tough scenario.”



The unfeeling psychopath is now getting ratted out even by his own supporters

Peggy Noonan

Nobody loves Obama. This is amazing because every president has people who love him, who feel deep personal affection or connection, who have a stubborn, even beautiful refusal to let what they know are just criticisms affect their feelings of regard. At the height of Bill Clinton's troubles there were always people who'd say, "Look, I love the guy." They'd often be smiling—a wry smile, a shrugging smile. Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama. There were people who loved George W. Bush when he was at his most unpopular, and they meant it and would say it. But people aren't that way about Mr. Obama. He has supporters and bundlers and contributors, he has voters, he may win. But his support is grim support. And surely this has implications.

The past few weeks I've asked Democrats who supported him how they feel about him. I got back nothing that showed personal investment. Here are the words of a hard-line progressive and wise veteran of the political wars: "I never loved Barack Obama. That said, among my crowd who did 'love' him, I can't think of anyone who still does." Why is Mr. Obama different from Messrs. Clinton and Bush? "Clinton radiated personality. As angry as folks got with him about Nafta or Monica, there was always a sense of genuine, generous caring." With Bush, "if folks were upset with him, he still had this goofy kind of personality that folks could relate to. You might think he was totally misguided but he seemed genuinely so. . . . Maybe the most important word that described Clinton and Bush but not Obama is 'genuine.'" He "doesn't exude any feeling that what he says and does is genuine."

Maybe Mr. Obama is living proof of the political maxim that they don't care what you know unless they know that you care. But the idea that he is aloof and so inspires aloofness may be too pat. No one was colder than FDR, deep down. But he loved the game and did a wonderful daily impersonation of jut-jawed joy. And people loved him.

The secret of Mr. Obama is that he isn't really very good at politics, and he isn't good at politics because he doesn't really get people. The other day a Republican political veteran forwarded me a hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. It read like politics as done by Martians. The "Analytics Department" is looking for "predictive Modeling/Data Mining" specialists to join the campaign's "multi-disciplinary team of statisticians," which will use "predictive modeling" to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. "We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions."

This wasn't the passionate, take-no-prisoners Clinton War Room of '92, it was high-tech and bloodless. Is that what politics is now? Or does the Obama re-election effort reflect the candidate and his flaws?

Mr. Obama seemed brilliant at politics when he first emerged in 2004. He understood the nation's longing for unity. We're not divided into red states and blue, he said, we're Big Purple, we can solve our problems together. Four years later he read the lay of the land perfectly—really, perfectly. The nation and the Democratic Party were tired of the Clinton machine. He came from nowhere and dismantled it. It was breathtaking. He went into the 2008 general election with a miraculously unified party and took down another machine, bundling up all the accrued resentment of eight years with one message: "You know the two losing wars and the economic collapse we've been dealing with? I won't do that. I'm not Bush."

The fact is, he's good at dismantling. He's good at critiquing. He's good at not being the last guy, the one you didn't like. But he's not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he's not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.

And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn't serious, he was only shrewd—and shrewdness wasn't enough. He demagogued the issue—no Social Security checks—until he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.


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

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


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


29 July, 2011

"Psycho-analysing" terrorist Breivik

There are by now innumerable psychological assessments of Breivik online. Practically every publication you log on to has one. And they are all rather laughable when one looks at the things upon which the various diagnoses are based:

Breivik played violent computer games. So do a billion other men. Breivik did not relate well to women. That's also true of millions of American men -- particularly if you ask American women. Breivik lived with his mother well into adulthood. That too is common these days. It's almost the norm in Italy and Japan. He liked dressing up and giving himself titles. So do the freemasons. And so it goes: Things that do not cause terrorism in millions of others suddenly caused terrorism in Breivik? What a heap of nonsense!

My Ph.D. is in psychology, my academic specialty is political psychology and I have had over 100 papers in that field published in the academic journals -- including papers on what would seem to be relevant phenomena, such as neo-Nazism and psychopathy. So can I do better? Perhaps. To make any diagnosis when you have never even met the person is a very bad start but I will try.

So, for starters, is Breivik mad? Is he insane? There is general agreement that he is not and I agree with that. He shows no signs of delusions and has normal reality contact. He is not psychotic.

The one glaringly salient fact about Breivik is that he is a one-off. People with broadly conservative views are almost never terrorists. Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh is the nearest comparable case and there are considerable differences beteeen him and Breivik. Breivik is much more intellectual, for a start.

And that one salient fact is in my view the key to Breivik. Terrorism is not the product of personality. It is ideologically motivated. Personality plays some part but ideology is the overwhelming influence behind terrorist deeds. Nearly two years ago, U.S. army Major Nidal Hasan stood up at Ft. Hood shouting "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" -- before opening fire methodically from two handguns, killing 13 and wounding 32. Very similar behaviour to Breivik and with the motive being clearly ideological, in his case the ideology of fundamentalist Islam.

And there is no denying where Breivik got most of his ideas. He got them from fairly mainstream conservative sources. What he says in his manifesto about the Left and about Islam could be duplicated from many mainstream conservative sources. Indeed, he quotes such sources at length in his manifesto.

So how come hundreds of millions of conservatives have ideas similar to Breivik but only Breivik used them as a basis for a terrorist attack?

To answer that we have to move from ideology to sociology. I taught sociology for some years in a major Australian university so perhaps I have a few ideas in that department too.

And what seems to be the key sociological context is Norwegian society itself. Norwegians are very self-righteous and politically correct and one result of that is that Norway's penal code (Straffeloven, section 135 a) prohibits "hate speech" and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or ridicule someone or that incite hatred, persecution or contempt for someone due to their skin colour, ethnic origin, homosexual life style or orientation or, religion or philosophy of life. So criticism of Muslims is illegal in Norway.

And yet, of all Western countries, Muslim aggression against the host country would seem to be at its peak in Norway and Sweden, two of the world's most permissive countries. Permissiveness is NOT the key to restraint and as the old proverb has it: "Give them an inch and they will take a mile". Because Norway and Sweden not only put up with Muslim lawlessness but actually protect it from view, the misbehaviour has escalated in those countries to quite appalling levels. Rapes in those countries in recent years have almost entirely been the doing of Muslims, for instance.

And the average Norwegian is not oblivious to that, for all the clampdown on mentioning it by Norway's Leftist government. Norwegian experts say that Breivik's attitude to Muslims is in fact common among ordinary Norwegians. Leftist reality denial doesn't work for long.

So the pressure towards retaliation against Muslims is in proportion to the Muslim outrages committed. Muslim behavior is at a peak of unacceptability in Norway and that generates a peak head of steam for retaliation against Muslims. Muslims are not as indulgently treated in other countries (even Britain locks some Muslim haters up) so their behaviour is better and that in turn means that resentment against them does not build up so much.

So Breivik was simply the point at which the Norwegian dam burst. When any dam bursts it is always possible in retrospect to say where the weak point was but that is rarely apparent in advance. The point at which the dam bursts can be essentially random.

So we come back to the question: Why was Breivik the weak point? I think it was essentially random. Other Norwegians would have eventually done something similar if Breivik had not.

One thing that I do notice, however, is that a lot of his mental characteristics seem rather adolescent. So we have adolescent mental characteristics combined with a very capable adult brain. And adolescents make great warriors, warriors who are largely heedless of their own wellbeing in fighting for what they are told is the common good. The undoubted heroism of the Hitler Youth in the closing stages of WWII is an obvious example of that and armies generally do recruit heavily from teenagers.

And it is clear that Breivik saw himself as self-sacrificing in what he did. He acted for what he saw as the general wellbeing by attacking the protectors of Muslims at their weakest point: Their children.

And I see no reason to doubt the account Breivik gives of his motivation: It was self-sacrifice for the common good, a very Norwegian motivation. He wanted Norwegians freed from the very real oppressive burden of their Muslim minority.


Ideals Versus Realities

Thomas Sowell

Many of us never thought that the Republicans would hold tough long enough to get President Obama and the Democrats to agree to a budget deal that does not include raising income tax rates. But they did -- and Speaker of the House John Boehner no doubt desires much of the credit for that.

Despite the widespread notion that raising tax rates automatically means collecting more revenue for the government, history says otherwise. As far back as the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that the government received a very similar amount of revenue from high-income earners at low tax rates as it did at tax rates several times as high.

How was that possible? Because high tax rates drive investors into tax shelters, such as tax-exempt bonds. Today, as a result of globalization and electronic transfers of money, "the rich" are even less likely to stand still and be sheared like sheep, when they can easily send their money overseas, to places where tax rates are lower.

Money sent overseas creates jobs overseas -- and American workers cannot transfer themselves overseas to get those jobs as readily as investors can send their money there.

All the overheated political rhetoric about needing to tax "millionaires and billionaires" is not about bringing in more revenue to the government. It is about bringing in more votes for politicians who stir up class warfare with rhetoric.

Now that the Republicans seem to have gotten the Democrats off their higher taxes kick, the question is whether a minority of the House Republicans will refuse to pass the Boehner legislation that could lead to a deal that will spare the country a major economic disruption and spare the Republicans from losing the 2012 elections by being blamed -- rightly or wrongly -- for the disruptions.

Is the Boehner legislation the best legislation possible? Of course not! You don't get your heart's desire when you control only one house of Congress and face a presidential veto.

The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available. It is not idealism to ignore the limits of one's power. Nor is it selling out one's principles to recognize those limits at a given time and place, and get the best deal possible under those conditions.

That still leaves the option of working toward getting a better deal later, when the odds are more in your favor.

There would not be a United States of America today if George Washington's army had not retreated and retreated and retreated, in the face of an overwhelmingly more powerful British military force bent on annihilating Washington's troops.

Later, when the conditions were right for attack, General Washington attacked. But he would have had nothing to attack with if he had wasted his troops in battles that would have wiped them out.

Similar principles apply in politics. As Edmund Burke said, more than two centuries ago: "Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors."

What does "rational" mean? At its most basic, it means an ability to make a ratio, as with "rational numbers" in mathematics. More broadly, it means an ability to weigh one thing against another.

There are a lot of things to weigh against each other, not only as regards the economy, but also what the consequences to this nation would be to have Barack Obama get re-elected and go further down the dangerous path he has put us on, at home and abroad. Is it worth that risk to make a futile symbolic vote in Congress?

One of the good things about the Tea Party movement is that it resisted the temptation to actually form a third political party, which has been an exercise in futility, time and time again, under the American electoral system.

But, if the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party becomes just a rule-or-ruin minority, then they might just as well have formed a separate third party and gone on to oblivion.

Writers can advocate things that have no chance at the moment, for their very writing about those things persuasively can make them possible at some future date. But to adopt the same approach as an elected member of Congress risks losing both the present and the future.



'Swift Boat' Veteran Who Defended Kerry Stripped of Silver Star

One crook defends another

A Vietnam veteran who defended Sen. John Kerry against "Swift Boat" attacks in the 2004 presidential race has been stripped of his Silver Star by the Navy -- more than a year after he was sentenced to prison on a child pornography charge.
But the Silver Star wasn't stripped from Wade Sanders because of the child porn conviction, per se.

Military officials told Fox News the medal was revoked in 2010 after Navy investigators looked into his record and found administrative errors surrounding how the award was created. Sources said Sanders was responsible for those administrative errors and may have lied.

The case indirectly stemmed from the child porn conviction because the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) only looked into his record after the child pornography charge.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced his decision in a memo last August, though it has only now received greater media attention.
"Had the subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself been known to the secretary of the Navy in 1992, those facts would have prevented the award of the Silver Star medal to Wade R. Sanders," Mabus said in the memo, without going into detail.

The decision is the latest blow to Sanders, a decorated Navy veteran who in 2004 stood onstage as Kerry accepted the Democratic nomination for president -- Sanders was among several Vietnam veterans who defended the nominee against criticism of his service by other "Swift Boat" members.

Several years after the campaign, Sanders was hit with the child pornography case in federal court in southern California.
An FBI agent claimed to have found several images and videos of underage naked girls on his computer. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2009 to more than three years in prison. At the time, Kerry and others officials presented letters to the court testifying on behalf of his character and service.

Sanders' lawyers had argued that he obtained the graphic images because he was doing research on child pornography. Further, they claimed he was driven to conduct that research in part because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He's not a pedophile," Knut Johnson, his defense attorney, told FoxNews.com. "Wade did a lot of great things for his country and his community."

It's unclear exactly what the justification was for the Silver Star in 1992, though a 2009 court document said it was awarded for "gallantry in action."

Sanders also had been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. According to military officials, those awards were found to be legitimate.




New York Times Reader Kills Dozens in Norway: "The New York Times wasted no time in jumping to conclusions about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who staged two deadly attacks in Oslo last weekend, claiming in the first two paragraphs of one story that he was a "gun-loving," "right-wing," "fundamentalist Christian," opposed to "multiculturalism." True, in one lone entry on Breivik's gaseous 1,500-page manifesto, "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," he calls himself "Christian." But unfortunately he also uses a great number of other words to describe himself, and these other words make clear that he does not mean "Christian" as most Americans understand the term. (Incidentally, he also cites The New York Times more than a half-dozen times.)"

Shut down the Postal Service: "The Postal Service has announced that it is closing 3,700 post offices across the country due to financial troubles. I’ve got a better idea. How about closing the Postal Service itself and turning over the delivery of first-class mail entirely to the private sector? After all, the Postal Service is a monopoly. That means the government has granted it an exclusive privilege to deliver first-class mail without fear of competition."

Bollywood vs. jihad: "Islamic fundamentalists have long worried about the threat that Bollywood poses to their puritanical demands. ... They have ample reason to be worried: About 3 billion people, or half the planet, watches Bollywood, and many of them live in the Islamic world. By depicting assimilated, modernized Muslims, Bollywood -- without even trying -- deromanticizes and thereby disarms fanatical Islam. If you can have Munni and Sheila in this world, why on earth would you want to strap bombs to your waist and blow yourself up for the sake of 72 theoretical virgins?"

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

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


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


28 July, 2011

People from the higher latitudes of the world have bigger brains

I reproduce below the results of a small study of an old skull collection. Given the limits of the basic data, the generalizability of the findings is uncertain but they are interesting nonetheless -- in that they confirm other findings about the effect of latitude on IQ.

The authors were apparently rather embarrassed by their findings so they have presented their findings in a very politically correct way. A lot of the presentation is blatantly speculative and certainly over-interpreted. They talk, for instance, about Arctic brains in blithe indifference to the fact that they had zero data on Arctic brains! So I reproduce below only the more factual bits.

The finding that eyes are bigger in Northern latitudes is a genuine contribution to knowledge but saying that bigger eyes lie behind larger brain size is tendentious. The larger brain of the North is much more likely to be a result of the generally greater survival challenge in Northern latitudes.

In support of that it may be noted that the spectacular visual acuity of Australian Aborigines is found among a people who tend to have somewhat smaller brains than Europeans.

It should be noted that the present "native" population of the British Isles is of peri-Baltic origin (North German and Scandinavian) so should be at the high end of brain size. The authors below deny that greater brain size indicates greater intelligence but ignore most of the literature on the subject in doing so. Most research indicates a positive correlation of .30+

Students of ancient history will also be aware that Northerners have been invading the South for a very long time -- and usually leaving some genes behind. Germans have been invading Italy since the days of the Roman Republic (i.e. before the Roman empire) so Teutonic genes are undoubtedly widely spread throughout Europe today. So Northern brains too are undoubtably to be found throughout Europe these days.
People who live in high latitude regions have bigger eyeballs and brains than other individuals, according to new research.

The increase in brain and eye size allows people to see better in places that receive less light than areas closer to the equator, according to the new study, published in the latest issue of the journal Royal Society Biology Letters.

"People living at high latitudes have greater visual acuity than those who live at the equator," added Dunbar, who is head of the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford.

"The whole point is that they need to have better vision to compensate for the lower light levels at high latitudes, as indicated by the evidence we provide that visual acuity under ambient/natural light conditions remains constant with latitude."

For the study, Dunbar and colleague Eiluned Pearce measured the skulls of 55 individuals from 12 different populations, focusing on the dimensions for orbital volume and cranial capacity. The people lived about 200 years ago. Their skulls are now part of collections housed at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the University of Cambridge's Duckworth Collection.

The researchers found significant positive relationships between absolute latitude, orbital volume and brain size. Eyeballs varied in size from around a quarter to a third of an ounce in volume.

The brains, in turn, ranged from about 40.6 ounces for Micronesians, on the low end of the size spectrum, and 50.2 ounces for Scandinavians on the high end.

As for the larger eyeballs, they permit smaller proportions of images to fall upon each photoreceptor field so that more details can be distinguished. The amount of light hitting Earth's surface as well as minimum day length decrease with increasing absolute latitude, so people living in such areas need the visual boost.



Norway could learn from Israel

Norway is in the top rank of nations in the number of books printed per capita and it is dedicated to encouraging democracy, responding to climate change and protecting human rights.

Oslo’s quality of life is so high that it has been recognised repeatedly by the United Nations as the best place to live in the world. The United Nations placed Norway at the top of women’s rights and the Norwegians like to exercise their influence through international activism predicated on a collective vision of the global good society.

This ultra-secularized and anti-nationalistic beacon has always been proud of its “lack of prejudice” and for decades it sponsored sex education, health care and freedom of expression. It’s a country that liked to call herself a “moral superpower”, that not only ranked among the world’s handful of richest countries, but also provided the world’s most generous welfare state.

With all this solidarity, why did nobody try to stop the killer, despite the island being crowded with 600 boys and girls in the same age category of the average Israeli who starts military service in the IDF? Is it possible that the Norwegian pacifist and tolerant utopia devitalized its population from the ability to fight back darkness and terrorism?

Only when the police finally got to the island (over 40 minutes after they were called) did the killer surrender.

The answer is deep and hard to measure. Have a look at Norway, many Europeans used to say, listen to their words: we have eradicated wars, nationalism and religion; we do not wage war (in Norway the policemen don’t carry guns); we negotiate; we are the moral country; we all want to make the world a better place.

A comparison can be made with Israel, a country so despised by Oslo’s governments and Norwegian elites and so similar to Oslo. Not by chance, the only two places in Oslo where the security measures stand out are the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community buildings.

Yet the Jewish State was recently ranked the 7th-most happy country in the world, just a few positions after Norway. The Israeli citizens live an average of 80 years, just like in placid and wealthy Norway.

Like Norway, Israel has a history of scintillating enlightenment.

Like Norway, Israel has one of the highest production of scientific publications per capita in the world.

Like Norway, Israel is the second in the world for publication of new books.

Like Norway, Israel is the source of medical and scientific discoveries that are helping to change the course of history.

Like Norway, Israel has the highest proportion of university graduates and Ph.D.s in the world, per capita.

Like Norway, Israel is home to about ten Nobel laureates.

But in Israel, a mass terror spree like in Utoeya would have never happened the way it did. At the doors of supermarkets and department stores, theaters and cinemas, schools and synagogues, during the Second Intifada, an Israeli guard always looked through the bags of any suspect person who wanted to enter. Dozens of Israeli bodyguards have been killed or wounded while trying to protect other human beings, an Israeli brand of valor that has nothing to do with the myth-soaked heroism familiar to us from the propaganda of European fascism and communism.

It is not about gargantuan deeds by superhuman champions; it is family- and home-oriented, and rather intimate in tone. It has the face of Haim Smadar, a Tunisian Jew with a kindly smile and a big salt-and-pepper mustache who could have been an ordinary guard in Utoeya. He was adored by the parents of the autistic children at the school where he had been a guard for years. He was good with children, and had five of his own at home, two of them hearing-impaired. It wasn’t easy to make ends meet, so Haim took side jobs to supplement his income, like the one at the supermarket in Jerusalem.

Haim was a humble and quiet man. Life didn’t smile on him; it was hard to raise a deaf son and a daughter with hearing problems. But he was happy. He was killed by a suicide bomber who had the same dark smile of the Norwegian killer.

But Haim Smadar, with his own body, also saved the life of the two hundred Israelis in the supermarket.

So did young Natan Sendaka, an Ethiopian born immigrant, one of seven children. A graduate of Kfar Hanoar Hadati religious youth village near Haifa and a Border Patrol soldier, he jumped on a suicide bomber on a busy Jerusalem street as the terrorist put his hand to his belt. Natan absorbed the shock of the detonation in his lungs. His youth enabled the tissue to regenerate and although limping and scarred, he is full of hope and joy.

David Shapira, young father and army officer on leave, shot the terrorist who was machine gunning the unarmed Merkaz HaRav yeshiva students studying in the library. He ran across the street to the yeshiva when he heard shots, so did another citizen who shot at the murderer from the roof. Eight were killed, but it could have been eighty if not for their valor, had they hid or run away.

That’s the saddest question that separates Europe and Israel: are we today, we Europeans, really ready to consider our citizens more important than ourselves or our families?

The Jewish State created a new kind of citizen-defender as last line of defense. In the tiny island of Utoeya, that symbol of European weakness, nobody tried to save the innocent youngsters.

The world has a lot to learn from the tiny, besieged and boycotted Jewish State.

The Israeli children in wheelchairs, the disfigured victims of every age, the legions of mourners for family members and friends lost in a moment’s horror, the babies who have had their faces burned or their hands rendered useless, the trembling people who go insane and don’t want to live anymore because they are haunted by the sound of the explosion, are a living reminder of what is evil and why a modern democracy must stop it.



Doubling Down on Class Warfare

In the course of negotiations over the debt limit, President Barack Obama’s rejection of his own bipartisan White House debt commission’s recommendations has become complete. But of greater concern is his decision to double down on class warfare instead of pursuing the policy paths that lead to growth that benefits all.

The consensus position of the president’s fiscal commission was support for tax reforms that would create a broader base of payers paired with lower rates. The recipe makes sense--a broader base corrects the problem of too few Americans having skin in the game, while lower rates encourage the economic and job growth the nation so desperately needs.

In 1997, less than 20 percent of U.S. households owed no taxes to the federal government--today, 47 percent have no tax liability. This is a problem, and unless it’s corrected, the nation’s future is a picture of continued conflict between those who receive entitlements and those who fund them--between workers and those who do not work.

The left has no interest in ending this deadly cycle. That’s readily evident when you examine the deficit plan from the Center for American Progress, George Soros’s think tank in name only (it spends its days working to support whatever the White House wants it to). It is based on incredible expectations for the amount of blood one can drain from a stone.

CAP’s plan assumes tax revenue of 23.8 percent of GDP, achieved almost entirely through a swathe of new and higher taxes on high earners and corporations. Serious economists and historians laugh at these growth, tax, and revenue expectations as simply unprecedented in American history. As one economist pointed out to me, CAP is basing its solution for America’s fiscal future on the assumption that something will happen that has never happened before.

When something that farfetched is proposed, it usually indicates ideological social engineering, not analysis about what the nation truly needs. Republicans should know--they made the same mistake in the previous decade, and they are the most to blame for the current shortage of taxpayers.

One of the largest reasons for the growth in the percentage of Americans who pay no taxes is the increase in the child tax credit under George W. Bush. The initial $400 credit, created in 1998 under Speaker Newt Gingrich, was meant to be a small measure to lighten the tax load on working families. The credit accelerated dramatically in the next decade, with Bush more than doubling it at the prodding of social conservatives--a perfect example of social engineering.

The upshot? The number of taxpaying households has decreased steadily. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation reports in 2000–2004 alone the expanded child credit increased total nonpayers by 10.5 million, a 32 percent jump. The credit is the primary reason for the problem of too few people paying into the system.

Both parties use the tax code to remold society to their preference. Where Republicans erred in unintentionally increasing the number of nonpayers, Democrats are now making the same mistake on an ideologically opposite and much grander scale.

The left knows increasing taxes on job creators suppresses hiring and economic growth. Even President Obama admitted that back in 2009 in explaining why he would not propose new taxes during a recession.

Now the president has gone back on his word. There are no practical reasons to do so. Thus his decision must be based on an ideological conviction that class warfare and permanently larger government are good for the nation. The dismal economic numbers month after month are the direct result of this conviction, and Obama’s current gambit will make things even worse.




PayPal boycott chops $1 billion off eBay stock: "Following the announcement of a boycott by hacktivist groups 'Anonymous' and 'LulzSec,' shares in PayPal parent company eBay plunged by over $1 billion in value before perking back up as opportunistic investors bought into the company in hopes of a deal. ... It was launched in response to the company's refusal to send donations to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. PayPal suspended all transactions headed toward WikiLeaks last year, in the weeks following their groundbreaking publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables."

What we don’t know about history can hurt us: "What liberates oppressed people? I was taught it's often American power. Just the threat of our military buildup defeated the Soviet Union, and our troops in the Middle East will create islands of freedom. Unlikely, says historian Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States"

All talk, no walk: "President Obama portrays himself as the nonpartisan adult in the room in the struggle over raising the debt limit. In his nationally televised speech Monday, he placed himself above Washington’s 'three-ring circus,' as someone who has 'put politics aside' and is desperate for a bipartisan “compromise” between Democrats and Republicans. But is this the role Obama has actually played over the past few weeks, as the August 2 deadline imposed by his administration nears? Let’s look at the record."

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

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


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


27 July, 2011

Ratbag Liberal Theologian Blames Christianity and Conservatism for Breivik without even reading what he himself said about his beliefs

Some chapter headings in Breivik's manifesto she seems to have missed. Some of the chapters were not written by Breivik himself but he included them approvingly:

Globalised capitalism – another reason for the Fall of Europe

Is Capitalism Always a Force for Freedom?

Big Business, a Driving Force behind Immigration

Thou Shalt Hate Christianity and Judaism

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a senior fellow at the left-wing Center for American Progress and a board member for Faith in Public Life (a progressive, religious organization), believes that Christianity — and right-leaning political beliefs — are responsible for the tragic Oslo rampage. In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled, "When Christianity Becomes Lethal," Thistlethwaite lectures readers about the perils of "extreme Christianity" and the failure of believers to see the connections between their beliefs and associated violence.

Before continuing, it would probably be worth noting that Thistlethwaite is the former president of Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) and a preacher ordained through the United Church of Christ (UCC). The infamous Rev. Jeremiah Wright has also taught at CTS and is, of course, ordained by UCC as well.

You can read a piece in which Thistlethwaite defends Rev. Wright’s preaching style here, but providing even more of a backdrop to frame her views beyond this probably isn’t needed. Let’s get back to her controversial take on Christianity‘s involvement in the world’s latest terroristic tragedy.

In her lede, Thistlethwaite plays up the notion that the Norwegian terorist Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian. In fact, her entire piece hinges on this notion. She writes, "He has been described by police there as a ‘Christian fundamentalist.’" After attempting to firmly convince readers that Breivik was, indeed, a follow of Jesus, she explains:
Christians should not turn away from this information, but try to come to terms with the temptations to violence in the theologies of right-wing Christianity.

Breivik’s chosen targets were political in nature, emblematic of his hatred of "multiculturalism" and "left-wing political ideology." This does not mean that the Christian element in his ultra-nationalist views is irrelevant. The religious and political views in right-wing ideologies are mutually reinforcing, and ignoring or dismissing the role played by certain kinds of Christian theology in such extremism is distorting.

She goes on to explain that Christians are all-too-reluctant to see the connections between their faith and extreme violence. Rather than delving into these issues, Thistlethwaite says that Christians often dismiss horrific violence that is perpetuated by other believers as "madness." Christians should be more willing, in her opinion, to accept the inherent violence and then deal with its impact and roots.

It doesn‘t take long for Thistlethwaite’s true intentions to emerge. She isn’t simply saying that Christianity is to blame. She is taking the opportunity to attach conservative values to this particular maniac’s actions, blaming both his faith and political affiliation for his violent behavior:
…I believe that certain theological constructions of Christianity "tempt" individuals and groups to violence; combined with right-wing political ideologies, these views can give a divine justification to the use of lethal force…

When I consider the theological perspectives that "tempt" some Christians to justify hatred and even violence against others, such as, in this case in Norway, the following perspectives seem especially prevalent: 1) making supremacist claims that Christianity is the "only" truth; 2) holding the related view that other religions are not merely wrong, but "evil" and "of the devil"; 3) being highly selective in the use of biblical literalism, for example ignoring the justice claims of the prophets and using biblical texts that seem to justify violence…

Thistlethwaite goes on even further to list her reasoning. Yet, if these elements are universal, one wonders why it is virtually impossible for individuals to list a multitude of radical Christian murderers who have acted similarly? If these values are so widespread in Christianity, where are all of the other Breiviks? This is not to say that people who call themselves Christian are blameless and have never committed violence. Rather, it is intended to disprove the author‘s use of an anecdotal example to apply universalities that simply don’t exist.

The way in which this article is written appears to indicate that this is a widespread problem — and that those who embrace conservative values, while espousing Christianity, are at a high risk of either exploding or imploding. This, based on both anecdotal and concrete evidence simply doesn’t stand as meritorious. Thistlethwaite choses to conclude her piece with the following:
It is absolutely critical that Christians not turn away from the Christian theological elements in such religiously inspired terrorism. We must acknowledge these elements in Christianity and forthrightly reject these extremist interpretations of our religion. How can we ask Muslims to do the same with Islam, if we won’t confront extremists distorting Christianity?

Denny Burk, a Bible professor at Boyce College and a blogger, differentiates between "cultural" and "religious" Christianity, debunking the notion that Breivik is the latter (Thistlethwaite’s theories are built on the premise that he is, indeed, a religious Christian):
Contrary to early reports, Anders Behring Breivik is not a Christian. In fact in his 1,518 page manifesto, the perpetrator of the atrocities in Norway has specifically disavowed any real commitment to Christ. In his own words:
A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian (p. 1307).

Fox News‘ Bill O’Reilly also took issue with the Christian label that has been applied to the mass murder. Below, watch him discuss the controversy on his show on Monday night

It’s surprising that Thistlethwaite, a professor who is purportedly an expert in religious matters, would distort information so freely. Perhaps she failed to read Breivik’s own words, which seem to disprove her perplex theories on Christianity’s ability, when applied through political lenses she dislikes, to incite violence.



Breivik's charge of deadly provocation is false

By Keith Windschuttle -- who is the editor of Quadrant, an Australian conservative magazine -- one of the many publications quoted by Breivik

It took just two days after Australians awoke on Saturday morning to the terrible news of the mass murder in Norway for the left-wing commentariat to start exploiting the event for political capital.

On Monday, July 25, Aron Paul in New Matilda said the massacre was not only a manifestation of one man's troubled psyche but of "an increasingly toxic political culture plagued by incivility and extremist rhetoric". Anders Breivik should not be dismissed as a lone madman, Paul wrote. Breivik's statement that he killed because "we must do our duty by decimating cultural Marxism" revealed the alleged source of his motivation. These words did not originate in the terrorist's own mind, Paul argued, "but were planted there with the help of poisonous political discourses which have enthusiastic proponents here in Australia".

Among the ideological culprits Paul listed was Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt. Pundits such as Bolt were "masters of sowing fear and indignation among their followers -- and then threatening to unleash that anger". Our greatest living historian was also implicated: "It is the old Geoffrey Blainey argument: if you dare to dismantle White Australia, then White Australians will riot in the streets." The magazine I edit, Quadrant, was more culpable than most because of "the deliberately provocative language with which Quadrant and other right-wing forums are awash".

The next day the Crikey website joined the fray. According to Guy Rundle, Breivik was not alone but represented "the armed wing of hysterical Right commentary". Rundle advised conservative writers to reflect on "the role that a decade-long discourse of hysterical commentary on immigration and culture in Europe played in forming the thinking of killer Breivik".

The first thing to note is that most of this commentary is completely false. I read Bolt regularly and, while he spends a lot of time and provides much amusement exposing the hypocrisy and sloppy thinking of left-wing politicians and intellectuals, I have yet to see him conjuring up fear and indignation. The charge against Blainey is pure invention. In his critique of the continuation of high immigration during the recession of the early 1980s he never discussed the long-defunct White Australia policy, let alone predicted race riots in its defence.

However, yesterday morning an ABC journalist informed me some of my own writings had been quoted in Breivik's 1500-page manifesto, "2083: A European Declaration of Independence". Since then, this fact has apparently been repeated on several online sites and innumerable times over Twitter, accompanied in many cases by quite gleeful comments celebrating some kind of victory over the forces of conservative darkness.

Since learning of this, I have certainly been reflecting on whether I or my magazine can really be held responsible for the events of last Friday. Have I ever used "deliberately provocative language" that might have caused Breivik to take up a rifle and shoot more than 80 unarmed teenagers in cold blood? It is a very disturbing accusation.

Breivik quotes several statements I made in a paper to a conference in New Zealand in February 2006, titled The Adversary Culture: The Perverse Anti-Westernism of the Cultural Elite. This is his version of what I said:
"For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many 'ways of knowing' . . . Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different . . .

The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own . . .

The concepts of free [inquiry] and free expression and the right to criticise entrenched beliefs are things we take so much for granted they are almost part of the air we breathe. We need to recognise them as distinctly Western phenomena. They were never produced by Confucian or Hindu culture . . . But without this concept, the world would not be as it is today. There would have been no Copernicus, Galileo, Newton or Darwin."

This is a truncated version that leaves out a great deal of context but it is not inaccurate or misleading. I made every one of these statements and I still stand by them. In this and similar papers I have provided numerous examples to establish the case.

Having read them several times again, I am still at a complete loss to find any connection between them and the disgusting and cowardly actions of Breivik. The charge that any of this is a provocation to murder is unsustainable.

Anyone who goes through the rest of the killer's manifesto will find him quoting several other Australians approvingly, including John Howard, Peter Costello and George Pell.

Nothing they say in defence of Christianity or about the problems of integrating Muslims into Australian society could be read by anyone as a provocation to murder.

Perhaps I should qualify that last statement since several left-wing intellectuals, including journalists David Marr and Marian Wilkinson in their book Dark Victory and playwright Hannie Rayson in Two Brothers, actually accused members of the Howard government of having the blood of boatpeople on their hands.

In contrast, the quality that stands out in the work of most conservative writers today is restraint. Even though the stakes in the present conflict over multiculturalism in the West are very high -- with the concepts of free speech, the rule of law, equality of women and freedom of religion all open to debate -- most conservatives have respected the rules of evidence and the avoidance of ad hominem abuse.

Their left-wing opponents, however, as the Norwegian tragedy has demonstrated yet again, will resort to the lowest tactics to shut down debate they do not like and to kill off arguments they cannot refute by any other means.




Free market anti-corporatism: "To favour a genuine free market is to be directly opposed to the interests of big businesses. As a libertarian, I want a system where any firm, however big it is, can go bust, and where market entry is easy and cheap so new players can compete with the old ones. Businesses that already exist don't want this free system -- they want protection from new entrants, to avoid being competed out of business. Businesses don’t want free markets, because in a free market, they’re vulnerable to competition."

Wikileaks revisited: "The political establishment decided to dislike, discredit and destroy Julian Assange not because he is a bad journalist — but precisely because he is a good journalist who exposes bad leaders. The campaign to destroy Wikileaks last year was never about logic, but creating a bulletproof narrative to protect establishment interests. Wikileaks has said it takes great care to not release any information that might actually harm innocent parties, as any decent journalist outfit would. Today, it continues to do much of the work the mainstream media won’t — even as those same outlets now cite Wikileaks as a respectable source."

Tim Pawlenty’s illusion of dullness: "He recites his achievements: In Minnesota, he 'took spending from historic highs to historic lows.' During his time, it was one of the first states to implement merit pay for public school teachers. He curbed public employee compensation 'before it was cool.' He got reforms in state workers' health care coverage that empowered patients and reduced costs. The list goes on, but the point has been made. 'I'm not just up here flapping my jaws,' Pawlenty informs the crowd. 'I did it.' Believe it or not, his claims largely check out."

Health exchange regulation and state implementation: "The massive and complex package of proposed health exchange rules released recently by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services illustrates once again why states should think twice before implementing the exchanges mandated by President Barack Obama’s health care law. The announced requirements offer more questions than answers – and HHS says further regulations are yet to come."

Plugged-in poverty: "The Census Bureau reported last fall that 43 million Americans — one in seven of us — were poor. But what is poverty in America today? ... The typical poor family has at least two color TVs, a VCR, and a DVD player. One-third have a wide-screen, plasma, or LCD TV. And the typical poor family with children has a video-game system such as Xbox or PlayStation."

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

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


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


26 July, 2011

Another potshot at conservative IQ

This won't detain us long. It's an abstract of an article by former Yugoslav psychologist Lazar Stankov. Considering its poor quality and dogmatic conclusion, it is rather a surprise that it got published in Intelligence (37, 2009, 294–304), which is a respectable academic journal.
Conservatism and cognitive ability


Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

The "sample" is of course laughable and provides no basis for generalizing to any known population. Its representativeness is unknown. If the findings suggest any inferences at all, they may tell us that only dumb conservatives need to go to community colleges but even some smart Leftists need to, perhaps because they were less conscientious during their high school studies.


Al Jazeera Op-Ed Compares Glenn Beck to Al Qaeda Terrorist Over Norway Massacre‏

Al Jazeera accusing someone of being a terrorist while they encourage kids to become suicide bombers, amazing

Remember when conservatives were blamed for the massive shooting in Arizona in January? Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin were among the scapegoats. And while the U.S. media hasn’t yet pointed the finger at popular American conservatives, one outlet has just published an op-ed piece doing just that. Which outlet? The White House’s favorite foreign news source, Al Jazeera.

The op-ed, posted on Al Jazeera’s website on Sunday, is the work of Ahmed Moor. The outlet calls him “a Palestinian-American freelance journalist based in Cairo“ who ”was born in the Gaza Strip, Palestine.” What it doesn’t say, but what is clear in the piece, is that he’s not a fan of Glenn Beck.

He opens his article by decrying “right-wing propaganda“ and ”reactionary bigotry:”
The Norwegian terrorist who murdered more than ninety innocent civilians – many of whom were teenagers – did not act alone. Or rather, he acted within a cultural and political context that legitimises his fearful and hate-infested worldview. It is now clear that Anders Behring Breivik was exposed to large amounts of right-wing propaganda. This tragedy underlines the urgency with which normal people around the world must combat fundamentalist nationalists and chauvinists wherever they may be. But it also demonstrates the extent to which reactionary bigotry has infected mainstream thought.

What kind of “right-wing propaganda?“ How about ”right-wing zealots” like Glenn Beck who, according to Moor, is comparable to American-born Al Qaeda operative Anwar Al-Awlaki:
[...] But the combatants are not Islam and the West. Instead, the war is between the normal, sane people of the world and the right-wing zealots who see doom, destruction, hellfire and God’s Will at every turn.

Anders Behring Breivik, Mohammed Atta and Baruch Goldstein are all cut from the same rotten cloth. Anwar Al-Awlaki and Glenn Beck – the peddlers of the faith – all share the same core afflictions.

These men are insecure, violently inclined, and illiberal. The outside world scares them. They hate homosexuals and strong women. For them, difference is a source of insecurity. Their values are militarism, conformism, chauvinism and jingoism. Worst of all they seek to pressure us into compliance while they work frantically to destroy themselves – and the rest of us with them.

The accusation that Beck is somehow responsible for the Norway attacks is laughable. Beck has never expressed a hate toward homosexuals or women, and certainly doesn’t advocate violence (one of his greatest heros is Ghandi). He regularly calls for peace and even held a non-political event in Washington, D.C. last year to encourage people to find God.

