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, 2012

The Feds can penalize you for anything as long as they call it a tax

Today is my Sabbath and I would not normally be posting anything today but the decision by SCOTUS (above) completely alters the ball game for America so I felt I had to put up a few bits on at least this blog, if not on my others.

If Americans want to know where their healthcare is heading now, have a good look at my EYE ON BRITAIN blog. Every day I put up at least one horror story there about how socialized medicine treats people.


GOP governors vow to ignore Obamacare

Republican governors are planning to ignore the Supreme Court's decision Thursday to uphold Obamacare hoping that the issue will drive voters to dump President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney who has vowed to kill the Affordable Care Act.

After the decision, the Republican Governors Association said that nothing should be done by the states until after the election, a clear signal that they believe a GOP president, House and Senate will kill the health care reform pushed through by Democrats and opposed by Republicans.

RGA Chairman Bob McDonnell said, "Today's ruling crystallizes all that's at stake in November's election. The only way to stop Barack Obama's budget-busting health care takeover is by electing a new president. Barack Obama's health care takeover encapsulates his presidency: Obamacare increases taxes, grows the size of government and puts bureaucrats over patients while doing nothing to improve the economy."

The Virginia governor, who is on Mitt Romney's list of potential vice presidential candidates, added, "By replacing Barack Obama with Mitt Romney, we will not only stop the federal government's healthcare takeover, but will also take a giant step towards a full economic recovery."

Other governors have urged a similar strategy. Scott Walker, the newly re-elected Wisconsin governor, said that he won't put into place any elements of Obamacare until after the election. Other governors are taking a similar position.



Is The Roberts Ruling Good For ObamaCare Opponents?

By upholding all of ObamaCare on the grounds that the individual mandate falls under Congress’ taxing power, it seems like Chief Justice John Roberts has given liberty a very bad day.

But maybe not.

Roberts has now taken away the ability of proponents to obfuscate on the individual mandate. During the ObamaCare debate in Congress, many supporters insisted that the mandate wasn’t a tax knowing that its passage would be much harder if it was, indeed, called a tax. During legal arguments, supporters started referring to it as a tax as a sort of “legal insurance policy” against the Supreme Court throwing it out.

The Roberts ruling in effect says, “Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. And since you let me decide this, I’m calling it a tax.”

That leaves ObamaCare proponents politically vulnerable in a number of ways.

First, supporters will now have to call the mandate a “tax,” something that will make it even less popular than it is now.

Second, their flank will be unprotected against the charge that ObamaCare is one of the largest tax increases in history.

Third, opponents can now say, “Do you want to be taxed to force you to buy insurance?” and “If you don’t buy insurance, your taxes go up.” I’m betting those are winning soundbites.

Fourth, since the mandate is now a tax, it is a no-brainer that it can be repealed using budget reconciliation rules. In other words, you don’t need 60 votes in the Senate get rid of the mandate.

To know if the above analysis is correct, watch for what the Democrats don’t do. If you don’t see Democrats and others on the left running around proudly touting the mandate as a tax, you’ll know that they know that they don’t have a winning argument.

Longer term, if Obama is not touting that the Court found ObamaCare constitutional in his stump speeches, you’ll know this is an issue that he wants to avoid.

Just guessin’, but telling voters that you’ve just raised their taxes probably isn’t a good reelection strategy.



Regulations to fix problems caused by regulations?

Congress has passed the FDA Safety & Innovation Act in response to the recent prescription drug shortages. The Act’s solution to the shortages includes increasing the FDA’s regulatory power. Over-zealous regulation and bureaucrats at FDA had been a main cause of the problem.

The Act will increase the number of pharmaceutical manufacturers that must report to the FDA any discontinuation of certain drugs at least six months before ending production. Additionally, the Act would require the Secretary of the FDA to implement a “task force” to enhance the Secretary’s response to shortages. Neither of these proposed solutions will attenuate another drug shortage but instead exasperate one. It is expected that President Obama will sign the bill into law in early July.

Paul Howard, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress, has argued against more government intervention into the market, stating, “Medicare restrictions on average sale prices (which can only be updated every six months) for generic medicines, just-in-time inventory supply practices at hospitals, reverse-auction contracts from large group purchasing organizations for supplying generic drugs, tougher FDA manufacturing and inspection standards for domestic companies (which can raise costs), and increased global competition from low-cost suppliers in India and China have all created a “perfect storm” for creating shortages of some vital generic medicines.”

Howard pointed out that the pharmaceutical market exists beyond the United States, and in order for our companies to stay competitive we need less red tape.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, found the FDA to be the primary cause of the drug shortages, and concluded in the Committee’s report, “This shortage appears to be a direct result of over aggressive and excessive regulatory action.”

The report continued, “Addressing this shortage requires a common sense regulatory approach that considers market conditions and the overall impact. These drugs can save lives and keep people who need them living healthy lives. The FDA is failing to ensure the availability of quality products.”

Chairman Issa argues that if the FDA’s purpose is to ultimately save lives than it should not be preventing life-extending drugs from entering into hospitals and the market.

A recent academic article by Assistant Professor Ali Yurukoglu of the Stanford Graduate School of Business found a strong, positive correlation between A) the fraction of revenue received from Medicare Part B for a drug and B) the probability of a shortage for that drug. Specifically, each 10 percent market share accounted for by Medicare is linked with an increase of shortage frequency by 7.5 percent.

Preventing future shortages, according to John R. Graham—director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy—would entail freeing up the pharmaceutical market to allow for more competition and shift medicines from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D to ensure manufacturers receive adequate compensation. Unlike Part B, which fixes prices, Part D depends on a less market-intrusive mechanism to provide health care. Part D relies on private health insurers to compete against one another in annual auctions in order to provide drug plans to Medicare beneficiaries.

Graham concludes that ultimately the FDA’s monopoly on the approval of drugs for medical use should be ended to allow competing manufacturers to enter the market in case of future shortages.

If Congress wishes to contribute a viable solution, it should first understand the primary cause of the problem it wishes to solve. In this case, instead of addressing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s price-fixing powers and the FDA’s over-regulation of pharmaceutical markets — the major contributing factors of the drug shortages — Congress has granted even more power to the government, either to little effect or making the problem even worse.



More verbal trickery from the Left

Thomas Sowell on "social justice". If it were "justice" it would not need the "social" adjective

If there were a Hall of Fame for political rhetoric, the phrase "social justice" would deserve a prominent place there. It has the prime virtue of political catchwords: It means many different things to many different people.

In other words, if you are a politician, you can get lots of people, with different concrete ideas, to agree with you when you come out boldly for the vague generality of "social justice."

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catchword can stop thought for 50 years. The phrase "social justice" has stopped many people from thinking, for at least a century -- and counting.

If someone told you that Country A had more "social justice" than Country B, and you had all the statistics in the world available to you, how would you go about determining whether Country A or Country B had more "social justice"? In short, what does the phrase mean in practice -- if it has any concrete meaning?

In political and ideological discussions, the issue is usually whether there is some social injustice. Even if we can agree that there is some injustice, what makes it social?

Surely most of us are repelled by the thought that some people are born into dire poverty, while others are born into extravagant luxury -- each through no fault of their own and no virtue of their own. If this is an injustice, does that make it social?

The baby born into dire poverty might belong to a family in Bangladesh, and the one born to extravagant luxury might belong to a family in America. Whose fault is this disparity or injustice? Is there some specific society that caused this? Or is it just one of those things in the world that we wish was very different?

If it is an injustice, it is unjust from some cosmic perspective, an unjust fate, rather than necessarily an unjust policy, institution or society.

Making a distinction between cosmic justice and social justice is more than just a semantic fine point. Once we recognize that there are innumerable causes of innumerable disparities, we can no longer blithely assume that either the cause or the cure can be found in the government of a particular society.

Anyone who studies geography in any depth can see that different peoples and nations never had the same exposure to the progress of the rest of the human race. People living in isolated mountain valleys have for centuries lagged behind the progress of people living in busy ports, where both new products and new ideas constantly arrive from around the world.

If you study history in addition to geography, you are almost forced to acknowledge that there was never any realistic chance for all peoples to have the same achievements -- even if they were all born with the same potential and even if there were no social injustices.

Once I asked a class of black college students what they thought would happen if a black baby were born, in the middle of a ghetto, and entered the world with brain cells the same as those with which Albert Einstein was born.

There were many different opinions -- but no one in that room thought that such a baby, in such a place, would grow up to become another Einstein. Some blamed discrimination but others saw the social setting as too much to overcome.

If discrimination is the main reason that such a baby has little or no chance for great intellectual achievements, then that is something caused by society -- a social injustice. But if the main reason is that the surrounding cultural environment provides little incentive to develop great intellectual potential, and many distractions from that goal, that is a cosmic injustice.

Many years ago, a study of black adults with high IQs found that they described their childhoods as "extremely unhappy" more often than other black adults did. There is little that politicians can do about that -- except stop pretending that all problems in black communities originate in other communities.

Similar principles apply around the world. Every group trails the long shadow of its cultural heritage -- and no politician or society can change the past. But they can stop leading people into the blind alley of resentments of other people. A better future often requires internal changes that pay off better than mysticism about one's own group or about "social justice."



Religion as a bulwark against big government

The ongoing debate in the United States over Obamacare recalls the value of religion in the debate on liberty. Key to the religious perspective on the debate are efforts by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require Catholic organisations to provide contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilisation services to their employees as part of their health insurance programmes; an attempt which the Catholic Church has staunchly resisted as infringing on matters of conscience.

The opposition from the Catholic Church of course hinges on religious freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment, but galvanises awareness among religious groups of the broader personal freedoms at stake under the other Obamacare mandate, requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance on pain of a fine. Indeed, a Gallup poll now shows that a majority of Americans regardless of political persuasion view the mandate central to the health reform package as unconstitutional.

In some ways, the circumstances resemble the manner in which the first New Deal was brought down by provisions which violated the kosher practices of Jewish butchers, as recounted in an article in The Freeman this month. In that case, the butchers’ challenge did not rest on First Amendment grounds, but it was motivated by religion and ultimately resulted in the economic regulation being struck down by the Supreme Court.

As the religiously-minded classical liberals of the 19th-century wrote, religion was valuable in a free society because it reminded the people that their sole duty was not to the state, and could thus serve as a means of protecting civil liberties from encroaching government. As historian Ralph Raico says of Alexis de Tocqueville, who penned Democracy in America in 1835, the Frenchman believed that religious sentiment:

“...sets up barriers to the heedless trampling on individual rights. It is ultimately because of these influences, he holds, that ‘no one in the United States has dared to advance the maxim that everything is permissible for the interests of society, an impious adage which seems to have been invented in an age of freedom to shelter all future tyrants.’ ” (p. 99)

Whatever the Supreme Court may decide this week – whether it overturns or upholds the individual mandate which affects all citizens, or the HHS contraceptive mandate which affects employers – the religious dimension of this debate will hopefully sharpen awareness of individual liberties in future political discourse. Many secular libertarians today, like their 19th-century forerunners, suspect authority including religious authority. Rather, it is coercive authority which is to be suspect. Ultimately, the first protection in upholding the rule of law in a free society is not the court or legislature, but the sentiment of the people, wherein religious sentiment can perform a valuable role.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Muslim pigs and dogs

Is that a fair description of them? Read the story below and decide for yourself

A BRITISH journalist was brutally sexually assaulted in Cairo's Tahrir Square as thousands of Egyptians gathered to celebrate the nation's presidential election results.

