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

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

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30 June, 2010

Problems with Elena Kagan

I think the US Constitution, and its sources in European thought, still constitute the most enlightened political philosophy to date. The reason is simple: Human beings have not changed one little bit in the last few centuries.

The popular cant of the media today is that we're now all different and (needless to say) that we are better than people used to be. It's not true.

That means we are just as vulnerable to power-hungry maniacs as Europe was in the face of Napoleon, the various Kaisers, the new Czars in the USSR, Hitler, and all the rest. Human beings are all vulnerable.

I have never felt this more than I do today. Iran now has enough enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons. For the last three decades they have taught a suicide ideology to millions of their people, almost exactly like the Bushido philosophy of Imperial Japan. But no suicidal empire before this ever had nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Domestically we are seeing astonishing historical amnesia, as if people really believe that all the horrors of human history are in the past. We've somehow gone beyond all that. That is a self-serving fantasy.

The current administration is the greatest example of historical amnesia in American history. I'm afraid that its current Supreme Court Nominee, Prof. Elena Kagan, is a supreme example of historical amnesia in her own life. It's sad, especially because she is Jewish by heritage and a woman, who should understand in her very bones what oppression is all about. She does not.

As Dean of Harvard Law School Dr. Kagan was part of the Harvard establishment that expelled the President of Harvard for making a public slip of the tongue. Dr. Larry Summers is currently an economics star in this administration. He is a lifelong liberal. But he was unceremoniously tossed out as President of Harvard for saying the wrong thing.

Harvard and American academia have fallen victim to a new anti-freedom ideology. Even in the 19th century, when Harvard was a religious institution, there was never a case where the president was unceremoniously tossed into the street for saying the wrong thing. This is such a profound violation of free speech and academic values that if you are not shocked by it, you've simply lost track of constitutional values.

Dr. Kagan has supported book banning by the government. She has endorsed and enforced speech codes on campus. She has written extensive legalistic but anti-constitutional arguments for the White House in the Clinton Administration.

If she becomes a Supreme Court justice she will therefore almost certainly support government-imposed censorship. Remember that if you have a Gmail account, Google reads every word you type in, to match to its giant dictionary. In the United Kingdom the police have complete access to all internet traffic. The technology of censorship is here. All we have are legal protections, which are fragile enough.

For all these reasons I am opposed to Dr. Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Above comments received by email from Bernard Baars [baars@gmail.com]. He offers a petition for you to sign here


Ditherer-in-chief makes a decision on international assistance...

And it only took him two months, one week and three days to do it!
The United States is accepting help from 12 countries and international organizations in dealing with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department said in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. is working out the particulars of the help that's been accepted.

The identities of all 12 countries and international organizations were not immediately announced. One country was cited in the State Department statement -- Japan, which is providing two high-speed skimmers and fire containment boom.

More than 30 countries and international organizations have offered to help with the spill. The State Department hasn't indicated why some offers have been accepted and others have not.

You'd think that accepting assistance would be a skill gleaned from all those years of community organizing. You'd be wrong.



Counting Foreigners in the U.S. Census

It in effect gives votes to illegals

By Jon Hall

The number of seats in the U.S. House is set at 435. In Wesberry v. Sanders (1964), the Court required that those 435 seats represent congressional districts approximately equal in population. So the inclusion of foreigners in the U.S. census distorts representation in Congress: After the 1990 census Montana lost a congressional seat, and after the 2000 census California gained six congressional seats. This intolerable state of affairs exists because illegal aliens are counted in the census. But there are movements afoot to change the way the census is done. (Read the section on apportionment here.)

According to John S. Baker, a constitutional law professor writing in The Wall Street Journal, the way we're doing the census is unconstitutional:
Of course, other states lose out when noncitizens are counted for reapportionment. According to projections of the 2010 Census by Election Data Services, states certain to lose one seat in the 2010 reapportionment are Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania; states likely (though not certain) to lose a seat are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio could lose a second seat. But under a proper census enumeration that excluded illegal residents, some of the states projected to lose a representative ... would not do so.

The census has drifted far from its constitutional roots, and the 2010 enumeration will result in a malapportionment of Congress.

In the 1964 case of Wesberry v. Sanders, the Supreme Court said, "The House of Representatives ... was to represent the people as individuals and on a basis of complete equality for each voter." It ruled that Georgia had violated the equal-vote principle because House districts within the state did not contain roughly the same number of voting citizens. [Emphasis added.] ... The same principle is being violated now on a national basis because of our faulty census.

Since citizens (and legal aliens) are all on file with the feds and their numbers are already know, it would seem that the $14 billion we're spending on the 2010 census is entirely to enumerate illegal aliens. The feds are spending money they don't have to ascertain information they already do have -- except for illegal aliens. So the feds dispatch armies of unarmed census takers into the slums, barrios and seamy underworld of America to gather data from folks loath to divulge it, having a reasonable fear of deportation.

The 2010 census aggravates because it asks a bunch of new questions the feds shouldn't ask. The reason the central government still does the census the "old fashioned" way is because it serves the ends of career politicians:

The census is a jobs program; it tamps down the unemployment rate, albeit temporarily, making career politicians look less bad.

The census is used in handing out hundreds of billions in federal aid. This is paid for with money the feds must either borrow or print.

The census, when done the old fashioned way, can be easily corrupted. So allowing organizations like ACORN to conduct the census can be tempting. The Community Organizer in Chief even directed the Director of the Census Bureau to report directly to the White House rather than the Commerce Secretary.

The census is used to gerrymander. George Will writes: "After the 1990 Census determined that North Carolina was 22 percent black, the state's redistricting created a black-majority congressional district. ... Hence the creation of North Carolina's 12th District, which slithers 160 miles down Interstate 85. This was racial gerrymandering applauded by liberals."

It used to be that voters chose candidates, but now candidates choose voters. To create congressional districts likely to vote their way (such as North Carolina's 12th), career politicians need to know the voter's race, etc. Hence: those objectionable questions on the census. Question 8 even asks if one is Hispanic.

Like so much else in the federal government nowadays, the census is an exercise in abuse.

More HERE (See the original for links)


Roundup from ICJS

British Methodists Prepare to Throw Israel Under the Bus
A Study in Hate
Ghost Zionism haunts the world
Leonard vs. Elvis: Who's our man?
French broadcast watchdog to pull Al-Aqsa off air
Random musings to ponder
Obama doctrine failing
West silent on Muslim atrocities
Flotilla sickness and the `progressive' mind
The perfidious UN
Israel and its liberal friends
The plain truth about Israel
Beware the words of a wolf dressed in sheikh's clothing
The media war on Israel
A huge win for Hamas and a blow to Israel
The Zionist entity: mad as a bag of cats
Erdogan and the decline of the Turks
Israel troops take over 'Rachel Corrie'
Those troublesome Jews
Does Gaza signal Turkey's defection
Israel's critical security needs
Grotesque theatre succeeded brilliantly
Ending Israel's losing streak
Time to get our act together
Predictable Israeli fiasco
Jenin on the high seas



Who says Americans cherish fairness?: "In a recent talk, responding to the Arizona immigration law, President Barack Obama stated that this act ‘threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.’ I am not enough of a student of the Arizona law to pass judgment on it now but I am definitely skeptical about the claim that Americans as such cherish ‘basic notions of fairness.’ There is nothing in any basic American political document that mandates fairness across the land. Neither the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights nor the Constitution insists that Americans be fair. Good thing, since such a demand cannot be met.”

Obama’s crusade against profits: "You can never be sure when or why one industry or another will draw the attention of the Mr. Fixits of our federal government. Just imagine: There you are, Mr. or Ms. Businessperson, walking along, making money, minding your own business, and then wham: They pop up out of nowhere, wheeling around like a gun turret and fixing their gaze on you and your company, insisting that they’re going to make you fairer and more rational and fix problems you didn’t know you had. It must be terrifying.”

Abandon the “Ginsburg Rule” for Supreme Court candidates: "The Ginsburg Rule is closely tied to judicial independence. The argument runs something like this: It is unseemly for a person nominated to be a neutral arbiter to condition his or her appointment on a promise to rule a certain way. While elected policymakers should declare their views and predilections before asking the people to cast a ballot, judges are in a different category. Thus, the senators should never ask a nominee to divulge his or her views of matters that could be heard by the court. Before the judicial activism of the past half century, this might have passed the smell test. Today, the Supreme Court makes the ultimate decision on diverse matters such as affirmative action in awarding contracts or in school admissions, restrictions on abortion, the medicinal use of marijuana and capital punishment. The court has no claim to being an independent tribunal above the fray of politics and policymaking.”

Why Friedrich Hayek is making a comeback: "Hayek understood that the … free modern society is all about cooperation. We join with others to produce the goods and services we enjoy, all without top-down direction. The same is true in every sphere of activity that makes life meaningful — when we sing and when we dance, when we play and when we pray. Leaving us free to join with others as we see fit — in our work and in our play — is the road to true and lasting prosperity. Hayek gave us that map. … I don’t know if we’re on the road to serfdom, but wherever we’re headed, Hayek would certainly counsel us to turn around.”

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 June, 2010

Gun Control Laws

Thomas Sowell

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means that individual Americans have a right to bear arms, what can we expect?

Those who have no confidence in ordinary Americans may expect a bloodbath, as the benighted masses start shooting each other, now that they can no longer be denied guns by their betters. People who think we shouldn't be allowed to make our own medical decisions, or decisions about which schools our children attend, certainly are not likely to be happy with the idea that we can make our own decisions about how to defend ourselves.

When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues like gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence.

Many people who are opposed to gun laws which place severe restrictions on ordinary citizens owning firearms have based themselves on the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

If the end of gun control leads to a bloodbath of runaway shootings, then the Second Amendment can be repealed, just as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist for people, not people for laws.

There is no point arguing, as many people do, that it is difficult to amend the Constitution. The fact that it doesn't happen very often doesn't mean that it is difficult. The people may not want it to happen, even if the intelligentsia are itching to change it. When the people wanted it to happen, the Constitution was amended 4 times in 8 years, from 1913 through 1920.

What all this means is that judges and the voting public have different roles. There is no reason why judges should "consider the basic values that underlie a constitutional provision and their contemporary significance," as Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissent against the Supreme Court's gun control decision.

But, as the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, his job was "to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not."

If the public doesn't like the rules, or the consequences to which the rules lead, then the public can change the rules via the ballot box. But that is very different from judges changing the rules by verbal sleight of hand, or by talking about "weighing of the constitutional right to bear arms" against other considerations, as Justice Breyer puts it. That's not his job. Not if "we the people" are to govern ourselves, as the Constitution says.

As for the merits or demerits of gun control laws themselves, a vast amount of evidence, both from the United States and from other countries, shows that keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It is not uncommon for a tightening of gun control laws to be followed by an increase-- not a decrease-- in gun crimes, including murder.

Conversely, there have been places and times where an increase in gun ownership has been followed by a reduction in crimes in general and murder in particular.

Unfortunately, the media intelligentsia tend to favor gun control laws, so a lot of hard facts about the futility, or the counterproductive consequences of such laws, never reach the public through the media.

We hear a lot about countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States that have lower murder rates. But we very seldom hear about countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States that have higher murder rates, such as Russia and Brazil.

The media, like Justice Breyer, might do well to reflect on what is their job and what is the voting public's job. The media's job should be to give us the information to make up our own minds, not slant and filter the news to fit the media's vision.



The Keynesian Dead End

Spending our way to prosperity is going out of style -- but not with Obama

The current Keynesian revival began under George W. Bush. Larry Summers, then a private economist, told Congress that a "timely, targeted and temporary" spending program of $150 billion was urgently needed to boost consumer "demand." Democrats who had retaken Congress adopted the idea —they love an excuse to spend— and the politically tapped-out Mr. Bush went along with $168 billion in spending and one-time tax rebates.

The cash did produce a statistical blip in GDP growth in mid-2008, but it didn't stop the financial panic and second phase of recession. So enter Stimulus II, with Mr. Summers again leading the intellectual charge, this time as President Obama's adviser and this time suggesting upwards of $500 billion. When Congress was done two months later, in February 2009, the amount was $862 billion. A pair of White House economists famously promised that this spending would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.

Seventeen months later, and despite historically easy monetary policy for that entire period, the jobless rate is still 9.7%. Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis once again reduced the GDP estimate for first quarter growth, this time to 2.7%, while economic indicators in the second quarter have been mediocre. As the nearby table shows, this is a far cry from the snappy recovery that typically follows a steep recession, most recently in 1983-84 after the Reagan tax cuts.

The response at the White House and among Congressional leaders has been . . . Stimulus III. While talking about the need for "fiscal discipline" some time in the future, President Obama wants more spending today to again boost "demand." Thirty months after Mr. Summers won his first victory, we are back at the same policy stand.

The difference this time is that the Keynesian political consensus is cracking up. In Europe, the bond vigilantes have pulled the credit cards of Greece, Portugal and Spain, with Britain and Italy in their sights. Policy makers are now making a 180-degree turn from their own stimulus blowouts to cut spending and raise taxes. The austerity budget offered this month by the new British government is typical of Europe's new consensus.

To put it another way, Germany's Angela Merkel has won the bet she made in early 2009 by keeping her country's stimulus far more modest. We suspect Mr. Obama will find a political stonewall this weekend in Toronto when he pleads with his fellow leaders to join him again for a spending spree.

The larger lesson here is about policy. The original sin —and it was nearly global— was to revive the Keynesian economic model that had last cracked up in the 1970s, while forgetting the lessons of the long prosperity from 1982 through 2007. The Reagan and Clinton-Gingrich booms were fostered by a policy environment for most of that era of lower taxes, spending restraint and sound money. The spending restraint began to end in the late 1990s, sound money vanished earlier this decade, and now Democrats are promising a series of enormous tax increases.

Notice that we aren't saying that spending restraint alone is a miracle economic cure. The spending cuts now in fashion in Europe are essential, but cuts by themselves won't balance annual deficits reaching 10% of GDP. That requires new revenues from faster growth, and there's a danger that the tax increases now sweeping Europe will dampen growth further.

President Obama's tragic mistake was to blow out the U.S. federal balance sheet on spending that has produced little bang for the buck. The fantastical Keynesian notion (the "multiplier") that $1 of spending produces $1.50 in growth was long ago demolished by Harvard's Robert Barro, among others. That $1 in spending has to come from somewhere, which means in taxes or borrowing from productive parts of the private economy. Given that so much of the U.S. stimulus went for transfer payments such as Medicaid and unemployment insurance, the "multiplier" has almost certainly been negative.

With the economy in recession in 2008 and 2009, we argued that some stimulus was justified and an increase in the deficit was understandable and inevitable. However, we also argued that permanent tax cuts aimed at marginal individual and corporate tax rates would have done far more to revive animal spirits, and in our view would have led to a far more robust recovery.

What the world has now reached instead is a Keynesian dead end. We are told to let Congress continue to spend and borrow until the precise moment when Mr. Summers and Mark Zandi and the other architects of our current policy say it is time to raise taxes to reduce the huge deficits and debt that their spending has produced. Meanwhile, individuals and businesses are supposed to be unaffected by the prospect of future tax increases, higher interest rates, and more government control over nearly every area of the economy. Even the CEOs of the Business Roundtable now see the damage this is doing.

A better economic policy will have to await a new Congress, which we hope at a minimum can prevent punishing tax increases. But for now the good news is that voters and markets are telling politicians to stop doing what hasn't worked.



President Alfred E. Obama

David Limbaugh

Observing President Obama's relentlessly reckless approach to our nation's fiscal integrity is reminiscent of the signature phrase of Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman, "What, me worry?" Obama struck again last week at the G-20 conference in Toronto, urging other nations to follow his Pied Piper lead into deficit spending hell.

Unlike recent U.S. presidents who recognized and touted this nation as the world's exemplar for economic growth and prosperity, Obama is turning us into a poster nation for financial irresponsibility. While other nations at the meeting were focusing on deficit reduction, Obama was haplessly urging them to join us in Keynesian spending oblivion.

He told the conference that global economic recovery remains "fragile" and implored the nations' leaders to continue deficit spending to sustain the "recovery." The Washington Post reports that Obama's remarks "tempered the Group of 20's headline achievement at the summit, a deficit-reduction target that had been pushed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the host of the meeting and a fiscal conservative."

Obama is wholly impervious to the historical record documenting the failure of FDR's pump priming during the Depression, which exacerbated rather than ameliorated the economic problems. He is similarly detached from reality concerning the failure of his own policies to stimulate growth of any kind to save his beloved public sector and thus recommends more of the same.

In speech after speech, he takes credit for having launched an economic recovery in the United States and for achieving job growth. Notwithstanding his economic models that stubbornly predict such results, he can point to no empirical evidence to verify his delusional boasts.

It would be bad enough if his economic policies were simply retarding our economic recovery, but they are also accelerating our trip to national bankruptcy. Yet Obama continues to press forward with his foot smashed down on the gas pedal.

Though fiscal sanity would demand that we put the brakes on runaway government spending, Obama wants more of it and is in the process of securing it -- not just in the short term but also in perpetuity. Obama launched an array of new spending programs ostensibly billed as temporary -- to help "stimulate" the economy -- but his latest budget, according to The Heritage Foundation, "would replace this temporary spending with permanent new programs." As if that should surprise anyone! ...

Yet after all his newly imposed federal spending programs, Obama will soon unveil the results of his "bipartisan" budget commission and swear he's going to drastically reduce the deficit -- mostly by raising taxes even more. To make the numbers work, even in theory, he'll have to break -- yet again -- his promise not to raise taxes "of any kind" on those making less than $250,000. And he'll expect to be lauded for his stewardship and given a pass for reneging on his pledge. Those who criticize him for his reckless spending, his broken promises and his economically suicidal blueprint to solve our debt and economic problems through higher taxes will be castigated as mere partisans. So predictable. So maddening. So destructive.

In a nutshell, then, Obama's plan is to spend us into bankruptcy without improving private-sector economic growth, impose national health care and other permanent entitlements to further bankrupt us and suppress the economy, exploit the Gulf oil spill to cram through the further growth-destroying cap-and-trade bill, and then revamp the tax code to place even further burdens on income earners and the economy as a whole. What, me worry? Duh! How about you?


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

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


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


28 June, 2010

Kupelian's "How Evil Works"

By Matt Barber

My wife Sarah and I were listening to the radio a few months back as Sean Hannity interviewed an author about his latest publication. The book was “How Evil Works”, but we were unable to ascertain, for some time, its author’s identity. We were immediately drawn into the discussion as this mystery guest waxed wise about what he called man’s “millennia-old blind spot” – namely, the existence of evil, how it works and why it destroys us.

I was amazed by the speaker’s insights into this “radioactive topic.” “Wow, this guy really get’s it,” I told Sarah. She nodded in agreement either unwilling or unable to take her attention away from the show long enough to answer. Finally – and for the benefit of us late arrivals – Sean divulged the identity of his guest: It was best-selling author and award-winning journalist David Kupelian. I was no longer surprised.

David continued. He spoke of how America – once the moral guidepost to the world – had, “over time… abandoned its original principles,” only to now suffer from great “moral confusion.”

He spoke of a president, “wearing a mask,” who is “deceptive from morning ‘till night.” A president who, “taking us where we don’t want to go – has to lie about where he’s taking us.” “Those in power talk an awful lot like those we used to fight,” he said.

That was it. “We’ve got to get this book,” I insisted. Sarah agreed. I don’t often do book reviews (this is my first in fact), but after reading “How Evil Works,” I felt compelled to put pen to paper. Whereas Kupelian’s conversation with Hannity stopped me in my tracks, his book took it to the next level. It was simply outstanding.

I guess the best way to describe it is to say that “How Evil Works” has the same effect on your brain that yawning has on your ears at high altitude. Things just suddenly pop with crystal clarity.

Throughout “Evil’s” pages David meticulously unpacks today’s most pressing issues providing unassailable answers to some of our most critical questions. For instance:

• Where have all the statesmen gone and why do politicians lie?

• Why are so many Americans abandoning their Christian roots and embracing atheism and the occult?

• What drives terrorists to kill?

• How are psychological and spiritual problems linked, and why do we medicate ourselves into zombies?

• Why do people who seem to have everything so often self destruct and end up with nothing?

• How can we turn it all around and return this great nation to her God fearing ways?

And many more...

In recent days I was on a flight to Oklahoma City, OK. As I read the last page of “Evil” and placed it in the seat flap in front of me, a 15 year-old girl sitting to my side asked: “So how does evil work?” What an opening! “Well, this book explains it a lot better than I can,” I replied.

For several minutes we discussed worldview and our horribly failing culture. Turns out she was on her way to a missions trip in Jamaica. She mentioned that, like me, C.S. Lewis was one of her favorite authors. I chuckled and asked: “You’re homeschooled, aren’t you?”

Indeed she was, but explained that in the fall she was attending public school for the first time. “I want to get in there and be salt and light,” she said.

“Well then,” I replied, “take this with you. If you love C.S. Lewis, you won’t be able to put it down.” I handed her “How Evil Works.” She smiled ear-to-ear, thanked me and we went our separate ways. I’m quite certain that for it, her salt will be that much saltier and her light just a bit brighter.

SOURCE. You can read chapter 1 of the book here


Athens to Sacramento in Three Seconds

The self-imposed Greek financial tragedy has rocked the world economy and brought the European Union almost to its knees, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. The parallels between what has caused Greece to get to this point and the looming disaster in California go way beyond the surface. Whether California will have the same effect on America that Greece has had on Europe is yet to be determined.

Governor Chris Christie makes an effective argument for New Jersey being America’s Greece. In fact, the New Jersey state deficit exceeds California’s as a percentage of its overall budget, and no one would argue that the public employee unions in New Jersey are less entrenched than in California or Greece. But at least New Jersey has the newly-elected Christie, who speaks with honesty and candor about the state’s challenges, and provides a slice of reality to its residents. California, in contrast, has the hapless Arnold, who has been in La-La land for six years with no end in sight.

To hang these financial calamities on the public employees alone would be misguided. In a recent study of 183 countries regarding ease of doing business, Greece came in 109th – but at least they can be comforted that Somalia and North Korea were worse. Like Greece, California lags in comparison to other states; it is ranked 47th for business environment. Having oppressive public employee unions certainly adds to the challenge, but both Greece and California suffer from the same anti-business mix of high taxes, overwhelming government regulation and high labor costs. One could say Greece is in the middle of the pack, compared to California which is near the bottom of the state rankings.

Greece does even worse with its protection of investors, where it ranks 154th. Similarly, there are few states which do worse protecting investors than lawyer-rich, lawsuit-happy California. Los Angeles has more lawyers than the country of Japan. Californians are not only moving their businesses to other states, but almost anyone who can is registering the entities elsewhere to protect themselves from lawsuits.

Starting a business can be pretty ugly in Greece. Their rank is 140th out of 183. Even Botswana makes it easier than Greece. Of course, California is no longer the shining city on the hill either – in fact, its big cities are pretty dismal when it comes to job growth. Of the largest cities in America, the highest ranking California city comes in at #42. Shockingly, it’s the bastion of left-wing politics, San Francisco. Of the 66 largest cities in America, four of the bottom ten are located in California. The Golden State seems more like pewter these days.

Yet, California ignores all the hints from across the sea that it needs to change its ways. Scandinavian countries have increased their retirement age to 67 while California dithers. There was some talk of pension reform in a recent deal that Arnold cut with four government unions, but it was smoke and mirrors that didn’t fool anyone. With a $19 billion budget hole, cutting possible pensions for employees who haven’t been hired yet won’t really slice too much from that crushing amount. The state payroll has grown 31 percent in ten years, and now stands at 356,000 employees. Significant employee reductions need to be made and fast.

There are now 12,000 state employees receiving pensions over $100,000 per year, and that number will only grow in the near future. A real leader has to step up and threaten to take California into bankruptcy over these outrageous pension and health benefits. The people of California should be unwilling to pay them. Why should hard-working Californians pay their public employees benefits that far exceed anything the residents themselves have any hope of receiving? If the matter goes to court and a judge says that we have to pay it, the Governor should tell the judge to go out and collect the taxes himself.

Sanity has to be brought back to California. Greece has opened the eyes of some people here, but not enough. The government wonks are still out of control. In May, California added 28,300 jobs of which 30,000 were in the government. You read that correctly -- the private sector lost jobs while government added 30,000 new positions. One might ask the simple question of where the revenues are coming from to pay for these new positions.

We will see in November whether Californians have come to their senses. We have a contest for Governor between someone who has perpetuated this problem for 40 years, Jerry Brown, and a new face ready to confront the challenges, Meg Whitman. If Brown wins, Greece may be looking like an attractive place to relocate.



Media bias, episode 97,823

Several people were caught on an open mike mocking Sarah Palin for delivering a "roller coaster"-type speech after she addressed California State University, Stanislaus on Friday.

As the former Alaska governor stepped off stage at the sold-out dinner fundraiser and the sound of applause faded away, voices identified as reporters in a viral video could be heard one after another cracking jokes about the speech.

"Oh my God, I feel like I just got off a roller coaster, going round and round, and up and down. Sh-t flying out … everywhere," one said, as someone else made whooshing sounds.

Another one chimed in, comparing the address to the work of a sloppy college student. "When you’ve got to write a report as a college student and you just try to jam as many quotes in as possible … That’s what I got," he said.

Someone else added: "She didn’t finish a statement." Then another voice could be heard cutting through, saying: "Did she make a statement, because I didn’t catch that either."




Christ was not crucified. He died on a stake, not a cross. I have been pointing out for a long time that the words referring to a "cross" in the original Greek New Testament mean "stake" or "wood", not cross. So I was rather pleased to read that a learned professor has just looked into the matter in depth and came to the same conclusion. I have put the article up on my Scripture blog

Don't mind me, I'll just die here in the dark: "My wife and I live in Arizona, which has a nasty habit of bursting into flames from time to time. Seeing as how the state is so unpredictably flammable, it's generally a good idea to be ready to bug out if the neighborhood starts to get well-done, and we keep a `go bag' of important documents and the like at hand in case we need to head for less-smoky environs. Dear old dad-in-law's California digs are similarly combustible, and also prone to slide into the ocean if visited by rain instead of fire. So we thought it wise to inquire as to his preparations for unfortunate events. `Oh, I'll just do what they tell me to do.' When pressed, he grew upset at the idea that he should presume to make plans when there are experts whose job it is to handle such eventualities."

The brainless TSA again: "A six-year-old girl from Ohio is on the US Department of Homeland Security's "no fly" list. FOXNews.com said today, citing an affiliate television station in Cleveland, the little girl, Alyssa Thomas, was travelling with her parents from Cleveland to Minneapolis when a ticket agent notified the family she was on the list of restricted fliers. "We were, like, puzzled," said her father, Dr Santhosh Thomas. "I'm like, well, she's kinda six years old and this is not something that should be typical." When the family tried to clear up the issue with Homeland Security, they received a letter notifying them that it could not be changed."

Black professor writes book about crime that uses no data: "The Gates controversy began last July, when Crowley arrested Gates for disorderly conduct outside his home, after responding to a dispatcher’s call about a potential break-in at the house... Gates declined to comment for this report, referring questions to his lawyer, Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree. Ogletree is promoting a new book about racial injustice, entitled The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America. In it, he compares the Gates arrest to the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which led to race riots. In an interview, Ogletree said he did not request any arrest data from the Cambridge police nor did he interview police officials or Crowley. “This is not about data and Cambridge,’’ he said."

Gallup: In 2010, Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals: "Conservatives have maintained their leading position among U.S. ideological groups in the first half of 2010. Gallup finds 42% of Americans describing themselves as either very conservative or conservative. This is up slightly from the 40% seen for all of 2009 and contrasts with the 20% calling themselves liberal or very liberal."

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)


27 June, 2010

A very revealing modern opera: "Before Night Falls"

About homophobic Cuba

You may remember that a movie of Before Night Falls was made in 2000. It was directed by Julian Schnabel and starred Javier Bardem. When I wrote about this movie, I received a letter from a reader. He said that he had seen the movie in a heavily gay neighborhood and overheard the conversation of two men as they were exiting the theater. One was saying to the other, "Wow, what an eye-opener. I had no idea." No idea of what?

Of the persecution of gays by the Cuban revolution (i.e., Castro's gang). They threw gays into cells and camps, along with other "undesirables." One of the gays was Arenas. And the father of this prison system, the Cuban gulag, was none other than Che Guevara himself: hero of a billion T-shirts. The Left is very uncomfortable with this aspect of the revolution (when they know about it). Bring it up, and they're apt to change the subject, angrily.

Arenas was born in 1943. When a teenager, he joined the revolutionaries, fighting in the hills. But he soon discovered the revolutionaries for what they were. A free and humane spirit, he could only oppose them: only be a "counterrevolutionary." He started to write novels in the 1960s. One of them was smuggled out to be published in France. He was tossed into the gulag, both for his literary disobedience and for his homosexuality - which was also a form of disobedience.

He went through the usual: unstinting torture. And eventually they broke him. He renounced his dissidence and his homosexuality. But he managed to escape the island during the chaos of the Mariel boatlift in 1980. As an exile in America, he lived only ten more years. Dying of AIDS, he committed suicide. His last act was to finish his autobiography, Before Night Falls.

The composer Jorge Martin was born in 1959 and came to America with his family in 1965. They lived in New Jersey. He won the right to compose an opera on Before Night Falls in 1995 - that is, he reached an agreement with the Arenas estate. According to interviews, he almost drew short of composing the opera. He too is Cuban-born, creative, and gay. And he despises "identity politics" (I am quoting him now).

In the end, however, he said, "Screw it, I'll do it" - he loved the story too much, and was too taken with its operatic possibilities, to pass it by. He wrote the opera without a commission, which is not all that common; he just wanted to do it, possibly had to do it. He and Dolores Koch collaborated on the libretto. She was the translator of Before Night Falls, and knew Arenas well.

Can we talk about the opera world? We're all adults here, right? We can speak frankly. The opera world is very gay and very left-wing. There are a fair number of conservatives in it. Many are closeted, and they sometimes come out to me (swearing me to eternal secrecy, on pain of death). But the opera world is by and large strongly left-wing, as well as gay. And Before Night Falls will pose a dilemma: On one hand, you have your 50-year love affair with the Castro dictatorship; on the other hand . . . what about gays? It's one thing to persecute filthy capitalists who want to sell toothpaste in the shadows, or who read National Review-style literature by candlelight. But gays?

As the opera begins, we see Arenas in a New York apartment, dying. Then he flashes back to his youth in Cuba, and the story unspools from there. We see a lot of frolicking on the beach - Where the Boys Are, with only boys. All Frankies and no Annettes. Before long, we're in the hills, with the revolutionaries. They are mouthing their slogans: "Poverty, no more! Ignorance, no more!" And they dispatch their "revolutionary justice," which appalls the protagonist. He learns that he can trust no one, or trust few: Friends, in the grip of the state, betray.

When he makes it to America, he is free but creatively stifled. And he says, "The Left hates my politics, the Right hates my sexuality." In that apartment, he ends it.

Finally, a word or two about politics, broadly defined. (Very broadly defined.) It's astonishing to see a work of art that opposes the Cuban revolution - that knows it for what it is. I sat in wonderment, during particular scenes and moments. Did they really show a paredon, a wall against which the revolution shot "traitors"? Did they really put an image of Che Guevara in a menacing light, rather than the usual adoring one? Did a character really say, "The regime hates any thought that's free"? Were we really seeing events in the Cuban gulag - just as we see in escapees' memoirs, trashed, sniffed at, or mocked in The New York Review of Books?

The Cuban revolution is one of the most mythologized - i.e., lied about - events in modern history. Not here, baby. Before Night Falls may be the finest anti-revolutionary opera since The Dialogues of the Carmelites (which is about the monsters of 1789 in France). Is it the only one?

Frankly, it's hard to believe that they - they: the opera world, the keepers of the culture - will let Martin get away with this. With this gusano opera. (Gusano means "worm," and is what the Cuban Communists and their apologists abroad have always called any Cuban who opposes the regime.) I have already heard some grumbling: some grumbling about the opera's harsh depiction of Castro's gang.

If the opera makes it to New York, what will they say? Will the gay-rights angle win out, or will the honest portrayal of the revolution be too much to bear? New York, like the opera world at large, is used to such operas as Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar, which is about Federico Garcia Lorca and the Spanish Civil War. As directed by Peter Sellars, it puts Franco's executioners in the uniform of the American military. That's your ticket to success!

Martin has said that Before Night Falls is about beauty and hope, and so it is. An article about his opera described it as an "ode to freedom" - and so it is. It is brave, both in its libretto and in its score (all that melodicism, unsanctioned by the music establishment). The opera is a worthy work of art. It treats a moving story movingly. And, for telling a truth too seldom told, it makes you grateful.



The Leftist smear machine at work

Smears are all they've got

by: Meredith Jessup

This week, we rolled out a couple of features from our July issue of Townhall Magazine: the cover story, which focuses on the "100 Americans the Left Hates Most," and "The Anatomy of a Smear: the Left's Fight to Silence Glenn Beck."

In "Anatomy of a Smear," I took an in-depth look at the Left's systematic, organized smear machine and used the example of the Left's #1 most-hated conservative--radio and Fox News host Glenn Beck--to show exactly how the machine works. It's important to note, as he did yesterday during our radio interview, that despite the July article's singular focus on Glenn in particular, the Left's assault on truth does not stop with him.

To further prove this point, let me give you two examples from just the past 12 hours.

One of the groups working to draw advertising support away from Beck's Fox program is StopBeck, an online organization whose founder immediately accused me of being "deceitful" in my reporting but when asked, couldn't provide a single example of my alleged deception.

After yesterday's radio interview, StopBeck posted this article on the group's website. The article insinuates Townhall has "no interest in being fair and balanced" simply because we are "right-wing" and are owned by Salem Communications, "a media company that focuses on evangelical Christian and conservative political talk radio." It also claimed my article, printed in a "deceptive and notoriously biased" publication, was "riddled with distortions"--again, no examples.

Almost immediately, some of StopBeck's nearly 8,500 followers began tweeting to their favorite "journalist"--Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. Their messages read: "FYI: Conservative Townhall Magazine Flatters @StopBeck Effort In July Cover Story" and included a link--not to my article, but to StopBeck's article about my article.

Their suggestion is both comical and blatantly misleading: Even conservatives think Glenn Beck is a nut-job and want him off the air as much as we do. But they know Olbermann is just the type of "professional" who'd willingly peddle such a ridiculous notion to give it more credence and exposure to others on the Left.

And while we're on the subject of Olbermann... The MSNBC host is trying to pick a fight with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. In a tweet on Friday, Palin responded to liberals' criticism of conservatives' objections to the White House's involvement in establishing the BP escrow account.

"Don't let the lamestream media suck you into 'they're defending BP over Gulf spill victims' bs... This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab," she wrote. She then suggested people read Thomas Sowell's latest column, "Degeneration of Democracy."

In his column, Sowell argues that the Obama administration's policies are "damaging" the "fundamental structure" of America:
Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere. And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. ...

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

Sowell goes on to discuss FDR's policies of the Great Depression, and describes pre-war Germany's laws "for the relief of the German people."
That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people-- indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

The point of Sowell's article, then, was to draw parallels between historical facts and the challenges facing us today, and how seemingly innocent policies meant to help can be manipulated into something much more sinister.

So where does Olby fit into all this? Olbermann seized on Palin's suggestion to read Sowell's column and accused the former governor of comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. Palin retorted with a tweet: "Lamestream media: I never compared Obama to Hitler. Quit making things up."

Olbermann poked back at Palin with a number of smug messages, demanding she "disavow" Sowell's column. Palin has yet to respond to Olbermann's absurd assertion and demands, and if I were Olbermann, I wouldn't hold my breath. Palin is too smart to be roped into his lame attempts to rile her.

This example is just one of the latest smear attacks. Instead of assess Sowell's work--filled with historical facts that can't be childishly ignored--Olbermann attacks Palin. Just another diversion away from facts--a typical tactic of the Left's smear machine.



Democrats: Free speech for me, not for thee

In March, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision struck down campaign finance limits on political expression by individuals working through corporations and unions as a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. A cry ensued among liberal Democrats predicting doom if they and their special interest allies were required to follow the Constitution. Big Labor's bosses promised to spend millions to protect the Democratic majority if it would speedily pass legislation to circumvent the decision (and thus the Constitution), but restore limits on their corporate foes.

The resulting DISCLOSE Act, according to its backers, will ensure transparency in campaign ad funding. Thursday, the House of Representatives approved the bill 219-206, with 36 Democrats and 170 Republicans in opposition to the measure, which was written by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year, and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who led the Senate Democrats' campaign panel in 2008.

The bill is full of draconian restrictions on individual political speech expressed via corporations, but gives privileged status to the Democrats' union masters. A provision pushed by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Bob Brady, for example, allows unions to transfer unlimited funds among affiliated groups to pay for political ads with no disclosure whatever. That makes campaign funding more transparent?