So how absurd is the charge? Well, even Al Jazeera made sure to keep some distance from the claim. At the bottom of its op-ed (as with all its op-eds), the outlet posted the following message: "The views expressed in this article are the author‘s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy".

But could this be a veiled attack on Beck for his support for Israel? Beck has been an ardent support of Israel’s right to exist in the face of pressure from Palestinians who accuse the country of “occupation.” That has made him a regular target.

Considering Moor is originally from the Gaza Strip — one of the hotly-contested territories in Israel — is this a chance to demonize Beck ahead of his upcoming Restoring Courage event in the Holy Land?

In 2010, Moor regularly penned anti-Israel op-eds for the Huffington Post, including “Israel Cannot be Both Jewish and Democratic” and “Zionism Is Not Judaism.”



Norwegian Killer Admired Obama

In its online edition, British left-leaning newspaper The Guardian has released an article which maintains that the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik was in communication with the British anti-Islamic group known as the English Defence League (EDL). The article states that Breivik:
“boasted online about his discussions with the far right English Defence League and other anti-Islamic European organisations.”
His claims had appeared on various Scandinavian online forums, including a Norwegian forum called “Nordisk” which is described by the Guardian as “a site frequented by neo-Nazis, far right radicals and Islamophobes since 2009.” The Guardian continues:
‘Breivik had talked admiringly about conversations he had had with unnamed English Defence League members and the organisation Stop the Islamification of Europe over the success of provocative street actions leading to violence.
"I have on some occasions had discussions with SIOE and EDL and recommended them to use certain strategies," he wrote two years ago.
"The tactics of the EDL are now to 'lure' an overreaction from the Jihad Youth/Extreme-Marxists, something they have succeeded in doing several times already." Contacted about the allegation by email by last night the EDL had not answered.’
Another website on which Breivik published his opinions is Document.no, an anti-Islamic Norwegian website which has published all of the comments made by Breivik. He posted on this site as “Anders Behring.” These posts can be accessed in a “Bing” translation.
Behring/Breivik states there, on September 14, 2009:
The pan-European/US environment around Robert Spencer, Fjordman, Atlas, Analekta + 50 other EU/US bloggers (and Facebook groups) is the epicenteret of political analysis and has been there a few years...
... the EDL PROVIDED/how to create outlines SIOE [for how] such an organization will look like. We can develop the f example SIOE or create a new one. The EDL PROVIDED have been Temple and racists are working hard to get rid of this (all individuals included racist/discriminatory speech is now thrown out).”
The support that Breivik had for anti-Islamist websites may cause some embarrassment to websites that do not consider themselves to have connections to neo-Nazis. The “Atlas” mentioned above is the website Atlas Shrugs, run by Pamela Geller.
The left-leaning former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, explores this further on his blog, where he makes a suggestion that:
Anders Behring Breivik posted links to the Atlas Shrugs website of the Tea Party’s Pamela Geller. Here you can see him under the name of Anders Behring (his middle name) posting links to Geller’s “Atlas Shrugs” site. That cache page is bing translated from Norwegian.
Here is a video of Pamela Geller addressing the Tennessee Tea Party convention. This is a list of links I just copied off her Atlas shrugs website to a stream of virulent anti Norwegian-Muslim articles Geller has been publishing.....”
The suggestion that Murray appears to be making is that Pamela Geller’s criticism of Norway’s political outlook (exemplified by Jens Stoltenberg and this Labor Party) has influenced Breivik’s political views. It is only a small step to therefore imply that she influenced Breivik’s killing rampage.
This line of argument is dangerous and misguided, and also smacks of poor journalism. The Guardian is similarly keen to suggest that Breivik’s mindset which led to murder have been created by “others” who uphold views they do not like. The EDL and other groups can not be said to have influenced Breivik to become a murderer, unless he himself had expressly stated in some document that this was the case.
To take this argument to its logical conclusion, one could equally state that the economic philosopher John Stuart Mill was responsible for Breivik’s rampage of murder and mayhem. After all, the only comment that Breivik had made on his Tweet account, posted on July 17th, only five days before the murders, reads:
 “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests.”
This is a slightly altered quotation from John Stuart Mill, where the original statement referred to 99, rather than 100,000:
“To think that because those who wield power in society wield in the end that of government, therefore it is of no use to attempt to influence the constitution of the government by acting on opinion, is to forget that opinion is itself one of the greatest active social forces. One person with a belief is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.”
It is dispiriting to find elements of the media and blogosphere attempting to suggest that Breivik’s interests in certain anti-Islamist groups may have influenced his metamorphosis into a mass-murdering terrorist. If there is a pattern to such abuse of logic, it could be suggested that J.D. Salinger, creator of the character Holden Caulfield with whom killer Mark Chapman identified, was responsible for the murder of John Lennon. Similarly, it could be suggested that as the 1931 movie King Kong was apparently Hitler’s favorite movie, it had some bearing on Nazi militaristic and genocidal outcomes.
While the left-leaning media is promoting this prurient “guilt by association” barely 24 hours after the victims’ bodies have gone cold, it should also be pointed out that Breivik also admired Obama.
The anti-Islamic website Islam versus Europe contains more quotes from Breivik’s postings on the Document.no website, including the following:
“I completely agree that Obama is a brilliant retoriker [rhetorician] and communicator, one of the best we've seen over the past 30 years.”
It is not the role of any journalists to attempt to “define” the mindset of a mass-killer by trying to score political points against groups and people they dislike.
After all, why are these same outlets not also highlighting Breivik’s admiration for President Obama?


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

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


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


25 July, 2011

The success of Anders Behring Breivik

It looks like Anders Behring Breivik may have achieved his goal. We see already in the media (e.g. here) a recognition that failure to hold full and fair discussions of immigration issues has been a mistake and some view that more openness might have prevented the massacre

For many years, the USA, Australia, Britain, Norway and many other advanced countries were perfectly at ease with immigration but when some groups started arriving that caused problems for the existing population, the public rightly expected their governments to do something about it. But governments instead tried to suppress debate about the issues concerned. One result of that policy is Anders Behring Breivik -- and his clear and very loud message that the Leftist elite have got it wrong. He killed nearly 90 of their children.

He will go to one of Norway's humane jails for 10 years and make many converts whilst there. To be in a Norwegian jail you have to have shown considerable disrespect for society's rules and most probably an inclination to violence. So as his fellow prisoners complete their terms and get out of jail we could well see a stream of deaths among the children of pro-immigration politicians.

So if the recent massacre has not done so it seems highly likely that some crackdown on the menace that Muslims pose to Norwegian society will eventually be initiated. I am confident that the Norwegian police could rapidly curb Muslim lawnessness once given the go-ahead by the politicians.

One of many reports here about the mayhem Muslim "refugees" have inflicted on Norwegian society.

And it does seem that the more permissive and "progressive" a country is, the worse the Muslim behaviour becomes. So that a reaction against those who foster Muslim immigration should come from one of the Scandinavian countries was in retrospect to be expected. Muslim aggression against the rest of the population certainly seems to be at a peak in Norway and Sweden. And Viking ancestry probably helped Breivik along too. The Vikings were not notable humanitarians.

I have read or skimmed most of Breivik's manifesto and find it exceptionally rational and well-informed. His extensive survey of Muslim history is a horror story but is to my knowledge perfectly accurate. I get the impression that his lengthy exploration of the horrors that Muslims have inflicted on others may have been the spark that spurred him into action.

And the action that he took also follows easily from a close study of Muslims. Violence and threats of violence have served Muslims in Western countries very well in recent years. It was surely inevitable that some non-Muslims would learn from that.

And Breivik's one/two punch -- a bomb in the city centre followed by an attack on an outlying island -- was pure Al Qaida


Feds to complile a huge dossier on any Americans who travel overseas

For American readers who do not travel, this article may only set off a vague sense of disquiet. But for those who either have traveled out of the country, or believe they might “someday” what you are about to read will disturb you.

According to a 60-day notice in the Federal Register, the State Department is seeking approval for a proposed new passport application form, Form DS-5513.

The new Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport allegedly would require 45 minutes to complete, according to the notice. That estimate includes “the time required for searching existing data sources, gathering the necessary data, providing the information and/or documents required, and reviewing the final collection.”

If approved it will be a mandatory form. Failure to provide the information requested “may result in the denial of a United States passport, related documents, or service to the individual seeking such passport, documents or service.”

The notice states that the questionnaire would be submitted in conjunction with the regular application for a passport, and would be required to “establish citizenship, identity, and eligibility for a U.S. Passport Book or Passport Card.

According to the Privacy Act Statement on the proposed form, the information solicited on the form may also be made available as a routine use to other government agencies and private contractors “to assist the U.S. Department of State in adjudicating passport applications and requests for related services, and for law enforcement, fraud prevention, border security, counterterrorism, litigation activities, and administrative purposes.

“The information may be made available to foreign government agencies to fulfill passport control and immigration duties. The information may also be provided to foreign government agencies, international organizations and, in limited cases, private persons and organizations to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise address potential violations of law or to further the Secretary's responsibility for the protection of U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals abroad.

“The information may be made available to the Department of Homeland Security and private employers for employment verification purposes. “

The proposed form requests the full names of relatives living and deceased, their birthplace (city, state, country), full date of birth, and whether that person was/is a U.S. citizen, for parents, step-parents, siblings, step-siblings, spouse, and children. It's not clear whether aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins are included as well.

Other items include requests for one's mother's residence one year before applicant's birth (street address, city, state, country) and residence at time of the birth, as well as residence one year after applicant's birth. Another question asks whether the applicant's mother received prenatal or postnatal medical care, and where it was performed – including address, name of doctor and dates of the appointments.

Another question: “Please describe the circumstances of your birth, including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.”

The form also asks for information on baptism, circumcision, confirmation and “other religious ceremony” occurring around the time of birth. Again, details are requested including the name, location of the institution and date of the ceremony.

On the third of five pages, the form asks the applicant to list all residences inside and outside the United States, starting with birth up to the date of the application.

The fourth page requests a list of all current and former places of employment in the United States and abroad. This table includes the name of the workplace, address, city, state, country, time employed, supervisor's name and phone number. Also on this page is a request to list all schools attended by the applicant, inside and outside the U.S., including name, full address and dates of attendance.

The fifth and final page is a signature that all of the above was answered truthfully, under threat of arrest for perjury if not.



Rupert Murdoch Plays Fair

Murdoch’s competitors are playing dirty. Instead of upping their game and trying to improve their journalistic standards, they are lowering themselves to the level of slanderous cheaters in a brazen attempt to knock Murdoch and his company News Corp. down.

Murdoch owns media companies all over the world and employs 53,000 people. His now inoperative British tabloid News of the World comprised less than one percent of his company’s holdings.

Allegedly, at least one employee within News of the World betrayed Murdoch and Murdoch’s key executives, including one employee who allegedly hacked into a missing 13-year-old girl’s cell phone and erased messages, thereby leading her parents to believe she was still alive.

Murdoch apologized profusely to the girl’s family and the public. He shut down News of the World. He refused to allow his other companies, such as Fox News, to downplay the scandal. His top tabloid executives stepped down. He dropped his $12 billion bid for British Sky Broadcasting. He submitted himself to questioning before Britain’s Parliament.

For this honorable behavior, his rivals in the media and politics have slandered his good name and chipped away at his job-creating ability.

Most people don’t have time to watch Murdoch and his key executives defend News Corp. in three-hour-long parliamentary committee meetings. Most busy people simply scan headlines and leading paragraphs of stories written by Murdoch’s competitors like the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, TIME Magazine and the Huffington Post. Sadly, these competitors paint Murdoch as a corporate cheater without sufficient evidence. Here are some key examples:

FBI Probe: U.S. politicians impulsively lent credibility to media allegations that Murdoch’s British outlets hacked phones of 9/11 victims. Their panic sparked an FBI probe. No substantive evidence backs up these horrendous allegations. If legitimate, these claims are oddly a decade late.

Source Inflation: TIME Magazine’s July 25 issue plasters Murdoch’s face on the cover under the headline “SCANDAL!” TIME cites several “anonymous” (and therefore non-credible) “public figures” with juicy examples of News of the World’s allegedly unethical behavior.

Besides anonymous celebrities, TIME cites Hugh Grant for this feature cover story. Yes, that pretty boy who needs a 20th Century Fox film script (think Nine Months) to sound witty.

TIME reports how Grant secretly records one former News of the World journalist stating that 20 percent of Scotland Yard takes bribes from tabloids. TIME implies that Grant caught an omniscient ex-Murdoch journalist on tape who somehow knows the exact percentage of underhanded dealings between journalists and law enforcement officials (impossible) and that Murdoch controls all British tabloid journalists (false).

Murdoch invests in high-quality journalism. Before acquiring The Wall Street Journal, he stated: “This is the greatest newspaper in America, one of the greatest in the world. It has great journalists which deserve, I think, a much wider audience.”

The evidence shows Murdoch plays to win the ethical way. His competitors in the media should follow the NFL’s lead: Teasing is fine, but slander and defamation are forms of classless cheating.



First of Many Union Pensions Takes Blow

In a scene that is going to play out in scores of cities across the nation, unions are going to come to grips with the fact that pensions are not sacrosanct. Please consider Rhode Island city asks retirees to cut their pensions:

As cities across the United States struggle to keep their finances afloat, Central Falls, Rhode Island, is taking a novel approach to try to avoid bankruptcy. The city is asking police and firefighter retirees to give up 50% of their pension.

On Tuesday, a state-appointed receiver, Judge Robert Flanders, met with constituents to discuss options that will prevent the city from filing for bankruptcy, but the choices seemed limited: either volunteer for the pension cut, or risk losing it all.

Each of the 141 city retirees will receive a voting ballot and a packet by the end of the week, showing how much of their pensions will be slashed if they agree to volunteer for the benefits cut.

With August set as the deadline for further decisions on the financial future of the city, Flanders hopes to find out residents' decisions by the end of the month.

Though the measures seem drastic, residents are being told that it's a far better choice than "being at the mercy of the bankruptcy court." "It was a very difficult meeting, there was a lot of concern and anger," said Trainor of Tuesday's event. Flanders "hopes, in the case of the retirees, that they would agree," Trainor said. "Better to accept his proposal than taking a chance with the bankruptcy court," he added.

What cannot be paid won't. Taxpayers have had enough. Central Falls is a small and troubled city, but this same scene is going to eventually hit Pittsburgh, Oakland, Houston, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and most likely every major city in the country. Benefits are untenable. The sooner something is done, the better off everyone will be.

Things That Must Change: Defined benefit pension plans for government workers must end; Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage laws that drive up costs of Federal projects and clobber city and municipal governments must come to an end; National right-to-work laws must be enacted; Collective bargaining of public unions must end; Existing pension benefits must be renegotiated

Unions will not like any of those but they are all going to happen.




Calculated attack on future of nation's Left wing: "He IS a man of vision. Anders Behring Breivik did not kill just any group of teenagers. He targeted the Norwegian Labour Party's next generation of leaders. Every year since 1974, teenagers interested in left-wing politics had gathered at the summer camp on the idyllic island of Utoya to play, debate and meet political leaders. This is where the party shaped its idealistic young. The Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, remembers it as "the paradise of my youth". Mr Breivik, the man who has admitted he slaughtered at least 86 of those young people and seven more in the Oslo bomb blast in what is the bloodiest day of Norway's peacetime history, has told his lawyer the killings had been "gruesome but necessary"

Remove the parasites: "When I say parasites, an admittedly a harsh characterization, I mean persons and entities that consume vast sums of national financial resources while providing little or no substantive value in return to benefit the common people or the nation as a whole. Remove these parasites and the financial health of the United States would be completely restored; the overall health of the nation greatly revitalized."

The truth about the debt ceiling: "Failing to raise the debt ceiling will not necessarily result in default. The federal government has plenty of revenue to cover interest payments, even if it must shift that money out of other parts of the budget. Any claims of immediate default and imminent financial collapse are disingenuous fearmongering designed to fool a gullible and economically ignorant public and force an increase of the debt ceiling and an increase in taxes."

Israel intercepts boat with weapons on Dead Sea: "Israeli security forces on Monday intercepted a boat on the Dead Sea carrying two Palestinians trying to smuggle assault rifles, ammunition magazines and other unspecified weapons, the military said. The military did not provide other details but said they were treating the incident as an attempted weapons-smuggling operation and not as an attempted militant attack."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He is particularly pleased at the death of that painter of ugliness, Lucian Freud.

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

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


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


24 July, 2011

Does religion rot your intelligence?

The article below makes some useful observations but I believe that the case for the "No" answer can be put even more simply:

There are two large and important nations with high levels of Christian belief where about 40% of the population are regular churchgoers: Russia and the USA. Lying geographically in between them, however, is another large group of important nations where religious observance is very low: England and Western Europe. Yet from the USA to Russia and in between IQ levels are virtually the same: About 100. That sounds like a zero correlation between belief and IQ to me.

And given the very different histories of the two countries, attempts to explain why America is different collapse into absurdity if one attempts to apply such explanations to Russia.

Another rather obvious point that often seems to be overlooked is that religion and church affiliation are not at all the same thing. I did many random surveys of various populations in my 20 year research career and religion was often one thing I asked about in my surveys. And, being a psychometrician, I exercised great care about how I asked the religion question. I always provided a considerable list from which people could choose in order to specify what their religious views were. And an option often chosen (by up to 20% of the respondents) was: "Belief in God only".

And that is a very reasonable choice. One hardly needs to refer to the sexual misconduct scandals that have engulfed the Catholic and Anglican churches to understand why many people would feel that the churches know no more about God than anybody else. The very multiplicity of denominations and faiths also suggests that conclusion. So questions about church affiliation could yield very different correlations from questions about religious belief. And there seems to be very little data on the latter.

A more cogent explanation for national differences in religious committment is that the key ingredient is not IQ but rather the presence or absence of a welfare State. Where the State provides you with cradle-to-grave security, you have less need for God. And that indeed is a stronger correlation. England and Western Europe do have much more pervasive welfare provisions than do the USA and Russia.

From a Christian viewpoint, however, welfare States could be seen as delusions of the Devil. As one writer says:

"Charles Murray, among others, has shown that welfare programs often end up being a remedy more deadly than the malady by creating the very situations they profess to cure. The simple reason for this was identified by the insightful economist Walter Williams, who said, “What you subsidize (poverty) you get more of; what you penalize (prosperity), you get less of.” Nor has the welfare state reduced crime, because crime is not primarily rooted in economic causes. It is rooted in moral causes."

So while the Devil may have deluded people into thinking that they have no need for God, that delusion will have the harmful results that one would expect from the Devil.

But from both a social science and a Christian viewpoint the idea that people most turn to God when they are most in need of him is quite uncontroversial I would think. It says nothing about God but much about people.

There are some not wholly convincing dismissals of the welfare/belief correlation here

Disclosure: (for those who are not already aware of it) I am myself an utter atheist -- JR
"Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population," says Ulster University academic Richard Lynn. "Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."

Hmmm. What are we to make of this? Professor Lynn and colleagues wrote a paper in 2008 in the journal Intelligence which has been widely discussed. Here is a summary of its claims:

"Evidence is reviewed pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief in the United States and Europe. It is shown that intelligence measured as psychometric g is negatively related to religious belief. We also examine whether this negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief is present between nations. We find that in a sample of 137 countries the correlation between national IQ and disbelief in God is 0.60 [a high correlation]."

The highlight of the paper is the chart of 137 nations. And it looks pretty convincing until you study it carefully. Then, picturing the data is a cart for the theory, wheels start wobbling.

I first became suspicious when Lynn et al. tried to explain why the United States is anomalous “in having an unusually low percentage of its population disbelieving in God (10.5 percent) for a high IQ country [98].”

"One factor that could provide a possible explanation for this is that many Americans are Catholics, and the percentage of believers in Catholic countries in Europe is generally much higher than in Protestant countries (e.g. Italy, 6 percent; Ireland, 5 percent; Poland, 3 percent; Portugal, 4 percent; Spain, 15 percent). Another possible contribution to this has been continued high immigration of those holding religious beliefs. A further possible factor might be that a number of emigrants from Europe went to the United States because of their strong religious beliefs, so it may be that these beliefs have been transmitted as a cultural and even genetic legacy to subsequent generations. Parent–child correlations for religious belief are quite high at 0.64 (fathers–sons) and 0.69 (mothers–daughters) (Newcomb & Svehla, 1937). It has been found that religious belief has a significant heritability of around 0.40–0.50 (Koenig, McGrue, Krueger & Bouchard, 2005), so it could be that a number of religious emigrants from Europe had the genetic disposition for religious belief and this has been transmitted to much of the present population."

Good thing it’s easy to test that one. Canada has a similar history, and features average IQ 99, with 22 percent not believing in God. So twice as many Canadians don’t believe in God but exhibit no statistically significant reward in IQ. That’s one wheel off - but it’s still a tricycle.

Looking at the chart closely, I noticed another anomaly: The Czech Republic and Slovakia split on January 1, 1993. In 2008, the Czech republic clocked IQ 98, 61 percent disbelieving in God, and Slovakia at IQ 96, with only 17 percent disbelieving in God. The difference is obviously cultural. Second wheel gone. We now have a bicycle.

The third wobbly wheel was the fact that Israel and Portugal -with very different culture and histories - both feature IQ 95. But in Israel 15 percent disbelieve and in Portugal 4 percent. So tripling or quadrupling the number of atheists did nothing for IQ when culture and history are different.



A Liberal Is a Liberal Is a Liberal

Michael Youssef

For a long time, I have resisted using the terms “liberal” or “conservative” when it comes to both theology and politics. My experience has proven that those who identify themselves as theological liberals tend to also identify themselves as politically liberal and vice versa. My reasoning for skepticism in using the term “liberal” with theology is a deep conviction that either you are a true believer in the central doctrine that defines the Christian faith, or you are not.

I have now lived long enough to observe two generations of so-called “theological liberals”.

In the 1950s & 60s, those in mainline denominations who claimed to be theological liberals began preaching liberally from certain biblical texts. They used Jesus' words to support their departure from the fundamental foundations of biblical Christianity.

"Love your enemies"(Matthew 5:44) is one of their favorite hobby-horses. They use it to water-down the clear exclusivity of salvation for those who acknowledge Jesus alone as their Savior. This wrenching of Jesus’ words out of their context led to full-blown universalism—the inevitable outcome of the misuse of these words of Jesus.

Today, the successors of the mainline liberals of the 50s and 60s are the liberal evangelicals. You would think that they would try an original attempt at departing from biblical truth, but alas, they have not. Modern day liberal evangelical preachers continue to pull Jesus’ words like “love your enemies” out of context, to justify turning their pulpits over to Socialists, Muslim Imams, and all sorts of non-Christians under the guise of "loving [their] enemies."

When Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” He was speaking to and exhorting persecuted Christians. He was urging them to love rather than resent their persecutors, even pitying them for the blindness that led them to persecute people who believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

Jesus never intimated to the persecuted Christians that they should give their persecutors platforms in Christian pulpits to mislead the flock of God. Never did He mean that Christian leaders should exploit their positions to encourage followers of Christ to water-down or hide the truth, all for the sake of making the enemies of the Cross happy. Never did He intend for us to find common ground with the enemies of Christ so that we would be liked or accepted by them.

The opposite is true! Loving them can only be genuine when the truth is not compromised and the invitation is given to them to come and receive full and free salvation, thereby assuring them that they, too, can become our brothers and sisters in Christ. Far from hating them, we invite them to be transformed by the same power that transformed us.

Christians know, by virtue of their faith, they are admitting that they are no better than anyone else. Indeed, we saw ourselves as wretches, and that is precisely what drove us to Christ as the only One who can forgive and transform us. It is the knowledge that there is nothing in us that we can hold up to others and say, "See what wonderful people we are. You need to be as good as we are.” Rather, we say, "We love you enough to share with you the greatest gift we have ever received."

I deeply long for these liberal evangelicals to admit that deep down they want to please those who hate the truth. I want them to admit that they want to make people feel good about their falsehoods because they want to be accepted so badly and that is why they have abandoned the truth themselves. I want them to repent of their desire to please man rather than be a servant of Christ and so be restored to the true joy and freedom of their salvation.



People of principle are needed within the GOP, not outside it

In 2005, I ran for my local party’s nomination for the State Senate. I was resoundingly defeated by a reliable conservative with far better credentials. The vote turned out the way that I believe it was supposed to turn out. Immediately after the primary, I endorsed my fellow Republican who has served honorably as my State Senator ever since.

I have been a traditional conservative since my teen years. But as an unworldly candidate in my early fifties, I found myself naive to the antibiotic practices of the ruling establishment. Some of the activists in my party did not merely vote against me at the GOP assembly in 2005. They also strong-armed my volunteers, tore down our campaign kiosk, uprooted every campaign sign and shattered a window on my son’s car.

It is easy to become disillusioned when the people with whom you have loyally associated turn this ugly. As my wife and I stood in disbelief over the vandalized car in the parking lot, my son made a statement that I will never forget, “This is not our church.” Indeed.

I am reminded of that low moment in my life every time that I hear about a conservative who leaves the GOP in protest or calls for the formation of a third political party. I appeal to conservatives who are disappointed in Republican leadership to get even more involved with the GOP and to recruit your like-minded friends to join you in the struggle.

Republicans are at a natural disadvantage because we are motivated by open philosophical principles, whereas Democrats are motivated to defeat those damned, judgmental Republicans. As a result, Democrats tend to reliably vote for their candidates no matter how they behave. And Republicans will withdraw their support from impure GOP leaders, handing an unwarranted number of elections to the Democrats.

My son’s astute observation caused me to reassess my involvement in the Republican Party. I arrived at these two perspectives: 1. The church is a reflection of the Creator, with the mission of effecting the character of its members. 2. The party is a reflection of the members, asserting their principles on the character of its leadership.

A few years after that distressing experience as a candidate, I found myself in the unlikely position of Chairman for the local Republican party. Along with my fellow officers, I instituted the following three standards that seem to have cleaned up the town considerably:

* Operate a sound nomination process with fairness and integrity. Confront bullies and keep them out of leadership. Treat candidates with honor and respect.

* Be willing to debate internally, using the GOP Party Platform as the touchstone. Understand that GOP membership sometimes serves to mask a patriotic heretic like abstract art can be a cover for an untalented painter. We need to challenge bad actors, hold elected officials to account, and not be afraid of losing their membership.

* Once the party’s nominee is selected, close ranks and stand together against the enemies of freedom. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to the party nominee. Remain involved. We cannot afford to lose a single conservative member in this unending struggle for our heritage.

The rallying cry of “principle before party” is a surrendering folly. Buck up and integrate yourself. Principle within party.

And the standard is the Republican Party Platform (www.gop.com/2008Platform). Conservatives should read it and hold elected officials to it.

Tea Party activists, the Republican Party needs your direct involvement. Maintain your independent voice, but register and participate as Republicans. Elected officials won’t hear an outside voice nearly as clearly as they will hear an inside voice.

There is no home for you in the Democrat Party, except perhaps as a part of work-release.
Just before signing the Declaration of Independence that began our shared journey of freedom, Benjamin Franklin said prophetically, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Believe it.


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

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


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


23 July, 2011

It Should All Be Free

Free medicine! That's what Obamacare has brought you -- or should bring you, at least according to CNN.

The story's opening sentence set the tone: "Contraceptives, sterilization and reproductive education should be covered by health insurance plans with no cost to patients under the health reform law, a new report recommends."

In a tone that can only be called cheerleading, CNN tells its audience that the Institute of Medicine has made these recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services. "Historic" is the way HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius described the report, adding that "we will release the Department's recommendations of what additional preventive services for women should be covered without cost sharing very soon."

Now, why, you may wonder, does the secretary of Health and Human Services get to decide whether to adopt the report's recommendations? Well, under Obamacare, health care has been nationalized. Among the roughly 700 references in the law to "the Secretary shall" is one mandating that the secretary shall decide which health care plans are acceptable in America and which are not. If a plan does not comply with HHS mandates, companies and individuals who purchase their products will have to pay a fine. In other words, under Obamacare, the secretary of HHS decides who gets covered for what.

The secretary is now considering whether all health plans in America will have to cover birth control, annual HIV tests, well-woman care visits, annual counseling on sexually transmitted diseases, breastfeeding support and counseling including rental of breast pumps, and screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic abuse. These services should be covered "without any co-pays or deductibles," the report by the Institute of Medicine urges. In other words, these products and services should be "free" for all women, not just for the poor.

CNN quotes the president of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. James Martin Jr., who believes that "unimpeded access to affordable contraceptives for all women is foundational."

But why stop there? The biggest killer of women is heart disease. Shouldn't cholesterol tests, EKGs and stress tests be covered by insurance at no cost to the women themselves? And surely counseling about the risks of a high-fat diet and sedentary lifestyle should be included, too, no? At no cost to the patients, of course. And then there's cancer, the second biggest threat to women's health. So mammograms and annual doctor visits should be free. And certainly counseling about the dangers of smoking, excessive drinking and poor diet should be "fully covered," as well. Come to think of it, gym memberships should definitely be covered at no cost to the women.

But what about men? Men are far less likely than women to seek medical treatment. And men are dropping every year from heart attacks, strokes, accidents and cancer. Surely if their "well-man" annuals were "free," they would be more likely to get the treatment and preventive care they need.

And what about helpless children? Surely only an ogre would want to charge children a fee to get their vaccinations, checkups and medicine. And certainly adolescents should receive counseling about sexuality, date rape, drugs and alcohol. Shall we say monthly? Perhaps weekly?

Sebelius praised the IOM report as "based on science and existing literature." By literature, she perhaps means Cinderella, in which a kindly fairy grandmother waves a magic wand and produces dresses, coaches and jewels "at no cost" to Cinderella. She surely cannot mean the medical literature.

Though the Obama administration never tires of repeating this falsehood, the science does not support the claim that increased spending on preventive care reduces overall costs. The journal Health Affairs has studied the literature and concluded, "Over the four decades since cost-effectiveness analysis was first applied to health and medicine, hundreds of studies have shown that prevention usually adds to medical costs instead of reducing them. Medications for hypertension and elevated cholesterol, diet and exercise to prevent diabetes, and screening and early treatment for cancer all add more to medical costs than they save."

An administration that preens about its "evidence-based" policymaking constantly errs about what medical research has shown. But even more flagrantly, it fails to grasp the very first lesson of economics: Nothing is free. Someone will pay. As the great P.J. O'Rourke put it many years ago, "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait till it's free."



The Empire Strikes Back

Oliver North

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. -- "Will your Boykin hunt?" asked the young man, admiring the little red spaniel at my side. "Casey" wagged her tail and sat, patiently waiting for me to check out of the local farmers market with a basket of fresh peaches, corn and tomatoes.

"She's not yet a year old, but she already works well into the wind, can kick up a bird and if I shoot right and retrieves to hand," I replied with no small amount of hubris. The conversation abruptly shifted to international politics -- but not in the direction I expected. "What are you going to do with her once 'The Empire' bans your shotguns?" he asked.

For a moment, I was lost. "The Empire?" "Yeah," he said, "the U.N. -- the global imperial government in New York. 'The Empire' wants to control who can buy or keep a shotgun."

I'm used to strangers approaching me on topics such as hunting, the war, our troops serving in harm's way, the national debt, taxes and the endless list of presidential candidates. But it's unusual for an interlocutor to shift instantly from hunting to the United Nations. So I asked, "Why do you think that could happen while we still have a Second Amendment in our Constitution? The American people wouldn't stand for it."

"Do you really think 'We the People' are paying attention to what the U.N. is doing while we're distracted with everything else that's going on?"

It was a reasonable question -- and I concluded: "No, most people probably aren't engaged on this issue. But some of us are, and there are more than 80 million U.S. gun owners. I'm on the board of the National Rifle Association, and we're paying attention."

"Good," the young man replied with a smile, "because I helped elect you. I'm a life member of the NRA."

After paying for our produce, we spoke for a few more minutes in the parking lot. I again assured him that the NRA and organizations such as Freedom Alliance are doing their best to preserve Americans' individual liberties and protect U.S. sovereignty and security -- even though it often appears to be an uphill fight. I then went home to dig into what the globalists at the U.N. are preparing for us. As usual, it isn't good.

For five years now, various committees of the United Nations purport to have been drafting "an internationally acceptable Arms Trade Treaty" that "will make the world safer." If the U.N.'s "Open-Ended Working Group on an ATT" completes its "work" on time, the treaty will be voted on next year. The Obama administration is on record supporting the measure, claiming, "The United States is committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons."

Earlier this month, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, went to the big blue building in New York to tell the America haters of the "Working Group," in unequivocal terms, why the current draft of the treaty is unacceptable: "The right to keep and bear arms in defense of self, family and country is ultimately self-evident and is part of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. Reduced to its core, it is about fundamental individual freedom, human worth and self-destiny." He noted that among the many flaws of the ATT, "a manufacturer of civilian shotguns would have to comply with the same regulatory process as a manufacturer of military attack helicopters."

Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon, who wrote the book on how the U.N. usurps U.S. sovereignty, "Diplomatic Divorce," says we shouldn't be surprised at the international forum's end run on the U.S. Constitution. "The U.N. is a global-leftist organization that uses multilateral treaties like the ATT to enforce their will upon all humankind. It's the ultimate power play. To them, the U.S. Constitution and the sovereign rights of American citizens are irrelevant. If they have their way, they will create a vast new international bureaucracy to document, regulate, track, supervise, inspect and maintain surveillance over every firearm ever made. Such a regime ought to be completely unacceptable to every American."

LaPierre and Kilgannon make clear that including civilian firearms in the ATT is unacceptable to the NRA and Freedom Alliance. Whether that will be sufficient to convince the Obama administration remains to be seen. But there is some good news in all of this.

As we parted ways at the local farmers market, my inquisitor stuck out his hand and said: "You served in the Marines. I was in the Army. We both took an oath to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States.' I hope that still matters." When he got into his truck, I noticed his license plate: Massachusetts. Home of Paul Revere, John Adams, John Hancock. When an empire struck at Americans in 1775, they knew what to do. Let's hope we still do.



Could You Survive Another Great Depression?

Paul Kengor

I just read two very interesting articles on the U.S. economy, written from historical perspectives. They compelled me to share my own historical perspective. And what I want to say is more about our changing culture than our economy.

One of the articles, by Julie Crawshaw of MoneyNews.com, notes that the "Misery Index"—the combined unemployment and inflation rates—made infamous under President Jimmy Carter, has hit a 28-year high. It's also 62 percent higher than when President Obama took office.

But that's nothing compared to Mort Zuckerman's article in U.S. News & World Report. Zuckerman measures the current situation against the Great Depression. He writes:

"jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off.... We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression."

Zuckerman is a perceptive writer who looks at economies from a historical perspective. In my comparative politics course at Grove City College, I use his article on the Russian collapse in the 1990s, which Zuckerman showed was worse than our Great Depression.

I can't say we're teetering on that precipice, but Zuckerman's article got me thinking: Imagine if America today experienced an economic catastrophe similar to the 1930s. How would you survive?

I remember asking that question to my grandparents, Joseph and Philomena. How did they survive the Great Depression?

My grandmother, never at a loss for words, direly described how her family avoided starving. Compensation came via barter. Her father, an Italian immigrant, baked bread and cured meats in an oven in the tiny backyard, among other trades he learned in the old country. My grandmother cleaned the house and babysat and bathed the children of a family who owned a grocery store. They paid her with store products. Her family struggled through by creatively employing everyone’s unique skills.

What about my grandfather? When I asked that question as he sat silently, my grandmother raised her loud Italian voice and snapped: "Ah, he didn't suffer! Don’t even ask him!"

My grandfather, also Italian, returned the shout: "Ah, you shut up! You're a damned fool!" Grandma: "No, you're a damned fool!"

After the typical several minutes of sustained insults, my grandfather explained that, indeed, his family didn’t suffer during the depression. They noticed no difference whatsoever, even as America came apart at the seams.

Why not? Because they were farmers. They got everything from the land, from crops and animals they raised and hunted to fish they caught. They raised every animal possible, from cattle to rabbits. They ate everything from the pig, from head to feet. There were eggs from chickens and cheese and milk from goats and cows. There were wild plants.

I was captivated as my grandfather explained his family's method of refrigeration: During the winter, they broke ice from the creek and hauled it into the barn, where it was packed in sawdust for use through the summer. They didn’t over-eat. They preserved food, and there was always enough for the family of 12.

When their clothes ripped, they sewed them. When machines broke, they fixed them. They didn't over-spend. Home repairs weren’t contracted out. Heat came from wood they gathered. And they didn't need 1,000 acres of land to do this.

They were totally self-sufficient—and far from alone. Back then, most Americans farmed, knew how to grow things, or provided for themselves to some significant degree.

That conversation with my grandparents came to mind as I read Zuckerman's piece and considered life under another Great Depression. I realized: The vast majority of Americans today would be incapable of providing for themselves. If you live in the city with no land, you'd be in big trouble. Even most Americans, who have a yard with soil, wouldn’t know what to do.

Isn’t it ironic that with all our scandalously expensive education—far more than our grandparents' schooling—we've learned so little? We can't fix our car let alone shoot, gut, skin, and butcher a deer.

Think about it: If you lacked income for food, or if prices skyrocketed, or your money was valueless, what would you do for yourself and your family?

Americans today are a lifetime from their grandparents and great grandparents. God help us if we ever face a calamity like the one they faced—and survived.


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

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


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


22 July, 2011

More evidence that high IQ is just one aspect of general biological good functioning

Since the studies by Terman & Oden in the 1920s it has been known that, although not all high IQ people are healthy, most are. They have fewer health problems and live longer. And IQ is the main determinant of educational success, so the findings below are as expected. Kids born with indications of poor health have lower IQs so do less well at school

A health test given to babies minutes after they are born could reveal how well they will do in secondary school, it has been claimed. A study of 877,000 Swedish teenagers compared school exam results with their Apgar scores after birth.

The Apgar is a test which rates the newborn's health on a scale of one to ten and how much medical attention the child needs.

Researchers found a link between an Apgar score of below seven and lower intelligence in later life.

Dr. Andrea Stuart, an obstetrician at Central Hospital in Helsingborg, Sweden, told Msnbc: 'It is not the Apgar score in itself that leads to lower cognitive abilities. 'It is the reasons leading to a low Apgar score (including asphyxiation, preterm delivery, maternal drug use, infections) that might have an impact on future brain function.'

The study appears in next month's issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The Apgar test is given between one and five minutes after birth. It evaluates an infant's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, skin colour and reflex irritability (sneezing or coughing) on a scale of one to ten. Scores of eight and above are considered to be signs of good health. The test was developed by Dr Virginia Apgar in 1952 and has been a simple and effective way of testing a baby's health since.

Researchers also made the point that only one in 44 newborns with a low Apgar score went on to need special education, so mothers of babies who had low scores did not have cause for concern.

Dr Richard Polin, director of neonatology at Columbia University Medical Center and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, said: 'Most babies who have Apgar scores of seven or less do perfectly fine.'



Is Obama's skin color now all that he's got going for him?

President Obama's job approval score sank to nearly 40 percent this week in the midst of a budget and debt-limit crisis that threatens to further weaken our economy and America's future.

With the nation's capital embroiled in a political standoff over how to deal with a looming $15 trillion debt and a line of trillion-dollar-plus deficits stretching as far as the eye can see, the president's prospects of winning a second term are extremely problematic at best.