Natasha Smith, 21, has detailed how she was violently attacked by a 'group of animals' who stripped her naked, scratched and clenched her breasts. She only escaped by donning men's clothes and a burka and being whisked away to safety by two other men.

Writing on her blog, she said: 'All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.'

The incident occured on Sunday when Egyptians flooded the area celebrating the announcement Mohammed Morsi would be the nation's first democratically elected leader.

Smith, who will graduate with an MA in International Journalism from University College Falmouth in August, was in Tahrir to film the crowd for a documentary on women's rights.

But the initial 'atmosphere of jubilation, excitement, and happiness', quickly turned against her. She said: 'Just as I realised I had reached the end of the bridge, I noticed the crowd became thicker, and decided immediately to turn around to avoid Tahrir Square.

'My friends and I tried to leave. I tried to put my camera back in my rucksack. But in a split second, everything changed. 'Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression.

'I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn't believe I had got into this situation.' The former Weymouth College and University of Nottingham student said she was then stripped naked and assaulted.

She wrote: 'I began to think, 'maybe this is just it. Maybe this is how I go, how I die. I’ve had a good life. Whether I live or die, this will all be over soon.'

A friend eventually reached her and managed to guide her to a medical tent. Local women helped protect her as she put on the burka and clothes.

She said: 'The men outside remained thirsty for blood; their prey had been cruelly snatched from their grasp. 'They peered in, so I had to duck down and hide. They attempted to attack the tent, and those inside began making a barricade out of chairs. They wanted my blood.'

She then escaped by posing as a stranger's wife and walking out hand-in-hand with the man.

She added: 'The women told me the attack was motivated by rumours spread by trouble-making thugs that I was a foreign spy. 'But if that was the cause, it was only really used as a pretext, an excuse, to molest and violate a blonde young Western girl.'

Smith is not the first western woman to be assaulted while working in Egypt. CBS News' Lara Logan was attacked during the 2011 revolution. She said 'men in the crowd had raped me with their hands'.

Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy was also assaulted by Egyptian security forces in November.

And Smith has vowed that the abuse would not stop her from exposing the wider issue of sexual assault in the country. She said: 'I will overcome this and come back stronger and wiser. My documentary will be fuelled by my passion to help make people aware of just how serious this issue is.

'It's not just a passing news story that briefly gets people’s attention then is forgotten. This is a consistent trend and it has to stop. 'Arab women, western women – there are so many sufferers.'



Veteran mainstream journalist slams the Leftist bias of his colleagues

By Deacon Greg Kandra

First, there was the Trayvon Martin boondoggle a few months ago.

Then yesterday, evidence of some creative editing regarding Mitt Romney’s visit to a Wawa in Pennsylvania.

Today, we have Andrea Mitchell’s spectacularly lame followup to “criticism of the Romney clip edit” — which amounted to Ms. Mitchell saying, with a sigh and a frown, “Oh, bother. Fine. Here’s what we left out.” She failed to acknowledge what the “criticism” entailed; she neglected to point out how the editing misrepresented the event being covered; and she offered nothing resembling an apology or an admission of responsibility for something that was, as a matter of fact, irresponsible.

I’m tired. Truly. I’ve grown weary of trying to defend the indefensible and explain the inexplicable. For years, people have stomped their feet and pounded their fists and snorted “Liberal media bias!” and I’ve always tut-tutted and shooshed them and said, “No, no. Calm down. They meant well. It was just a misunderstanding. A mistake. These things happen.” I spent over 25 years working in the oft-reviled Mainstream Media and I saw up close and personal how the sausage was made. I knew the people who wielded the knives and wore the aprons, and could vouch (most of the time, anyway) for their good intentions.

But now?

Forget it. I’m done. You deserve what they’re saying about you. It’s earned. You have worked long and hard to merit the suspicion, acrimony, mistrust and revulsion that the media-buying public increasingly heaps upon you. You have successfully eroded any confidence, dispelled any trust, and driven your audience into the arms of the Internet and the blogosphere, where biases are affirmed and like-minded people can tell each other what they hold to be true, since nobody believes in objective reality any more. You have done a superlative job of diminishing what was once a great profession and undermining one of the vital underpinnings of democracy, a free press.

Good job. I just have one question: What the hell is wrong with you guys?



Discrimination is fair

John Stossel

I'm scared. I fear that even if the Supreme Court overrules most of Obamacare (or did already, by the time you read this), Republicans will join Democrats in restoring "good" parts of the law, like the requirement that insurance companies cover kids up to age 26 and every American with a pre-existing condition.

Those parts of Obamacare are popular. People like getting what they think is free stuff. But requiring coverage to age 26 makes policies cost more.

Even Bill O'Reilly lectures me that government should ban discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. Most Americans agree with him. Who likes discrimination? Racial discrimination was one of the ugliest parts of American history. None of us wants to be discriminated against. But discrimination is part of freedom. We discriminate when we choose our friends or our spouse, or when we choose what we do with our time.

Above all, discrimination is what makes insurance work. An insurance regime where everyone pays the same amount is called "community rating." That sounds fair. No more cruel discrimination against the obese or people with cancer. But community rating is as destructive as ordering flood insurance companies to charge me nothing extra to insure my very vulnerable beach house, or ordering car insurance companies to charge Lindsay Lohan no more than they charge you. Such one-size-fits-all rules take away insurance companies' best tool: risk-based pricing. Risk-based pricing encourages us to take better care of ourselves.

Car insurance works because companies reward good drivers and charge the Lindsay Lohans more. If the state forces insurance companies to stop discriminating, that kills the business model.

No-discrimination insurance isn't insurance. It's welfare. If the politicians' plan was to create another government welfare program, they ought to own up to that instead of hiding the cost.

Obama -- and the Clintons before him -- expressed outrage that insurance companies charged people different rates based on their risk profiles. They want everyone covered for the same "fair" price.

The health insurance industry was happy to play along. They even offered to give up on gender differences. Women go to the doctor more often than men and spend more on medicines. Their lifetime medical costs are much higher, and so it makes all the sense in the world to charge women higher premiums. But Sen. John Kerry pandered, saying, "The disparity between women and men in the individual insurance market is just plain wrong, and it has to change!" The industry caved. The president of its trade group, Karen M. Ignagni, said that disparities "should be eliminated."

Caving was safer than fighting the president and Congress, and caving seemed to provide the industry with benefits. Insurance companies wouldn't have to work as hard. They wouldn't have to carefully analyze risk. They'd be partners with government -- fat and lazy, another sleepy bureaucracy feeding off the welfare state. Alcoholics, drug addicts and the obese won't have to pay any more than the rest of us.

But this just kills off a useful part of insurance: encouraging healthy behavior. Charging heavy drinkers more for insurance gives them one more incentive to quit. "No-discrimination" pricing makes health care costs rise even faster. Is it too much to expect our rulers to understand this?

Of course, the average citizen doesn't understand either. When I argue that medical insurance makes people indifferent to costs, I get online comments like: "I guess the 47 million people who don't have health care should just die, right, John?"

The truth is, almost all people do get health care, even if they don't have health insurance. Hospitals rarely turn people away; Medicaid and charities pay for care; some individuals pay cash; some doctors forgive bills. I wish people would stop conflating the terms "health care," "health insurance" and "Obamacare." Reporters ask guests things like: "Should Congress repeal health care?" I sure don't want anyone's health care repealed.

Reporters also routinely called Obamacare health "reform." But the definition of reform is: making something better. More government control won't do that. We should call politicians' insurance demands "big intrusive complex government micromanagement."

Let the private sector work. Let it discriminate.



Beware the deceptive Language of the Left

The language of the Left is designed to push the debate in their direction, even when it conveys false information. The word for spending is spending, not a euphemism like "investment." The word for taxes is taxes, not "revenue enhancements." These words are brought into the debate for one purpose; to mislead.

Lou Dobbs invited Define America co-founder Jose Antonio Vargas on his Fox News show to debate Obama's unilateral declaration rescinding part of our immigration law. Vargas, a prominent writer, had recently announced that he was not a US citizen, even though he has lived here most of his life. Dobbs repeatedly referred to him and others here illegally as "illegals", and Vargas repeatedly corrected him saying they were "undocumented." What is the difference?

"Illegal" means that the individual is breaking the law. That seems pretty clear. People crossed the border illegally or illegally overstayed a visa (those born here to illegals are US citizens). "Undocumented" means that the individual has no documents, but may be here legally or illegally. It is the difference between driving without having obtained a driver's license, or driving when you left your driver's license home. If you are guilty of the former, suggesting you are the latter is simply false.

Recently The New York Times and National Public Radio invented some new terms. They referred to George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin, as a white Hispanic, or a white Latino. Why? Simple. They wanted to make the tragedy into a race-driven incident, even though by all accounts such an assumption is nonsense. Zimmerman is half white and half Latino. There is absolutely no evidence in his past or in the sequence of events leading up to the incident that indicated race was a factor. Common verbiage would describe him as Hispanic or Latino. Given those labels, or as the PC crowd says, a person of color, the race element in this tragedy disappears. Did the NYT or NPR, those august institutions, ever refer to Barack Obama as a white African American? Of course not.

"Stakeholder" is one of my favorites. In a capitalist system private property is vigorously protected, and the use of that property (within the law) is directed by its owner. This system has provided us with the most prosperous, most generous, freest nation in the history of mankind. The term stakeholder was invented by socialists to create the false impression that the public at large has the rights to that private property. The public has the right to expect an owner to obey the law and to honor his contracts, but that is all. If we don't like the owner's choices, we are free not to do business with him. If there are enough of us, he will get the message or cease to exist. Were the state to give the public the right to determine the use of that private property, all economic and social progress going forward would fall victim to the public's insatiable want of something for nothing.

"Social justice" has also joined the lexicon of the Left. The words sound very compassionate. Who can be against justice, especially in a social sense? In reality those who use it are simply trying to usurp private property rights to fund a redistributive agenda, one chasing an unachievable, false, utopian dream. The term is used to support and justify every socialist idea under the sun. Real social justice consists of protecting a man's right to the fruits of his labor, not simply because it is ethical, but because it provides the most goods and services, the best environmental care, the best healthcare and the best of everything else that we as a society are capable of producing, and for everyone.

Columbus thought he reached the Indian Ocean when he landed in the Antilles and named the people there "Indians." The term stuck long after the mistake was recognized, and for centuries it referred to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The PC crowd determined that it was a demeaning term and changed their reference to "Native American." Native American had been used for centuries to refer to anyone born on American soil, regardless of race, regardless of when. Why would they do this? Indian had nothing pejorative associated with it. My theory is that since the Left adapts to change quickly, during the transition it allowed them to claim the moral high ground when those of us with less verbal agility continue to use the newly designated "racist" term, Indian.

There are other reasons the Left change names. In the same way no liberal columnist wants to review any of their past predictions (invariably they are wrong), so too does the Left like to shed its failed past by changing names. Woodrow Wilson led the "progressive" movement until 1920, but his disregard for the Constitution, and such things as the Left's embrace of eugenics, soured the public on the movement. So, progressive was renamed "liberal." But the liberals' close ties with Communism, as well as with other unpopular policies such as their softness on crime, became a political liability, so in the 1980s they returned to the name "progressive" (no one remembered the Wilson era, most were dead by then). The problem is that no matter what they call themselves, they continue to champion the same failed policies.

Did anyone notice that all of the old Communist organizations and their members are today avid environmentalists? Same people, same ideas, just a different name. Is global warming science, or a political ploy designed to create world government?