Then there's the ban on advocacy for or against a candidate by any company that received Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. That silences General Motors' white-collar workers, but not the United Auto Workers union, which, oh by the way, got, among other things, $6.5 billion in preferred GM stock, paying a government-guaranteed 9 percent cash dividend. Could the fact the UAW gave more than $2 million to Democrats in 2008 explain why Democratic leaders pushed a proposal that so blatantly favors the union?

Similarly, DISCLOSE curbs political speech for employees of companies receiving more than $7 million in government contracts. Public sector unions that spend millions of recycled tax dollars electing Democrats have no such restrictions. By thus outlawing business funding for or against candidates, DISCLOSE will encourage more funding for corporate lobbyists and marketers targeting government contracts and earmarks.

As usual, DISCLOSE was rammed through the House after being introduced with only a few hours' notice and too little debate allowed. Because Democrats have abandoned doing a federal budget for the year, couldn't they find a little more time to allow Congress and the people it is supposed to represent to read and discuss this measure at greater length? Next we will see if Senate Democrats are as determined to throw out the First Amendment as were most of their House colleagues.


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 June, 2010

Jewish self-delusion

Sigmund Freud was Jewish and so were many of his patients. And Freud documented lots of ways in which people deceived themselves. His book "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" is still a great read.

It seems that Jews have not changed much since Freud's day, because the delusions in the article reproduced below are quite florid. They appear, in fact to have been even too florid for the Jewish publication (Cleveland Jewish News) in which they appeared, as they have now been taken down.

The author is right in one way. The great majority of Jews are frantic Leftists and so is Obama. So if Jewish values are what most Jews currently believe, the author is right.

The idea that Obama is a friend of Israel, however, is the delusion. It requires very selective memory in view of Obama's ill-mannered snubbing of Netanyahu and his constant pressure on Israel for endless concessions to the Arabs

President a friend of Israel, reflects Jewish values


Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:06 PM EDT

President Barack Obama is "good for the Jews" not only because he counts individual Jews among his closest advisers (including David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel), but also because he is an unprecedented standard-bearer for values that we hold most dear.

President Obama's Supreme Court nominations lead us further toward the ideal of an open, mobile, and inclusive society. For the current opening, he could have calculated that having two Jewish members of the Court (Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) is more than enough or that two women (Ginsburg and Obama appointee Sonia Sotomayor) are plenty. Instead, he selected Elena Kagan, an eminently qualified, pragmatically progressive consensus builder.

Moreover, his domestic priorities give voice to Jewish values. This president has been intensely supportive of scientific integrity and research. His efforts will extend healthcare to millions. We support women's equality, and the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

We are fortunate that our country's steadfast commitment to Israel's security does not depend on which party holds the White House. While it is commendable that the CJN solicits a variety of views, support for Israel should not be cast as Democrat against Republican. We are all in this together.

President Obama is a proven friend of Israel. He stood in Cairo and announced forcefully that the bond between the United States and Israel is "unbreakable." Following the Gaza flotilla incident, the Obama administration alone refused to buy the propaganda that a pro-Hamas group intent on violent confrontation had somehow become the spiritual descendants of Gandhi. Instead, the administration successfully used diplomatic engagement to protect Israel's interests.

As The Jerusalem Post reported, following the incident Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren "praised the Obama administration for being sympathetic to Israel's situation." The American Jewish Committee wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in "admiration for the U.S. diplomatic effort, under your direction, to restrain those governments that have sought punitive actions against Israel" and thanked her "once again for the Administration's commitment to the . U.S.-Israel alliance."

At home, Barack Obama is one of the greatest champions against intolerance and exclusion that this country has ever seen. Abroad, he stands with Israel - even when he stands alone. He embodies and shares Jewish values and aspirations, and we are right to support him.

Harris Senturia of Shaker Heights is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the National Jewish Democratic Council. This column reflects his own opinions and not necessarily those of any organizations


Some of the things that Mr Senturia screens out

In a letter to President Obama this week, 87 Senators urged the president to support Israel's right to self-defense against the threats of terrorism from Hamas and Hezbollah and a nuclear-bound Iran that has repeatedly pledged to wipe Israel off the map. In another time, such counsel would be redundant. For most of Israel's 60-year existence, the Jewish state has been able to count on the stalwart support of its American ally against the many enemies arrayed against it. As Arab states launched wars with exterminationist intent, and as the international community undermined Israel through the agency of the United Nations, America alone stood in Israel's corner.

Under President Obama, however, such support for an embattled friend is no longer automatic. As Iran races virtually unimpeded toward a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration scolds Israel for daring to build new houses in its capital of Jerusalem. While Hamas, aided by Turkish jihadists, arms for a new war against Israel, the White House demands that Israel exercise a suicidal restraint.

As Israel becomes ever more isolated, the Obama administration continues to reach out to its enemies in the Arab and Muslim world. In their new pamphlet, David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin trace the deterioration of the U.S.-Israeli relationship under President Obama, now at its lowest point in three decades. And they show that by emboldening Israel's enemies, the administration is sowing the seeds of a new conflict, one will that could make it complicit in a new and devastating war against Israel. As a result of President Obama's wrongheaded policies, Israel's security - and America's - is increasingly imperiled.



McCarthyism nonsense

The McCarthyism nonsense constantly spouted by the Left has always been amusing. It's colossal historical revisionism along the same lines as their claim that the socialist Hitler was a Rightist. They blame Senator Joe McCarthy for the Hollywood blacklist, the prosecution of Alger Hiss etc. Yet none of that had anything to do with McCarthy. It did all happen but it was the work of HUAC -- the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was headed by a DEMOCRAT, Edward J. Hart.

Have you ever before heard of Edward J. Hart? Even I had to look up his name. You haven't heard of him or his embarrassing political identity because his deeds are routinely blamed on the Senator. Moreover, what Joe McCarthy suspected and investigated was PERFECTLY CORRECT. See below:

Liberals have been embarrassing themselves for decades with this McCarthy business. Point out an unsavory association, and they squeal like stuck pigs about the scourge of McCarthyism. In the mind of the liberal, Senator McCarthy was a deranged conservative finding imaginary communists under every rock and creating the fiction of the Red Menace. Note: they have the same attitude today about radical Islam.

Beck has been a favorite target of ignorant liberals who spit "McCarthyism" the same way they do "racism". Beck's fact-based exposes on communists in the Obama administration drives the left to use what they consider among the most vile of invectives.

Appallingly, too many conservative commentators share the left's abysmal dumbness about the truth regarding the late Senator.

Liberals, evidently, have not yet been brought up to speed on the Venona project and other new information. Obama refers to McCarthyism as "cowardice" in Dreams. McCarthy didn't vote "present" on matters of national security.

In 1995 the CIA released decoded Soviet communiqu‚s known as the Venona cables which turned out to be most revealing. After decades of liberals savaging the reputation of Senator Joseph McCarthy, almost no one other than authors Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans are talking about the Venona discoveries which vindicate McCarthy.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, enormous amounts of data became available, including the Venona papers: coded messages from the KGB and other communist intelligence agencies about communist agents in the United States (Evans, M. Stanton. Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies).

We also know now that CPUSA was a faithful creature of the Soviet Union. "Far from being mere indigenous radicals working for peace and social justice, as sometimes argued, the party and its members were subservient tools of Moscow-and those who weren't subversive didn't stay very long as members." (Evans, Pg. 20):
From a composite of all these data, it's evident the Soviet/Communist operation in the United States, as elsewhere, was vast, sophisticated, and effective, nowhere more so than in seeking positions of official influence. The Red networks reached into virtually every important aspect of the US government, up to very high levels, the State Department notably included. All of which was obviously congruent with the warnings of McCarthy and others who sounded the alarm about such matters in the late 1940s and early '50s. There was in fact an immense conspiracy afoot, there were secret Communists burrowing in the woodwork, and these Communists were, in case after case, devoted agents of the Soviet Union. (Evans, Pg. 21).

That would be the CPUSA of Frank Marshall Davis. And the same CPUSA that was openly enthusiastic about Barack Obama. On January 31, 2009, Sam Webb of CPUSA gave a speech extolling the blessings of the Obama presidency and denouncing capitalism, which according to Webb, exists to oppress blacks. Liberals and communists have no sense of irony. Webb also called upon his fellow travelers to support the Obama administration and called for a New New Deal which looked remarkably like Obama's current agenda. Candidate Obama met with and was subsequently endorsed by the Chicago New Party and the Democratic Socialists of America.

Liberals to this day don't understand that McCarthy's sole mission was to uncover Soviet operatives working in government positions, not put insipid movie actors out of work. In fact, being blacklisted in Hollywood became a badge of honor. For all of their bleating about "McCarthyism", the left never has understood that McCarthy was a senator and their jeremiad should be directed toward the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

As is the nature of liberals, the introduction of facts changes nothing. They are entirely shame-proof. Conservatives who are offering up faux indignance about McCarthy's moral courage are the ones who ought to be shamefaced.



The Left's New Enemy: "Empire"

by Daniel Pipes

We know what Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao wanted (state control of everything) and how they achieved this goal (brutal totalitarianism); but what do their successors today want and how do they hope to achieve it? It's a curiously un-examined subject.

Ernest Sternberg of the University at Buffalo offers answers in an eye-opening article in a recent issue of Orbis, "Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For." His begins by sketching out what the contemporary far Left (as opposed to the "decent Left") opposes and what it wants.

What the Left opposes: The prime enemy is something called Empire (no definite article needed), a supposed global monolith that dominates, exploits, and oppresses the world. Sternberg summarizes the Left's all-embracing indictment of Empire:
people live in poverty, food is contaminated, products are artificial, wasteful consumption is compelled, indigenous groups are dispossessed, and nature itself is subverted. Invasive species run rampant, glaciers melt, and seasons are thrown out of kilter, threatening world catastrophe.

Empire achieves this by means of "economic liberalism, militarism, multinational corporations, corporate media, and technologies of surveillance." Because capitalism causes millions of deaths that a non-capitalism system would eliminate, it also is guilty of mass-murder.

The United States, of course, is the Great Satan, accused of hoarding disproportionate resources. Its military oppresses the poor so its corporations can exploit them. Its government promotes the pretend-danger of terrorism to aggress abroad and repress at home.

And Israel is the Little Satan, serving as Empire's sinister ally - or maybe the Jewish state is really the master? From World Social Forum meetings in Brazil to the United Nations anti-racism conference in Durban and from mainline churches to NGOs, Zionism is represented as absolute evil. Why Israel? Beyond not-so-subtle antisemitism, it alone of Western countries lives under a barrage of constant threats, which in turn compel it to engage in constant wars. "Stripped of all context," Sternberg notes, "Israel's actions fit the needed image of aggressor."

To fight Empire's superior resources, the Left needs to ally with anyone else opposing it - notably Islamists. Islamist goals contradict the Left's, but no matter; so long as Islamists help fight Empire, they have a valued place in the coalition.

What the Left seeks: One catchword is authenticity: Empire's artificiality makes indigenous culture analogous to endangered species. Culture should be indigenous, organic, and sheltered from Empire's crass commercialism (e.g., Hollywood), its bogus rationalism, and its false concepts of freedom.

A second catchword is democracy: The Left rejects the distant and formalistic structure of a mature republic and instead celebrates grassroots, non-hegemonic democracy that offers a more direct voice. The democratic process, Sternberg explains, " will proceed through meetings freed from the manipulative reins of law, procedure, precedent, and hierarchy." These high-flying words, however, disguise a recipe for despotism; those laws, procedures, precedents, and hierarchy serve a very real purpose.

A third is sustainability. To integrate economies into the earth's ecosystem, the new order "will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets, and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed. People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that tread lightly on the earth, or even better, ride bicycles. They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions. Life will be liberated from carbon emanations. It will be a permanent, placid way of life."

Socialism definitely forms part of this picture but economics no longer dominates, as once it did. The new leftist goal is more complex than mere anti-capitalism, constituting an entire way of life. Sternberg dubs this movement world purificationism, but I prefer left-fascism.

He then asks the vital question: Will the Left's latest incarnation once again turn totalitarian? He finds it too early to answer definitely but points to several "totalitarian warning signs," including the dehumanizing of enemies and accusations of mass murder. He warns of an inflection point when left-fascists "stand true to their cataclysmic rhetoric and strap on suicide belts or take up arms to become martyrs." In other words, the dangers are real and present.

So much for those fashionable theories of two decades ago, trumpeted as the Berlin Wall fell, about the end of ideology. The Left retrenched after the fall of Leninism and now threatens humanity with a new version of its anti-Western, anti-rational, anti-liberty, anti-individualist ideology.


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 June, 2010

The big ego that turned a rooster into a feather duster in less than 3 years

The Federal legislators of the Australian Labor Party (Australia's major Leftist party) have just done something impossible in America: fired the head of the administration. The man fired, Kevin Rudd, was Australia's Obama in more ways than one. Congress can't fire Obama but under Australia's British ("Westminster") system such things are possible. Below are some comments about Rudd by Andrew Bolt, a prominent Australian conservative commentator. It is striking to note how typically Leftist was Rudd's psychology

Blame the early loss of his father, or just his wiring, but Rudd has had a manic need to assert himself, as if to make up for a deep insecurity. He'd do whatever was needed to win authority over others, or just praise. He'd be whatever you wanted him to be.

And so he'd tell me one pleasing thing in private, but another populist thing in public. He'd hold press conferences outside his church to impress conservatives, but visit a strip club to impress an editor. He'd talk primly to voters, but abuse a stewardess.

To win the election, he promised to be a Howard-lite, crying: "This sort of reckless spending must stop." To win applause, he embarked on the greatest spending spree we've seen.

And he had to be The Man. As chief of staff to the Queensland premier, or as prime minister visiting an office, he'd show his place in the pecking order by putting his boots on the desk or table.

None of this need matter. But Rudd gave in to the same deep insecurities in trying to run a team of ministers. He had to decide everything, so delays were endless. Most ministers other than Treasurer Wayne Swan, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard were cut out of the loop.

Rudd chose as his most intimate advisers, mostly people barely 30, eminently bully-able, and he ordered his MPs to visit homeless shelters and report back, as if they were children doing homework.

But when he tried his hectoring on the premiers over his health "reforms", he bought a brawl. And when he repeated the dose on our biggest mining chiefs, he bought a war he could not win.

Those insecurities killed him in the end. His fatal confrontation with Gillard was prompted in part by his refusal to believe she was as loyal as she professed. To check she was not plotting, he sent a 31-year-old aide to ring his MPs, and this last insult fuelled a bushfire.

Yet Rudd could have been saved, if voters had now not seen through him. For almost three years he has had stratospheric approval ratings. He was rated highly for trustworthiness and vision, and seemed to have a plan, and to be meticulous in implementing it.

His fall started when his grandiose schemes started to fail - and none more badly that his "free insulation" disaster.

How could this man who seemed so diligent bungle one thing after another? But the public smelled fraud only when Rudd was this year forced to drop one more overblown, oversold plan - the emissions trading scheme that he'd promised to tackle, "the great moral challenge of our time". Now it seemed to many that Rudd had tricked them. He was a fake.

Even yesterday, in his moving farewell speech, Rudd showed how much of his achievements were just cardboard scenery. He listed the targets he'd set for tackling homelessness and Aboriginal poverty - targets he wasn't actually meeting. He cited his apology to the "Stolen Generations" - people no one can find. He praised his signing of the Kyoto Accord - which led to what? He mentioned his health reform - which hasn't even been settled.

But in standing there crying, Rudd showed at last the wounded man he was. He was as humble as it would have suited him to have been from the start.

SOURCE. (For comments on the new Australian Prime Minister see my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog)


Why Congress might like to fire Obama -- if it could

Obama's all-round failed policies are much like the all-round failed policies of Kevin Rudd

The Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll out today confirms that the nation that entertained such high hopes for Barack Obama has lost confidence in his capacity to lead. Sixty-two percent of all Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. For the first time, more Americans disapprove of Obama than approve. Fifty-seven percent would prefer someone else, rather than the member of Congress they now have.

Though green shoots have appeared in the economy, Americans no longer believe it. Only one-third thinks things will get better before they get worse again. Independents are deserting Obama. One in six Democrats now disapproves of the job he is doing.

The Obama economic program -- $800 billion in stimulus money piled on top of the Federal Reserve's doubling the money supply, giving us two straight deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product -- has failed to ignite a robust recovery. Unemployment still hovers just below 10 percent.

The two-month-old oil spill, where BP's malfeasance was matched by government incompetence in preventing it from destroying the gulf ecology and economy from Louisiana to Florida, has cast a pall over America's spirit as wide and deep as the oil slick itself.

The war in Afghanistan is not going well, casualties are running at a nine-year high, and the country no longer wants to fight it, but to get out and come home.

Three months after Iraqi elections, there is no government in Baghdad. The August deadline for withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops will likely be missed. U.S. relations with Israel have rarely been worse.

Turkey, black-balled by the European Union, a friend and ally of 60 years, is thickening ties to Tehran and Damascus and emerging as first Muslim state of the Middle East and principal patron of the Palestinian cause.

The Russians are pushing Kyrgyzstan to force the United States out of Manas air base, a critical link in the resupply chain to Afghanistan.

Brazil is bitter that America trashed the deal it helped to negotiate to transfer half of Iran's nuclear fuel out of the country.

For the first time since the late 19th century, the United States is about to be surpassed as the world's first manufacturing power -- by China, which in Mao's time was still trying to make steel in backyard furnaces.

America is facing a crisis of confidence in government, with the nation unable to win its wars, balance its budgets, control its borders, stop the bleeding of its manufacturing base or plug a hole in the ocean floor.



Lefty hypocrisy

By hiring General Petraeus, Barack Obama has taken just one more step toward President Bush's approach to fighting the war on terror -- along with okaying the Patriot Act, drone attacks, intercepts, military tribunals, rendition and more.

More than anything, this is turning out to be a moment of truth for the left. Will they continue to stand by Obama, suggesting that their opposition to "Bush's war" was just an unprincipled cover for their hatred for a socially conservative, Republican President? Or are their convictions about (not) fighting terrorism strong enough to compel them to speak out even against a President they once idolized?

It will be interesting to see. The fact that MoveOn.org has scrubbed their site of the attack ad they took out on Petraeus back when he was a Bush nominee isn't encouraging for those who believe in the left's purity.




I put up daily on my EYE ON BRITAIN blog examples of how badly Brits are served by their socialized medicine system. The leading posts yesterday and today are however particularly horrible and a terrible warning about what Obamacare has in store for Americans. I love children so both reports brought tears to my eyes.

There is an interesting article here which gives a very cautious introduction to a piece of research on economic illiteracy. You will see the reason for the cautious wording if you open the associated PDF and look at Table 2. You will see there that Conservatives are roughly twice as likely to understand basic economic truths as are liberals. Some of the truths are so basic and obvious to anyone capable of thought that the denial of them by liberals has to be seen as mostly defensivesness and dishonesty.

New Australian PM reassures Obama of Australia's continuing commitment to Afghan campaign: "Australia’s new prime minister said she used her first telephone conversation with President Barack Obama on Friday to assure him the country’s military commitment to Afghanistan would not change under her leadership. Some observers have speculated Prime Minister Julia Gillard may push for an early withdrawal of Australia’s 1,550 troops from Afghanistan as the war loses popularity among Australians and elections loom.”

Bush Was Right About Petraeus: "A brief smile of satisfaction may have crossed George W. Bush's face when President Barack Obama said "Get me Petraeus" to take command of the war in Afghanistan. Bush picked Gen. David Petraeus to implement and successfully carry out the troop surge in Iraq at a time when it seemed all was lost and the former president was under fire from his many critics to pull out -- including Obama who incorrectly predicted his effort would fail. Bush's name was strangely absent from nightly news reports on Obama's decision to turn to the man his predecessor had chosen to tackle an almost impossible assignment".

Rasmussen poll finds a classic Left/Right divide: "Nearly half of American Adults see the government today as a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Adults see the government today as a threat to rights. Thirty-seven percent (37%) hold the opposite view. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. Most Republicans (74%) and unaffiliateds (51%) consider the government to be a threat to individual rights. Most Democrats (64%) regard the government as a protector of rights. Additionally, most Americans (52%) say it is more important for the government to protect individual rights than to promote economic growth."

There’s no level playing field nor equal opportunity: "Yet another excuse for some people to gain power over others is this idea of the level playing field. It’s a metaphor, of course, but used often to mean starting in a race with no advantages for any of the participants. Another term by which to indicate this is equal opportunity. Even those who see through the ruse of peddling equality for all people tend to cave in to this one, agreeing that at least everyone has the right to an equal opportunity. The opportunity for what is not often spelled out but it may include obtaining a job, entering a school, embarking on travel, winning a contest or whatnot. The image that’s called to mind is that when people start out to achieve some goal, none may be favored or disfavored, none may have special advantages or disadvantages, etc. But the the idea is hopeless. In no actual or even imaginable endeavor do people enjoy the level playing field or an equal opportunity.”

MA: Backers say sales tax cut to be on ballot: "Voters in November will get the chance to slash the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, according to advocates who say they submitted more than enough petition signatures yesterday to force the item onto the ballot. Carla Howell — chairwoman of the Alliance to Roll Back Taxes, based in Wayland — said her group submitted about 19,000 signatures to town and city clerks by yesterday’s deadline, a comfortable margin over the required 11,099 signatures. Her group put similar measures on the ballot in 2002 and 2008, but neither passed. She called the latest campaign a ‘modest start to bringing the state government in line with the level of spending that’s appropriate.’ The proposal, Howell said, would force state officials to cut spending by more than $2 billion.”

Exploited kid: "When the Fayetteville, Ark., Gay Pride Parade steps off on East Street Saturday on its way to the Wal-Mart parking lot, it will be led by a young man who has made a career out of fighting for gay rights. Make that a young boy. Will Phillips, the grand marshal, is 10 years old, and his presence has thrust Fayetteville’s Gay Pride Parade into the national spotlight. Ordinarily, the annual parade is pretty low-key, residents say. The mayor issues a proclamation, the police close a few streets and a few hundred people show up. … But the selection of young Will, who last November refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school to show his support for gay rights, has changed all that. This year the parade has drawn national attention, and it’s promising to tread the line between farce and confrontation.”

Attacks on the Electoral College gain momentum: "You won’t hear about it in the mainstream media, but the Electoral College is on the verge of being eliminated. One important legislative vote could occur Thursday. Two others could occur in the upcoming days and weeks. A California-based group, National Popular Vote, is lobbying hard for a dangerous piece of anti-Electoral College legislation. … Five states have already approved NPV, but now three additional states are dangerously close to joining them: Delaware, Massachusetts, and New York.”

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 June, 2010


Every now and again I put up a gallery of what I think are the best pictures that have appeared on my blogs. I have finally got around to putting up my selection for the second half of 2009. See here


Personality, happiness and those pesky genetics again

A central tenet of Leftism has long been that people are something of a blank state and can be "educated" into becoming whatever the Leftist wants. So Leftists to this day often reject the idea that what we are is largely genetically inherited. The evidence against the Leftist dogma has been piling up over the years, however, and recent research, below, has confirmed in detail what has long been known in general -- that even how happy you usually are is genetically inherited. It has long been known, for instance, that even quadriplegics -- people who have lost the use of their limbs through spinal injury -- end up roughly as happy after their accident as before.

If anything, the report below understates the role of genetics. It was found that genetics explained only 50% of the variance in happiness. But that does NOT mean that environmental factors explained the rest. The remaining variation in the data is much more likely to be due to errors of measurement. Measuring happiness is hard to do with great exactitude.

Leftist intellectuals in recent times have sometimes used the invariance of happiness to argue that governments should be free to do what they like because people's happiness will be unaffected anyway. That obnoxious argument assumes, however, that what people want is unimportant. Leftists do often seem to believe that

Happiness in life is as much down to having the right genetic mix as it is to personal circumstances according to a recent study.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh working with researchers at Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia found that happiness is partly determined by personality traits and that both personality and happiness are largely hereditary.

Using a framework which psychologists use to rate personalities, called the Five-Factor Model, the researchers found that people who do not excessively worry, and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier.

They suggested that this personality mix can act as a buffer when bad things happen, according to the study published in the March issue of Psychological Science.

The researchers used personality and happiness data on more than 900 twin pairs. They identified evidence for common genes which result in certain personality traits and predispose people to happiness.

The findings suggest that those lucky enough to have the right inherited personality mix have an ‘affective reserve’ of happiness which can be called upon in stressful times or in times of recovery.

The researchers say that although happiness has its roots in our genes, around 50 per cent of the differences between people in their life happiness is still down to external factors such as relationships, health and careers.

Dr Alexander Weiss, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, who led the research said: “Together with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is a core human desire. Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness which can be entirely explained by genetic architecture of personality.”



McChrystal was right

By Barry Rubin

There are two ways of looking at General Stanley McChrystal's interviews with Rolling Stone magazine: one is to focus on whether he should have said such things, the other is to analyze the important truths he unveiled. Here, I'm going to look at the latter and, following my usual practice, I've actually read the article and will base myself on the text.

But first, think about it: the general pointed out the near-disastrous situation with American leadership today. An increasing number of people know that he's correct in his assessment. Isn't that what's really important?

On its cover, Rolling Stone called him, "The Runaway General," saying he is carefully watching "the wimps in the White House." Coming from Rolling Stone, this phrase is presumably intended to mock the general. To anyone who cares about U.S. security, however, it rings true, a warning rather than a whining.

Thus, Michael Hastings has written an article important not for back-biting gossip about who doesn't like who but because it tells a lot about the looming tragedy on the ground in Afghanistan and the loony situation in the government in Washington.

One of the most devastating points in Hastings' article is one whose huge significance the author himself doesn't seem to notice. In passing, he mocks the Afghan war effort as "the exclusive property of the United States" because all of its allies have opted out. Yet doesn't this mean that President Barack Obama's apparent popularity with Europe is meaningless? After all, Obama has made this his war and if he cannot get any ally to support the campaign that is a devastating outcome.

At the other extreme, the most noticed point in the article was Hastings' quote from one of the general's top aides saying that in meeting with the generals, Obama seemed ill-prepared and disengaged. Does this surprise you? Do you doubt that it is true? What, then, is the proper reaction, to feel that McChrystal and his staff have big mouths or to be worried about the tininess of the president's experience, knowledge, interest, focus, and decisiveness?

Much more here


Not for Sale

As the adage goes, if you give a mouse a cookie he's going to want a glass of milk. The same is true when government attempts to exercise power outside its boundaries.

Eminent domain, a process in which a state can take over private property for public use in exchange for market-value compensation, was established by our Founding Fathers as a way for America to better herself for the good of the people. It was primarily meant to be used to build roads and provide public right of ways for a growing nation.

"Eminent domain is for public use, for roads and schools," says Christina Walsh, director of activism and coalitions for the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm. "It is not simply to transfer property to someone who has more money and more power."

Throughout the nation are cases where government at all levels is seizing property for private profit - whether it be a new shopping center, condominiums or to expand a current business. State and local governments are exercising powers beyond their limits to fund corporate welfare and for their own economic growth.

A case that received national criticism by property owners was the 2005 Supreme Court decision of Kelo vs. City of New London. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city of New London, Connecticut, to wipe out an entire neighborhood for hotels and offices to better complement pharmaceutical company Pfizer's new corporate facility.

Lead plaintiff, Susette Kelo's land went to private developers to fund corporate welfare. But that's not all. New London and Connecticut spend about $78 million to clear the land for condos and other specialty components. Four years after that decision, Pfizer decided to move out, leaving the government-seized land barren and empty. Not only was a neighborhood lost for nothing, but millions of dollars was also wasted.

"This was an unconscionable decision made by the Supreme Court," says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). "Eminent domain should never be used as a power grab to benefit the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of the people."

As this Supreme Court decision sent shockwaves around the country, many states reformed their eminent domain laws. Walsh says 43 states have taken steps to protect the rights of property owners and about half of those states have made significant reforms.

"In the wake of the Kelo decision, people found out about the abuse of power and communities starting rallying around property owners," Walsh says. "There have been dozens of successes over the years for property owners."

Some states still have done nothing to reform current laws dealing with eminent domain. New York is one of those states and is currently in battles to seize land from many private property owners for its own economic development.

Current New York law considers property in "blight" conditions, a condition of disrepair, to be able to be seized by eminent domain procedures. With a loose definition of what "blight" conditions look like, many corporations and cities have seized on opportunities to takeover properties they justify as "blighted."

In the case of Kaur vs. Urban Development Corporation, there is controversial use of eminent domain by Columbia University, a private school, which wants to build a new 17-acre research campus in the West Harlem neighborhood of Manhattanville.

Manhattanville business owners' lead attorney and former New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Norman Siegel was able to prove that Columbia and Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) conspired together to produce the conditions of "blight" that would then allow the ESDC to seize the property wanted by the university. He also found that many of the "blighted" buildings were already owned by Columbia and it was the university's responsibility to clean them up. Because the university was not keeping the buildings and spaces up to code, many of the businesses in the area were forced to move out.

Last December a state appellate court struck down the ESDC's actions as illegal. The case was then heard by the Court of Appeals on June 1, and a ruling is expected sometime this summer.



Brookes News update

Obama's ideology could wreck America : If for some perverse reason your idea of success is a massive expansion of government at the expense of economic progress then destructive economic policies make sense. It becomes apparent why Obama and his cronies would see absolutely nothing wrong with implementing an energy policy that would cause "electricity prices to rocket", as he admitted, and oil prices to soar. We begin to see why he wouldn't mind being a one-term president if he was able to set America on an irreversible course that would transform it into a country that reflected his statist vision. If that were to happen America would indeed cease to be America
The Australian economy is looking shaky : If the government borrows or taxes then this clearly involves a straightforward transfer of purchasing power. It is absolutely absurd to suggest that this process raises total spending. Yet this is exactly what is being said
KPMG and the stupidity of Rudd's resource rent tax : KPMG's resource rent tax paper is utterly worthless. The fact is that Rudd used taxpayers' money to pay KPGM to give him the result he wanted. We have a word for that kind of behavior. As for the idea of economic rent, it is a dangerous fallacy that will do enormous damage to the economy if it is not thoroughly refuted
Paul Krugman's dishonesty and contemptible behavior : I've no idea what it is about President Bush that drove Krugman nuts, but I strongly urge him to undergo a course of psychiatric treatment because he has long since passed the point where facts or reason - or even reality - matter to him
How are wage rates determined? : Thus no employer can lastingly pay a worker one dollar an hour and sell his product for five dollars an hour. Other employers will be very happy to enter this business and offer the worker more than one dollar per hour. It is the values that consumers place on each particular contribution to total production that determine what businessmen can pay for that particular contribution
Oliver Stone & Jesse Ventura tag-team for Hugo Chavez to smack down America : Self-styled libertarian Jesse "The Body" (not Jesse "The Brain") Ventura praised the sadistic tyrannical Castro and Oliver Stone, Castro and Chavez's favourite Hollywood lickspittle. Ventura thinks these thugs are absolutely super-duper people: Ventura is so dumb he annot distinguish between the subjects of a Stalinist police state and the attendees of an AmWay convention



Israel launches new spy satellite “Ofek 9″: "Israel launched a spy satellite called ‘Ofek 9′ late Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Ministry and officials said, increasing Israel’s capacity to keep an eye on enemies like Iran. The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying the satellite was launched late Tuesday from the Palmachim air force base on Israel’s coast south of Tel Aviv. An hour later, after the satellite completed its first circuit, the ministry said it had achieved its proper orbit, describing it as ‘a surveillance satellite with advanced technological capabilities.’”

Obama having staff problems: "A burst of unsettling news about President Obama's key staff members Tuesday threatened new challenges to his image and agenda, already stained by the BP oil spill and the chance of a shellacking for his party in November. In a span of hours, Peter Orszag said he would quit as director of the Office of Management and Budget in July, Rahm Emanuel fought rumors that he would step down as Obama's chief of staff and, most embarrassing, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, criticized the administration in a Rolling Stone article".

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 June, 2010

Is U.S. Now on a Slippery Slope to Tyranny?


When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

"Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president's poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.

But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men."

If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.

But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law."

Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don't believe in constitutional government.

And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a "crisis" — which, as the president's chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to "go to waste" as an opportunity to expand the government's power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country's wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard's restrictions on the printing of money.

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people."

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the "useful idiots" of our time. But useful to whom?



Confessions of a Tea Party Consultant‏

I am not sure how much of the article excerpted below is fact and how much is fantasy but I rate the fantasy component as fairly high, possibly 100%. The article does come from a fantasy source -- JR

Everything I know about being a good consultant comes from Fight Club. Discretion is everything. Rule number one is you don’t talk about consulting for the Tea Party. Rule number two is you don’t talk about consulting for the Tea Party. The story about the wild characters who are shaping this campaign cycle is worth telling, but please excuse my anonymity.

I hold as many meetings as possible over Tanqueray and tonics at the St. Regis hotel on K Street in Washington, D.C. The bar is dark and private, with comfortable couches. Even the gin tastes better there. On weekday afternoons the only people in the bar are foreigners and political consultants long past caring about who actually wins.

"You’re going to see something spectacular," an old friend who has a knack for black-bag operations said as he proudly downed his vodka. "About a month from now you’ll see ACORN explode from within." Right on schedule a video was released that showed undercover conservative activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles getting advice from employees at the Baltimore office of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now on how to smuggle underage El Salvadoran girls into a fictitious brothel.

That’s when I realized this isn’t an average fringe movement. This one is credible, legit and—for the first time in a decade—scaring the crap out of the left. In my years as a campaign hack and then as a consultant, I’ve created more than my share of fake grassroots organizations. Some were downright evil but effective beyond expectations. Did you get an automated call from the sister of a 9/11 victim asking you to reelect President Bush in 2004? That was me. Did you get a piece of mail with the phrase supports abortion on demand as a means of birth control? That may have been me too.

Conservatives had been trying to take down ACORN for three decades. Where they failed, BigGovernment.com and my friends succeeded. In one magnificent explosion, a loose group of troublemakers, libertarians and Republicans took its first scalp. Sonja Merchant-Jones, former co-chair of ACORN’s Maryland chapter, told The New York Times in March, "That 20-minute video ruined 40 years of good work."

The ACORN blood tasted good. Shortly after, a core group of about 30 of us convened for the first time. It was the kind of conference call during which no one, except the handful with nothing to lose, offered last names. But it didn’t matter. I’d been around long enough to know many of the people by voice. Most of our talk was devoted to rants about the K Street lobbyists who are ruining the GOP. There I sat, in the quiet corner of a coffee shop on K Street, listening to a conference call beating the shit out of the people who keep me in business.

The cynical among us think it’s a group of peasants with pitchforks controlled by an underground cabal of Glenn Beck, wealthy donors and the guys who killed JFK. But the worst thing I can say about the Tea Party I work for is that it can make lots of noise but can’t win without professional help. I love the irony of helping run this organization from the St. Regis Bar.

This cause is worthier and more real than anything I’ve done in the past. I’m all in. When I met the colorful characters behind the organization, I was really all in. None of them were prom king, none went to college east of the Appalachians (even the Jews), and a lot of them smoke a pack a day just because they’re not supposed to. Unlike most of the tired, airbrushed conservatives living in D.C., the homegrown activists I work with are the real deal. They may not read much, but they all know their Ayn Rand. Backcountry rubes they are not. They have tattoos, even tramp stamps. My favorite is on Katie O’Malley, the executive director of Ensuring Liberty Corporation: Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911–2004.

I get out of Washington whenever possible, especially during tourist season. In late spring I visited a Tea Party rally in suburban St. Louis. It was what you would imagine: angst-ridden Caucasians sitting in lawn chairs with signs such as My daughter is nine and already $41,000 in debt. It was not an angry crowd, and in all candor I never heard a racist word uttered.

The speeches went on for hours. The sun was shining. It was the kind of day when you could take a nap under a tree. The organizer had personally delivered about a thousand activists. It was her big day. Two hours into the speeches she sat down on the warm grass next to me at the back of the rally and said, "This is the perfect day. Now all I need is a joint." That tells you everything you need to know about my friends.

We are tremendously plugged in to BigGovernment.com and its stable of writers. Our news cycle is measured in minutes, not days. Combine the DNA of a flash mob, a news addict and a con­servative who feels betrayed by the spending excesses of George W. Bush, sprinkle in some anxiety and you’ve got my people.

The campaign plan for one of the organizations I help uses the phrase black arts when talking about how we’ll win in the fall. It’s not a document filled with dirty tricks but a plan to create a nonprofit organization called Ensuring Liberty Corporation. It uses unconventional methods to get our message out and support grassroots conservatives: "Ensuring Liberty’s relationships run deep into the new media and use of cloud computing and innovation along with the black arts of campaign management.

That is not to say that [we] will undertake actions that contravene any legal or ethical principles; however, the use of surprise, investigative journalism and other key experience will allow for rapid deployment of strategies that many candidates simply do not understand or take advantage of during their actual election campaign."