The Gallup Poll reported that its daily tracking poll Wednesday showed Obama's job approval numbers have fallen further in the budget battle, with only 42 percent approving of the job he's doing and 48 percent expressing disapproval.

"This is the sixth straight quarter Obama has received less than majority approval. As a result, his average job approval rating has been below 50 percent for more of his presidency than it has not," Gallup said.

As a satisfactory solution to the government's crisis grows more remote with each passing day, Obama's problems are piling up faster than his excuses.

Three-fourths of Americans polled by Gallup this month said the economy was their top concern, including rising unemployment and meager job creation, and the unprecedented deficits and debt that will worsen between now and the 2012 presidential election.

Obama is getting pounded almost daily by an unending string of bad economic news. Major financial credit agencies are preparing to downgrade our country's AAA bond rating, which would drive up the cost of future borrowing, along with other interest rates for home mortgages, credit cards, college and business loans, and just about everything else. Economists said it would be the same as imposing higher taxes on every sector of our economy.

If you think last month's 9.2 percent unemployment rate was bad, brace yourself. The jobless rate will likely climb higher in the months to come, according to new economic data.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits shot up more than economic forecasters expected last week. Initial claims rose by more than 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 418,000, showing that declining job creation remains a severe problem in the Obama economy. And it's only going to get worse.

"Over the next decade, the picture is even less rosy, because Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tells us the economy is likely only to grow at its present slow pace for many years," University of Maryland economist Peter Morici writes in his analysis this week.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that "companies are laying off employees at a level not seen in nearly a year, hobbling the job market and intensifying fears about the pace of the economic recovery. ... The increase in layoffs is a key reason why the U.S. recorded an average of only 21,500 new jobs over the past two months, far below the level needed to bring down unemployment."

As for dealing with the government's burgeoning debts, most if not all of the pending proposals to cut spending and shrink the deficit would postpone the heavy lifting much later in this decade for future Congresses that could reverse course.

Even if the House-passed constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget (which I support) were to be adopted by Congress (though it is presumed dead in the Senate), it would likely take years to win three-fourths of the states needed for ratification.

Obama is changing or abandoning his positions and political strategies almost weekly as he erratically bobs and weaves his way through the crisis without a consistent strategy.

He began the debt battle by demanding that he be sent a clean bill raising the debt ceiling, without any spending curbs. Democrats who ran the last Congress with huge majorities never adopted a budget of their own, and without a bit of complaint from the president. His tax-and-spend budget proposals in February made no serious dent in the deficits.

Then, as Republican leaders escalated their demands for deep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit and weekly polls showed growing voter concern about the deficits and debt, Obama suddenly turned into a born-again budget cutter. He appeared to talk tough at George Washington University in April, but never offered a specific budget proposal.

When there was talk in Congress about a limited debt-limit bill of a few months at most, Obama said he would veto any short-term bill. It was all or nothing, he huffed.

His theatrical threat disappeared into hot air Wednesday when he said he was now open to a short-term deal to give both sides time to work out a comprehensive deal.

A president who lurches one way and then lunges another, tossing out empty political threats and pronouncements, only to retreat from them when he finds himself in a hole, isn't a leader.

He's the artful dodger, trying this and then that in the hope that something will work in the absence of a well-thought-out plan of action.

A new Washington Post-ABC News found that a full 80 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way the government is working. No, make that, the way it ISN'T working.



Too much of a good thing can be bad

Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored.

In politics, there are not simply good things but some special Good Things – with a capital G and capital T – which are considered always better to have more of.

Many of the things advocated by environmental extremists, for example, are things that most of us might think of as good things. But, in politics, they become Good Things whose repercussions and costs are brushed aside as unworthy considerations.

Nobody wants to breathe dirty air or drink dirty water. But, if either becomes 98 percent pure, 99 percent pure or 99.9 percent pure, there is some point beyond which the costs skyrocket and the benefits become meager or non-existent.

If the slightest trace of any impurity were fatal, the human race would have become extinct thousands of years ago.

Not only does the body have defenses to neutralize small amounts of some impurities, some things that are dangerous, or even fatal, in substantial amounts can become harmless or even beneficial in extremely minute amounts, arsenic being one example. As an old adage put it: "It is the dose that makes the poison."

In other words, removing arsenic from our drinking water should obviously be a very high priority – but not after we have gotten it down to some extremely minute trace. There is never going to be 100 percent clean water or air and, the closer we get to that, the more costly it is to remove extremely minute traces of anything. But none of this matters to those who see ever higher standards of "clean water" or "clean air" as a Good Thing.

One of the things that have ruined our economy is the notion that both Democrats and Republicans in Washington pushed for years, that a higher rate of home ownership is a Good Thing.

There is no question that there are benefits to home ownership. And there should be no question that there are costs as well. But costs get lost in the shuffle.

Among the things that Washington politicians of both parties did for years was come up with more and more laws, rules and pressures on private lenders to lower the qualifications standards required for people to get a mortgage to buy a home.

It was a full-court press from Congressional legislation to regulations and policies created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Reserve, not to mention the buying of the resulting risky mortgages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the original lenders – and even threats of prosecution by the Department of Justice if the racial mixture of people who were approved for mortgages didn't match their expectations.

The media chimed in with expressions of outrage when data showed that black applicants for mortgage loans were turned down more often than white applicants. Seldom was it even mentioned that white applicants were turned down more often than Asian American applicants.

Nor was it mentioned that white applicants averaged higher credit ratings than black applicants, and Asian American applicants averaged higher credit ratings than white applicants – or that black applicants were turned down at least as often by black-owned banks as by white-owned banks.

Such distracting details would have spoiled the story that racial discrimination was the reason why some people did not get the Good Thing of home ownership as often as others.

Even after the risky mortgages that were made under government pressure led to huge bankruptcies and bailouts, as well as disasters for home owners in general and black home owners in particular, home ownership remains a Good Thing. The Justice Department is again threatening lenders who don't lower their standards to let more minority applicants get mortgage loans.

Higher miles per gallon for cars is a Good Thing in politics, even if it leads to cars too lightly built to protect occupants when there is a crash. More students going to college is another Good Thing, even if lowering standards to get them admitted results in lower educational quality for others.

Too much of a Good Thing is bad.




US loses $1.3 billion in exiting Chrysler: "U.S. taxpayers likely lost $1.3 billion in the government bailout of Chrysler, the Treasury Department announced Thursday. The government recently sold its remaining 6% stake in the company to Italian automaker Fiat. It wrapped up the 2009 bailout that was part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program six years early."

Marine to get Medal of Honor for Afghanistan actions: "A Marine who braved enemy fire alone to retrieve the bodies of his fallen comrades will be awarded the Medal of Honor, Marine Corps Times reports. Dakota Meyer, who now lives in Austin, Texas, will be the first living Marine to receive the nation's highest military honor since the Vietnam War. Two living Army soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry and Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, have received the medal in the past year."

Democrats deny obvious successes of privatization: "To be a Democrat means to live in denial. Consider all of the things you must ignore or explain away: PIGS. Not the chauvinist pigs whose transgressions preoccupied 1970s feminists, but PIGS as in Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain -- nations facing sovereign debt crises because they pursued exactly the sort of policies Democrats favor for this country."

The EU’s CAP on prosperity: "European farmers are assured of their livelihood by the generous subsidies that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides. This causes major inefficiencies, but that isn't the only problem. The attempt to unsustainably keep European farming alive prevents poorer farmers from selling profitably in the EU, which contributes to squalor in the poorest nations in the world. Despite efforts to gradually reduce these lethal subsidies, the direct consequences will be apparent for many years to come."

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

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


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


21 July, 2011

Media Mogul Charged With First Degree Murdoch

Ann Coulter

In December 1996, a Florida couple, John and Alice Martin, who sounded suspiciously like union goons, claimed to have inadvertently tapped into a phone conversation between then House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Republican leadership.

According to these Democratic and union activists, they were just driving around with a police scanner in their car, picked up a random phone conversation and said to themselves, "Wait a minute! I could swear that's Dick Armey's voice!"

Luckily, they also had a tape recorder and cassette in their car, so they proceeded to illegally record the intercepted conversation and then turned the tape over to Democratic Rep. James McDermott -- the top Democrat on the Ethics Committee that was at that very moment investigating Gingrich.

Although they swore they had no idea that what they were doing was a crime, in their cover letter to McDermott, they requested immunity -- just as you probably do whenever you write somebody a letter. (They later pleaded guilty to a crime under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.)

McDermott promptly turned the tape over to The New York Times and other newspapers. The Times' headline on the story, "Gingrich Is Heard Urging Tactics in Ethics Case," might as well have been titled: "Tape Shows Gingrich Conspiring to Act Within the Law."

John Boehner, one of the participants in the Gingrich call, sued McDermott for violating his First Amendment rights, which resulted in a court ordering McDermott to pay Boehner more than $1 million.

And yet, more than a dozen news organizations, many of the same ones demanding the death penalty for Rupert Murdoch right now, filed amicus briefs defending McDermott's distribution of the pirated tape.

Needless to say, the Times ferociously defended its own publication of the hacked phone call, arguing that it would be unconstitutional to punish the publication of information, no matter how obtained.

So it's strange to see these defenders of the press's right to publish absolutely anything get on their high horses about British tabloid reporters, operating under a different culture and legal system, hacking into cell phones.

Not only that, but they are demanding that the CEO of the vast, multinational corporation that owned the tabloids be severely punished. This is because the CEO is Rupert Murdoch and Murdoch owns Fox News.

The entire mainstream media are fixated on Murdoch's imagined role in the Fleet Street phone-hacking story -- the only topic more boring than the debt ceiling -- solely in order to pursue their petty vendetta against Fox News, which liberals hate with the hot, hot heat of a thousand suns.

Every guest on MSNBC is asked the same question: Is it possible to believe that Murdoch was unaware of what some reporters at News of the World were doing? How can a network that employs Chris Matthews be unfamiliar with the concept of a "rogue employee"?

In fact, it's quite easy to believe Murdoch was unaware of what News of the World reporters were doing -- particularly considering the striking absence of any evidence to the contrary.

Murdoch is an American who owns television networks, satellite operations and newspapers all over the world. As he said in his testimony this week, News Corp. has 53,000 employees and, until its recent demise, News of the World amounted to a grand total of 1 percent of News Corp.'s operations.

Why wasn't Les Moonves responsible for CBS anchor Dan Rather trying to throw the 2004 presidential election with phony National Guard documents one month before the election? Moonves was president, CEO and director of CBS, a company with half as many employees as News Corp. And his rogue employee constituted a much bigger part of CBS' business than News of the World did of the Murdoch empire.

And yet no one asked if Moonves was aware that his network was about to accuse a sitting president of shirking his National Guard duty. Moonves wasn't dragged before multiple congressional panels. Nor was MSNBC tracking his every bowel movement on live TV. No one remembers the biggest media scandal of the last 30 years as "The Les Moonves Scandal."

What about all the illegally obtained information regularly printed in the Times? Was Pinch Sulzberger unaware his newspaper was publishing classified government documents illegally obtained by Julian Assange?

Did he know that in 2006 the Times published illegally leaked classified documents concerning a government program following terrorists' financial transactions; that in 2005 it revealed illegally obtained information about a top-secret government program tracking phone calls connected to numbers found in Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's cell phone; and, that, in 1997, the paper published an illegally obtained phone call between Newt Gingrich and Republican leaders?

If only Murdoch's minions had hacked into the phones of George Bush, Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, liberals would be submitting his name to the pope for sainthood.

But now the rest of us have to watch while the mainstream media pursue their personal grudge against Rupert Murdoch for allowing Fox News to exist. They demand his head for owning a British tabloid where some reporters used illegally obtained information, something The New York Times does defiantly on a regular basis.



An Obama-led Jihad?

It is not exactly news that the Obama presidency is determined to go to unprecedented lengths to mollify, appease and otherwise pander to what it calls the "Muslim world." But the question has begun to occur: At what point do these efforts cross the line from a misbegotten policy to one that is downright anti-American – hostile to our values, incompatible with our vital interests and at odds with our Constitution?

The evidence is rapidly accumulating that we have reached that point. Our representatives in Congress must have the courage to re-discover a lost vocabulary, one that is conscious of the fact that subversion of our counter-terror institutions—[and, indeed, our very understanding of the threat we face]—is a goal of our enemy in the War on Terror. The danger entailed cries out for congressional oversight, and corrective action.

What is needed is a new select committee modeled after the much-vilified, but ultimately vindicated, House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). (This vindication is comprehensively documented in Yale University Press' groundbreaking Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, and expanded in M. Stanton Evans' 2009 Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies. Members of Congress and their staff can only benefit from reading these studies to have a better understanding of the history of their own institution.) Such a panel needs a mandate to investigate in particular the extent to which the Obama administration’s anti-American activities reflect the success of the toxic Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan) in penetrating and subverting both U.S. government agencies and civil institutions.

Consider a few examples of what appear to be such successes:

On June 30, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Obama administration will "welcome...dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us."

As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has observed, Eric Holder's Justice Department appears to have basically stopped prosecuting alleged material support for terrorism. That was certainly the practical effect when it blocked prosecutors from bringing charges against Muslim Brotherhood fronts listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation money-laundering case.

Such dereliction of duty would seem to be the practical upshot of President Obama's much-ballyhooed "Muslim outreach" speech in Cairo in the Spring of 2009 when he pledged to eliminate impediments to zakat. Mr. McCarthy has noted that the only impediment to such Islamic tithing is the prohibition against the sort of material support to terror that is commanded by the Islamic political-military-legal doctrine known as shariah – which requires 1/8th of zakat to underwrite jihad.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported on 8 July that prosecutors in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia have asked a federal judge to reduce the twenty-three-year sentence of convicted terrorist and al Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi. Before he was arrested for plotting with Libyan dictator the assassination of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Alamoudi was one of America's top Muslim Brotherhood operatives.

In that capacity, this self-professed "supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah" helped found and operate dozens of MB front organizations. One of these, dubbed the Islamic Free Market Institute, had the mission of influencing and suborning the conservative movement. During the Clinton administration, Alamoudi was given the responsibility for selecting, training and credentialing chaplains for the U.S. military and prison system. (Not to worry about the obvious peril associated with such an arrangement: After his arrest, Alamoudi’s responsibilities were transferred to the nation’s largest Muslim Brotherhood front, the Islamic Society of North America.)

It is not clear at this writing what the justification for reducing this al Qaeda financier's sentence might be, or to what extent his prison time will be reduced. We should all be concerned though that such an individual might be turned loose in our country. Even more worrisome are reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is making a concerted effort to get the rest of their operatives and allies out of U.S. prisons, as well.

Then, there is Hillary Clinton's announcement in Istanbul last week that the United States would find common ground with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on a resolution that the OIC has been pushing for years aimed at curbing free speech that "offends" Muslims. The United States has already co-sponsored one somewhat watered-down version of this initiative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Islamists who see the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference as a kind of new caliphate uniting and advancing the interests of all Muslims (the ummah) will not be satisfied, however, with anything less than the realization of their ultimate objective: an international directive to all United Nations member states to prohibit and criminalize expression that is deemed offensive by the MB, OIC or other shariah-adherent parties.

To "bridge" the gap between the OIC agenda and our constitutional freedoms, the OIC is pressuring Secretary Clinton to agree that we join Europe in considering the "test of consequences," not just the content of speech. That way lies censorship and submission.

The Pentagon recently gave conscientious objector status to a Muslim soldier who claimed that, according to shariah, it was impermissible for him to kill his co-religionists in places like Afghanistan. No one has explained how the Pentagon proposes to square its acquiescence to that stance with the oath every serviceman and woman takes to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

For that matter, it is hard to see how Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Holder and, indeed, their boss, President Obama, can deem actions like the foregoing as consistent with their oaths of office. At best, they are acquiescing to far-reaching concessions to the Muslim Brotherhood and its ilk. At worse, they are enabling the MB’s efforts to destroy the West from within.

So pervasive now is the MB's "civilization jihad" within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order. To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-era's HUAC and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American – and anti-constitutional – activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists fifty years ago. Critics of a new select committee with such a mandate have an obligation to propose another approach to address this manifestly growing problem.



James O’Keefe Exposes Apparent Widespread Fraud and Corruption in Ohio Medicaid Offices

No one should be surprised at the apparent widespread fraud and corruption modern-day muckraker James O’Keefe and his team at Project Veritas found behind the doors of Medicaid offices in Ohio.

In the video above, O’Keefe and partner Spencer Meads pose as wealthy Russian drug smugglers who visit Medicaid offices in several Ohio counties. They’re told by government officials that: (1) they should not put their exotic sports cars on the Medicaid application; (2) they should classify their drug business as “babysitting”; and (3) They should go to Planned Parenthood to get free abortions for their underage sisters who perform sex in exchange for drugs.

Watch it and weep — then wait for more episodes of this left-wing bureaucratic tragedy to play out. Heads should roll.




The last shuttle launch: "We used to have presidents who liked to send Americans places ​— ​Iraq, Afghanistan, the Moon, or Mars. But George W. Bush’s NASA Constellation program has been canceled. Its gigantic Ares V rocket is off the drawing board. The Constellation’s Orion flight capsule has been renamed, in a telling translation into GovSpeak, MPCV​ — 'Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.' What the multiple purposes are supposed to be is anyone’s guess. At the moment the only way NASA can get a person into space is by paying Vladmir Putin for a ride on the creaky old Soyuz. Looks like the Russians won the space race after all."

Low-hanging fruit: Farm subsidies: "Toing and froing over the debt ceiling has delayed an extension of the federal Farm Bill, set to expire in 2012. Of all the wasteful federal programs, agricultural subsidies may be the most painless to eliminate, so bring on their expiration. The Farm Bill is actually an aggregation of 15 bills, and it includes a host of far from essential or constitutional items that have nothing to do with agriculture."

McCelery: "Question: if corporations can so easily 'manipulate customers needs and demands with advertising and marketing,' why doesn’t McDonald’s simply serve raw celery? Celery being much less costly for McDonald’s to buy than ground beef and chicken patties, a raw-celery-only menu at McDonald’s would slash that company’s costs."

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

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


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


20 July, 2011

The 'BBC Left' is using Murdoch hacking to get revenge

Left-wing politicians and broadcasters do not want to debate ideas but they do want to remove their opponents

By Janet Daley (An American-born journalist writing from Britain)

It was a broadcasters' event some years ago. I had been invited to speak on a favourite subject: the BBC hegemony in broadcast news and the risk that its own package of tendentious assumptions – that Euroscepticism was a lunatic fringe irrelevance, that anyone who expressed concern about immigration was a bigot, etc, etc – was going unchallenged in the mass media. After I had said my piece, a BBC producer in the audience asked whether, since I was so concerned about the dangers of large media organisations, I did not have the same objection to the existence of the "Murdoch empire".

"No-o-o," I replied patiently, I did not have the same objection. If I did not wish to support Mr Murdoch's enterprises I could refrain from buying his newspapers or subscribing to his television service – and no one could threaten me with arrest and imprisonment for so doing. This was, I suggested, a rather significant difference between the two media corporations.

In the startled silence of his response, I assumed that it had never occurred to him (as I say, this was some years ago) that anyone could question the justification for the legally enforced licence fee since it was clearly, for him, rooted in the inherent moral goodness of the BBC – and by implication of the ethical standards which it purveyed. The BBC may be trying to inculcate a bit more self-critical awareness among its personnel now but that smug righteousness of the Left-liberal media class has not gone away. It is, as you may have noticed, in something of a triumphal frenzy at the moment.

This has gone way, way beyond phone hacking. It is now about payback. Gordon Brown's surreal effusion in the House last week may have made it embarrassingly explicit, but the odour of vengeance has been detectable from the start: not just from politicians who have suffered the disfavour of Murdoch's papers, or the trade unions (and their political allies) who have never forgiven him for Wapping, but from that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre. The influence of the BBC as a monitor of what is politically admissible is almost incalculable: the entire Tory modernisation project was effectively made necessary (as its chief architects often admit) by the need to get a fair hearing on its news coverage.

But the power of the BBC – and its historical hatred for the "Murdoch empire" – is just one aspect of a larger battle which has now leapt across the Atlantic, where the target is not newspapers which can be legitimately charged with having committed unconscionable acts, but Fox News. Its offence is to have filled such a huge gap in the market for television news and current affairs that it has swept all before it. Its raucous Right-wing orientation is, in fact, matched by an equally raucous Left-wing equivalent in the cable news channel MSNBC, so why should anyone who believes in open and free debate among news providers object to this?

The problem is that Fox's audience share is enormous, by far the largest of any cable news channel, whereas MSNBC's is tiny, the smallest of any cable news channel. People are voting with their remotes for the kind of opinions they want to hear and the result is infuriating for the Left-liberal axis – and particularly for the Obama White House, which has made no secret of its desire to shut Fox News down.

There is, incidentally – contrary to the conjectures of some excitable commentators – no possibility of the "Murdoch empire" spawning a British version of Fox News. By law, broadcast news in Britain must be impartial. That is why all television news organisations in this country subscribe to pretty much the same soft-Left rendition of neutral reporting (in which Euroscepticism was, until very recently, treated as a lunatic fringe irrelevance, etc). And just the sort of liberal received opinion that now dominates television news because the tight regulation of licensed broadcasters demands it, could prevail in newspapers if the press were regulated (which is to say, licensed to operate) "in the same way that broadcasting is" – a suggestion which is being uttered in precisely those words even by Conservative politicians.

In fact, a similar rule of enforced neutrality applies in the US on network news programming: all news which is transmitted "over the airwaves" must be impartial (which there, too, means Left-liberal). It is only by the technical fluke of their being relayed by cable that the newer news channels such as Fox and MSNBC can show partisanship. Result: network news in the US is haemorrhaging viewers and cable news is hugely influential.

The cable news channels now play roughly the role in American politics that politically aligned newspapers do in Britain. To start regulating (licensing) the press would mean that we would have no frankly, vividly, politically potent news medium to counter whatever conventional wisdom was ordained by the self-appointed "enlightened" class of the day.

It is worth asking in both the British and American contexts why people who regard themselves as believers in free speech and liberal democracy can be so openly eager to close off – silence, kill, extinguish – different political views from their own. This is the question that is at the heart of the matter and which will remain long after every News International executive who may possibly be incriminated in the current scandal has been purged.

There is scarcely any outfit on the Right – be it political party, or media outlet – which demands the outright abolition of a Left-wing voice, as opposed to simply recommending restraint on its dominance (as I am with the BBC). That is because those of us on the Right are inclined to believe that our antagonists on the Left are simply wrong-headed – sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes malevolent but basically just mistaken. Whereas the Left believes that we are evil incarnate. Their demonic view of people who express even mildly Right-of-centre opinions (that lower taxes or less state control might be desirable, for example) would be risible if it were not so pernicious.

The Left does not want a debate or an open market in ideas. It wants to extirpate its opponents – to remove them from the field. It actually seems to believe that it is justified in snuffing out any possibility of our arguments reaching the impressionable masses – and bizarrely, it defends this stance in the name of fairness.



The Ideologue in the Oval Office

Jonah Goldberg

"I think increasingly the American people are going to say to themselves, 'You know what? If a party or a politician is constantly taking the position my-way-or-the-highway, constantly being locked into ideologically rigid positions, that we're going to remember at the polls,'" President Obama said at his Friday news conference.

I know everyone is sick of hearing about the debt-limit negotiations. Lord knows I am. When I turn on the news these days, I feel like one of the passengers seated next to Robert Hays in the movie "Airplane!" By the time we get to the phrase "in the out years," I'm ready to pour a can of gasoline over my head.

Still, regardless of how things turn out with the negotiations, what we are witnessing is the rollout of the Obama re-election campaign's theme: Obama is the pragmatic voice of reason holding the ideologues at bay.

So it's worth asking, before this branding campaign gels into the conventional wisdom: Who is the real ideologue here?

The president, we are told, is a pragmatist for wanting a "fair and balanced" budget deal. What that means is tax increases must accompany spending cuts. Any significant spending cuts would be way in the future. The tax increases would begin right after Obama is re-elected.

Now keep in mind that tax hikes (or what the administration calls "revenue increases") are Obama's idee fixe. He campaigned on raising taxes for millionaires and billionaires (defined in the small print as people making more than $200,000 a year or couples making $250,000).

During a primary debate, he was asked by ABC's Charles Gibson if he would raise the capital gains tax even if he knew that cutting it would generate more revenue for the government. The non-ideologue responded that raising the tax, even if doing so would lower revenue, might be warranted out of "fairness." As he said to Joe the Plumber, things are better when you "spread the wealth around."

Earlier last week, referring to the fact that he is rich, the president said: "I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing. In fact, I'm able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don't need."

Leaving aside the fact that the man lives in public housing and has a government jet at his disposal -- so his definition of "need" might be a bit out of whack -- what is pragmatic about this position?

Obama says that Republicans are rigid ideologues because they won't put "everything on the table." Specifically, they won't consider tax hikes, even though polls suggest Americans wouldn't mind soaking "the rich," "big oil" and "corporate jet owners."

But Obama hasn't put everything on the table either. He's walled off "ObamaCare" and the rest of his "winning the future" agenda.

If Obama believes the American people are the voice of reason when it comes to tax hikes, why does their opinion count for nothing when it comes to ObamaCare, which has never been popular? (According to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, only 38.6 percent of voters favor the plan.) Why not look for some savings there?

Consider the frustration of the supposedly ideologically locked-in GOP Congress. In 2008, the national debt was 40 percent of GDP. Now it's more than 60 percent, and it is projected to reach 75 percent next year, all thanks to a sour economy the GOP feels Obama made worse with incontinent spending.

Republicans won a historic election last November campaigning against the spending, borrowing, tax hikes and ObamaCare. Yet Obama's position is that the Republicans are deranged dogmatists because they don't want to raise taxes or borrow more money to pay for spending they opposed. And Obama is flexible because he refuses to revisit a program that has never been popular.

Meanwhile, the sole example of Obama's pragmatism -- that he has publicly acknowledged -- is his openness to means-testing Medicare, which may not be a bad idea. But Obama's support for it rests entirely on the fact that it would continue to tax upper-income people for benefits they will no longer receive. So, in addition to taxing the "rich" more, he also wants to give them less. I know why liberals would support that, but for the life of me I can't see how it's non-ideological.




Time to re-privatize fire departments: "All across America, municipal governments are awakening to the costs of overly-generous public sector compensation. In Orange County, California, the average total pay and benefits package for a firefighter is $175,000 a year. Firefighter unions say that there can be no cuts to fire department budgets without putting the safety of the public at risk. Yet for most of the nation's history, firefighting services were reliably provided by the private sector. Today, one county in Georgia is showing how that can be done again."

A glut of bureaucrats: "'I have never been in banking.' Those words sounded pretty defensive when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner uttered them two years ago. The financial crisis had left nerves raw, and Damon Silvers, my colleague on the congressional panel watching over the federal bailout, had just referred to Geithner’s supposed banking background. ... It might have been simpler if, from the beginning, Geithner had just shouted out the complete story -- 'I’m a lifetime bureaucrat!' -- and been done with it"

Israeli navy takes over Gaza-bound ship: "Israeli naval commandos on Tuesday seized control of a French ship attempting to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, reporting no resistance during the takeover in international waters. The navy boarded the ship after the pro-Palestinian activists on board ignored calls to change course. The military had warned it would stop any attempt to break the sea blockade of Gaza, which Israel imposed four years ago in what it says is a measure to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group. It said the vessel, the Dignity al-Karama, would be taken to a southern Israeli port, Ashdod. The international passengers are likely to face deportation."

Labor’s new strategy: Intimidation for dummies: "In the past decade, unions have become increasingly desperate to obtain new dues-paying members. An example of how desperate can be found in a 70-plus-page intimidation manual from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which only recently came to light in a pending court case. The new union tactic is to use pressure on corporate boardrooms as a means of organizing entire companies nationwide rather than recruiting workers on a site-by-site basis; in short, to organize employers rather than employees."

The scourge of economic nationalism, again: "If saving is good for Americans, the nationality or place of residence of the savers whose saved resources are invested in the American economy is irrelevant. If saving is good for Americans, then given Americans’ saving rate, savings invested in the American economy by non-Americans are a blessing -- a blessing that is bigger the greater is the amount of this foreign savings and investment in the American economy."

Government spending is spending — not investment: "If government spending were actually investments, this country would be awash in surpluses and the common people would be enjoying prosperity beyond their wildest dreams. That's because the result of investment is creation of value, while the result of spending is consumption of value. So when politicians talk about spending as 'investments,' they mean precisely the opposite of what they are saying."

Some federal workers more likely to die than lose jobs: "Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations. The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes."

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

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

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


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


19 July, 2011

The Long Retreat of Liberalism

Pat Buchanan

Though President Obama has run rings about the Republican Party in the debt-ceiling debate, that party can yet emerge victorious, if it will stick to its guns.

Clearly, the Republican strategy was not thought through, when the party chose the debt ceiling as the legislative terrain on which to fight its fiscal war.

The president had wanted a clean debt-ceiling increase, but he seized the GOP challenge with alacrity. He invited House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor down to the White House and reportedly offered $3 trillion in spending cuts for $1 trillion in fresh revenue, in a historic "big deal" to cut the deficit.

However, the cuts the president offered were, while attractive, gauzy. But the revenues -- closing "loopholes" and ending "tax breaks for the rich" -- were hard and specific. Had Boehner accepted the deal, he would not have survived as speaker. Fully 235 GOP House members signed a pledge in 2010 not to vote for any tax increase.

Thus, every day Boehner and Cantor departed the White House, having refused to accept "the deal of the century," the message that went out to the nation was that Republican intransigence, a refusal to compromise, was blocking historic deficit reduction.

Using the White House bully pulpit, Obama portrayed himself as bending over backward to do a fair deal and being forced, if the GOP continued to balk, to stop mailing out Social Security checks.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned of a U.S. default on its debts if there were no deal. Moody's and Standard & Poor's warned that the United States was imperiling its AAA credit rating. The big media painted the GOP as a party led by reasonable men who were hostage to fanatics being pandered to by Cantor.

Why did Boehner refuse the Obama temptation?

Had he accepted the deal, his party in the House would have split asunder. Half would have voted "no." To force its passage, Boehner would have had to collude with Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, against scores in his own caucus, to get Democratic votes.

Though House Republicans have been mussed up in the last two weeks, the White House "negotiations" now appear at an end, and a liberated Republican House is about to pass its own deficit-reduction plan.

"Cut, cap and balance" calls for cuts in federal spending to 20 percent of gross domestic product, a cap on federal programs and the enactment of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would crush federal spending to 18 percent of the economy from today's 25.

While this may clear the House, it stands little chance in the Senate. But it puts the party on the offensive. It will eat up the clock. It will put the GOP on record as to where it stands and provide the Tea Party Caucus a chance to vote its convictions.

But if the GOP House plan dies in the Senate, how does the GOP win? Again, by simply standing its ground on taxes, and waiting.

This weekend, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the White House agreed the debt ceiling will be raised, and Obama accepted the reality that he will not be getting any new revenue.

This means that, at the end of this process, Obama will sign a debt-ceiling increase that involves $2 trillion or $1.5 trillion or $1 trillion in spending cuts, with no new taxes and no new revenues.

And that is a victory for whom, and a defeat for whom?

Republicans may have been beaten up for most of July, but come August, Democrats will be asking Barack Obama what exactly he and they got for agreeing to serious cuts in social spending, while the Republican right compromised on nothing and gave up nothing.

Obama won the public relations battle, but the Republicans, if they hold firm on no revenue enhancement and no new taxes, are fated to win the war. And not just this one.

For, from Greece to Ireland to Portugal to Italy, from California to Wisconsin to New Jersey to New York, the crisis of the West is a crisis of liberalism.

Deficits and debts that threaten to wipe out bondholders and banks, destroy currencies, bring down governments and bankrupt nations are everywhere forcing reductions in government payrolls and rollbacks in government programs.

Across the West, the public sector is under siege.

And parties of the left, be they liberal, socialist or Marxist, depend on the public sector increasing its employees, increasing its beneficiaries, increasing its share of the national wealth.

That is what they do. That is how they grow. And that is how they reach and retain power.

Bottom line. Parties of the left are on this earth to grow the government. But the West has entered a period where its economic survival and the prevention of financial collapse mandate constant and deep cuts in the size and sweep of government.

For the left, this is going to be a long decade.



America's Financial Restoration vs. Obama's Ideology

There is an overarching reason we can't move toward a balanced budget, which underscores why we face ongoing stalemates over debt ceilings and continuing resolutions: President Obama doesn't want to balance the budget.

I don't say this out of extremism or to be gratuitously controversial or even provocative. It's just that his words and actions lead to the inescapable conclusion that he is unwilling to curb his appetite for big government. In the absence of any such restraint, our alarming budget trajectory cannot be reversed. The debt ceiling may be the last clear chance before the 2012 elections to force meaningful budgetary reforms.

Obama's recalcitrance is rooted in his ideology. He has been working all his adult life toward the moment that he could transform America into a fairer place. He's not about to allow an existential threat to the nation get in the way of his obsession.

Perhaps he wishes he'd acceded to the presidency when our debt picture was less calamitous. Then he might have more leeway to work his despotic magic. Then again, probably not; without the mainly Democratic-caused housing crisis falling into his lap just in the nick of time, he might not have been elected, much less positioned to make the ludicrous demand that we spend nearly $1 trillion more to "stimulate" ourselves out of debt. Alinskyite revolutionaries feed on crises, real and perceived.

Obama fundamentally rejects the American ideals of economic liberty and equality of opportunity. He's determined to use government to redistribute and equalize incomes (and wealth, truth be told), and neither the Constitution nor catastrophic debt consequences will deter him.

He doesn't even appear worried about the debt itself, only the hassle he's getting from Republicans who are getting in the way of his spending and tax hikes. When most Americans are worried sick over our nation's finances, Obama is lecturing us about people who "keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that (they) don't need," as if the chief executive were the grand arbiter of income distribution. The Heritage Foundation reports that Obama is "creating a new 'poverty' measure that deliberately severs all connection between 'poverty' and actual deprivation." His "goal is to measure income 'inequality,' not poverty -- giving the President public relations ammunition for his 'spread-the-wealth' agenda." Just so ... just so.

There's more. Obama is fond of invoking false consensuses in support of his policies, but there truly is widespread agreement that raising taxes during very tough economic times would impede recovery. Obama himself gave voice to that very axiom in 2009, saying, "The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession, because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy."

But now, perhaps realizing he might not get another chance to coerce the Congress into hiking taxes (as a matter of "fairness"), he's holding the debt ceiling hostage to his demands.

Worst of all is Obama's resistance to entitlement reforms. At a time when everyone acknowledges that our current entitlement programs are unsustainable, Obama refuses to offer a specific plan to reform them and adamantly opposes credible Republican plans to do so.

Also, Obama rarely speaks with any urgency about spending cuts; his emphasis is always that we can't unduly cut programs for "folks" who rely on them, flagrantly turning on its head the JFK maxim, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

While Republicans are pleading with Obama to join them on Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to cut spending and reform entitlements, Obama is clinging to his demand for the high-speed rail boondoggle. When health care costs are soaring and revised scoring of Obamacare reveals just how prohibitively costly it will be, Obama holds on to it like a life raft and pushes the rest of us off. It will destroy access, quality and cost, but he will not betray his ideology.

Just as his party abrogated its duty to propose a congressional budget for 800 days, Obama refuses to provide specifics for cutting spending and just tells us what he won't do. You can read the transcripts from his most recent two pressers and find no specifics.

As recently as 2010, Obama's budget more than doubled the national debt and pushed the fiscal year 2011 deficit to a record high of $1.6 trillion with record spending, which exceeded $3.8 trillion. His FY 2012 budget again called for doubling the national debt in five years and tripling it in 10 years -- again without even addressing entitlements.

It's simple, really. We have to have structural entitlement reform, major spending cuts and no tax increase-retardants on economic growth to reverse our current course toward national bankruptcy, but Obama steadfastly remains on the wrong side of all these solutions.



Don't Forget Welfare Reform

With everyone in Washington consumed by whether and how to increase our nation’s debt ceiling, the necessity for welfare reform seems oddly absent from the negotiations.

Although the historic welfare reforms of 1996 succeeded in moving people from welfare to work, it most certainly did not “end welfare as we know. it” Amazingly, these reforms – which liberals stridently opposed – only restructured one of the more than 70 federal means-tested welfare programs run by our federal government.

That’s right, there are more than 70 separate welfare programs scattered across 13 government agencies. The Heritage Foundation ran the numbers and found these programs cost taxpayers nearly $900 billion per year. Even in this debate, that is some serious spending.

And, of course, Washington’s problem is spending. Instead of raising revenue through gimmicky fees, higher tax rates and targeted tax hikes, lawmakers should focus on growing our economy and job creation. Reforming the entire welfare system by helping to move people from welfare to work is one way to do that.

If our economy were doing better, and people were more able to find good, well-paying jobs and achieve the American dream, then they would be entering into a tax bracket and paying taxes. The recent decline in revenue is not a result of tax rates, but rather a result of anemic economic growth and a lack of job creation.

Currently, the bottom 50% of income earners pay just 3% of total income tax revenues. If we enacted policies and reforms that helped the lowest income bracket gain wealth, then our tax revenues will increase. As Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said “we don’t need new taxes, we need new taxpayers.”

Unfortunately, thanks to over 70 different federal welfare programs, the number of people on welfare (be it food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid, etc.) has been steadily growing, and has ballooned under President Obama. According to the Heritage Foundation:

For every $10 President Bush spent on welfare in 2008, President Obama expects to spend about $13. Far from encouraging self-reliance, the welfare state’s unrestrained growth spurt will force millions more into dependency on government.

Briefly, let’s jump back to 1996 and how these reforms actually worked. What actually happened in ’96 was the replacement of Aid to Families with Dependent Children with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Instead of sending blank checks to welfare beneficiaries, for the first time ever, welfare checks were linked to work.

No longer were recipients simply depending on the government to support them. Suddenly they had to go out and find work or at least prove that they were devoting 20 to 30 hours a week towards preparing for a job.

Just 12 years later, 2.8 million Americans, about 60% of the overall caseload, left welfare and found jobs. Imagine that!

Unfortunately, only one of the more than 70 welfare programs was reformed. Today, the success of TANF has halted. Much of it was the recession, but much of it was the massive expansion of the welfare state. Today, one in seven Americans are on food stamps, and while some are new recipients who had never applied for the program before, more than half of those on food stamps have received aid for eight and a half years or longer.

Where is the incentive to leave the program?

As with most government programs which don’t show results, Congress’s answer was to throw more money at the problem, instead of reforming the programs so that they work better. If we apply the 1996 TANF reforms to the other 70 or so welfare programs, then we could achieve real reform and help the 40 million people who currently receive government aid.

Fortunately, some solid conservatives recognize the need and are laying out a way forward.

Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-OH), Tim Scott (R–SC), and Scott Garrett (R–NJ) have introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011, H.R.1167. The bill expands on the success of TANF by applying the same work-oriented policy to the other federal welfare programs. A growing coalition of Senate Republicans are preparing to introduce companion legislation.

If Congress wants to do something really meaningful for the country, especially for those who are most in need, then restructuring welfare is the way to go. Not only will shifting welfare recipients from government dependents to self-sufficient taxpayers bring in new revenue and decrease the need for wasteful government spending, it will also empower them to achieve the American dream.