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

It looks like McAfee are off their heads too

Following are some of the McAfee responses to my mirror sites:

“Use caution on this site.
A security risk is posed by this site.
McAfee Security Rating: Yellow”

“Use caution on this site.
A security risk is posed by this site.
McAfee Security Rating: Yellow”

“Use caution on this site.
A security risk is posed by this site.
McAfee Security Rating: Yellow”

“Use caution on this site.
A security risk is posed by this site.
McAfee Security Rating: Yellow”

Note that these sites are NOT the ones targeted by Norton/Symantec. It's an entirely different bit of buffoonery. I sent an enquiry to Norton but got no reply. I sent an enquiry to McAfee and my email was bounced back as spam! It's clear that none of these galoots want to talk to me and explain themselves. One of my readers commented that his Norton software seemed to him like a type of malware itself, it was so bad.

Politicians Need To Be Needed

If you’re a successful business in America, you either quickly open a lobbying office in Washington, or Washington makes you regret that you didn’t.
“If you want to get involved in business,” Sen. Orrin Hatch warned technology companies at a conference in 2000, “you should get involved in politics.”

Hatch was referring to the shortcomings of then-software king Microsoft, which he had spent most of the previous decade harassing from his perch as Judiciary Committee chairman. The message was clear: If you become successful, you must hire lobbyists, you must start a political action committee, and you must donate to politicians. Otherwise Washington will make your life very difficult.

Hatch’s crusade against Microsoft was a formative moment in the cozy relationship between K Street and Capitol Hill. That coziness has become a prime target of the Tea Party in recent years — and so has Orrin Hatch, who faces a primary Tuesday against conservative challenger Dan Liljenquist.

People think money drives politics. It doesn’t. Money is merely the vehicle. Power drives Washington. As Carney points out, Hatch has spent a good deal of his time on the Judiciary Committee targeting Microsoft. So he wasn’t mad that the company wasn’t giving him money—they weren’t giving to his opponents, either. Hatch was angry that the company wasn’t acknowledging that it needs Washington, that it needs people like him. He finds that offensive. So people like Hatch make companies like Google need people like Hatch.

. . . it grated on Hatch and other senators that Gates didn’t want to want to play the Washington game. Former Microsoft employee Michael Kinsley, a liberal, wrote of Gates: “He didn’t want anything special from the government, except the freedom to build and sell software. If the government would leave him alone, he would leave the government alone.”

This was a mistake. One lobbyist fumed about Gates to author Gary Rivlin: “You look at a guy like Gates, who’s been arrogant and cheap and incredibly naive about politics. He genuinely believed that because he was creating jobs or whatever, that’d be enough.”

Gates was “cheap” because Microsoft spent only $2 million on lobbying in 1997, and its PAC contributed less than $50,000 during the 1996 election cycle.

“You can’t say, ‘We’re better than that,’ ” a Microsoft lobbyist told me on Friday. “At some point, you get too big, and you can’t just ignore Washington.”

You know what happens next . . .
After the Hatch hearings, Microsoft complied. Its PAC increased spending fivefold in each of the next two elections. In the 2010 elections, Microsoft’s PAC contributed $2.3 million to House and Senate candidates. The PAC has contributed the maximum $10,000 to each of Hatch’s last two campaigns.

Back before the antitrust case, Microsoft’s tiny lobbying contingent sat in the company’s local sales office in Chevy Chase. Since the Hatch hearings, Gates’ company has poured more than $100 million into K Street’s economy, hiring up members of congress and Capitol Hill staff, many of whom then became top fundraisers — such as Republican Jack Abramoff and Democrat Steve Elmendorf.

And of course now that Microsoft has a strong Washington presence, it uses its influence to lobby the government to harass its competitors. Like Google, which must then open its own Washington lobbying outfit in response. And the cycle starts all over again. (If you’re really on your game, you then hire the government regulators you’ve lobbied to investigate your rival to come work for you.)

A politician like Hatch will always demand that powerful people kiss his ring. It’s why people like Hatch go into politics. The proper response is Gates’ initial reaction—to tell people like Hatch to pound dirt. The problems begin—and the corruption beings— when people like Hatch have the power to force people like Gates to respect them. So long as there’s hell to pay for not respecting Washington, no “get money out of politics” law is going to rid the city of corruption.

I don’t always agree with the Tea Party. But if the group helps oust Washington dinosaurs like Hatch, that can’t be a bad thing.



Obama Administration - Terrorists and Those Who Oppose Terrorism are the Same

Armstrong Williams

In 1993 Islamic terrorists launched an war on America. With a Rider Truck bomb, they attacked in the heart of NYT, trying to topple the World Trade Center. They were led by a terrorist know as the Blind Sheik, the head of Gamaa Islamiya, an Islamic extremist terrorist organization based in Egypt, who was orchestrating a wave of attacks trying to blow up major landmarks - the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and the George Washington Bridge - and assassinate a U.S. senator and New York Jewish community leader.

The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was led by Ramzy Yousef. On September 11th, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists led by Yousef's cousin, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Osama Bin Laden, returned to finish the job.

Former US government prosecutor Andrew McCarthy writes in his book, A Memior of the Jihad, which details the case and his prosecution of the 1993 terrorist plots, there is a direct connection between the 1993 attack on New York and the bigger plot to attack New York by Egyptian based Gamaa Islamiya and the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States on 9/11.

America has never been confused about who is a terrorist and who is not.

But it appears that the Obama Administration does not know the difference.

Last week, the Obama Administration paid for a Gamaa Islamiya terrorist to visit America. They invited him into the State Department and the White House, where he met high ranking officials.

He should never have gotten into America, let alone meet the Deputy Secretary of State!

What message are we sending to those in Egypt and beyond who are FIGHTING TERRORISM as our partners, united in the defense of liberty? Is this the new Obama Administration policy on Egypt - terrorists and those who oppose terrorism are the same? How can we lend legitimacy to Islamic extremists terrorists bent on global domination and coercive dominion over their society at home?

We are not agnostic about the outcome of events in Egypt, where forces of Islamic illiberalism seek to take over the state through Democracy. With no standards in sight, every terrorist is free to call himself a politician. That dystopia is abhorrent. America knows better. Does President Obama?

When the Gamaa Islamiya terrorist, who in today's Egypt calls himself a "politician", got to meet the President's deputy national security advisor this week in Washington, he had one request. He wanted a "gift to the revolution."

He asked for the Blind Sheik to be released from jail, where he is rotting for life, convicted of his effort to kill thousands of Americans.

One can only image what kind of "revolution" this man and his terrorist colleagues want to cement.

Rather than welcoming these poisonous players, President Obama and America should make absolutely clear we stand with liberty and tolerance, and are forever and inexorably opposed to Islamic radicalist terrorism.

Call yourself whatever you want. But know this: America knows who you are. You are a terrorist and you are not welcome here.

To fix this colossal mistake, President Obama should make it known to the world exactly what America’s policies are toward terrorism and the future of Egypt. He should use plain English so that everyone can understand. Obama should avoid the measured and philosophical constructions he often uses in his speech, which some regard as a sign of his intellectual prowess and pragmatism and others attribute to his unwillingness to articulate clear positions on sensitive topics.

Terrorists, whether actively engaged in blowing people up and committing atrocities or masquerading as politicians in Egypt today, need to get this message: America does not and will not stand with those who use violence to achieve their political means. We oppose terrorism, and will always stand with those who fight this deadly scourge.



Blogger Aaron Walker Latest Swatting Victim

Another conservative blogger has become the victim of a "swatting," where a false report of a murder sends the police, armed and ready, to a victim's home. The victim this time was blogger Aaron Walker, who had just this morning won a legal victory against convicted felon and leftist activist Brett Kimberlin.

Breitbart News contacted the Prince William County, Virginia police department to confirm the swatting. A dispatcher affirmed that police were called to the home of Mr. Walker based on a fraudulent 911 call. The individual did not take the call and could not disclose any details of the call's content but immediately confirmed that Mr. Walker had been swatted.

The swatting occurred hours after Walker's hearing. A judge had modified a previous ruling that prohibited Mr. Walker from exercising his right to free speech.

Walker told Breitbart News that he was home with his wife this evening at approximately 6:00pm when there was a "pretty insistent" knock at his door. Walker answered to find about six police cars in the street and two officers taking positions against the wall with M4 rifles. Since he was aware of the previous swattings of Patrick "Patterico" Frey, Erick Erickson, and Mike Stack, Mr. Walker asked the police if someone had called and claimed he had killed his wife, and police confirmed that that was the case.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Walker said, "This is obviously very upsetting but my wife and I are fine. Whoever did this had the intent to put our lives in danger."



Nobody knows (officially) what food stamps buy

Seeing they currently cost the taxpayer around $100 billion p.a., isn't that a little strange?

Legislation seemingly designed to protect the industry goes so far as to say that anyone who releases the amount of food stamp dollars paid to a store can be jailed.

Profiting from the poor's taxpayer-funded purchases has become big business for a mix of major companies and corner bodegas, which have spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the USDA to keep the money flowing freely.

The National Association of Convenience Store Operators alone spends millions of dollars on lobbying yearly, including $1 million in the first quarter of this year.

In February, 7-Eleven hired a former aide to House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, to lobby on "issues related to the general application and approval process for qualified establishments serving SNAP-eligible recipients."

The USDA is notoriously secretive about who receives its money, relying on weak legal reasoning, said Steve Ellis of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"USDA hides behind a specious proprietary data argument: The public doesn't want to know internal business decisions or information about specific individuals' finances," he said. "The USDA sees retailers, junk food manufacturers and the big ag lobby as their customers, rather than the taxpayer."

The agency also has no idea what type of food the benefits are buying, even though the combination of universal bar codes and benefit cards makes that entirely feasible.

"It's one of those questions that frankly those of us who have been working on this issue have been struggling with a long time because we need to see the data. The industry looks at it as proprietary. The USDA doesn't track where that money goes," said Beth Johnson, a former Senate Agriculture Committee and USDA staffer who now consults for the Snack Food Association.

She noted that stores have breakdowns of products bought with food stamps but declined to share them with the USDA.

The junk food lobby appreciates the informational void.

‘Anecdotal info'

Susan Smith of the National Confectioners Association, a candy trade group, dismissed assertions that food stamp recipients commonly buy candy and soda as "anecdotal info," while declining to call for the collection of statistics.




FL: TSA thug spills victim’s grandfather’s ashes: "A TSA worker at an airport in Florida violated the agency’s policy when she opened a container containing the ashes of a passenger’s grandfather and spilled them on the terminal floor. ... John Gross of Indianapolis was visiting relatives in Florida when an uncle, acting on the wishes of the family, gave Gross a portion of his grandfather’s ashes. ... Gross was presented with the ashes in a tightly sealed jar, marked 'human remains,' which he assumed would warrant enough respect that he would be able to board his flight home unmolested. He was wrong."

Assassination, conformity, and conscience: "As most every American knows, we now live in a country in which the ruler possesses the unfettered power to assassinate his citizens. What an extraordinary situation. Who would have ever thought that America would end up with a governmental system in which the ruler possessed such omnipotent power?"

Why is it okay to pay an intern $0? Or, liberal insanity on the minimum wage: "One benefit of a job at any price is the skills and learning experience -- learning to engage with customers and co-workers, to show up on time, manners, dress code, and so on. This is, in fact, one reason some people are willing to serve as 'interns' for no pay: for the work experience, contacts, resume padding. And this an absurdity in the very idea of the minimum wage: it’s legal to offer to pay someone, say, $10 per hour for a certain job, or more, and it’s legal to offer to pay them $0 per hour (internship), but it’s illegal to offer them something in-between."