Of course, the Tea Party is not as cohesive as anyone thinks. It’s not a party or even an organization. You have to understand the state of the Republican Party to understand how there can still be oxygen in the room for the Tea Party. Bush mangled the GOP brand into a grotesque form that conservatives haven’t recognized in five years.

Conservatives now live in the political-party equivalent of Mad Max. Law and order inside the Republican Party has deteriorated, leaving regional warlords to scavenge over what’s left. The trouble is that some of the regional warlords are nuts or crooks. Among the better-known scavengers is Eric Odom’s Tea Party-related PAC, Liberty First, which I believe will be able to raise and spend millions this fall.



Is Planned Parenthood just another crooked "charity" that exists mainly for the benefit of those who run it?

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on federal tax money funneled into Planned Parenthood and similar organizations raises more questions than it answers about the nation's largest abortion chain.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America's (PPFA) audits show the organization spent just $657.1 million between 2002 and 2008 from federal government grants and programs, but the abortion behemoth's own annual reports show that it took in $2.3 billion from government grants and programs during the same time period.

That's not pocket change. Why the discrepancy?

The report (the first of its kind since 2002) was released in response to a request from 31 U.S. senators and representatives and in an atmosphere increasingly hostile to abortion. Not surprisingly. then, its findings are fueling an escalating outcry to defund Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, at least five nationwide polls have confirmed that a majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life.

Someone, then, needs to explain to all those people why $2.3 billion in tax dollars have been doled out to an organization that admits to systematically having killed more than 1.8 million pre-born babies between 2002 and 2008 and then reports it only spent $657.1 million in federal dollars.

More here



Democrats afraid to face a financial reckoning: "House Democrats will not pass a budget blueprint in 2010, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will confirm in a speech on Tuesday. But Hoyer will vow to crack down on government spending, saying Democrats will enforce spending limits that are lower than what President Barack Obama has called for. In the scheduled address to the progressive think tank The Third Way, Hoyer will acknowledge that the lower chamber will do things differently this election year. The House has never failed to pass an annual budget resolution since the current budget rules were put into place in 1974."

On how to really solve Britain's economic problems: "I think we’re all aware of what we really need to do to get out from under our current economics woes, yes? We need to cut spending, but not so much that we crater the economy while doing so. We also need to grow the economy so that the debt burden is a percentage of a larger economy: and thus easier to bear/pay off. I don’t think there’s anyone at all who would disagree with that little thumbnail sketch, from the most dedicated Keynesian to the most ferociously Austrian of my colleagues. There will be disagreement about what ‘too much’ means in reference to cutting spending of course, but the two basic points aren’t, I think, argued about by anyone. So, I argue that we leave the EU and adopt unilateral free trade as a solution.”

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 June, 2010

Chatigny: A judge who is an ethical cesspit

How did he get such a sick mind? One can only conclude that he has evil sexual impulses himself so is indulgent to evil impulses in others

This week, the Senate may take up the controversial nomination of Robert Chatigny for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appleals, after being reported from the Judiciary Committee on June 10th. Chatigny currently serves for the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, where he made his claim to fame by ordering a stay of execution in 2005 for convicted serial rapist and murderer Michael Ross.

In a last-minute hearing before Ross' scheduled execution, Chatigny infamously opined that Ross, who had confessed to raping and killing eight young women aged between 14 to 25, "never should have been convicted". In that hearing, Chatigny chastised Ross' attorney, T.R. Paulding, and threatened to have his law license pulled for not more vigorously pursuing Ross' defense.

Although the hearing was supposed to be examining Ross' competence to waive his right to appeal, Chatigny saw a wider context for presiding authority. He said, "looking at the record in a light most favorable to Mr. Ross, he never should have been convicted. Or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death because his sexual sadism, which was found by every single person who looked at him, is clearly a mitigating factor."

Of course, having confessed to the rape-murders, coupled with overwhelming evidence, Ross most certainly should have been convicted. Nobody would dispute the sadistic nature of the crimes involved, either. Clearly Ross took pleasure in what he did. But by no means was Ross' motive a "mitigating factor." Instead, it recommended a death sentence.

Chatigny thought otherwise. The irony is that the judge was not even presiding over a sentencing hearing. The question before Chatigny concerned Ross' competence to waive his right to appeal. But instead, Chatigny used the hearing as a means to coerce Ross' attorney to continue appealing — against his client's wishes. Paulding gave in, and pursued another hearing in state court on Ross' competency. Ross was deemed competent, and finally convicted, against Chatigny's wishes.

Chatigny's conduct in this case alone should be enough to disqualify him. The bias he exhibited calls into question whether he can remain impartial. The rest of his record, however, calls into question whether he can remain impartial in any case involving sex offenders. As reported by the Washington Times, "[i]n 12 child-pornography cases, Judge Chatigny imposed a sentence either at or more lenient than the recommended minimum — with most downward departures involving sentences less than half as long."

But that's not all. In 2000, Chatigny overturned Connecticut's sex offender registry law. As noted by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, "Even more disturbing than this result, however, is the way he reached it. The only way that Judge Chatigny could reach this result was to fundamentally mischaracterize the statute. The statute he struck down was, in effect, one of his own making, not the one that the Connecticut legislature had passed."

Hatch continued, "The real statute required all sex offenders to register for one simple reason, that they are sex offenders. The Department of Public Safety website said that there had been no assessment of the risk of re-offense or the dangerousness of individual offenders. There was no such assessment because the registry did not exist for that purpose or to convey such information. Judge Chatigny struck it down anyway, saying that the Constitution required a hearing to distinguish between violent and non-violent offenders. By inventing this requirement out of thin air, he insisted that the statute do something the legislature had not designed it to do."

Chatigny was ultimately reversed in Public Safety v. Doe, but in so doing, Chatigny revealed once again that his bias and personal preferences — in favor of sexual offenders, and against victims of sexual crimes. In case after case, they trumped his actual reading of the law. This should be disturbing, not just to Senator Hatch, but to every senator who is being asked to confirm Chatigny on the basis of his highly controversial rulings.



Some gossip that sounds possible

Over the years, I have invested so much time wildcatting in the oil patch that I will never be wanting for great steaks at Nick & Sam's in Dallas, skyboxes at Cowboys games, and personally signed 8 X 10 glossy photographs of George W. Bush. So to get the skinny on the BP mess, I spent the weekend catching up with old friends who live with a permanent oil stain under their fingernails.

Some of the chatter that came back was amazing. BP has discovered the largest and most powerful well in history, and control of it may be outside existing technology. The previous record gusher was Union Oil Co.'s Lakeview well in Maricopa, California, which spewed out a staggering 100,000 barrels a day at its peak in 1910, and created an enormous oil lake in the central part of the state. Estimates for the BP well now range up to 50% more than that. The pressures at 18,000 feet are so enormous, that drilling two more relief wells might only result in creating two more oil spills.

If Obama doesn't want to take the nuclear option, (click here for my piece), then there will be no other alternative but for the spill to continue until the field exhausts itself or becomes capable, possibly some time next year. This is not the end of the world. Less than 1% of the spilled oil is ending up on the beaches. Watch TV, and that is not 150,000 barrels on the beach in Pensacola, Florida. Most of the crude is being moved parallel to the coast by the current and will eventually end up in the mid-Atlantic, where it will break down or dissipate. Using the high end estimates, and assuming that it takes a year to run out, possibly 36 million barrels will end up in the sea (pressure is declining).

This is the same amount of oil that was dumped into the Atlantic during WWII, when 452 tankers were sunk by German U-boats, mostly along the US east coast, and when tar on the beach was a daily occurrence. This is on top of the 1.5 million barrels a year that leak into the Gulf through natural seepage, which no one ever notices. One way or the other, this will end, and Western civilization will survive. And by the way, the crude price rise brought by the spill also marked up the value of BP's reserves, easily allowing it to cover the cost of the clean up, no matter how big it is. This is how profitable this company is, and why they were so generous with a $20 billion contingency fund.



The ACORN hydra has grown many new heads

Despite its recent setbacks, the renamed ACORN network remains well positioned to receive support from left-leaning foundations, corporations, unions and the federal government, according to a whistleblower group comprised of former board members. Moreover, the existing financial apparatus that made it possible to transfer public money away from their stated purpose and into partisan political efforts remains intact.

The American Institute of Social Justice (AISJ), one of four national affiliates that remain intact, deserves greater scrutiny and attention in this area. Over $53 million was transferred between ACORN and AISJ from 2000-2004, according to a report from the House Oversight Committee.

ACORN was also on the receiving end of a $4,952,288 grant from AISJ, according to the Institute’s 990 tax form for 2006. This is instructive because AISJ itself received almost $4 million from ACORN Housing Corp. (AHC) between 2000 and 2006, tax documents show.

“The money flowing to AISJ from ACORN Housing should be a huge red flag for investigators because almost all the federal money that the ACORN network receives goes into its housing affiliate,” Matthew Vadum, a senior editor with the Capital Research Center (CRC) observes. “So it’s entirely possible that when money was being transferred to the national ACORN organization from AISJ, taxpayer money designated for nonpartisan purposes might have been used for blatantly partisan purposes. These transfers are extremely suspicious. This is the type of financial activity that we see with organized crime and it should be investigated.”

On April 1, ACORN’s leadership announced it was dissolving its national network, but in reality the national affiliates and their many state level counterparts are simply remarketing and rebranding themselves, former insiders have warned.

ACORN Housing Corp., for example, the national affiliate at the epicenter of last year’s videotape scandal, has renamed itself Affordable Housing Centers of America. Several state entities have also followed suit reorganizing under generic sounding names that avoid the ACORN label.

ACORN 8, the whistleblower group named for the eight board members blocked from investigating an embezzlement scandal, cautions against media reports that suggest the national organization known in full as the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) has been permanently set back.

“Always note the date, April 1.” Marcel Reid, the ACORN 8 chairwoman, said in an interview. “ACORN is not dissolving, it may be morphing, but it is still is in business and it is still in a position to receive funding, although it may be done under different names.”

In fact, it may become easier over the long run for donors to reactive their support for “community organizers” who are no longer burdened by the tarnished ACORN name, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has observed.

“ACORN’s cover has been blown and its true identity has been revealed but it remains a viable entity beneath different names with the same patrons and same funding sources,” she explained in an interview. “I don’t see a tremendous change in the structure that called itself ACORN.”

Bachmann lead the charge against continued public funding for ACORN throughout 2009 but she does not anticipate that the current congress will move permanently cut off support. Only four Democrats joined with Bachmann to vote against an amendment attached to a mortgage bill last year that would prevent organizations with a criminal history from receiving taxpayer support.

Ron Sykes, a former treasurer with the Washington D.C. branch, and an ACORN 8 activist, has identified the Citizens Consulting Inc. (CCI) affiliate as a major conduit for the comingling and misappropriation of funds. Tax documents do show links between CCI and other affiliates.

“ACORN did not want its local people to have any control over the finances,” he has previously explained. “There were many accounts but CCI had control over all of it.”

Reid, the ACORN 8 chair, recalls how the funding schemes worked to the disadvantage of rank and file members who sought support for community initiatives.

“You could make a tax-deductible donation to ACORN if you were a foundation,” she explained. “You made it through AISJ, then the money was funneled through CSI (Citizens Consulting Inc.) and then the money was kicked back to ACORN – that’s the loop.”

Now that CCI has reportedly been shut down, AISJ appears to be the main vehicle through which financial contributions can be diverted away from their stated purpose. The national affiliate has attracted little press attention and deserves greater attention and scrutiny as ACORN activists gear up for the 2010 elections.




Doctors limit new Medicare patients: "The number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients because of low government payment rates is setting a new high, just six months before millions of Baby Boomers begin enrolling in the government health care program. Recent surveys by national and state medical societies have found more doctors limiting Medicare patients, partly because Congress has failed to stop an automatic 21% cut in payments that doctors already regard as too low. The cut went into effect Friday, even as the Senate approved a six-month reprieve. The House has approved a different bill."

Running on empty: "The Obama presidency is nearly out of gas. So are the Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. Yet the White House and congressional Democrats aren’t surrendering. They’re still intoxicated with their ‘historic majorities’ and bent on enacting more landmark liberal legislation this year, including cap and trade, a value-added tax (VAT), and who knows what else. Are they fantasizing? Not entirely. The odds — and the political climate — are against them. But their ideological ambitions are undiminished and they have a sense of urgency. They know their majorities will be crippled (if not eliminated) in the midterm elections on November 2, which means they must enact the remaining parts of the agenda in 2010 or put them back in the cupboard of liberal dreams, maybe for decades. So it’s now or never.”

BP, the White House and Congress are all dirty: "Amidst all the political jockeying over the BP catastrophe, the main players are missing what is really uppermost on America’s mind: It’s the spill rate, stupid. It’s jobs, stupid. It’s the economy, stupid. And none of it is happening. All eyes in Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street were turned this week to the congressional show trial featuring beleaguered BP CEO Tony Hayward. Hayward was a disaster. He played dumb. He stonewalled. And he never got honest about the colossal failure of human judgment at BP that caused this catastrophe. But folks, seriously, what did you expect?”

Portugal liberalizes drugs, world doesn’t end: "[T]he apocalypse that drug alarmists predicted never happened; Portugal did not become a ‘haven for drugs tourism’ and drug abuse and drug crime actually fell. And even with its flaws it’s monumentally better than the continuing drug thugocracy in the United States. America’s Drug Warriors will never willingly back off. It would mean that drug enforcers would have to give up their government careers, paychecks, benefits, pensions and self-righteousness. It would mean that the media would have to give up its sensationalistic headlines and ass-kicking SWAT footage on News At Eleven.”

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 June, 2010

America's own emptyheaded "Gran Lider"

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are each referred to as a "Gran Lider" (Big Leader) but have led their countries to economic and human disasters

A Dog in the Manger Presidency

Obama transparently fails as a leader in several remarkable ways. First, he lacks leadership ability by any traditional criteria. Second, the leadership that he has imparted has roundly failed by objective consensus. Third, he attacks the genuine acts of leadership by others as if they were a krypton stake ready to be plunged into his abdomen. Obama has the crafty and evasive character of a natural-born fraud. The fake is always the enemy of the real, and will battle to destroy the actual—regardless of the costs to others.

Attacks Upon True Leadership:

An instance of Dog in the Manger assault occurred when the US Coast Guard stopped Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal from running barges with water vacuums sucking up oil. This was another in a list of shutdowns Obama threw at Jindal. He also stopped him from erecting barrier islands to sop up the oil, which supposedly must be vetted for “environmental impact.” (analogy: testing a hangman’s noose to make sure it doesn’t cause excessive rope-burn). Here is a classic example of Barack “Manger Dog” Obama stymieing a real leader from doing something proactive, clever and effective to help his state.

Other examples include Barack refusing aid from thirteen European nations within days after the Gulf oil leak. For instance, the Dutch offered four skimmers that could have taken 20,000 gallons of oil out of the water a day. And the British offered chemical oil dispersant, which Obama refused on the spot. The UK Times reported on this: “Top officials in the British Cabinet offered assistance to help clean up the oil spill a few days after the explosion. The Obama Administration turned them down because they did not have the correct paperwork.” These types of reports sicken the spirit and make clear that Obama not only refused to lead, but even blockaded the help from others.

Obama has an inability to accept any help that would make him look weak, derivative, or not the source of all earthly good. What possible reason could Barack have for refusing assistance other than personal vanity or the aggrandizement of power?

In fact, Foreign Policy magazine had this to say about the foreign offers to help the US:

"Late Wednesday evening, the State Department emailed reporters identifying the 13 entities that had offered the U.S. oil spill assistance. They were the governments of Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.

“These offers include experts in various aspects of oil spill impacts, research and technical expertise, booms, chemical oil dispersants, oil pumps, skimmers, and wildlife treatment,” the email read.

“While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future.”

Failed Leadership Instances

There are several different species of failed leadership. One type is to direct followers into an undertaking that is ill-advised or doomed. The second type is leadership that seems to bring the followers into a successful course but which later collapses. An obvious example is when Obama smugly gave fellow Democrat candidates his blessing and campaigned for them, only to watch them fail in their races, as happened to Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, and Martha Coakley.

On a deeper level, one can argue that all of Obama’s completed tasks are failures on a timed-release schedule. For example, his near-trillion-dollar Stimulus bill is already reckoned an utter failure for what it was designed to do—creating quality, longterm jobs. And as these funds go down the toilet with all the interest payments as well, so do many wonderful options which this massive amount of cash could have been spent upon. For a trillion dollars, we could have funded: half the Obamacare costs for a decade; a national high-speed rail; wind farms across America; a slashing of income tax for a year to reboot the economy; a rebuilt NASA; etc etc etc

Obamacare will be an open ulcerated sore on the American economy for all its years until it is (hopefully) repealed. Studies have already come out revealing half US employees will shortly be on Obamacare, that the costs will be much higher than the WH advertised, and that the negative unintended consequences will be massive. Likewise, Obama’s unnerving habit of proposing spending to answer all problems—even the growing deficit, is producing toxic fruit, to say the least.

In foreign policy, Obama’s instinctual and frankly bizarre habit of bowing to alien potentates, apologizing to despots, and giving aid and comfort to enemies while punishing our allies enrages US patriots. In general, the combination of Obama’s trite rhetoric in concert with a toothless response to bad players has opened the floodgates on evil deeds. But imagine how our situation might be different today, for example, if Obama had merely supported the Iranian election uprising, instead of pretending this spontaneous mass demand for real democracy was lawlessness. We might not be trying to sanction Iran for their nuclear weapons program today! Talk about feckless.

An Incipient Failure of Leadership Ability

If one is a socialist or Marxist, who then are your role models? Much like a photo-negative of normally successful people, Marxism dotes upon failures, ne’er-do-wells and hopeless rebels. Such misfits are heroes, and such people collapse when placed upon the greatest pinnacles of success, like a presidency. It should surprise no one the socialist idea of leadership is merely contained to speechifying and making insulting and critical comments about those whom the tyrant despises.

Lenin’s absurd statement: “Any cook should be able to run the country,” shows the utter contempt that Marxists have for the nuances of democracy and capitalism. Does Obama share this absurdly condescending opinion of Western leadership? The shattering lack of real world knowledge, training, or responsibility for the consequences of decisions the “leader” makes is a recurring theme in communist dictators who believed they will recreate humanity itself upon their own image.


In terms of a natural ability to inspire and direct—could Barack Obama even lead Mama Cass to a Burger King? Obama is reminiscent of the lead character in the movie The Ladykillers—the pretentious Prof. Goldthwait Higgins Dorr, PhD., played by Tom Hanks. The Professor assembles a group of criminal misfits to rob a riverboat casino, but fails spectacularly. Here, Obama is the pompous professor full of ridiculous verbosity, while the criminal gang boasts David Axelgrease, Rahm “Beau” Emanuel, and other dishonest buffoons. At least in the movie, each gets the comeuppance he richly deserves.

More here


Debbie Schlussel on Fathers' day

Today, Father’s Day, I visited my late father’s grave. Even though he is no longer here, I am one of the lucky ones. My father was ever present in my life throughout his. And even though he is gone, his influence on me lives on. (Read my eulogy and tribute to him. He was an amazing and unique person.)

My father loved me and my siblings, he cared, and he taught us right and wrong. My father instilled in us the importance of patriotism and love for America. He taught us the courage of our convictions and the importance of being a good dad. Even though he was a medical doctor, he was not wealthy. He sacrificed making a lot of money to be ever involved in our lives. Woven into his great sense of humor and occasional pranks he played on us, my dad taught us to be proud Jews and never take crap from anyone.

I once had a boss who told me, “principle is expensive,” and discouraged me from having any. But it fell on deaf ears. My father taught us that principle was the most valuable commodity, the most worthy treasure we could possess. As kids, he took us to protests he organized–for example, when the Detroit Jewish community invited anti-Semite and Israel-hater James Zogby to the Jewish Book Fair to promote his hateful book. Later on, my Dad helped me spy on Islamic charities and organizations in town and tips he gave to federal law enforcement led to raids, arrests, and shut-downs of funding, including the freezing of bank accounts that funded HAMAS terrorist attacks through the Holy Land Foundation.

My father always told me about how, as an Army doctor in induction centers during Vietnam, he was offered money by various parents to rule their kids ineligible. But he never took these bribes. He was drafted and served and was ready to serve on the front lines. He felt everyone should serve America and do their duty when called. My father made sure we knew the story when his friend, Dr. Isaac Poltinnikov, an eye doctor, was fired from his job by the Soviet Union, for the “crime” of trying to emigrate from Soviet anti-Semitism and persecution to a life in Israel. Since Soviet parasitism laws forbade donations to the doctor, my father made up elaborate problems of the eye and sent them to Dr. Poltinnikov for his fictional consultations, so that Dr. Poltinnikov would survive. But he also showed us the tragedy, when Dr. Poltinnikov finally succeeded in leaving for Israel, without his wife and daughter, who respectively starved to death and committed suicide, because they could no longer take the KGB spying and oppression.

And there are so many such things my father showed me, taught me, instilled in me–many of them outlined in the eulogy and tribute I gave to my father at his funeral and on this site.

But, like I said, I am one of the lucky ones. Sadly, most people will never have a father like my dad. Even sadder, today, at least fifty percent of American kids will grow up without a father at home. Who needs Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism when we are destroying our country from within, creating so many future problems by bringing kids into this world without fathers?

And, then, there are the kids who don’t know their father truly cared. They don’t know because he’s been vilified by mom, or he just isn’t present and they aren’t told the real reason why. Such is the plot of one of my favorite movies, “Departures (Okuribito).” And such was the reality for Ray M. Wong. Wong’s Must-Read “In Death, Assumptions About Dad Melt Away”, from Friday’s USA Today, will bring tears to your eyes. Even though, unlike his, my dad was always in my life, it brought tears to mine...




Congress destroys free checking by blocking overdraft fees: "Banks can afford to offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance, to responsible people, only because they can charge overdraft fees to irresponsible people. But Congress has now prohibited many overdraft fees, which will result in many banks eliminating free checking, and also require responsible people to subsidize irresponsible people. … The elimination of free checking thanks to Congress’s unwise restrictions on overdraft fees will harm low-income people by driving them back to check-cashing stores that charge them money to cash every check.”

Decision to take over Fannie, Freddie getting costly: "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took over a foreclosed home roughly every 90 seconds during the first three months of the year. They owned 163,828 houses at the end of March, a virtual city with more houses than Seattle. The mortgage finance companies, created by Congress to help Americans buy homes, have become two of the nation’s largest landlords. For all the focus on the historic federal rescue of the banking industry, it is the government’s decision to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 that is likely to cost taxpayers the most money. So far the tab stands at $145.9 billion. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the final bill could reach $389 billion.”

Colombia: Ex-defense chief wins presidential runoff: "A former defense minister from a powerful political clan who oversaw a major weakening of leftist rebels won Colombia’s presidency Sunday, routing an eccentric outsider in a runoff. The victory for Juan Manuel Santos, a 58-year-old economist and three-time government minister, was a ringing endorsement of outgoing conservative President Alvaro Uribe, whose U.S.-backed security policies he helped craft and promised to continue.”

Justice and BP: "It is very probable that BP and its associated firms will be found guilty of malpractice and assessed major fines and punishment. However, this hasn’t yet happened so it’s premature to punish BP at this point. Nor is it the role of the President of the U.S. to act as prosecutor, judge and jury in this case or any other. Where is due process in all of what he and Congress have been doing lately? Or has an anti-British or anti-business attitude wiped out the need for justice? Urging or imploring — even attempting to persuade — BP to set up the $20 billion fund could be a good idea but treating this as demanded by justice is utterly misguided. There should be no compromise of principle even in the heat of anger and the grips of outrage and sorrow. It is imperative to wait until the verdict is in.”

Barack Obama’s square box: "When John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crashed into Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in July 1999 some observers said he had gotten himself into a “square box,” meaning that he had run into the limits of his experience and his imagination. Barack Obama is in a square box, and observers are now beginning to talk about his inevitable crash.”

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

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

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


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


20 June, 2010

The emptyhead again

Seventy years ago this week, Churchill gave us these memorable words:
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’

Seventy years later, Barack Obama gave us this:
What has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny—our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there. We know we’ll get there.

It was one of the worst—and most revealing—lines ever uttered by an American president. Winston Churchill echoed the Psalms; Barack Obama echoed Alice in Wonderland:
“Cheshire Puss … Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.

“— so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the cat, “if only you walk long enough.”

This week, Obama gave us this frightening insight into his presidency—he does not care where he is leading us, but we are sure to get there—and in so doing smashed the myth that he would one day stand beside Churchill as one of the greatest orators in modern history. It was not, suffice it to say, his finest hour.

Astute observers of the scene might recall one of the first things Obama did when he took office back in early 2009:
A bust of the former prime minister once voted the greatest Briton in history, which was loaned to George W Bush from the Government's art collection after the September 11 attacks, has now been formally handed back.

The bronze by Sir Jacob Epstein, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds if it were ever sold on the open market, enjoyed pride of place in the Oval Office during President Bush's tenure.

But when British officials offered to let Mr Obama to hang onto the bust for a further four years, the White House said: "Thanks, but no thanks."

Removing that which symbolized the greatness of Winston Churchill was an omen. In its place now stands the ineptness of Barack Obama.



Incredible dithering and flailing about by all concerned over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

And who was there to mediate and set priorities? Nobody. Certainly not President emptyhead. He didn't have a clue and showed no ability to learn

A Journal examination shows that the effort to contain the Gulf spill was hobbled by confusion and disagreements among federal, state and local officials.

Federal officials changed their minds on key moves, sometimes more than once. Chemical dispersants to break up the oil were approved, then judged too toxic, then re-approved. The administration criticized, debated and then partially approved a proposal by Louisiana politicians to build up eroded barrier islands to keep the oil at bay....

The federal government's priority was to keep the oil offshore, partly by laying boom. The coast has hundreds of miles of inlets, islands and marshes, which makes that strategy difficult. "There's not enough boom in the world to boom from Texas to Florida, so we're doing triage," Benjamin Cooper, a Coast Guard commander, told shrimpers and other residents in Dulac, La., in mid-May.

There were problems from the start. The first weekend in May, when the president made his initial trip to the region, the water was rough. Contractors hired by BP to lay boom off St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, mostly stayed ashore, says Fred Everhardt, a councilman. Shrimpers took matters into their own hands, laying 18,000 feet of boom that weekend, compared to the roughly 4,000 feet laid by the BP contractor, Mr. Everhardt says. BP did not respond to requests for comment about the incident.

Edwin Stanton, the Coast Guard official in charge of the New Orleans region, says workers overseen by the government had laid tens of thousands of feet of boom the first week of the spill. But he acknowledges problems getting it to the right place. He says the Coast Guard decided it needed to accommodate local parish presidents, who all demanded boom even though they all didn't equally need it. Without the competing demands, he says, "we might have been able to use what boom we had to greater effect."

To make matters worse, the government didn't have the right kind of boom. Boom built for open ocean is bigger and stronger than that made for flat, sheltered water. The bigger boom is expensive and was in short supply, Mr. Stanton says.

"We really didn't have the appropriate boom sizes," he says. "I think we would have liked to put out open-water boom at the big passes, but we just didn't have enough."

As the oil spread east, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley wanted to stop it from crossing into Perdido Bay, a key to Alabama and Florida's fishing and tourism industries. In mid-May, the governor and Coast Guard officials worked out a plan to hold the oil back using heavy boom built for open ocean. Alabama authorities scoured the globe for the boom they needed, says a spokesman for the governor.

In late May, they found it in Bahrain and flew it to the Alabama coast. Days later, the Coast Guard gave it to Louisiana.

Mr. Riley was furious. The Coast Guard and Alabama authorities instead deployed lighter boom. On June 10, oil breached Perdido Bay. "This isn't a fight between Louisiana and Alabama, it's not between governors," the governor's spokesman says. "But it is incredibly disappointing to have those resources taken from us."

A spokesman for Adm. Allen says the boom was needed to protect a bay in Louisiana, and was taken "well before oil was in sight off Alabama."

Louisiana officials, frustrated that the boom wasn't working, proposed building sand "berms" along the coast to block oil from reaching shore. Dredges would suck sand from the sea floor and spray it in a protective arc along barrier islands. On May 11, state officials asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an emergency permit to build some 130 miles of berms.

Several federal agencies criticized the proposal. In written comments to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency said the berms might not be built in time to stop oil from hitting shore. It worried the process might spread oil-tainted sand and change the water's flow, possibly hurting marshes. White House officials also were skeptical.

Frustrated by the delay, Louisiana's Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, sent the Louisiana Army National Guard to plug gaps in barrier islands, for which the state had legal authority.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was worried about another threat: the use of dispersants, chemicals designed to break oil into particles that can be digested by bacteria. BP was using unprecedented amounts—about 1.3 million gallons so far, according to federal officials.

According to EPA data, one dispersant, Corexit 9500, is especially toxic to the shrimp and fish used in tests. But it was available in large quantities, so that's what BP was using.

On May 10, with the boom and berm plans foundering, Ms. Jackson met about 25 Louisiana State University scientists to discuss the spill. Most of the scientists urged her not to let BP spray dispersants directly at the leaking well without more research, recalls Robert Carney, one of the LSU professors. Ms. Jackson responded that the EPA was "under extreme pressure from BP" to approve the move, Mr. Carney recalls. An EPA official confirmed Ms. Jackson met with the LSU scientists.

Five days later, the EPA said it would let BP spray the dispersant on the wellhead.

In mid-May, large globs of oil started washing ashore. The EPA, under pressure from scientists and environmental groups, abruptly turned against using the dispersant Corexit. On May 20, a day after Ms. Jackson was grilled by lawmakers, the EPA said it had given BP until that night to find a less-toxic alternative or explain why it couldn't. "We felt it was important to ensure that all possible options were being explored," Ms. Jackson said.

BP responded in a letter that makers of other dispersants wouldn't be able to supply large volumes for 10 to 14 days. It said it intended to keep using Corexit, which it said "appears to have fewer long-term effects than other dispersants."

In Terrebonne Parish, BP contractors still hadn't installed the boom, angering Coast Guard officials. "I could just see the fury in their eyes," Michel Claudet, parish president, says of the Coast Guard officials. The poor coordination with BP contractors, he says, "was just a common occurrence." Boom installation finally began on May 21.

Interior Secretary Salazar lit into BP on a trip to Louisiana, threatening to "push them out of the way" and let the government take over ground-level operations. He was contradicted by the Coast Guard's Adm. Allen, who suggested the government didn't have the technical know-how to fight the spill alone.

Much more HERE. See also The leadership gulf and The man who would be king and Coast Guard Shut Down Oil Cleanup For 24 Hours Over Life Vests.


Dems Turn On Obama

To the left, the oil spill is not an index of presidential competence or an issue in the political sphere. It is a daily gushing of poison into the Earth's waters as a direct result of the president's failure to stop it. They blame BP. But they already hate oil companies. And they blame Obama, too. And they are coming to dislike him.

When Obama attempts to recoup this damage to his political base by pushing new legislation on the environment or by resurrecting his cap-and-trade legislation or by bringing criminal charges against BP or by setting up a liability fund for the spill's victims, it does not solve his political problem. With each day, 60,000 gallons gush into the Gulf of Mexico, Obama's equivalent of the body count in Iraq that caused the left to loathe George W. Bush. Rhetoric or programs or visits to the gulf or posturing won't assuage the negatives. Only plugging the hole in the bottom of the ocean can do it.

The right and center of American politics turned off Obama over health care. And now the left is leaving him over the oil spill.

Why can't Obama plug the hole? Because he has no administrative experience. I often saw Bill Clinton, as governor and as president, call in experts and ask the tough questions when he faced a new disaster. In Arkansas, it was tornadoes or floods or fires. In Washington, it was Oklahoma City. But, each time, he thoroughly familiarized himself with all the technical issues. He took a bath in the science and substance of the hazard and became as knowledgeable as those who had spent a lifetime studying it. So he knew what questions to ask.

Any CEO or COO or manager has similar experience. But a community organizer, law professor, state senator, U.S. senator and president doesn't have the requisite experience. He doesn't know not to trust his own bureaucracy. He hasn't been burned enough to realize that he needs to intervene to waive restrictions, set aside regulations and open up the process to new solutions. He's like JFK during the Bay of Pigs. He doesn't know how to avoid being betrayed by his own bureaucracy and the industry it's supposed to regulate.

Why did he not waive the Jones Act (he still hasn't) to allow foreign vessels to ply our waters to clean up the spill? Not because he was against it. He couldn't have been against so obvious a course as waiving it. It was likely because nobody told him about it, and he never knew to ask.

Why did he let the bureaucracy use only U.S. contractors to dredge the Gulf and build the berms that Lousiana wanted? Why did he spurn the offer of Dutch assistance (half the country has been dredged from the sea and is below sea level)? Not because he wanted the jobs to go to Americans. That would have been an insane consideration in the face of this crisis. It is probably because he never realized that our capacity for dredging needed augmentation. Because he never asked.

To the right and the center, these failings show that Obama is in over his head. But to the left, which bleeds for each drop of water in the gulf and cries over every turtle or shrimp or sea bird, it is an unpardonable sin.

It is the nature of things that presidential mistakes metastasize into presidential character flaws. Bush's inaction over Katrina comes across as insensitivity. Now Obama's incompetence and inexperience is causing liberals to see him as arrogant, aloof, removed, conceited, suspicious of outside advice and even lazy. Long after the oil has stopped spilling, these supposed character defects will haunt the president, just as Jimmy Carter's reputation of timidity and inability lasted long after the Iran hostages came home. These defects will last until 2012 and beyond.


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 June, 2010

For Leftists, hate takes the place of knowledge

Last year, I put up a post on STACLU about an allegedly Christian organization, "World Vision", refusing to take donations on behalf of poor Jewish children.

The article got a number of comments at the time, some clearly antisemitic. JS, the owner of the blog, deleted the more virulent ones, which was rather a pity. It is always amusing to see the combination of ignorance and hate which is typical of Leftist comments on conservative blogs.

Another commenter has, however, just left a comment on the post which offers some amusement. JS has already deleted it but I get a copy of all comments by email so I am going to revive it. Here it is:
John, you are exactly the type of person that needs to be wiped off this earth. You give your religion a horrible name and you look like a ridiculous fool in the process.

Pam's comments are totally fine. Israel is the most heinous country in the world...note I said ISRAEL not JEWS

The writer appears to be a Canadian named Earl Sands [gordonsands@hotmail.com]. He appears to be an administrator with an outfit called "Real Estate 101 Forum" and he also appears to form part of a firm called Imaginex Website Design. He also informs us, as part of a foul-mouthed tirade, that "I masturbate once a week". Impressive!

But isn't it charming how he thinks that people who he disagrees with should be wiped off the face of the earth? A Canadian Stalin or Hitler could rely on Earl to do their dirty deeds. Brutal disregard for others seems to be in the genes of Leftists. They are fundamentally hate-motivated.

And also in good Leftist style he feels no need to check his facts. He just KNOWS. We see that in his apparent assumption that I am Jewish. The most casual Google search would reveal that I am an atheist of Presbyterian background and British ancestry.

And the one-eyed condemnation is also typical Leftism. If Israel is the most heinous country in the world, what price Burma, Iran, North Korea, Sudan etc.?


Coming from Obamanation: $7 Gasoline

President Obama has decided to dodge responsibility for the Gulf oil disaster by cleverly changing the subject to Cap and Tax. A clutch of esteemed Harvard researchers have determined at least one sobering effect of such legislation.
To meet the Obama administration's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon.

To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving would simply have to increase, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs......

Researchers said that vehicle miles traveled will increase by more than 30 percent between 2010 and 2030 unless policymakers increase fuel taxes.

In order to save the planet from a hoax, the Obama Regime is prepared to crush the economy of this nation. Through such gas taxes as predicted by these Hahvaad experts, who gets hurt the most? Those "little people" that the Democrat party claims to "look out for." Will we soon be looking back at these per-gal tax rates with wistful nostalgia as we plod about in our government mandated GM pedal-cars?

Congrats, progressive trolls! This is the very Hope and Change you were voting for.



A Mind-Changing Page

Sometimes you can read a book that will change your mind on some fundamental issue. Rarely, however, is there just one page that can undermine or destroy a widely-held belief. But there is such a page-- page 77 of the book "Out of Work" by Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway.

The widespread belief is that government intervention is the key to getting the country out of a serious economic downturn. The example often cited is President Franklin D. Roosevelt's intervention, after the stock market crash of 1929 was followed by the Great Depression of the 1930s, with its massive and long-lasting unemployment.

This is more than just a question about history. Right here and right now there is a widespread belief that the unregulated market is what got us into our present economic predicament, and that the government must "do something" to get the economy moving again. FDR's intervention in the 1930s has often been cited by those who think this way.

What is on that one page in "Out of Work" that could change people's minds? Just a simple table, giving unemployment rates for every month during the entire decade of the 1930s.

Those who think that the stock market crash in October 1929 is what caused the huge unemployment rates of the 1930s will have a hard time reconciling that belief with the data in that table.