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

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


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


18 July, 2011

It's About Jobs, Stupid!

America has a growth deficit. As the latest job report shows unemployment reached 9.2%-- the highest rate of 2011-- investors and employers continue to react negatively to this bad news.

During the three years of the Obama administration, in this dismal economy millions of Americans have been forced to take jobs which they are overqualified for or they have simply given up looking for work entirely. If you include those workers, the real unemployment rate is higher than 16.2% by conservative estimates.

These numbers are far worse depending on geography, with the most glaring examples of misguided economic policies being in poor urban communities.

Capital always follows the path of least resistance and greatest opportunity. But not only has President Obama’s continuation of endless deficit spending not resulted in so-called Keynesian “pump priming” and economic growth, it has discouraged private investment as money continues to flow into safe havens like Treasurys.

As the debt-ceiling debate rages on and some in the Senate Republican leadership seem ready to negotiate with big-government Democrats, the proverbial 4.2 trillion dollar gorilla in the room continues to grow while trampling over our economy and the formation of small businesses. To be clear, there are two distinct paths:

We can go the route which President Obama favors, which includes an ever-increasing debt ceiling which will continue to crush economic activity.

Or, we can force government to “eat their peas” and use the force of law to handcuff legislators to policies which spur economic growth and job creation.

And the time to choose a path is today, before August 2, when the Federal government will officially run out of money to pay outstanding obligations.

According to Michael Tanner of CATO, the Treasury Department will collect roughly $203 billion in taxes during August, but have liabilities totaling more than $307 billion. You certainly could not run your family budget with this type of recklessness. And as America runs at lightning speed toward a Greek-like financial catastrophe, as our debt is on the verge of consuming our nation’s entire output.

Throughout American history, we have never failed to increase the debt ceiling. And as irresponsible politicians grow government for their own political gain, they have left us with a financial cancer which is metastasizing rapidly.

Therefore, conservatives must act boldly and proactively. Not only must we sit at the bargaining table and demand cuts, but there must be cuts in all levels of government which amount to an immediate reduction in the deficit. Anything less is unacceptable.

The second step is to use tough statuary caps which will tie the hands of future politicians from spending beyond the historical, pre-Bush average of 18% of the Gross Domestic Product. Politicians in both parties have proven themselves untrustworthy to reduce spending, so breaking that limitation would mandate simultaneous spending reductions.

And finally, we must have Congress approve the Hatch-Lee Balanced Budget Amendment Balanced Budget Amendment, and send it to the states for ratification. Not only would it mirror most states which have their own requirements for expenditures equally revenue, but it additionally requires a 2/3rds supermajority to approve tax increases. And once the amendment is official, it would be quite impossible in the modern era to ever repeal it.

These proposals would have been impossible in any previous congress, including the 1994 Gingrich Revolution. But things have changed now that every man, woman, and child in the United States owes $46,000, and with our debt on a path to double within 10 years.

Thanks to Tea Party activists providing the necessary backlash to an ever-expanding federal government, the proposals put forth in the Cut, Cap, and Balance pledge are not only entirely possible, a majority of Americans understand they are necessary to put America on a path to new jobs and prosperity.



Skyscraper "Loophole" Creates Jobs

When Michael Moore looks at a skyscraper, he sees a bloated monument to rich investors. He becomes nauseous and his lunch floats back up into his throat as he imagines the tenants who can afford Class A rent: Tenants like a semi-retired banker and his entrepreneurial son who watch the sun rise from their 92nd floor office suite while their assistant pours cold, crystal-clear water into tall glasses holding cucumber slices.

“Hmmm, how can I knock that tower down and humble those richies?” Moore wonders to himself. “I certainly can’t push it over. I’d have to give up my breakfast of chocolate covered bacon and hit the gym every morning. Way too much work for a big boy like me. … I’ve got it! I’ll ask the President to push for eliminating the carried interest tax break!”

Moore detests buildings that stand as public monuments to capitalism. In fact, he wrapped the New York Stock Exchange building in crime-scene tape for his movie, Capitalism: A Love Story.

Hollywood elites like Moore and his fans at The New York Times imply that legitimate tax incentives for entrepreneurial risk—like the carried interest tax break—are “loopholes.”

The term “loophole” confuses Americans into thinking that wealthy entrepreneurs are cheaters on par with the 5th grade bully who brazenly steals little Ashley’s sandwich out of her hands and takes his first pilfered bite before her astonished eyes.

Rush Limbaugh explained the carried interest tax break on his July 8 talk show:

“Obama … has made this official in 2009 budget documents he’s presented that he wants to get rid of the carried interest tax break for hedge funds, private equity groups, and commercial real estate people. …essentially carried interest is profits for original investors in hedge funds, private equity firms, (and) commercial real estate that is at present taxed at capital gains levels, and they want to convert this to ordinary income, which would move it up to about 35 (percent) and then eventually 39.6 if Obama gets his tax increase wish, which would shut down commercial real estate investment.”

Limbaugh is right. Unlike other investments, commercial real estate cannot easily move overseas. U.S. developers can’t just start developing in India or China overnight. Commercial real estate investment thrives or dies here in America.

Entrepreneurial ventures such as commercial real estate developments are risky. If we want to create jobs, we must incentivize entrepreneurs to take risks.

Let’s say you want to develop an office, retail or industrial building. Before you can build, you must accept long-term, unforeseeable risks from environmental contamination, lawsuits, debts and construction delays. These liabilities mean your income stream is uncertain. You will want a financial incentive to accept these risks.

The current carried interest tax rate sits at a capital gains rate of 15 percent to incentivize general partners like developers to put their names and fortunes on the line to build projects that create countless jobs.

The commercial real estate industry directly creates white-collar jobs for leasing agents, property managers, mortgage brokers, owners, investors, bankers and asset managers. It also sustains jobs for those who depend on the health of commercial real estate such as architects, lawyers, consultants, insurance brokers, appraisers and marketing professionals. Lastly, a multitude of blue-collar resulting services such as construction and landscaping depend on commercial real estate.

The mainstream media contends that eliminating the carried interest tax break would only hurt hedge fund managers on Wall Street. Yet, the largest commercial real estate development association, NAIOP, reports U.S. Treasury data showing that over 46 percent of all partnerships are real estate partnerships, and carried interest plays a vital role in a large number of them. Furthermore, when the economy is healthy, commercial real estate creates over nine million American jobs and accounts for nearly one-third of U.S. GDP.

Sadly, June’s job report revealed that the U.S. added a meager 18,000 jobs and lost 9,000 in construction. “…with the national economy’s accelerating recession, non-residential building construction outlays fell by 20.4 percent in 2009,” explains Dr. Stephen S. Fuller in his 2010 NAIOP study on the economic contributions of commercial real estate development and construction. So why would the White House want to remove entrepreneurial incentives?

The Washington Times offers a solution: Comprehensive tax reform that improves economic performance, not arbitrary tax hikes on industries like commercial real estate just to cut a budget deal.

In Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead an entrepreneurial developer predicts: “The age of the skyscraper is gone. This is the age of the housing project. Which is always a prelude to the age of the cave.”

Americans prefer working in office towers to bat caves. It’s time for Michael Moore, journalists and politicians to acknowledge that incentives like the carried interest tax break create jobs and fuel our economy.




Can you name five formerly poor countries that have grown rich through wealth transfers from more economically advanced nations?

No? Okay, then just name one. Still stumped? As you probably suspect, not a single nation has ever grown wealthy by way of financial handouts from other, more well-to-do societies. That's worth remembering when we consider how best to pull people out of poverty.

Last week, the United Nations issued a report on its Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs, for short). One important goal is to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger," with a chief target being to cut in half the proportion of the world's people whose income is less than $1.25 a day by 2015.

According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011 "grudgingly admits" that "wealth creation and not wealth redistribution is the main driver behind reduced levels of extreme poverty around the world." Seems most of this very welcome decline has occurred in East Asia (mainly China) and in India -- areas benefitting not from foreign aid but from massive economic growth.

The findings released by the UN's Economic and Social Affairs Department show that the percentage of Chinese citizens living on $1.25 a day or less has already been reduced by more than half -- from 60 percent to just 16 percent. The report goes on to state, "The fastest growth and sharpest reductions in poverty continue to be found in Eastern Asia, particularly in China, where the poverty rate is expected to fall to under five per cent by 2015."

India's economic expansion has also had a major impact on alleviating world levels for poverty and hunger. "In that country," the document says, "poverty rates are projected to fall from 51 per cent in 1990 to about 22 per cent in 2015."

On the other hand, sub-Saharan Africa receives the largest amount of the world's overseas development aid, per capita, yet those living there in extreme poverty dropped only modestly between 1990 and 2005, from 58 percent to 51 percent.

But to Ban Ki-moon, the UN's Secretary-General, the success of homegrown economic growth means simply that, "Already, the MDGs have helped lift millions out of poverty." Shazam!

And what to make of the lackluster track record of development aid?

Secretary-General Ban and those running the United Nations continue to push for increased wealth transfers from richer to poorer nations. In 2010, wealthier countries gave $129 billion in aid. The MDG report argues this is far short of the money that should be shifted each year from rich to poor nations.

If those making a lifelong living off redistributing wealth can so cavalierly ignore their own statistics, they'll have little trouble ignoring a lifetime of work by Peter Bauer in development economics. Bauer argued that legitimate investment, rather than foreign aid, would flow in ample amounts to countries with a safe and productive climate for business.

"Development aid is . . . not necessary to rescue poor societies from a vicious circle of poverty," Bauer found. "Indeed it is far more likely to keep them in that state."

Still, another UN report issued last week provides a different rationale for taking money from rich countries to give to poor ones. The World Economic and Social Survey 2011 called for "investment" of $72 trillion over the next four decades, much of it in green technology, with most of it going to developing countries. That's five times the U.S. annual GDP of $14.7 trillion.

Animating this report is the convenient notion that the world's wealthier, industrialized nations owe a "climate debt" to less developed nations. Ottmar Edenhofer, the German co-chair of one of the working groups of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explained:

"[D]eveloped countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this".

Neither should buyers of coal and oil. Or anyone else, since these two energy sources undergird so much of modern life and progress.

And progress -- material progress -- matters. Poverty is reduced through economic growth, not through redistributing wealth from rich to poor countries.

So of course the United Nations intends to ignore the policies that lead to economic expansion -- stable rule of law, property rights, minimal government interference in normal work and trade -- and concentrate, instead, on dramatically increasing redistribution.



The SEIU NLRB Serial Job Killer

In just another example of the Obama administration making law by fiat, the National Labor Relations Board head Craig Becker is proposing new rules that would shotgun the formation of new union shops in as quick as ten days.

After the defeat of card check at the legislative ballot box, the former SEIU goon is acting creatively in order to implement portions of card check unilaterally.

What would one expect from a guy appointed to his position despite his nomination being rejected by the Senate?

“He never satisfactorily answered a series of questions that I posed to him – failing to reassure me that his years of service to labor unions would not color his decisions at the NLRB," Senator Orrin Hatch (R.,UT) said in a statement as reported by the Washington Post.

Becker couldn’t answer questions for a number of other Senators either so they scrapped his nomination.

Obama then made a recess appointment of Becker to the NLRB, the presidential equivalent of Enron accounting for political appointees.

Becker is losing no time now in answering the questions and concerns Hatch and his fellow Senators had. The answers are about as bad as they feared.

NLRB and Becker have been in the news lately because they’ve attacked Boeing for opening a plant in South Carolina, a state that is less accommodating to union employment but more accommodating to workers and management with project deadlines to keep.

But the attack on Boeing is nothing compared to the attack that Becker and organized labor are going to launch against the rest of us starting today.

“On July 18, the NLRB is holding a hearing on its proposal to overhaul virtually the entire manner and set of rules by which union-representation elections are conducted in the workplace,” says labor expert Geoffrey Burr in the Washington Times. “To the surprise of no one who can read federal election donation reports, all of the agency’s changes appear to help union bosses at the expense of everyone else.”

First up is making sure union elections happen quickly. The longer it takes for employees to become informed, the less likely they’ll join a union.


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

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


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


17 July, 2011

Who Benefits From All The Obama Spending Sprees?

“Did you hear about the new ‘Obama Happy Meal Deal?’” a friend posted on Facebook earlier this week.

“You order whatever you want and as much as you want, and the person in line behind you has to pay for it….LOL!”

Americans have always enjoyed poking fun at their Presidents, and cheap jokes that illicit more groans than laughs aren’t to be taken too seriously. But, as is often the case with humor, there was a slight bit of truth entailed in this little online anecdote.

The joke suggests that, even among people who don’t think much about politics and public policy, or who don’t often utter words like ‘socialism,” “Marxism,” or “economic redistribution,” there is nonetheless a growing recognition that our President likes to spend other people’s money. And in light of this, we would all do well to ask a couple of questions.

Let’s start with this: “Where did all the stimulus money go?” What began in February of 2009 as a plan that the President said would “save or create 3 to 4 million jobs,” and what his Administration claimed would prevent our unemployment rate from rising over 8%, had an original price tag of $787 billion.

Months later the price of the “stimulus plan” had ballooned up to about $813 billion, and neither the Administration nor members of Congress could offer many details about it. By the end of 2009, both the fiscally conservative Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who voted against it, and the big government liberal Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) who voted in favor of it, both admitted that there had not been proper oversight of how this enormous amount of taxpayer money had been spent (a fact that I documented in my latest book, “The Virtues Of Capitalism”). All this, as the unemployment rate continued to rise well above the 8% watermark.

So let’s ask this next: “Who benefits from the spending?” This is an especially painful question, because it’s easier to think in terms of who is not benefiting, and who is being harmed, by the spending.

Ethnic minority groups living in America’s inner city regions are most certainly not benefiting from the President’s wealth redistribution. As much as they may have superimposed their own expectations on to the President’s promises of “hope” and “change,” non-whites living in America’s urban centers are now experiencing some of the worst fallout of an economy that won’t expand.

Just last week an editorial by writer Walter Russell Mead, published in “The American Interest,” pointed out that Black America in particular is suffering under President Obama. Noting that some of the most staunchly Democrat states in the country – including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota – have produced some of the highest double-digit unemployment rates among Black Americans, Mead described our current era as one of “deepening alienation, anger, and despair in America’s inner cities.” Of course it is still not acceptable for elected Democrats to admit that the president’s “spending solutions” are harmful. Thus, Chicago Police Chief Gary McCarthy recently chose to blame the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for the rising crime and unrest in his city, claiming that the right to “keep and bear arms” is an “extension of government sponsored racism.”

Americans who have maintained good credit scores and payment histories are most certainly not benefiting from President Obama’s wealth redistribution policies. The President insists that his Administration is providing “help” to borrowers who have fallen on hard times, but in reality the Administration has bailed-out banking institutions, and not individual people. We now have a financial system that is incentivized by our government to “forgive” portions of debt and to modify repayment terms for consumers with bad credit, while banks ignore credit-worthy consumers who pay their bills on time.

On the other hand, banks and the people who run them seem to be benefiting pretty well from President Obama’s spending. So do certain executive level folks at certain companies in certain other sectors of our economy. In fact, a new research project conducted by Capgemini and Bank of America shows that the world’s population of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) with $1 million or more in “investable assets” rose 8.3% over the previous year, to a total of 10.9 million people. This is to say that while President Obama’s policies are not “creating jobs,” a lot of personal wealth is being created for select individuals.

As much as President Obama has served up plenty of harsh criticisms for “overpaid executives” and “greedy companies” over the last three years, businesses and corporate executives that have politically allied themselves with him have, in many cases, been “blessed” by his spending of our money. For example, ABC News reported earlier this spring that “billions” of “stimulus dollars” have been handed-over to unionized construction companies, yet “shovel ready” infrastructure projects still haven’t emerged. More interestingly, many of these same companies owe the federal government unpaid taxes – but, they’re unionized.

If you’re on good political terms with President Obama, you may get to order “as much as you want.” If you’re second in line, you may have to pay for it all.



The Profound Misunderstanding of money by America's Leaders

Gold isn’t money? How could America get to this point we asked in astonishment upon hearing the Chairman of the Federal Reserve proclaim, “Gold isn’t Money.”

No wonder our leaders in Washington misspend our money. They don’t even understand what it is.

For those of you without a dictionary nearby, let’s start with the Webster’s definition, which says money is “something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment.”

The Webster’s definition even though inadequate still captures the essence. Money is a store of value that was created to facilitate barter or trade. It was a store of value because a farmer would accept it in exchange for his potatoes today, and next week he could spend an equivalent value to buy a pair of overalls.

If anyone reading this column doesn’t believe that gold is a good store of value, we will happily exchange your gold for some of Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve Notes. And that is exactly what owners of Federal Reserve Notes have been doing the world over. As a result, since 2001 the cost of Gold in Federal Reserve Notes has exploded from 300 notes per ounce of Gold to 1500 notes per ounce of Gold. That is a five times increase in ten years.

This is a signal that people, businesses and governments now believe that the ounce of Gold is greatly preferred as a store of value to Federal Reserve Notes.

But the people’s preference for Gold and Silver over pieces of paper with a printed promise is, as Rep. Ron Paul told Ben Bernanke in the same hearing, "at least 5000 years old."

Money is an English word first used in the 14th Century. It has been in common usage since that time. The origins are relatively simple. Webster’s again tells us the word “is derived from the Middle English moneye, from Anglo-French moneie, from Latin moneta or mint… from Moneta, epithet of Juno; from the fact that the Romans coined money in the temple of Juno Moneta.”

Students of history can tell you that all along, the best money in history has been gold and silver. This is why the Founding Fathers expressly gave Congress the right to "coin money."

Since 1971 the link between Gold and the US Dollar has been broken. And since that time we have seen unprecedented destruction of the value of the dollar through inflation. We are old enough to remember penny candy and gasoline at 33 cent per gallon. In the 1970's, Publishers Clearing House gave away the "ultimate mansion" --and the value was $100,000 dollars.

Inflation is an ideal way for countries to tax their populations both rich and poor without admitting that they have raised taxes. Inflation is in particular a means to tax the poor and elderly on fixed or limited incomes. The most vulnerable are most effected by inflation.

The more cynical of the recent decisions made by these leaders is to actually redefine our countries measure of inflation, the consumer price index or CPI. They are so cyclical that they believe we won't notice prices going up a whopping 9 percent a year-- when they report CPI of less than half the true measure.
So we guarantee you, that an academic as schooled in economics as our Federal Reserve Chairman is, Bernanke understands that Gold is money. But he, like the rest of the Washington establishment, prefer lie to our faces about definitions. This way, they can avoid lying to us about how they have fleeced the nation to the point of our near insolvency.



Not An Endgame, But the End of Beginning of the Campaign

Hugh Hewitt

President Obama unleashed his inner Alinskyite on Wednesday, storming out of a meeting with Congressional leaders and White House staff after threatening the GOP House Leader Eric Cantor with a parting "Eric, don't call my bluff."

Presidential it wasn't, and loyalists in the MSM immediately began to spread covering smoke from Obama allies like Harry Reid blaming the GOP Leader for refusing to be filibustered or bullied in the long series of pointless meetings arranged by a desperate president to try and change a political dynamic that sees his approval rating plummeting in poll after poll.

Last month in New Hampshire, would-be GOP nominee Mitt Romney pronounced this a "failed" presidency, and evidence for that conclusion is mounting daily as the president, either overwhelmed by his own incompetence or frozen by his extreme ideology --or both-- finds himself unable to lead. The petulance that marks the president whenever he is in a jam returned, and the instincts of the old "community organizer" took over, and the collision with Cantor underscored Obama's sheer inability to cope with opposition.

The GOP won the last election, of course, and in overwhelming fashion. The electorate renounced the vast spending and indiscipline of Obama's "stimulus" and Obamacare and demanded a retrenching, but not via a massive hike in taxes.

As Paul Ryan pointed out on my program Thursday, massive tax hikes are already built into the law for 2013 thanks to Obamacare. The president's insistence on even more taxes now is simply an attempt to turn America into Western Europe, and this is not where the country voted to go. From Ryan:
Let’s never forget the fact that the first two years of the President’s presidency, they passed all these tax increases that kick in, in 2013. So people don’t know this necessarily, yet, but the U.S. economy is going to get hit starting in 2013, you know, a little more than a year from now, with about a $1.5 trillion dollar tax increase. And it’s a tax increase that uniquely hits job creators, small businesses. More than half our jobs come from successful small businesses. They file as individuals. They’re the ones that bear the brunt of this, and we wonder why we’re not creating jobs today, because we’re going to have a huge tax increase that’s already going to hit these businesses, and they’re saying yeah, we spent all this money, now help us raise some more taxes on top of this to pay for it. And we’re just not going to go down that path.

The Congressional Republicans thus have to prepare themselves for a fierce attack from the president using his pals in the White House press corps which has twice in a week refused to press a president paddling towards the fiscal falls. If indeed a default would result in four figure market drops as some analysts --not all, but some-- predict, why isn't the MSM demanding of the president details on the spending cuts he has put forward, exact outlines of his tax proposals so the public can review and pass on them?

When the president announces a willingness to cut off social security checks, how can the "press" not ask him about the concept of trust funds violated, of lock boxes broken open and of a hundred other alternatives? Would he really let granny go hungry while the EPA writes rules on carbon trading that the Congress insists not be issued?

All the GOP can do is point out the recklessness and immaturity of an in-over-his-head president and try to minimize the damage from now until January 2013. The tantrums will grow in frequency and the rhetoric in temperature from 1600, but the coolest heads ought to prevail in the GOP House Conference as they have in the Senate GOP Caucus. There is no need to match the president outburst for outburst, but just the requirement that every GOP leader repeat again and again: "We won't be raising taxes. The president needs to send us his non-defense cuts."

That's the only message the GOP needs. That and "register to vote" as the country cannot afford another term of Saul Alinksy's Amateur Hour.


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

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


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


16 July, 2011

The Expanding Catalogue of Obamacare Fables

Michelle Malkin

Is there a health insurance horror story disseminated by the White House and its allies that ever turned out to be true? Obamacare advocates have exercised more artistic license than a convention of Photoshoppers. Now, a prominent sob story shilled by President Obama himself about his own mother is in doubt. It's high past time to call their bluffs.

The tall-tale-teller-in-chief cited mom Stanley Ann Dunham's deathbed fight with her insurer several times over the years to support his successful push to ban pre-existing condition exclusions by insurers. In a typical recounting, Obama shared his personalized trauma during a 2008 debate: "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."

But there was something fundamentally wrong with Obama's story. In a recently published biography of Obama's mother, author and New York Times reporter Janny Scott discovered that Dunham's health insurer had in fact reimbursed her medical expenses with nary an objection. The actual coverage dispute centered on a separate disability insurance policy.

Channeling document forger Dan Rather's "fake, but accurate" defense, a White House spokesman insisted to the Times that the anecdote somehow still "speaks powerfully to the impact of pre-existing condition limits on insurance protection from health care costs" -- even though Dunham's primary health insurer did everything it was supposed to do and met all its contractual obligations.

No matter. Expanding government control over health care means never having to say you're sorry for impugning private insurers. Democrats have dragged every available human shield into the contentious debate over Obama's federal takeover of health care. Personal anecdotes of dying family members battling evil insurance execs deflect attention from the cost, constitutionality and liberty-curtailing consequences of the law. The president's Dunham sham-ecdote is just the latest entry in an ever-expanding catalogue of Obamacare fables:

-- Otto Raddatz. In 2009, Obama publicized the plight of this Illinois cancer patient, who supposedly died after he was dropped from his Fortis/Assurant Health insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn't known about. The truth? He got the treatment he needed in 2005 and lived for nearly four more years.

-- Robin Beaton. Also in 2009, Obama claimed Beaton -- a breast cancer patient -- lost her insurance after "she forgot to declare a case of acne." In fact, she failed to disclose a previous heart condition and did not list her weight accurately, but had her insurance restored anyway after intense public lobbying.

-- John Brodniak. A 23-year-old unemployed Oregon sawmill worker, Brodniak's health woes were spotlighted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as a textbook argument for Obamacare. Brodniak was reportedly diagnosed with cavernous hemangioma, a neurological condition, and was allegedly turned away by emergency room doctors. Kristof called the case "monstrous" and decried opponents of Democrats' health care proposals as heartless murderers. The truth? Brodniak not only had coverage through Oregon's Medicaid program, but was also a neurology patient at the prestigious Oregon Health and Science University in Portland (a safety-net institution that accepts all Medicaid patients). Kristof never retracted the legend.

-- Marcelas Owens. An 11-year-old boy from Seattle, Owens took a coveted spot next to the president in March 2010 when Obamacare was signed into law. Owens' 27-year-old mother, Tiffany, died of pulmonary hypertension. The family said the single mother of three lost her job as a fast-food manager and lost her insurance. She died in 2007 after receiving emergency care and treatment throughout her illness. Progressive groups (for whom Marcelas' relatives worked) dubbed Marcelas an "insurance abuse survivor." But there wasn't a shred of evidence that any insurer had "abused" the boy or his mom. Further, Washington State already offered a plethora of existing government assistance programs to laid-off and unemployed workers like Marcelas' mom. The family and its p.r. agents never explained why she didn't enroll.

-- Natoma Canfield. The White House made the Ohio cancer patient a poster child for Obamacare in 2010 after she wrote a letter complaining about skyrocketing premiums and the prospect of losing her home. After Obama gave Canfield a shout-out at a health care rally in Strongsville, Ohio, and promised to control costs, officials at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, which is treating her, made clear that they would "not put a lien on her home" and that she was eligible for a wide variety of state aid and private charity care.

Since Obamacare passed, the amount workers pay in health care premiums has soared an average of nearly 14 percent; thousands of businesses have sought waivers in search of relief from the law's onerous mandates; medical device makers have slashed jobs and research; and the private individual health insurance market is in critical condition. Post-Obamacare truth is bloodier than pro-Obamacare fiction.



The One Becomes The Jerk

Obama finally solved the budget crisis the White House really cares about yesterday when he announced that he hauled in $86 million in campaign contributions for the three months ended June 30th.

The budget crisis facing the rest of us? Obama’s really mad at the rest of us because we are all acting very immaturely by withholding a blank check for the bills he’s run up.

The White House reacted to the breakdown in budget talks at the White House yesterday in characteristically ironic fashion: They scolded Republican Whip Eric Cantor’s “juvenile behavior” after Obama stormed out of debt negotiations, saying that Cantor must "let the grown-ups get to work."

Earlier this week the Leave-it-to-Beaver president told us all we’d have to “eat our peas,” like good children, when the GOP didn’t cave in by giving him his most cherished goal: tax increases and more tax increases.

Clearly the GOP hates Santa Claus, puppies, nuns, children, all animals you can’t eat, flowers and clean running water.

Word from the White House is that Obama’s considering grounding us all and taking away our cell phones for a year to force the GOP back to the negotiating table.

If that doesn’t work, Obama has vowed that “he’ll turn this economy right around” if we don’t start sitting up straight.

“When President Obama took an active role in the talks aimed at addressing the nation’s debt ceiling, the tone he used to describe the closed-door negotiations…was a marked departure from his campaign theme of Hope and Change,” writes Steve Berglas on Forbes blog.

“Now, since realizing that the buck stops on his desk, he is chiding, critical, and quite pessimistic. Obama’s once wildly optimistic promises have been replaced by threats…. His first order of business…was to reprimand Democrats and Republicans as though they were behaving like unruly, obstreperous children, in not agreeing to a plan that would put us deeper in debt.”

Word to the O’man:

It’s one thing to try to act like an adult in the room, but when you try to act like the only adult in the room by holding your breath and stomping your feet, your cover’s been blown.

To be the kind of Eddie Haskell jerk that Mark Halperin describes Obama to be would be a big step up from the petulant, childish, temper-prone jackass he’s acted like since he became the One.

Maybe he was that way before too. He probably was, even before the mass idolatry subsumed what was left of his fragile ego that gets snappish with reporters.

But none of that should really surprise us after he literally and deliberately gave Hillary Clinton the finger in public during the presidential primary. No other American political figure has ever been granted the type of exemptions from right behavior as Obama has, not even Bill Clinton.

Even Clinton’s supporters deplored his actions. Obama’s supporters just encourage him in his finger waving.

For a long time, people, especially the press- after all, they are people too, mostly- have looked at Mr. Cool as remote, often standoffish and arrogant.

But perhaps there is another explanation for his behavior.

Karl Rove tried to explain it to us back in 2008, but he narrowly missed it.

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein of ABC News. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

No; he’s not that guy exactly. He’s that guy’s son.



Background to David Mamet's Conversion

Hollywood mocks capitalism, which seems odd because the people who make movies are such aggressive capitalists -- competing hard to make money. But Hollywood's message is that capitalism is shallow and cruel.

Take the 1992 movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play). It's about cutthroat real estate salesmen who work for a heartless company. It was written by the celebrated playwright David Mamet, author of "American Buffalo," "Spanish Prisoner," and more than 50 other plays and movies.

I assumed that Mamet was another garden-variety Hollywood lefty, but then a few years ago, I was surprised to see an article he wrote titled, "Why I'm No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." Now he's followed up with a book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture."

I asked Mamet what turned a "Hollywood liberal" into a conservative. Was he a brain-dead liberal? The newspaper, not Mamet, put that headline on his article. "I referred to myself as one," Mamet told me. "Political decisions I made were foolish." Foolish because he wasn't really thinking, he said. Since everybody around him was liberal, he just went along.

What changed? "I met a couple conservatives, and I realized I never met any conservatives in my life. ... (O)ne started sending me books. His books ... made more sense than my books." Mamet was suddenly exposed to ideas he had never encountered before.

"Shelby Steele's 'White Guilt,'" he said, "led me to the works of Tom Sowell and through them (F.A.) Hayek and Milton Friedman." Two things hit him especially hard: the benefits of economic competition and the limits of leaders' ability to plan society.

"If you stop licensing taxi cabs, tomorrow you will see guys and women on every street corner saying, 'Who wants to go to XYZ address?' (The cabbie) will put five people in the car and drive them to that address. ... When the guy drops them off, if he's smart, he'll say: 'Tomorrow -- same thing, right? What do you guys want to drink for breakfast?' There will be cappuccino and ice tea and glass of milk. After X months, he will have three cars; after X months, he will have a fleet. And everyone will be competing to meet the needs of the commuters, which also is going to reduce traffic. Why are they allowed to compete? Because the government got the hell out of the business."

Mamet also read Hayek's last book, "The Fatal Conceit."

"What Hayek is talking about is that we have to have a constrained vision of the universe. The unconstrained vision, the liberal vision, is that everything can be done, everything is accomplishable," he said. "We don't have the knowledge. ... There is only so much that government can do. ... It would be nice if giving all of our money to the government could cure poverty. Maybe, but giving money to the government causes slavery."

For Hayek, the "fatal conceit" is the premise that politicians and bureaucrats can make the world better -- not by leaving people free to coordinate their private individual plans in the marketplace -- but by overall social and economic planning.

Imagine trying to plan an economy, Mamet said, when we barely know enough to raise our kids. "(T)he guy in government can't know everything."

As you can imagine, when Mamet went public, he bewildered many of his showbiz peers. A Los Angeles Times critic called his book "a children's crusade with no understanding of real politics." The Nation called Mamet a "great playwright, (but a) moronic political observer."

Mamet said to his wife: 'Isn't it funny? ... The New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record that has been reviewing my plays for 40 years, isn't even going to review this book.' "She says: 'Dave, grow up. The purpose of all newspapers is political."

Maybe the Times thinks it's insignificant that a celebrated cultural "liberal" now questions his faith in the supposed healing power of government. But as we sit mired in this endless jobless "recovery," with the wreckage of government failure all around, we should ask ourselves which one is out of touch with reality.



The Great Reawakening

What started as a murmur has become a media refrain: “America is in decline.” Stated euphemistically the twenty-first century will not be an American century. Based on a dispassionate analysis of conditions at the moment, this sentiment seems accurate. Debt is crushing the American economy. Unemployment is steady at near double digits. And a mood of despair has captured the national capital.

But the Cassandras in our midst invariably overlook national resilience, the ability of Americans to rise to the occasion especially when conditions are most bleak. One such American is U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, a man who looks squarely at our problems and sees solutions.

In his new book, The Great American Awakening: Two Years That Changed My America, Washington and Me, DeMint points to the grass roots movement across the nation to reclaim our principles. Tea Partiers are on the march. Despite various media efforts to besmirch this homegrown movement, these average men and women are eager to restore fiscal sanity to the nation and in the process restore hope for our children and grandchildren.

Senator DeMint explains how this movement captured him and changed the dialogue in Washington. On one occasion speaking in California, DeMint had an epiphany. Even in a state suffering from insolvency, there is hope inspired by young people viscerally opposed to the intrusiveness of big government. Reading about Ronald Reagan DeMint notes, “The longer I live, the more I believe there are no great men, only average men who occasionally do great things.” Indeed it is these average men who influenced Senator DeMint.

Of course, there are detractors, those who are committed to the status quo. When the number of state employees increases geometrically and when 49 percent of Americans do not pay personal income tax, there is a constituency that believes government should be large and taxes high. But sensible people realize this arrangement is not sustainable.

If the United States is to remain a world power offering unprecedented liberty to its citizens, responsible financial measures must be taken. Tea Partiers get it and, after the experience Senator DeMint has had over the last two years, he gets it. The task ahead for conservatives is “to restore the Republican Party to its core principles” and “reearn the trust of the American people.” This mission is the partisan stance for national restoration. And if this book is any indication Senator DeMint is unquestionably in a leadership position.


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

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


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


15 July, 2011

A recovering Obama voter


America's Leftist destruction machine grinds on regardless

The Justice Department is now extorting multimillion dollar settlements from banks, by accusing them of racial discrimination because they use traditional, non-racist lending criteria that minority borrowers are, on average, less likely to satisfy, such as having a high credit score, or being able to afford a substantial downpayment. Its Civil Rights Division chief, Tom Perez, “has compared bankers to Klansmen.” The “only difference, he says, is bankers discriminate ‘with a smile’ and ‘fine print,’” calling their lending criteria “every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood.”

As Investor’s Business Daily notes in “DOJ Begins Bank Witch Hunt”:
In what could be a repeat of the easy-lending cycle that led to the housing crisis, the Justice Department has asked several banks to relax their mortgage underwriting standards and approve loans for minorities with poor credit as part of a new crackdown on alleged discrimination, according to court documents reviewed by IBD.

Prosecutions have already generated more than $20 million in loan set-asides and other subsidies from banks that have settled out of court rather than battle the federal government and risk being branded racist. An additional 60 banks are under investigation, a DOJ spokeswoman says. Settlements include setting aside prime-rate mortgages for low-income blacks and Hispanics with blemished credit and even counting “public assistance” as valid income in mortgage applications.

In several cases, the government has ordered bank defendants to post in all their branches and marketing materials a notice informing minority customers that they cannot be turned down for credit because they receive public aid, such as unemployment benefits, welfare payments or food stamps. Among other remedies: favorable interest rates and down-payment assistance for minority borrowers with weak credit. . .

Such efforts risk recreating the government-imposed lax underwriting that led to the housing boom and bust, critics fear. “It’s absolutely outrageous after what we’ve just gone through,” said former Rep. Ernest Istook, a Heritage Foundation fellow. “How can someone both be financially stable enough to merit a mortgage at the same time they’re on public assistance? By definition, you don’t have the kind of employment that can support such a loan.”...

In the new prosecutions, Justice acknowledges in every case it did not prove charges of intentional discrimination, while banks have denied any wrongdoing. Many, in fact, earned outstanding ratings from anti-redlining regulators enforcing the Community Reinvestment Act. Istook calls Holder’s crusade an “egregious overreach by the government.” He says many of the targets are smaller banks without the resources to fight a protracted legal battle. . .

As part of settlement deals, prosecutors have required banks to sign “nondisclosure agreements” barring them from talking about the methods used to allege discrimination. Bank lawyers contend the prosecutors are trying to hide the shaky legal grounds on which the cases are built. “It’s horrible what they’re doing at the civil rights division,” said Reginald Brown, a partner at Wilmer Hale in Washington, who has represented banks in connection to recent race-bias investigations. “They don’t have any proof, just theories.”

He added, “They want you to sign something saying you agree, under the condition of any settlement with them, that you won’t disclose what their theories were. That’s because their theories are loopy and wouldn’t stand the light of day.” One such theory — “disparate impact” — holds that merely a difference in loan application outcomes is enough to prove racial discrimination — even if no intent exists on the part of loan officers to contrast based on the color of applicants, and even legitimate business factors — such as credit scores and down payments — help explain disparities in loan outcomes between white and black applicants.

We wrote earlier about how the Obama administration is supporting lawsuits based on a “disparate impact” theory even in circumstances when the Supreme Court has said that the theory cannot be used, using such lawsuits to pay off liberal special-interest groups and trial lawyers with millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

The Investor’s Business Daily story illustrates two outcomes of this pressure to avoid “disparate impact”: lenders will make loans to people with bad credit — increasing future default rates and harming banks’ ability to stay afloat — and will make loans to minorities on preferential terms, engaging in racial discrimination.

Such lower lending standards can have disastrous results. A recent book co-authored by The New York Times‘ Gretchen Morgenson chronicles how federally-promoted lower lending standards spawned the financial crisis, and put minority borrowers into homes they could not afford.
“This is a story, the authors say, ‘of what happens when Washington decides, in its infinite wisdom, that every living, breathing citizen should own a home.’ Encouraged by politicians to expand home lending—not least to minorities and to households with few assets—[government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae] ignored reasonable standards of underwriting and piled up fugitive profits almost as fast as it increased risk to taxpayers.

The disaster is now measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. As for the borrowers who were supposedly to benefit from Fannie’s mortgage-industrial complex, Ms. Morgenson and Mr. Rosner write that home ownership ‘put them squarely on the road to personal and financial ruin.’”

Banks and mortgage companies have long been under pressure from lawmakers and regulators to give loans to people with bad credit, in order to provide “affordable housing” and promote “diversity.” That played a key role in triggering the mortgage crisis, judging from a story in the New York Times. For example, “a high-ranking Democrat telephoned executives and screamed at them to purchase more loans from low-income borrowers, according to a Congressional source.”

The executives of government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “eventually yielded to those pressures, effectively wagering that if things got too bad, the government would bail them out.”

Clinton-era affordable housing mandates were a key reason for the risky lending. A recent study by Peter Wallison, who had prophetically warned about Fannie and Freddie, found that two-thirds of all bad mortgages were either “bought by government agencies or required to be bought by private companies under government pressure,” a finding echoed by other recent studies.

Another law designed to prod banks to make loans in low-income communities, the Community Reinvestment Act, also contributed to the financial crisis, say the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, bankers, and economists. Yet Obama has sought to expand its reach.

But there is another way for banks to eliminate such perceived racial “disparities”: Refusing to make loans to whites who would otherwise receive them, curtailing the flow of available credit. Given a choice between making bad loans to minorities, and refusing to make a few good loans to whites, a bank may choose the latter, since profit on a good loan is smaller than the loss on a defaulted loan. This, too, causes economic harm.

Cutting off the flow of credit to businesses can deprive them of capital needed to operate and expand, causing a recession and mass unemployment. For example, the Roosevelt Recession of 1937 is linked by some economists to the Federal Reserve’s increase in reserve requirements, which left banks with less money to lend, causing a contraction in the money supply and drying up the flow of credit for businesses that otherwise would have employed people.