Putin visits West Bank, tours key Christian shrine: "Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his Palestinian counterpart Tuesday for what he said was a "responsible" position in negotiations with Israel, frozen for nearly four years, and said Russia has no problem recognizing a Palestinian state. Putin also offered veiled criticism of Israel, saying unilateral actions — an apparent reference to Israeli settlement construction on war-won land — is not constructive. The Russian president spoke at the end of a visit to the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by his side. Putin inaugurated a Russian cultural and language center in Bethlehem and toured the church built over the traditional birth grotto of Jesus."

Four U.S. Navy minesweepers arrive in the Gulf: " Four U.S. minesweepers have arrived in the Gulf to bolster the U.S. Fifth Fleet and ensure the safety of shipping routes, the U.S. Navy said, as an Iranian military chief suggested on Monday that Iran might try to block the Strait of Hormuz to defend its interests. The four additional mine countermeasures (MCM) ships arrived on Saturday and are scheduled for a seven-month deployment in an area of operations that includes the Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The area also includes two other critical shipping choke points of the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandab between the southern tip of Yemen and Africa."

Iran in trouble with the Russian bear too: "The Caspian Sea, once a strategic backwater, is quickly becoming a tinderbox of regional rivalries -- all fueled by what amounts to trillions in petrodollars beneath its waves. Observers gained a first glimpse into this escalating arms race last fall, when Russia and Kazakhstan held joint military exercises on the Caspian, which abuts Iran and several former Soviet republics. But a scoop by a Russian newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets, told a different story. The newspaper got hold of a map apparently showing the real scenario of the exercise: the defense of Kazakhstan's oil fields from several squadrons of F-4, F-5, and Su-25 fighters and bombers. The map didn't name which country the jets came from, but the trajectory and the types of planes gave it away: Iran."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

The Master Narrative Nobody Admits: Centralization Has Failed

Nobody expected the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union. Will the steady, unceasing Sovietization of America end up the same way? Will there in the end be nobody willing to enforce the steady torrent of new rules and decrees that pour out from everywhere? Will Congress become as irrelevant as the Politburo?

The primary "news" narrative may be the failure of the euro, but the master narrative is much, much bigger: centralization has failed. The failure of Europe's "ultimate centralization project" is but a symptom of a global failure of centralization.

Though many look at China's command-economy as proof that the model of Elite-controlled centralization is a roaring success, let's check in on China's stability and distribution of prosperity in 2021 before declaring centralization an enduring success. The pressure cooker is already hissing and the flame is being turned up every day.

What's the key driver of this master narrative? Technology, specifically, the Internet. Gatekeepers and centralized authority are no match for decentralized knowledge and decision-making. Once a people don't need to rely on a centralized authority to tell them what to do, the centralized authority becomes a costly impediment, a tax on the entire society and economy.

In a cost-benefit analysis, centralization once paid significant dividends. Now it is a drag that only inhibits growth and progress. The Eurozone is the ultimate attempt to impose an intrinsically inefficient and unproductive centralized authority on disparate economies, and we are witnessing its spectacular implosion.

Centralization acts as a positive feedback, i.e. a self-reinforcing loop that leads to a runaway death spiral. Centralize the entire banking sector into five corporations and guess what happens? They buy access to the highly centralized power centers of the Federal government. Like the HIV virus, centralized concentrations of capital like the five "too big to fail" banks disrupt the regulatory "immune response" that was supposed to control them.

This feedback between centralized capital and centralized government cannot be controlled by more rules and regulations--the two partners in domination will subvert or bypass any such feeble attempts with shadow systems of governance and control of the very sort we now see dominating economies and governments around the globe.

Centralization itself is the disease, and devolving power to decentralized nodes based on the transparent power of the Web is the cure. The authorities and Elites attempting to maintain their centralized fiefdoms of power are desperately trying to control the technology of the Web, but disruptive technology that offers stupendous improvements in efficiency and productivity cannot be put back in the genie's bottle. The authorities can try, but they will fail.

The analog to the printing press is but one example. The centralized authorities of the Holy Roman Empire tried to limit the citizens' access to the Bible and other books, and as their failure became evident they ramped up their oppression to extremes: printing the Bible was a "crime" punishable by death.

Despite their almost total dominance of society and the economy, the centralized authorities failed to limit the technology of printing and distributing books.

Centralized authorities face an impossible double-bind: if they limit access to the Web, their economic growth is doomed, and thus eventually so is their power as the impoverished and oppressed populace rises up to overthrow their failed Elites. But if they enable widespread access to the Web, then the populace eventually realizes the centralized authorities and Elites are burdensome hindrances to liberty and prosperity.

The highly centralized Elites controlling China are engaged in a desperate campaign to constrain the Web in China to what they deem supportive of their regime. The "Great Firewall of China" reportedly has tens of thousands of employees monitoring and censoring content. Hyper-nationalistic rants are "enabled" to spread virally, while inquiries into official over-reach and misconduct are quickly suppressed.

You can't fool Mother Nature for long, and the Chinese are trying to tame forces akin to Nature.

We already saw this dynamic play out with the Soviet Union. In the former U.S.S.R., networked computers were understood to be a serious threat to political control by centralized authorities, so access was strictly limited. Scientists and mathematicians in the U.S.S.R. were relegated to working with paper and pencils because this was "politically acceptable."

Denied access to transformative technologies, the economy and society of the U.S.S.R. withered and eventually expired.

China has played a very quick game of catch-up based on a unique set of factors:

1. An abundance of low-hanging fruit to be picked, both domestically and globally. If you watch documentaries filmed in China in the early 1980s, villagers were harvesting bamboo by hand and the village "theater" was one black-and-white television. By the time I first visited China in 2000, there was already a glut of cheap TVs and massive overcapacity in TV manufacturing.

2. An abundance of mobile global capital to fund the initial industrialization.

3. The ease of stealing/copying existing technology. It's always easy to steal/copy existing technologies: strip down the motorbike to its parts, machine-tool a factory to make the parts and voila, you are soon producing "Yamaka" motorbikes in quantity (and drinking "Starbuck" coffee).

But once the low-hanging fruit has been picked, you have to develop new technologies on your own to keep growing. The U.S.S.R. was able to keep up by stealing technology for decades, but once the pace of innovation slipped from centralized labs (where spies could be highly effective) to decentralized networks of innovation, the game was over: stealing technology became inefficient and/or impossible on the necessary scale and timeline to keep up.

The Web also feeds social innovations. Centralized authorities move with glacial trepitude because any change, no matter how modest, steps on the exquisitely sensitive toes of some vested interest, protected fiefdom or favored Elite. So while the centralized Elites and their apparatchiks in government are detailing more regulations of the buggy-whip industry, the entire industry is bypassed by social and technological forces beyond the control of the Elites and their flunkies and factotums.

The forces of centralized authority will not relinquish their power easily. In Egypt and many other quasi-feudalistic nation-states, the Empire of centralized Elite authority is striking back, often via the "shadow" systems of governance and control they established behind the thin veneer of legitimacy created by their organs of propaganda.

But all centralized systems, open and shadow alike, act as heavy taxes on the society and economy. Their attempts to retain control will fail because of the conundrum outlined above: if they succeed in stifling the Web and the powers of decentralization, their economy will wither and their impoverished people will eventually tire enough of poverty to rise up and crush their oppressive Elites.

If they allow access to the Web and the innovation-driven power of decentralized networks of knowledge, collaboration and information, then their political and financial control will be eroded. Either way, disruptive technologies will dismantle their power base and wealth.

Here in the U.S., our Central State and Financial Elites are also desperately trying to maintain their control, even as their control strangles the economy and social innovation. Being controlled by five "too big to fail" banks and six media corporations is like being dominated by the buggy-whip industry and the horse-manure-collection industry.

The way forward is to dismantle the five banks and six media companies and allow 500 banks to compete in a transparent market but be unable to buy other banks or other companies. If there are 500 banks that are forced to compete in a transparent marketplace, it will be very difficult for those corporations to purchase the political power the TBTF banks own.

The Federal Reserve is the ultimate centralized horse-manure-collection industry. Like the Catholic Church trying to control Gutenberg's printing press, the Fed is terrified of transparency, liberty, competition and the technological forces of networked decentralization. Though those in power cannot dare contemplate it, their highly centralized institution and the chokehold of its authority are already doomed.

Centralized control leads to stagnation and poverty, which leads to the overthrow of oppressive political Elites. If the centralized Elites attempt to corral the Web to serve their own narrow self-interests, it will overflow their narrow channels and erode their power. Either way, their attempts to control disruptive technology will fail. Their only choice is which path to destruction they wish to tread.



On Reason TV, Andrew Ferguson Discusses the Parasite Economy of Washington, DC

Back in February, I posted this startling map showing that 10 of America’s 15-richest counties are the bedroom communities surrounding Washington, DC.

There’s a lot of money in Washington because federal bureaucrats are wildly overpaid, as I document in this video, and also because there is a huge shadow workforce of contractors, consultants, and lobbyists who have their snouts buried deeply in the public trough.

In an interview for Reason TV, Andy Ferguson talks about how these well-paid parasites have created a bubble economy in Washington.

And you know it must be true because even the leftists at Politico wrote a story acknowledging how the DC area was thriving at a time when the rest of America was struggling.

In other words, the poor and middle-class people in the real world are paying high taxes to subsidize the indolent moochers of Washington.

You would think that’s one kind of redistribution that the left would oppose. Heck, it’s almost enough to make you think that it would be a good idea to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.



Thomas Sowell has some fun with the trash that Leftists talk

Since this is an election year, we can expect to hear a lot of words -- and the meaning of those words is not always clear. So it may be helpful to have a glossary of political terms.

One of the most versatile terms in the political vocabulary is "fairness." It has been used over a vast range of issues, from "fair trade" laws to the Fair Labor Standards Act. And recently we have heard that the rich don't pay their "fair share" of taxes.

Some of us may want to see a definition of what is "fair." But a concrete definition would destroy the versatility of the word, which is what makes it so useful politically.

If you said, for example, that 46.7 percent of their income -- or any other number -- is the "fair share" of their income that the rich should have to pay in taxes, then once they paid that amount, there would be no basis for politicians to come back to them for more -- and "more" is what "fair share" means in practice.

Life in general has never been even close to fair, so the pretense that the government can make it fair is a valuable and inexhaustible asset to politicians who want to expand government.

"Racism" is another term we can expect to hear a lot this election year, especially if the public opinion polls are going against President Barack Obama.

Former big-time TV journalist Sam Donaldson and current fledgling CNN host Don Lemon have already proclaimed racism to be the reason for criticisms of Obama, and we can expect more and more other talking heads to say the same thing as the election campaign goes on. The word "racism" is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything -- and demanding evidence makes you a "racist."

A more positive term that is likely to be heard a lot, during election years especially, is "compassion." But what does it mean concretely? More often than not, in practice it means a willingness to spend the taxpayers' money in ways that will increase the spender's chances of getting reelected.

If you are skeptical -- or, worse yet, critical -- of this practice, then you qualify for a different political label: "mean-spirited." A related political label is "greedy."

In the political language of today, people who want to keep what they have earned are said to be "greedy," while those who wish to take their earnings from them and give it to others (who will vote for them in return) show "compassion."

A political term that had me baffled for a long time was "the hungry." Since we all get hungry, it was not obvious to me how you single out some particular segment of the population to refer to as "the hungry."