Although the big stock market crash occurred in October 1929, unemployment never reached double digits in any of the next 12 months after that crash. Unemployment peaked at 9 percent, two months after the stock market crashed-- and then began drifting generally downward over the next six months, falling to 6.3 percent by June 1930.

This was what happened in the market, before the federal government decided to "do something."

What the government decided to do in June 1930-- against the advice of literally a thousand economists, who took out newspaper ads warning against it-- was impose higher tariffs, in order to save American jobs by reducing imported goods.

This was the first massive federal intervention to rescue the economy, under President Herbert Hoover, who took pride in being the first President of the United States to intervene to try to get the economy out of an economic downturn.

Within six months after this government intervention, unemployment shot up into double digits-- and stayed in double digits in every month throughout the entire remainder of the decade of the 1930s, as the Roosevelt administration expanded federal intervention far beyond what Hoover had started.

If more government regulation of business is the magic answer that so many seem to think it is, the whole history of the 1930s would have been different. An economic study in 2004 concluded that New Deal policies prolonged the Great Depression. But the same story can be found on one page in "Out of Work."

While the market produced a peak unemployment rate of 9 percent-- briefly-- after the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment shot up after massive federal interventions in the economy. It rose above 20 percent in 1932 and stayed above 20 percent for 23 consecutive months, beginning in the Hoover administration and continuing during the Roosevelt administration. As Casey Stengel used to say, "You could look it up." It is all there on that one page.

Those who are convinced that the government has to "do something" when the economy has a problem almost never bother to find out what actually happens when the government intervenes.

The very fact that we still remember the stock market crash of 1929 is remarkable, since there was a similar stock market crash in 1987 that most people have long since forgotten.

What was the difference between these two stock market crashes? The 1929 stock market crash was followed by the most catastrophic depression in American history, with as many as one-fourth of all American workers being unemployed. The 1987 stock market crash was followed by two decades of economic growth with low unemployment.

But that was only one difference. The other big difference was that the Reagan administration did not intervene in the economy after the 1987 stock market crash-- despite many outcries in the media that the government should "do something."



After big 1979 spill, a stunning recovery

MALAQUITE BEACH, Texas The oil was everywhere, long black sheets of it, 15 inches thick in some places. Even if you stepped in what looked like a clean patch of sand, it quickly and gooily puddled around your feet. And Wes Tunnell, as he surveyed the mess, had only one bleak thought: "Oh, my God, this is horrible! It's all gonna die!"

But it didn't. Thirty-one years since the worst oil spill in North American history blanketed 150 miles of Texas beach, tourists noisily splash in the surf and turtles drag themselves into the dunes to lay eggs. "You look around, and it's like the spill never happened," shrugs Tunnell, a marine biologist. "There's a lot of perplexity in it for many of us."

For Tunnell and others involved in the fight to contain the June 3, 1979, spill from Mexico's Ixtoc 1 offshore well in the Gulf of Campeche, the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico conjures an eerie sense of déjà vu.

Like the BP spill, the Ixtoc disaster began with a burst of gas followed by an explosion and fire, followed by a relentless gush of oil that resisted all attempts to block it. Plugs of mud and debris, chemical dispersants, booms skimming the surface of the water: Mexico's Pemex oil company tried them all, but still the spill inexorably crept ashore, first in southeast Mexico, later in Texas.

But if the BP spill seems to be repeating one truth already demonstrated in the Ixtoc spill - that human technology is no match for a high-pressure undersea oil blowout - scientists are hoping that it may eventually confirm another: that the environment has a stunning capacity to heal itself from manmade insults.

"The environment is amazingly resilient, more so than most people understand," says Luis A. Soto, a deep-sea biologist with advanced degrees from Florida State University and the University of Miami who teaches at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

"To be honest, considering the magnitude of the spill, we thought the Ixtoc spill was going to have catastrophic effects for decades. ... But within a couple of years, almost everything was close to 100 percent normal again."

At first, little hope

That kind of optimism was unthinkable at the time of the spill, which took nearly 10 months to cap. The 30,000 barrels of oil a day it spewed into the ocean obliterated practically every living thing in its path. As it washed ashore, in some zones marine life was reduced by 50 percent; in others, 80 percent. The female population of an already-endangered species of sea turtles known as Kemp's Ridley shrank to 300, perilously close to extinction.

What survived wasn't much better off. Soto, surveying fish and shrimp in the Mexican coastal waters near the spill, found them infested with tumors.

The sizable fishing industry in the area was practically shut down - not that the boats were able to make their way through the massive clumps of giant tar balls bobbing through the Gulf of Campeche anyway.

In Texas, meanwhile, tourism curdled. Oil was so unavoidable on the popular beaches of Padre Island, just south of Corpus Christi, that hotels installed special mats outside along with signs pleading with guests to clean their feet rather than track tar into their rooms.

And scientists feared a less visible but more insidious effect of the spill: that it had killed off small organisms living at the tide line that form a crucial part of the marine food chain.

"These are things that most people never notice, some small segmented worms called amphipods, some little shrimplike crustaceans," says Tunnell, associate director of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. "They were practically wiped out. And if they didn't recover, it would have drastically affected the food chain, from small fish and crabs up to shorebirds and beyond."

Then, a hurricane

But after three months in which nothing went right, Texas had some good luck - or, to put it in a glass-half-empty way, Alabama and Mississippi had some bad luck. Hurricane Frederic, while plowing into those two states, sent tides of two-foot waves reeling into the Texas shoreline. Overnight, half the 3,900 tons of oil piled up on Texan beaches disappeared. And human cleanup efforts began putting a dent in the rest.

Even in Mexico, which had neither the resources nor the hurricanes of the United States, the oil began disappearing under a ferocious counterattack by nature. In the water, much of it evaporated; on beaches, the combined forces of pounding waves, ultraviolet light and petroleum-eating microbes broke it down.

The bacteria as well as other marine life forms along the shoreline got a boost from a strategy employed by both the United States and Mexico: to more or less give up on stopping the oil spill from reaching beaches while concentrating on keeping it out of estuaries and wetlands.

"Texas just made a superhuman effort to keep the oil away from rivers, with two or three or four layers of booms to skim it away," said Thomas C. Shirley, a biodiversity specialist at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. "We know how to clean up beaches, and it's simple. It's just sand.

"But you get up into wetlands, where you're cleaning up shrubs and sea grasses, and it's far more difficult. Everything you're cleaning is alive, and you have to be careful not to do more harm than good."

By keeping oil out of rivers and lagoons, authorities ensured a steady stream of nutrients back into coastal areas. And as the spill diminished, marine life had a baby boom.

Key differences

But as much as the experts marvel at the way the environment recovered from the Ixtoc spill, none of them are shrugging off the BP disaster. Some larger species with longer life spans took years to recover from the Ixtoc spill. It wasn't until the late-1980s that the population of Kemp's Ridley turtles, which lay a couple of hundred eggs a year, as opposed to the millions produced by shrimp, started recovering. The immediate losses from an oil spill continue to ricochet through larger species for generations.

And while the Ixtoc and BP spills are in many respects startlingly similar, they also have important differences - particularly the depth at which they occurred. The Ixtoc well was in relatively shallow waters, about 160 feet deep. Nobody knows what happens to oil at 30 times that depth.

"Do I think the environment has an amazing resilience? Yes, I see it every day as we patrol the shoreline," says Travis R. Clapp, a National Park Service resource manager who works at the Padre Island National Seashore. "But I'd be cautious about saying how quick the recovery from this spill is going to be. We're in a whole new ballgame here."


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

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


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


18 June, 2010

A charming reminiscence of Margaret Thatcher

From the formidable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley -- A classics man who can code in machine language!

Anthony Watts’ splendid wattsupwiththat blog has an interesting posting about Margaret Thatcher’s sceptical approach to the climate question. This prompted some comments asking whether I could add anything to the story, since I gave her advice on science as well as other policy from 1982-1986, two years before the IPCC was founded. So here goes.

First, what on Earth was a layman with a degree in classical languages and architecture doing giving advice on science to the British Prime Minister, who was herself a scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Society?

Truth is, British government is small (though still a lot bigger and more expensive than it need be). The Prime Minister’s policy unit had just six members, and, as a mathematician who was about to make a goodish fortune turning an obscure and hitherto-unnoticed wrinkle in the principles of probabilistic combinatorics into a pair of world best-selling puzzles, I was the only one who knew any science.

So, faute de mieux [for want of better], it was I who – on the Prime Minister’s behalf – kept a weather eye on the official science advisors to the Government, from the Chief Scientific Advisor downward. On my first day in the job, I tottered into Downing Street dragging with me one of the world’s first portable computers, the 18-lb Osborne 1, with a 5” screen, floppy disks that were still truly floppy, and a Z80 8-bit chip which I had learned to program in machine language as well as BASIC.

This was the first computer they had ever seen in Downing Street. The head of security, a bluff military veteran, was deeply suspicious. “--What do you want a computer for?” he asked. “--Computing,” I replied.

I worked that weighty little box hard. It did everything: converting opinion-poll percentages to predictions of Parliamentary seats won and lost (we predicted the result of the 1983 General Election to within 1 seat); demonstrating a new type of index-linked home loan that removed the inflationary front-loading of interest payments and made it easier for working people to buy the State-owned houses they lived in (we sold a million, and turned cringing clients of the State into proud homeowners with a valuable stake in Britain); and calculating the optimum hull configuration for warships to prove that a government department had defrauded a lone inventor (he got $1 million in compensation).

The tiny computer back-engineered the Social Security Department’s model that showed the impact of changes in tax and benefit rates on different types of family; discounted Cabinet Ministers’ policies to present value to appraise their viability as investments; and worked out how much extra revenue the Government would get if it cut the top rate of income tax from 60 cents on the dollar to 40 cents.

On that one, I was right and the Treasury were wrong: as I had calculated, the rich ended up paying not only more tax but a higher percentage of total tax, even though the top tax rate they had previously paid was 50% higher than the new rate.

The only expenses I ever claimed for in four years at 10 Downing Street were £172 for soldering dry joints on that overworked computer, on which I also did the first elementary radiative-transfer calculations that indicated climate scientists were right to say some “global warming” would arise as CO2 concentration continued to climb.

I briefed my colleagues in the Policy Unit, and also the Prime Minister herself. My advice was straightforward: CO2 concentrations were rising, we were causing it, and it would cause some warming, but at that time no one knew how much (plus ca change), so we needed to find out.

The Prime Minister’s response was equally hard-headed: we were to keep an eye on the problem and come back to her again when action was necessary.

Did she even mention that “global warming” presented an opportunity to give nuclear power a push and, at the same time, to do down the coal-miners who had destroyed a previous Conservative government and had also tried to destroy hers?
Certainly not, for four compelling reasons.

First, nuclear power was politically dead at that time, following the monumentally stupid attempt by the Soviet operators of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor to shut it down without external power just because they were curious to see what would happen.

Secondly, by then the mineworkers, under their Communist leadership, had long been defeated, and we were making arrangements for the deep, dangerous, loss-making coal-mines that had killed so many brave pitmen to be shut down and replaced with safer, profitable, opencast mines.

Two mineworkers came to my farewell party at 10 Downing Street: the first miners ever to enter Downing Street during a Conservative administration.

Thirdly, Margaret Thatcher was never vindictive: it simply was not in her nature. If any of us ever suggested taking any action that would unfairly disadvantage any of her political opponents, she would give us the Gazillion-Gigawatt Glare and say, very firmly and quietly, “Prime Ministers don’t, dear!”

Fourthly, she had an unusual mind that effortlessly spanned CP Snow’s Two Cultures.

As a former food chemist, she possessed the ruthlessly honest logic of the true scientist. As a former barrister, she had the vigor and articulacy of the true practitioner of the forensic arts. Too many scientists today are in effect politicians: too many politicians pretend to be scientific.

Margaret Thatcher was genuinely both scientist and politician, and was able to take the best from both roles without confusing them. She would not have dreamed of doing anything that in any way undermined the integrity of science.

A little vignette will illustrate her scientific integrity. In the late 1970s, a year before she won the first of her three General Elections and became Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, I had sent her a tiny piece of propaganda that I had designed, The Labour Pound.

The little slip of paper bore this simple message:

“This is a Labour Pound. This is how small your banknote would be today if it had been shrunk to match the fall in its value under Labour. Vote Conservative!”

Margaret Thatcher noticed at once that the piece of paper was a little too small. Inflation had been bad under the Labour Government (at the time it was running at 27% a year), but not that bad. “Do it again and get it right and be fair,” she said. Humbled, I did as I was told – and tens of millions of Labour Pounds were distributed throughout Britain at the subsequent General Election, to satisfyingly devastating effect.

In 1988 it was my successor at No. 10, George Guise, who traveled one bitterly cold October weekend down to Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country house, and sat in front of a roaring fire writing the speech that would announce a government subsidy to the Royal Society to establish what would become the Hadley Centre for Forecasting.

George remembers how he and the Prime Minister chuckled at the irony of writing a speech about “global warming” on an evening so cold that he could hardly hold his pen.

But that’s October for you: a couple of years ago the scientific illiterates who now inhabit the House of Commons voted for the Climate Change and National Economic Hara-Kiri Bill by one of the largest majorities in Parliament’s history, with only three gallant MPs having the courage to defy the Whips and vote against – and this on the very night that the first October snow in 74 years fell in Parliament Square.

In due course, the scientific results began to arrive. It became as clear to Margaret Thatcher as it has to me that our original concern was no longer necessary. The warming effect of CO2 is simply too small to make much difference and, in any event, it is orders of magnitude cheaper and more cost-effective to adapt to any consequences of “global warming” than to wreck the economies of the West by trying to demonize CO2 and cut our emissions.

Margaret Thatcher was very conscious that the Left tries to taint every aspect of life by attempting to politicize it.

In her thinking, therefore, there is genuine outrage that the coalescence of financial and political vested-interest factions in the scientific and academic community that are driving the climate scare should be striving to bring the age of enlightenment and reason to an end by treating scientific debate as though every question were a political football to be kicked ever Leftward.

In the elegant words of my good friend Bob Ferguson of the Science and Public Policy Institute, she is interested not in “policy-based evidence-making” but in “evidence-based policy-making”. The present crop of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic could learn much from her honest, forthright, no-nonsense approach.



Surprise! America's Leftists have no respect for democracy

They know what's best for you. The will of the people be damned!

Mike Allen broke this astounding bit of news yesterday:
Phil Schiliro, the White House congressional liaison, has told the Senate to aim to take up an energy bill the week of July 12, after the July 4 break (and after the scheduled final passage of Wall Street reform). Kagan confirmation will follow, ahead of the summer break, scheduled to begin Aug. 9. The plan is to conference the new Senate bill with the already-passed House bill IN A LAME-DUCK SESSION AFTER THE ELECTION, so House members don't have to take another tough vote ahead of midterms.

A White House aide has the official word: "President Obama reiterated his call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation to break our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. In the coming weeks he will be reaching out to Senators on both sides of the aisle to chart a path forward. A number of proposals have been put forward from Members on both sides of the aisle. We're open to good ideas from all sources, and will be working with Senators on a comprehensive proposal. The tragedy in the Gulf underscores the need to move quickly, and the President is committed to finding the votes for comprehensive energy legislation this year."

The only reason to pass such a major piece of legislation during a lame duck session is because the proposal is unpopular. If Democrats could sell the bill to their constituents, they would pass it before the November elections then campaign on it. Party leaders must also expect that the political will for this bill will not exist in the 112th Congress after the voters have spoken in November. In other words, the new representatives coming in are not going to vote for it - so Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama had better get the representatives who were just fired to support it before they're forced into early retirement.



Engulfing the Internet

Despite opposition by a House of Representatives majority and a bipartisan group of Senators, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday is expected to proceed with plans to impose federal government regulation of the Internet, which would essentially treat broadband networks -- and the companies that invested more than $200 billion in private capital to deploy them -- as utilities.

The commission's chairman, Julius Genachowski, and his staff have insisted that imposing federal regulations originally written in the 1930s for the telephone is the only way the Obama Administration can gain the "kind of oversight and control that we need," says an FCC staffer with ties to another Democrat commissioner. "Look at the Gulf oil spill, that's what happens when we let corporations just do their own thing without any accountability. We can't allow that to happen with the Internet. We won't allow it."

The vote to continue the review and comment process at the FCC is expected to be a party-line vote, with the two Republican commissioners voting against the proposed regulatory scheme.

Under the Obama Administration's plan, the FCC would be able to enforce so-called "net neutrality" rules, allowing the federal government to set how broadband and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) manage the networks. By bringing broadband and the Internet under FCC regulatory oversight, the FCC would also be able to impose policies related to speech or online business models.

"The American public really has no idea how devastating these policies are going to have on free speech and the Internet," says a Republican Senate staffer. "If they are able to impose these regulations, they would be able to impose a host of different regulations that would limit free speech online and essentially give the left the upper hand. First the auto industry, then health care and the financial services industry, now this."




U.S. private sector not recovering: "Wall Street seems to have no concept at all that every bit of growth we've observed over the past year can be traced to government deficit spending, with zero private sector expansion when those deficits are factored out. As I noted last week, if one removes the impact of deficit spending, "the economy has recovered to the point where the year-over-year growth rate since early 2009 now matches the worst performance of any of the 50 years preceding the recent downturn." In effect, Wall Street's is seeing "legs" where the economy is in fact walking on nothing but crutches.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Rose Last Week: "The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits last week unexpectedly rose to a one-month high, indicating firings are staying elevated even as the U.S. economy grows. Initial jobless claims increased by 12,000 to 472,000 in the week ended June 12, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected 450,000 claims, according to the median forecast. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance rose, while those getting extended benefits dropped."

Record 57% Of Americans Disapprove Of Obama’s Performance: "That’s a new low for President Obama in the latest Rasmussen poll. Just 42% approve of his performance, matching a record low. Likely voters are increasingly frustrated with Obama over the BP (BP) oil spill, Rasmussen noted Tuesday: "Meanwhile, 45% now say the president is doing a poor job handling the incident. That’s up 11 points from two weeks ago and 19 points at the beginning of last month. Thirty percent (30%) give the president good or excellent marks for his handling of the situation, down from 38% two weeks ago." Rasmussen is the only one on the RCP list that queries likely voters"

Voters in big states prefer skinflint candidates: "Government in New York is too big, ineffective, and expensive,’ the candidate’s website proclaims. ‘We must get our state’s fiscal house in order by immediately imposing a cap on state spending and freezing salaries of state public employees as part of a one-year emergency financial plan, committing to no increase in personal or corporate income taxes of sales taxes and imposing a local property tax cap.’ A tea-party candidate? Some right-wing Republican? No, it’s Andrew Cuomo, son of three-term Democratic governor Mario Cuomo. Interestingly, he’s the only Democrat with a significant polling lead in the gubernatorial races in our eight largest states, which together have 48 percent of the nation’s population.”

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 June, 2010

Racial quotas for elections?

Leftist racism marches on

Voters in Port Chester, 25 miles northeast of New York City, are electing village trustees for the first time since the federal government alleged in 2006 that the existing election system was unfair. The election ends Tuesday and results are expected late Tuesday.

Although the village of about 30,000 residents is nearly half Hispanic, no Latino had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats, which until now were chosen in a conventional at-large election. Most voters were white, and white candidates always won.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson said that violated the Voting Rights Act, and he approved a remedy suggested by village officials: a system called cumulative voting, in which residents get six votes each to apportion as they wish among the candidates. He rejected a government proposal to break the village into six districts, including one that took in heavily Hispanic areas.



L.A. Times blogger does a great job on President Emptyhead

Some scathing words by Andrew Malcolm below

For all his reputation as the nation's Top Talker, Barack Obama took his sweet time giving a maiden Oval Office address to the country. And waiting another nearly 60 days to speak nationally about the oil spill that’s become the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history.

Obama, the first modern president to pass his first full year in office without addressing the country from his historic desk, had the setting right. Just back from a day-and-a-half on the gulf coast listening, reassuring, talking tourism, eating seafood. He wore the proper suit, had the requisite flags and family photos in the background.

For 18 minutes he delivered the words crisply and forthrightly, though too often distracting anxious viewers with his fidgeting hands like the lecturing professor he once was. Or wait! Was Mr. Cool nervous? (See video below.)

Obama had the firmness down OK: Make no mistake etc. We will hold BP accountable etc. He....

...had the God references. The talk of real live shrimpers devastated. An American way of life threatened. And though he likened the spill more to an epidemic, he also brought in the requisite battle metaphors. And, in case anyone hasn't heard by now, Obama noted has another Nobel Prize winner in his cabinet, Stephen Chu, who hasn't been able to stop the oil leak either.
But there was something wrong. The first two-thirds of the president's remarks read just fine (Full text over here on The Ticket as usual). By golly, we’ll get the money, we’ll clean it up, no matter how long it takes.
Democrat president Barack walks to the Oval Office shortly before his national speech 6-15-10

But watching the president and hearing him was a little creepy; that early portion of the address was robotic, lacked real energy, enthusiasm. And worst of all specifics. He was virtually detail-less.

After almost two months of waiting through continuously contradictory reports, an anxious American public wanted to know, HOW are you going to accomplish all this?

Even Obama's cheerleaders over at MSNBC were complaining. "Where was the How in this speech?" demanded Keith Olbermann. Seriously.

Everyone's assumed that fixing the leak was a given since Day Four, which was still five days before the Democrat got his big plane and presidential entourage down there.

Local gulf coast officials are tearing out their hair trying to comprehend and comply with seventeen (as in seven more than 10) federal agencies falling all over themselves to do The Boss’ bidding and help and impose and superimpose their visions and regulations on what is a war zone with hundreds of ships and some 30,000 people involved, many of them frightened. And all of them inexperienced on a disaster of this scale.

Trust me, the president said, tomorrow I'm going to give those BP execs what-for. As CBS' Mark Knoller noted on his Twitter account, the president has allotted exactly 20 whole minutes this morning -- 1,200 fleeting seconds -- to his first-ever conversation with the corporation responsible for the disaster.

Then, he's got an important lunch with Joe "I Witnessed the World Cup's First Tie" Biden.

Well, just-believe-in-my-change-to-believe-in may have been good enough to win Obama's party primaries and the general election in 2008 and drag along into office enormous congressional majorities of fellow party travelers.
Democrat president Barack Obama gives his first Oval Office Speech 6-15-10

But after yelling "JOBS!" for a year and getting a protracted Democratic intra-party fight over Obama's beloved healthcare instead, Americans wanted some Oval Office specifics Tuesday evening on stopping the uncontrolled undersea oil escape.

Instead, Obama was like a Harvard-trained nurse talking vacation to a new patient bleeding all over the ER floor. Hello, could we please stop the blood flow here before we discuss the long-term recovery?

Obama’s delivery did not really come alive until the end when the ex-community organizer got into his favorite Big Picture stuff. Memo to American Homeowners: Do not call Obama over to fix your leaking roof – or pipe. Have him design a new house, no, better yet an entire neighborhood or city from scratch.

Following the advice of his chief of staff, Rahm "I Got a Rent-Free Apartment from a BP Adviser" Emanuel, Obama is determined to leave no crisis unused. When he got into the decades-long fossil fuel addiction rehab stuff, his eyes shone. His delivery punched up.

Now, that is an issue that requires greatness. Another galactic reform out of Hyde Park. It sounds swell unless mega-trillion-dollar federal deficits are on your mind, which voter polls now show ranks with terrorism as Americans' top fears.
Obama’s historic presidential campaign was not only big in terms of an unprecedented three-quarters of a billion dollars to win. It was about Big Promises. He was going to change America, radically reform the entire education system, healthcare, comb the entire federal budget line-by-line, oh, and change the 200-year-old partisan ways of the capitol. About the only big change the White Sox fan didn't promise was getting the Cubs a World Series ring.

It was all impractical, of course. But the country wanted to believe.... ....in his change to believe in. And it did, handing complete control of the federal government over to Obama and his Democratic party. And today, after 17 months of lop-sided Democratic majorities now nervously confronting midterm elections Nov. 2, about 60% of Americans would like the new healthcare bill repealed. And they're hinting they'd probably like some more Republicans in Congress too.

President Obama has said he doesn’t sense an appetite to address something as large as the illegal immigrant issue this year. But suddenly – watch the left hand over here because he wants you to not focus on how long it’s taken him to take charge of the spill – he thinks there’s a compelling need to spend a motorcade full of moola that the federal government doesn’t have in order to change the country’s energy habits.

And we've gotta start that right now because of an underwater leaking pipe 40 miles off Louisiana that we haven't plugged and don't really understand how it broke in the first place. So let's do the electric car thing and build more windmills now.

And if, by chance, the nation’s politicians end up fighting over an energy plan during the next five months until the voting, maybe the politically damaging healthcare regrets and hidden costs will drown in all the words like so many thousands of seabirds in all the gulf’s still-surging oil.



Economic Myths, Fallacies and Stupidity

George Orwell admonished, "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." That's what I want to do -- talk about the obvious. Suppose that a person is faced with the choice of spending $50,000 on a brand-new car or paying two years worth of college tuition for his 18-year-old. What is the solution?

That's a stupid question. In the world of economic decision making, there are no solutions -- only tradeoffs, where having more of one thing means having less of another. Having one desire fulfilled means having another unfulfilled. For example, there's no solution to our health care issues. Congress' health care law simply substitutes its judgment on the delivery of medical services in the name of helping the uninsured. The tradeoff is that Americans have less of something else such as fewer personal choices, less after-tax income and very likely a lower quality of medical services.

How about the criticism that businesses are just in it for money and profits? That's supposed to be an anti-business slam but upon simple examination, it reflects gross stupidity or misunderstanding. Wal-Mart owns 8,300 stores, of which 4,000 are in 44 different countries. Its 2010 revenues are expected to top $500 billion. Putting Wal-Mart's revenues in perspective, they exceed the 2009 GDP of all but 18 of the world's 181 countries. Why is Wal-Mart so successful? Millions of people voluntarily enter their stores and part with their money in exchange for Wal-Mart's products and services. In order for that to happen, Wal-Mart and millions of other profit-motivated businesses must please people.

Compare our level of satisfaction with the services of those "in it just for the money and profits" to those in it to serve the public as opposed to earning profits. A major non-profit service provider is the public education establishment that delivers primary and secondary education at nearly a trillion-dollar annual cost. Public education is a major source of complaints about poor services that in many cases constitute nothing less than gross fraud.

If Wal-Mart, or any of the millions of producers who are in it for money and profits, were to deliver the same low-quality services, they would be out of business, but not public schools. Why? People who produce public education get their pay, pay raises and perks whether customers are satisfied or not. They are not motivated by profits and therefore under considerably less pressure to please customers. They use government to take customer money, in the form of taxes.

The U. S. Postal Service, state motor vehicle departments and other government agencies also have the taxing power of government to get money and therefore are less diligent about pleasing customers. You can bet the rent money that if Wal-Mart and other businesses had the power to take our money by force, they would be less interested and willing to please us.

The big difference between entities that serve us well and those who do not lies in what motivates them. Wal-Mart and millions of other businesses are profit-motivated whereas government schools, USPS and state motor vehicle departments are not.

In the market, when a firm fails to please its customers and fails to earn a profit, it goes bankrupt, making those resources available to another that might do better. That's unless government steps in to bail it out. Bailouts send the message to continue doing a poor job of pleasing customers and husbanding resources. Government-owned nonprofit entities are immune to the ruthless market discipline of being forced to please customers. The same can be said of businesses that receive government subsidies.

The ruthlessness of the market discipline, which forces firms to please customers and thereby earn profits, goes a long way toward explaining hostility toward free market capitalism.




Presbyterians lurching Left: "The compounding problem with the Accra Confession is that it takes the wrong side, the side that embraces an essentially neo-Marxist narrative of Third World alienation and victimization, and seeks ‘justice’ in the form of retribution against First World villains. Far from promoting the kind of unity that is at the core of ecumenical efforts, this kind of rhetorical and ideological confessionalism drives apart those who ought to be joining together. It pits the rich against the poor, north against south, east against west, inserting the divisive language of economic class into the definition of the Christian church. Wholesale rejection of globalization should not be made into an article of the Christian faith.”

The criminalization of business: "Under the radar, the Obama administration has exhibited a disturbing tendency to criminalize business. Recently the administration announced that it was opening a criminal investigation into the activities of Goldman Sachs in selling securities backed by subprime mortgage loans. Now comes word that the Food and Drug Administration is considering imposing criminal penalties against Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit for a ‘pattern of non-compliance’ with rules governing the manufacture of pharmaceutical products. This criminalization of business represents a dramatic expansion of government power that is unwarranted.”

End the drug war: "I understand that people on drugs can do terrible harm — wreck lives and hurt people. But that’s true for alcohol, too. But alcohol prohibition didn’t work. It created Al Capone and organized crime. Now drug prohibition funds nasty Mexican gangs and the Taliban. Is it worth it? I don’t think so. Everything can be abused, but that doesn’t mean government can stop it, or should try to stop it. Government goes astray when it tries to protect us from ourselves.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Amusing crap about IQ

A murder in your area lowers your IQ -- even if you don't know about the murder concerned? It's totally implausible but Leftists never give up in their hatred of around 100 years of IQ research that show IQ to be mostly genetic.

The author below found that people living in areas where a crime had occurred recently have lower IQs. But what sort of area is likely to have experienced a crime recently? A area that has high rates of crime generally and an area where anybody with brains would NOT live. Note that criminals have long been known to have generally low IQs and very low levels of educational attainment.

So all that the author below in fact found was that people living in high crime areas tend to be dumb, which is no surprise to anyone. The journal article is The acute effect of local homicides on children's cognitive performance.

The statement below to the effect that "The effects wear off after a week to nine days" is simply not supportable from the data available. It is just another perverse guess. You would need before-and-after data on the same person to substantiate that claim and the author simply did not have such data.

A murder in the neighborhood can significantly knock down a child's score on an IQ test, even if the child did not directly witness the killing or know the victim, U.S. researchers reported on Monday....

Sharkey compared data on crimes broken down to within a few blocks in a neighborhood with school test scores.

He collected details of more than 6,000 murders in the Chicago area and the results of two surveys of children and families in Chicago neighborhoods. The surveys included scores from tests that are used to determine a child's IQ.

If a murder occurred in a child's neighborhood -- an area of roughly six to 10 square blocks as denoted by the U.S. Census -- the children's test scores fell by an average of half a standard deviation, Sharkey reported.

On an IQ test using 100 as the average or norm, one standard deviation is 15 points. So if a child took the test within a week of a local murder, his or her score was 7-8 points lower on average than the score of a similar child in a similar neighborhood where there was no murder.

This fits in with what is known about the effects of post traumatic stress, Sharkey said. "The results suggest that children may carry the burden of violence with them as they take part in daily life within the neighborhood or school settings," he said.

The effects wear off after a week to nine days, Sharkey found. But in areas with a lot of crime, this does not provide much relief.




Deepwater-Gate: Administration Modifies Peer-Reviewed Report After it was Reviewed by Scientists

In the days following the Gulf oil spill, President Obama requested that the Secretary of the Interior conduct a 30-day review of the offshore drilling program in the United States and issue a report with recommendations. This report was to be “peer reviewed” by a team of seven engineers recommended by the National Academy of Engineering.

The team of engineers reviewed, approved and signed off on a version of the 30-day review that was presented to them by the Administration. However, after they signed their names to this document, a significant change was made – a change that led to the 6-month suspension of deepwater exploratory drilling.

The eight panel members said they disagree with the moratorium on all exploratory drilling.” In justifying its broad moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Obama administration emphasized that the measure was recommended by an Interior Department report prepared in consultation with scientists and industry experts.

The May 27 report to President Barack Obama said the experts “peer reviewed” its recommendations, including the six-month moratorium and 22 safety measures. But eight of the 15 members of the review panel are charging that the administration misrepresented their position by suggesting they supported a blanket moratorium that they actually oppose. Their criticism, and the administration’s response, are evidence that the six-month stoppage is based on politics rather than on science.



Obama Blocked Clean-Up of BP Oil Spill by Friendly Countries

Is this another crisis Obama doesn't want to waste?

Crucial offers to help clean up BP’s oil spill “have come from Belgian, Dutch, and Norwegian firms that . . . possess some of the world’s most advanced oil skimming ships.” But the Obama Administration wouldn’t accept the help, because doing so would require it to do something past presidents have routinely done: waive rules imposed by the Jones Act, a law backed by unions.

“The BP clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico is hampered by the Jones Act. This is a piece of 1920s protectionist legislation, that requires all vessels working in U.S. waters to be American-built, and American-crewed. So the U.S. Coast Guard" cannot "accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels specifically designed for the task in hand.”

The law itself permits the President to waive these requirements, and such waivers were “granted, promptly, by the Bush administration,” in the aftermath of hurricanes and other emergencies. But Obama has refused to do so, notes David Warren in the Ottawa Citizen.

“After the Obama administration refused help from the Netherlands, Geert Visser, the consul general for the Netherlands in Houston, told Loren Steffy: ‘Let’s forget about politics; let’s get it done.’” But for Obama, politics always comes first: “The explanation of Obama’s reluctance to seek this remedy is his cozy relationship with labor unions. . . ‘The unions see it [not waiving the act] as … protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived.’”

Ironically, even the staunchest supporters of the Jones Act are now distancing themselves from refusals to accept foreign help, saying they have “not and will not stand in the way of the use of these well-established waiver procedures to address this crisis.” Obama is being more intransigently pro-union than the unions themselves. Never mind that "each day our European allies are prevented from helping us speed up the clean up is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die.”

In April 2009, the Obama administration granted BP, a big supporter of Obama, a waiver of environmental regulations. But after the oil spill, it blocked Louisiana from protecting its coastline against the oil spill by delaying rather than expediting regulatory approval of essential protective measures. It has also chosen not to use what has been described as “the most effective method” of fighting the spill, a method successfully used in other oil spills. Democratic strategist James Carville called Obama’s handling of the oil spill “lackadaisical” and “unbelievable” in its “stupidity.”

Obama is now using BP’s oil spill to push the global-warming legislation that BP had lobbied for. Obama’s global warming legislation expands ethanol subsidies, which cause famine, starvation, and food riots in poor countries by shrinking the food supply. Ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier, increases ozone pollution, and increases the death toll from smog and air pollution. Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. Subsidies for biofuels like ethanol are a big source of corporate welfare: “BP has lobbied for and profited from subsidies for biofuels . . . that cannot break even without government support.”



BrookesNews Update

Is the US economy heading for the rocks? : If the public had — or at least the country's economic pundits — had a far better understanding of how the economy functioned Obama's destructive economic policies would never have got of the ground
Is the US economy facing deflation?: A sharp fall in commodity prices has raised the spectre of deflation in the US. But so long as the rate of monetary expansion remains positive there can be no deflation. And monetary pumping by the Fed has kept monetary growth in positive territory. Moreover, there is the distinct possibility that stagflation will emerge
Rudd's disastrous resource rent tax: how the right let the country down again : What is truly bizarre about the present situation is not a single member of our rightwing has come out against the theoretical basis of Rudd's tax. Equally bizarre is their refusal to acknowledge that the theory of economic rent has been effectively debunked, even though they are stridently attacking the tax
The Gaza flotilla's organisors' terrorist links : The 'charity' that organised the Gaza flotilla is in fact a terrorist front with strong links to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Evidence is emerging that suggests Erdogan collaborated with these terrorists in an effort to score a propaganda victory against Israel, a victory that the willing collaboration of the Western media guaranteed, making Erdogan a sponsor of international terrorism
CNBC is collaborating with Castro's KGB-trained secret police : CNBC has decided to partner itself with Castro's secret police. In a hit job on the rescue of more than 14,000 children from Castro's vicious regime it brought in Maria Torres, neglecting to mention that she is an agent of influence for the Castro regime and is a also a member of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, an organization that is run by Castro's KGB-trained DGI. CNBC has once again revealed itself as a deeply corrupt, even treasonous, phony news outlet
Friends of Israel take a stand : The goal is to fight the web war against Israel by blogging and using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and posting talkbacks on a range of media sites
A shrink asks: what's wrong with Obama? : Obama will not learn from his mistakes. He will not grow and mature from on-the-job experience. Over time he will become a more ferocious version of who he is today. Why? Because this is a damaged person. Obama's fate was sealed years ago growing up in his strange and poisonous family



On Henry Ford and his $5 a day: "It's a fairly common trope in US lefty land that Henry Ford and his $5 a day wages back in 1913 marked a huge change in labour relations. He was moved to raise wages so high (approximately double the prevailing wage) so as to help create a market for his own products. This is an interesting thought, certainly, but not one that stands much examination. That year his establishment of workers was some 14,000 head: his sales some 170,000 and that's just the year that he started ramping up production through the moving assembly line (reaching 500,000 in a couple of years and near a million within a decade). The spending power of his workforce was entirely marginal."

How can America’s “War on Drugs” succeed if alcohol Prohibition failed?: "America’s Prohibition laws were meant to cut crime and boost morality — they failed on both fronts. So how can the ‘War on Drugs’ ever succeed? It can’t.”