(That recession was also the product of Supreme Court rulings that upheld anti-business measures passed during the New Deal, like the National Labor Relations Act, which had previously been struck down by lower courts, but which the Supreme Court upheld beginning in 1937 in cases like NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.)

Unemployment is already very high, thanks to Obama administration policies.



Close the door on public-sector unions

by Jeff Jacoby

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNMENT is almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, so there was no chance that a law limiting collective bargaining for municipal employees would resemble the recent laws passed in Wisconsin and Ohio. The measure approved this week by Governor Deval Patrick and the state Legislature will hold down the cost of providing health benefits to teachers, firefighters, and other local workers by modestly curbing their unions' right to veto changes to employee health plans. For the ultrablue Bay State, that was a notable accomplishment. But it was hardly the "Union Busting, Massachusetts Style," that a Wall Street Journal headline hopefully predicted back in April.

The new laws in Wisconsin and Ohio prohibit collective bargaining over public-sector pensions and health benefits, and allow government employees to opt out of paying any union dues or fees. The Wisconsin law requires annual re-certification of all public employee unions; in Ohio, negotiated wage increases will have to be approved by voters if they would result in higher taxes. Nothing that sweeping was ever on the table in Massachusetts. Government unions may no longer have quite as much clout on Beacon Hill as they used to, but they still have enough to make Democrats think twice about confronting them.

No surprise, then, that the collective bargaining changes ultimately adopted were watered down significantly from the version approved by the state House of Representatives in April. That House vote reflected public sentiment -- a majority of Massachusetts voters believe government unions have too much power -- but in the face of union outrage, policymakers quickly promised to protect the unions' "seat at the table" and "meaningful voice" in setting health benefits for government employees. In April, the head of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO vowed to "fight this thing to the bitter end." This week, he happily acknowledged that the final language preserved "all we ever wanted, [which] was to have a voice."

That's too bad. Ensuring a "voice" for organized labor in government policymaking may sound reasonable, especially when those policies affect government workers. But collective bargaining in the public sector is in reality not reasonable at all. It is emphatically not like bargaining in the private sector, where unions representing labor contend with management representing owners for a share of the profits that labor helps create.

In the public sector, there are no profits to share. There are only taxpayers' dollars, which neither government employees nor government managers create. As for the taxpayers who do create those dollars, they have no seat at the table when public unions negotiate over wages and benefits. Instead, government sits on both sides, negotiating with itself over how to spend the people's money.

So unlike their counterparts in the private sector, public-sector unions are rarely constrained by market forces. There are limits to the wages and benefits that labor can demand from private employers. Corporations have to make a profit to stay alive, and both sides know that if costs rise too high, the results may be lost sales, eliminated jobs, or -- if worse comes to worst -- bankruptcy. Consequently, union negotiators cannot insist on the moon, and corporate managers dare not lose sight of the company's bottom line.

But that check and balance doesn't exist in public-sector collective bargaining. Teachers' or firefighters' or library workers' unions don't have to worry about jeopardizing the government's profits or driving away its customers: Government agencies can't go bankrupt, and their "customers" can't switch to a cheaper brand. So why not insist on the moon? Especially when the government managers on the other side of the table generally have little incentive to keep costs down. After all, if the pay, perks, and pensions of public workers send budgets through the roof, what choice do taxpayers have but to foot the bill?

At bottom, collective bargaining in the public sector is profoundly antidemocratic: It denies voters final say over the public policies they must live under, by forcing their elected representatives to shape those policies in concert with unions. In effect, it transfers to union officials -- interested parties not chosen by the people -- decision-making authority that they have no legitimate right to. That is why until just a few decades ago, it was universally understood that collective bargaining was incompatible with government employment.

Gradually it is becoming clear that throwing the door open to public-sector unions was a serious and costly mistake. It will take years to undo that mistake, but the process has begun. Even, if ever so slowly, in Massachusetts.




Bush years imposed crushing regulatory burdens: "Among the biggest lies told by liberals over the past few years is that the administration of President George W. Bush was some sort of deregulatory cascade, where rule after rule was rolled back, putting the public in more and more danger. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bush years saw a massive bloating of the regulatory state, with more and more rules being issued by an out-of-control executive branch that didn't seem to care what it's only elected member thought about it."

TSA: Too Stupid for America: "Or maybe it stands for "Thousands Standing Around." Under the guise of making us safer, government has greatly expanded its role in airport security. But according a report released today, we're not very much safer. Since November 2001, there have been 25,000 security breaches in our nation's airports. And these are just the breaches that we know about. A few days ago, a man managed to fly from Boston to Newark with a stun gun. Like most failed government programs, many people think that the solution is to throw more money at the problem, even though the first version of the TSA spent far more than the private screeners they replaced, and since then the TSA's budget has increased from $4.7 billion in 2002 to $7.8 billion in 2011."

Fueling freedom: "Cries of outrage reverberated across the country when House Republicans, led by Rep. John Mica of Florida, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, proposed a 30 percent reduction in federal surface-transportation spending. Never mind that all Mr. Mica's plan does is limit spending to no more than the gas taxes and other highway user fees that fund federal surface-transportation programs. Still, cyclists and transit advocates are having hissy fits because Republicans would reduce subsidies to their favored forms of travel — subsidies paid, for the most part, by people who rarely ride a bike or use transit."

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

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


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


14 July, 2011

US too dumb to know Obama is always right

"Mussolini is always right" was a popular slogan in Fascist Italy -- JR

When President Obama started talking at his news conference Monday, I listened intently for 15 minutes or so. Then I got fidgety as his half-truths about the debt grew into full-blown whoppers. As he droned on, I did something I never did before during an Obama appearance: I turned off the TV.

Enough. He is the Man Who Won't Listen to Anybody, so why should anybody listen to him? Tuning out and turning off the president does not fill me with gladness. He cannot be ignored. But for now, I will leave that unhappy duty to others. I am tired of Barack Obama. There's nothing new there. His speeches are like "Groundhog Day."

His presidency is a spectacular failure, his historic mandate squandered by adherence to leftist ideology and relentless partisanship. His policies are crushing the prospects for growth and dooming the hopes of 24 million Americans who are unemployed or working part-time. Yet he is not going to change. He listens only to his own voice, which is why he has lost virtually his entire economic team.

The biggest media myth is that he is a centrist. Oh, please. It's a theory without evidence, for there is not a single example on domestic issues where he voluntarily staked out a spot in the American middle.

Sure, on occasion, Obama will be to the right of the far, far left, but that is not the center. That just means he's not Michael Moore. Nor is he a centrist because he'll make a deal under duress with Republicans, as he did last December. All politicians have a pragmatic streak, otherwise they couldn't get anything done in a divided government.

But Obama's default statist position remains unmolested by facts or last year's landslide that was a rebuke to his first two years. He continues to push bigger and bigger government, higher and higher taxes and more and more welfare programs. He will compromise if he must, but he still wants what he wants and will come back for it again and again.

That's the subtext of the debt-ceiling talks and his press conference. He voted against raising the ceiling as a senator, calling the need for an increase a "failure."

Now he is not embarrassed to demand a hike of about $2.5 trillion, and more hair of the spending-and-taxing dog. He reveals his belief that your money is really the government's and it will decide how much you can keep. The only cut he is comfortable with is in the defense budget.

He says it's time to "pull off the Band-Aid" and "eat our peas." Translation: It's time for Republicans to give him everything he wants. That's his definition of being an adult and acting in the national interest.

His only concession to public will is to pretend he's got religion about the fiscal problems and wants a "big deal." What he really wants is to get through the election.

In answering a question about a poll showing that two-thirds of voters don't want the debt ceiling raised, he blew off 70 million Americans by saying they aren't paying attention.

There's a novel campaign theme: Elect me because you're too dumb to understand how smart I am. Harry Truman ran against a "Do-Nothing" Congress. Obama is running against a "Know-Nothing" nation.

He can never be wrong. You always are, unless you agree with him. That's the story of his presidency. That's who he is.



Don't Compromise On Taxes

In discussing the debt talks Monday, President Obama repeatedly stressed the need for "compromise." Funny, since it's his refusal to budge on his big-government vision that caused the talks to break down.

Republicans seemed warily confident that they might get a deal over the weekend on cutting future spending without raising taxes — a deal that would likely lead to smaller future deficits, the possibility of badly needed tax reforms and the resumption of economic and jobs growth.

No such luck. Not only did Obama not really put any specific major cuts on the table, he reportedly surprised negotiators by asking them to agree to a "balanced approach" to deficit-cutting by including a job-killing $1.7 trillion in potential new tax hikes.

This is part of a "Grand Bargain" to cut deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years in exchange for Republicans agreeing to raise the debt ceiling from the $14.3 trillion. But what kind of "bargain" contains $1.7 trillion in tax hikes plus at least $500 billion in new taxes to pay for ObamaCare?

Even the Associated Press notes that, while Obama talks a lot about taxing the rich, "proposals under consideration include raising taxes on small business owners and potentially low- and middle-income families."

As a new Heritage Foundation study shows, the government's tax take under Obama's current budget plans,will "increase rapidly" from its long-term average of about 18% of GDP to a ruinous 26% of GDP in coming decades. That's why he seemed desperate, saying we need to "tear the Band-Aid" off and "eat our peas" to get a deal done by Aug. 2, the phony deadline established by Democrats for fiscal Armageddon.

Sorry, but contrary to the White House's assertions, this is not a "balanced approach." Nor is it a "compromise." It's just more of the same.

During the press conference Monday in which he made his case for "revenue increases" — that is, tax hikes — in deficit talks, Obama suggested why: He wants to spend even more in the future.

He's not shy about airing his many ideas for this, among them what he calls "investments" in Head Start and student loan programs, more government funding of medical research, and even an "infrastructure bank."

Such programs aren't possible, Obama said, "if we haven't gotten our fiscal house in order."

This almost defies belief. This is how we got into the problem in the first place. Too much government, too much spending, too many regulations, too many taxes.

Is Obama really that out of touch with Americans? It seems so. In the latest IBD/TIPP Poll completed Sunday night, our proprietary Confidence in Federal Economic Policies Index plunged 13.2% to 33.4 — only the third time this gauge has been below 35 since its inception. The last was during the 2008 financial meltdown.

Our poll also shows that a solid 58% majority do not want the debt ceiling raised at all. Americans want their bloated federal government to cut both spending and deficits. This is far closer to the GOP's position than the Democrats'. So who really needs to "compromise"?



Washington gets $200 billion a month, Social Security costs $50 billion a month, and Obama is threatening to starve Grandma?

President Obama told CBS News today that he "cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

But wait just a minute. If Washington receives about $200 billion in monthly revenues and sends out roughly $50 billion worth of Social Security checks and the same amount of Medicare payments, why is Obama claiming the checks may not go out?

Isn't $200 billion minus $100 billion still $100 billion?

Because Obama is playing the demogogue, that's why. Pure and simple. He is trying to scare seniors into making panicked calls to their congressmen begging them to do whatever Obama and the Democrats want in order to keep the checks coming.

This is demogoguery of the worst sort because Obama has to know that what he is saying is false. When you and I say something we know to be false, it's called a "lie."

Clearly, it is of no matter to Obama that hiking taxes and raising the national debt limit very likely will keep millions of Americans unemployed and hobble the economy for years to come. All he has to do is scare enough voters long enough to get through the November 2012 election to get himself re-elected.

Here are the facts, as reported by MarketWatch and the Bipartisan Policy Center. You do the math:

* The federal government receives approximately $200 billion in revenues each month.

* Interest on the national debt in August will be approximately $29 billion.

* Social Security will cost about $49. 2 billion.

* Medicare and Medicaid will cost about $50 billion.

* Active duty military pay will cost about $2.9 billion.

* Veterans affairs programs will cost about $2.9 billion.

If you've been punching buttons on your calculator, you know that still leaves $39 billion each month. This is where Obama and the Democrats most fear to go. If Congress doesn't agree to raise taxes and the national debt limit, they will then have to make the tough choices about which of the remaining programs gets paid or cut and by how much:

* Defense vendors

* IRS refunds

* Food stamps and welfare

* Unemployment benefits

* Department of Education

* Department of Housing and Urban Development

* Department of Justice, etc. etc.

In sum, federal spending would have to be cut about 44 percent. For more on this, go here and here.

So the next time you hear Obama, or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, or Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, or any of the multiple Democratic echo chambers in the liberal mainstream media, remember - what they are saying is pure demogoguery.



Constitutionalists, or Kooks?

One is reluctant to call any tactic in the liberal playbook new, but the latest salvo against conservatives and Tea Partiers could surely qualify as bizarre.

A liberal friend recently remarked that politicians who advertise their affection for the Constitution clearly don’t have the people’s best interests at heart. Ouch! And remember the outcry when the Constitution was read aloud at the convening of Congress earlier this year? Joy Behar of The View wondered if this Constitution-loving was not getting out of hand.

It appears that any citizen who calls himself a Constitutionalist or Constitutional Conservative will be relegated to the fringes of American thought, no less a nut job than a John Bircher. How long before weak-kneed Republicans assure polite society that, “I don’t buy all that Founding Fathers/limited government nonsense”?

According to enlightened thought, the right-wing’s hidden agenda typically consists of theocracy and a roll-back of 100 years of social progress. According to NewsCorpse.com “Tea Baggers are quick to gush their reverence to the original intent of the Constitution — slavery, sexism, and all”. A 2011 Newsweek piece entitled “How Tea Partiers Get the Constitution Wrong” quotes Thomas Jefferson, mocking men who “look to constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the Arc of the Covenant”.

So, not only do “Tea Baggers” and conservatives use the Constitution as a disguise for their sinister agendas, they really don’t understand it, either. True, many Americans, this writer included, don’t grasp the Constitution in its totality, and even Supreme Court justices disagree over its meaning and application.

Still, citizens with only a modicum of education can comprehend the Bill of Rights, fully appreciative that those ten amendments limit the power of the federal government and retain specific rights for individuals and states. That people are embracing the Constitution should swell the hearts of civic activists who are forever promoting greater participatory democracy, but when gun-owners in Mississippi and Tea Partiers in Virginia start horning in on the debate, it’s time for the saner heads to issue dire warnings about heated dialogue and (cue the fright music) hidden agendas.

Liberal regard for the Constitution is far less predictable — they boast of their tolerance when reminding the prudes that the First Amendment protects Hustler’s Larry Flynt no less than your right to rail against ObamaCare.

Conservatives recognize that, while any style of governance must adapt to changing times, the glory of the Constitution is its unwavering affirmation not merely of the rights of American citizens, but the yearnings of human beings everywhere. Social justice was won, yes, by amendment, but also by extending constitutional principles to everyone. How great a document that we didn’t have to tear it up and start all over.

A New Republic piece mentions the “monstrosities” that Michele Bachmann and others associate with ObamaCare, and their desire to reverse the New Deal. And there we have found the liberal equivalent of the Constitution. They want political discourse and action to proceed from their own lofty ideals and noble intentions. They consider the Constitution broad, fluid and evolving, but Social Security and the reformist aims of FDR remain almost sacrosanct.

Liberals tend to hide their agendas (yes, they have them, too!) behind incrementalism, nuance and intellectual finesse. The Constitution, by contrast, is a blueprint for truth and decisiveness now. They are concerned, and well they should be, for the very spirit they seek to stigmatize is not only inspiring, it is contagious.



Overwhelmingly Vote to Ban Palin, Beck & Coulter Books at Book Fair in Obama’s Home Town

In June we attended the Printer’s Row Literature Festival in Chicago. City blocks were closed off for tents and booths full of all types of literature. We presented a board with a selection of well known book covers and asked visitors of the event if they could choose to ban any of the books on the board, which if any, they would in fact ban. They were allowed to choose any three of the eleven choices.

The authors of the books we offered to ban were Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, Ayn Rand, Michael Savage, Bill Clinton, Michael Moore, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama. While there were in fact less than two handfuls of individuals who did tell us they don’t think any books should be banned, unfortunately there were a shocking amount of guests at this book fair who were quite open to the idea, and in fact lined up quite excited for the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Participants overwhelming chose Sarah Palin who received 53 votes putting her at 36% overall, Glenn Beck at 23% and Ann Coulter at 22%.


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

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


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


13 July, 2011

Weltbuergertum (World citizenship)

I remember reading about Weltbuergertum about 50 years ago in something or other by Hendrik van Loon. It struck me as a high ideal and a good idea at the time (in my teens).

The fact that Van Loon used the German term Weltbuergertum for the concept was unremarkable to me at the time as I already had a useful command of German by then but on thinking about it in more recent times it seemed obvious that the idea must go back to those two second-rate German philosphers, Karl Mark and his mentor, GWF Hegel. And in Mein Kampf Hitler also describes himself as originally being a Weltbuerger -- though he changed his tune on that later, of course

On checking, however, I found that the idea actually goes further back again -- to the classical German poet JW von Goethe. So the idea obviously has some simplistic appeal and now seems to be standard Leftist gospel. To the Left of today, patriotism is absurd and contemptible. Democrat politicians have to pretend otherwise in a country as patriotic as the USA but elsewhere on the Left -- particularly in the educational system -- Weltbuergertum is the only respectable stance, though not usually by that name

And as a means of avoiding war etc., the idea does have some appeal. Where it falls down, however, is in the composition of the world as we actually have it. Do I want to be a citizen of a polity that includes the corrupt and bloodthirsty tyrannies of Africa, the negligible civil liberties of China or the starvation of North Korea -- not to mention the corruption and hate of the Arab world?

I can quite cheerfully imagine myself as a citizen of a polity that comprised all the English-speaking democracies but until the rest of the world reaches that standard of civility and respect for the individual, leave me out of it

Walter Williams has some good comments on the matter below -- JR
The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that only 1 in 4 high-school seniors scored at least "proficient" in knowledge of U.S. citizenship. Civics and history were American students' worst subjects. Professor Damon said that for the past 10 years, his Stanford University research team has interviewed broad cross sections of American youths about U.S. citizenship. Here are some typical responses: "We just had (American citizenship) the other day in history. I forget what it was." Another said, "Being American is not really special. ... I don't find being an American citizen very important." Another said, "I don't want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country. I don't like the whole thing of citizen. ... It's like, citizen, no citizen; it doesn't make sense to me. It's, like, to be a good citizen -- I don't know, I don't want to be a citizen. ... It's stupid to me."

A law professor, whom Damon leaves unnamed, shares this vision in a recent book: "Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete. ... American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization." Instead of commitment to a nation-state, "loyalties ... are moving to transnational communities defined by many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation." This law professor's vision is shared by many educators who look to "global citizenship" as the proper aim of civics instruction, de-emphasizing attachment to any particular country, such as the United States, pointing out that our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice. To be patriotic to one's own country is seen as suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous "my country, right or wrong" vision.

The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28 percent of students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26 percent of students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country and celebrating our traditional American quest for liberty and equal rights removes the most powerful motivation to learn civics and U.S. history. After all, Damon asks, "why would a student exert any effort to master the rules of a system that the student has no respect for and no interest in being part of? To acquire civic knowledge as well as civic virtue, students need to care about their country."

Ignorance and possibly contempt for American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president. Obama spent 20 years attending the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's hate-filled sermons, which preached that "white folks' greed runs a world in need," called our country the "US of KKK-A" and asked God to "damn America." Obama's other America-hating associates include Weather Underground Pentagon bomber William Ayers and Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn.

The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his administration doesn't say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the intellectual elite.



The First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government

Remember the "stimulus," or, as it was officially titled, the Recovery Act of 2009? It was President Obama's first major legislative initiative, enacted the month after he took office with only Democratic votes in the House and just three Republicans in the Senate (one of whom was a Democrat by that summer). The price tag was huge, some $800 billion, or 50 times the size (in nominal terms) of the stimulus Bill Clinton proposed at the outset of his presidency. Congress killed the $16 billion Clinton stimulus because it was too expensive.

Unemployment that January was 7.6%, and Obama's economic advisers warned that it could rise as high as 8% without the stimulus. With the stimulus, it rose as high as 10.2% in October 2009. Last month's rate was 9.2%, still 1.2 points higher than the level the stimulus was supposed to prevent us from ever reaching. By contrast, in January 1993 unemployment was 7.3%. Without the Clinton stimulus, it had declined to 6.5% by the end of that year.

Oh well, at least school janitors in Nebraska have "diversity manuals," as the Omaha World-Herald reports:
The Omaha Public Schools used more than $130,000 in federal stimulus dollars to buy each teacher, administrator and staff member a manual on how to become more culturally sensitive. . . .

The authors assert that American government and institutions create advantages that "channel wealth and power to white people," that color-blindness will not end racism and that educators should "take action for social justice."

The book says that teachers should acknowledge historical systemic oppression in schools, including racism, sexism, homophobia and "ableism," defined by the authors as discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities. . . .

The Omaha school board approved buying 8,000 copies of the book--one for every employee, including members of the custodial staff--in April.

Your tax dollars at work! Or rather, your tax dollars will be at work for years paying the interest on the money the federal government borrowed from the Chinese to pay Omaha's diversity-manual bill.

Now, one might reasonably object that this is but an anecdote. The law of averages makes it a certainty that some of the stimulus money found its way to less utterly appalling uses than this one. What it didn't do, however, was accomplish its stated objective: keeping unemployment from rising above 8%.

Here is how Obama, in a press conference this morning, described this failure: "We took very aggressive steps when I first came into office to yank the economy out of a potential Great Depression and stabilize it. And we were largely successful in stabilizing it. But we stabilized it at a level where unemployment is still too high and the economy is not growing fast enough to make up for all the jobs that were lost before I took office and the few months after I took office."

And Yasser Arafat is in stable condition.

One school of thought is that the so-called stimulus failed because it was, as former Enron adviser Paul Krugman puts it, "woefully inadequate." This is the economic analogue of the Kagan Principle, which liberal Supreme Court justices would use to limit freedom of speech: The more stubbornly corrupt the government is, the more justified it is in curtailing fundamental liberties in the name of preventing corruption.

It's a common refrain among those who lust to increase government's size and power: Every failed measure justifies more of the same. Poverty programs make it harder to escape poverty? We need more poverty programs! Racial preferences heighten racial division? We need more racial preferences! And a diversity manual for every janitor in the country! When ObamaCare ends up driving the costs of medicine up and the quality and availability down, you can bet the people who created that monstrosity will claim it failed only because it didn't go far enough.

Let's generalize this into the First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government. As Obama said today, complaining about Republican pressure to cut spending: "I'd rather be talking about stuff that everybody welcomes--like new programs." Fortunately for the country, the voters don't always agree.



Government by secretive and unaccountable bureaucrats?

Even some Donks are not happy at going that far down the Soviet road

A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration's federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it's not the tea party. It's Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats. What's IPAB? A Beltway acronym for subverting the deliberative process.

The 15-member panel of government-appointed bureaucrats was slipped into Section 3403 of the Obamacare law against the objection of more than 100 House members on both sides of the aisle. IPAB's experts would wield unprecedented authority over Medicare spending -- and in time, over an expanding jurisdiction of private health care payment rates -- behind closed doors.

Freed from the normal administrative rules process -- public notice, public comment, public review -- that governs every other federal commission in existence.

Without the possibility of judicial review. And liberated from congressional oversight except through an onerous accountability procedure.

Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted IPAB as a "key part" of Obamacare. The president himself crusaded for giving the board even more regulatory "tools" to usurp congressional power over health care allocations. And he has the audacity to blame Republicans for creating a "banana republic"? Hmph.

The conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute has filed suit in federal court to stop IPAB. "No possible reading of the Constitution supports the idea of an unelected, standalone federal board that's untouchable by both Congress and the courts," says the think tank's litigation director, Clint Bolick. But it's the growing opposition from members of the administration's own party that may yet doom these health care czars on steroids.

But look who's not biting: According to Politico, "New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, has zero interest in defending the board. 'I've never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it.'" If that's not clear enough, Pallone added that he's "opposed to independent commissions or outside groups playing a role other than on a recommendatory basis." Period.

Another House Democrat, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, is one of seven Democratic IPAB repeal co-sponsors and is scheduled to testify Wednesday at a second House hearing blasting the board. And former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt channeled the tea party in a recent op-ed when he decried IPAB as "an unelected and unaccountable group whose sole charge is to reduce Medicare spending based on an arbitrary target growth rate."

IPAB defenders demand an alternative, but that's why the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission already exists. And for those unsatisfied with its woeful results, there's the demonized GOP/Rep. Paul Ryan reform package that relies on individual choice and competition over bureaucratic diktats to reduce spiraling Medicare costs.

Opponents of GOP structural reforms have now resorted to decrying Ryan's choice of beverages as a way to discredit the plan. An apparently besotted Rutgers University economist and former Kerry/Edwards economic adviser, Susan Feinberg, accosted Ryan at a D.C. restaurant last week while he was dining with two financial experts over a pricy bottle of wine. "I wasn't drunk, but I was certainly emboldened to speak my mind," Feinberg told liberal blog Talking Points Memo. She gleefully described attacking Ryan for espousing government austerity while -- gasp -- dining out on his own dime.

It's the same unhinged and irrational sanctimony that has New York Times columnist David Brooks assailing entitlement reformers as moral degenerates; the Washington Post's Richard Cohen likening them to Jonestown cult killer Jim Jones; and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown decrying them as "suicide bombers." Ah, the days of whine and bozos.

The good news: Thanks to sober bipartisan criticism (Where are all the cheerleaders for bipartisanship when you need them?), Sebelius and company are now downplaying IPAB as a harmless "backstop mechanism" with limited powers to do anything at all to control costs. At a House hearing Tuesday, Sebelius tried to paint the board as just another run-of-the-mill dog-and-pony panel that would be "irrelevant" if Congress so chooses

It's not quite an under-the-bus moment, but it's certainly a nudge toward rolling back the Obamacare Republic.




Liberal snake oil: "If you’ve ever wondered what snake oil tastes like, just swallow a bit of what the liberals are prescribing for America’s economic ills. Too bad the FDA doesn’t make them put warning labels on that junk. Liberals are saying that the key to restoring economic health to America lies in (1) increasing federal spending, (2) stimulating the economy with newly printed Federal Reserve paper money, (3) taxing the rich, and (4) piling on more federal debt."

National scrutiny for Massachusetts labor law: "The White House took the unusual step this spring of calling Governor Deval Patrick to discuss his plan to curb the collective bargaining rights of public employees, an indication that the Obama administration may have been concerned about the potential for national political fallout. The call was made in late April, just after a tougher version of Patrick’s plan passed the House, sparking outrage from labor leaders who accused Massachusetts Democrats of launching a 'Wisconsin-esque' attack on workers’ rights."

Legalize it: "I don't use marijuana, medical or otherwise. I don't plan to take it up. Still, like an increasing number of Americans, I am vehemently opposed to the war on drugs. Several powerful arguments can be proffered in support of the notion that drug use is a poor life decision. It has a negative impact on health, like eating too much sugar or using tobacco."

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

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


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


12 July, 2011

In Obamaland, the Past is Irrelevant

President Obama inhabits a very special world. It's a world in which his entire slate of previous statements, policy preferences, and actions is apparently wiped clean every time he delivers a new speech or press statement. As my friend Mary Katharine Ham likes to quip, what Obama said -- or did -- last week, last month, or last year is regarded as irrelevant, so long as he's making himself "crystal clear" today. Call it a transcendent belief in "the fierce urgency of now." I'll illustrate this phenomenon shortly.

First, a few basic takeaways from today's lengthy presidential news conference, which made little actual news. The president said a debt deal is still a ways off, and stated that although he appreciates John Boehner's "good faith efforts" to help prevent a disastrous default, Republicans must "budge" on taxes for a workable compromise to materialize. He called on both sides to make concessions, arguing that it's time to "rip off the Bandaid" and "eat our peas." He forswore short-term extensions, vowing to reject any 30-to-90 day debt ceiling patches. "This is the United States of America, and we don't manage our affairs in three-month increments," he asserted. (Except when we do, of course). He also flatly stated that an accord will be forged by the August 2nd deadline. "We're going to meet every day until we get this thing resolved," he said. Negotiations are ongoing.

Now, back to mystical Obamaland: The president talked quite a lot about the pressing and imperative need to strike a comprehensive debt deal this morning. Largely reprising his hectoring performance of June 29th, Obama called on both sides to sacrifice their respective sacred cows to facilitate an agreement post-haste. Such a visionary pragmatist. Except...this latest incarnation of Barack Obama seems to have forgotten that a previous one was demanding a "clean" debt ceiling hike as recently as six weeks ago. Out: We must hike this debt ceiling without any grand deal immediately! In: We must reach a grand deal to hike the debt ceiling immediately! No matter; new day, new paradigm. Head spin.

To oppose a debt limit increase would be patently "irresponsible," today's Barack Obama intoned -- an apparent repudiation of 2006's Barack Obama, who did precisely that. "Revenue increases" are "fair" and essential, today's Barack Obama insisted -- contradicting 2009's Barack Obama, who noted that raising taxes is "the last thing you want to do" in a sluggish economy. Head spin.

The president also spoke passionately about the necessity of making tough choices to help control the swollen national debt. He assured us he's "willing to do hard things politically" to reach an agreement. What might those "hard things" be? He won't say. It's as if today's Barack Obama has forgotten that when presented with an obvious opportunity to offer leadership on this front, February's Barack Obama introduced a budget that was universally panned for its inadequacy and utter refusal to propose any "hard things." And that April's Barack Obama discarded February's Barack Obama's budget in favor of a laughably non-specific "vision," which still hasn't been fleshed out. And that 2010's Barack Obama appointed a bipartisan debt commission to devise exactly the sort of comprehensive solution that today's Barack Obama demands -- but that February's Barack Obama completely disregarded its recommendations in crafting his (later abandoned) budget proposal. Head spin.

Applying icing to his rhetorical cake, the president wrapped up his press conference by promising that his policies will help corral deficits and debt, eventually. Without missing a beat, he closed with an astonishing brainstorm: He encouraged Americans to envision a large-scale government program to spur job growth through major infrastructure projects as a solution to high unemployment. Today's Barack Obama clearly didn't know or care that the large-scale government program to spur job growth through major infrastructure projects -- championed by 2009's Barack Obama, then mocked by June's Barack Obama -- didn't even come close to meeting the expectations and projections 2009's Barack Obama established. Head spin.

No worries, though. Today is a brand new day. Problem: Today's Barack Obama will soon become yesterday's Barack Obama -- whose stated policies and preferences are liable to slide into obsolescence as soon as tomorrow's Barack Obama opens his mouth. What comes next is anyone's guess.

This cycle of presidential body-snatching may be a totally incoherent approach to governance, but it sure is exciting.



What hope for the BRICs?

Financial writer and historian Martin Hutchinson gives his analysis below. I reproduce only his view of Brazil but in the full article he goes on to cover India, China and Russia. He sees them all headed for a crash

The 2008-9 Great Recession centered on the wealthy Western economies with emerging markets suffering significantly shorter, less painful downturns. Then in 2009-11 the emerging markets, particularly the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China -- so named by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill in 2001) soared ahead of the wealthy West, leading to considerable talk of global economic realignment. However as we enter the second half of 2011 new doubts have emerged: are the BRICs overheating, and will they cease bringing growth to the rest of the world?

There has been a great deal of talk in the last few years that the Brazilian and Indian models of center-left social democracy could show the world that democracies with left-of-center governments were as efficient as truly free market administrations in generating growth. This column has warned on a number of occasions that the media admiration for both countries’ economic management was foolish, but until very recently this warning, like a number of this column’s doom-laden forecasts, appeared to have been overstated.

Now as often happens it is beginning to appear that the Bear may merely have been premature. Brazil in particular looks to be in deep trouble. Under Lula the country had an interesting mixture of an excellent monetary policy and an inferior fiscal policy, with interest rates firmly positive in real terms while the government persistently overspent. The fiscal problem was masked for a number of years by the relentless global increase in commodity prices, which improved Brazil’s balance of payments and allowed its public debt position to improve significantly as export revenues surged. Inflation, which would normally have become a serious problem in such a situation, was tamped down by the very high interest rates and the consequent strength of the real.

Then in 2010, as is often the case with center-left governments who have got lucky with the economy, Lula overdid the spending, as he attempted to secure election for his protégé Dilma Rousseff. Not only did the official budget deficit widen by about 2% of GDP, but the development bank BNDES went on a lending spree and the state corporate sector went wild with losses. The position was made to look respectable by the government extracting $50 billion from the unfortunate Petrobras, through selling the same oil reserves to it twice, but in reality overheating was inevitable, however sound the central bank’s monetary policy (12% interest rates – my kind of place, monetarily speaking!)

Rousseff has made only feeble attempts to control public spending, and has shown signs of meddling in Brazilian industry far beyond the official government companies, playing favorites recently in a retail takeover bid. Now Brazilian consumer borrowing is out of control, with consumer debt service at 28% of disposable income, compared with 16% in the U.S. at the height of the 2007 credit bubble. Admittedly high Brazilian interest rates (a mean 47% on consumer borrowing) make debt service greater than in the U.S. for a given amount of debt, but even so it seems likely that with both government and consumers overspending, Brazil is due for the father and mother of a credit crunch.



Wisconsin's Controversial Budget Law Begins to Pay Off

"This is a disaster," Mark Miller, the Wisconsin Senate Democratic leader, said in February after Republican Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget bill that would curtail the collective-bargaining powers of some public employees. Miller predicted catastrophe if the bill were to become law -- a charge repeated thousands of times by his fellow Democrats, union officials and protesters in the streets.

Now the bill is law, and we have some early evidence of how it is working. And for one beleaguered Wisconsin school district, it's a godsend, not a disaster.

The Kaukauna Area School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect at 12:01 a.m. June 29, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health-insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now they'll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board president Todd Arnoldussen.

Of course, Wisconsin unions had offered to make benefit concessions during the budget fight. Wouldn't Kaukauna's money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective-bargaining powers?

"The monetary part of it is not the entire issue," says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna's outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health-insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective-bargaining agreement that we could negotiate only with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can negotiate with only one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now the collective-bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and, lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust but saving substantial amounts of money.

Then there are work rules. "In the collective-bargaining agreement, high-school teachers had to teach only five periods a day out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective-bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37-1/2 hours a week. Now it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

Teachers' salaries will stay "relatively the same," Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is about $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year -- summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.

It is impossible to overstate how bitter and ugly the Wisconsin fight has been, and that bitterness and ugliness continues to this day with efforts to recall senators and an unseemly battle inside the state Supreme Court. But the new law is now a reality, and Gov. Walker recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the measure would gain acceptance "with every day, week and month that goes by that the world doesn't fall apart."

In the Kaukauna schools, the world is definitely not falling apart -- it's getting better.



Ingratitude, Thy Name Is South Korea

South Korea has joined with only two other countries in the world in dropping the name of the forthcoming film "Captain America" and using the subtitle, "The First Avenger." The other two countries are Russia and Ukraine. According to the New York Times report, "Although that country (South Korea) is one of Hollywood's top-performing territories, resentment about the continued presence of the United States military runs deep."

For years now, I have intended to write a column about the most glaring case of international ingratitude of which I am aware. The "Captain America" story has finally pushed me over the edge.

For decades, there have been anti-U.S. demonstrations in South Korea. And each time I wonder the same thing: Do these people have any idea what the living hell known as North Korea is like? Do these people understand that the United States is the reason they are so free and prosperous, completely unlike their fellow North Koreans who had the horrible luck not to be liberated by America? Do these people know how many Americans died to enable them to be free?

Whenever I confront someone who claims that America's wars abroad were fought for economic gain or to extend its alleged imperialist empire, I ask the person about the Korean War: What imperialist or economic reasons were there to fight in that country?

The answer I most often receive is, "Frankly I don't know too much about the Korean War." And it's a good thing for the critics of America's wars that they don't know much about the Korean War. If they did, they would either experience cognitive dissonance or have to severely modify their position on America's wars.

Just five years after a war-weary America celebrated the end of World War II, Americans were asked to fight the successor-evil to Nazism, communism, in Korea, a country most Americans could not identify on a map or did not know anything about. In an earlier version of what happened in Vietnam, the Soviet Union and China backed a communist attempt to take over the southern half of the Korean peninsula -- the northern half had been communist since the end of World War II -- and install a Stalinist tyranny over the non-communist southern half.

Over 36,000 Americans died in America's successful attempt to keep South Korea from becoming communist. And another 92,000 were wounded.

So, forgive me for the contempt I feel for South Koreans who demonstrate against the United States and for the two-thirds of South Koreans who, according to a 2002 Gallup-Korea poll, view the United States unfavorably. Whenever I see those anti-American demonstrators or read such polls, all I can think about are the tens of thousands of Americans who died so that South Koreans would not live in the communist hell their fellow Koreans live in.

Younger South Koreans want American troops to leave their country? Do these young people not know that on planet Earth no other country suffers the mass enslavement, mass incarceration, mass death or the deadening of the mind and soul that North Koreans endure because of the psychopaths who run that country?

And if they do know all this about North Korea, how do they explain why South Korea is so different?

Here is a suggestion: The South Korean government should conduct a national plebiscite on whether America should withdraw its troops from that country. Before the South Korean people vote, the United States should make it clear that if it withdraws its troops and North Korea later invades the South, we will send no troops to die again for South Korea -- but we will vote to condemn North Korea's aggression at the United Nations.

If a majority of the South Korean people wants us to leave, we should.

The beauty of such a plebiscite is that if a majority of the South Korean people wants American troops out, we have no moral obligation to stay there. And if a majority wants us to stay, the South Korean left and other ingrates in that country should shut up.

I have been to South Korea, and I live in a community with many Koreans. I have always admired their industriousness, work ethic and strong families. But South Korea is surely the most ungrateful country in the world. Which is all the more remarkable since it is also the luckiest.


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

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


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


11 July, 2011

Framers distrusted unfettered democracy


There's little that's intelligent or informed about Time magazine editor Richard Stengel's article "One Document, Under Siege" (June 23, 2011). It contains many grossly ignorant statements about our Constitution. If I believed in conspiracies, I'd say Stengel's article is part of a leftist agenda to undermine respect for the founding values of our nation.

Stengel says: "The framers were not gods and were not infallible. Yes, they gave us, and the world, a blueprint for the protection of democratic freedoms – freedom of speech, assembly, religion – but they also gave us the idea that a black person was three-fifths of a human being, that women were not allowed to vote and that South Dakota should have the same number of senators as California, which is kind of crazy. And I'm not even going to mention the Electoral College."

My column last week addressed the compromise whereby each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of determining representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College. Had slaves been counted as whole people, slaveholding states would have had much greater political power. I agree the framers were not gods and were not infallible, but they had far greater wisdom and principle than today's politicians.

The framers held democracy and majority rule in deep contempt. As a matter of fact, the term democracy appears in none of our founding documents. James Madison argued that "measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." John Adams said: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Stengel's majoritarian vision sees it as anti-democratic that South Dakota and California both have two senators, but the framers wanted to reduce the chances that highly populated states would run roughshod over thinly populated states. They established the Electoral College to serve the same purpose in determining the presidency.

The framers recognized that most human abuses were the result of government. As Thomas Paine said, "government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil." Because of their distrust, the framers sought to keep the federal government limited in its power. Their distrust of Congress is seen in the language used throughout our Constitution. The Bill of Rights says Congress shall not abridge, shall not infringe, shall not deny and other shall-nots, such as disparage, violate and deny. If the founders did not believe Congress would abuse our God-given, or natural, rights, they would not have provided those protections. I've always argued that if we depart this world and see anything resembling the Bill of Rights at our next destination, we'll know we're in hell. A bill of rights in heaven would be an affront to God.