Eventually, over the years, it finally dawned on me what the distinction was. People who make no provision to feed themselves, but expect others to provide food for them, are those whom politicians and the media refer to as "the hungry."

Those who meet this definition may have money for alcohol, drugs or even various electronic devices. And many of them are overweight. But, if they look to voluntary donations, or money taken from the taxpayers, to provide them with something to eat, then they are "the hungry."

I can remember a time, long ago, when I was hungry in the old-fashioned sense. I was a young fellow out of work, couldn't find work, fell behind in my room rent -- and, when I finally found a job, I had to walk miles to get there, because I couldn't afford both subway fare and food.

But this was back in those "earlier and simpler times" we hear about. I was so naive that I thought it was up to me to go find a job, and to save some money when I did. Even though I knew that Joe DiMaggio was making $100,000 a year -- a staggering sum in the money of that time -- it never occurred to me that it was up to him to see that I got fed.

So, even though I was hungry, I never qualified for the political definition of "the hungry." Moreover, I never thereafter spent all the money I made, whether that was a little or a lot, because being hungry back then was a lot worse than being one of "the hungry" today.

As a result, I was never of any use to politicians looking for dependents who would vote for them. Nor have I ever had much use for such politicians.




In praise of consumerism: "We generally hear the term ‘Consumerism’ used as a term of abuse, usually by religious movements, pro-state economists, environmentalists and so on. I would argue that, properly constituted, a ‘consumerist’ society is exactly the type of society that we should be striving for. However, part of the pejorative use of the term comes from a particular meaning attached to it."

Litigious Apple loses one: "A US judge on Friday ruled that Apple cannot pursue an injunction against Google's Motorola Mobility unit, effectively ending a key case for the iPhone maker in the smartphone patent wars. The ruling came from Judge Richard Posner in Chicago federal court. He dismissed the litigation between Apple and Motorola Mobility with prejudice, meaning it can't be refiled."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Obama's new America again (Quite Soviet)

Feds Jail New Mexico Family, Seize Everything They Own for Being Honest Legal Firearms Dealers

This has got to be one of the grossest miscarriages of law enforcement that I’ve read about lately.

Rick and Terri Reese, along with their two sons Ryin and Remington ran a federally licensed gun shop in Deming, New Mexico. They kept meticulous records of all the firearms and ammunition they purchased and which were purchased by customers. They performed the required FBI background checks when necessary. Basically, they ran their gun shop by the letter of the law for 17 years.

Even much of their hired help was legal as the Reeses often hired law enforcement officers who were either retired or off duty, to work in the gun shop. This brought in a substantial amount of business with the law enforcement community and agencies.

In 2011, Terri noticed a customer that had made an unusually large number of purchases. The customer, Penny Torres, told Terri that they were having a family reunion at a ranch in the area and that they all liked to shoot. Terri was suspicious of Torres story and being the law abiding gun dealer she is, she reported her suspicions to one of her friends that worked with the Luna County Sheriff’s Department. Terri told him that she suspected Torres might be a ‘straw buyer’ (someone who purchased guns for illegal purposes such as going over the Mexican border to the drug cartels, kind of like what the US government did with Operation Fast and Furious).

The Luna County Sheriff’s Department officer Terri reported to was someone she trusted and who she always turned to if they had any need for law enforcement. He told her that he would promptly report it to ATF and would let her know what happened with the case.

Torres was subsequently arrested, but ended up making a deal with the feds for leniency by implicating the Reese family as knowingly selling guns that were to illegally cross the border into Mexico. This launched an investigation by a recently formed federal agency known as Homeland Security Investigators (HSI), who set up a sting operation to entrap the Reeses.

HSI hired a confidential informant called Roman, who was seeking a reduced sentence for human trafficking and drugs smuggling. Roman agreed to go to the Reese’ gun shop, purchase weapons and drop hints that they would be heading across the border into Mexico but to do so in such a way as not to alarm them and cause them to refuse the sale. Roman was fitted with a wire to record everything that was said. HSI figured that if the Reeses sold the guns to Roman, that they could then arrest them on gun walking charges.

Shortly after Roman made his gun purchases, the feds swooped in to arrest all four members of the family. HSI and local law enforcement raided the gun store and the Reese home. They came in helicopters, armored vehicles and too many heavily protected and armed law enforcement officers to count. Not only were the four members of the Reese family arrested, but the feds confiscated every gun, all ammunition from both their store and their home, then they confiscated the home, cars, bank accounts, coin collections and virtually everything the family owned.

Each member of the family was eventually taken to a different jail or prison facility to be held without bail until their trials. The prosecution argued that they were flight risks or might even stage a Ruby Ridge type stand off because their home had a well and solar panels and they had found guns on the premises. Can you imagine that? They actually found guns and ammunition in the house and place of business of federally licensed gun dealers. It was also noted by the prosecution that Rick and Terry Reese were part of the local Tea Party, which must have made them look violent in the eyes of the prosecutor.

Six months after being arrested, Terri Reese was allowed to post bail, but the courts continued to withhold bail for the father and two sons.

Recently, the first preliminary hearing was held for the four members of the Reese family. According to a WND report, the prosecution revealed a number of revelations during the preliminary hearing. For one thing, Roman spoke little broken English and that most of the hinting of guns going to Mexico was said in Spanish, which none of the Reese family knew or understood. However, the transcripts that the court had to read had all been translated into English, so that it appeared that the conversation had taken place in English.

Additionally, the prosecution admitted that all of the Reese’ gun sales had been properly logged and all transactions appeared to have been legal. They also admitted that the Reeses has paid all of their taxes and that there was no evidence of any under the table transactions and that all banking and financial evidence indicated that all members of the family never received any money other than their normal paychecks.

When the defense pointed out to the prosecution that they used so many law enforcement personnel in their store, the prosecution replied that it didn’t matter because ‘a lot of them [cops and former cops] are dirty.’

Now the Reese family is awaiting the main trial which is scheduled for some time in July. Since all of their worldly possessions, even personal items accumulated over 25 years of marriage, have been confiscated, they have no money with which to use to pay for their defense. And if by some miracle they are acquitted of all charges, they have no home and no business to return to.

What galls me to spit in anger is that this family, even by the prosecution’s own statements in the preliminary trial, have never done anything wrong. Their lives have been raped by the federal government based on promises made to two convicts in lieu of lighter sentences. Roman’s statements should not be admissible since he spoke Spanish and the Reeses don’t. This is a horrible case of entrapment and what’s worse is that they are accusing the family of doing what the feds did in Operation Fast and Furious and NO ONE IS BEING PROSECUTED in that case!

We need to pray that the Reese family is exonerated and that the feds are forced to replace all of their possessions, guns, ammunition, house, cars, bank accounts, coin collection and pay for wrongful imprisonment. If anyone belongs in jail for gun walking, it’s Eric Holder, not the Reese family.



The Great Destroyer

Frank Turek

“Politics is fought between the forty yard lines,“ remarked Charles Krauthammer just after Obama was elected in 2008. Krauthammer is right about nearly everything, but his rule clearly warrants an exception when applied to Barack Obama and his administration. Attorney David Limbaugh shows why in his new book, The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic.

This is the second book in Limbaugh’s very readable and insightful narrative of Barack Obama’s Presidency. The Great Destroyer picks up where Crimes Against Liberty left off in 2010. Limbaugh meticulously narrates how the President has been striding to the liberal goal line with nearly every policy, appointment and statement since taking office. Almost without exception, Obama implements or supports policies that negate America’s founding principles—individual liberty, limited government and the rule of law are among the casualties in the President’s war on the Republic.

You say, “’War on the Republic.’ That’s a little strong, don’t you think?”

You might think so until you read the book. I am a political junkie, but even I was shocked to see the extreme scope of Obama’s anti-American assault.

“Oh, but this was written by a Limbaugh, and Limbaughs are well known for their conservatism.”

If any liberal or so-called “independent” judgmentally dismisses The Great Destroyer simply because Limbaugh is a conservative, point out that people can present evidence objectively even if they personally are not neutral. First, neutral people rarely have the interest or expertise to write books! But more importantly, you can’t dismiss what Limbaugh says simply because he supports conservative policies. That’s a fallacy that cuts both ways—you’d have to dismiss everything Obama says because he supports liberal policies. The truth is, everyone has political beliefs. The issue is not those beliefs, but the evidence one presents!

David Limbaugh presents a wealth of evidence that Barack Obama is inflicting unprecedented injuries on America and the liberties of its citizens. He does the work the mainstream media refuses to do. In addition to using neutral sources, such as the Congressional Budget Office for financial data, Limbaugh quotes several liberals, administration officials, and, of course, Barack Obama himself to make the irrefutable case that Obama’s ultra-liberal positions are resulting in catastrophic negative effects for America. Unfortunately, his case is quite compelling.

The Great Destroyer is well organized by topic. Chapter headings include: The War on America, The War on Our Culture and Values, The War on the Economy, The War on Our Future, The War on Business, The War America’s National Security, and several others. The book also includes several helpful charts that display, at a glance, the current and impending disaster known as Obama’s economic policies.

Since The Great Destroyer is over 500 pages (including nearly 100 pages of endnotes), I can only summarize a few revelations that Limbaugh provides. These are from just two chapters of The Great Destroyer.

From “The War on Values and Culture”:

In prepared remarks, Vice President Biden said he had no objections to China’s forced abortion policy.

With several new policies and edicts, Obama has ensured that federal funds are now paying for abortion. He is clearly the most pro-abortion president in history.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned public school districts about blocking students from forming gay themed organizations.

HHS administrator Pam Hyde declared, “Your federal government has finally come out of the closet in support of LGBT youth.” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “I want to tell you, you have a friend in this administration, who will stand beside you each and every step along the way.”

Obama’s HHS website promoted the idea that kids may “experiment” with homosexuality.

The Obama Administration initially refused to publicize the results of their own study that abstinence education programs actually work.

President Obama declared his support for “age-appropriate” sex education for kindergarteners.

The survey of our military men and women about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” may have been a sham to mislead Congress—the executive report of the findings was written before the survey was actually taken!

Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama appear to be in collusion in refusing to defend, and even attempting to overturn, democratically decided laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

In July 2011, Holder ordered Banks to relax mortgage qualifications for the poor—the same insane policy that led to the housing crash in the first place!

Obama’s Justice Department refuses to prosecute several grievous injustices including video-taped voter intimidation by Black Panthers, and video-taped instances of potential sex trafficking, prostitution and underage abortions by Planned Parenthood.

Obama not only lifted the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (which has yet to cure any human being of a disease), he rescinded President Bush’s executive order to fund adult stem cell research (which has resulted in treating more than a hundred diseases and medical conditions). Obama is the “anti-science” president, not Bush!

Obama’s stance against the freedom of religious organizations to hire people with their values was so extreme that the Supreme Court ruled against him 9-0 (even his own liberal appointees disagreed!).

From “The War on the Economy”:

Contrary to his claim to save or create 3.5 million jobs, Obama has actually lost almost 4.1 million jobs – a jobs deficit of 7.6 million.

February 2012 was the worst one-month debt in U.S. history: $219 Billion (Bush’s deficit for all of 2007 was less than that!).

Four years in a row, Obama’s deficits have or will be in excess of $1 trillion, dwarfing President Bush’s deficits.

Obama has added more to the debt in three plus years than Bush added in eight.

Obama and his team have engaged in accounting gimmickry and unrealistic rosy predictions in an attempt to make their dismal plans look less dismal.