Views from abroad: "Having spent almost six years living in various parts of Asia and traveling to over 50 cities, I always made a deliberate effort to absorb as much of the local sentiment as possible. Sometimes this is very difficult given time constraints, language barriers, etc.; however, certain aspects of my travels were very clearly spelled out and remain very vivid to this day. When I found myself engaged in meaningful discussions with people who understood their society and seemed genuinely connected to their society, I would always ask ‘what do you think is the biggest problem in society?’ From my time spent in places like Philippines, India, Vietnam and China, the overwhelming majority of times, I received a similar response — ‘Government.’”

Bailing out politicians now?: "Obama calls it an ‘emergency’ measure to prevent ‘massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters.’ Yet, none of the 20 million state, county or municipal workers can lose their job unless an elected legislature and a chief executive agree that they should go. Obama is calling for a taxpayer rescue of the political class to which he belongs, to spare it the painful duty tens of thousands of business executives have had to perform. Private employees — 25 million of whom are out of work, underemployed or have given up looking for jobs — may be expendable, but government workers are not.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Crisis puts nails back in Keynesian coffin

Comment from Australia

LAST year's global financial crisis heralded the stunning return of Keynesian fiscal policy as governments pumped up their budgets to stave off a feared global depression. This year's European sovereign-debt crisis signals its spectacular fall as governments are suddenly forced to cut their budgets even when their economies are weak.

The discrediting of activist fiscal policy also dashes Kevin Rudd's wild talk that the GFC marked the end of unregulated extreme capitalism and its overthrow by a new epoch of "social democracy". As the PM's essay in The Monthly approvingly quoted French President Nicolas Sarkozy: "Le laissez-faire, c'est fini."

Of course, the neo-liberal minimalist state doesn't exist, particularly in Europe. Yet the Europeans continued to blame unregulated financial markets as their sovereign-debt crisis spread from Greece across the world in April and May. The Swedish Finance Minister likened the markets to "a pack of wolves".

Only after the EU's emergency $US1 trillion ($1.17 trillion) financial stabilisation fund failed to stabilise the situation did the euro finally drop. The recession and the huge budget stimulus and bank bailout packages had pushed Europe's budgets over the brink. Investors demanded much higher risk premiums before they would be prepared to buy bonds issued by the most profligate governments, such as Greece, Portugal and Spain. This threatened to club their economies even harder, make their budget positions worse and risk feeding back through sovereign defaults into a new European banking crisis.

After championing last year's huge budget stimulus packages, the International Monetary Fund now says the euro area crisis primarily results from "fiscally unsustainable policies". Advanced economies will have to contract their budgets nearly nine percentage points of gross domestic product to reduce their gross government debt from post-war highs of over 100 per cent to 60 per cent of GDP by 2030. The World Bank says a severe loss of confidence in the budget positions of high-income economies is now the biggest risk to the global economy. "Demand stimulus in high-income countries is increasingly part of the problem instead of the solution," it says.

One of the world's leading macro-economists, Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs, argues that Europe's enforced switch from budget stimulus to fiscal austerity reveals the folly of last year's Keynesian revival.

"Keynesian stimulus was premised on four dubious propositions," Sachs wrote last week in the Financial Times. "That it was needed to prevent a global depression; that a short-run fiscal boost would jump-start the economy; that 'shovel-ready projects' could combine short-term cyclical and long-term structural agendas; and, last, that the rapid rise of public debt occasioned by stimulus need not be a concern. That these ideas were so widely accepted was a testament to the perennial political attractiveness of tax cuts and spending increases."

Sachs dismisses last year's ubiquitous references to another Depression as glib. Politicians panicked when they should have left the financial crisis to central bankers. Many of the budget stimulus programs were "dispiriting wastes of scarce time and money". And they ignored a key rationalist insight of modern macro-economics: that the effectiveness of such stimulus packages depends not only on current taxes and spending but also on their likely future trajectories.

The irony is striking. Rudd claimed that the GFC revealed the neo-liberal fallacy that financial markets naturally self-corrected. But it has taken the markets to finally discipline the political tendency for the modern welfare state to repeatedly ratchet up spending and taxes as a share of national income. EU president Herman Van Rompuy now even blames financial markets for being too "soft" on European fiscal irresponsibility for too long after the euro was born in 1999.

And the battle to save the euro will not be waged through Rudd's seismic social-democratic overthrow of neo-liberalism. Along with austerity, it will require more pro-market reforms - particular to Europe's over-regulated labour markets - to provide the internal economic flexibility required by a single-currency area.

More here


Time to Stop Funding Luxuries, Like Public Broadcasting

As a taxpayer, it is a good idea to take a step back and evaluate the government-run programs you are financially supporting.

Most likely you will be appalled. As American families have to adjust their spending budgets due to the depressed economy, the federal government continues to plunge the nation into unprecedented debt levels. The only way out of this mess is for the government to start cutting non-essential programs.

One such program, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), is a good place to start.

Networks such as Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) feed off federal funding from CPB. This year alone, American taxpayers are spending $420 million to fund CPB. That’s $420 million too much.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) is proposing legislation this week that will put an end to taxpayer subsidies of public broadcasting. CPB is a non-profit that receives about 13 percent of its funding from the federal government — meaning taxpayers.

“The Corporation for Public Broadcasting puts out some programs that I enjoy and a lot of people enjoy, but they can stand on their own two feet,” Lamborn says in an exclusive interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “In fact, 87 percent of their money comes from sources other than the U.S. taxpayer. So why should we, in days of $1 trillion annual deficits, give money to a corporation or any company that can fund itself.”

More here


African-American Ethics Judge Accused of being bribed by a trip Overseas

In an ironic revelations concerning a California judge, details of a suit accusing the judge of accepting a trip oversees as a form bribery were publicized recently by a faith-based watchdog group. The suit accuses Patrice Elizabeth McElroy (aka Pat McElroy), a judge with the State Bar Court of California, of accepting bribery as part of a scheme and as a valuable consideration in exchange for favorable rulings from a private attorney who appeared before her in a case in which he was involved.

The suit also alleges that McElroy never made any disclosures to the other litigants appearing before her concerning her participation in the trip which she had had secretly accepted from the private attorney.

Patrice McElroy is the supervising judge of the State Bar Court Hearing Department, which is part of the State Bar of California. The work of Patrice McElroy involves judging others in matters relating to ethics.

Press release here. Details here.


Big Labor Is Humbled by Blanche Lincoln's Win

How bad a defeat did labor unions suffer when Sen. Blanche Lincoln defeated their candidate and won the Arkansas Democratic runoff last week? That's like asking how Custer fared at Little Big Horn.

Like Custer, the unions bet heavily, putting something like $10 million into Arkansas to support Lincoln's challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, since he started his campaign in early March. And they did so for good reason.

Union leaders desperately need Congress to pass their card check bill, which would effectively abolish the secret ballot in unionization elections. Card check would allow union thugs -- er, organizers -- to collect signatures on cards of a majority of employees and then, presto, the union would be recognized as a bargaining agent, and dues money would come pouring in.

It isn't now, at least at the rate union leaders would like. Last January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that union membership in 2009 was at an all-time low since the 1930s. Only 12 percent of wage and salary workers were union members, and the number of union members dropped 771,000 between 2008 and 2009.

And, for the first time in history, more union members (7.9 million) work in the public sector than the private sector (7.4 million). Only 7.2 percent of private-sector workers are union members, a huge drop from the peak figure of 28 percent in the mid-1950s.

Moreover, unions aren't picking up many young workers. The BLS reports that 16.6 percent of workers 55 to 64 years old are union members. That's compared to only 4.7 percent of workers 16 to 24.

Union leaders spent some $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle to elect Barack Obama and Democratic candidates for Senate and House. They got their wish: Obama won, House Democrats gained a solid majority and, once Al Franken was seated last July, there was a 60-vote Democratic supermajority in the Senate. There was speculation in sympathetic blogs about how many Senate Republicans would join the Democrats in passing card check and sending it to the president for his signature.

But politicians don't always stay bought. Every Democratic senator but one (who was out sick) voted for cloture to consider the card check bill in 2007, including Blanche Lincoln. But that was when it was sure to be vetoed by George W. Bush.

After the 2008 elections, Lincoln undoubtedly started to hear constituents in Arkansas -- including, undoubtedly, top management at Wal-Mart and Tysons Food, who don't want unions to do to their firms what the United Auto Workers did to General Motors and Chrysler. Polls showed large majorities of the national electorate opposed to eliminating the secret ballot. By January 2009, Lincoln was saying she didn't think "there is a need for this legislation right now."

She wasn't the only Senate Democrat to take that view. Her Arkansas colleague Mark Pryor, re-elected without opposition in 2008, said he wouldn't co-sponsor card check again. Card check slowly died.

Union leaders are under no illusion that there will be more Democrats in the next Congress than in this one. But they think far ahead, and they decided to oppose Lincoln to teach every Democrat a lesson: If you oppose big labor, we will end your career. Whether they persuaded Halter to run or just hitched a ride on his last-minute candidacy, they went all-in for him.

More here



I don't know that it proves anything much -- other than the usual Leftist hypocrisy -- but there is an article here about Hitler's homosexuality. It is a review of Lothar Machtan's book, "The Hidden Hitler". Homosexual aggression is nothing new. The Pink Swastika by Scott Lively is the best-known book on homosexuality in the Nazi party.

Democrat thug caught out: "In a video released early this morning, a North Carolina congressman gets rowdy with a "college student" who accosted him with questions. Rep. Bob Etheridge has apologized for the incident, captured on YouTube, where he grabs the inquisitive young man a repeatedly asks, "Who are you?" Etheridge, was apparently peeved by the question of whether he fully supports the Obama agenda. The congressman released the following statement regarding the altercation: "I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved," Etheridge said. "Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response." (Video here)

The ambiguity of "equal rights": "Ted Olsen's view, widely shared by supporters of gay marriage, is that current California law fails to provide homosexuals the same right it provides to heterosexuals - the right to be married to the partner of their choice. An opponent could respond, with equal logic, that it is consistent with equal rights. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals have the right to marry a partner of the opposite sex, neither has the right to marry a partner of the same sex. Seen from this standpoint, the difference is not in what rights different people have but in what rights matter to different people."

What’s your plan, Senator Reid?: "It is no secret that Harry Reid sees the road to his Senate re-election as running through Social Security. His opponent, former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, supports proposals to allow younger workers to privately invest a portion of their Social Security taxes through personal accounts. Reid has been practically salivating at the prospect of portraying her as sentencing seniors to a life of eating cat food. … Social Security is certainly a fair-game issue. It is the largest government program in the world, accounting for 23 percent of the federal budget. … Millions of seniors depend on Social Security for their retirement income. Angle’s position should be scrutinized and debated. But one must also ask Sen. Reid what, exactly, he would do about Social Security’s looming fiscal meltdown.”

Jobs programs: “Job creation, government style, is a splashy, photo-op filled, nice-sounding program that makes politicians sound clever and seem proactive. The Boise Valley Economic Partnership is a taxpayer and private money example of the process. They are now four years into this five-year, $5,000,000 government program. The planned $650,000,000 private/taxpayer investment has fallen short of the goal, but only by $530,000,000. The planned 5,000 new jobs has fallen short by 3,194 jobs. But the Boise area did get 1,806 new jobs (… while losing 10,000 — oops). Those new jobs only cost $66,445 each!”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Gmail difficulties

In their never-ending attempts to "improve" their services (i.e. stuff their users around), Google seem to be trying to integrate more closely their Blogger.com and Gmail services. Because I divide my use of blogger.com services into two separate accounts (for security purposes) with different passwords, that leads to a lot of difficulties -- and accessing my gmail a/c has become particularly tricky

Fortunately, I have been phasing out mention of my gmail address on my blogs and just giving my hotmail address. So most people using my gmail address will be ones who have it stored from somewhere in the past. As Google get more and more East German, however, it seems likely that I will lose all access to my gmail address, so if anybody reading this uses my gmail address, I would suggest that they change it forthwith to my hotmail address: jonjayray@hotmail.com. I also have a backup address that I check only about once a day: jonjayra@bigpond.net.au. I check my hotmail address many times throughout the day.


Most Israelis are indigenous to the region

WHEN HELEN THOMAS sniped that Israel's Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, she displayed more than just hostility for the Jewish state. She also revealed her ignorance of basic Israeli demography.

Contrary to the anti-Zionist stereotype, Israel is not primarily a nation of Europeans and their descendants: The largest share of Israel's population is ethnically Middle Eastern and North African. Some Jewish survivors from "Poland and Germany" did find haven in Israel after the Holocaust, but a far greater number of Israeli Jews were refugees from the Arab world.

"Jews In Grave Danger In All Moslem Lands," reported the New York Times in May 1948, "Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes." In the years that followed Israel's creation, ancient Jewish communities in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere were decimated as their inhabitants fled from anti-Semitic violence and terror. Israel absorbed most of those refugees, and they and their descendants -- the Jews indigenous to the region -- became the core of the country's population.



Deafening silence from Left as Iranians protest

Proof that the Left stand for nothing but their own self-interest

IT is surely one of the great paradoxes of this age that while many of our cleverest minds have fallen headlong in love with peoples whose causes are more or less entirely alien to us, we can find no stirring in our hearts for peoples whose greatest hope is to become . . . well, more like us.

Thus we artlessly dispatched our hearts on a sentimental journey to Gaza designed for our benefit by the canny Islamists in Ankara and their bloodstained allies in Gaza; people who, in any other context, would treat our Western soft-heartedness and woolly-mindedness with undisguised contempt.

And yet our hearts have no space whatever for the thousands of young Iranian students who, on Saturday, defied the threats of their government, the beatings of the extra-legal militias, and the pusillanimity of their erstwhile leaders, merely to ask for the right to have their votes treated with dignity, rather than being fabricated out of some dodgy Russian software in Iran's Ministry of the Interior.

To the best of my knowledge, not one single person has died at the hands of Iran's green opposition, even as thousands of their number have been arrested, hundreds sexually and physically tortured in prison, and dozens murdered in loneliness, often in the most squalid and humiliating of circumstances. Their cause has been Gandhian, almost to a fault. ("The students will die, but they will not accept humiliation", they chanted at Tehran University.)

And yet their plight leaves us entirely cold. Who knows: if they strapped bombs to themselves, or professed a secret admiration for the racial policies of the Third Reich, would they then become sufficiently exotic to pique our jaded imaginations, and would we then love them a little more?

Fearless Western journalists, we are told, boarded the Gaza flotilla at hazard to their lives, the better to pen florid descriptions of the predations of the Israeli "hyenas"; sentences that could presumably have been written with equal vigour and no less accuracy from the comfort of their computer terminals.

Yet presently there is not one solitary Western journalist, willing to risk the wrath of the Iranian security forces to file a report from Tehran in the open air. And so the job is left to the Iranians themselves: to the anxious young students whose wavering phone cameras record those fleeting snippets of history, floating like sea-wrack across the YouTube ocean in 15 or 20-second fragments. And to the exiles and expatriates, like the courteous, serious-minded and courageous London Guardian stringer Saeed Kamali Dehghan, who have spirited their way back into the country, at genuine hazard to themselves, before the people whose stories they need to tell have disappeared.

Dehghan' s new documentary For Neda - recorded secretly in Iran, using interviews from the family of the young murdered bystander Neda Soltan - will air on US and British television on the anniversary of Neda's death this Wednesday, no doubt to murmurs of polite interest. Perhaps the most touching aspect of this heartfelt documentary is its portrait of a young woman (not in the least political, at least in the Western intellectual sense of the word) who wanted merely to live her life, true to herself as best she could be, and at peace with the world, much in the same manner as any thoughtful Western teenager.

And yet, even before she was gunned down at random by a twitchy sniper, her efforts to follow her own star had been thwarted by laws which view Western popular music as corrupting, Western casual dress as lascivious, and an uncovered head or arms as the grossest of moral provocations. In the Iranian moral-spiritual imagination Neda has already been adopted as a martyr. And yet our Western hearts seem curiously closed to her. Could this be because she reminds us too much of ourselves?

As well as the Iranian elections, and the death of Neda Soltani, we should perhaps recall a third ill-starred anniversary. It was, after all, just one week before the Iranian elections that US President Barack Obama rose in Cairo to deliver an oration on the relations between the US and the Muslim world: a speech, full of generous sentiments and carefully balanced praise and blame for all parties, which for some weeks made him the darling of the political class all over the world. Who knows: perhaps Obama was being merely naive when he spoke encouragingly of a new and optimistic climate of negotiation with the regime in Tehran, even though we must suspect that this signal aided the regime in its decision to overturn the following week's election result, rather than simply to flee to Syria, as they feared they might have to do....

In one of those stolen phone-camera fragments from Saturday's rally, at Tehran University, one of the demonstrators runs towards the camera. Her bright green hijab has been twisted around to cover her nose and mouth, providing protection from tear gas, and a necessary cloak of anonymity. It's an image whose irony, sad to say, would be lost on President Obama, as well as on some of our otherwise clever souls. In that respect, as in others, those brave young Iranians put us all to shame.

More here


The remote man

Far from having a multicultural awareness, Obama doesn't even know or understand America. All he knows is his little Far-Leftist bubble

So a man swept into office on an unprecedented tide of delirious fawning is now watching his presidency sink in an unstoppable gush. That’s almost too apt.

It is hard to imagine Obama wandering along to watch a Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade until the job required him to. That’s not to say he’s un-American or anti-American, but merely that he’s beyond all that. Way beyond. He’s the first president to give off the pronounced whiff that he’s condescending to the job — that it’s really too small for him and he’s just killing time until something more commensurate with his stature comes along.

And so the Gulf spill was an irritation, but he dutifully went through the motions of flying in to be photographed looking presidentially concerned. As he wearily explained to Matt Lauer, “I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain, talking . . . ” Good grief, what more do you people want? Alas, he’s not a good enough actor to fake it. So the more desperately he butches up the rhetoric — “Plug the damn hole!”; “I know whose ass to kick” — the more pathetically unconvincing it all sounds.

No doubt my observations about Obama’s remoteness from the rhythms of American life will be seen by his dwindling band of beleaguered cheerleaders as just another racist, right-wing attempt to whip up the backwoods knuckle-dragging swamp-dwellers of America by playing on their fears of “the other” — the sophisticated, worldly cosmopolitan for whom France is more than a reliable punchline.

But in fact my complaint is exactly the opposite: Obama’s postmodern detachment is feeble and parochial. It’s true that he hadn’t seen much of America until he ran for president, but he hadn’t seen much of anywhere else, either. Like most multiculturalists, he’s passed his entire adulthood in a very narrow unicultural environment where your ideological worldview doesn’t depend on anything so tedious as actually viewing the world.

The U.N., Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Bono: these are the colors a progressive, worldly Westerner nails to his mast. You don’t need to go anywhere, or do anything: You just need to pick up the general groove, which you can do very easily at almost any college campus.

This Barack Obama did brilliantly. A man who speaks fewer languages than the famously moronic George W. Bush, he has nevertheless grasped the essential lingo of the European transnationalist: Continental leaders strike attitudes rather than effect action — which is frankly beneath them. One thinks of the insistence a few years ago by Louis Michel, then Belgian foreign minister, that the so-called European Rapid Reaction Force “must declare itself operational without such a declaration being based on any true capability.” As even the Washington Post drily remarked, “Apparently in Europe this works.”

Apparently. Thus, Barack Obama: He declared himself operational without such a declaration being based on any true capability. But, if it works for the EU, why not America? Like many of his background here and there, Obama is engaged mostly by abstractions and generalities. Indeed, he is the very model of a modern major generalist. He has grand plans for “the environment” — all of it, wherever it may be. Why should the great eco-Gulliver be ensnared by some Lilliputian oil spill lapping round his boots?

He flew in to Cairo to give one of the most historically historic speeches in history to the Muslim world. Why should such a colossus lower his visionary gaze to contemplate some no-account nickel-’n’-dime racket like the Iranian nuclear program? With one stroke of his pen, he has transformed the health care of 300 million people. But I suppose if there’s some killer flu epidemic or a cholera outbreak in New Mexico, you losers will be whining at Obama to do something about that, too.

In recent months, a lot of Americans have said to me that they had no idea the new president would feel so “weird.” But, in fact, he’s not weird. True, he’s not, even in Democratic terms, a political figure — as, say, Clinton or Biden are. Instead, he’s the product of the broader culture: There are millions of people like Barack Obama, the eternal students of a vast lethargic transnational campus for whom global compassion and the multicultural pose are merely the modish gloss on a cult of radical grandiose narcissism. As someone once said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” When you’ve spent that long waiting in line for yourself, it’s bound to be a disappointment.




Afghanistan: Vast mineral deposits found: "The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials. The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.”

The Prohibition folly repeated: "It is not my purpose in this essay to debate the merits or demerits of drug use, a question that should properly be left to the individual. … Given the number of turf wars, drive-by shootings, corrupted police and other officials, and invasions by police of the wrong address that are closely associated with the War on Drugs, it should be clear by now that drug laws and the attempt to enforce them cause vastly more destruction to individuals and society — and consume much more time, energy, and money — than the drugs in question ever did. We owe the existence and character of the police state which has sprung up all around us largely to government excesses in the name of the War on Drugs.”

Obama’s failures creating new libertarians: "Despite the damage to the nation, President Barack Obama’s failed presidency has accomplished one thing: more people are embracing libertarian values. While no one should confuse the tea party with libertarianism, the populist movement does embrace many libertarian values, such as smaller government, fewer taxes and respect for federalism, the very core values of this nation’s founding.”

A leak in the presidency: "Leave it to my wife to come up with a jewelry metaphor for Barack Obama. Obama is, according to my bride, the political equivalent of cubic zirconia. Usually sold to people who love the look of diamonds but can’t afford a real one or are fooled into buying an imposter, cubic zirconia is superficially pretty and appealing. But when subjected to the scrutiny of an expert or when placed under great pressure, the falseness and weakness compared to the real thing become apparent. The pressure analogy is particularly appropriate given that the source of Barack Obama’s troubles lie a mile under the ocean’s surface, where pressures are about one ton per square inch. The pressure of the situation is causing Obama’s vaunted reputation as ‘competent’ to crack like the false promise it always was.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Strange psychopathy controversy

The matter reported below reminds me of the disgraceful behaviour by Frank Sulloway, in using legal means to prevent publication of a critique of his absurd theories about birth order. But, unlike Sulloway, Hare is no kook so I can only presume that he is in his dotage. He must be very elderly by now.

What eventually ensued is what should have happened in the first place. The paper was published and Hare was given a right of reply.

I have some personal interest in this as I too have had published a paper questioning a popular measure of psychopathy. My paper was however published promptly -- perhaps because the authors of the measure that I questioned are now dead!

I also have a personal interest in that I have had a heap of critiques published -- papers which simply tear apart some existing research without adding new data. It is actually quite difficult to get such papers published anyway as editors prefer papers with new data. The episode described below is going to make the acceptance of critiques all the more difficult, which is a great pity -- as criticism is an essential feature of scientific advance

And psychopathy is still a quite poorly understood phenomenon so debate about it is important. The fact that Leftism and psychopathy seem to have a lot in common makes it particularly important, in fact

Academic disputes usually flare out in the safety of obscure journals, raising no more than a few tempers, if not voices. But a paper published this week by the American Psychological Association has managed to raise questions of censorship, academic fraud, fair play and criminal sentencing — and all them well before the report ever became public.

The paper is a critique of a rating scale that is widely used in criminal courts to determine whether a person is a psychopath and likely to commit acts of violence. It was accepted for publication in a psychological journal in 2007, but the inventor of the rating scale saw a draft and threatened a lawsuit if it was published, setting in motion a stultifying series of reviews, revisions and legal correspondence.

“This has been a really, really troubling process from the beginning,” said Scott O. Lilienfeld, a psychologist at Emory University and a collaborator with one of the paper’s authors. “It has people wondering, ‘Do I have to worry every time I publish a paper that criticizes someone that I’ll get slapped with a lawsuit?’ ” The delay in publication, he said, “sets a very dangerous precedent” and censors scientific discourse.

The inventor of the clinical test, Robert D. Hare, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, sees a different principle at stake. “The main issue here is that these authors misrepresented my views by distorting things I said,” he said in a telephone interview. “I have been doing this work for 40 years and never seen anything like it.”

For its part, the psychological association maintained in a statement that it had never refused to publish a paper because of a threatened lawsuit but that it had “a responsibility to all parties to evaluate a legal claim.” The paper’s authors — Jennifer L. Skeem of the University of California, Irvine, and David J. Cooke of Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland — also had lawyers, and the Scottish university did an extensive review of its own, people familiar with the process said.

“All I can tell you is that delays in the editorial process come from multiple sources,” said Gary VandenBos, the psychological association’s publisher.

The paper — “Is Criminal Behavior a Central Component of Psychopathy?” — was circulated widely among forensic psychologists well before publication. Experts say the scientific issue it raises is an important one.

Dr. Hare’s clinical scale, called the Psychopathy Checklist, Revised, is one of the few, if not the only, psychological measures in forensic science with any scientific backing. Dr. Hare receives royalties when the checklist is used; he called the income it generated “modest” compared with providing paid expert testimony — which he said he does not do.

Dr. Skeem and Dr. Cooke warned in their paper that the checklist was increasingly being mistaken for a complete definition of psychopathy — a broader personality construct that includes deceitfulness, impulsivity and recklessness, though not always aggression or illegal acts. The authors contended that Dr. Hare’s checklist warps that concept by making criminal behavior a more central component than it really is.

Dr. Hare maintains that he has stressed “problematic, not antisocial or criminal, behavior” and that his comments were distorted.

Dr. Skeem said she was “just worn out” by the prolonged dispute. “When we first wrote the paper,” she said, “we saw it simply as a call to the field to recognize we were going down a path where we were equating an abstract concept with a checklist, and it was preventing us from looking at the concept more closely.”

The report appears in the June issue of the journal Psychological Assessment — that is, along with a rebuttal by Dr. Hare, and a return response from Dr. Skeem and Dr. Cooke.



The Consistency of Hatred, from Grand Mufti to Helen Thomas

Ari Fleischer was press secretary to an American president, not to some commissar or caudillo, yet his reaction to Helen Thomas' latest anti-Israel outburst would have been more fit for a totalitarian than a free society. He demanded that Hearst fire its White House correspondent, who'd probably been there longer than most of the furniture.

The idea of punishing a columnist for her views, however vicious, might befit some tinpot dictatorship, but it has no place in this country, where extremists do a more than adequate job of exposing themselves, thank you. Which is what Miss Thomas has just done. Followed by her apology and resignation, voluntary or otherwise.

Rather than demand Helen Thomas' dismissal, Mr. Fleischer -- and all those others outraged by her hissy fit -- ought to send her a thank-you note. Consider this mine. For years her animus toward the Jewish state could be read quite clearly between the lines of her columns, or even smelled. Now she's admitted it by using the old Go Back Where You Came From ploy against Israel's Jews. She said they "should get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home."

And where would that be? Miss Thomas answered: "Poland. Germany." The problem for the Helen Thomases of the world is that Israel is where the Jews came from -- a minor detail Miss Thomas seems to have overlooked.

Now at least there could be no excuse for reading Miss Thomas' prose as if it were untainted by her pet hatred. Not that her virulent views have ever been a secret from those who've followed her tantrums over the years, whether in her columns or during presidential press conferences. After one of her little tirades, another White House press secretary -- Tony Snow, a man of pointed understatement who is still much missed -- said only, "Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view."

What may be most impressive about Miss Helen's latest outburst is how little this hateful line has changed since it was being enunciated by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, aka Der Grossmufti von Jerusalem when he was enjoying Herr Hitler's hospitality in Berlin during the Second World War. After its outbreak, the official leader of Palestine's Arabs, having opposed any compromise with the hated Jews before the war, took refuge in Berlin, whence he attempted to raise an Arab army to fight alongside the Nazis.

The man was all heart. In the summer of 1943, the mufti found time to write Hungary's foreign minister protesting a plan to let some of its Jews escape the Final Solution then under way in Europe. His letter expressed alarm that the Jewish Agency had managed to obtain "immigration certificates for 900 Jewish children to be transported [to Palestine] from Hungary accompanied by 100 adults."

The mufti warned Budapest that such action would "by no means solve the Jewish problem" and, if any Jews were allowed to leave, they be sent instead to . . . Poland, where their fate would surely have been sealed. The suggestion that Jews be sent to Poland is scarcely new with Miss Thomas.

Historical note: Kielce, Poland, was the scene of the first post-war pogrom in July of 1946, when dozens of survivors of the Holocaust returned there only to be massacred by a mob abetted by local authorities.

Helen Thomas was kind enough not to specify just where in Germany or Poland the Jews should go "back" to -- Dachau? Auschwitz? Europe is full of such spas that once catered to Jewish clientele. Miss Thomas didn't even mention Russia and the killing fields of Babi Yar.

But her point was clear enough: Jews are just interlopers who should get the hell out of the Middle East. Maybe she's never noticed that Hebrew, like Arabic, is a Semitic language. It's a mystery how anyone on reading the Old Testament can deny that this people has it roots among the nomadic tribes of the Fertile Crescent, but mere fact has never been a barrier to bigotry.

For years, indeed decades, all such fulminations from Arab spokesmen were dismissed as just rhetoric, propaganda to stir up the Arab street and the mobs it produces on order. Surely the leaders of Arab Palestine could be negotiated with; their strident tirades were just for show. When face-to-face negotiations between Israel and her neighbors, including the Palestinians, finally began in the 1990s, peace was supposed to be just around the corner.

It wasn't. Instead, it was the protestations of peace and goodwill that have proven transitory, and the hateful propaganda that has proven lasting. Even in the mouths of Americans like Helen Thomas.



Another rage-filled Leftist: The Prime Minister of Australia

Quite normal for Leftists. Rudd's predecessor as leader of the Labor Party -- Mark Latham -- was the same and all conservative bloggers know how rage-filled are the emails and comments that they get from Leftists. Rage and hate are of course closely allied emotions. Hate is just a bit quieter about it

Kevin Rudd is surrounded by c**** and everything is f*****. Let me explain. I don't mean the Prime Minister is making mistakes, or that his government is hopeless. I mean he has a potty mouth. He swears all the time, about everything, no matter whom he's addressing.

He likes the f-bomb almost as much as he loves the c-word. He's f****** sick of p***** saying he's just a nerdy f****** bureaucrat, all right? It's just bulls***! He's as tough as the next b******. Got it? Anyone who says otherwise can eat s***.

And he desperately wants us all to hear him loud and clear. In the past week, political geeks such as me have been chuckling over the revelation that the Prime Minister interrupted high-level climate-change negotiations at the Copenhagen summit last year to observe: "Those Chinese f****** are trying to rat-f*** us." Rudd spoke this sentence to a roomful of journalists, as part of a background briefing at the summit.

But none of them reported the line, because the understanding at such a briefing is that everything is off the record. When something is off the record, it means journalists are getting information that is useful for informing and enhancing their stories, in return for their tacit agreement that the source and exact wording of the supplied information will be kept secret.

A background arrangement such as this is useful for a leader such as Rudd, because it allows him to be frank in his assessments without having to deal with an outbreak of Rudd-effigy burnings across Beijing, or explain to the Australian dairy industry why China has decided to cancel 400 years' worth of advance import deals.

So the line stayed a secret until journalist David Marr published his fine new Quarterly Essay about the curious quirks of Captain Kevin. Marr also details how Rudd, during a long day of interviews, had an extraordinary explosion of temper when he realised Marr wasn't planning to write a particularly flattering piece.

Marr wrote that Rudd delivered "a dressing-down which registers about a 3.8 on his Richter scale". "He doesn't scream and bang the table as he does behind closed doors, (but) in his anger, Rudd becomes astonishingly eloquent. This is the most vivid version of himself I've encountered. "At last he is speaking from the heart, an angry heart."

Marr's thesis is that the real Kevin Rudd is this furious, self-righteous foot-stamper - a grown man who has tantrums just like those of a toddler. "He's a politician with rage at his core, impatient rage," Marr adds.

Oh, how I wish Marr had written exactly what the Prime Minister had said. I'm sure the air between them turned blue for a few moments, as Rudd questioned Marr's thesis, talent, intelligence, motivation and parentage. It would, if nothing else, be delightfully amusing to read.

But really, the words themselves are not as important as what they reveal: the Prime Minister's routine, casual and cynical use of the "off-the-record" convention as an opportunity to swear. He does it all the time, and he usually gets away with it....

Anyway, foul language is part of the Labor Party's genetic code. When modern lefties use a c-word to refer to one another, it's unlikely to be "comrade".

The phrase "rat-f***" has a long and proud Labor heritage. It's the sort of thing they say in Sussex St [Labor Party headquarters for the State of NSW] when the dim sims [NSW Labor Party identities often meet over Chinese food -- as Sussex St is adjacent to Chinatown] are running low. Now, Rudd has inadvertently brought it into the open. Bring it on, I say.


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


12 June, 2010

Flotilla sickness and the ‘progressive’ mind

The flotilla episode provided the trigger for a frenzied demonstration of the world’s collective loss of mind over Israel.

Israel did what it was entitled to do and what any other country at war would do: intercept boats that might be carrying weapons for an aggressor regime. Since six out of the seven intercepted boats then proceeded peacefully to Ashdod where their cargo was checked, this was demonstrably not an Israeli ‘attack’.

Conversely, as everyone could see from the video evidence, on the main boat the attack took place against the Israelis — who then killed nine of their jihadi assailants solely to protect themselves from being lynched, kidnapped and murdered.

Yet, for this, Israel has been hysterically denounced across the world for an act of aggression and even piracy — an onslaught, in effect, upon Israel’s right to defend itself, without which no country can exist.

The claim that Gaza is starving is the opposite of the truth: its markets are stacked with produce, and every week Israel allows in thousands of tons of aid across the border.

As its organiser admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian aid at all but was designed to break the sea blockade — and thus open up a weapons channel for Hamas. This manipulative and mendacious exercise was but the latest attempt to weaken Israel ready for the slaughter through an ever tightening noose of lies, demonisation and delegitimisation.

We have endured the fabricated claims of Israeli massacres in Jenin, the 2006 Lebanon war and Cast Lead; the charge that Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state, that it has committed genocide, ethnic cleansing and is starving the people of Gaza; that it is the aggressor in the Middle East.

How is it possible that so many believe all these lies? How can so many Jews believe them? As I have described in my new book, The World Turned Upside Down (please forgive the commercial) the witch-hunt against Israel is the pivotal example of the West’s repudiation of reason itself, leading to a widespread inversion of truth and lies, justice and injustice, right and wrong.

The ‘progressive’ left-wing intelligentsia now subscribes to a world-view that, over a wide range of issues, subordinates truth to ideology. This manifests itself in utopian creeds that hold that the world would attain a state of perfection if only it wasn’t for capitalism/America/ industrialisation/men/the nation state/those damned Jews.

Since these creeds are axiomatically the embodiment of virtue, all who dissent must be treated as moral outcasts and their views stifled.

From this Manichean mindset, which decrees that all who are not the left are a) the right, and b) intrinsically evil, it follows that anyone who challenges the lies generated by ideological dogma is by definition right-wing and evil. As a result of this knee-jerk name-calling, people dismiss such inconvenient truths even when they stare them in the face.

This terrifying mindset is the left’s default position. That is why this madness towards Israel is not confined to gentiles. Indeed, even Jews who consider themselves to have the interests of Israel at heart sometimes tragically end up believing the lies and supporting positions that would destroy it.

Which partly explains why some communal leaders busily suck up to the enemies of Israel in the faith or political worlds, even telling them on occasion that ‘in private I agree with you’.

So we find ourselves in this nightmare situation. The Great Flotilla Derangement has created the impression that, as Iran moves towards completing its genocide bomb, the rest of the world senses an endgame and is moving in on Israel for the kill.



ACORN employees tell FBI of deliberate election fraud

The radical activist group ACORN “works” for the Democratic Party and deliberately promotes election fraud, ACORN employees told FBI investigators, according to an FBI document dump Wednesday.

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a watchdog group, are FBI investigators’ reports related to the 2007 investigation and arrest of eight St. Louis, Mo., workers from ACORN’s Project Vote affiliate for violation of election laws. All eight employees involved in the scandal later pleaded guilty to voter registration fraud.

Project Vote is ACORN’s voter registration arm. Project Vote continues to operate despite the reported dissolution of the national structure of ACORN.

The handwritten reports by FBI agents show that ACORN employees reported numerous irregularities in the nonprofit group’s business practices.

One employee told the FBI that ACORN headquarters is “wkg [working] for the Democratic Party.”

According to one report, an ACORN employee said the purpose of “[f]raudulent cards” was “[t]o cause confusion on election day to keep polls open longer,” “[t]o allow people who can’t vote to vote,” and “[t]o allow to vote multiple times.”

Another report quotes an employee saying, “Project Vote will pay them whether cards fake or not – whatever they had to do to get the cards was attitude.” Project Vote pays based on the number of cards and “that’s why they were so reckless,” the report says.