Other founder distrust for government is found in the Constitution's separation of powers, checks and balances, and several anti-majoritarian provisions, such as the Electoral College, two-thirds vote to override a veto and the requirement that three-quarters of state legislatures ratify changes to the Constitution.

Stengel says, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so." That statement is beyond ignorance. The 10th Amendment reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Stengel apparently has not read The Federalist No. 45, in which James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, said: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."

Stengel's article is five pages online, and I've only commented on the first. There's also little in the remaining pages that reflects understanding and respect for our nation's most important document.



What ‘constitutional conservatism’ means to me

By Rep. Michele Bachmann

I am a constitutional conservative. So what does that mean? I’ve earned a couple of law degrees, but defining “constitutional conservatism” shouldn’t require a legal scholar. Let me start by pointing out that the conservative movement, as Ronald Reagan believed, is a three-legged stool. One leg consists of peace-through-strength conservatives, another of fiscal and economic conservatives, and the third of social conservatives — the values voters.

Constitutional conservatism includes all three of those legs. My candidacy is based on the unity of the conservative movement — because each leg of the stool is vital.

I believe our founders knew what they were doing when they designed a limited government with specific, enumerated powers. I’m also convinced that many of our problems result from the federal government’s insatiable — and unconstitutional — grab for power and money. On issues ranging from light bulbs to bailouts, to the Dodd-Frank banking legislation, Washington has been on a destructive spree of bureaucratic empire-building. It’s time for that to stop.

Moreover, I believe in the unjustly neglected Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Instead of piling more costly mandates on the states and intrusive laws on the people, our federal government should respect all of the resources and responsibilities that properly belong to the states, to local governments, to private industry and, most of all, to the people.

James Madison cautioned that for a “government to control the governed” it must be obliged “to control itself.” A government that fails to exercise self-control and respect its own boundaries is a threat to the rights and liberties of its citizens. Among those rights is the right to life. I believe we must restore and respect the dignity of life for all, the born and unborn. As we read in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our Creator with rights, starting with the right to life.

Another essential right is embodied in the Second Amendment: the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Whether for self-defense, hunting or recreation, this right must be protected.

And of course, we must repeal Obamacare. We must pull it up by its roots for many good reasons, including the fact that the so-called personal mandate is unconstitutional.

In addition to individual rights, the Constitution establishes vital checks and balances among the branches of government. As Montesquieu argued, the separation of governmental powers stands as a roadblock to tyranny. We’ve seen President Obama stretch that separation with his unjustified military action in Libya.



Some Things Just Don’t Scale

I’m writing this posting while riding the infamous Maryland MTA train. It’s a light rail, the kind of public transportation that we keep being told that we need. My friend and I just left the annual Shore Leave science fiction convention, and are traveling the roughly 22 miles (as the crow would fly) back to his home, where I am a guest of him and his family. And on Friday, he and I traveled to DC on another train and back.

This trip cost us $3.20 total, and he says it will last a bit over an hour. In his car, if he’d not left it for his wife, it would have cost us about $6.50 in gas, but saved us over half an hour of time. Not to mention the seats would have had more than a slight trace of padding over the hard metal/plastic/stone that’s currently numbing my butt.

This, in a nutshell, is why “high speed rail” simply won’t work in America. At least, not on a scale large enough to make it economically self-sustaining.

We are Americans. We are used to our independence, our freedom of movement. There simply aren’t enough Americans (outside of highly urban areas) who have to go to and from the same places at the same times, and are willing to put up with the inconveniences that go with the economic benefits.

Inconveniences as the aforementioned time factor. Or the (pardon me while I cover my ears yet again) the squealing of the steel wheels on the rails. Or the constant stopping and starting and having to keep track of which stop is yours. Or the occasional crowding and being cooped up with a bunch of people you quite possibly would rather not be around, for various and sundry reasons.

Likewise, public security. Israel’s airport security is touted as the ideal, the role model. But Israel has exactly one major international airport, and it’s considerably smaller than our biggest ones. The efforts that make Ben Gurion such a secure airport would be simply too expensive, too time-consuming, and too manpower-intensive to work on the scale we would need them.

But that doesn’t change how current security measures are an absolute joke. While in DC, I ran into several security screenings. One of them was so I could get some fast food.

No joke. My friend and I saw a sign indicating that the Ronald Reagan Federal Building had a food court, and we went in – and I promptly concluded that there was a covert airport installed in the building. It was the only explanation I could see – the food at the Subway was NOT a national secret.

My faith in the security process was further eroded by my observation that most of the security guards seemed to have the main duty of telling us not to believe the signs we saw. One guy in the Commerce Department informed us that we could not reach the National Aquarium through that building – while standing under a sign that said “NATIONAL AQUARIUM” and had an arrow pointing down a hall to the right. Other guards repeatedly told us that doors marked “EXIT” were not actual exits, but we had to find other ways out of various and sundry buildings.

The only reason I can see to push things as “high speed rail” is to exert control over people. To limit their options and force them to give up their freedom to just jump in their car and go where they wish, when they wish, for as long as they wish.

Yes, that’s not a freedom that all can exercise. A lot of people don’t have cars. But that hardly seems a reason to strip the right from all.

Unless, of course, your goal is to get people used to depending on an impersonal government to provide for their needs. To get them to stop doing for themselves, to even stop thinking that they can or should do for themselves.

That is one of our greatest strengths as a nation. And yeah, sometimes it’s not such a great strength, or can actually be a bit of a liability. (Cue the environmentalists to tell us how wasteful private cars are vs. mass transportation.)

But it’s indisputably American.



America sneezes and the world catches cold

EUROPEAN shares fell sharply on Friday to end the week in the red after a surprising slide in U.S. job creation reignited fears over the pace of growth in the world's largest economy.

U.S. non-farm payrolls showed just 18,000 jobs added in June compared with a forecast for 90,000, adding to other data that suggesting the recovery there will be sluggish and uneven.

The surprise underpinned a spike in volatility and gave market bears, already unsettled by the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, another reason to take profits after what had been a fairly positive week until that point.

"It's certainly very disappointing and does raise questions whether this was a temporary slowdown or anything else. It will up the emphasis on the second-quarter reporting season," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of European blue-chips ended down 0.8 per cent at 1114.44 points, for a weekly loss of 0.4 per cent, after being up as high as 0.5 percent before the jobs announcement. The index is down 0.7 per cent so far this year.




Tug-of-war over Iraqi Jewish trove in US hands: "A trove of Jewish books and other materials, rescued from a sewage-filled Baghdad basement during the 2003 invasion, is now caught up in a tug-of-war between the U.S. and Iraq. Ranging from a medieval religious book to children's Hebrew primers, from photos to Torah cases, the collection is testimony to a once vibrant Jewish community in Baghdad."

Five uncomfortable facts about the wonderful, horrible debt limit debate: "No less an authority than a Treasury Department fact sheet claims, 'If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, the government would default on its legal obligations.' This is simply not true. The two things are distinct, and it's unnerving as hell (though hardly surprising) that the government department in charge of minding the books either is wilfully misleading people or just out to lunch. When the debt limit is reached, that doesn't mean that the U.S. will default on its debt payments. Unless it chooses to. There's a huge difference between reaching your limit and not paying your bills."

America is declining before our very eyes: "Three things that caught my attention this past week have me weeping for the future of American freedom. The first was a June Gallup poll that showed that about half of Americans believe the proper role of government is to take money from those who earned it and give it to those who didn't"

Put not your faith in princes — even liberal ones: "Although the Democrats claim to be the party of ordinary working people (as opposed to the Republicans, who are the party of the rich and big business), it’s more accurate to say the two parties represent two partially opposed factions within the corporate ruling class. As Ralph Nader once put it, we have one corporate party with two heads."

California shoots self in foot: "It is already law that residents of the state are supposed to pay the sales tax for all internet purchases. There is a line on the state income tax forms for that purpose -- a line ignored by Californians. Frustrated by their inability to force Californians to pay yet another tax in one of the highest taxed states in the country, the idea was to 'close a loophole' and force internet businesses to do the same tax collection that stores physically located in the state collect -- a service they provide 'free' to the state. Already Amazon.com and Overstock.com are reacting to this new law. They are not collecting the sale taxes, though. They are pulling out of the state."

Maybe the New Deal was a class war after all: "FDR was fond of bashing 'money changers' and plutocrats, and of challenging major figures in business and industry — which is indicative, since he himself was engaged in … nothing. Nothing, that is, aside from politics. Really, his official White House biography speaks of college, law school and political office. Other biographies refer to a brief legal clerkship. But really, his family had lived off of inherited money for generations, and he didn’t have to work at anything that didn’t interest him. The man was a landed aristocrat."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He also has some extensive thoughts about the closure of the world's biggest circulation newspaper -- Britain's "News of the World"

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

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


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


10 July, 2011

Who am I???

I spent my early life in one country but had my big success in another

I was not my father's only child. He fathered several children with different women.

I became very close to my mother, as my father showed no interest in me.

My mother died at an early age

Although my father deserted me and my mother raised me, I later wrote a book praising my father, not my mother.

Later in life, questions arose over my real name.

My birth records were dubious

I claimed to be a Christian but showed little sign of it

There was another religion I liked, however

I worked and lived among lower-class people as a young adult, disguising myself as someone who really cared about them.

That was before I decided it was time to get serious about my life and embarked on a new career.

I wrote a book about my early struggles

It was clear to those who read my memoirs, that I had difficulties accepting that my father abandoned me as a child.

I became active in small time politics in my 30's until I literally burst onto the scene as a candidate for national office in my 40's.

They said I had a golden tongue and could talk anyone into anything.

I had a virtually non-existent resume, little work history, and no experience in leading a single organization.

Yet I was a powerful speaker and citizens were drawn to me, as though I were a magnet and they were small roofing tacks.

I drew incredibly large crowds during my public appearances.

This bolstered my ego.

At first, my political campaign focused on my country's foreign policy...

I was very critical of my country in the most recent war, and seized every opportunity to bash those who ran my country at that time

But what launched my rise to national prominence were my views on the country's economy.

I pretended to have a really good plan on how we could do better, and every poor person would be fed and housed at minimal cost

I knew which group was responsible for getting my country into a mess. It was the free market, banks and corporations.

I decided to start making citizens hate them and, if they became envious of others who did well, the plan was clinched tight.

I called mine "A People's Campaign".

That sounded good to all people.

I was the surprise candidate because I emerged from outside the traditional path of politics and was able to gain widespread popular support.

I knew that, if I merely offered the people 'hope', together we could change our country and the world.

So, I started to make my speeches sound like they were on behalf of the downtrodden, poor and ignorant and told them they were "persecuted"

My true views were not widely known and I kept them quiet until after I became my nation's leader.

Then I became the most powerful man in the world.

Who am I?


Who'd you think it was...?

A version of the above has been circulating on the web for some time but one that includes a number of inaccuracies. I think my version above is reasonably accurate. It is suggestive but proves nothing, of course


White Mob Terrorizes Black Milwaukeeans

Doug Giles

I’m sorry. I got that header wrong. It was a black mob that ransacked convenience stores and hammered a group of white people in Milwaukee this past July 4th weekend. Dang it. I ain’t ever gonna make it in this business. I’m such an idiot.

Yep, this past weekend in the Brewer’s city a horde of African Americans, according to Milwaukee’s Police Chief Edward Flynn, looted a convenience store and beat a group of white twentysomethings in a local park in a “disturbing, outrageous and barbaric fashion.”

The fact that it was a black on white assault would explain why we didn’t hear about it via the national news. Why was there zero press for this violent mess? Well, Spanky, that story and its culprits don’t blissfully mesh with the Left’s ongoing narrative, that’s why. It’s kind of like the ACORN “here’s money for several whorehouses” scandal of 2009, remember? The state-run media didn’t want to report on that because, once again, it would ruin the fairy tale they were trying to foist on the American collective.

God knows, and for that matter, you and I both know (heck, even a Casey Anthony juror knows) that if a cluster of violent crackers tosseda BP convenience store and beat a bunch of brothers to a pulp in a park that the Blame Stream Media would be on that nugget of 411 like ticks on a goat’s scrotum. But when the shoe is on the other pigmentally-enhanced foot … well, ladies and gents … we hear crickets. I said, crickets, from the talking heads in the Blame Stream Media.

Now, in all fairness to the various news outlets for not reporting on this African American-based mayhem, we did have a busy week watching Satan’s spawn Casey Anthony walk away with a “not guilty” verdict; and it was a hectic seven days covering the nail-biting elimination rounds of So You Think You Can Dance; and of course, who can pass on the newsworthy bootylicious topic of the legitimacy of Kim Kardashian’s culo? However, I’m a thinkin’ that if we had a white gang running roughshod over several black tweens’ noggins we would have heard about that “teachable moment” until Jesus returns.



Oops I Forgot To Create Jobs: A Review Of Obamanomics

How seriously are we to take President Obama on economic matters? Is anybody still expecting him to “create jobs?”

Since the early days of his presidential bid in 2007, many have marveled at Barack Obama’s dulcet-toned voice and charming demeanor, while applauding at every word he utters – including what he says about the economy and employment. Now, roughly two and a half years into his presidency, it is painfully apparent that mere charisma and smooth talk don’t “create jobs.”

But why not? What, possibly, could have gone wrong? When Mr. Obama began his presidency in January of 2009 he noted that his “economic stimulus plan” would “save or create three to four million jobs.” Why hasn’t that happened?

The only plausible, reasonable answer to this question has to go something like this: in order for any economy to be sustainable, the majority of its employment opportunities absolutely must come from the for-profit, private sector of our economy. Sure, government agencies employ people too, but they should only employ people in numbers necessary for those agencies to provide essential basic services, and pay these employees commensurate with their private sector counterparts.

The most important thing government can do for the economy is to help to expand employment in the private sector, for-profit arena of our economy. And government can help make this happen, not by cajoling and manipulating and threatening businesses into “hiring,” but rather, by providing a stable and consistent regulatory environment, reasonably low tax rates to businesses and their investors, and encouraging free trade.

Unfortunately, both President Obama’s words and deeds have been hostile towards the private sector, while at the same time he has encouraged the expansion of the government sector. Thus here we are in July of 2011, with many government employees having their compensation and benefits packages expanded, as many private sector businesses continue to eliminate jobs. President Obama has said and done the opposite of what a President should be doing on economic matters, and – not surprisingly – he has produced the opposite of what we would all want.

If you think this is harsh or unfair, consider some of what the President has been saying over the last few years. Let’s start with this quote from August of 2008, when candidate Obama was speaking before a stadium full of his true believers.

Several American oil companies had just posted some robust profits, and the soon-to-be-President Obama seemed to think this was a bad thing. “First of all,” candidate Obama stated, “you’ve got oil companies making record profits…no… no companies in history have made the kind of profits the oil companies are makin’ right now…They..they…….one company, Exxon Mobil, made eleven billion dollars…billion, with a “b” ….last quarter….they made eleven billion dollars the quarter before that…makin’ money hand-over-fist…makin’ out like bandits…”

That was some great campaign rhetoric back then. But today we are in dire need of great policies from our President – and maligning American companies for being “too profitable” doesn’t incentivize them to grow.

Fast-forward to January 29th of 2009. Despite the economic decline, some of the nation’s largest financial and lending institutions had actually just posted some hefty profits, and had paid their executives bonuses. And once again President Obama chastised the achievement, stating “there will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses…now’s not that time, and that’s a message I intend to send directly to them..” Apparently, in Mr. Obama’s view, it is sometimes preferable for companies to be unprofitable – yet unprofitable companies don’t “create jobs.”

And here’s one of my favorites, from May of 2009. Speaking at the commencement exercises at Arizona State University, President Obama advised the new college graduates against private-sector success: “…You’re taught to chase after all the usual brass rings,” the President lamented. “Yah try to be on this ‘who’s who’ list or that ‘top 100 list’…ya chase after the big money, ya figure out how big your corner office is…ya worry about whether or not ya have a fancy enough title, or a fancy enough car…Now you can take that road, and it may work, for some. But at this critical juncture in our nation’s history, at this difficult time, let me suggest that such an approach won’t get you where you want to go. Did you study business? You can go start a company…or, why not go help a struggling not-for-profit find better and more effective ways to help folks in need?”

From there the President went on to extol the many virtues of “public service” – that is, becoming a government employee – and how important it is for people to become public school teachers. Yet he had nothing positive to say about how to create the wealth that funds the non-profit groups and that pays for the labor of the government employees.

Barack Obama is the President who loathes and chastises for-profit enterprise while praising and expanding government bureaucracies. Our current economic conditions provide a mirror image to the President’s vision.



Defence budget safe

Politicians often rail against government spending, except when it goes to the military. Conservatives believe there is no such thing as too much defense spending, and liberals don't argue, for fear of being labeled appeasers. So when there is talk of the two parties agreeing to cut the Pentagon budget, it sounds like a monumental change.

The Obama administration reportedly has decided to boost its planned defense cuts from $400 billion over the next 12 years to as much as $700 billion. That sounds like a lot -- considering that the earlier, smaller figure had sparked furious objections.

Some Republicans in Congress may be prepared to subject defense spending to the sort of scrutiny applied elsewhere. But if you think the tea party favorites will demand serious fiscal discipline, you are in for a disappointment.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's heralded budget plan would, according to Cato Institute analyst Christopher Preble, leave the Pentagon "essentially unscathed." Michele Bachmann wrote recently, "Blaming our budgetary woes on the military is reckless and misinformed."

She doesn't seem to have noticed that while discretionary domestic outlays have been flat in inflation-adjusted terms over the past decade, military expenditures have not. The discretionary defense budget, after accounting for inflation, is 80 percent bigger this year than it was in 2001 -- and 33 percent bigger than it was just five years ago.

Assuming the president and Congress agree to the cuts being discussed -- no sure thing -- it would still be larger in 2016 than it was for most of George W. Bush's presidency. It would also be more, in real terms, than it was at the height of President Ronald Reagan's military buildup, when we faced a hostile nuclear superpower in the form of the Soviet Union.

It might make sense to provide such gargantuan sums if we were merely trying to keep up with our enemies. In reality, the United States devotes more money to defense than the next 17 countries combined. We spend six times as much as the Chinese, who come in second overall.

It would be misleading to say we greatly outspend our rivals. When it comes to military outlays and capability, we have no rivals. The United States is the New York Yankees, and everyone else is in Little League.




Study: No evidence cell phone bans reduce crashes: "A comprehensive study on distracted driving has found there is no conclusive evidence that hands-free cell phone use while driving is any less risky than hand-held cell phone use. The study, which was commissioned by the non-profit Governors Highway Safety Association, and funded by State Farm Insurance, also found that there is no evidence that cell phone or texting bans have reduced crashes."

Big government continues to hurt small businesses most: "The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy released a study showing that the burden of government regulation disproportionately falls onto small businesses. Specifically, those with fewer than 20 employees face $2,830 more in per-employee compliance costs than do firms with 500+ employees. In total, firms with less than 20 wage-earners shell out a whopping compliance cost of $10,585 per employee"

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

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


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


9 July, 2011

The War on Jobs Continues

The war on "big oil" is a war on jobs

The Obama Administration continued its war on American jobs this week by employing more Orwellian rhetoric than a Menshevik at a party congress. I wish they could show as much energy in prosecuting wars in Afghanistan or Libya as they have in the war on American jobs.

"The president believes, we believe, that there are enough members of both parties in both houses who support the idea that a big deal has to be balanced and therefore include spending cuts in the tax code," Carney said according to the Associated Press "employing a phrase White House officials use to describe ending tax loopholes and tax subsidies for certain taxpayers and corporations."

"Spending cuts in the tax code?" That's the Menshevik-in-chief's code for tax increases. Is it any wonder that the newest jobs report was such a stinkbomb? About the only people who don't seem to understand what's going in the economy is the Flat Earth Society at the White House.

It's bad enough that top Obama advisor David Plouffe thinks unemployment isn't important to citizens. It's another thing for the president's economic czar Austan Goolsbee to claim the US is not facing another recession while trying to raise taxes on Main Street, especially in light of the jobs report.

Like all tax increases in this administration, the one they're talking about now is a "targeted" tax increase. They are targeted a you pocketbook and your job.

The presidential candidate who once promised that he'd never, ever raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 has become the president who has proposed another set of tax increases that will be felt most acutely by the poor and the middle class.

This tax increase is on oil. And by "oil," I mean you. You'll feel it at the pump eventually and in the unemployment line. The administration contends that they just want to close loopholes. But the Heritage Foundation says that some of those proposals unfairly single out the oil industry.

For example, the oil industry "already faces a higher marginal tax rate at 41 percent compared to 26 percent for the rest of businesses in Standard & Poor's 500," according to Heritage, and that doesn't include the sales taxes that are imposed at the state and local level.

The administration is also trying to repeal some commonplace tax deductions that encourage investment in new capital and jobs here in the US. Amongst these the administration is trying to do away with are the ability of oil companies to subtract capital investment immediately (which all companies should be able to do) and deductions aimed at making manufacturing more competitive in the US.

While the rest of us would love for oil prices to come down, the president and the administration is doing everything they can to keep prices high and discourage domestic energy production. The consequence is that everyone pays more at the pump and those costs are passed along to consumers.

But that's not even half of the cost. Six percent ($533 billion in payroll) of all labor income in the United States and 5.3 percent of all jobs are either directly tied to or support the oil and gas business. Some of the supporting industries include Services, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Rental and Leasing, Manufacturing, Transportation and Warehousing, Information, Construction, Agriculture, Utilities and Mining. The jobs are good paying, technical positions too.

And despite everything the Obama administration has done to slow down domestic development of oil and gas resources, the oil and gas sector is one of the fastest growing jobs markets in a very anemic job market. While other sectors are shedding jobs, oil and gas is hot.

"The six fastest-growing jobs for 2010-11," according to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc's (EMSI) latest quarterly employment data, "are related to oil and gas extraction. This includes service unit operators, derrick operators, rotary drill operators, and roustabouts. Each is expected to grow anywhere from 9% to 11% through this year, in an otherwise mostly stagnant economy." "In total," EMSI concluded, "nine of the top 11 fast-growing jobs in the nation are tied in one way or another to oil and gas extraction."

EMSI says it's not a one-year wonder either. The push for domestic exploration thanks to new technologies on oil and gas recovery is a long-term uptrend: "Over the last five years, the explosion in the sector has been than staggering - even with a minor employment dip from 2009-2010. The industry added more than 345,000 jobs nationally from 2007 to 2009, and is expected add another 85,000 this year, which equals 11% growth."

And the benefits of the oil industry could gather across the economic spectrum to help all of us, if the administration would only get out of our way.

A recent report from Sonecon, an economic advisory firm that analyzes the impact of government policies, studied the investment results from the two largest public pension programs in 17 states. The study covered approximately 60 percent of all the public pension assets in those states. The assets were invested on behalf of teachers, firefighters, police and other public employees.

"During good economic times - or challenging ones - oil and natural gas investments far outperformed other public pension holdings," said Kyle Isakower, API vice president of regulatory and economic policy. Amongst the finding of the report:

* The average rate of return on investments by these funds in oil and natural gas stocks was seven times greater than the average return on their investments in all other assets. This ratio ranged from a low of 2.7 to 1 to a high of 40 to 1.

* On average, the share of these funds' combined returns attributable to their oil and natural gas assets was 3.4 times greater than those assets' share of the funds' total assets.

* While oil and natural gas stocks make up an average of 4.6 percent of holdings in the top public pension funds, they accounted for an average of 15.7 percent of the returns in these funds over the five-year time period, according to the Sonecon study.

These returns are made possible, not because crude oil is a terrible and dangerous polluter, as Obama says, but because petroleum is one of the most versatile, coolest natural resources ever discovered. One barrel of oil creates 19 gallons (more or less) of gasoline. The rest of it goes into over 6,000 other products, including computers, CDs, DVDs, cell phones, pain relievers and vitamins, just to name a few.

While the American job market continues to take casualties, we don't have to look too closely to see where the fire is coming from.



Restoring Fairness with the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act

Most people, when they do something wrong, face consequences. Heck, even man's best friend must face the music when he pees on the rug. Sadly, though, this aphorism does not apply to those who file frivolous lawsuits.

Today, there is no swift and sound sanction against a frivolous lawsuit, defined as a claim that has no basis in fact and is not likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery. The result over time is potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary costs to small business and our nation's economy.

The House Judiciary Committee took a step yesterday toward rectifying this with its approval of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA). The legislation - H.R. 966 - was marked up and approved by the Committee by a vote of 20-13 and now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

LARA would reduce wasteful litigation by reversing 1993 amendments that weakened Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The post-1993 version of Rule 11 permits attorneys to file a lawsuit first and try to back up their claims later. It allows the plaintiff's lawyer a "safe harbor" of 21 days to withdraw the lawsuit without any penalty, leaving an individual or business no effective recourse.

LARA would make sanctions against those filing frivolous claims mandatory rather than discretionary. It would eliminate the 21-day "safe harbor" that allows unscrupulous lawyers to game the system, and it would replace language in the rule that discourages judges from protecting victims of lawsuit abuse with language that fully authorizes judges to order a party that brings a frivolous claim to pay the defendant's attorney's fees and costs.

With stronger Rule 11 sanctions, there is substantially more risk involved in making a frivolous claim because a claimant cannot just withdraw the frivolous claim without consequence.

Without LARA, an individual or business hit with a lawsuit that has no reasonable basis in law or fact does not have an effective means to recover thousands of dollars in defense costs to have the case dismissed and is forced to pay or settle regardless of the merits. We commend the House Judiciary Committee for taking a first step toward protecting businesses from needless, wasteful costs and restoring accountability and basic fairness.



The Only Reform That Will Restrain Spending

All 47 Senate Republicans now support changing the Constitution to balance the federal budget


Whatever happens when President Obama meets with congressional leaders of both parties at the White House today, no long-term solution is on the table for the spending habits in Washington that have endangered the prosperity of future generations. With our federal debt exceeding $14 trillion-nearly 100% of our gross domestic product-fiscal calamity is jeopardizing our standard of living and undermining our national security. And President Obama recently requested that we add an additional $2.4 trillion to our debt.

There has to be another way, and there is. Republicans in the Senate are united in our concern about our nation's fiscal future. Before we consider saddling our children with even more debt, we must enact significant spending cuts and enforceable caps on future spending. For the long term, to prevent both this Congress and its successors from hijacking the promise of American prosperity, we also need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, like the one we and all 47 Senate Republicans have introduced.

The American people who will vote on such an amendment understand the basic financial rules that Washington has been breaking. In the real world, if a household brought in $44,000 annually but spent $74,000 by borrowing $30,000 each year to sustain its spending habits, such behavior would be considered reckless and irresponsible.

Nonetheless, the federal government is doing exactly that on an unimaginable scale, running historic deficits in excess of a trillion dollars for three consecutive years and borrowing 40 cents for every dollar spent. Our government has balanced its budget only five times in half a century.

Why will this approach work where others have failed? For one single reason: As senators and representatives, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution. By amending the Constitution, Congress will be forever bound to match our nation's expenditures with our revenues. Toothless resolutions and statutory speed bumps have proven easy to evade or ignore. Indeed, the reason many lawmakers don't want a balanced budget amendment is the exact reason why we need it: It would permanently end the types of legislative trickery that have now brought our country to the fiscal brink.


I am sorry to say that I think this is mostly showboating but the idea definitely has merit -- JR



The "stimulus" hasn't stimulated: "Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month, raising doubts that the economy will rebound in the second half of the year. The report baffled economists who had predicted much stronger job creation. And it escalated a debate in Washington over how to spur hiring and energize the economy while also cutting federal spending. Just 18,000 net jobs were created in June, the fewest in nine months. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent, the highest rate of the year, the Labor Department said Friday. Stocks plunged after the report was released, although the market recovered some losses in late-afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 62 points for the day. Broader indexes also fell."

That charming TSA again: "A luggage screener has allegedly been caught stealing from passengers. Nelson Santiago, from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has been arrested for allegedly stealing around $50,000 worth of electronics this year, MSNBC reports. Police claim that Santiago stole computers, cameras and other electronics from luggage he was screening. He would use his phone to upload a picture of the stolen item online and sell it by the end of his shift. A Continental Airlines employee even reported seeing Santiago stuff an iPad down his pants. Santiago is no longer working for the TSA. Police say that there could be many more victims.

One small step for man, one giant leap for private markets: "This Friday will mark the last ever space shuttle mission in NASA's program. The program has lasted nearly half a century and seen the launch of over 135 missions (including this last one by the Atlantis). For those who can remember being glued to the television as the Discovery, Endeavour, challenger and Columbia blasted out the Kennedy Space Center, this may be a bittersweet moment. However, the tearful can take comfort in the thought that they are waving goodbye to another landmark: the government's fifty-year monopoly in the space industry."

Designate Public Intoxication law for repeal: "Let's say you - or someone you care about - had a few drinks one night and, knowing it would not be a good idea to drive, decided to let a sober person take the wheel. Did you realize you can still be charged with a criminal offense? It's true. The Indiana Supreme Court just affirmed this in Moore v. State.... Indiana's public intoxication law is horrendously vague and depends upon the arbitrary discretion of law enforcement, which means it is open to possible abuse."

Iranian weapons killing Americans in Iraq: "Fresh warnings came from the Pentagon on Thursday that Iran is supporting extremist militias in Iraq that are killing U.S. troops. Weapons such as IRAMs -- improvised rocket-assisted munitions -- and specially shaped explosives called EFPs -- enhanced explosive penetrators -- have taken a deadly toll on U.S. forces in Iraq, Mullen said, and investigations have tied the weapons directly to Iran. "They are shipping high-tech weapons in there -- RAMS, EFPs -- which are killing our people and the forensics prove that," Mullen said. "From my perspective, that has to be dealt with, not just now because it is killing our people, but obviously in the future as well."

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

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


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


8 July, 2011

We Should Be Free Because We Are Equal: You can't be one without the other (?)

Steven Horwitz below points out that classical liberals -- precursors of libertarians -- did believe in equality. Conservatives, by contrast see equality as an unrealizable dream. Conservatives can see that there are a whole host of ways in which people differ and that those differences will result in many forms of inequality.

So this does expose the dire limits of a purely libertarian analysis of society. Liberty is vital but its presence or absence doesn't explain or predict everything. There are other influences at work in human affairs that influence how good our life experiences will be.

For those who still embrace a purely libertarian analysis of society, there is a sort of an "out". As noted below, classical liberals only asssumed equality for the purposes of their argument -- much as economists assume free markets for some analyses, even though real free markets are as rare as hen's teeth. So what is assumed is not that all men are equal but rather that all men need to be treated equally by the law. That seems to me to be the only sort of equality that libertarians could realistically embrace -- JR

At the core of classical-liberal arguments, especially in the nineteenth century, was what economists Sandra Peart and David Levy call “analytical egalitarianism.” Classical liberals, going back at least as far as John Locke, began their analysis of the social world by assuming that human beings were equal both in their moral standing (everyone’s preferences count equally) and in their capacity for making economic decisions. As Adam Smith phrased it, there was no difference between the street porter and the philosopher.

Peart and Levy contrast “analytical egalitarianism” with what they call “analytical hierarchicalism,” in which some people are thought to be different from others and therefore, in the view of those at the time, superior or inferior. Such differences might be attributed to any variety of inborn traits, from race to ethnicity to gender. By contrast, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and other classical liberals believed that the observed differences among human beings were not due to inborn traits and capacities, but rather to factors such as incentives, luck, and history, as Peart and Levy put it. In the view of most early classical liberals, no inborn trait or capacity consigns some groups to inferiority while marking others for superiority. In understanding the social world, we must treat people as equal with respect to the things that matter for our theories and therefore for the policy conclusions that emerge from them.

Racial Equality

As Levy demonstrated in an earlier book, this mattered at a practical level in the nineteenth-century debates over racial equality. Classical liberals such as Mill supported racial equality because they believed race was irrelevant to people’s moral standing and capacity for choice. Classical economics assumed its models applied to all human beings, including the theorists themselves. They believed that free markets and a free society were desirable because all people were equal and capable of acting in the way their theories described, leading to the peaceful and prosperous world they promised. By contrast the Romantic critics of capitalism hated it for exactly those reasons: Their starting point was the assumption of hierarchy, specifically among the races, and they understood correctly that free markets would undermine that hierarchy, which is why they opposed it. This is also why the Romantics called economics the “dismal science” – they saw a future without hierarchy as dismal. (See David Levy’s Freeman article on the subject.)

If there really were morally relevant differences among human beings, or if some groups were unable to engage in reasonably rational decision-making, it would be easier to construct an argument that these humans should ruled by their superiors – and this is precisely the argument that a good number of critics of classical liberalism constructed. They wanted the State to treat some people differently from others because some groups were not equal to others in their capacity for free choice. Lest you think this went on only in the nineteenth century, these views manifested themselves again in the early twentieth century, as Progressive Era critics of capitalism used eugenic arguments to limit the economic rights of nonwhites and women.

Two Principles

The classical-liberal argument for freedom was premised on equality, both in people’s moral worth and in their capacity for free choice. In other words, the arguments for equality came first and the desirability of liberty followed from them. (See also Roderick Long’s “Liberty: The Other Equality.”) Classical liberalism’s critics denied that people should be free because they denied that people were equal. It was classical liberalism that defended the principles of both equality and freedom.

No doubt the concept of equality has been altered in the last 150 years. Too often it is used to mean “equalizing outcomes” by the hand of the State as opposed to treating people equally and accepting that unequal, but just and socially desirable, outcomes will result. Libertarians who rightly defend such inequalities of outcomes need to recognize that those are only possible in a world where the assumption of analytical egalitarianism operates and where the State treats all humans as having equal moral standing and equal capacity for free choice. Equality should not be a dirty word for libertarians since equality of liberty and equality before the law are in our intellectual DNA. Equality is one of our foundational concepts without which the argument for freedom would be that much weaker, if not nonexistent.



The perils of centrism

The Republican party says it’s for lower taxes. It isn’t. It passed the largest federal budget in history, and even after it controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, it failed to make a dent in the federal tax burden.

The Republican party says it’s for limited government. It isn’t. Not only has it failed to reduce the already ridiculous size and power of government, it has drastically increased it.

The Republic party says it’s for individual liberties. It isn’t. It created the biggest federal bureaucracy in history, and gave it all sorts of new powers to spy on, detain, silence, and otherwise harass Americans.



The Cost Of Government Regulation

“You, there: stop complaining and start hiring!” That is essentially the Obama administration’s message to businesses. This is an administration that seems to believe that $1 million spent on pollution control will create more than 1.5 net jobs. Who comes up with such numbers?

One would be Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), who recently wrote in the Washington Post that there is no “tsunami” of regulations to worry about, no matter what the Chamber of Commerce says. All is fine and dandy because OMB says regulations cost no more than $62 billion annually.

Sunstein, who is in charge of keeping tabs on the costs of government regulations, also recently saw it fit to undermine his colleagues at the Small Business Administration, telling a Senate hearing that SBA’s oft-cited report finding of $1.7 trillion in regulatory costs is an “urban legend.”

He may be a lot smarter than the rest of us and have more legal citations than anyone else in the Milky Way, but if Sunstein seriously contends that regulations aren’t costly or shouldn’t be fretted over — or that only “net benefits” matter — we have a real problem.

Sunstein cites a progressive advocacy group’s critique of the SBA, titled “Setting the Record Straight,” which doesn’t attempt to find out what regulatory costs are, but just highlights the “conservativeness” of those who seek disclosure and accountability and to critique their efforts.

Sunstein also cites a Congressional Research Service report actually entitled “Analysis of an Estimate of the Total Costs of Federal Regulations,” which, rather than finally tabulating regulatory costs after all these years, simply shrugs and talk about how complex it all is and demeans the SBA effort.

In my view, the SBA report’s authors, Nicole and Mark Crain, concede a lot to potential critics, and such reports can and do benefit from genuine critique. The authors bend over backward to stress that they are not assessing benefits, given that the SBA’s legislative mandate is to address small-business impacts.

The country’s wealth creators need a real review of regulations, not comforting words from federal officials. Out of over 3,500 rules finalized in 2010, OIRA reviewed 66 — and of those only did benefit calculations for 20.

A simple perusal of the Federal Register shows over 430 rules costing over $65 billion so far this year alone, let alone the entire Crain universe of rules, which stops at 2008. As the Crains note, regulatory costs are often “indirect,” compared with direct taxation.

Significantly, they also note that the “totality” of rules under $99 million are not reviewed by OIRA. That is important because “major” rules — those estimated to cost $100 million or more — comprise likely less than 10% of the regulatory pipeline at any given time. Thus, a rule that is not considered “major” could still impose significant costs in real-world terms.

The Crains also note that they do not include in their assessment the indirect or ripple effects of regulatory mandates. They also do not directly review many categories of rules—including import restrictions, antitrust regulations, product safety and telecom—and rules issued by “independent agencies.” And no one has yet accounted for the impending regulatory tsunami (yes, I said it) that will be unleashed by the Dodd-Frank and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Sarbanes-Oxley alone costs $1.4 trillion in lost market value.

In short, the Crains’ estimate of regulatory costs, while more accurate than Sunstein’s, may well prove to be on the low end. My own casual survey of literature on regulations, not using Crain or OMB numbers, already adds up to $1 trillion — and that doesn’t count the new health care law and the 3,500 pages of Dodd-Frank financial rules (with more on the way).

Agencies think within their squares and have conflicts of interest in assessing their own benefits. Regulators can ignore the opportunity costs and moral hazard they create. Even now they are in the process of distorting entire industry structures via limiting access to energy, antitrust regulatory abuse and “net neutrality” rules in telecommunications and government “stimulus” with regulatory strings attached.

This “official” attack on the SBA by the very administration under which the report appears is inconsistent with Obama’s Executive Order on “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” his Wall Street Journal op-ed, and with the reality that we know very little about the regulatory state’s impacts. The real urban legend at hand is the idea that the Obama administration is working diligently to streamline federal regulation.



Those Who Forget The Past…

There’s no joy in saying “we told you so.” Not when millions of Americans are beset by plummeting home prices, stagnant income levels, deteriorating job opportunities and rising consumer prices. And let’s not forget the trillions of dollars in debt that America’s politicians have saddled taxpayers with in an unsuccessful effort to alleviate these economic ills.

Free market advocates repeatedly warned political leaders of both parties regarding these inevitable “bailout byproducts,” but they didn’t listen. Instead, they rushed to reward their favored banks and bureaucracies for years of gross fiscal negligence — leaving taxpayers stuck with a scarcely-fathomable tab.

The only silver lining to this Keynesian tsunami? That the failure of the largest, costliest and least effective government economic intervention in human history could be the impetus for an urgently needed course correction — and a long-overdue debunking of one of the greatest myths in American history.

According to Barack Obama and the New Keynesians, years of unrestrained and unregulated “corporate greed” pushed America to the precipice of a second Great Depression. That’s when government rode to the “rescue” with more than $13 trillion worth of new spending, lending, loan guarantees and money-printing.

It’s a familiar narrative — one evoking all too common misconceptions about the policies responsible for the depth, duration and the eventual demise of previous economic downturns. Like its predecessors, however, this narrative ignores a flood of politically-correct, government-mandated lending that helped artificially inflate the nation’s housing bubble. It also ignores a steady increase in deficit spending in the years leading up to the recent recession.