New research into 108 national economies shows that government “stimulus” spending—staunchly advocated by Obama—tends to have a net negative effect on the economy.

Despite promising not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year, ObamaCare will result in 17 new taxes or penalties that will burden all Americans.

Costs for ObamaCare will be nearly double original estimates (and most of the program hasn’t even started yet!).

Despite the President promising that people could keep their current health insurance plan, multiple sources report that a majority will loose their current coverage under Obamacare.

Union members comprise only 12 percent of all employees, but the Obama Administration has granted them 50.3 percent of all ObamaCare waivers. (By the way, if ObamaCare is such a good deal, why does anyone want a waiver?)

David Limbaugh provides more revelations in these two chapters and the other ten. You really need to get the book to appreciate the full breadth of the destruction—destruction that you are not going to hear from the mainstream media.

In the era of Obama, politics in America is no longer fought between the forty yard lines. Americans need to read The Great Destroyer to encourage enough voters to begin running the ball the other way—back to the principles that made America great.



Supreme Court decision protects workers, deals another blow to public employee unions

–The Supreme Court deserves praise for their 7-2 decision today in the Knox v. SEIU case, which determined that a state cannot require its employees to pay a special union fee that will be spent for political purposes without first giving the employees information about the fee and a chance to object to it.

It is simply an unconscionable violation of public employee worker rights for any state to compel their civil servants to pay special political fees into a union, so that union can pump that money into the pockets of politicians. The Supreme Court got it 100 percent correct when they protected workers from this abuse.

As the individual decisions of thousands of public employee union members have proven in Wisconsin who have stopped making union dues payments after they ceased to be compelled to do so, unions depend upon the state forcing people to join and pay dues. When individual workers get to choose, they abandon the union and their big government agenda in droves.




Alan Turing has always been something of a God to us computer folk because of his brilliance. So it has always been saddening to hear that he was hounded to death because of his homosexuality. There is a good argument here, however, that his death was simply accidental.

Southern Baptists decree: Gay rights not civil rights: "A day after electing their first African-American president in a historic move that strives to erase its legacy of racism, Southern Baptists passed a resolution opposing the idea that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. ... The nation’s largest Protestant denomination is attempting to broaden its appeal beyond its traditional white Southern base. At the same time, leaders said they feel it is important to take a public stand on their opposition to same-sex marriage."

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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Should We Hire Even More Teachers, Cops, and Firemen?

Not if we want the economy to recover any time soon. Encouraging business is the only way to increase real, lasting jobs

Do we in fact have our staffing levels for teachers, cops, and firemen right? Could we get by with fewer of these sorts of employees or do we need yet more, to make up for the supposedly draconian cuts that have descended upon schoolhouses, police departments, and firehouses like Herod's minions murdering innocents?

A lot of Obama's stimulus was spent on keeping public-sector payrolls going full-tilt and now that the stimulus has dried up (and clearly failed to "prime the pump" of general economic activity in any serious way), some of those folks are being let go. At least at the state and local level. As Keith Hennessey notes, outside of the Postal Service (which has long been shrinking), Obama has added 1420,000 workers to the federal payroll.

Before we look at teachers, cops, and firemen in turn, consider the overall plight of working America. Here's a chart of private- and public-sector job losses since January 2009. Public-sector employment is indeed down from where it was back then and private-sector jobs are back to about where they were when Obama took office (though still lower than they were in pre-recession times; about 4 million jobs total have vanished since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, and 80 percent of those losses were in the private sector).

Despite recent cuts to the public-sector workforce, fears of teacher-less classrooms, cop-free streets, and empty firehouses are misplaced.

When it comes to teachers, in 2008 (the last year for which the federal government lists actual data), there were 15.3 pupils per teacher in public K-12 schools. That's the lowest recorded number. In 1998, the number was 16.4 and in 1978, it was 19.3. Over this same time period, the amount of money per student has increased tremendously and scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have stayed flat at best. Since 1970, the number of public-school students has increased by about 9 percent while the number of public-school employees (teachers plus everyone else) has increased by 96 percent. Something ain't right there. It seems quite plausible that states and local school districts can lose a good chunk of teachers without significantly impairing the quality (that may not be the right word) of K-12 public education.

What about cops? According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 1992 there were 332 "full-tme state and local law enforcement employees per 100,000 residents." By 2008, that number had jumped to 373 full-timers. To be fair, crime has been declining over that time frame, so maybe the extra cops have really made a difference. Yet most experts point to factors other than the sheer number of law enforcement employees to explain the decline. The population is aging, which correlates with less crime; the sorts of gadgets and gizmos that get ripped off are more affordable for everyone, leading to less crime; surveillance cameras (both private and public) seem to have chilled thefts and assaults; and more. So there's every reason to believe that we can scrimp on high-cost uniformed cops and not be met with a crime wave that will turn even Smallville, USA into Gotham City any time soon.

Then there's firefighters. Data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) tracks the number of firefighters between 1986 and 2010. In 1986, there was a total of 4.35 volunteer and career firefighters per 1,000 Americans. That number dropped to 3.57 firefighters per 1,000 people in 2010. The number of career firefighters—these are the ones who are compensated by taxpayers—has remained relatively stable though, going from 1.73 per 1,000 people to 1.53 per 1,000 people. That's not much of a drop and it's worth pointing out that firefighting, unlike teaching or police work, doesn't scale the same way relative to population. Having more (or fewer people) doesn't clearly mean more (or fewer) fires. In any case, NFPA data show a decrease in "incidents attended by public fire departments." In 2003 (the oldest year I could find data for), for instance, public fire departments covered 1.6 million fires. In 2010, the numbers was 1.33 million. More people, fewer firemen, and fewer fires. That's great news.

So it seems that the American public can get by with fewer public-sector employees without spiraling down into chaos. Unless you believe that the primary function of the public sector is to be a jobs program, there is no reason to sweat recent cuts to public-sector jobs, whose numbers, as Mickey Kaus has pointed out, have "been bloating since around 1980." Obesity isn't just about food, it turns out.

As it happens, Nobel-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and many others (let's call them stimulatarians), seem to believe that a key function of government is precisely to employ lots of people who otherwise would look for work elsewhere. He argues that growth in public-sector employment is all that stands between recession and recovery:

"Conservatives would have you believe that our disappointing economic performance has somehow been caused by excessive government spending, which crowds out private job creation. But the reality is that private-sector job growth has more or less matched the recoveries from the last two recessions; the big difference this time is an unprecedented fall in public employment, which is now about 1.4 million jobs less than it would be if it had grown as fast as it did under President George W. Bush."

I happen to think that the really big difference between this recession and the last two are the absolutely humongous interventions into the economy by the federal government via the stimulus, TARP, and ObamaCare (whose uncertain legal status and cost estimates can't in any way have helped businessess want to hire more people). I may be forgetting the great Pets.com bailout of 2001, but I don't think so. What's more, argues Krugman in a recent column, the lackluster experience of Ireland's "austerity" program, in which 28,000 public workers were canned over a few years, shows that reducing public payrolls is no way to win the future:

"Recovery never came; Irish unemployment is more than 14 percent. Ireland's experience shows that austerity in the face of a depressed economy is a terrible mistake to be avoided if possible."

Let the record show that George W. Bush, as this site (and me personally) never tires of pointing out, was a big-government disaster, who broke the bank like an impulsive five-year-old smacking a piggy bank with a hammer. If Bush's free-spending ways were so stimulative, the question before us would be how can we restrain such fantastic economic growth and not how can we get anything going.

Like Obama, George Bush inherited a crap economy and a whopping 900,000 public-sector jobs were added in his first term, which was also known as a "jobless recovery." The feds went on a hiring and spending spree, of course, and so did state and local governments once the economy bounced back. Unlike Obama, Bush also inherited a surplus from which to at least pay for some of that spending. To insist that public-sector spending is the way to reduce unemployment really does mean forgetting that these jobs don't pay for themselves. The only way the government at any level makes payroll is by taxing now or borrowing now and taxing later to pay off debt.

A decade-plus after Bush first took office, debt at all levels has metastisized, which is another way of saying that the bill for runaway government spending—we're talking increases of 60 percent or more in inflation-adjusted dollars at the federal level and well over 50 percent at the state level between 2003 and 2007 alone—is coming due. So for Krugman and other stimulatarians to simply keep harping on public-sector employment levels really begs the questions of who's going to pay for those saved-or-created hires and what effect explicit or implicit tax increases have on the larger economy.

Which brings us to the related question of Irish austerity, which to Krugman's mind proves that firing public workers will hurt any economy. Contrary to Krugman, Irish public spending has been relatively flat in recent years, which is really nobody's idea of austerity, if by that term you mean taking a hatchet to a budget to reduce the debt to GDP or spending ratio. By the same token, Ireland has been happy to raise all sorts of taxes in recent years to attempt to close budget and debt gaps. As Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy has pointed out, an incomplete list of "austerity" tax increases in the Old Sod includes:

* Standard VAT rate increased by two percentage points to 23 percent. (It was cut in December 2009 down to 20 percent from 21.5 percent)

* €100 household charge introduced to fund vital local services.

* Carbon tax increased from €15 to €20 per tonne effective from midnight, Budget Night, on petrol and diesel, and from May 1, 2012, on other fossil fuels, excluding solid fuels. This change equates to 1½c increase in cost of a litre of petrol & diesel.

* Excise tax on cigarettes up by 25 cents.

* Motor-tax rates increased.

* Capital acquisition tax, capital-gains tax and D.I.R.T. raised to 30 percent.

* Property-relief surcharge of 5 percent to apply to large investors.

These levies, she notes, have been laid on top of a whole bunch more as well. Far from Krugman's suggestion that Irish austerity has taken the form of massive cuts in goverment spending and public-sector employment, most of it involves tax increases that are properly understood as "private-sector austerity."

De Rugy has elsewhere pointed out that there are crystal-clear examples of how to shrink public-sector spending (and by extension, public-sector employment) which not only reduce debt-to-GDP ratios but correlate with economic growth. The key is to eschew "balanced approaches" that rely on some spending cuts and some tax hikes and to go whole hog on the spending cuts.

Successful austerity plans—those that see debt-to-GDP decline by at least 4.5 percentage points after three or more years—contain an average of 80 percent of spending cuts and 20 percent tax increases. Rather than grapple with actual examples from the recent past, the stimulatarians either fudge weak arguments about how World War II ended the Depression ("the Great Depression ended largely thanks to a guy named Adolf Hitler") or how stimulative a Watchmen-style fake alien invasion would be.

And to answer Krugman's query about runaway spending causing rotten economic performance: Yes, there appears to be a pretty strong connection, especially when spending keeps the debt ratio from shrinking. According to Carmen Reinhart, Vincent Reinhart, and Ken Rogoff, "debt overhang"—defined as a country posting a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent or more for five consecutive years—causes significant reductions in long-term economic growth.

Economists such as University of California at San Diego's Valerie Ramey and Harvard's Robert Barro—not to mention former Obama adviser Christina Romer—have all made convincing empirical cases that fiscal stimulus doesn't work. Certainly we know this much: The Obama stimulus failed to deliver on its unemployment rate promises (and that would be true even if public-sector employment had not been cut).

The stimulatarians would keep increasing government expenditures and padding public payrolls as the one true route to prosperity. Tax increases are OK in this scenario (or at least not worthy of much serious discussion) because they might help to keep more folks on the public payroll which is, in Krugman's analysis, "the big difference this time."

But we plainly don't need more teachers, more cops, or more firemen to educate our kids, protect our streets, or put out our fires.