A report quotes an employee saying, “I don’t like our system. I don’t think we should do voter registration.” The report also notes that employees were “[c]onstantly threatened” and that the staff were “instructed on what to say to FBI.”

Another report indicates an employee told the investigator, that ACORN “[t]old employees not to talk to the FBI.” The FBI is “‘trying to intimidate you.’”

“These documents show the need for a national criminal investigation by the Obama Justice Department into ACORN,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch....



Keep Your Health Plan Under Obamacare? Probably Not, Gov't Analysis Concludes

Internal administration documents reveal that up to 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage because of ObamaCare. Small firms will be even likelier to lose existing plans.

The "midrange estimate is that 66% of small employer plans and 45% of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfathered status by the end of 2013," according to the document. In the worst-case scenario, 69% of employers — 80% of smaller firms — would lose that status, exposing them to far more provisions under the new health law.

The 83-page document, a joint project of the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the IRS, examines the effects that ObamaCare's regulations would have on existing, or "grandfathered," employer-based health care plans....

In a statement, Posey said the document showed that the arguments in favor of ObamaCare were a "bait and switch." "The president promised repeatedly that people who like their current plans can keep them, but now the details of their plan actually confirm what many suspected all along, most Americans will lose their current health care plan," Posey said.

A White House official told IBD: "This is a draft document, and we will be releasing the final regulation when it is complete. The president made a promise to the American people that if they liked their health care plan, they can keep it. The regulation, when finalized, will uphold that promise."

However, the source conceded: "It is difficult to predict how plans and employers will behave in the coming years, but if plans make changes that negatively impact consumers, then they will lose their grandfather status."



Doctors who kill

This is America's version of Britain's notorious "Liverpool Pathway"

You’ve probably never heard of Don Holley. But you should know his name – and you should know how his family said he died: in a San Franciso hospital at the hands of medical staff using a procedure called, “Comfort Care”.

More and more people are finding that the hospitals they have gone to for help are becoming the places that permanently put them or their loved ones out of their misery. In Don Holley’s case, the hospital he went to for healing morphed into a medical version of the nightmarish Hotel California after it was too late for him to leave.

I recently wrote in this column about my family’s horrible experience in warding off the medical death squad when my dad was hospitalized for a heart attack. We won that battle and dad went on to live several more years. Many of you responded with nightmare stories of your own: Stories of loved ones who were killed by the modern medical culture that has developed the personal belief that many patients are often better off dead, and that is up to them to make sure they are.

Don Holley was a 90-year-old man who died in May from chocking on a pool of blood caused by medical professionals who were starving and dehydrating him to death. (You can learn more about his death at www.kgo-tv.com; and type “Don Holley” in the search box.), but here’s a summary of the report:

Mr. Holley entered the hospital after suffering a stroke. Although he was recovering, personnel convinced his neighbor, who had his power of attorney, that Don’s condition was so serous he should be put on what they call, “Comfort Care.” This insidiously evil, but lovely sounding procedure simply means you are heavily drugged while you are denied food and water. It is a barbaric way of killing helpless patients who someone has determined aren’t worth bothering with anymore. In Don’s case, oxygen was still administered while his body was shriveling up from dehydration, causing the blood vessels in his nose to burst and bleed into his throat. The hospital staff decided it was too much trouble to continue to suction the blood from his throat, so they let him drown in his own blood while family members stood by helplessly pleading for someone to save him.

I wish Don’s case were a horrible anomaly – the result of terrible confusion and mismanagement by a bumbling hospital or a crazed, rogue nurse that hates old people. But no so. He was passively but systematically murdered by a medical culture that is now more influenced by organizations like the infamous Hemlock Society – which has cleverly been renamed the pleasant sounding “Compassion and Choices” - than it is by the time-honored principle to, "First do no harm." You must know Don Holley’s story – because it just might become your own.

How to save your family members from the new Comfort Care? Fight for their lives. Fight tooth and nail if you have a hospitalized family member who is being denied basic care, or if you are being pressured to sign documents you don’t understand. Call for free legal help – you can contact the Liberty Counsel at 800-671-1776 or www.lc.org. The organization moves quickly to intervene in situations of emergency.

But don’t wait until an emergency to take action. Become an advocate right now for the most vulnerable among us – the sick, the aged, the disabled, and the very young. They have a right to live. And when they go to a hospital seeking medical care, they have a right to receive it.

We live in a culture where we can no longer assume that hospitals are places of healing and help. Not unlike your worst nightmare, a horror movie, or the popular 1970’s song, a hospital can quickly morph into the medical version of the Hotel California.There is an evil sweeping our nation that is using very clever, compassionate sounding language to hasten the deaths of people who are inconveniences or who, they believe, don’t contribute to society. The very best place to educate yourself quickly on both the history and recent activities of the death movement is at the website of the International Task Force here




Defending the speculator: "‘Kill the speculators!’ is a cry made during every famine that has ever existed. Uttered by demagogues, who think that the speculator causes death through starvation by raising food prices, this cry is fervently supported by the masses of economic illiterates. This kind of thinking, or rather nonthinking, has allowed dictators to impose even the death penalty for traders in food who charge high prices during famines. And this is done without the feeblest of protests from those usually concerned with civil rights and liberties. Yet the truth of the matter is that, far from causing starvation and famines, it is the speculator who prevents them. And far from safeguarding the lives of the people, it is the dictator who must bear the prime responsibility for causing the famine in the first place.”

Right to be feminist: "The latest Sarah Palin controversy has to do with feminism. In a recent article in the Washington Post, feminist author and blogger Jessica Valenti blasted the former vice presidential candidate for ‘adopting the feminist label.’ Valenti believes that any talk of a conservative version of feminism is a cynical right-wing ploy to fool women into supporting reactionary antiwoman policies. But while Palin may be far from the best spokeswoman for conservative feminism, the idea itself is essential to feminism’s health. If feminism is typecast as a left-wing movement, this automatically limits its appeal in a country with center-right politics.”

The Flotilla Wars: One stunt begets another: "A group of volunteers will shortly board some ships in order to deliver aid to suppressed minorities and send a political message to the world: It’s time for an end to occupation and oppression!No, it’s not another ‘Gaza freedom’ flotilla. This time it’s an Israeli ‘peace flotilla’ organised by the National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). And it will be heading for Turkey – where the ship that was attacked by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) set sail from – with the aim of bringing attention to the plight of Turkey’s minorities and to challenge the global image of Israel as an evil, murderous 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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

The ‘Cry Wolf’ Project

The summary of the project below is from Breitbart's "Big Journalism". I am not as bothered by it as the writer is. The guy behind the project seems a bit of a dimwit to me. With the mass media and the universities already pumping out Leftist propaganda day and night, what difference are a few more academic bloviations from the Left going to make? But it is worth noting the corrupt nature of the project.

The most interesting aspect of the matter would have to be a full account of who the "We" is. Where is he getting the money to buy articles at $1,000 a pop?

It could be coming from the college where he works. The college makes some pretty good statements about its students being entitled to politically unbiased teaching and grading but the old Soviet constitution (written by Stalin) guaranteed human rights too.

The reason I think the college may be involved is that it seems very far-Left. It has a whole academic department devoted to "critical theory" -- which is not as good as it sounds. "Critical theory" is simply modern Marxism. But if you have read any "critical theorists", you won't feel threatened by them. "Critical theory" is just a type of theology and if you don't believe in the holy books (in this case the writings of Karl Marx) of the theologian concerned you won't see the point of it all

The Cry Wolf Project is a politically motivated and financed scheme to recruit university students and faculty to “give substance and scholarly integrity” to a predetermined partisan narrative – namely that in the “battle with conservative ideas,” “conservative politicians and right-wing pundits” use “falsity and exaggeration” to “thwart progressive reform.”

Simply put, Cry Wolf wants scholarly proof that conservatives are liars and is willing to pay to get the results it wants.

In addition to the potential legal — and certain ethical — violations, there are two fundamental problems with the Cry Wolf Project’s approach:

The first is that the purpose of science, even social and political science, is not to prove, but rather to disprove hypotheses. Legitimate academic process suggests that an idea be first proposed and then tested. If the available evidence all supports the idea, and the idea holds up in the face of all of the testing it can be subjected to, the hypothesis is still not proven since a future test or as-yet-undetermined piece of evidence could still one day disprove it.

The best science can do is to elevate certain hypotheses above others. Thus, anytime someone employs the term, “science has proven,” you can be certain it is not science that is being discussed. Science has not proven anything, from modern evolutionary theory, to man-caused global warming, or even the simplest ideas, like what gravity is (Exaggeration? Google: Large Hadron Collider).

The role of science is to question, probe, and test. Good science is habitually skeptical of the claims of scientists and subjects every idea to relentless opposition. It is precisely this method of continuous critique that makes the scientific method the best process available to us to test ideas, just as the constant competition of a truly free market is the best process available to test innovation, goods, and services. Free markets are decidedly scientific.

So, when the well-lettered doctors in this and that field from one college or another who are behind the Cry Wolf Project make their stated goal not the testing of their hypotheses, but to “undermine the credibility and arguments” of those critics that would test them, they forfeit any claim of “scholarly integrity.” They have become evangelicals for their own ideology, not academics, and the letters by their names give them no more qualification in the field of politics than a ministerial credential qualifies a priest to pilot the space shuttle.

Which, of course, is the second fundamental problem with the Cry Wolf Project, and so much of academia and progressivism in general, and that is the utter hypocrisy with which it conducts itself.

Cry Wolf claims the mantle of scholarship while employing none.

They wish to castrate all opposing views before they are even made, such that the “first reaction of millions of people, as well as opinion leaders” will be to ignore any challenge to their views. Not through any empirical testing in the marketplace of ideas, but through devotion to a cause, they have determined that they are inarguably right and that the right is inarguably wrong. Thus conservative opposition to their policies must be unfounded and must be silenced — by any means necessary, including outright propaganda.

For conservatives, there is no need to silence differing views, since we believe our ideas will win out on their actual merits over time. You can only rely on the kindness of strangers for so long. You can only spend more than you earn for so long. You can only appease your mortal enemies for so long.

In true scientific fashion, conservatives believe that the truth will out, or at least that falsehood will be revealed. We fight, of course, but our fight is not to eliminate competition, just to out-compete in the search for the truth. That we are continually accused of being the opposite of what we are by those who are what they claim to hate is nothing new to us.

Those who pervert academia accuse us of having no regard for education, those who believe people should be treated differently because of their race or gender call us racists and bigots, and those who call us purveyors of injustice seek to take from one man his just rewards and allocate them to another who did not justly earn them.

Believers are daily mocked for what unbelievers see as a blind faith in God, while those same people place a blind faith on the conclusions of a system never meant to conclude in the first place.

We are called greedy by those who can never take enough, and fascists by those who would force their views on all who draw breath, so it is no surprise that those who would accuse us of “crying wolf” are the same people who themselves “cry wolf” most often.

Whether through irony or design, the Cry Wolf Project does just that. It preemptively alerts the public to a danger it is not in. It employs the very tactics it derides, and it cheapens the very credentials from which it claims its authority.

Conservatives don’t cry wolf, but we do call bulls*@!.



Obamacare: The More We Learn, The Worse It Gets

This week, we learned that the Obama administration is orchestrating a $125 million propaganda campaign to sell the recently enacted health-care law to the public. That effort will be funded by labor unions and other groups from the Democratic political orbit. It comes on top of the misleading government mailer sent to the nation’s seniors, at the expense of taxpayers, touting the supposed benefits of ObamaCare for the elderly. On Tuesday, the president himself will join the fray again to make the sales pitch, this time promoting the colossal waste of taxpayer money associated with $250 per senior bribes to be issued this summer and fall.

The problem the White House has, however, has never been insufficient public relations spin. The problem is the substance. Americans care deeply about their health care, and they have seen right through the Democratic rhetoric on ObamaCare from day one. They know that it is a poorly conceived experiment, built on the flawed assumption that the problems in U.S. health care can be solved with heavier regulation, subsidization, and micro-management from Washington, D.C.

In Medicare, the results of the new law will be disastrous. ObamaCare will cut payments to the private insurance component of the program (called Medicare Advantage, or MA) by nearly $200 billion over ten years. The chief actuary of the program says this cut will eventually drive 7 million seniors — many with low-incomes — out of the plan they would prefer to enroll in. And it will mean thousands of dollars in benefit reductions for every MA enrollee, beginning next year. These seniors won’t be silenced with patronizing and one-time checks. In addition, the new law imposes arbitrary price cutting for all manner of Medicare services, which the chief actuary says will harm access to care by forcing scores of institutions to stop taking Medicare beneficiaries.

Last week, we learned that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has postponed issuing guidance on the ill-conceived “medical-loss ratio” requirement in the new law because, as passed by Congress, it will cause massive and unnecessary disruption to millions of current insurance enrollees. One estimate is that 1 to 2 million people with individual insurance will lose their coverage if the requirement is imposed because national insurers will be forced to exit the market to avoid large business losses.

The president has said repeatedly that Americans will get to keep the insurance they have today if they like it. But that’s quite clearly not going to be the case. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, of the American Action Forum, has released a new study that shows some 35 million Americans will get bumped from job-based coverage under the new law and be forced into the new government-managed system. That’s because the massive new subsidies promised by the government will make dropping insurance unavoidable for thousands of employers. He also predicts the migration out of employer plans will drive up the overall federal costs dramatically, adding another $500 billion over ten years to the costs projected by the Congressional Budget Office for the bill.

Perhaps that why CBO’s Director, Doug Elmendorf, is saying that the federal government’s health costs are still unsustainable, even after passage of the new law, despite repeated presidential promises that ObamaCare would solve our budget problems by painlessly “bending the cost curve.”

The truth is, the more we learn about ObamaCare, the worse it gets. It’s filled with budgetary gimmicks and flawed assumptions that will bankrupt the U.S. treasury. Its taxes will force deep cuts in employment in the medical device and other industries. Restaurants and other employers will have strong incentives to avoid hiring workers from low income households in order to lessen the burden from the law’s mandates and penalties. It will disrupt insurance for millions of Americans who are perfectly happy with the coverage they have today. And the government’s clumsy cost-cutting efforts will undermine the quality of American medicine.

Most Americans already instinctively understand all of this. But it’s also clear that the administration and its allies will spend millions trying to persuade them that up is down when it comes to health care. We have launched this web site to set the record straight. ObamaCareWatch.org pulls together all of the best evidence and analysis about the legislation, as well as relevant news items and commentary, in an accessible and searchable format for anyone to use as they need to. Our aim is to provide Americans with the facts so that they can hold those who sponsored and passed ObamaCare accountable for what they have done.



Jobs report a nightmare for Obama progressivism

Private-sector job creation almost stopped in May. The 41,000 jobs created were dwarfed by the 411,000 temporary and low-wage government jobs needed to administer the census. Last year's stimulus having failed to hold unemployment below 8 percent as predicted, Barack Obama might advocate another stimulus -- amending Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which mandates a census every 10 years. If it were every year, he could take credit for creating 564,000 -- the current number of census takers -- permanent jobs.

May's 41,000 jobs were one-fifth of the April number and substantially fewer than half the number needed to keep pace with the normal growth of the labor force. This is evidence against the theory that a growing government can be counted on to produce prosperity because a government dollar spent has a reliable multiplier effect as it ripples through the economy from which the government took the dollar.

Today's evidence suggesting sluggish job creation might give pause to a less confident person than Obama. But pauses are not in his repertoire of governance. Instead, yielding to what must be a metabolic urge toward statism, he says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is yet another reason for yet another explosion of government's control of economic life. The spill supposedly makes it urgent to adopt a large tax increase in the form of cap-and-trade energy legislation, which also is climate legislation, the primary purpose of which is, or once was, to combat global warming, such as it is.

At any time, some economic conditions would be better than others, but the more certainty about conditions the better. Today investors and employers are certain that uncertainties are multiplying.

They are uncertain about when interest rates will rise, and by how much. They do not know how badly the economy will be burdened by the expiration, approximately 200 days from now, of the Bush tax cuts for high earners -- a.k.a. investors and employers. They know the costs of Obamacare will be higher than was advertised, but not how much higher. They do not know the potential costs of cap-and-trade and other energy policies. They do not know whether "card check" -- abolition of the right of secret-ballot elections in unionization decisions -- will pass, or how much the economy will be injured by making unions more muscular. They do not know how the functioning of the financial sector will be altered and impeded by the many new regulatory rules and agencies created by the financial reform legislation. The economy has become dependent on government stimulation of demand, and no one knows what will happen as the stimulus spending wanes.

Uncertainty is a consequence of hyperkinetic government, which is a consequence of the governmental confidence that is a consequence of progressivism. The premise of progressivism is that all will be well if enough power is concentrated in Washington, and enough Washington power is concentrated in the executive branch, and enough really clever experts are concentrated in the executive branch. This is why the government's perceived impotence concerning the gulf oil spill is subversive of the Obama administration's master narrative.

Progressives generally, and Obama especially, encourage expectations as large as the 1,428-page (cap-and-trade), 1,566-page (financial reform) and 2,409-page (health care) bills they churn out as "comprehensive" solutions to this and that. For a proper progressive, anything short of a "comprehensive" solution to, say, the problem of illegal immigration is unworthy of consideration. For today's progressive president, the prospect of a jobless recovery is a comprehensive nightmare.


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Obama's agenda: Overwhelm the system


Rahm Emanuel cynically said, "You never want a crisis to go to waste." It is now becoming clear that the crisis he was referring to is Barack Obama's presidency.

Obama is no fool. He is not incompetent. To the contrary, he is brilliant. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is purposely overwhelming the U.S. economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos -- thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within.Â

Barack Obama is my college classmate (Columbia University, class of '83). As Glenn Beck correctly predicted from day one, Obama is following the plan of Cloward & Piven, two professors at Columbia University. They outlined a plan to socialize America by overwhelming the system with government spending and entitlement demands. Add up the clues below. Taken individually they're alarming. Taken as a whole, it is a brilliant, Machiavellian game plan to turn the United States into a socialist/Marxist state with a permanent majority that desperately needs government for survival ... and can be counted on to always vote for bigger government. Why not? They have no responsibility to pay for it.

-- Universal health care. The health care bill had very little to do with health care. It had everything to do with unionizing millions of hospital and health care workers, as well as adding 15,000 to 20,000 new IRS agents (who will join government employee unions). Obama doesn't care that giving free health care to 30 million Americans will add trillions to the national debt. What he does care about is that it cements the dependence of those 30 million voters to Democrats and big government. Who but a socialist revolutionary would pass this reckless spending bill in the middle of a depression?

-- Cap and trade. Like health care legislation having nothing to do with health care, cap and trade has nothing to do with global warming. It has everything to do with redistribution of income, government control of the economy and a criminal payoff to Obama's biggest contributors. Those powerful and wealthy unions and contributors (like GE, which owns NBC, MSNBC and CNBC) can then be counted on to support everything Obama wants. They will kick-back hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to Obama and the Democratic Party to keep them in power. The bonus is that all the new taxes on Americans with bigger cars, bigger homes and businesses helps Obama "spread the wealth around."

-- Make Puerto Rico a state. Why? Who's asking for a 51st state? Who's asking for millions of new welfare recipients and government entitlement addicts in the middle of a depression? Certainly not American taxpayers. But this has been Obama's plan all along. His goal is to add two new Democrat senators, five Democrat congressman and a million loyal Democratic voters who are dependent on big government.

-- Legalize 12 million illegal immigrants. Just giving these 12 million potential new citizens free health care alone could overwhelm the system and bankrupt America. But it adds 12 million reliable new Democrat voters who can be counted on to support big government. Add another few trillion dollars in welfare, aid to dependent children, food stamps, free medical, education, tax credits for the poor, and eventually Social Security.

-- Stimulus and bailouts. Where did all that money go? It went to Democrat contributors, organizations (ACORN), and unions -- including billions of dollars to save or create jobs of government employees across the country. It went to save GM and Chrysler so that their employees could keep paying union dues. It went to AIG so that Goldman Sachs could be bailed out (after giving Obama almost $1 million in contributions). A staggering $125 billion went to teachers (thereby protecting their union dues). All those public employees will vote loyally Democrat to protect their bloated salaries and pensions that are bankrupting America. The country goes broke, future generations face a bleak future, but Obama, the Democrat Party, government, and the unions grow more powerful. The ends justify the means.

-- Raise taxes on small business owners, high-income earners, and job creators. Put the entire burden on only the top 20 percent of taxpayers, redistribute the income, punish success, and reward those who did nothing to deserve it (except vote for Obama). Reagan wanted to dramatically cut taxes in order to starve the government. Obama wants to dramatically raise taxes to starve his political opposition.

With the acts outlined above, Obama and his regime have created a vast and rapidly expanding constituency of voters dependent on big government; a vast privileged class of public employees who work for big government; and a government dedicated to destroying capitalism and installing themselves as socialist rulers by overwhelming the system.

Add it up and you've got the perfect Marxist scheme -- all devised by my Columbia University college classmate Barack Obama.



Progressivism: Power without limits

Today, as it has been for a century, American politics is an argument between two Princetonians -- James Madison, Class of 1771, and Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879. Madison was the most profound thinker among the Founders. Wilson, avatar of "progressivism," was the first president critical of the nation's founding. Barack Obama's Wilsonian agenda reflects its namesake's rejection of limited government.

Lack of "a limiting principle" is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book "Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State." The Founders, he writes, believed that free government's purpose, and the threats to it, are found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are "sown in the nature of man." Government's limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.

Wilsonian progressives believe that History is a proper noun, an autonomous thing. It, rather than nature, defines government's ever-evolving and unlimited purposes. Government exists to dispense an ever-expanding menu of rights -- entitlements that serve an open-ended understanding of material and even spiritual well-being.

The name "progressivism" implies criticism of the Founding, which we leave behind as we make progress. And the name is tautological: History is progressive because progress is defined as whatever History produces. History guarantees what the Supreme Court has called "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

The cheerful assumption is that "evolving" must mean "improving." Progressivism's promise is a program for every problem, and progressivism's premise is that every unfulfilled desire is a problem.

Franklin Roosevelt, an alumnus of Wilson's administration, resolved to "resume" Wilson's "march along the path of real progress" by giving government "the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity." He repudiated the Founders' idea that government is instituted to protect pre-existing and timeless natural rights, promising "the re-definition of these rights in terms of a changing and growing social order."

He promised "a right to make a comfortable living." Presumably, the judiciary would define and enforce the delivery of comfort. Specifically, there could be no right to "do anything which deprives others" of whatever "elemental rights" the government decides to dispense.

Today, government finds the limitless power of dispensing not in Madison's Constitution of limited government but in Wilson's theory that the Constitution actually frees government from limitations. The liberating -- for government -- idea is that the Constitution is a "living," evolving document. Wilson's Constitution is an emancipation proclamation for government, empowering it to regulate all human activities in order to treat all human desires as needs and hence as rights. Unlimited power is entailed by what Voegeli calls government's "right to discover new rights."

"Liberalism's protean understanding of rights," he says, "complicates and ultimately dooms the idea of a principled refusal to elevate any benefit that we would like people to enjoy to the status of an inviolable right." Needs breed rights to have the needs addressed, to the point that Lyndon Johnson, an FDR protege, promised that government would provide Americans with "purpose" and "meaning."

Although progressivism's ever-lengthening list of rights is as limitless as human needs/desires, one right that never makes the list is the right to keep some inviolable portion of one's private wealth or income, "regardless," Voegeli says, "of the lofty purposes social reformers wish to make of it."

Lacking a limiting principle, progressivism cannot say how big the welfare state should be but must always say that it should be bigger than it currently is. Furthermore, by making a welfare state a fountain of rights requisite for democracy, progressives in effect declare that democratic deliberation about the legitimacy of the welfare state is illegitimate.

"By blackening the skies with crisscrossing dollars," Voegeli says, the welfare state encourages people "to believe an impossibility: that every household can be a net importer of the wealth redistributed by the government." But the welfare state's problem, today becoming vivid, is socialism's problem, as Margaret Thatcher defined it: Socialist governments "always run out of other people's money."

Wilsonian government, meaning (in Wilson's words) government with "unstinted power," is hostile to Madison's Constitution, which, Madison said, obliges government "to control itself." Thus our choice is between government restraint rooted in respect for nature, or government free to follow History wherever government says History marches.



Unjust Comparison

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post from economist Donald J. Boudreaux

Jim Hoagland ends his otherwise fine column on South Africa by comparing American Tea Partiers to apartheid-applauding Afrikaners (“Ex-president de Klerk teaches the inspiration of South Africa,” June 6).

This comparison unjustly smears the great majority of Tea Partiers. Is Tea Partiers’ judgment that Uncle Sam’s scale and scope have become too large really hateful? Is their opposition to nationalized health-care and to bailouts of Wall Street and of teachers’ unions symptoms of antisocial bigotry? Is the proclamation “Don’t Tread On Me” – a proclamation featured prominently at Tea Party events – a slogan in support of government privileges for a select few? Hardly.

One may disagree with Tea Partiers’ demands that personal responsibility be restored to private markets, and that fiscal responsibility be restored to public finance. But one may not legitimately accuse these demands – demand motivated in large part by the ugliness of Uncle Sam playing favorites with politically influential interest groups – of being at all similar to an ideology that supported a strong central government whose purpose was to bestow privileges on a minority by taxing and suppressing the majority.




I have added quite a few things to my sidebar recently. It may be worth a look if you have not done so recently.

Payday policymaking: "Consider: There are more payday loan storefronts in the United States than there are McDonald’s and Starbucks outlets combined. Also consider, these payday loan storefronts are much more geographically concentrated than other types of outlets. Whereas Starbucks and McDonald’s sprawl across disparate locations with very unique compositions and characteristics of residents, payday storefronts tend to cluster densely in regions where demand for payday loans is likely to be high. What do these conditions imply about the characteristics of the payday loan market? For starters, basic economic intuition would suggest that the payday lenders operate in a competitive marketplace. Fairly low barriers to entry (both legal and financial) into the market and the vast number of storefronts implies that individual stores face strong incentives to underprice their competitors. The result, barring collusion or market distortion, would be that prices are efficient, and not exorbitant. The empirical evidence bears out this claim.”

Washington’s elite: Wasting billions and borrowing trillions: “These ’spend now/pay later’ policies have left America with an estimated $1.5 trillion deficit for 2009. That means that the federal government is spending $12,664 more per American household than it actually has. Deficits normally rise during times of recession but typically they return to their pre-recession range once the economy has recovered. However, instead of dropping back down to the $100 billion to $400 billion range that America saw before the recession, President Obama’s budget shows annual budget deficits averaging close to $1 trillion for the 10 years.”

Give up on “giving back”: "I usually cringe when I hear someone who got rich from business say he feels an obligation to ‘give back to society.’ Bill Gates, the founder and chairman of Microsoft, is perhaps an example of this attitude (here and here). It’s not his philanthropy that I object to — what he’s doing in this area is brilliant — but the reasons he gives for it, as though his wealth is in some way undeserved.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Israel and Its Liberal 'Friends'

Why don't they apply the same tough love to the Palestinians?

Questions for liberals: What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What does it mean to be a friend of the Palestinians? And should the same standards of friendship apply to Israelis and Palestinians alike, or is there a double standard here as well?

It has become the predictable refrain among Israel's liberal critics that their criticism is, in fact, the deepest form of friendship. Who but a real friend, after all, is willing to tell Israel the hard truths it will not tell itself? Who will remind Israel that it is now the strong party, and that it cannot continue to play the victim and evade the duties of moral judgment and prudential restraint? Above all, who will remind Israel that it cannot go on denying Palestinians their rights, their dignity, and a country they can call their own?

The answer, say people like Peter Beinart, formerly of the New Republic, is people like . . . Peter Beinart. And now that Israel has found itself in another public relations hole thanks to last week's raid on the Gaza flotilla, Israelis will surely be hearing a lot more from him.

Now consider what it means for liberals to be friends of the Palestinians.

Here, the criticism becomes oddly muted. So Egypt, a country that also once occupied Gaza, enforces precisely the same blockade on the Strip as Israel: Do liberal friends of Palestine urge the Obama administration to get tough on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as they urge him to do with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

So a bunch of "peace" activists teams up with a Turkish group of virulently anti-Semitic bent and with links both to Hamas and al Qaeda: Does this prompt liberal soul-searching about the moral drift of the pro-Palestinian movement? So Hamas trashes a U.N.-run school, as it did the other week, because it educates girls: Do liberals wag stern fingers at Palestinians for giving up on the dream of a secular, progressive state?

Well, no. And no. And no. Instead, liberal support for Palestinians is now mainly of the no-hard-questions-asked variety. But that is precisely the kind of support that liberals decry as toxic when it comes to Western support for Israel.

I leave it to others to decide whether this is simple hypocrisy or otherwise evidence of how disingenuous claims by certain liberals to friendship with Israel have become. Still, these liberals insist that their remonstrances are necessary because, without them, Israelis won't get the tough love they need.

Really? Consider a sample of recent clippings from the Israeli press. An editorial in Haaretz: "Like a robot lacking judgment . . . that's how the [Israeli] government is behaving in its handling of the aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip." A columnist in the Jerusalem Post: "As evil as these jihadists [aboard the flotilla] are, they were acting in a cause the whole decent, democratic world knows is right: Freedom for Gaza. Freedom for the Palestinians. And end to the occupation. An end to the blockade." A member of Israel's cabinet: "We need to ease the population's conditions and find security-sensitive, worthy alternatives to the embargo."

None of this indicates a society lacking in a capacity for self-criticism. Yet that capacity hardly has any parallel in the closed circle of Palestinian media or politics, a point that ought to bother Western liberals.

It doesn't. One wonders why. Part of the reason surely has to be intellectual confusion, an inability to grasp the difference between national "liberation" and genuine freedom. Ho Chi Minh was not a "freedom fighter," and neither was Yasser Arafat. How many times does the world have to go through this drill for liberals to get the point?

There's also a psychology at work. Harvard's Ruth Wisse calls it "moral solipsism" —obsessive regard for your own moral performance; complete indifference to the performance of those who wish you ill.

Finally there's the fact that liberalism has become a politics of easy targets. Liberals have no trouble taking stands against abstinence educators, Prop 8 supporters or members of the tea party. But when it comes to genuine bigots and religious fanatics —and Hamas has few equals in those categories— liberals have a way of discovering their capacity for cultural nuance and political pragmatism.

Today, by contrast, the task of defending Israel is hard. It's hard because defenders must eschew cliches about "the powerful" and "the powerless." It is hard because it goes against prevailing ideological fashions. And it's hard because it requires an appreciation that the choice of evils that endlessly confronts Israeli policy makers is not something they can simply wash their hands of by "ending the occupation." They tried that before —in Gaza.

Is there a liberalism that is capable of recognizing this? Or are we again at the stage where it has been consumed by its instinct for fellow-traveling? In 1968, Eric Hoffer wrote: "I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us." By "us," he meant liberals, too, and maybe most of all.



Self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: "Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable." People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of "somewhat disagree" and "strongly disagree." This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer "not sure," which we do not count as incorrect.

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.

The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities.

Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%).

The survey also asked about party affiliation. Those responding Democratic averaged 4.59 incorrect answers. Republicans averaged 1.61 incorrect, and Libertarians 1.26 incorrect.

Adam Smith described political economy as "a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator." Governmental power joined with wrongheadedness is something terrible, but all too common. Realizing that many of our leaders and their constituents are economically unenlightened sheds light on the troubles that surround us.



New Democrat ethics watchdog bites its creators

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi first pushed her wary colleagues to set up a new investigative team to beef up ethics enforcement, some watchdogs argued against it. Since ethics investigators would have no subpoena power, critics warned, they'd have no meaningful authority and would simply act as a fig leaf.

But two years later, the Office of Congressional Ethics is making surprising waves in the House.

The OCE's investigation into the PMA Group, a now-defunct defense contractor, turned up some of the most startling evidence to date of the link between campaign donations and congressional earmarks. Its eye-opening report on PMA's dealings with more than half a dozen House members helped prompt the House Appropriations Committee to ban earmarks aimed at for-profit companies. Now the OCE has forwarded its evidence to the Justice Department; PMA is already under FBI investigation. "We felt we had a responsibility to provide this information to an appropriate law enforcement agency," said OCE staff director and chief counsel Leo Wise, a former Justice Department trial attorney.

The OCE's investigation into a corporate-funded Caribbean trip by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., led the full ethics committee to admonish Rangel, who then stepped aside as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

But the real evidence that OCE has shaken things up is the angry complaints House members have leveled at the investigative committee, which is chaired by former Reps. David Skaggs, D-Colo., and Porter Goss, R-Fla.

The latest salvo against the House's fledgling investigative arm comes from Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who's rounded up 19 signatures on a resolution that would strip the OCE of much of its power and bar it from releasing most findings. Among other provisions, the measure would force OCE to seal the records for complaints that the ethics committee dismissed as frivolous or unfounded.

"It's not any attempt to hide anything, it's not any attempt to diminish the committee's authority, it is not in any way an attempt to weaken the ethics process," said Fudge. Rather, she argued, the resolution would "strengthen the process" and improve "fundamental fairness."

But Fudge's resolution has "zero credibility," countered Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, in part because many of those who signed it have themselves been OCE ethics targets. All 20 lawmakers who signed the Fudge resolution are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has more than half a dozen members who have faced or are facing OCE ethics inquiries.

Five CBC members were on the same corporate and lobbyist-sponsored Caribbean trip that got Rangel in hot water. While it did admonish Rangel, the ethics committee rejected the OCE's recommendation that it further investigate the other four lawmakers on the trip.

However, the ethics panel also faulted Dawn Kelly Mobley, who was at that time an aide to then-ethics committee chair Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, for her role in the trip and in the investigation. Mobley is now Fudge's chief of staff.

"This is an attack on the Office of Congressional Ethics for doing its job," said Wertheimer. He added that good-government advocates have long anticipated attacks on the OCE and expect them to continue. The OCE "has done exactly what it was established to do," he added, and "is having a substantial impact in terms of creating accountability in the system."

The status quo before the OCE's creation, he noted, was for the moribund Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to kill, squelch and bury ethics complaints.

In one sense, this hasn't really changed much since the OCE's creation. Though the full ethics committee panel has hired more staff and has a few dozen investigations under way, the panel has brushed aside virtually all of the OCE's recommendations. The OCE has made 13 referrals recommending further review to the full ethics panel. But the committee has taken action (the Rangel admonishment) in only one of those cases; three are still under review.

Interestingly, though, the mere publication of OCE's referrals is changing the House's ethics culture. The OCE may not impose sanctions; its role is simply to vet complaints with preliminary inquiries and to make recommendations to the full ethics panel. But in cases where the ethics committee fails to take action, the panel must explain why and publicly release any referrals from the OCE.

These public disclosures are what have irked Fudge and so many of her colleagues. The real reason House members are targeting OCE, it seems, is because its investigators are finally shedding some light on the once secretive ethics process. Much of Fudge's resolution centers on sealing records, banning public statements and blocking the release of reports.

One signature is conspicuously missing from Fudge's resolution, however: that of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., a prominent CBC member and one of its former chairs. This may signal that other House leaders, including Pelosi, may be reluctant to follow Fudge's lead. Given Pelosi's public pledges to clean up Capitol Hill, she would certainly be ill-advised to let the House ethics process revert to secrecy.


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

The University Guild vs. Glenn Beck

By Amity Shlaes

Drive them crazy. That's what Glenn Beck seems to specialize in doing, whether the "them" at issue is fellow radio hosts, fellow tv hosts, or, now, professors at universities. This last group is opening its own front in the war against the television king. An associate professor, Joseph Palermo of California State/Sacramento, took to the Huffington Post to mock the broadcaster as "Glenn Beck, Ph.D." I personally noticed this since Professor Palermo mentioned me by name, in tandem with author Jonah Goldberg, as an effort to "misinform" the gullible.

The rage at first seems odd, coming from professors. Why should these serene Yodas care what a man on television bellows? Yet they are on the warpath. The academic fury is at first directed at interpretation. Mr. Beck's explanation of how the Framers viewed religion, Mr. Beck's depiction of how Franklin Roosevelt's policy affected the Great Depression; Mr. Beck's argument that regulation is currently curtailing liberty in general -- all fall short in academic eyes. Prof. Palermo, for example, calls Mr. Beck's views as "stupid and false." But the real issue, the reason professors are on the attack, is not specific content. It is rather the professional and, in the end, economic, threat that Mr. Beck represents. To academics, Mr. Beck is more dangerous than any other radio show host, and they know it.

To understand the nature of the Beck challenge, you have to recall that our system of higher education is a throwback to medieval economics: a guild. As in the classic guild, members require a lengthy period of training, with formal stages. To be in any way authoritative, a writer must have a Ph.D., a guild seal. Members of this guild have enormous discretion when it comes to the conferring of the seal - also typical. In the humanities and social sciences, Ph.D.s. and, it goes without saying, tenure-track posts -- are usually awarded to those not hostile to the master professors' views. For many decades top universities have been especially rigorous in this practice, with the result that it is difficult to find non-progressives with top credentials in the humanities. The guild demands much from its apprentices, graduate students, including dull work in obscure texts. Indeed it is proud of that obscurity, for it distinguishes academic work from, say, the easy popular histories on bookstore shelves or tv.