This isn’t a past tense situation, either — the interventionist spigot is still flowing. Washington is currently staring down its fourth consecutive budget deficit of more than $1 trillion, while the Federal Reserve is just now winding down its latest $600 billion installment of “quantitative easing.”

Even Wall Street — which soaked up more than its fair share of the borrowed largesse — is finally saying enough is enough. “They’ve done more than enough already,” one investment analyst recently said. “Any further stimulus only increases the long-term risk of inflation, which we already view as high.”

Indeed. Now if we could just wind the clock back three years — and $13 trillion. In 2008, Keynesian economist Gauti Eggertsson published a paper in the American Economic Review which presented a theoretical basis for the Bush-Obama doctrine of “over-stimulation.” Eggertsson’s fundamental premise was that the interventionist policies of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration lifted the nation out of the Great Depression — ostensibly in contrast to the policies of Herbert Hoover.

Obviously, it’s not hard to find fault with Hoover’s disastrous response to the stock market crash of 1929 (especially the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and the Revenue Act of 1932). But those were interventionist excesses — and Hoover’s contemporaries knew all too well that he was hardly the laissez-faire scapegoat he’s made out to be in government textbooks. “That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad,” Hoover’s predecessor Calvin Coolidge once said.

As Commerce Secretary to President Warren G. Harding, Hoover also recommended a massive federal response to the post-World War I depression. Fortunately Harding chose to ignore Hoover’s advice, and his hands-off handling of the 1920-21 depression is widely credited with ending that downturn in short order — just as Harding and Coolidge’s tax cuts paved the way for robust economic growth in the years that followed.

“The secret to the quick recovery was that the government generally stood aside and let the market recover by itself,” a 2005 report by The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards noted. “Wages and prices adjusted, resources shifted to new areas of growth, profits recovered, business optimism returned, and investment rose.”

Even Keynesians, such as economist Robert J. Gordon, are forced to acknowledge that this economic recovery commenced in short order “despite the absence of a stimulative government policy. “Government policy to moderate the depression and speed recovery was minimal,” says Gordon. “The Federal Reserve authorities were largely passive.”

Obviously the virtues of “minimal” and “passive” government approach were not shared by Hoover and Roosevelt. Nor was the spectacular failure of Hoover and Roosevelt’s Keynesian approach heeded by Bush and Obama.

As a result of Hoover and Roosevelt’s mismanagement, the U.S. unemployment rate remained above 14 percent for ten years from 1931-1940. While it’s everyone’s hope that current elevated levels of unemployment won’t drag down our economy for such an extended time frame, the disastrous Bush-Obama response to the recent recession — and the looming specter of Obama’s socialized medicine law — don’t offer much cause for optimism.

“Told you so” — but let’s hope for the sake of our economy (and the taxpayers who support it) that our leaders have learned their lesson this time. We really can’t afford any more “stimulus.”


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

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


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


7 July, 2011

The Week of Lying Dangerously

Obama displays a Clintonian desire to have things both ways

There was a time when Barack Obama seemed more honest than Bill Clinton. While Slick Willie notoriously claimed he smoked pot but "didn't inhale," Obama candidly admitted, "When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point."

Lately I have not been so impressed by Obama's truth-telling tendencies. Three incidents last week vividly illustrated the president's Clintonian desire to have things both ways, even if it means insulting our intelligence.

Obama wants credit for using the American military to protect civilians and compel a regime change in Libya. But he doesn't want to admit that blowing up the government's forces and facilities counts as "hostilities," because then he would need congressional permission under the War Powers Act.

Last week Obama sent Harold Koh, the State Department's legal adviser, to explain this counterintuitive position to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose members were noticeably unimpressed. "When you have an operation that goes on for months, costs billions of dollars, where the United States is providing two-thirds of the troops, even under the NATO fig leaf, where they're dropping bombs that are killing people, where you're paying your troops offshore combat pay and there are areas of prospective escalation," said Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), "I would say that's hostilities."

The following day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit was more receptive, accepting Obama's argument that Congress is regulating interstate commerce when it forces people to buy health insurance. But a concurring opinion highlighted another striking example of presidential duplicity.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton devoted half a dozen pages to rebutting the Obama administration's argument that the insurance mandate, which requires the Internal Revenue Service to collect a "shared responsibility payment" from Americans who fail to comply, should be upheld under the federal government's taxing power, thereby avoiding dicey questions about the limits of the Commerce Clause. Sutton was too polite to note that the president himself had indignantly insisted, prior to passage of his health care law, that the assessment was "absolutely not a tax increase."

Another unacknowledged reversal occurred on Thursday night (just before the long holiday weekend), when the administration released a memo that supposedly "clarified" its position on medical marijuana. Although Obama has promised to stop "using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," Deputy Attorney General James Cole informed federal prosecutors that "commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana" for medical use are fair game, even when they comply with state law.

By contrast, an October 2009 memo from Cole's predecessor, David Ogden, said U.S. attorneys "should not focus federal resources" on "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." The Ogden memo listed criteria for prosecution, such as violence, sales to minors, and sales of other drugs, that make sense only when applied to medical marijuana suppliers, as opposed to the patients and caregivers who the Justice Department now claims are the only people covered by the policy of prosecutorial restraint.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in May 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that the promised forbearance applied to people "dealing in marijuana." When Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) asked him about threats to raid "legitimate businesses" that supply medical marijuana, Holder said "that would be inconsistent with...the policy as we have set it out…if the entity is, in fact, operating consistent with state law and…does not have any of those factors" mentioned in the Ogden memo. This position jibed with Holder's earlier statement that "the policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law."

So how does the new Justice Department memo address the blatant contradiction between prosecuting state-authorized medical marijuana suppliers and not prosecuting them? It assures us the two policies are "entirely consistent." That way Obama can get credit for tolerance and compassion without being painted as soft on drugs. After all, he did inhale.



The Jobless Summer

Why only one in four teens is employed

Perhaps you've already noticed around the neighborhood, but this is a rotten summer for young Americans to find a job. The Department of Labor reported last week that a smaller share of 16-19 year-olds are working than at anytime since records began to be kept in 1948.

Only 24% of teens, one in four, have jobs, compared to 42% as recently as the summer of 2001. The nearby chart chronicles the teen employment percentage over time, including the notable plunge in the last decade. So instead of learning valuable job skills—getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, operating a cash register or fork lift—millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out.

The lousy economic recovery explains much of this decline in teens working, and some is due to increases in teen summer school enrollment. Some is also cultural: Many parents don't put the same demands on teens as they once did to get out and work.

But Congress has also contributed by passing one of the most ill-timed minimum wage increases in history. One of the first acts of the gone-but-not-forgotten Nancy Pelosi ascendancy was to raise the minimum wage in stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. Even liberals ought to understand that raising the cost of hiring the young and unskilled while employers are slashing payrolls is loopy economics.

Or maybe not. The Center for American Progress, often called the think tank for the Obama White House, recently recommended another increase to $8.25 an hour. Though the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1%, the thinkers assert that a rising wage would "stimulate economic growth to the tune of 50,000 new jobs." So if the government orders employers to pay more to hire workers when they're already not hiring, they'll somehow hire more workers. By this logic, if we raised the minimum wage to $25 an hour we'd have full employment.

Back on planet Earth, the minimum wage increase has coincided with the plunge in the percentage of working teens. Before the most recent wage hikes, roughly seven million teens were working. Now there are closer to five million with a job and paycheck.

Black teens have had the worst of it, with their unemployment rate rising to 41.6% in April from 29% in 2007, faster than almost any other group. A 2010 study by economists William Even of Miami University of Ohio and David Macpherson of Trinity University found that as a result of the $2.10 increase in minimum wage, "teen employment dropped by 6.9 percent. . . . For the teen population with less than 12 years of education completed, teen employment dropped by 12.4 percent." For teens priced out of the labor market, their wage fell to zero.

The great tragedy is that even discussing the role of the minimum wage in teen unemployment seems to be a political taboo. The other day we saw ABC's George Stephanopoulos baiting Michele Bachmann on the minimum wage, as if refusing to raise it would be some epic political gaffe. Ms. Bachmann didn't back down from saying that the minimum wage has contributed to unemployment, though she didn't explain why.

What she or another candidate should do is stop playing defense and ask why Mr. Stephanopoulos doesn't seem to mind a black teen jobless rate of 41.6%. Someone truly brave would come out for a teenage sub-minimum wage of, say, $4 an hour. In certain circumstances employers can now pay teens a minimum of $4.25, but only for 90 days. This makes employers reluctant to hire at all. Make the case on moral grounds that a mandated wage that is too high blocks the young and unskilled from grabbing a place on the economic ladder.

Teenagers who work part-time while attending school generally make more money and have more successful careers as adults than kids who never work. As a 2006 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago put it: "The drop in teen labor force participation may also have implications for future productivity growth. In general, labor market experience tends to raise subsequent earnings."

The U.S. has long had a labor market flexible enough that when the economy grows, the jobless rate falls smartly. This time has been different, and the great danger is that Obamanomics has moved the U.S. to a permanently higher jobless rate as in so much of Europe. For America's teenagers this summer, that reality is already here.



The Big Taxpayer Scam

Here’s some friendly fiscal advice: Any time some Washington big shot like Ben Bernanke or Tim Geithner claims that immediate spending cuts in the debt deal will harm the economy—ignore them. Completely. You know why? Because in this great country of ours, spending never goes down. Never.

Take a look at the chart below. The blue line you see is President Obama's budget. The green line is Congressman Paul Ryan's budget.

Now, Paul Ryan's is of course a couple of trillion dollars lower than Obama's over the next ten years. But what do they both have in common? They both go up. As in spending more, not less. As in, roughly $40-45 trillion dollars more. That's a whole lot of taxpayer money, folks.

Now why is this? It’s because of something called the “current services baseline" which includes population and inflation increases built into the budget. Entitlements have their own formulas.

So when you hear a politician tell you they’re cutting spending, they’re actually referring only to reducing the growth of spending. Rarely, if ever, do they actually reduce the level of spending.

Think of it this way: You’re out car shopping and thinking about buying a $100,000 Mercedes. That's your target. But then you decide to forego the Mercedes and opt for a $20,000 Chevy instead. Well, guess what? Congress would score that as an $80,000 budget cut. Huh? We all know that it’s actually a $20,000 budget increase.

Let’s be honest here. This budgetary game remains one big taxpayer scam. Look, I used to work in the federal budget office. I know the game.

Here's yet another scam: big budget deals say they “cut” (there's that word again) a couple of trillion dollars over ten years. But most of it is targeted for the last couple of years, as in years eight, nine, and ten. So basically it'll never happen. It's four or five congresses from now. Laws change. Deals are broken.

At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is next year's budget. Will it be cut? Ever in my lifetime? Because if it were cut, it would bring that line in that chart above down. Now that would be a called a decline. All of that other stuff? Increases.

When business cut expenses, the spending line declines. But when government cuts spending, the spending line always rises. Think of it.




TSA abuses and failures: "Many Americans continue to fool themselves into accepting TSA abuse by saying 'I don't mind giving up my freedoms for security.' In fact, they are giving up their liberties and not receiving security in return. Last week, for example, just days after an elderly cancer victim was forced to submit to a cruel and pointless TSA search, including removal of an adult diaper, a Nigerian immigrant somehow managed stroll through TSA security checks and board a flight from New York to LA -- with a stolen, expired boarding pass and an out-of-date student ID as his sole identification!"

TSA wins another round: "My frequent-flyer friend told me that he has noticed two things since the groping started. First, he has seen the attitude of TSA employees change with the new procedures. In his words, 'they seem more like East German police' than they used to. Second, other frequent flyers are getting upset. Going through the Syracuse airport a couple of weeks ago, my friend commented during a TSA grope, 'This is stupid.' The groper replied, 'If you keep this up, I'll call the police and have you arrested.'"

Coming soon to an airport near you: "If you fly within the United States in the future, keep your expression neutral, do not blink too much or too little, and do not sweat. Carefully maintain a normal respiration and heart beat as you submit to demands from Homeland Security agents. If you question or resist their demands, you could be detained as a pre-crime suspect, fined up to $11,000 and added to a No Fly list."

Medicaid payments go under the knife: "To curb rising Medicaid costs, about a dozen states are starting a new budget year by reducing payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that treat the poor. Some health care experts say the cuts, most of which went into effect July 1 or will later this month, could add to a shortage of physicians and other providers participating in Medicaid."

Transparency measure is ripe for abuse: "The lowest qualified bid by the most competent contestant traditionally wins the government contract. Unfortunately, the 'Change' gang now wants to fiddle with this decades-old, generally reliable formula. President Obama hopes to throw another item onto the scale as bureaucrats weigh bids: political donations."

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

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


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


6 July, 2011

Politics Versus Reality

Thomas Sowell

It is hard to understand politics if you are hung up on reality. Politicians leave reality to others. What matters in politics is what you can get the voters to believe, whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not.

Not only among politicians, but also among much of the media, and even among some of the public, the quest is not for truth about reality but for talking points that fit a vision or advance an agenda. Some seem to see it as a personal contest about who is best at fencing with words.

The current controversy over whether to deal with our massive national debt by cutting spending, or whether instead to raise tax rates on "the rich," is a classic example of talking points versus reality.

Most of those who favor simply raising tax rates on "the rich" -- or who say that we cannot afford to allow the Bush "tax cuts for the rich" to continue -- show not the slightest interest in the history of what has actually happened when tax rates were raised to high levels on "the rich," as compared to what has actually happened when there have been "tax cuts for the rich."

As far as such people are concerned, those questions have already been settled by their talking points. Why confuse the issue by digging into empirical evidence about what has actually happened when one policy or the other was followed?

The political battles about whether to have high tax rates on people in high income brackets or to instead have "tax cuts for the rich" have been fought out in at least four different administrations in the 20th century -- under Presidents Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The empirical facts are there, but they mean nothing if people don't look at them, and instead rely on talking points.

The first time this political battle was fought, during the Coolidge administration, the tax-cutters won. The data show that "the rich" supplied less tax revenue to the government when the top income tax rate was 73 percent in 1921 than they supplied after the income tax rate was reduced to 24 percent in 1925.

Because high tax rates can easily be avoided, both then and now, "the rich" were much less affected by high tax rates than was the economy and the people who were looking for jobs. After the Coolidge tax cuts, the increased economic activity led to unemployment rates that ranged from a high of 4.2 percent to a low of 1.8 percent. But that is only a fact about reality -- and, for many, reality has no such appeal as talking points.

The same preference for talking points, and the same lack of interest in digging into the facts about realities, prevails today in discussions of whether to have a government-controlled medical system.

Since there are various countries, such as Canada and Britain, that have the kind of government-controlled medical systems that some Americans advocate, you might think that there would be great interest in the quality of medical care in these countries.

The data are readily available as to how many weeks or months people have to wait to see a primary care physician in such countries, and how many additional weeks or months they have to wait after they are referred to a surgeon or other specialist. There are data on how often their governments allow patients to receive the latest pharmaceutical drugs, as compared to how often Americans use such advanced medications.

But supporters of government medical care show virtually no interest in such realities. Their big talking point is that the life expectancy in the United States is not as long as in those other countries. End of discussion, as far as they are concerned.

They have no interest in the reality that medical care has much less effect on death rates from homicide, obesity, and narcotics addiction than it has on death rates from cancer or other conditions that doctors can do something about. Americans survive various cancers better than people anywhere else. Americans also get to see doctors much sooner for medical treatment in general.

Talking points trump reality in political discussions of many other issues, from gun control to rent control. Reality simply does not have the pizzazz of clever talking points.

No one is more of a master of political talking points than President Barack Obama. Remember "shovel-ready projects"? These were construction projects where the shovels were supposed to start digging the moment the government gave them the "stimulus" money.

Two years later, Obama can joke about the fact that the shovels were not as ready as he thought. In reality, the shovels were never ready. It can take forever to get all the environmental approvals to build anything in today's political and legal climate.

If Obama didn't know that, his advisers surely did. He can treat it as a joke today but it is no joke for those who are saddled with the debts produced by his runaway spending in the name of "shovel-ready projects." Nor is it a joke to the unemployed, who remain unemployed despite all the "stimulus" spending.

The talk about the many "green jobs" created by the government is likewise no joke. Since the government creates no wealth, it can only transfer the wealth required to hire people. Even if the government creates a million jobs, that is not a net increase in jobs, when the money that pays for those jobs is taken from the private sector, which loses that much ability to create private jobs.

Back in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration hired more young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps than there were in the U.S. Army. But that never brought unemployment down into single digits at any point during that entire decade. As late as the spring of 1939, the unemployment rate was 20 percent.

Government-created jobs did not mean a net increase in jobs then -- or now. But this is only mundane reality. What makes a great political talking point is government coming to the rescue of the unemployed by creating jobs. That talking point helps politicians get reelected, even if it does nothing for the economy in general or for the unemployment rate.

Among the biggest triumphs of talking points over reality are political discussions of rent control and gun control. Rent control supposedly rescues helpless tenants from the high rents charged by "greedy" landlords -- at least in political rhetoric.

But the two cities which have the oldest and strongest rent control laws in the country also have the highest rents -- New York and San Francisco. Yet that plain reality has not made a dent in the thinking, or lack of thinking, of those who support rent control.

Nor are they at all interested in other realities about rent control, whether in these two cities or in other cities around the world. These realities include housing shortages and a reduced supply of maintenance and other auxiliary services, such as heat and hot water.

Other forms of price control likewise lead to shortages, and have for literally thousands of years. But such plain realities do not affect the heady social vision conjured up by talking points.

Far from being discouraged by such realities, those who believe in price control for housing often think price control for medicines and medical care is a great idea too.

We need not speculate as to what effects price controls can have on medicines and medical care because there are already shortages of both in countries where a government-controlled medical system includes price controls.

The talking points about gun control are as far removed from reality as the talking points about rent control. But on this issue, at least, the advocates cite some highly selective statistics to go along with their rhetoric.

Gun control advocates often point out countries like Britain that have stronger gun control laws than ours and lower murder rates. But they totally ignore countries that have stronger gun control laws than ours and higher murder rates than ours.

One such country is right on our border -- Mexico. But there are others farther away, such as Brazil and Russia. There are also countries with higher rates of gun ownership than in the United States -- Switzerland and Israel, for example -- that have much lower murder rates than ours. But none of this has the slightest effect on the talking points of gun control zealots.



Failed Stimulus Spending Erodes America’s International Competitiveness, Wipes Out Wealth

In the Daily Caller, Chris Edwards has an interesting article about why government spending doesn’t “stimulate” the economy over the short-run or the long-run. Rather than growing the economy, stimulus packages are typically wasteful wealth transfers akin to a “leaky bucket,” which harm the economy in the long run, whether or not there are any short-run stimulus effects.

As Edwards notes, “Despite ongoing federal deficits of more than $1 trillion a year, many liberals are calling for more government spending to ‘create jobs.’” But if government spending creates jobs, it’s hard to understand why unemployment has soared, even as government spending has exploded in recent years: “Federal spending has soared over the past decade. As a share of gross domestic product, spending grew from 18 percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2011.” As he notes, “government spending and taxing creates ‘deadweight losses,’ which result from distortions to working, investment and other activities. The CBO says that deadweight loss estimates ‘range from 20 cents to 60 cents over and above the revenue raised.’ Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein thinks that deadweight losses ‘may exceed one dollar per dollar of revenue raised.’” Due partly to this “leaky-bucket” effect, Texas A&M economist Edgar Browning concluded that “It costs taxpayers $3 to provide a benefit worth $1 to recipients,” and that “today’s welfare state reduces GDP — or average U.S. incomes — by about 25 percent.”

Stimulus spending also will undermine America’s international competitiveness. We wrote earlier about how the stimulus package used taxpayer money to outsource American jobs to foreign countries like China (in the name of promoting “green jobs”) and wiped out jobs in America’s export sector by reducing purchases of American goods in Mexico and Canada.

Edwards points out that recent stimulus spending will undermine America’s international competitiveness in terms of tax rates. As he notes, the recent massive spending increases, if not curtailed, will have to be paid for with equally massive tax increases, wiping out America’s edge over other countries in taxes. “This year, government spending in the United States hit 41 percent of GDP, meaning that more than 4 out of every 10 dollars that we produce is consumed by our federal, state and local governments. We used to have a substantial government size advantage compared to other countries. But . . . while government spending in the United States was about 10 percentage points of GDP smaller than the average . . . in the past, that gap has now shrunk to just 4 points. A number of high-income nations — such as Australia — now have smaller governments than does the United States. This is very troubling because America’s strong growth and high living standards were historically built on our relatively small government. The ongoing surge in federal spending is undoing this competitive advantage that we have enjoyed in the world economy.”

This surge in government spending is projected to continue in the future. “CBO projections show that federal spending will rise by about 10 percentage points of GDP between now and 2035. If that happens, governments in the United States will be grabbing more than half of everything produced in the nation by that year.”

Despite all the “deficit-spending stimulus, U.S. unemployment remains stuck at more than 9 percent and the recovery is very sluggish compared to prior recoveries.” The Obama administration had claimed that “‘multipliers’ from government spending are large, meaning that spending would give a big boost to GDP. But other economists have found that . . . multipliers are actually quite small, meaning that added government spending mainly just displaces private-sector activities. Stanford University economist John Taylor took a detailed look at GDP data over recent years, and he found little evidence of any benefits from the 2009 stimulus bill” even in the short run, while Harvard’s Robert Barro concluded that it will have a harmful effect on the economy due to “future damage caused by higher taxes and debt.”

A recent study by economists Bill Dupor and Timothy Conley found that the 2009 stimulus package has wiped out 550,000 jobs. After reviewing its harmful provisions, Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron concluded that the stimulus package was designed to reward special-interest “constituencies,” not to boost the economy. The stimulus contained all sorts of welfare. The stimulus was so poorly run that stimulus money wound up going to prisoners and dead people, bridges to nowhere, and useless government buildings.

In pushing the $800 billion stimulus package, Obama cited Congressional Budget Office (CBO) claims that it would save jobs in the short run, while ignoring the CBO’s own finding that the stimulus will actually shrink the economy over the long run, by exploding the national debt and crowding out private investment. Nothing in the CBO’s findings supported Obama’s outlandish claim that the stimulus package was necessary to avert “irreversible decline.”



The Forgotten Founding Document

Every July 4th, America celebrates the signing of the document commonly known as the Declaration of Independence. However, there is another document, adopted a year earlier that, in my opinion, helped lay the foundation for the Declaration of Independence. This document, which contains some of the most moving words ever spoken by Founders, needs to be read and celebrated by every American who still values liberty.

On July 6th, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted: A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms.

The following was written by Thomas Jefferson:

“We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force.—The latter is our choice—We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery.—Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.

Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable… With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.”

During the debates in the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, Patrick Henry stated:

“We are told…that our own representatives Congress will not exercise their powers oppressively; that we shall not enslave ourselves… Who has enslaved France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and the other countries that groan under tyranny? They have been enslaved by the hands of their own people. If it be so in America, it will be only as it has been every where else.”

Henry was a prophet. Once again government tyranny has raised its ugly head. The people of these united States are being forced to submit to the unconstitutional dictates of judges, politicians, bureaucrats and other government reprobates who are more oppressive than King George.


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

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


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


5 July, 2011

Why Do We Still Celebrate the 4th of July?

Daniel Greenfield

What do we celebrate when we celebrate the Fourth of July? Is it the independence from being ruled by an out of touch government thousands of miles away, taxed at their pleasure, and told to be grateful for it? Is it home rule under our own elected officials who can't be trumped by the decision of some political appointees whom we never voted for?

A victory won by militias that don't exist anymore, on behalf of freedoms that are constantly under assault from the nation's own capital?

Is it at the very least-- national freedom, to be part of an independent nation that does not have to follow the laws of other countries or be part of a larger union of nations?

We don't have those things anymore. We're barely holding on to the rest by the skin of our teeth. Every generation the fireworks get bigger and we lose more freedoms. Bread and Circuses? We get welfare and fireworks. Social workers and outdoor BBQ's. Government subsidized jobs and a day at the beach.

So what specifically are we celebrating? How about these words; "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". Sounds good, except our ruling class no longer believes in a G-d that endowed men with anything, let alone rights. It doesn't believe that men are born equal. It believes that men are born unequal and that it is the task of government to remedy that inequality with positive discrimination and tolerance training.

"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". We have the liberty to be told how to live our lives. And so long as we find happiness in that, it's all good. But we better not get any ideas about trying to pursue happiness on terms that the authorities disapprove of. When the fireworks go up over New York City, those celebrating will be living in a place where smoking, salt and sugar are banned. Pursuit of happiness? As long as there's no sugar in it.

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". Now that was an important one. Right? It was the arguable basis of the entire revolution. So how's that working out for us now?

In the last month, federal judges have struck down laws passed by legislatures over and over again. Forget the consent of the government. That doesn't matter anymore. You can elect whomever you want and pass whatever laws you want, and His Majesty's Servants will still strike them down. Political appointees call the shots. We don't.

A Federal judge has more power than the population of the entire state, its governor and its legislature. One member of Obama's cabinet trumps every governor, every legislature and the people of every state.

Think about that for a moment and then think about what the American Revolution was really about. And then consider how apt the term "Czar" has really become. The King's political appointees are back. And they are the ones in charge. The day will come when as in Russia, governors are appointed in Washington D.C. And then we really will be in pre-revolutionary times.

Look at that part about "Just Powers" again. And then let's get back to a system where the Commerce Clause gives Washington D.C. the power to compel the public to do absolutely anything. Even against their own will.

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

What kind of crazy anti-government extremists wrote this thing anyway? Don't they know that you can't just "abolish" governments. Governments exist for the public good. These people probably hung around with militias, owned guns and read the bible. Talk like this means they have plans to overthrow the government. Someone needs to dial Janet Napolitano's government hotline, 1-800-EXTREMISM and report this immediately.

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Hello, 1-800-EXTREMISM? I've come across a very disturbing document written by anti-government extremists? It's being handed out in schools to our children, right next to wholesome things like condoms and A People's History of the United States. Something has to be done about this soon or our kids will get the idea that they can overthrow the government whenever they please. Some man named John Hancock signed his name to it. But there are probably others. Wikipedia says someone named Thomas Jefferson was also involved. He's in Virginia and we all know they're right-wingers down there. Put out an arrest warrant for him immediately, before they act and ruin our 4th of July weekend. We're celebrating our independence, you know.

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance." Certainly nothing like that is going on today. It's not like we have a country ruled by czars and taxed to death to fund a massive bureaucracy which can never get enough.

"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws." It's called the UN, the ICC, the WTO, the IMF and about four hundred other acronyms, empowered by treaties which are binding on us and increasingly supersede our laws.

"Imposing Taxes on us without our Consent"? Don't you know that taxes are for your own good. We can even make you pay those taxes to private insurance companies, because your refusal to pay them affects interstate commerce. Your refusal to stop complaining about it also affects interstate commerce. Stop protesting at once. In the name of the Commerce Clause!

"For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever." Who knew King George III had his own Federal judges.

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people." Yes, but at least his golf game keeps him occupied the rest of the time.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions." Now known as the DREAM Act.

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." And conversely a free people who allow a tyrant to rule over them lose that name.

And so we come right back to the question, why do we still celebrate the Fourth of July?

In many ways we have less freedoms than we did in colonial times. For the moment we retain some of the most basic Constitutional liberties. But they're provisional. And they haven't stopped a level of petty interference in our daily lives that no American colonist from the 18th century would have ever accepted.

The Nanny State with its absolute mandate of the public good has rendered the Constitution irrelevant. It's still referred to by the judiciary, the way that English judges may mention the Magna Carta. To the liberal judiciary, the Constitution provides precedents, it is not absolute law.

We are no longer an independent national union. American law is now derived from and answers to international covenants that do not merely govern relations between nations-- as is their proper place, but also govern our domestic internal affairs.

We are no longer a union of states. Our governments no longer derive their power from the consent of the governed. Elections are still held and those who win them can govern-- so as long as they do so within the marked out limits. If they pass laws that the shadow government of judges and bureaucrats disapproves of-- then the laws will be struck down by the shadow government of liberalism.

Right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? We have a right to live, until a death panel says otherwise. We are as free and happy as our rulers allow us to be.

Our local governments answer to state governments which answer to the federal government which answers to international world bodies that are not elected by anyone. The only mandate of all these levels of authority is the public good, which they define for themselves in terms of their own institutions. The public good is themselves. Their own authority. And this is blatant tyranny. So what exactly are we celebrating?

"A Celebration of Independence"

In New York City, where fireworks were outlawed long before transfats, crowds of people will be herded behind police barricades, where crowded against each other they will search for a glimpse of the fireworks through the buildings blocking their way. Then following police orders, they will once again march in file through the barricades, when the show is over, pleased that they have been permitted to passively celebrate their independence in the approved way.

If any of them try to independently shoot off fireworks, they will be arrested. Because fireworks are dangerous, like guns. Guns and fireworks can only be operated by government employees or those licensed by the government. People gathering to view fireworks displays independently is also dangerous. Everything is dangerous, except following orders.

Like sheep, tens of thousands of people will allow themselves to be herded between fragile police barricades that strongly resemble makeshift sheep pens, with the police as the border collies. They will look up to the sky, and watch the corporate fireworks overseen by the municipality and celebrate their independence. But what independence are they celebrating? Where in their lives is there any independence.

Tomorrow they will open the Daily News, the New York Post, the Village Voice or the New York Times and read articles and editorials telling them who to be angry at, what to think and what to feel. The newspapers will tell them that their own leaders are great, that the stores are full of things on sale and that it was another great 4th of July celebration. And they will nod to each other, and think, "Isn't it wonderful that we live in a free country?" And they will all say, 'Yes", except for those who read newspapers that tell them to say, "No". And they will know that next year there will be more fireworks and more sheep pens. More taxes and another blockbuster movie weekend. Because isn't that what freedom is really about?



A lawyer who is not afraid to mention Black IQ

Abstract of an academic paper by Amy L. Wax of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is a very senior academic so will probably get away with mentioning what 100 years of academic research has shown over and over again. That anybody needs to fear mentioning such things is another good example of the unfreedom that Daniel Greenfield describes above

In Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S. Ct. 2658 (2009), the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the doctrine, first articulated by the Court in Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971), that employers can be held liable under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for neutral personnel practices with a disparate impact on minority workers. The Griggs Court further held that employers can escape liability by showing that their staffing practices are job related or consistent with business necessity.

In the interim since Griggs, social scientists have generated evidence undermining two key assumptions behind that decision and its progeny.

First, the Court in Griggs noted the absence of evidence that the selection criteria in that case (a high school diploma and an aptitude test) were related to subsequent performance of the service jobs at issue, and expressed doubt about the existence of such a link. But research in industrial and organization psychology (IOP) has repeatedly documented that tests and criteria such as those at issue in Griggs (which are heavily "g"-loaded and thus dependent on cognitive ability) remain the best predictors of performance for jobs at all levels of complexity.

Second, Griggs and its progeny rest on the implicit assumption, reflected in the so-called 4/5 rule, that fair and valid hiring criteria will result in a workplace that roughly reflects the representation of each group in the background population. Work in psychometrics and labor economics shows that this assumption is unjustified. Because blacks lag significantly behind whites on measures of cognitive ability, most valid job selection criteria will have a substantial adverse impact on this group. The combination of well-documented racial differences in cognitive ability and the consistent link between ability and job performance generates a pattern that experts term "the validity-diversity tradeoff": job selection devices that best predict future job performance generate the smallest number of minority hires in a broad range of positions. Indeed, the evidence indicates that most valid screening devices will have a significant adverse impact on blacks and will also violate the 4/5 rule under the law of disparate impact.

Because legitimately meritocratic (that is, job-related) job selection practices will routinely trigger prima facie violations of the disparate impact rule, employers who adopt such practices run the risk of being required to justify them - a costly and difficult task that encourages undesirable, self-protective behaviors and may result in unwarranted liability. To alleviate this burden, the article proposes to adopt a new regime of "disparate impact realism" that abandons the 4/5 rule in favor of sliding scale ratios pegged to measured disparities in group performance and the selectivity of particular positions.

Alternatively, the disparate impact rule should be repealed altogether. The data indicate that pronounced differences in the background distribution of skill and human capital, not arbitrary hurdles imposed by employers, are the principle factor behind racial imbalances in most jobs. Moreover, blacks lag behind whites in actual on-the-job performance, which indicates that employers are not unfairly excluding minorities from the workforce but rather bending over backwards to include them. Disparate impact litigation, which does nothing to correct existing disparities and distracts from the task of addressing them, represents a cumbersome, misplaced effort that could better be directed at the root causes of workforce racial imbalance.



Yes, Obama still owns the tax break for corporate jets

A few non-profit arms of the Obama administration -- namely Media Matters and the Center for American Progress -- have attacked the Heritage Foundation for correctly pointing out that President Obama signed this general aviation tax break into law as part of his stimulus package.

The pedantic complaint is that Heritage's original post incorrectly implied that Obama had concocted the idea himself. In fact, he merely extended the accelerated depreciation provision for "corporate jets." But that doesn't change the fact that President Obama railed six times yesterday against a tax break that exists in law today because of his signature. Heritage's Mike Gonzales has posted the official reply:
So, yes, obviously, if we could write it again, we would say "re-authorized" not "created." To the writer over at Media Matters who said we should issue a "sweeping correction" we recommend switching to decaf. President Obama did create the Stimulus, which did include a tax break for the purchase of private jets. That failed bill only received three Republican congressional votes.

The jet tax provision is not a serious issue ($3 billion over ten years?), and Obama's repeated mention of it demonstrates he is not serious about deficit reduction. It just adds icing to the cake that it exists in law today only because of his signature.

And further, it is perhaps lost in this debate that Obama is attacking an industry that is one of the few remaining loci of American leadership in manufacturing. I don't like the idea of special treatment for any particular industry, but Obama, who has no qualms about corporatism, has been talking about promoting manufacturing. Well, what does he think this corporate jet subsidy was all about? Promoting manufacturing, of course. It's Obamanomics at work.


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

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


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


4 July, 2011

Philosophy, faith, and the Fourth of July

by Jeff Jacoby

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE announced to the world the birth of a new nation and every birth "excites our interest," President Calvin Coolidge said on the Declaration's 150th anniversary. But that is not why July 4, 1776, "has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history."

Since ancient times there had been many revolutions, after all; new nations had broken away from old empires before. What makes America's founding extraordinary, observed the 30th president -- the last, incidentally, who wrote his own speeches -- is that it was the first to be based not on blood or soil but on a set of philosophical ideas about "the nature of mankind and therefore of government." Other nations have their deepest roots in ethnicity, tribal loyalty, or military conquest. America, uniquely, was dedicated to a proposition -- to the fundamental, self-evident truth "that all men are created equal" and the political ideas that flow from that truth.

The doctrine that human beings are by nature equal is one that Americans of the Founders' era had learned from both philosophy and religion.

In 1690, in his influential Second Treatise of Government, the English philosopher John Locke had written that the "state all men are naturally in" is one of "perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions … as they see fit," as well as one "of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal … without subordination or subjection." Even older, and no less influential, was the biblical teaching that because all human beings are made in the image of God, all are born with the same God-given right to equality and freedom.

So when delegates to the Continental Congress declared unanimously in 1776 "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," their words accurately reflected what Americans had believed for generations. They invoked "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God" in the Declaration's opening line not as a throat-clearing flourish, but because those laws and that God validated the independence they were about to assert. "Coming from these sources, having as it did this background," remarked Coolidge, "it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say, 'The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven.'"

If Nature and Nature's God intended human beings to be free and equal, then the only legitimate government must be self-government. For if none of us is naturally subordinate or superior to anyone else, no one has the right to rule us without first obtaining our approval. Political power, Locke had written, stems "only from compact and agreement, and the mutual consent of those who make up the community."

The Declaration of Independence emphasized the point. Not only are all persons endowed by nature with the unalienable rights of equality and freedom, it avowed, but "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

No lawful government without consent and self-rule: It was an extraordinary doctrine for its time. It had never been the springboard from which a new nation was launched. Yet to pursue this "theory of democracy," as Coolidge called it, "whole congregations with their pastors" had pulled up stakes in Europe and migrated to America.

Steeped in the imagery of the Hebrew Bible, the colonists believed that God had led them, as He had led ancient Israel, from a land of bondage to a blessed Promised Land. Thomas Jefferson suggested in 1776 that the seal of the United States should depict the "Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night." In that wilderness, Americans knew, God did not simply impose his rule on Israel. First the Hebrews had to give their consent: "And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do." Only then was there the revelation at Sinai, the Ten Commandments, and the Law. If God Himself would not govern without the consent of the governed, surely King George had no right to do so!

July 4th marks more than American independence. It commemorates the great political ideals, rooted in faith and philosophy, that vindicated that independence -- and thereby transformed the world.



Of Great Empires and Little Minds

He rose to speak in the midst of a colonial war that would prove more than a colonial war but a whole Novus Ordo Seclorum, as it still says on the dollar bill, or A New Order for the Ages.

Eloquent rhetorician, thoughtful student of history and insightful analyst of events in his own time, Edmund Burke had decided ideas about what made nations great and what undermined them. The member of parliament for Bristol understood very well what was at stake in the coming conflict over the nature of the British empire: the empire itself.

Author, orator, thinker, and loyal but not blind servant of the Crown, he would not, could not, keep silent. Any more than a faithful sentry would fail to sound the alarm at approaching catastrophe. His every thought and impulse, fortified by his experience as a statesman and its hard-won lessons, told him His Majesty's ministers were embarked on a disastrous course. Their colonial policy was not only wrong in principle but, perhaps worse in the eyes of a statesmen, sure to fail in practice.

A great statesman has qualities beyond calculation. He has vision, and the will to fulfill it. Edmund Burke fully envisioned the ruin his colleagues were inviting by their persistence in adopting punitive measures rather than conciliatory policies toward British America, which might yet be saved for his Sovereign.

So it was only to be expected that he would speak out, however futile the effort might prove, in favor of "Conciliation With America" on the 22nd of March, 1774. It would not prove the first time his counsel and foresight would be vindicated by sad events. For in the years ahead he would prove as incisive a critic of the French Revolution as he would a defender of the American one.

If an editor had to choose a single phrase to sum up Burke's extensive oration on the wisdom of conciliating America -- an oration that used to be studied in courses on rhetoric, back when rhetoric was still being studied -- it would be Burke's pointed warning that "a great empire and little minds go ill together.''

Even by his time, the American character had already been formed. And it was not one that could be bullied by an imperial establishment an ocean away from the New World and, as it turned out, from reality. Anybody who thought Americans were likely to yield to superior force, even the force of the greatest empire in the world in its day, didn't know Americans. Or the beliefs that had shaped us. And that we would hold fast to. Come what may. And it came: one defeat and retreat after another, out of which somehow emerged victory, independence and a new order for the ages. By some mysterious process -- Providence? -- our beliefs would be vindicated.

Those beliefs would be given their most concise and enduring expression in the Declaration of Independence of July the 4th, 1776:

"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."

Those words would have to be redeemed in blood and fire before they would become among the best known and most influential in the course of human events. They would become the creed of a revolution that goes on across the world even today. That revolution succeeded not only because of the vision and courage of American's founding generation, but because of the blind willfulness of those who thought they could bully us into obedience.