And hiring more public-sector employees is no way to reduce government spending, which is the best way to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio. Which is the best way right now to get the economy moving. If only President Obama or Gov. Romney understood any part of that.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)


IPAB, Obamacare's Super-Legislature

The individual mandate isn't Obamacare's only unconstitutional provision, or even its most unconstitutional provision. That distinction belongs to the Independent Payment Advisory Board. A heretofore unreported feature of this super-legislature makes it even more authoritarian and dangerous than anyone knew.

IPAB consists of up to 15 unelected government "experts." Its stated purpose is to restrain Medicare spending. If projected spending exceeds certain targets, Obamacare requires IPAB to issue "legislative proposals" to reduce future spending. Those proposals could include drastic cuts that jeopardize seniors' access to care, leading some critics to label IPAB a "death panel."

But the really dangerous part is that these are not mere "proposals." Obamacare requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to implement them — which means they become law automatically — unless Congress takes certain steps to head them off. Congress may replace the Board's proposal with its own cuts, at least initially. But Obamacare requires a three-fifths vote in the Senate to pass any replacement that spends more than the Board's proposal. In other words, to override IPAB's proposal completely, opponents must assemble a simple majority in the House and a three-fifths majority in the Senate and the president's signature.

That makes IPAB more than an advisory board. It's a super-legislature whose members are more powerful than members of Congress. If eight members of Congress propose a bill, all that's necessary to block it is a majority of either chamber, or one-third of either chamber plus the president.

Worse, Obamacare forbids Congress to repeal IPAB outside of a brief window in the year 2017 — and even then requires a three-fifths supermajority in both chambers plus a presidential signature. Under Obamacare, after 2017 Congress could repeal Medicare, but not the board it created to run Medicare. Congress and the states could repeal the Bill of Rights — but not IPAB.

What kind of laws will these super-legislators impose? Obamacare supposedly prohibits these super-legislators from raising taxes or rationing care. Yet those restrictions are unenforceable and meaningless. For instance, the statute lets IPAB define "rationing" and protects that definition — along with the secretary's implementation of IPAB's edicts — from administrative or judicial review. The prohibition on raising taxes is likewise toothless. IPAB can raise taxes as surely as it can cut Medicare spending.

In effect, Obamacare gives IPAB the power to raise taxes, spend money, place conditions on federal grants to states, and exercise other powers the Constitution reserves solely to Congress. If the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare's mandated Medicaid expansion, states may soon see IPAB imposing similar mandates on states. And if President Obama fails to appoint any IPAB members, all these powers fall to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

As if all this weren't bad enough, we discovered a heretofore unreported feature of Obamacare. According to the statute, if Congress fails to repeal IPAB during that short window in 2017, then in 2020 Congress loses any and all power to restrain these super-legislators.

The Congressional Research Service and others have reported that Congress will always retain some (limited) power to block IPAB's edicts, but they misread a crucial part of the statute. They thought they saw the word "or" where the statute actually says "and." The difference is dramatic.

As we explain in our new report, under the statute as written, if Congress fails to repeal IPAB in 2017, the secretary must implement IPAB's edicts even if Congress votes to block them. Nancy Pelosi was right: We needed to pass Obamacare to find out what was in it. We're still finding out.

Obamacare is so unconstitutional, it's absurd. It delegates legislative powers that Congress cannot delegate. It creates a permanent super-legislature to supplement — and when conflicts arise, to supplant — Congress. It tries to amend the Constitution via statute rather than the amendment procedure of Article V.

Obamacare proves economist Friedrich Hayek's axiom that government direction of the economy threatens both democracy and freedom. After decades of failing to deliver high-quality, low-cost health care through Medicare, Congress struck upon the "solution" of creating a permanent super-legislature — or worse, an economic dictator — with the power to impose taxes and other laws that the people would reject.

Fortunately, one Congress cannot bind future Congresses by statute. If the Supreme Court fails to strike down Obamacare, Congress should exercise its power to repeal IPAB — and the rest of Obamacare with it.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Norton/Symantec are bunglers: Do not use them

One of my readers received the following rubbish warning:
Fraudulent Web Page Blocked

You attempted to access:


This web page is a known fraudulent web page. It is recommended that you do NOT visit this page.

For your protection, this web page has been blocked. Visit Symantec to learn more about phishing and internet security.

Interestingly, the page had been up for only about an hour when Norton had their strange spasm above. I received no warning from Norton and I can find no way of contacting them to ask why.

True Christians desert heretical church

As a baptized Presbyterian and a former member of an Australian Presbyterian church, the news below gives me some sadness. How can the clear docrine of the Bible and our forefathers have been so lightly deserted? But a church whose gospel is Leftism and approval of homosexuality belongs in the Devil's camp and those who read their Bible can see that. Start from Romans chapter 1 if you doubt it

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) membership dipped below the 2 million mark in 2011, according to statistics released by the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly on Thursday.

According to the numbers, during 2011 the denomination experienced a decline of 63,804 members and the loss of 96 congregations due to a mixture of church dissolutions and dismissals.

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, commented on the loss. "The loss of membership through certificate-of-transfer is the lowest number it has been in at least four years, which is encouraging," said Parsons in a statement. "At least two challenges are before us … The first and primary need is to continue to increase our efforts to live out the Great Commission and share the good news of Jesus Christ. The second is to connect with the growing number of the 'Spiritual But Not Religious.'" [No need for that silly old Bible any more]

The statistics showed a years-old trend continuing. According to the PC(USA) General Assembly Mission Council, in 2000 the denomination had over 2.5 million members. Over the past decade the entire denomination has lost over 20 percent of its membership.

In addition to fewer members, in 2011 the PC(USA) also lost 96 congregations. Of them, 21 of the 96 congregations voted for dismissal from the denomination over theological differences, including the approval of openly gay clergy.

Sorge of the Pittsburgh Presbytery told CP that he believed the trend of departing congregations would likely continue for the foreseeable future.

The Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, a Reformed body recently created as part of the wave of departures from the PC(USA), declined to comment to The Christian Post for this story.



Another textbook deception about Fascism

When I was in sixth grade, a 1967 copy of The Pageant of World History by Gerald Leinwand came into my possession. While I learned a great deal from it, the book contains shocking omissions. Here's what Leinwand says about the early years of Mussolini:
Mussolini, at one time, had been a socialist, and, as a newspaperman, had written articles favoring the overthrow of capitalism.

All true, but so misleading! Leinwand makes Mussolini sound like a low-level journalist who happened to be a rank-and-file member of the socialist party. I didn't learn the real story for decades, when I discovered the works of A. James Gregor, especially his Young Mussolini and the Intellectual Origins of Fascism. Fortunately for the sixth-graders of today, Wikipedia has the facts that Leinwand leaves out. Mussolini wasn't just another socialist; he was the Lenin of Italy - the leader of the hard-line revolutionary faction. And Mussolini wasn't just a "newspaperman"; he was the editor of Avanti!, the official newspaper of the Socialist Party. By 1910, he...
...was considered to be one of Italy's most prominent Socialists. In September 1911, Mussolini participated in a riot, led by Socialists, against the Italian war in Libya. He bitterly denounced Italy's "imperialist war" to capture the Libyan capital city of Tripoli, an action that earned him a five-month jail term. After his release he helped expel from the ranks of the Socialist party two "revisionists" who had supported the war, Ivanoe Bonomi, and Leonida Bissolati. As a result, he was rewarded the editorship of the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti! Under his leadership, its circulation soon rose from 20,000 to 100,000.

Wikipedia's article on the Italian Socialist Party has more details on Mussolini's purge of "revisionists":
At the start of the 20th century, however, the PSI chose not to strongly oppose the governments led by five-time Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti. This conciliation with the existing governments and its improving electoral fortunes helped to establish the PSI as a mainstream Italian political party by the 1910s.

Despite the party's improving electoral results, however, the PSI remained divided into two major branches, the Reformists and the Maximalists. The Reformists, led by Filippo Turati, were strong mostly in the unions and the parliamentary group. The Maximalists, led by Costantino Lazzari, were affiliated with the London Bureau of socialist groups, an international association of left-wing socialist parties.

In 1912 the Maximalists led by Benito Mussolini prevailed at the party convention and this led to the split of the Italian Reform Socialist Party.

For socialists, of course, Mussolini's apostasy proves nothing except his supreme evil. For everyone else, though, Mussolini's origin story puts his subsequent career in a whole new light. Outsiders can easily see what insiders deny: The apostate fruit rarely falls far from the orthodox tree.

Yes, Mussolini realized that socialism plus nationalism had more mass appeal than socialism alone. Yes, Mussolini realized that socialism would be stronger if it allied with the Church instead of destroying it. Yes, Mussolini realized that full-fledged mass expropriation of private property would devastate the economy. And yes, Mussolini realized that the word "socialism" alienated millions of Italians who would otherwise be receptive to his message. But this doesn't make Mussolini a radical socialist who betrayed everything he believed in. It makes him a radical socialist who dropped some peripheral socialist dogmas that stood between him and absolute power. If he'd kept the socialist label and avoided alliance with Hitler, Mussolini might now be a left-wing icon as big as Che Guevara.



Estonia and Austerity: Another Exploding Cigar for Paul Krugman

Daniel J. Mitchell

I have great fondness for Estonia, in part because it was the first post-communist nation to adopt the flat tax, but also because of the country’s remarkable scenery.

Most recently, though, I’ve been bragging about Estonia (along with Latvia and Lithuania, the other two Baltic nations) for implementing genuine spending cuts. I’ve argued that Estonia is showing how a government can reignite growth by reducing the burden of government.

Not surprisingly, some people disagree with my analysis. Paul Krugman of the New York Times criticized Estonia yesterday, writing that the Baltic nation suffered a “Depression-level slump” in 2008 and has only managed an “incomplete recovery” over the past few years.

He blames this supposedly weak performance on “austerity.”

I have a positive and negative reaction to Krugman’s post. My positive reaction is that he’s talking about a nation that actually has cut spending, so there’s real public-sector austerity (see Veronique de Rugy’s L.A. Times column to understand the critical difference between public-sector and private-sector austerity).

This is a sign of progress. In the past, he launched a silly attack on the U.K. for a “government pullback” that never happened, so what he wrote about Estonia at least is based on real events.

My negative reaction is that Krugman is very guilty of cherry-picking data. If you look at the chart that accompanies his post, Estonia’s economic performance isn’t very impressive, but that’s because he’s only showing us the data from 2007-present.

The numbers are accurate, but they’re designed to mislead rather than inform (sort of as if I did a chart showing 2009-present).

But before exposing that bit of trickery, there’s another mistake worth noting. Krugman presumably wants us to think that the downturn coincided with spending cuts. But his own chart shows that the economy hit the skids in 2008 – a year in which government spending in Estonia soared by nearly 18 percent according to EU fiscal data!

It wasn’t until 2009 that Estonian lawmakers began to reduce the burden of spending. So I guess Professor Krugman wants us to believe that the economy tanked in 2008 because of expectations of 2009 austerity. Or something like that.

Returning now to my complaint about cherry picking data, Krugman makes Estonia seem stagnant by looking only at data starting in 2007. But as you can see from this second chart, Estonia’s long-run economic performance is quite exemplary. It has doubled its economic output in just 15 years according to the International Monetary Fund. Over that entire period – including the recent downturn, it has enjoyed one of the fastest growth rates in Europe.

This doesn’t mean Estonia is perfect. It did experience a credit/real estate bubble, and there was a deep recession when the bubble burst. And the politicians let government spending explode during the bubble years, almost doubling the budget between 2004 and 2008.