In the field of history, the guild also maintains a monopoly on education by generating curricula, syllabi, and, of course, a canon, a set list of texts for each period of the past. Of course the academic guild, generally on the progressive side, has made many concessions to conservatives or classical liberals. Professors have assigned the odd conservative book; they mentioned the opponents' arguments. But such offerings have generally been presented as an afterthought, secondary, less authoritative. Looking back at their education many adults saw through this pretense of fairness. They resented the guild monolith. Something was missing.

Enter Mr. Beck. At first, the radio show host appeared no different from the rest of conservative radio. In other words, another product of the 1987 repeal of the old Fairness Doctrine, which said that a radio license "may not be utilized to achieve a partisan or one-sided presentation." Pre-repeal that requirement was so strictly adhered to that radio tended the dull. After the repeal hosts were free to deliver soliloquys of rage and individual insights, legal, historical, political. This change which turned out to be welcome to millions of viewers. The first to take advantage of this market opening was Rush Limbaugh, who remains the undisputed king of conservative talk radio.

The second explanation for Beck rage however involves the guild. For unlike other hosts, who tend to pick up and drop topics, Mr. Beck has begun to develop a new canon for adults. And unlike other hosts, but indeed like a professor, Mr. Beck tends to demand a lot of his viewers. For example, he recently devoted the better part of an hour to a biography of Samuel Adams by a historian without a Ph.D., Ira Stoll, whose book highlights the revolutionary firebrand's piety. Mr. Beck breaks other tv rules. He insists viewers read books by dead men - W. Cleon Skousen's work on the Constitution, the ``5000 Year Leap." It is all a long way from "Oprah," "The Newshour" or even much of public television. Mr. Beck's broadcast was barely over when Mr. Stoll's book shot up to the highest heights of the Amazon list, where it has resided ever since. Beck-recommended books sometimes sell as well as, heaven forfend, textbooks. I had the good fortune to experience some of this after Mr. Beck talked about my Great Depression history.

Every author is glad to sell books. But the victory is far more Mr. Beck's than any individual writer's or publisher's. His genius has been in his recognition that viewers do not want merely the odd, one-off book, duly pegged to news. They want a coherent vision, a competing canon that the regulated airwaves and academy have denied them. So he, Glenn Beck, is building that canon, book by book from the forgotten shelf. Since the man is a riveting entertainer, the professors are correct to be concerned. He's not just reacting or shaping individual thoughts. He is bringing competition into the Ed Biz.

What to do? The Glenn Beck reading list may not satisfy everyone. Some of his views are indeed worth questioning. Some of us don't agree with important components of his politics. Beck's personal attacks put a lot of us off. Maybe there should be yet a third new reading list. As for the guild, a better response than its own ad hominem smearing is to widen their own reading lists and lectures. Professors can blame only themselves if Mr. Beck has taken an opportunity to teach. It is they who gave it to him.

Amity Shlaes is the author of "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression"



Do We Now Have A “Slick” Barack?

Everyone knows of “Slick Willie,” you remember “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people,” don’t you? Well, it looks like we now have “Slick Barack.”

Let’s recap: BP (British Petroleum) gives tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama Campaign, more than to any other candidate. Obama’s administration awards BP a safety award. Obama’s administration grants BP a waiver to drill in dangerously deep waters. We have a blow out in which a surge of natural gas blows the drill pipe out and blows the safety systems off the map.

The Washington Examiner then details the next 72 hours:
"…the Gulf oil spill has exposed a breathtaking level of incompetence, political opportunism and mendacity at the heart of the Obama administration. Documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity make clear that the White House was told by the Coast Guard within 24 hours of the April 20 explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform that the equivalent of 8,000 barrels a day could escape into the ocean. Within three days, Obama and his senior aides were warned that the spill could exceed the in environmental damage caused by the Exxon Valdez wreck in 1989.”

“Despite these warnings, over the next two months Obama attended Democratic fundraisers, played golf, hosted basketball and football teams at the White House and delivered commencement speeches. Two weeks passed before he could be bothered to go to Louisiana.”

It is now exactly 48 days that the Deep Water well has been gushing oil into the gulf at the rate of up to 400,000 barrels per day. And the Obama search to blame someone other than his own Ken Salazar and the Minerals Management Service (MMS.) But the facts are that the MMS was asleep at the switch, and Salazar must have been wondering if he should have kept his comfortable little Colorado Senate Seat.

Obama is promising to prosecute, and Eric Holder, United States Attorney General is slavering at the mouth to get into court against BP. Yet, BP was drilling with full permission of the MMS and operating under a waiver from filing an environmental impact for BP’s lease at “Deepwater Horizon; a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009,” slightly more than a full year before the blowout – and that can’t be blamed on Don Howard.

Obama must be coated with oil if he expects another “slick” moniker to be added to presidential screw-ups (no pun intended). Man up Mr. Obama and “…go back to work for the American People.”



Democrats Skip Town Halls to Avoid Voter Rage

The reception that Representative Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democrat, received here one night last week as he faced a small group of constituents was far more pleasant than his encounters during a Congressional recess last summer.

Then, he was hanged in effigy by protesters. This time, a round of applause was followed by a glass of chilled wine, a plate of crackers and crudités as he mingled with an invitation-only audience at the Point Breeze Credit Union, a vastly different scene than last year’s wide-open televised free-for-alls.

The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.

If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.

It was no scheduling accident.

With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.

And to reach thousands of constituents at a time, without the worry of being snared in an angry confrontation with voters, more lawmakers are also taking part in a fast-growing trend: the telephone town meeting, where chances are remote that a testy exchange will wind up on YouTube.

For incumbents of both parties facing challenging re-election bids, few things receive more scrutiny than how, when and where they interact with voters. Many members of Congress err on the side of being visible, but not too visible, and make only a few public appearances while they are back in their districts.

In New Hampshire, where open political meetings are deeply ingrained in the state’s traditions, Representative Carol Shea-Porter’s campaign Web site had this message for visitors: “No upcoming events scheduled. Please visit us again soon!”

Ms. Shea-Porter, a Democrat, attended a state convention of letter carriers on Saturday, but she did not hold a town-hall-style meeting during the Congressional recess. In 2006, when she was an underdog candidate for the House, she often showed up at the meetings of her Republican rival, Representative Jeb Bradley, to question him about Iraq.

In Iowa, where voters also are accustomed to coming face to face with elected officials, Representative Leonard L. Boswell, a Democrat, provided few opportunities for voters to see him last week. His itinerary included a groundbreaking for a new law enforcement center and a renaming ceremony for a Des Moines post office.

In Maryland, where Mr. Kratovil endured considerable heckling last year over the health care legislation, which he ultimately opposed, he did not hold any large gatherings with voters. After returning from a visit to Afghanistan, he held two events with veterans before arriving at an evening discussion here at the credit union in Bel Air, north of Baltimore....

An examination of public schedules for dozens of members of Congress last week showed that more House Republicans held open meetings, including several in a series of forums called America Speaking Out, which is intended to help write the party’s agenda if it wins control of Congress in November.

The anger that erupted at meetings last summer — focused, particularly, on the health care legislation — helped draw attention to Tea Party activists. A year later, some of the images are resurfacing once again and will almost certainly be used against lawmakers in television advertisements over the next five months.




What do we cherish “as Americans?”: "In a recent talk, responding to the Arizona law that’s said to be aimed at containing illegal immigration, President Barrack Obama stated that this piece of legislation ‘threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans …’ I am not enough of a student of the Arizona law to pass judgment on it now but I am definitely skeptical about the claim that Americans as such cherish ‘basic notions of fairness.’ To start with, there is nothing in any basic American political document that mandates fairness across the land. Neither the Declaration of Independence, nor the Bill of Rights (or the U. S. Constitution) insists that Americans be fair. And a good thing that is, since such a demand cannot be met.”

The times they are a-changin’: "Obama’s real problem is that the era of hope and change is over, and he hasn’t adjusted to it. He’s confronted by a debt crisis, the oil spill, and high unemployment. These are front-burner issues a president is expected to address seriously and on which he’ll be held accountable. Yet Obama is still stuck on his old agenda. And he dwells on sentiments like bipartisanship that no longer resonate. It’s as if he’s relying on note cards from the early days of his presidency (nearly 17 months ago). Meanwhile, the world has moved on. When the world changed for FDR, he switched from ‘Dr. New Deal’ to ‘Dr. Win the War.’ Obama hasn’t switched. He’s still ‘Dr. Enact My Agenda.’”

Capitalism: Hollywood’s miscast villain: "Hollywood’s anti-capitalism is not accidental. It stems from three sources: the rage of directors and screenwriters against their own capitalist backers, the difficulty of using a visual medium to depict the invisible hand, and an ethical framework which Hollywood shares with most of our culture that regards self-interest as inherently immoral or, at best, amoral.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Smiling for Dollars

Although I am an atheist, I greatly respect the New Testament message -- so I loathe those hypocrites who clothe themselves in a Christian identity while apparently believing little or nothing in the New Testament. They are the modern-day version of the "whited sepulchres" that Jesus condemned (Matthew 23:27). So I understand the ire of Mike Adams below. There is no doubt that he knows what the Bible says and is not ashamed to mention it. -- JR

I got a lot of hate mail last week in response to my column about Joel Osteen. Much of the hate mail was from the usual sources. But much of it came from so-called conservative atheists. These conservative unbelievers thought I should stop talking about my religious views on a conservative “political” website. But I refuse to do so for two reasons: 1) Because God is a conservative. 2) Because Joel Osteen is bad for both Christianity and conservatism.

The assertion that God is a conservative may sound strange to some. But I’m completely serious. A conservative is simply one who believes that man is born with a propensity to do evil things and that this propensity has important implications for the way we govern.

For example, the conservative believes the hedonistic tendencies of all men require a strong emphasis on family values. Children must be taught such values at an early age lest their hedonistic tendencies translate into criminal conduct. This is just one of the many ways that religion and politics intersect.

Of course, the conservative also believes there must be a backup plan to prevent crime among citizens who have not internalized certain values. That backup plan involves punishment, which is swift, certain, and severe. Conservatives talk about punishment because it is necessary given the conservative view of human nature.

That same view of human nature requires that we conduct foreign policy through a position of strength. Just as we want a potential criminal to fear transgression against our laws, we want rogue nations to be fearful of the consequences of military aggression.

But the liberal will have none of this. He believes that man is innately good. Therefore, the liberal considers it the duty of the criminal justice system to “reeducate” the criminal who was doing just fine before he was corrupted by “bad” society.

Because he sees man as good, the liberal sees war as nothing more than a terrible misunderstanding. Such “misunderstandings” are best prevented by diplomacy. Bombs are not needed. We only need the United Nations (and good translators).

God is not neutral in this debate. He holds the conservative view of human nature. He is the original Author of that view. In Genesis 3, it is made abundantly clear that man will not experience utopia on this planet. Two humans cannot follow one simple rule in order to live a life of bliss on earth. Man constantly seeks to compete and to get ahead. And he trips over others in the process.

So those who assert that Jesus was a liberal (or that socialism is God’s vision for the world) are simply woefully ignorant of the scriptures. Just as God dispenses with the liberal view of human nature in Genesis 3, He provides a powerful metaphor for the futility of socialism in Genesis 11. And no subsequent verse contradicts this dire prediction of the consequences of man’s desire to reach the heavens through his own devices.

But, of course, no one seems to defer to (or even read) the Holy Bible today. America’s most influential religious leader, Oprah Winfrey, certainly does not defer to the Holy Bible. She tells audiences that Jesus was too humble to have ever claimed to be God. When she says such silly things her audience simply nods in agreement. Their Holy Bible is whatever Oprah says it shall be during that particular month.

Nor does our second most influential religious leader, Joel Osteen, defer to the Bible. He waves it above his head before he preaches. But then he sets it down and gives his message without any reference to the Word. It is no wonder that he cannot answer simple questions about the number of paths to salvation. Or, more accurately stated, that he will not answer such simple questions.

There is much wealth to be gained by taking the Word and re-writing it to suit your interests. To tell the world that Jesus was just a man who provided a good moral example is to tell them they can be like Jesus, too. People want to believe this because everyone wants to be worshipped by someone.

But to tell the world that Jesus is a God who must be relied upon for salvation is to tell them they must worship Him. That makes many people feel uncomfortable. And when you make people feel uncomfortable they are unlikely to give you money or buy your stuff.

Joel Osteen sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach the Gospel. Actually, that is a half-truth. He sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach half truths about the Gospel. They don’t like to hear about the realities of man’s sinful nature or the need for repentance. They like to hear a rich man smile and say that God wants them to be rich and happy, too. And they pay good money to hear him say that.

Joel Osteen makes millions of dollars suppressing Holy Scripture. Oprah Winfrey makes billions actually rewriting them. And the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between the current popularity of these two charlatans and the current political climate in this declining nation.

And I am left wondering why the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between his political beliefs and God’s Holy Word. I also wonder why men die to defend beliefs that will die alongside them.



The Simple Path to Middle East Peace

But one that Muslim haters won't take any time soon

Television personality Art Linkletter, who recently passed away at age 97, had the secret for achieving peace in the Middle East.

Linkletter, who experienced many setbacks and tragedies in his life, observed, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”

Adherence to this simple bit of wisdom sums up why Israel has been a story of success and miracles and why the Palestinian Arabs languish.

Take the case of Gaza, that is getting so much attention now. The Israelis decided to unilaterally pull their presence out of Gaza in 2005 and turned control for its administration over to the Palestinians. It presented an opportunity for the Palestinians to show the Israelis and the world that they could govern themselves and pave a path for prosperity and peace for their people.

Were circumstances ideal? Certainly not. But that’s the point. Circumstances are never ideal. Our only choice is always, as Art Linkletter said, to “make the best of the way things turn out.”

But in a culture of blame and entitlement, your problems never get solved because they are always someone else’s fault. You can never move forward because circumstances are never ideal.

As the Israelis readied to withdraw, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister announced “We are telling the entire world, today Gaza and tomorrow Jerusalem.”

Instead of focusing on starting to build on what they had, the focus was the ongoing political agenda against the Israelis.

Soon the Palestinians were embroiled in a civil war, killing each other, until the terrorist group Hamas gained the upper hand in Gaza. Next on the agenda was smuggling in arms and shooting missiles into Israel.

Meanwhile, as result of the Israeli political decision to withdraw from Gaza, 8500 Israelis that were living there were evicted from their homes and forced to move and build new lives elsewhere.

A group of these families picked up and moved several miles inland into a barren patch of arid desert along the Gaza/Egyptian border. They used the funds the Israeli government paid them as compensation for their property to invest and build a new agricultural community in the middle of nowhere.

There are now 180 families living in Halutza (Hebrew for “pioneer”). They pipe in desalinated water from the Mediterranean coast, fertilize the sand, and grow produce. Today, five years after being evacuated from Gaza, they are exporting $50 million dollars a year of organic potatoes, carrots, and peppers from their new community.

Art Linkletter would call this, “making the best of the way things turn out.”

Halutza is the history of Israel in microcosm. Taking difficult and unfortunate circumstances and building anew.

Only 62 years after its founding in the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel has a per capita GDP almost on par with industrialized European nations, has the highest per capita venture capital investment in the world, and has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any non-US country.

Intel Corporation’s facility in Israel is its only microchip design facility outside the US and is responsible for the design of most Intel chips powering our personal computers today.

All this accomplished under constant siege and war because the Palestinians have rejected every proposal to live side by side since they first rejected the state they were offered by the United Nations in 1947, which gave them more territory than they claim would satisfy them today.

A culture of blame, entitlement, and hate is a path to nowhere. This is as true in the Middle East as it is in America’s inner cities, put on the government plantation years ago.

In 1957, Golda Meir, a future prime minister of Israel, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. She said, unfortunately prophetically, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

The world is still waiting.



History Returns to Europe

by Victor Davis Hanson

Walk the beautiful streets in Munich, Strasbourg and Vienna, and you can see why Europeans thought in the last decades that they had reached the end of history. There is not a soldier to be seen. Sidewalk cafes are jammed midweek with two-hour lunch-goers. Fashion, vacations and sex dominate the ads and billboards.

Bikers, electric commuter trains and tiny fuel-efficient cars zoom by in a green contrast to our gas-guzzling Tahoes and Yukons.

So naturally, there is a general sense of satisfied accomplishment among European social democrats. They believe that finally a quiet sameness across their continent has replaced two millennia of constant European warring and revolution. Now, everybody seems to get an apartment, small car, state job, good pension and peace -- and in exchange, all voice comfortable center-left consensus politics.

But beneath the genteel European Union veneer, few remembered that human nature remains constant and gives not even nice Europeans a pass from its harsh laws.

So suddenly the Greek financial meltdown, and the staggering debts that must be repaid, have alternately enraged and terrified northern European creditors. Even the most vocal Europhiles are quietly rethinking the entire premise of a European Union that offers lavish benefits but no sound method of paying for them.

After all, it is one thing to redistribute income by taking from richer Germans and Austrians to give to poorer Germans and Austrians. But it is something else for all Germans and Austrians to extend their socialist charity to siesta-taking Greeks, Italians and Spaniards. For all the lofty rhetoric of the collective European Union, age-old culture, language and nationalism still trump the ideal of continental unity.

But bickering over a trillion dollars in bad southern European debt is not the EU's only problem. Why, for example, do Europe's cradle-to-grave entitlements so often end up encouraging declining populations, atheism and lower worker productivity that is readily apparent to the casual visitor?

Perhaps if everybody ends up about the same, regardless of effort or achievement, then life must be enjoyed mostly in the here and now. Why sacrifice for children, or put something aside for heirs, or worry over a judgment in the afterlife? The more the European Union talks about its global caring, the less likely its own citizens are to have children.

It is also strange that the more Europeans flock to their ancient majestic cathedrals, splendid museums and grandiose villas and castles to satisfy an innate human desire to enjoy artistic, architectural and religious achievement, the more it is likely that they would never again build a now politically incorrect cathedral at Rouen, a Schönbrunn Palace or a castle on the Rhine.

Much is made of European multiculturalism, a willingness to allow Muslims from the Middle East, Pakistan and Turkey to live separate lives without assimilating fully into European society.

But such "tolerance" reflects in part a fear of radical Islam and terrorism. For all the European talk of progressive attitudes about free speech, feminism and gay rights, such principles fade quickly when radical Muslims demand Sharia law, demonize homosexuals or threaten European cartoonists and novelists. It is almost as if the more Europe takes pride in its own multiculturalism, the larger its ethnic ghettoes expand -- and the more its native populations grow bitter against the foreign-born.

Europe is a vocal member of the United Nations and other transnational organizations. But this utopian internationalism depends on the protection guaranteed by the United States and its huge military. Otherwise, there would either be costly European militaries -- or the occasional threat of attack. Europeans forgot that just because they are not looking for war, it doesn't mean that war might not look for them.

In short, as a reaction to the self-destruction of Europe in World War II and the twin monsters of fascism and communism, Europeans thought they could change human nature itself through the creation of an all-caring, all-wise European Union uber-citizen. Instead of dealing with human sins, European wise men of the last half-century would simply declare them passé.

But human-driven history is now roaring back with a fury in Europe -- from Mediterranean insolvency, to the threat of radical Islam, to demographic decline, to new international dangers on the horizon.

Only one question remains: At a time when Europe is discovering that its democratic socialism does not work, why in the world is the United States doing its best to copy 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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Israel treats peaceful people peacefully

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the peaceful ending to a stand-off between the navy and Gaza-bound foreign aid ship the Rachel Corrie, which concluded without violence. "We saw today the difference between a ship of peace activists, with whom we don't agree but respect their right to a different opinion from ours, and between a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists," the premier's office cited him as saying.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the Navy boarded the boat and took control without meeting "any resistance" from the crew or the passengers. "Everything took place without violence," she added.

The stand-off follows Monday's bloody raid on a flotilla of Gaza-bound aid ships where nine activists were killed following a raid by Israeli commandos, sparking world-wide condemnation.

The Rachel Corrie crew initially refused to respond to four requests from the navy to head for the southern port of Ashdod and stayed its course for the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli naval blockade.

Activists on board the ship previously indicated they would not heed Israeli calls to change course and would continue to head for their destination - although they were prepared to let their cargo be inspected. However, the ship was intercepted by the Israeli Navy in international waters shortly after dawn, with troops holding back from boarding the vessel for several hours. It later entered Ashdod five hours after it was commandeered by Israeli forces.

But the takeover prompted a furious response from the Dublin-based Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. "For the second time in less than a week, Israeli forces stormed and hijacked an unarmed aid ship, kidnapping its passengers and forcing the ship toward Ashdod port," it said.

In a statement, the Israeli Defence Forces defended their actions under international law. "The rules of warfare allow the capturing of naval vessels prior to their actual violation of a naval blockade," it said. "This is dependent on the vessels being on their way to a blockaded area, being outside the territorial waters of neutral states and when there is a substantial likelihood (based on credible evidence) that the vessels intend to violate the blockade.



"The Jewish problem" lives on

They just refuse to go away

By Charles Krauthammer

The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers.

But as Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets.

In World War II, with full international legality, the United States blockaded Germany and Japan. And during the October 1962 missile crisis, we blockaded ("quarantined") Cuba. Arms-bearing Russian ships headed to Cuba turned back because the Soviets knew that the U.S. Navy would either board them or sink them. Yet Israel is accused of international criminality for doing precisely what John Kennedy did: impose a naval blockade to prevent a hostile state from acquiring lethal weaponry.

Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense.

(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense -- fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.

Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don't have to fight them here.

But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies -- and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.

Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land -- evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack.

(2) Active defense: Israel then had to switch to active defense -- military action to disrupt, dismantle and defeat (to borrow President Obama's description of our campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda) the newly armed terrorist mini-states established in southern Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew.

The result? The Lebanon war of 2006 and Gaza operation of 2008-09. They were met with yet another avalanche of opprobrium and calumny by the same international community that had demanded the land-for-peace Israeli withdrawals in the first place. Worse, the U.N. Goldstone report, which essentially criminalized Israel's defensive operation in Gaza while whitewashing the casus belli -- the preceding and unprovoked Hamas rocket war -- effectively de-legitimized any active Israeli defense against its self-declared terror enemies.

(3) Passive defense: Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses -- a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.

But, if none of these is permissible, what's left? Ah, but that's the point. It's the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who've had quite enough of the Jewish problem.

What's left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.



Some strange claims about the origins of Jews

This is so confused I don't know where to start. Jews as proselytizers? Jews in Europe long before the Roman empire? I would like to know what evidence the unnamed "archaeologists" have for all that

The Jewish people, according to archaeologists, originated in Babylon and Persia between the 4th and 6th centuries BC. The modern-day Jews most closely related to that original population are those in Iran, Iraq and Syria, whose closest non-Jewish relatives are the Druze, Bedouins and Palestinians, the study found.

Sometime in that period, the Middle Eastern and European Jews diverged and the European branch began actively proselytizing for converts.

At the height of the Roman Empire, about 10% of the empire's population was Jewish, although the bulk of them were converts. Some Khazars were also incorporated during this period.

"That explains why so many European and Syrian Jews have blue eyes and blond hair," Ostrer says. It also explains another of the team's findings — that the population most closely related genetically to European Jews are Italians.



Obama loses the Left: suddenly, it's cool to bash Barack

Polls show that around 10 per cent of those who voted for Obama in 2008 now disapprove of his performance and the heavy turnout of young people and black voters among the 69 million who back him will not be repeated again. Americans have got over the historic symbolism of it all and are now moving on as they live with the reality.

That reality has now begun to dawn on some of Obama's natural constituency - Hollywood and the Left. The "no drama Obama" demeanour that served him so well on the campaign trail is now becoming a liability.

Bemoaning Obama's passivity after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the director Spike Lee thundered: "He's very calm, cool, collected. But, one time, go off! If there's any one time to go off, this is it, because this is a disaster." This is the same Spike Lee who once described Obama's election as a "seismic" change that represented "a better day not only for the United States but for the world".

The ladies of The View, the liberal-dominated morning talk show moderated by Whoopi Goldberg, spent a lot of time last week sympathising with Mrs Obama about how difficult it must be to argue with a husband who never shows any fire or emotion.

Even the liberal chattering classes are deserting Obama. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times jeered that his "Yes we can" slogan had been downgraded to "Will we ever?", while fellow colunnist Frank Rich blasted his "recurrent tardiness in defining exactly what he wants done".

Perhaps Obama's toughest critic over the BP oil slick has been James "Rajin' Cajun" Carville, the mastermind of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and one of those Democrats who represents the beating heart of the party. He blasted Obama's "political stupidity" and "hands off" attitude, concluding: "It seems the President is madder at his critics than he is at BP."

His point was proved when Robert Gibbs, Obama's hyper-aggressive spokesman, responded: "I don't think James understands all of what we're doing. I don't think James understood the facts." Carville is a Louisiana native who had spent more time viewing the oil-soaked coastal wetlands than anyone in the White House.

It is an irony of Obama's presidency - which came into being because he was the unBush - that it shares some of the worst traits of his predecessor's administration. Among these are insularity and a blinkered arrogance.

The young Texans who seemed genetically incapable of viewing any criticism of George W Bush as less than treason may have gone but a similar cult has replaced them. The Obamatrons who now populate Washington have iPads under their arms and greet each other with fist bumps. Earnest, geeky types, they look upon anyone who does not worship Obama with pity – such a being must be too stupid or bigoted to know better.

Obama has never been wracked by self-doubt and he is unusually self-contained for a politician. He seems not to need people or reassurance. In office, this is dangerous – he sometimes seems to be living in a cocoon.

The White House's attempts to deal criticisms of Obama's detachment have been comical. First there was Obama's own cringeworthy (and doubtless bogus) anecdote about his 11-year-old daughter Malia asking: "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Then there was Gibbs illustrating Obama's passionate concern for the people of the Gulf by relating that he had said "damn" and exhibited a "clenched jaw".

It is now permissible – even fashionable – to have a go at the man once hailed as the Messiah.




A witty article about love and marriage from an Australian author here

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

U.S. Unemployment still stuck on high

After a relatively large expansion in private-sector employment in April of 224,000, the Obama administration led people to believe that the growth rate would continue in May. The White House leaked to several media sources that the number of new jobs would exceed a half-million positions, mainly through temporary Census Bureau expansion, and that the private sector would gain around 150,000 — somewhat less than April but still ahead of population growth. Instead, the actual BLS numbers missed both marks:
Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 431,000 in May, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Private-sector employment changed little (+41,000). Manufacturing, temporary help services, and mining added jobs, while construction employment declined. The unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent.

In order to keep up with population growth, private-sector employment has to expand by at least 100,000 jobs a month. So far, the Obama administration has only seen that once, in April. Falling back to 41,000 is a drop of 75% of the growth from the previous month and puts the US back in a net job loss situation.

The problem of marginally-attached workers grew, and is reflected in the A-16 table. Comparing May 2009 to May 2010, the number of discouraged workers rose from 792,000 to 1,083,000, while the number of discouraged workers remained steady at 2.2 million. The number of people not in the labor force but who want work — including the “discouraged” workers — rose from 5.865 million to 6.381 million in the past month (not seasonally adjusted — BLS does not provide historical data with seasonal adjustments).

The Washington Post certainly expected better:
The headlines right now are ominous — from the European debt crisis to a gargantuan gulf oil spill to renewed political tensions in several corners of the world. Financial markets have faltered as a result.

But the U.S. economic recovery is still plugging along.

That is the message from the latest wave of economic data, including several reports Thursday. And Friday morning, the Labor Department plans to release what is expected to be the best report on job growth in years, though the numbers will be boosted by temporary hiring by the Census Bureau.

It points back to a spectacularly bad attempt at expectations management by the White House. Either they didn’t know what was coming, or thought that they could spin it into sunshine. The stumble on private-sector growth negates the “we’re gaining strength” claim coming from the Obama administration, and it fits into a narrative of stagnation and incompetence. No one will look at a +41K month as a big step in the right direction, not after the administration’s bragging about the four-times-stronger number in April.

Update: Rob Port notes that 95.5% of all job growth in May came from the government.

Update II: CNBC reports that Wall Street isn’t impressed, either:
US employers added 431,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in May, but 411,000 of those were temporary census workers. The private sector added just 41,000 jobs: Manufacturing, temporary help and mining added jobs, while construction declined. That number was also well short of the more than 500,000 economists had expected. The unemployment rate, however, fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent in April.

“This number is extremely disappointing,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt trading. However, he said, it should come as no surprise. “Considering first time jobless claims have been inching higher over the past four weeks … and GDP came in at a lackluster 3%, American companies are going to be reluctant to hire.”

“The two areas of potential vulnerability for the economy remain payrolls and housing and they’re both staggering a good deal,” Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, said on CNBC this morning. “From a market standpoint, I think we’re going to switch over and start issuing Dow 10,000 helmets!”

The Dow was down 160 points shortly after opening and treading back towards the 10,000 mark.

Update III: Why did the unemployment rate go down? People have begun exiting the labor force again (via Jonah Goldberg):
The unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 9.7% in May from 9.9% in April, according to a separate survey of 60,000 households. Economists were expecting the jobless rate to sink to 9.8%.

The decline wasn’t particularly good news, however, because the drop was due to 322,000 people dropping out of the labor force. While unemployment dropped by 287,000 to 15 million, employment also fell, dipping 35,000 to 139.4 million.

The participation rate dropped by two tenths to 65%.

Those are not indicators of a growing economy.



Why the White House Bribed Romanoff

We now know that Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, called Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in September, 2009, to offer him one of three enumerated jobs if only he would drop out of the Democratic Senate primary in which he was challenging appointed Senator Michael Bennet. But the question is why?
In the case of the Spector/Sestak bribe, the answer is obvious: The Obama Administration wanted the Pennsylvania Senator to switch parties so that they would have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. To persuade him to switch, the White House had to do its utmost to clear the field and assure him a safe path to the Senate nomination in his new political party. So, Rahm Emanual asked former President Bill Clinton to dangle positions in front of Sestak to get him to drop out of the race.

But Michael Bennet was no great friend of the White House. Having never been elected to a statewide position, he lacked a political base and was never a particularly strong candidate. He only got the Senate seat as an appointment to fill the seat vacated by Senator Ken Salazar who gave up the seat to become Secretary of the Interior in the Obama Administration. So why was the Obama Administration trying to clear the field for Bennet and assure him of the nomination?

The answer likely lies in the politics of health care. Bennet had been a question mark from the beginning of the health care debate. The Huffington Post reported, on November 22, 2009, that he was willing to lose his Senate seat if he had to in order to back health care reform. The Post reported that his dramatic announcement ended months of silence on the subject and relieved White House concerns that he was not going to back the bill.

Funny how Bennet’s announcement came less than two months after Romanoff was offered a job to drop out of the race!

If a connection can be documented between the offer and the vote (no other motivation seems credible) the transaction becomes particularly sickening. Trading a job for a vote is the crassest and most obvious form of bribery. But what else can account for Bennet’s sudden morph from being on the fence over health care to an ardent supporter who would lose all rather than see it die?



Realizing the True Cost of Obamacare

The New York Times finally decides to spill the beans

Much of the focus on Obamacare has rightly been on its fiscal recklessness. But in a New York Times story —the type of story the Times couldn’t seem to find space for prior to Obamacare’s passage — we see a clear glimpse of the kind of care that Obamacare would likely spawn.

With the nomination brewing of Dr. Donald Berwick — a gushing admirer of the British National Health Service — to head Medicare and Medicaid and with Americans already clamoring for repeal in ever-greater numbers, the story, although tardy, is an important one. It highlights the very real dangers of having millions of the decisions made by doctors and patients across America replaced by the decisions of government administrators in Washington — who rely on studies they don’t understand and pick studies to rely on that aren’t worth understanding.

In this case, the relied-upon study was completed by Dartmouth researchers, who were thrust into the national limelight by an administration searching to find an angle, any angle, to try to sell its unpopular overhaul. As the Times writes, “The debate about the Dartmouth work is important because a growing number of health policy researchers are finding that overhauling the nation’s health care system will be far harder and more painful than the Dartmouth work has long suggested. Cuts, if not made carefully, could cost lives.”

The Times piece largely stands on its own, and it provides a disturbing account of how much damage powerful government officials could do to people’s lives if they are allowed to impose their decisions nationally, especially when those decisions aren’t rooted — as they almost always wouldn't be adequately rooted — in legitimate empirical evidence in, as President Obama likes to say, “what works.” Centralizing this much power in the hands of the few would prove fatal not only to liberty but to the quality of American medicine.

The Times writes:
In selling the health care overhaul to Congress, the Obama administration cited a once obscure research group at Dartmouth College to claim that it could not only cut billions in wasteful health care spending but make people healthier by doing so.

Wasteful spending — perhaps $700 billion a year — "does nothing to improve patient health but subjects you and me to tests and procedures that aren’t necessary and are potentially harmful," the president’s budget director, Peter Orszag, wrote in a blog post characteristic of the administration’s argument.

Mr. Orszag even displayed maps produced by Dartmouth researchers that appeared to show where the waste in the system could be found. Beige meant hospitals and regions that offered good, efficient care; chocolate meant bad and inefficient….

However, the Times writes, “Measures of the quality of care are not part of the formula.”

The Times adds, “For all anyone knows, patients could be dying in far greater numbers in hospitals in the beige regions than hospitals in the brown ones, and Dartmouth’s maps would not pick up that difference. As any shopper knows, cheaper does not always mean better.”

For example, there are “big city hospitals like those at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and NYU Langone Medical Center — which look profligate by Dartmouth’s measure but may rank much higher by other quality indicators.”



Same Pundits, Same Hypocrisy

I could go on about one-sided political analyses. But the worst of them recently might have been media's hesitancy to criticize President Obama's halting response to the Gulf oil spill. Obama himself had to declare his "ownership" of the situation before many journalists and pundits would do the same. The Sunday shows generally ran with this theme. Obama's to be judged (only) from this point forward, they said, but it's still BP's fault and responsibility.

Maybe. But I don't recall many of these same talking heads giving George W. Bush as much as a 48-hour grace period after Hurricane Katrina before calling for his head on a platter.

Save the Washington spin award, however, for the verbal contortions about Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak. The issue is whether the Obama White House offered him a job in exchange for Sestak dropping his Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and whether such an offer might have broken any laws.

The spin came right out of grammar school. Everybody else was doing it, too! It's just politics, you know.

That actually might be my view, too. But rest assured that had such an offer come from a surrogate of the Bush administration -- as Bill Clinton was the surrogate for the Obama White House in the case of Sestak -- the media indignation would have blown the doors off.

Sestak himself said emphatically at one point on television that he was indeed offered a job if he would leave Specter alone. He didn't say what job, but he hinted that it was a plum one.

Most insiders believe Clinton may or may not have offered Sestak some sort of modest appointment to a non-paying federal advisory board, as the White House claims. Regardless, they think that in his original televised comments, Sestak was referring to a prospective appointment to a full-time -- and prestigious -- job. That would be a clear violation of law.

Polls are panned by many, but the aggregate of multiple polling results by multiple pollsters rarely lies. President Obama's approval rating is about 47 percent. That's not good, but it's probably better than it would be if media were as tough and skeptical with this administration as they were with previous Republican ones -- or even with Bill Clinton's.

Here's the deal: The big broadcast news organizations want Washington insiders, and they want them to keep the deck stacked in favor of Democrats. Often they don't even realize their own biases.

The cable networks all play to certain audiences. Often they go overboard to flatter the ideologies of their loyal viewer bases. They simply won't accommodate pragmatic voices that decline to speak on behalf of agendas.

The vast majority of Americans don't read newspapers. They don't watch TV news and commentary shows. They just don't care. So does it really matter what the Washington pundits say? Yes and no. Even though most people don't tune in to their every word, the pundits still have the power to turn an offer to a candidate of a non-paying job into an "ElectionGate" scandal. But only if they want to. After all, they're the real gatekeepers.


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Sestak: A feeble coverup that no-one believes

The lies of the coverup are at least as bad as the corruption that is being covered up

(The bottom half of the cartoon is a reference to Richard Nixon)

Last Friday, after months of silence regarding a potential White House job offer for Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., if he did not run in the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer released a memo addressing the events.

Titled, "Review of Discussions Relating to Congressman Sestak," the memo noted the "White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton, who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate Candidacy."

The short version: We did nothing wrong, we asked the former president to help, and the job offered would have been unpaid. The underlying message, "Trust us, we are transparent."

This past weekend, on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called for a federal investigation. "They're now talking about a job that President Clinton himself should have known Sestak couldn't take," he said. "It's the reason the FBI needs to investigate this. An independent -- independent from me, independent from the president -- needs to investigate and get to the bottom of this and -- so we can all move on."