They didn't know us. Edmund Burke did. His assessment of the American character proved remarkably accurate, and may it ever remain so:

"In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole. ... Sir, from these six capital sources -- of descent, of form of government, of religion in the Northern Provinces, of manners in the Southern, of education, of the remoteness of situation from the first mover of government -- from all these causes a fierce spirit of liberty has grown up. It has grown with the growth of the people in your Colonies, and increased with the increase of their wealth; a spirit that unhappily meeting with an exercise of power in England which, however lawful, is not reconcilable to any ideas of liberty, much less with theirs, has kindled this flame that is ready to consume us."

The British could not say they weren't warned, and by their leading statesman at that. To those of his colleagues who believed their Force Acts would render us pliant subjects, Edmund Burke responded:

"The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We cannot, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition; your speech would betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery."

It was not only the American spirit that the rulers of that great empire failed to apprehend when they adopted a tyrannical course in the colonies, but their own. They could not see that what they might have preserved through vision, they would lose by folly. Or as Edmund Burke warned his colleagues, "a great empire and little minds go ill together."

Now it is we who find ourselves with a great empire, or at least with all the responsibilities of one, however loath we are to acknowledge it. For we never sought an American empire. With all our being, we reject any such idea, respecting others' freedom as we love our own. But over the many hard years, as one threat after another materialized, we've been obliged to accept imperial responsibilities in response. Not out of imperious ambition but in self-defense.

Despite the happy myth of an America isolated from the all the world's troubles and intrigues, it was never so. We tend to forget that even our Revolution was part of a world war, fought with the critical aid of an international alliance with a still royal France. Whether through the long twilight struggle called the Cold War or now, deep in a war on terror that indecisive leaders refuse even to call by that name, the burden of empire has been thrust upon us. Shall we be up to bearing it? Or will we again see that a great empire and little minds go ill together?

This much is clear: Nothing so girds the spirit and informs the mind like memory. Which is why, on bright days like this one, we recall all the dark tides of history we have overcome, and are strengthened. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.



Obama's Misleading Vocabulary

Independence Day provides all Americans with an opportunity to celebrate the many freedoms that make our country both great and unique. Our Declaration of Independence was breathtaking in scope and written in precise, plain, unequivocal language. When read in townships across the Colonies, crowds listened in hushed silence and then broke out in applause when the reading was complete. Our Founding Fathers felt no need to dilute or cloak their intentions to form a government.

As you celebrate the 4th, it might be appropriate to contrast the straightforward language of our founders and other great American leaders with the weasel words now emerging from Washington, and all too frequently, from President Obama, who prefers euphemism-laden, convoluted, pixilated flummery.

A quick review of Obama's speeches reveals his most common euphemisms seem to show a pattern of deception, obfuscation and misdirection. In President Obama's lexicon, words have different meanings; to decipher the message and understand what the President is saying requires a special Washington Dictionary. Here are some samples from President Obama’s special dictionary:

* Investment is the president's word for government spending. When he says we need to invest more, he really means he wants to increase spending on some special project. Obama knows that the word “investment” is reassuring to most Americans and implies that at some point in time a good investment will return a decent profit. But, no return is envisioned with Obama's "investments". In fact, to Obama all government spending is an investment.

* Millionaires and Billionaires – Obama often talks about the need to increase taxes on the millionaires and billionaires. Of course, what he really means is higher taxes on any family making more than $250,000. Obama’s math skills must be sufficient to understand that there is a huge mathematical difference between 250,000 and a billion, but he chooses to ignore the difference to better stoke class resentment, all while hoping that average Americans are too stupid to understand.

* Working People is invoked to demonstrate commitment to average Americans. Of course, what Obama really means is that he supports the primacy of unions over other American workers. According to Obama’s definition, the vast majority of Americans, including small business owners, are not working people at all, regardless of how many thousands of hours they work. In Obama’s dictionary, only union members are working people and deserving of special preferences and consideration.

* Spending Reductions in the Tax Code means more tax increases. President Obama likes to wear the mantle of spending cuts, but lacks the courage to call a tax increase what it really is.

* Paying Their Fair Share is the president's phrase for wealth redistribution. What Obama really means is that entrepreneurs and other successful business owners are not paying high enough taxes, and that all of the money they earn should be "contributed" to the government for wealth redistribution to those that Obama considers worthy. Of course, Obama’s supporters, the bulk of whom do not seem to pay income tax, are, according to this definition, already paying a fair amount of tax (zero). It is the rest of America that is not paying their “fair share”. Obama offers no criteria to what is fair or not, so that is why he seems to think it is perfectly acceptable to require 20% of American to pay 78% of the taxes and then criticize them for not paying their "fair share".

* Green Jobs and Green Economy these are the jobs that President Obama believes are more important and more valuable than any others, even if creating a "green job" that pays $40,000 actually costs the taxpayers $300,000 to create. Moreover, if creating one magical "green job" results in the loss of 10 or more jobs that were dependent upon cheap, reliable power, that too is of no consequence. A green job has magical properties that do not conform to economic principles.

* Unprecedented. Perhaps Obama's favorite word, which he uses to describe most of his actions. This word has no meaning to Obama, but reflects his belief that he is so special that everything he does or says must be admired. Obama is so, fundamentally, unaware of American history that he thinks that the challenges and issues that he faces are unique. (Move over George Washington!)

Unfortunately, our President seems unaware that the dangers of repeated, euphemistic bastardization of the English language erodes his credibility. Increasingly, Americans know they cannot trust what Obama says.

And so, President Obama is likely to tell Americans: "In response to an unprecedented challenge we must provide more aid to working people by increasing investments in green jobs. We will implement savings in the tax code that will only impact millionaires and billionaires who are not currently paying their fair share".

And yet what Obama really means is: My policies have failed. The stimulus was a disaster, and the country is broke. We need more money to keep the Unions, and my special constituents who pay very little or no taxes, happy, so I need everyone else to pay more, otherwise I won't get re-elected.

Americans have a reputation for being straightforward and for plain speaking and are only slowly becoming aware of the vague, expansive, and misleading words in President Obama's unique dictionary. Our Founding Fathers said: "we hold these truths to be self-evident". With Obama, none of his words are self-evident.


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

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

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


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


3 July, 2011

Time’s Orwellian Story on U.S. Constitution Refuted

Time magazine’s cover story shows the U.S. Constitution and asks, “Does it still matter?” Reading this story, we kept waiting for Emmanuel Goldstein to show up for the Two Minutes of Hate. It was difficult to discern whether we were reading Time, or Orwells’ 1984.

It portrays the Constitution as an outmoded document that we should ignore to whatever extent is expedient to pursue someone’s vision of a better society: “We cannot let the Constitution become an obstacle to a future with a sensible health care system, a globalized economy, and evolving sense of civil and political rights.”

The story shows all sorts of poll questions that present a false choice, such as, “The 14th Amendment says that any person born in the U.S. automatically becomes a U.S. citizen… Should [it] be revised?” The Citizenship Clause says no such thing, because it adds that anyone “not subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. is not a citizen.

That’s why children of foreign ambassadors, prisoner soldiers and heads of state born here do not become citizens. The question is how broad that “jurisdiction” clause is. Could Congress exclude illegal aliens? It’s an active debate in legal circles, with no clear answer.

Instead, the questions should have included: “Are you more interested in the Constitution today that you were four years ago?” “Do you agree or disagree with candidates discussing the Constitution more in their campaign speeches this year?” “Are you now aware that the Constitution only vests the federal government with power of specific areas of life, leaving the states sovereign to decide all other issues?”

Or questions on enduring constitutional principles. “Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s 1803 pronouncement that any law contrary to the Constitution is null and void?” “Every government officer (including every judge) takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Should they apply its original meaning to current challenges?”

Does the Constitution still matter? Look at huge crowds of Americans cheering at rallies, whether it’s a spending protest or a pro-life rally. It matters to them, and they vote.

The story was so riddled with distortions that it obscured its message. For example, it says we must raise the debt ceiling because, “the idea that we can default on our debt is not only reckless; it’s probably unconstitutional.” It twists a provision from the 14th Amendment that has nothing to do with the debt ceiling.

The reality is, revenue government collects every month so vastly exceeds our debt payments that we could easily meet our monthly obligations. We would just have to cut discretionary spending on other programs. But it’s deceptive to suggest that not raising the ceiling automatically causes default, and it’s wrong to suggest it’s unconstitutional.

The most disappointing part of the article mischaracterizes the Obamacare legal fight. It says Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring you to buy health insurance is constitutional because government takes your money in taxes and requires you to buy car insurance.

The writer obliviously ignores that the Constitution expressly creates a federal government of enumerated powers. The feds can tax you because of the Taxing Clause of the Constitution (though even then only four types of taxes are legal—not the mandate). And states have authority to make you buy car insurance under state police power, but if the feds required it, such a law would be illegal because the feds have no police power.

Since there is no Healthcare Clause in the Constitution, the feds try cramming it in the Commerce Clause. That’s the whole fight: Whether Congress can control your personal decisions whenever Congress declares such decisions impact interstate commerce.

Every decision in your life has some tangential relationship to interstate commerce. Does that mean the Constitution allows the government to control your every decision? It makes a mockery of the concept of limited government.

The story concludes, “The Constitution serves the nation; the nation does not serve the Constitution.” The connotation is that we shouldn’t be too slavish in our fidelity to the Constitution.

Like the rest of this article, its conclusion misses the point. The Constitution serves the American people as an unbreakable constraint on those in power, dictating their duties and the limits on their authority. The Constitution serves We the People by requiring every government official to take an oath to obey its every word.

The picture art at the outset of Time’s story showed the Constitution cut in dozens of narrow vertical strips. Clearly it had been run through a paper shredder.

Evidently this is wishful thinking for some on the Far Left. The only problem is that it’s false. Interest in the Constitution is resurgent, and that renewed interest is the key to America’s renewal in our third century.



A rebellion against "tax & spend" at State level

It can be done

In what we should all hope happens at the national level, Minnesota Shuts Down after failing to pass a balanced budget by the June 30 deadline.

Minnesota's state government began a broad shutdown on Friday going into the July 4th holiday, after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to reach a budget deal.

Parts of the government had already begun to shut down on Thursday ahead of the midnight budget deadline, including some websites and dozens of highway rest stops on one of the biggest travel days of the year.

The budget impasse means that some 23,000 of the roughly 36,000 Minnesota state employees will be furloughed, and state parks and campgrounds will be closed ahead of what is usually their busiest stretch of the year for the Independence Day holiday.

All but the most critical state functions will be suspended while the spending impasse continues into the new fiscal two-year period that starts on Friday, which would make the 2011 shutdown much broader in scope than one in 2005.

NJ Cuts Aid to Local Governments, Family Planning

Controversial Governor Chris Christie signed a $29.7 billion budget, averting a government shutdown, after slashing $900 million using his line-item veto authority from the budget Democrats had presented to him.

"I will not give in to the Democrats' tax-and-spend agenda no matter how many times they and their allies and special interests demagogue me for refusing to do so," Christie told the Associated Press. "

The new budget adds $150 million in public school financing, and includes $447 million in funding for some of the state’s poorest districts. Among the items cut by Christie were $139 million in aid to local governments, $50 million allocated for crime-fighting initiatives, $7 million for an AIDS drug distribution program, and $3.8 million for Senate and Assembly staff salaries.

Ohio Privatizes Prisons, Sets Plan to Abolish Estate Tax

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a $55.8 billion budget hours before the midnight deadline, closing an estimated $8 billion deficit without raising state taxes. He used his line-item veto power to eliminate spending on a number of initiatives, including economic development and funding for certain special needs programs.

As part of the plan, the state will privatize five prisons, but the governor vetoed a proposal that would have given the state first choice on repurchasing prisons after they are sold to private parties.

Pennsylvania Budget Slashes Funding for Schools

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett enacted a $27.15 billion state budget, which reduces spending more than $1 billion from the current fiscal year and includes severe cuts to higher and basic education.

Corbett, a Republican whose party controls both houses of the state legislature, signed the budget within an hour of Pennsylvania's midnight deadline for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The governor said the spending plan streamlines government, includes no tax increase and places limits on local property tax increases.

Any property-tax increase above the rate of inflation must be approved by local voters, the governor said.

Praise for Privatizing Prisons

Special praise goes to Ohio Governor John Kasich for privatizing prisons. California desperately needs to do the same. If things go well, Ohio's plan could be and should be a model for other states.

It is time to eliminate massive salaries and pension benefits of prison workers, most of whom are currently way overpaid and equally uneducated with nothing more than high school diplomas.

Hopefully transit workers will be next.



America and the Golden Age of Capitalism

Some thoughts for July 4

I was trading in the S&P pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on the day the Berlin Wall fell. I had a sense that something truly historical was taking place—it would have been impossible not to—but with the pressure of the session and a newborn baby whom I couldn’t wait to get home to, I didn’t stop to grasp the enormity of the events that were unfolding.

It wasn’t until I spoke with my father, an Armenian immigrant who loved the United States more than anyone I’ve ever known, that the big picture came into focus.

“America won,” he said. Sounds simple, but it was really quite profound. He wasn’t talking about one army vanquishing another. He wasn’t talking about the arms race or the space race or any of the hot conflicts that erupted during the 50-year Cold War. He was talking about an idea.

This was a man whose parents survived the Turks but lost 40 members of their family. A man who experienced terrible loss and religious persecution first hand. A man who waited seven years to come to this country as a refugee and kissed the ground when he arrived.

My father was a man who truly cherished his inalienable rights and never took them for granted a day in his life.

He was talking about an idea because, to him, America itself was an idea. On November 9, 1989, communism became a failed experiment. The American experiment would carry on. We had just won the ideological war.

Like in any war, to the victor goes the spoils. But since this was a different kind of war, there was also a different kind of prize. Instead of cultural artifacts or new territories, the reward was more abstract: an entire world that would soon be open for business.

No longer would the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great be contained by our borders. America was free to export the twin miracles of democracy and capitalism to every corner of the world.

And export we did. In the 22 years since capitalism triumphed, just about every country on Earth has embraced a U.S.-style freemarket economy—and with passionate enthusiasm at that.

Corporations are reporting record earnings thanks to exploding consumer demand in emerging markets that were barely on the radar 30 years ago—places like Brazil, India and China (which is communist in name only). Social mobility, the great ancillary effect of a free market, has not only created a middle-class consumer culture in those places, it’s actually created wealth.

Growing up, I always considered the golden age of capitalism to be that post-World War II period of expansion. But it wasn’t. The golden age of capitalism is in front of us.

As the global growth story continues at a break-neck clip, we find ourselves in the relative infancy of what I believe will be a prolonged period of prosperity. Looking back in history, as the Jesuits at Loyola University taught me to do, the Pax Romana—a 200-year stretch of tranquility and plenty throughout the Roman Empire that followed the fall of Athens—immediately comes to mind.

Today, the entire world—including our former enemies in China and Russia—has decided our way is the right way. They’ve taken our invention and run with it. The conditions of opportunity that once only existed in the United States now exist all over the globe. And those conditions will only grow more favorable going forward.

Why, then, is my fellow Chicagoan trying to rebuild those walls of socialism?

By embracing policy that favors higher taxes, increased regulation and protectionism, the Obama administration has spent two years systematically dismantling everything this country has been building since the Founding Fathers unleashed their libertarian concept of enlightened self interest 250 years ago.

Earlier, I mentioned Pax Romana and how this period in front of us echoes that era. Take a look at what one of the early architects of that earlier golden age, the political philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, had to say about the way government should be run:
The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

This was written in 55 B.C., but it’s as true today as it was then. A diminishing usefulness of the private sector and the redistributing of wealth by a bloated central government is unacceptable and should be resolutely resisted by every American.

The golden age of capitalism, what I believe will be our finest hour, is in front of us. We know that an occasional liberal in the White House cannot destroy the American entrepreneurial spirit, but we still must stand together to defend it.

America, today, is in its rightful place as the leader of a free-market world. We conquered our adversaries and created a new order. The entire world is open for business.




Journalism and the state: A loving embrace: "With rare exception, most of the journalists I have known are not only intellectually lazy but tend to have an almost doctrinaire government supremacism welded to their worldview. For every Fred Reed, there are hundreds of Rachel Maddows. I suspect it is one reason why the USSR did not necessarily have to actively recruit 'useful idiots' but the very notion of communism or socialism found a natural resonance in the human parrots known as journalists."

Abolish the payroll tax altogether: "Some will argue that cutting the tax while keeping spending up will lead to even greater deficits, which is a valid enough point, but it never before stopped Republicans from advocating tax cuts while failing to have the guts to cut spending enough to make up for them. Another supposed problem, articulated by liberals, is that it will weaken the solvency of Social Security and thus undermine their beloved program’s credibility. Hear, hear! Indeed, there is a strong argument for eliminating the payroll tax altogether, regardless of what else transpires: It is more fiscally honest"

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

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


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


2 July, 2011

America in decline under Obama

Bill O'Reilly

Over the Fourth of July weekend, many Americans take some time out to think about their country. This year, those thoughts might not be as festive as in the past because the United States is in decline.

A new Associated Press poll says that 80 percent of Americans believe the economy is in bad shape, and they are correct. With each passing hour, America's $14.4 trillion debt rises with no end in sight. Tight money has crippled the housing industry, and Wall Street's lack of confidence in the Obama administration is retarding business expansion. Thus, fewer jobs are being created in the private marketplace.

Washington has not been able to stem the grim economic tide because of ideology. The president and most Democrats believe more government control of the economy and higher taxes on the affluent will improve the situation. Republicans are demanding smaller government, no tax increases and less federal regulation. The stalemate is hurting the folks, no question about it.

A poor economic outlook erodes power, both personal and governmental. One of the reasons President Obama cited for "drawing down" troops in Afghanistan was economic. He wants to spend more money at home in lieu of nation building in Afghanistan. That may be a good thing, but it is not a strong thing. A cash-strapped America spells weakness to the rest of the world.

On the cultural front, things are also going downhill. Millions of Americans are now addicted to the Internet, spending countless hours playing games and twittering their lives away. What was first envisioned as technological recreation has now become a lifestyle for many, especially younger people. The machines are dominating lives, leaving little time to explore the real world and develop offline relationships.

On the entertainment front, cheap reality TV programs showcase the worst of human nature. Crude displays, greed, narcissism and sadistic impulses are all celebrated nightly on the tube. Where once the country appreciated great writers like Hemingway and Twain, now people like Snooki are being paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak on college campuses. "The Situation" is right. There is a situation. And it's appalling.

Obama often laments the growing gap between the rich and the rest of America. And it's true. A fortunate few are able to ride capitalism to the extreme, living lives of incredible luxury. But there is also a growing cultural divide. The masses are being fed electronic garbage 24/7 in the form of hostile music, gross-out movies and the aforementioned reality TV atrocities. Meanwhile, a select few are being intensely educated at amazingly expensive high-end universities. They will be the future Masters of the Universe. Most other Americans will just get by.

This depressing scenario is not how a nation expands its power. America became the most powerful country on earth because its people pulled together economically and fought worldwide to create freedom and dignity for those less fortunate.

Now, we are running out of money to fight the good fights, and we are fracturing along class lines. This is not what the United States should be. E pluribus unum? Not this Fourth of July.



Self-Deception about the Jihadists

“All warfare is based upon deception,” instructed Sun Tzu, the great Chinese military strategist of the 6th Century B.C. But when it comes to the Global Jihad of the 21st Century, the extent to which we in the West insist upon deceiving ourselves would shock even Sunny. Five brief examples follow.

1: Yonathan Melaku was charged in federal court with shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The officials who arrested him later searched his home and found a videotape in which he is shouting “Allahu Akbar!” They also found a notebook in which he’d written about Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban and “The Path to Jihad,” a book of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Islamic cleric who was widely considered a moderate before he fled to Yemen where he is now a top al-Qaeda commander.

So it’s pretty obvious what Melaku was up, right? Not if you’re a federal employee, it’s not. “I can’t suggest to you his motivations or intent,” James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office told reporters at a news conference. “It’s not readily apparent yet.”

Many in the mainstream media also expressed befuddlement. A Washington Post story carried the headline: “Pentagon Shooting Subject Not Known to Law Enforcement.” (Really? That’s the news here?) The article told readers that “a motive for the shootings — and why Melaku had possible bombmaking materials — remains elusive.” So does that mean we can’t rule out a crime of passion -- or a paint ball competition that got out of hand?

To be fair, if you read to the very end of the story you will learn that it has occurred to some law enforcement officials that Melaku’s “writings and the contents of his laptop” might “indicate a desire to be involved in jihad.” Ya think? And not jihad in the sense of a struggle for individual self-fulfillment?

2: A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column arguing that there was no evidence to support the mainstream media narrative that Muslims in America face increasing discrimination and persecution – as do, for example, religious and ethnic minorities in most Muslim-majority countries, a situation the mainstream media assiduously avoid. I received many angry letters in response. My favorite included three newspaper stories meant to prove I was wrong.

The first cited a poll showing that a majority of Americans “believe that Muslims face more discrimination than any other religious group in the U.S.” Well, yes, that has to be expected given the decade-long media campaign to establish this meme. The next was a piece by liberal commentator Alan Colmes headlined, “Growing Bias Against Muslims in America” and citing rising “claims of bias against Muslims in the workplace.” It, too, offered no proof -- or even evidence -- that such claims are justified by facts.

Finally, there was a story about Muslims in North Carolina who, following the terrorist attacks carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba in Mumbai, India, received an email saying that “such violent acts wouldn't intimidate people, but only make them stronger.”

"I was furious," Motaz Elshafi, an American-born Muslim who received such a note told USA Today. He had a right to be. The email he received – though by no means threatening -- was misdirected. Nevertheless, one might have hoped Elshafi would mention that he was at least equally furious with those who slaughter innocent men, women and children based on their reading of his religion.

3: The term “conscientious objector” used to refer to those who sought exemption from military duty because their religious beliefs prohibited their use of violence. But, as Patrick Poole has reported, in May the Secretary of the Army granted conscientious objector status to a soldier – a volunteer -- who refused to deploy to Afghanistan. PFC Nasser Abdo claimed that sharia, Islamic law, prohibits him not from killing anyone, but only from killing fellow Muslims -- including, apparently, “violent extremists” who join the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

“I don’t believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims,” Abdo told al-Jazeera. “I don’t believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of Muslims.”

Imagine if, in 1942, a PFC Helmut Shultz had said: “I don’t believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of Germans.” You think he would have been called a conscientious objector and sent merrily on his way?

4: A few days ago, the regime that rules Iran, designated by the U.S. State Department as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, held what it called the First International Conference on the Global Fight against Terrorism. The U.S. and Israel were singled out as “satanic world powers” with a “black record of terrorist behaviors.” This should have been the subject of scorn and ridicule from the “international community.” But senior officials from at least 60 countries attended and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a message via special envoy expressing his appreciation to Tehran. Apparently he was not bothered by the fact that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, was among those attending. Don’t worry: American taxpayer support for the UN is not in jeopardy.

5: Yale University has decided to shut down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) following protests – for example from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative to the United States -- that studying the rise of Jew-hatred in the Muslim world is by definition “racist” and “right-wing.” Meanwhile, the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP) at the University of California at Berkeley continues to receive funding and support.

A few years ago, Andy McCarthy wrote “Willful Blindness,” a book about political leaders, academics, journalists and others refusing to see the jihadi threat staring America in the face. But we’ve now gone well beyond that. The examples above – and I could cite many more -- have to be seen as determined self-deception, if not symptoms of madness. I’m pretty sure Sun Tzu would agree.



Doom postponed: American Farmers Deliver the goods

Grain futures are sharply lower across the board as traders had positioned themselves for shortages because of Midwest flooding and increasing demand from emerging markets and China. Instead, corn stocks were 11 percent bigger than analysts expected and a bumper crop could be on the way according to the report.

The U.S. corn supply is far larger than thought and a bumper crop could be on the way, the Agriculture Department said on Thursday in a report that shocked traders and shoved grain markets sharply lower.

Farmers defied expectations by planting significantly more corn acres despite rain and floods, and sky-high prices curbed demand which left June 1 stockpiles 11 percent larger than traders had predicted.

The dramatic turnaround from fears of bare-bones supplies could signal comfortable supply levels for the coming year and ease fears about high world food prices.

"American producers stepped up," [USDA's] Vilsack told Reuters Insider.

Red-hot demand from corn exporters, livestock feeders and processors had been expected to consume every bushel grown in 2010 and eat into reserves, but the higher stocks number was a sign that demand has been rationed.

"We planted more acres than the trade had thought earlier in the year because we sent the signal to plant," said analyst Don Roose of U.S. Commodities. "The other thing was, we did find a way to slow down usage."

The USDA said the corn stockpile was 3.67 billion bushels on June 1, and it pegged plantings at 92.28 million acres. With normal weather and yields, a record-large crop could be harvested.

The soybean stockpile was 4 percent larger than anticipated by analysts, although plantings were 2 percent smaller. The soybean crop would still be the third-largest on record, but supplies are expected to run tight for another year.

Wheat stocks were 4 percent larger than traders expected and plantings were down marginally.

The USDA reports imply that corn growers would harvest 13.5 billion bushels of corn, which would be a record, and 3.2 billion bushels of soybeans, which would be the third-largest on record. Both estimates are Reuters' calculations and assume normal weather conditions and yields.

A mammoth crop would fatten the corn stockpile to nearly 1 billion bushels, but soybeans would run tight through fall 2012.



Another red herring from Obama

Jonah Goldberg

President Obama's core message in his Wednesday press conference, his first since March, could be found in his advice to Republicans. "You go talk to your constituents and ask them, 'Are you willing to compromise your kids' safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?'"

This was just one of six shots the president took at corporate-jet owners. A novice might be forgiven for thinking that the president really doesn't like corporate jets or that the Republicans cared so much about the darn things that they had proposed crossing out "arms" in the Second Amendment and replacing it with "corporate jets." Where's Charlton Heston to proclaim, "From my cold dead hands you can have my Learjet 85..."?

A novice might also think that tax status of corporate jets is of disproportionate significance in how to move this country toward a balanced budget.

But the novice would be wrong. For starters, Obama's most recent budget calls for adding $9.5 trillion in new debt over the next decade. If you got rid of the "accelerated depreciation" of corporate jets, Reuters economics columnist James Pethokoukis calculates, it would save a whopping .03 percent of that total.

Sadly, the room was full of journalists who do not consider themselves novices but who nonetheless let Obama get away with this demagogic dishonesty. No one asked the president why he suddenly cares so much about getting rid of a tax break he himself was for before he was against it. Indeed, no one asked why, if it is such an affront to the liberal conscience, it was part of Obama's stimulus bill, which was passed without any Republican votes in the House and only three in the Senate (which means Nancy Pelosi voted for special tax breaks for corporate jets and the GOP didn't).

More broadly, no one threw a flag on his claim that "every single observer who's not an elected official, who's not a politician," agrees with him on the burning need to raise taxes as part of any budget deal. This is a good example of Obama's most grating tic, his need to claim that all reasonable and serious people agree with him and anyone who disagrees must be doing so for base or ideological motives.

No one queried why he talks about the need to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" but the fine print of his proposals defines millionaires and billionaires as people who make $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 as joint-filing couples. Jay Duckson at Central Business Jets tells the Wall Street Journal that the starting price for a private jet is $10 million dollars. Annual upkeep and fuel is about $500,000. You do the math.

This points to what is most offensive about Obama's focus-grouped class warfare rhetoric: the total incoherence of the underlying policies.

The day before his press conference, Obama was in Bettendorf, Iowa at the Alcoa Davenport Works plant to highlight his economic vision for manufacturing. "Alcoa is showing us the future we can build here in eastern Iowa and across the country," he proclaimed.

"The idea is to create jobs now, and to make sure America stays on the cutting edge of manufacturing for years to come," Obama declared.

The factory Obama visited, however, isn't a generic aluminum plant. It is, according to Alcoa, the "premier aerospace supply plant and is today the hub of Alcoa's $3 billion aerospace business."

That includes the general aviation industry, which is centered in Wichita, Kan., where they make private jets "right here in America" as Obama likes to say. The upshot: Obama says that Alcoa must lose business among American customers to repeal a tax break Obama and the Democrats supported because Republicans want to balance the budget.

To be fair, Alcoa's biggest customers aren't manufacturers of private jets but the big manufacturers of commercial jets -- you know, like Boeing. Well, that company is being told by Obama's union-hack-packed National Labor Relations Board that it cannot open a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, because to do so would offend Obama's beloved unions in Washington State.


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

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


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


1 July, 2011


While the battle to get Obamacare through Congress was going on, I ran a blog called SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. It was largely devoted to stories showing by example how bad socialized medicine tends to be. Once the law was enacted, however, I suspended the blog.

I did not however let the matter drop totally. I still posted horror stories about life under government medicine on my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and EYE ON BRITAIN blogs.

Stories about negligence and disastrously low levels of care never cease to come out of Britain so EVERY DAY I led the postings on EYE ON BRITAIN with one or two stories of that ilk. I did however place a limit on such stories of two a day. Adding more stories of that kind would in my view have made the blog too repetitious and boring.

One result of that is that after putting up today's quota of bad medical news on the blog, I found I still had SEVEN recent stories that I had not yet given an airing. To cope with that I have revived my SOCIALIZED MEDICINE blog for one day and posted there the seven extra stories. They should give Americans an idea of what is headed down the pike towards them.


History gives U.S. survival no guarantees


America’s founders were keenly aware that they were making a radical departure in the kinds of governments under which people had lived for centuries.

The media has recently been so preoccupied with a congressman's photograph of himself in his underwear that there has been scant attention paid to the fact that Iran continues advancing toward creating a nuclear bomb, and nobody is doing anything that is likely to stop them.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism might seem to be something that would sober up even the most giddy members of the chattering class. But that chilling prospect cannot seem to compete for attention with cheap behavior by an immature congressman, infatuated with himself.

A society that cannot or will not focus on matters of life and death is a society whose survival as a free nation is at least questionable. Hard as it may be to conceive how the kind of world that one has been used to, and taken for granted, can come to an end, it can happen in the lifetime of today's generation.

Those who founded the United States of America were keenly aware that they were making a radical departure in the kinds of governments under which human beings had lived over the centuries, and that its success was by no means guaranteed. Monarchies in Europe had lasted for centuries and the Chinese dynasties for thousands of years. But a democratic republic was something else.

While the convention that was writing the Constitution of the United States was still in session, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin what the delegation was creating. "A republic, madam," he said, "if you can keep it."

In the middle of the next century, Abraham Lincoln still posed it as a question whether "government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth." Years earlier, Lincoln had warned of the dangers to a free society from its own designing power-seekers – and how only the vigilance, wisdom and dedication of the public could preserve their freedom.

But today, few people seem to see such dangers, either internally or internationally.

A recent poll showed that nearly half the American public believes that the government should redistribute wealth. That so many people are so willing to blithely put such an enormous and dangerous arbitrary power in the hands of politicians – risking their own freedom, in hopes of getting what someone else has – is a painful sign of how far many citizens and voters fall short of what is needed to preserve a democratic republic.

The ease with which people with wealth can ship it overseas electronically, or put it in tax shelters at home, means that raising the tax rate on wealthy people is not going to bring in the kind of tax revenue that would enable wealth redistribution to provide the bonanza that some people are expecting.

In other words, people who are willing to give government more arbitrary power can give up their birthright of freedom without even getting the mess of pottage. Worse yet, they can give up their children's and their grandchildren's birthright of freedom.

Free and democratic societies have existed for a relatively short time, as history is measured – and their staying power has always been open to question. So much depends on the wisdom of the voters that the franchise was always limited, in one way or another, so that voting would be confined to those with a stake in the viability and progress of the country, and the knowledge to cast their vote intelligently.

In our own times, however, voting has been seen as just one of the many "rights" to which everyone is supposed to be entitled. The emphasis has been on the voter, rather than on the momentous consequences of elections for the nation today and for generations yet unborn.

To those who see voting as more or less just a matter of self-expression, almost a recreational activity, there is no need to inform themselves on both sides of the issues before voting, much less sit down and think beyond the rhetoric to the realities that the rhetoric conceals.

Careless voters may be easily swayed by charisma and rhetoric, oblivious to the monumental disasters created around the world by 20th century leaders with charisma and rhetoric, such as Hitler.
Voters like this represent a danger of terminal frivolity for freedom and democracy.



Sarah Palin recognizes Hollywood Stars as 'Full of Hate'

Sarah Palin stared a bit uncomfortably at a movie screen Tuesday night watching a montage of Matt Damon, David Letterman, Madonna, Howard Stern, Bill Maher, Louis C.K. and other celebrities malign her, then asked The Hollywood Reporter: "What would make someone be so full of hate?"

Palin was in Pella, Iowa, at the premiere of a documentary about her called The Undefeated, which opens with several minutes of Hollywood entertainers using some of the most vulgar language imaginable to express their displeasure with the former vice presidential candidate. Some appear genuinely angry, and director Steve Bannon cuts to news footage twice in the film of Palin being hung in effigy.

After the movie, as throngs of supporters and reporters clamored for attention, THR asked her: "In the first 10 minutes where all the celebrities are trashing you, how do you respond to something like that?"

Palin said she hadn't seen or heard much of the TV and radio footage before seeing it in the movie, which bleeped some of the dirtier language, though it was easy to determine what the entertainers were saying, including lots of profane references to the female anatomy.

"This is the first that I've seen much of that. It kind of takes you back," she told THR. "It makes you want to reach out to some of these folks and say, What's your problem? And what was the problem? And what is the problem?

"What would make a celebrity, like you saw on screen, so hate someone that they'd seek their destruction, their death, the death of their children? What would make someone be so full of hate and, I guess, a sense of being threatened that they would want to see that person destroyed?"

The movie begins with Sen. John McCain introducing his running mate, then quickly cuts to the Hollywood sign, and the music turns ominous. A TV news anchor says, "Hollywood has a new favorite pastime: taking aim at Sarah Palin."

Then the celebrity montage begins: Damon likens Palin to a "really bad Disney movie" and says she's "really scary"; Letterman attacks her, and the discourse descends in to the filthy from there. Maher insults her on his TV show, Madonna screams obscenities about her while on stage, and comedians use graphic, severely bleeped language to describe Palin and the intensity with which they "hate her."

When the montage is through, the screen goes dark and a Bible verse comes into focus: "By their fruits ye shall know them."

As things got pushy with the media and the rest of the crowd and a security detail got more aggressive in protecting the former governor of Alaska, THR asked if she intended on defending herself against future celebrity barbs.

"I think the movie does that for me. But you know, there's never really a venue that absolutely lets somebody set the record straight. I mean, there are so many false narratives about me, about Todd, about our kids, about my record, about my team that has worked so hard together, that there's never gonna be a way to absolutely set the record straight."



The world's best policeman

by Jeff Jacoby

According to a new Rasmussen poll, only a narrow sliver of US voters -- 11 percent -- want America to be the nation chiefly responsible for policing the planet and trying to maintain international order. An overwhelming 74 percent reject the idea.

These aren't anomalous results. When Rasmussen polled the same question in 2009, the results were virtually identical. Gallup regularly asks how large a role -- leading, major, minor, or none -- the United States should take in solving international problems; only a small minority of respondents ever favors the "leading" role.

America may be the world's "indispensable nation," as Bill Clinton said in his Second Inaugural Address, but most Americans, most of the time, are uncomfortable with the idea of US global hegemony. John Quincy Adams wrote long ago that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." As the polls consistently suggest, that isolationist sentiment still resonates strongly.

When John Quincy Adams wrote that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy," the United States was not a superpower. Today it is the mightiest nation the world has ever known.

But in Adams's day America was not the mightiest, wealthiest, and most influential nation on the face of the earth. Today it is. The United States is the world's only superpower, and if we shirk the role of global policeman, no one else will fill it. By nature Americans are not warmongering empire-builders; their uneasiness about dominating other countries reflects a national modesty that in many ways is admirable -- and that belies the caricature of Uncle Sam as arrogant bully or "great Satan."

Nevertheless, with great power come great responsibilities, and sometimes one of those responsibilities is to destroy monsters: to take down tyrants who victimize the innocent and flout the rules of civilization. If neighborhoods and cities need policing, it stands to reason the world does too. And just as local criminals thrive when cops look the other way, so do criminals on the world stage.

Nazi Germany had conquered half of Europe and Japan was brutalizing much of Asia by the time America finally entered World War II. If America hadn't rescued Kuwait from Saddam Hussein in 1990, no one else would have, either. If America hadn't led NATO in halting Serbia's ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, no one else would have, either. If America hadn't faced down the Soviet Union during the long years of the Cold War, no one else would have, either -- and hundreds of millions of human beings might still be trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

There is no realistic alternative to America as the world's policeman. It clearly isn't a job the United Nations can do. Can an organization that makes no distinction between tyranny and democracy rein in the world's monsters? As the UN's bloody trail of failure from Bosnia to Somalia to Rwanda makes clear, UN "peacekeeping" offers no protection against predators.

None of this is to say that America-as-Globocop is a perfect solution to the world's ills, nor that the United States hasn't made many grievous mistakes in its actions abroad. But as the historian Max Boot argues, "America's occasional missteps should not lead us to abdicate our indispensable role, any more than the NYPD should stop doing its vital work, simply because cops occasionally do the wrong thing. On balance, the NYPD still does far more good than harm, and so does the United States of America."

To say that America must be the world's policeman is not to call for waging endless wars against all the world's bad actors. Police officers carry weapons, but they fire them only infrequently. The cops' main function is not to gun down criminals, but to suppress crime and reduce fear by patrolling the streets and maintaining a visible presence in the community. Similarly, a well-policed world is one with less combat, not more. The purpose of America's nuclear umbrella and its global network of military bases is not to foment war on all fronts, but to prevent it -- by deterring aggression, maintaining the flow of commerce, and upholding human rights.

We don't do it perfectly, not by a long shot. We don't always live up to our own standards, we sometimes confuse police work with social work, and we are often rewarded not with thanks but with resentment. A policeman's lot is not a happy one. It is, however, an essential one. Our world needs a policeman. Whether most Americans like it or not, only their indispensable nation is fit for the job.




How to reform Medicare, with faith in market principles: "House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin is proposing major -- and highly controversial –- changes to Medicare. Though the Senate recently rejected his plan, it may play a big part in the 2012 presidential campaign. Mr. Ryan is pitching his reforms as 'premium support.' What is premium support, exactly? Is it a voucher system? Let’s take a closer look at Ryan’s plan and then weigh the pros and cons."

Intercity buses: The forgotten mode: "The debate over President Obama's fantastically expensive high-speed rail program has obscured the resurgence of a directly competing mode of transportation: intercity buses. Entrepreneurial immigrants from China and recently privatized British transportation companies have developed a new model for intercity bus operations that provides travelers with faster service at dramatically reduced fares"

CIA off the hook: "The Justice Department has decided not to file criminal charges in the vast majority of cases involving the CIA's former interrogation, detention and kidnapping program. In a statement to CIA employees on his last day as director, Leon E. Panetta said Thursday that after an examination of more than 100 instances in which the agency allegedly had contact with terrorism detainees, Assistant U.S. Atty. John Durham decided that further investigation was warranted in just two cases. Each of those cases resulted in a death."

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

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among people who should know better, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"