Another clumsy White House bribe

In a possible repeat of the Joe Sestak episode in Pennsylvania, insurgent U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff of Colorado said deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina reached out to him — with a wince-inducing e-mail that is now public — with three possible jobs in September 2009. Obama wanted to keep him out of a race against Sen. Michael Bennet, the White House’s favored candidate.

Taken together, the Sestak and Romanoff cases suggest a White House team that is one part Dick Daley, one part Barney Fife.

They undercut Obama’s reputation on two fronts. Trying to put the fix in to deny Democratic voters the chance to choose for themselves who their Senate nominees should be is hardly consistent with the idea of “Yes, we can” grass-roots empowerment that is central to Obama’s brand.

And bungling that fix is at odds with the Obama team’s image — built around the likes of Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Obama himself — as shrewd political operatives who know the game and always win it.

More here


Free accommodation for loan defaulters

Stay in your home for up to two years without paying either your mortgage or rent -- mostly at the ultimate expense of Fannie and Freddie -- who then get bailed out by the taxpayer

David Streitfeld has a great NYT piece on the way in which jingle mail, or strategic default, seems to be reaching its logical conclusion. Right now, about 24% of all mortgaged properties are underwater. And if you’re being foreclosed upon now, you probably defaulted 438 days ago. In New York, that figure is 561 days.

What’s more, the “limbo” period between default and foreclosure is growing fast: it has risen from 251 days in January 2008. Doing the math, that means that the average amount of time in limbo is growing by 1 days roughly every 4.4 days. Which means that if you default today, then you probably won’t get foreclosed upon until about 567 days from now — or roughly Christmas 2011. That’s 19 months, give or take, without having to make any mortgage payments at all. And if it turns out that your mortgage is one of the millions whose documentation is so screwed up that the loan servicer can’t prove you actually owe them any money at all, then there’s really no end to the amount of time you can sit in your house rent- and mortgage-free.

This turns out to be a great business for opportunistic lawyers, who can gross over half a million dollars a year just by spending a few hours per client stringing the mortgage companies along:



Big drop in Employer Health Coverage coming

And the taxpayer will be on the hook

The President repeatedly promised that if you liked your health plan, you would be able to keep it. Nothing would change. Fat chance.

In fact, millions of Americans of Americans will lose or be transitioned out of their existing employer based health insurance. The official Actuary at HHS- who doesn’t speak for the Administration- said it would be 14 million. But a new report by former Director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas Holtz-Eakin predicts it could be as high as 35 million. That kind of disruption comes at a high price: It’ll cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion more than previously estimated.

Why? Because Obamacare calls for lavish subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans buy health insurance. Indeed, households earning up to four times the federal poverty level are eligible for subsidies. According to 2008 Census data, some 127 million Americans would qualify. Yet the official CBO analysis of Obamacare estimated only 19 million would get subsidies.

Why did CBO think the other 108 eligibles wouldn’t ask for “free” federal money? Because Congress added a “firewall” provision: You can’t get a subsidy unless you have no employer-sponsored coverage, or your contribution toward employer-based coverage exceeds 9.8 percent of your income.

But this firewall is flimsy. The inducement Obamacare gives employers to keep providing generous health coverage is the threat of slapping them with a $2,000 per employee penalty if they drop coverage.

The new study by Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, and his colleague Cameron Smith demonstrates just how ineffective this penalty will be. It presents the example of an insured low-income worker earning one-third more than the federal poverty level. The employer could drop that worker’s coverage, give him a raise, pay the penalty and still save money. Meanwhile, the worker could pocket the raise and the Obamacare subsidy, buy his own coverage and be none the worse for wear.

As Holtz-Eakin and Smith put it, “There is room for the employer to actually improve the worker’s life by having a small pay raise and the same insurance and still save money.” For a health plan worth $15,921, the employee would get a bonus of $128 to keep the same health plan in the exchange, and the employer would save $9,941, even after paying the penalty.

In theory, everyone “wins”. Sort of. The employer gets to dump expensive federally mandated health coverage, and the employee, who may have liked that coverage, still gets a pay raise. The only big loser is the employer and employee who happens to be a taxpayer. The feds will have to dole out subsidies to even middle class families whose employers drop coverage due to the programs perverse incentives. After crunching the numbers, Holtz-Eakin and Smith concluded that as many as 35 million could lose employer-sponsored coverage, bringing the price tag of the subsidies from a” measly” $450 billion to about $1.4 trillion. Have a nice day.



Crack Reporting

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Dear Editor:

Suppose Uncle Sam orders you to raise by 41 percent the price you charge for subscriptions to your newspaper. Would you be surprised to find a subsequent fall in the number of subscribers? If you assigned a reporter to investigate the reasons for this decline in subscriptions, would you be impressed if that reporter files a story offering several possible explanations for the fall in subscriptions without, however, once mentioning the mandated 41 percent price hike?

Unless you answered “yes” to this last question, I wonder why you published Mickey Meece’s report on today’s record high teenage unemployment rate (“Job Outlook for Teenagers Worsens,” June 1). Between 2007 and 2009, Uncle Sam ordered teenage workers (who are mostly unskilled) to raise the price they charge for their labor services by 41 percent. (That is, the federal minimum-wage rose from $5.15 per hour in 2007 to its current level of $7.25 in 2009 – a 41 percent increase.)

Does it not strike you as more than passing strange for your reporter – assigned to help explain why teenagers today have an increasingly difficult time finding jobs – to ignore the fact that these teenagers are ordered by government to raise significantly the wages that they charge their employers?




There is a new site here devoted to collating all the facts about the blockade-busting flotilla that was recently arrested on its way to Gaza.

How socialized medicine harms veterans: "The VA system rarely gets mentioned in the health care debate, which is surprising: it is a homegrown demonstration of how socialized medicine works in the real world. As with the British National Health Service, the U.S. government owns all of the hospitals, and pays for all of the health care, for qualified military personnel. The resultant problems are easy to predict.”

FTC to "Reinvent" Journalism: "The nation needs a strong, independent press, the FTC argues, and so they want to find ways for government to "reinvent" journalism. If that sounds vaguely Orwellian to you, the actual language in the Federal Trade Commission's discussion-points memo should have hairs standing on the backs of necks across the nation. It shows a wildly laughable rationale for government intervention that would prop up the failing newspaper model in a manner that would put the entire industry at the mercy of the federal bureaucracy it's supposed to keep in check."

Did Hoover really slash spending?: "Follow me here, because this is an important point: In the long block quotation above, Krugman and Wells argue that the reason we went into a Great Depression in the 1930s, whereas we merely suffered a Great Recession in our own times, is that the fool politicians back then slashed government spending while the fool central bankers hiked interest rates. In contrast, our enlightened politicians (at least the Democratic ones) and Ben Bernanke had the wisdom to run massive budget deficits and to slash interest rates. That’s why unemployment zoomed to 25% in the 1930s but has yet to break 10% in our time. Now for this story to make any sense, it must be the case that Hoover ’slashed spending,’ while the Fed hiked interest rates, within the first 20 months of the Great Depression. Do you see why?”

"Progressive" Theodore Roosevelt and the modern presidency: “Presidential scholar Edward Corwin has spoken of the ‘personalization of the presidency,’ by which he means that the accident of personality has played a considerable role in shaping the office. And indeed it is hard to think of a stronger personality than that of Theodore Roosevelt who ever served as president. One presidential scholar observed that Roosevelt gave the office ‘the absorbing drama of a Western movie.’ And no wonder. Mark Twain, who met with the president twice, declared him ‘clearly insane.’ In a way, Roosevelt set the tone for his public life to come at age 20, when, after an argument with his girlfriend, he went home and shot and killed his neighbor’s dog. He told a friend in 1884 that when he donned his special cowboy suit, which featured revolver and rifle, ‘I feel able to face anything.’ When he killed his first buffalo, he ‘abandoned himself to complete hysteria,’ as historian Edmund Morris put it, ‘whooping and shrieking while his guide watched in stolid amazement.’ His reaction was similar in 1898 when he killed his first Spaniard." [More on TR here]

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Mainstream Media's "Flotilla" Fraud

The people behind the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” have a long history with terrorists, including al Qaeda. One of the primary sponsors, the Turkish IHH, were identified by the CIA as far back as 1996 as a terrorist-tied entity with links to Iran, and French magistrate Jean-Louis Brougiere testified that IHH played an “important role” in the failed “millennium plot” in the U.S. in late 1999.

Also missing from the mainstream media coverage was that supplies from the flotilla could have been transported from an Israeli port by truck, after inspection, but that offer was flatly rejected. The reasoning was transparent, considering that flotilla spokeswoman Greta Berlin announced last week to the Agence France Press, “This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it’s about breaking Israel’s siege.”

Most tellingly, flotilla passengers were seen on Al-Jazeera last week chanting, “Khyber, Khyber,” a favorite chant of jihadists because it recalls a battle where Mohammed’s army is said to have killed large numbers of Jews.

Had the mainstream media been truly brave, outlets could have given full context, namely that the blockade of Gaza targets the Hamas government and is a joint enterprise of both Israel and Egypt.

There is no “humanitarian crisis,” as claimed by the flotilla’s propaganda, given that approximately 100 aid trucks enter Gaza every day. “Throughout the last few months,” according to the Israel Defense Forces website, “More than 1,200 tons of medicine and medical equipment, 155 tons of food, 2,900 tons of shoes and clothing and 17 million liters of diesel fuel were transferred in to the Gaza Strip.”

But not surprisingly, few of these facts found their way into the mainstream media’s coverage.

More here


Even Maureen Dowd is not impressed by Obama now he is President

The chief harpy of the NYT writes below:

It’s not a good narrative arc: The man who walked on water is now ensnared by a crisis under water.

One little hole a mile down on the ocean floor, so deep it seems like hell spewing up its sulfurous smoke, has turned the thrilling saga of “The One” into the gurgling horror of “The Abyss.” (Thank goodness James Cameron, the director of “The Abyss,” came to Washington Tuesday to help the administration figure out how to cap the BP well. What’s next? Sending down the Transformers and Megan Fox?)

With as much as 34 million gallons of oil inking the Gulf of Mexico, “Yes we can” has been downgraded to “Will we ever?”

It’s impossible not to feel sorry for President Obama, pummeled by the cascading disasters, at home and abroad, unleashed by two war-mongering oil men — plus scary escalations by Israel, Iran and North Korea. (Dick Cheney’s dark influence is still belching like the well. BP just brought on a new public relations executive: Anne Womack-Kolton, who served as Cheney’s campaign press secretary in 2004 and worked in W.’s White House and at the Energy Department.)

Obama wanted to be a transformative president and now the presidency is transforming him. Instead of buoyant, he seems put upon. Instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness, there’s the bitter draught of helplessness.

His battle against water is taking on Biblical — even Job-like — proportions. Besides the roiling water below, the skies opened from above and gusting, lightning-streaked rains drowned the president’s plans to give a Memorial Day speech at the Lincoln cemetery near Chicago. On the evening news, pictures of the president standing under an umbrella shooing people off the soggy field were a sad contrast to the wildly sentimental Joe Biden presiding, hand on heart, over a sunny and moving Memorial Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery.

After suffering more indignities — a S.U.V. in his motorcade blew a tire on I-55 outside of Chicago — a tired-looking Obama returned to Andrews Air Force Base at 7:30 Monday night and went to an area called the “tactical fitness center” to give his remarks to 150 or so subdued service members who had been rounded up by the White House advance team.

As The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut wryly wrote in her pool report: “It has been years since President Obama attended a rally like the one that took place here Monday night: sparsely attended, thrown together at the last minute, involving people who were not expecting to be there. We’re partying like it’s Obama circa 2005.”

The oil won’t stop flowing, but the magic has. Barack Obama is a guy who is accustomed to having stuff go right for him. He’s gotten a lot of breaks: two opponents in his U.S. Senate race in Illinois felled by personal scandals; a mismanaged presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton; an economic collapse that set the stage for a historic win, memorably described by the satiric Onion newspaper as “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”

Reporters grilled Robert Gibbs at his White House briefing on Tuesday about the president’s strange inability to convey passion over a historical environmental disaster. This was underscored by Obama’s perfunctory drop-by to a sanitized beach in Grand Isle, La. Despite his recent ode about growing up near an ocean, he didn’t bother to meet with the regular folks who have lost their seafaring livelihoods.

After Gibbs asserted that his boss was “enraged” at BP, CBS News’s Chip Reid skeptically pressed: “Have we really seen rage from the president on this? I think most people would say no.” “I’ve seen rage from him, Chip,” Gibbs insisted. “I have.”

Reid asked for an exact definition of what constitutes emotion for Obama: “Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?” Gibbs mentioned the words “clenched jaw” and the president’s admonition to “plug the damn hole.”

How does a man who invented himself as a force by writing one of the most eloquent memoirs in political history lose control of his own narrative?

In “Dreams From My Father,” Obama showed passion, lyricism, empathy and an exquisite understanding of character and psychological context — all the qualities that he has stubbornly resisted showing as president. It was a book that promised a president who could see into the hearts of other people. But there’s so much you don’t learn about candidates in campaigns, even when they seem completely exposed.

This president has made it clear that he’s not comfortable outside whatever domain he’s defined. But unless he wants his story to be marred by a pattern of passivity, detachment, acquiescence and compromise, he’d better seize control of the story line of his White House years. Woe-is-me is not an attractive narrative.



Black Democrats nervous about ethics probes

I wonder why?

Twenty members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including its chairwoman, are asking the House to severely restrict the powers of an independent ethics office that has spent much of its first full year investigating accusations of wrongdoing among black caucus members.

A resolution introduced late last week by Representative Marcia L. Fudge, Democrat of Ohio, and co-sponsored by 19 other black caucus members, would prohibit the release of most investigative reports prepared by the Office of Congressional Ethics. It would also prevent the office from initiating its own inquiries, unless a sworn complaint was filed by an individual with personal knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing.

The changes are merited, Ms. Fudge said, because the ethics office, known as the O.C.E., has taken up frivolous investigations that have unfairly damaged the reputation of House members.

“O.C.E. is currently the accuser, judge and jury,” Ms. Fudge said in a statement Monday. “This isn’t the case in the American justice system, and it shouldn’t be so in Congress.”

Outside watchdog groups, which in 2008 pressured House leaders to create the office after a series of Capitol Hill scandals, called the proposal a cynical attempt to effectively shut down what has already become an important new ethics cop in Washington.

“This will gut and render impotent the Office of Congressional Ethics,” said Norman J. Ornstein, an ethics expert at the American Enterprise Institute who lobbied for the creation of the office two years ago. “It is a pretty good working definition of chutzpah.”

The office, which is run by a former Justice Department prosecutor and overseen by an independent board, has investigated at least eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After it investigates, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has the responsibility of formally deciding if any rules have been broken.

The standards committee has dismissed eight of the nine cases referred to it by the office, including four involving black caucus members. It has not concluded its work on three other cases.

The most important power of the office, it has turned out, is its ability to force the release of its investigative findings, even if the House standards committee concludes that no violation occurred, a power that would be eliminated under the new proposal.



Do Liberals Suffer from Arrested Moral Development?

Their moral reasoning is similar to that of young children

Do kids outgrow socialism? A fascinating new study, “Fairness and the Development of Inequality Acceptance,” published last week in the journal Science by researchers at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration sheds some light on individual moral development. It turns out that as people move from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood they become increasingly meritocratic, that is, they come to believe that people deserve unequal rewards based on their individual achievements.

The Norwegian researchers studied about 500 children beginning in the fifth grade through the 13th grade (ages 11 through 19) as they played modified versions of the dictator game. In the standard dictator game, a sum of money, say $100, is divided up between two players. The dictator decides how much to keep and how much to give the second player, the responder. Interestingly, research shows consistently that most dictators do not keep all the money.

The Norwegian researchers modified the game allowing for a 45-minute production phase in which players could earn points by finding and clicking on specific numbers in a series of computer screens. The researchers also set up alternative tasks allowing students to choose to play video games or watch cartoons instead of trying to collect points. Most of the participants turned out to be workaholics who clicked away full time trying to gain points. Later the points could be exchanged for money, but in some cases the amount of money was randomly given a multiplier, so that some lucky participants ended up earning more than others who had been equally productive.

Once the game was over, kids from the same grade were paired and told how long each had spent earning points, how many they earned, and what multiplier each received. The pair’s winnings were combined and one—the dictator—would decide how to divide up the total. What happened?

The Norwegian school kids, both male and female, divvied up the money with the mean share given to responders averaging around 45 percent across all grades. The researchers suggest that this nearly equal division results from the fact that “there is no apparent fairness argument justifying an unequal division of the money.”

However, the researchers found that how students divided up money changed as they became older when it was earned and depended on individual achievements and luck. Most fifth graders (63 percent) remained strict egalitarians, dividing up the money equally, despite the fact that some players earned more money through individual achievement. However, the portion of egalitarians dropped to 40 percent by 7th grade; falling eventually to 22 percent by 13th grade. Conversely, the share of meritocrats rose from 5 percent in the fifth grade, to 22 percent in 7th grade, rising eventually to 42 percent in the 13th grade. A full 42 percent of players in the 13th grade kept more money for themselves because they believed that they have earned it. The authors of the Norwegian study conclude that the meritocratic fairness view increases as the cognitive abilities of children mature. In other words: yes, kids outgrow socialism.

More here



The coming resignation of Barack Obama: "Months ago, I predicted in this column that President Obama would so discredit himself in office that he wouldn’t even be on the ballot in 2012, let alone have a prayer of being reelected. Like President Johnson in 1968, who had won a much bigger victory four years previously than Obama did in 2008, President Obama will be so politically defunct by 2012 that he won’t even try to run for reelection. I am now ready to predict that President Obama will not even make it that far. I predict that he will resign in discredited disgrace before the fall of 2012.”

American musketeers: "America made excellent gunpowder. It also produced superior small arms. The end of the Civil War gave a tremendous impetus to the sales campaign of American arms makers. The bottom had more than fallen out of their domestic market. With large plant, personnel, and stocks on their hands, the arms manufacturers had to seek foreign outlets. Moreover, the secondhand merchants were pressing them in the smaller countries and they found it necessary to seek out the ordnance departments of the Great Powers. But the most potent cause for expansion was that the world was ready to buy American small arms.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

Rage about Israel but silence about real atrocities

Six million dead over the past ten years. Six. Million. Murdered through barbaric violence and mass starvation. But, oddly enough, not with that weapon of death, the paint ball gun.

Mass rape is a weapon unleashed on thousands of women every single day. Over a million refugees are living in filth, dying of disease and starvation. We're talking about... Congo.
Perhaps the scale of the humanitarian tragedy is too much for people to comprehend, or perhaps the hidden corporate agenda of mainstream media in the United States will not allow this story to see the light of day. The rape and plunder of Congo's resources is behind the great silence which surrounds this story. The proxy armies of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda serve the international corporate agenda. The story is complicated, and will never be fully understood except within the confines of historical analysis.

Meanwhile, six million are dead in the last ten years, 1,200 people die every day, unspeakable crimes against women's bodies go unreported, and the 1.2 million innocents in refugee camps cannot afford the time to wait for history's analysis of the reasons behind their despair and misery. More than 2,000 rape cases were recorded last month alone in the Democratic Republic of Congo's violent North Kivu province.

But no one questions the legitimacy of the Congo, arguably the most barbaric, dysfunctional country on the face of the earth. The U.N. barely notices Congo.

And all the so-called peace activists on the left who wail and gnash their teeth about non-existent Israeli atrocities are criminally silent when it comes to authentic war crimes; the oceans of innocent blood barely registers in their collective conscience.

You know why? Because there are no Jews in Congo. Because Congo is not the Jewish State.

Because anti-Zionism is the new Jew-hatred. Because Jews were despised when we did not have a state, and now we are despised because we do have a state.

Israel's enemies are not interested in human rights. They are interested in the destruction of the Jewish State, the extermination of the Jewish people. That is the reality.

More HERE (See the original for links)


Obama and Jewish political stupidity

by Jeff Jacoby

LONG BEFORE his election as president, it was clear that Barack Obama felt little of the traditional American warmth for Israel or any particular repugnance for the enemies that Israel and America have in common. As Commentary's editors suggest, his exceptionally close ties to the man he described as his spiritual mentor, the Israel-bashing Reverend Jeremiah Wright, should have given pause to any pro-Israel voter. So should the persistence with which he vowed to undertake direct presidential diplomacy with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the virulently anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic president of Iran -- "without preconditions." Yet many American Jews chose to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, telling themselves that he could be numbered, as Alan Dershowitz wrote at the time, "among Israel's strongest supporters."

Only the willfully blind could believe that now. And many American Jews are willfully blind.

Time and again, Obama has made clear both his lack of sympathy for the Jewish state and his keen desire to ingratiate himself with Arab and Muslim autocrats. The disparities in the administration's tone and attitude have been striking. For the prime minister of Israel, there have been humiliating snubs and telephoned harangues; for the rulers of Iran, invitations to "engage" and sycophantic New Year greetings. When Damascus was reported to be arming Hezbollah with Scud missiles, Obama's secretary of state observed mildly that the US "would like to have a more balanced and positive relationship with Syria." When Israel announced plans to build more homes in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, by contrast, the secretary of state angrily condemned the announcement as "an insult to the United States."

Even more egregious is Obama's insinuation that American troops are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because Israel won't agree to peace on the Palestinians' terms. The Israeli-Arab conflict "is costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure," the president said in April -- a claim not just false, but recklessly close to a blood libel. No wonder the number of Israeli Jews who see Obama as pro-Israel is minuscule: just 9 percent, according to the Jerusalem Post.

When the first George Bush was in the White House, he evinced a similar anti-Israel animus, and some of his advisers worried that his Mideast policy would hurt the president with Jewish voters. "F--- the Jews," Secretary of State James Baker notoriously responded, "they don't vote for us anyway." They didn't: When Bush ran for re-election in 1992, he drew only 11 percent of the Jewish vote -- less than a third of those who had voted for him in 1988.

Is it likely that two-thirds of the overwhelming majority of Jews who backed Obama in 2008 would abandon him in 2012, assuming he runs for re-election and his animus toward Israel persists? To ask it another way: Would most American Jews vote against a Democratic nominee out of concern for Israel?

There is no reason to think so. American Jews have been stalwart Democrats for nearly a century, and their partisan affiliation shows no sign of weakening -- not even as the Democratic Party's support for Israel grows steadily weaker. When Gallup earlier this year surveyed Americans on their sympathies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 85 percent of Republicans expressed support for Israel -- but only 48 percent of Democrats did so. Reams of data confirm that solidarity with Israel is now far stronger among Republicans and conservatives than among Democrats and liberals.

That is why if they are forced to choose between standing with Israel and standing with the Democratic Party, many American Jews will simply deny that any choice must be made. As evidence, consider a recent Quinnipiac University poll, in which fully 50 percent of Jews described Obama as a "strong supporter of Israel" -- a far higher proportion than the 19 percent of evangelicals, 23 percent of Protestants, and 35 percent of Catholics who said the same. Denial is not an uncommon response to cognitive dissonance, and a goodly number of Jewish Democrats will find it easier to keep telling themselves that Obama is strongly pro-Israel than to re-think their party loyalty.

To be sure, in 2012 Obama is unlikely to duplicate the 78 percent of Jewish votes he drew in 2008. But will American Jews turn away from him en masse? Don't bet on it. "F--- the Jews," Obama's advisers can tell him. "They'll vote for us anyway."



BrookesNews Update

Is the US economy facing stagnation? : When GDP for the last quarter of 2009 came in at 5.2 per cent many people immediately assumed that the upswing had finally arrived. They were wrong. The contrary factors at work were too powerful to resist and they could be getting stronger. This could see the US economy sink even deeper into recession
KPMG's Keynesian quackery is hazardous to your wealth : It is to be regretted that KPMG's economic fallacies are soundly embedded in what passes for economic debate in Australia. What Mr Salt and those like him at the Treasury and in the media have not grasped is that a good economist looks beyond the immediate effects of an economic policy
The left get it wrong again: The market didn't cause the crisis, bad economics and political meddlers did that : Statistics tell us what happened but they don't tell us why it happened. This is why one needs a theory to interpret them. These critics of the market don't have a theory. What they have are prejudices. They nothing about economic history or the history of economic thought (most economists are no better in this respect) and they certainly do not know any basic economics
Castro's supporters: Rockers For Stalinism and segregation! : What is with our celebrity class and their endless love affairs with the vicious Castro. The man is a mass murdering sadist and yet Hollywood celebrities debase themselves in front of and rockers treat him like a god. Where does this moral imbecility come from?
Senator Chris Dodd always seemed to support America's enemies : Christopher Dodd, Democratic Senator from Connecticut, is exiting the Senate, leaving, like so many before him, a very dark stain behind. To understand why American politics is immensely better off and American liberties far safer with the likes of Dodd kept away from the levers of power one needs to only look at one aspect of his political career. It was only recently that he tried to sabotage the war on terrorism?
I've had too much change and I've lost my hope! : Why do Jews continue to vote for the Democrats? In decades and generations gone past, the Jewish communities were poor. They were newcomers to the wealth and civil rights. They appreciated the liberty afforded to them
Do Democrats commit hate crimes against black Republicans? : A display of unmitigated gall describes how Democrats are falsely comparing anti-ObamaCare protestors to the anti-civil rights racists of the 1960's who were Democrats. Democrats get away with this racial hypocrisy because they know with absolute certainty that the true history of civil rights has long been buried, and the racism exhibited today by Democrats against blacks, particularly black Republicans, will be ignored by the mainstream media



He was supposed to be competent: "I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts. There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his healthcare proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. … The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008.”

Correction: Census workers may NOT enter your apartment: "Last week, former congressman Bob Barr wrote that Census workers can legally demand entrance to any apartment. … The claim got a lot of play on sites like the Drudge Report. The idea is certainly believable given the expansion of government power. And it’s easy to see how Barr got his impression from this law, which states that a census worker may demand the landlord of an apartment building ‘furnish the names of the occupants of such premises, or to give free ingress thereto and egress therefrom to any duly accredited representative …’ But four privacy law experts we called to said that ‘ingress thereto’ refers to the apartment complex, not individual apartments.”

Disclosed partisanship: "DISCLOSE’s partisanship is apparent in its different treatment of corporations and unions. Every major federal campaign-finance-reform effort since 1943 has attempted to treat corporations and unions equally. If a limit applied to corporations, it applied to unions; if unions could form PACs, corporations could too; and so on. DISCLOSE is the first major campaign-finance bill that has not taken this approach. For example, it prohibits corporations with government contracts of as little as $50,000 from making independent expenditures in elections or engaging in ‘electioneering communications.’ This very low threshold would bar not only large contractors such as Boeing but also thousands of small businesses from exercising the rights recognized in Citizens United. Yet no parallel provision exists for unions that bargain with the government for multimillion-dollar benefit packages.”

"Learned helplessness": "That’s a phrase I first learned from Charles Murray. I assume he invented it when writing about the unintended consequences of the Welfare State. Working at ABC, and living in Manhattan, I never imagined American welfare ‘reform’ would pass. My neighbors fervently believed subsidies should only increase. ‘No one can live on welfare,’ was a typical comment. ‘The poor barely scrape by. We must increase subsidies for education, healthcare, housing, etc., to give people a decent shot at life.’ When a Republican Congress persuaded President Clinton to sign welfare reform, my neighbors predicted riots and widespread misery. They have been largely silent about the resulting decrease in the poverty rate. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Britain’s deficits have forced Britain to rethink its welfare state…. ‘Uninspiring’ is a good word. Now the English may have finally learned that a generous Welfare State breeds helplessness.” [The term "Learned helplessness" was coined by Martin Seligman, as far as I know]

Philosophical versus political correctness: "You will know what I am after here when I tell you how much I dislike it when people talk of ‘her majesty’ or ‘his highness’ as they talk of various pretenders to heads of countries around the globe and throughout human history. For me such terms are like ones out of fairy tales because, well, there are no kings or queens or any such thing except in myths and fabricated political regimes. In other words kings are really not what they pretend to be, namely, God’s chosen leaders here on earth. As with all in-born status that places some above others not in height or even talent but in political authority — some may rule and others will be ruled — the whole monarchical idea is a lie. Yet even now one can encounter references to these pretenders, right here in the United States of America, as if these were the real McCoy! Poppycock. Was it not the American Founders who participated in the revolution that demoted, demythologized these pretenders and declared that no one is by nature the ruler of someone else?” [I don't think Tibor has quite got the idea of a constitutional monarchy. I live in one and find it most congenial]

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, 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 June, 2010

What really happened on the Gaza-bound ships -- in detail

By Ron Ben-Yishai

Our Navy commandoes fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
‘I saw the tip of a rifle’

The Navy commandoes were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.

The planned rush towards the vessel’s bridge became impossible, even when a second chopper was brought in with another crew of soldiers. “Throw stun grenades,” shouted Flotilla 13’s commander who monitored the operation. The Navy chief was not too far, on board a speedboat belonging to Flotilla 13, along with forces who attempted to climb into the back of the ship.

The forces hurled stun grenades, yet the rioters on the top deck, whose number swelled up to 30 by that time, kept on beating up about 30 commandoes who kept gliding their way one by one from the helicopter. At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.

Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes.

“I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him. We looked for him later but couldn’t find him.” Two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds to their knee and stomach after rioters apparently fired at them using guns wrested away from troops.

During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.

Some passengers on the ship stood at the back and pounded the soldiers’ hands as they attempted to climb on board. Only after a 30-minute shootout and brutal assaults using clubs and knifes did commandoes manage to reach the bridge and take over the Marmara.

It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.



Fancy restaurants and Olympic-size pools in Gaza

In recent days, the international media, particularly in Europe and the Mideast, has been full of stories about “activist boats sailing to Gaza carrying desperately-needed humanitarian aid and building materials.”

The BBC World Service even led its world news broadcasts with this story at one point over the weekend. (The BBC yesterday boasted that its global news audience has now risen to 220 million persons a week, making it by far the biggest news broadcaster in the world.)

Indeed the BBC and other prominent Western media regularly lead their viewers and readers astray with accounts of a non-existent “mass humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

What they won’t tell you about are the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip’s crowded shops and markets. Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live a middle class (and in some cases an upper class) lifestyle that western journalists refuse to report on because it doesn’t fit with the simplistic story they were sent to write.

Here, courtesy of the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, is a report on Gaza’s new Olympic-sized swimming pool . (Most Israeli towns don’t have Olympic-size swimming pools. One wonders how an area that claims to be starved of water and building materials and depends on humanitarian aid builds an Olympic size swimming pool and creates a luxury lifestyle for some while others are forced to live in abject poverty as political pawn refugees?)

If you pop into the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”.

The restaurant’s website in Arabic gives a window into middle class dining and the lifestyle of Hamas officials in Gaza. And here it is in English, for all the journalists, UN types and NGO staff who regularly frequent this and other nice Gaza restaurants (but don’t tell their readers about them).

And here is a promotional video of the club restaurant . In case anyone doubts the authenticity of this video, I just called the club in Gaza City and had a nice chat with the manager who proudly confirmed business is booming and many Palestinians and international guests are dining there.

In a piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, I documented the “after effects” of a previous “emergency Gaza boat flotilla,” when the arrivals were seen afterwards purchasing souvenirs in well-stocked shops. (You can also scroll down here for more pictures of Gaza’s “impoverished” shops.)

But the mainstream liberal international media won’t report on any of this. Playing the manipulative game of the BBC is easy: if we had their vast taxpayer funded resources, we too could produce reports about parts of London, Manchester and Glasgow and make it look as though there is a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the UK. We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles too.

Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. (When was the last time a foreign journalist based in Israel left the pampered lounge bars and restaurants of the King David and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and went to check out the slum-like areas of southern Tel Aviv? Or the hard-hit Negev towns of Netivot or Rahat?)

But the way that many prominent Western news media are deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state – which one suspects was the goal of many of the editors and reporters involved in the first place.



Offshore oil disaster a gift for Obama's "shrink America" aims

An administration never enthusiastic about offshore drilling is using the Gulf oil spill as an excuse to suspend Arctic exploration. Who could've seen that coming? Now we'll be more dependent on foreign oil.

Suspicions in some quarters that the administration was being deliberately lax in its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in order to pursue a larger, anti-domestic energy agenda were met with derision. But if not deliberate, the effect is the same as the administration prepares to shut down our search for new oil.

President Obama on Thursday announced a suspension of offshore drilling in the Arctic until the causes and solutions to the Gulf spill are found. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a report delivered to the White House on Thursday that he will not consider applications for permits to drill in the Arctic until 2011. Shell Oil was poised to begin exploratory drilling this summer on leases as far as 140 miles offshore.

The irony here is that it's been the reluctance of Congress and the White House to allow more onshore development of our vast untapped oil and natural gas energy reserves that has forced oil companies such as Shell and British Petroleum to go farther and farther offshore to drill deeper and deeper in riskier waters.

"I am frustrated that this decision by the Obama administration to halt offshore development for a year will cause more delays and higher costs for domestic oil and gas production to meet the nation's energy needs," Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a statement. As with nuclear power, domestic oil exploration will now be consigned to the "study forever, develop never" category.

As we noted recently, this is another energy crisis that environmentalists will not let go to waste. The nonfatal accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 and the Soviet disaster at Chernobyl conspired to deprive the U.S. of a non-polluting form of power generation — nuclear power. The danger here is that similar overblown fears of offshore oil production will doom the U.S. to being the Bangladesh of domestic energy production.

Other nations continue to build new nuclear power plants, build new coal plants and build new offshore oil rigs (including China, in the Gulf of Mexico). They know that despite the risks and dangers, their economies and their people need the energy. The U.S., uniquely among industrial nations, will stick its head in the tundra.




Had enough government yet?: "The BP Deepwater Horizon, the most federally regulated offshore oil drilling rig ever, blows out one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in the worst oil spill disaster ever. In the spirit of using every crisis to advance the liberal agenda, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposes to abolish the single agency in charge of regulating and inspecting offshore rigs, and replacing it with three new federal agencies. In fairness, Salazar had to do something drastic when it was discovered that the agency whose oversight failed to prevent the blowout was peppered with employees who spent their time doing drugs, taking bribes from the oil industry, and surfing the web for porn.”

Why some places suck and others don’t: "It’s hardly an original observation that some parts of the world suck mightily as places to be unfortunate enough to inhabit while others are, by historical or global standards, really rather decent. Various explanations for this have been offered over the years and the current fashionable one is that institutions matter. not just who is in power and what they want, but what restrictions does the society put upon exercise of power: is the law stable for example, are property rights respected, does getting ahead depend upon ingenuity, effort and improving the general lot or by sucking up to the nearest politician? Or, Lord forbid, mounting a coup to become the nearest politician?”

Tea Party vs. ACORN, etc.: "It looks like the way the Right despises ACORN, the Left does the Tea Party. It may not even be so much about their political stances, although that is part of it for sure. It is sad, though, that supporters of Mr. Obama had no problem with — indeed were proud of — his history of community organization but forget about this completely as they deride the Tea Party. And I am not just talking about Leftist talk show hosts and hostesses but snooty publications like The New Republic and The New York Review of Books. Instead of celebrating this clearly democratic phenomenon, the Left is demonizing it.”

Greedy British centre/Left politician: "Once an individual claims any kind of state subsidy, his privacy is forfeit: the humblest benefits recipient could confirm that. The one certain way to have preserved his privacy was for [David] Laws to have claimed no money — as he could easily have afforded to do. Laws is a multi-millionaire as a result of his previous career in banking: he was a vice-president of J P Morgan and then the managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd, before he was 30. That an MP with that kind of personal wealth elected to take more than £40,000 from the taxpayer says it all about politicians’ sense of entitlement. It was that sense of entitlement that brought him down. His private life was revealed by Laws himself, in a transparent attempt to claim victimhood. To some degree that ploy succeeded, as the Dianafication of the former Chief Secretary among his colleagues and some elements of the media over the past 24 hours testifies.”

Concierge medical services: "My wife and I have a great doctor. She has a small clinic nearby with a few other doctors, who are also all very good. Our doctor has a waiting list for people who want to be her patient. We have over the years recommended several people, even some who live 20 miles away, to her. She is very nagging — in a good way. She makes you promise to get a physical, eye exam, etc., intervenes to get you an appointment with a specialist if you need one, etc. Follows up by phone, and so on. She is great. She recently announced to us that she is moving to some kind of ‘concierge’ service — she figures she basically provides that kind of above-average service already, and this is a way to reduce her patient load (from about 4000 to about 400), and escape some of the regulatory burden that Obamacare is going to impose. So she’s picking a select group of her current patients — about 10% of them — and they will be allowed to remain her patients — for $1600/year each. Now, we love our doctor, so will probably do this. And 3600 of her patients will now lose their favorite doctor. Thanks, in part, to Obamacare.”

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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


"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.

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.

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.

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

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 well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

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.

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!

"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.

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.

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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 black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

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.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here