But Estonia reacted to the overspending and the downturn in a very responsible fashion. Instead of using the weak economy as an excuse to further expand the burden of government spending in hopes that Keynesian economics would magically work (after failing for Hoover and Roosevelt in the 1930s, Japan in the 1990s, Bush in 2008, and Obama in 2009), the Estonians realized that they needed to cut spending.

And now that spending has been curtailed, it’s worth noting that growth has resumed.

What makes Krugman’s rant especially amusing is that he wrote it just as the rest of the world is beginning to notice that Estonia is a role model. Here’s some of what CNBC just posted.
Sixteen months after it joined the struggling currency bloc, Estonia is booming. The economy grew 7.6 percent last year, five times the euro-zone average. Estonia is the only euro-zone country with a budget surplus. National debt is just 6 percent of GDP, compared to 81 percent in virtuous Germany, or 165 percent in Greece. Shoppers throng Nordic design shops and cool new restaurants in Tallinn, the medieval capital, and cutting-edge tech firms complain they can’t find people to fill their job vacancies. It all seems a long way from the gloom elsewhere in Europe. Estonia’s achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider that it was one of the countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. …How did they bounce back? “I can answer in one word: austerity. Austerity, austerity, austerity,” says Peeter Koppel, investment strategist at the SEB Bank. …that’s not exactly the message that Europeans further south want to hear. …Estonia has also paid close attention to the fundamentals of establishing a favorable business environment: reducing and simplifying taxes, and making it easy and cheap to build companies.

Good policy makes a difference. But it also helps to have rational citizens (unlike France, where people vote for economic illiterates and protest against reality).
While spending cuts have triggered strikes, social unrest and the toppling of governments in countries from Ireland to Greece, Estonians have endured some of the harshest austerity measures with barely a murmur. They even re-elected the politicians that imposed them. “It was very difficult, but we managed it,” explains Economy Minister Juhan Parts. “Everybody had to give a little bit. Salaries paid out of the budget were all cut, but we cut ministers’ salaries by 20 percent and the average civil servants’ by 10 percent,” Parts told GlobalPost. …As well as slashing public sector wages, the government responded to the 2008 crisis by raising the pension age, making it harder to claim health benefits and reducing job protection — all measures that have been met with anger when proposed in Western Europe.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that government is still far too big in Estonia. The public sector consumes about 39 percent of economic output, almost double the burden of government spending in Hong Kong and Singapore.

But, unlike certain American politicians, at least the Estonians understand the problem and are taking steps to move in the right direction. I hope they continue.

P.S. The President of Estonia, a Social Democrat named Toomas Hendrik Ilves, used his twitter account to kick the you-know-what out of Krugman yesterday. For amusement value, check out this HuffingtonPost article.

P.P.S. A few other nations, such as Canada and New Zealand, also imposed genuine spending restraint in recent decades and they also got good results.



The American tax system explained in beer -- Obama take note

When pondering the question of your income tax please refer to this explanation using the language of Beer !!! (Attributed to David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D., Professor of Economics)

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh would pay $7
The eighth would pay $12
The ninth would pay $18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).

The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Racial Double Standards

Walter E. Williams

Back in 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said we were "a nation of cowards" on matters of race. Permit me to be brave and run a few assertions by you just to see whether we're on the same page. There should be two standards for civilized conduct: one for whites, which is higher, and another for blacks, which is lower. In other words, in the name of justice and fair play, blacks should not be held accountable to the same standards that whites are and should not be criticized for conduct that we'd deem disgusting and racist if said or done by whites.

You say, "Williams, what in the world are you talking about?" Mitt Romney hasn't revealed all of his fall campaign strategy yet, but what if he launched a "White Americans for Romney" movement in an effort to get out the white vote? If the Romney campaign did that, there'd be a media-led outcry across the land, with charges ranging from racial insensitivity to outright racism. When President Barack Obama announced his 2012 launch of "African Americans for Obama", the silence was deafening. Should the same standards be applied to Obama as would be applied to Romney? The answer turns out to be no, because Obama is not held to the same standards as Romney.

Liberals won't actually come out and say that criticism of Obama is in and of itself racist, but they come pretty close. Former President Jimmy Carter said that criticism of Obama shows that there is an "inherent feeling" in America that a black man should not be president. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," said that critics of Obama are crackers. Morgan Freeman said that the campaign to see that Obama serves one term is a "racist thing." Former Obama czar Van Jones said that Romney's campaign sign "Obama Isn't Working" implies Obama is a "lazy, incompetent affirmative action baby."

Racial double standards also apply to how crime is reported. I'm betting that if mobs of white youths were going about severely beating and robbing blacks at random and preying on black businesses, it would be major news. News anchors might open, "Tonight we report on the most recent wave of racist whites organizing unprovoked attacks on innocent black people and their businesses." If white thugs were actually doing that, politicians would be demanding answers. Such random attacks do happen, but it's blacks preying on whites.

On St. Patrick's Day in Baltimore, a 19-year-old white man was viciously attacked by a mob of black thugs. He broke loose, but a second mob of black thugs attacked him, taking all of his belongings. Baltimore County Delegate Pat McDonough demanded the governor send in the Maryland State Police to control "roving mobs of black youths" at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and other activists demanded that McDonough apologize for talking about "black youth mobs."

Similar episodes of unprovoked violence by black thugs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls and at other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and other cities. Most of the time, the race of the attackers, euphemistically called flash mobs, is not reported, even though media leftists and their allies are experts in reporting racial disparities in prison sentencing and the alleged injustice of the criminal justice system.

Racial double standards are not restricted to the political arena and crime reporting; we see it on college campuses and in the workplace. Black people ought to be offended by the idea that we are held accountable to lower standards of conduct and achievement. White people ought to be ashamed for permitting and fostering racial double standards that have effects that are in some ways worse than the cruel racism of yesteryear.



Self-sufficiency not allowed in the new America

A woman from Tulsa, Oklahoma is suing the city’s code enforcement teams after they illegally cut down her entire survival garden. Denise Morrison, who started the garden after becoming unemployed, had over 100 medicinal and edible plants in her front and back yard.

She told local Tulsa reporters that she started her garden, after becoming unemployed, as a way to feed herself and treat a variety of medical issues. Instead of relying on government handouts, this woman took matters into her own hands and decided to become self sufficient. She filled her yard with things like, fruit trees, berries, nut trees, and a wide variety of edible and medicinal herbs. She used these herbs to treat her diabetes, high-blood pressure and arthritis.

Is the Self-Reliant Lifestyle Now a Crime in America?
All her hard work ended when the local code enforcement team showed up to her house and forcibly removed her entire survival garden. Morrison says that she tried to explain how everything in her yard followed the local code enforcement rules. You see, she had problems with these people in the past and this time she was determined to do things by the book.

She obtained the local ordinances and followed every rule to the tee. She made sure that everything in her garden had a purpose, and that her garden looked its best at all times. Local ordinances stated that no plant could be over 12-inches tall unless they were being used for human consumption.

Morrison made sure every plant in her garden could be eaten, but that didn’t matter to the city. They could care less about what the law actually said, they were determined to take out her garden. “Every word out of their mouth was, ‘we don’t care,’” Morrison said.

Over 100 plant varieties were removed by the code enforcement team leaving her with no way to feed or medicate herself. They took almost everything, including a number of her fruit and nut trees. She told local reporters in Tulsa, “I came back three days later, sat in my driveway, cried and left.”

While this case is extremely sad, it’s also becoming more and more common throughout the country. From “nuisance abatement teams” that have been forcing Off-Griders in California to hook back into the grid, to the heartbreaking story of Andrew Wordes who took his life after code enforcement teams seized his home, this country is making it harder and harder for self-reliant people to live on their own land.

While some dismiss these cases as localized issues, I believe they’re part of a larger movement to control anyone who dares to live a self-reliant lifestyle. I think evidence of this can be seen in the federal governments attempts to regulate small farms out of existence, their use of the EPA to seize private land, the formation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Green Police Force, their attempts to seize control of the Great Lakes, oceans, and waterways, and their use of organizations like The National League of Cities to take control of local governments.



The Washington 1 percent

The Associated Press recently reported that half of all new college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. These fresh-faced bachelor-degree holders are finding themselves opting for waiting tables and serving coffee just to pay off a trillion dollars in student loans. They are coming to grips with a lie perpetuated by university professors, faculty unions, and politicians that deluded them into thinking college by itself was the golden ticket to success.

Meanwhile, the rest of America is still muddling through years of high unemployment. The jobs connected to Alan Greenspan's housing bubble are gone and will likely never return. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke met the financial crisis with an unprecedented amount of monetary-base expansion, which has failed to significantly affect the unemployment rate. President Obama and his allies in Congress threw $800 billion at the economy to no avail and have been running federal deficits to the tune of over $1 trillion for three years now. This orgy of money printing and spending has done little for the residents of Main Street but has done wonders for Wall Street and other politically connected interests.

Last fall's Occupy campaign was representative of a growing distrust of the American economic system. Although many occupiers were misled into believing capitalism is the culprit behind the sluggish economy, the protest's focus on income inequality was not wholly inaccurate. Of course the inequality in income that is a byproduct of an unhampered market economy is not something to demonize. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in Economic Freedom and Interventionism,
Inequality of wealth and incomes is an essential feature of the market economy. It is the implement that makes the consumers supreme in giving them the power to force all those engaged in production to comply with their orders. It forces all those engaged in production to the utmost exertion in the service of the consumers. It makes competition work. He who best serves the consumers profits most and accumulates riches.

Today, no Western, industrialized country operates under genuine capitalism. What passes for the free market in the context of mainstream political debate is actually a fascist-like partnership between big government and big business. The dynamic, cost-cutting competition that defines the uninhibited market has been stifled by Washington's endless decrees of regulation.

As Leviathan's grasp over all economic life continues to grow, it only makes sense that greater amounts of wealth funnel into the area that surrounds the various bureaucracies and decision-making bodies that make up the state. This past October Bloomberg News reported that Washington, DC, now tops Silicon Valley as the richest metropolitan area in the country. In a recent Time magazine article entitled "Bubble on the Potomac," author Andrew Ferguson documents the lifestyles of those within or well-connected to the federal-government apparatus:
Even as the nation struggles, the capital has prospered, making it a magnet for young hipsters but leaving its residents with only a tentative understanding of how the rest of the country lives.

Every week brings fresh evidence of continuing prosperity: a new restaurant, a new nightclub, another restored 19th century townhouse in a previously dodgy neighborhood selling for $1 million or more. Start-ups are hiring through Craigslist, and just opened lobbying firms have no trouble collaring clients.

Other big cities, of course, have made it through the recession in one piece. But few eased through the crash as lightly as D.C., much less prospered so widely on the rebound. The local unemployment rate, at 5.5%, stands well below the national figure of 8.2%. The region's foreclosure rates have always been significantly lower than those elsewhere, and now housing prices in D.C. and across the river in the Virginia suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria are close to their precrash peaks.

While Washington's palette of policy prescriptions becomes more diversified, more and more feeders are flooding to the public trough to get a share of the pie. Trillions of tax dollars being spent every year means a better chance to obtain that much-needed earmark or appropriation. The political class's inclination to create a perfect society has resulted in the state having an influence in virtually all aspects of private life. The car you drive, the food you eat, and the pillow you lay your head down on to sleep at night all have to comply within the legislative whims of the federal government. Lobbying has thus become a lucrative profession for those savvy enough, and well financed enough, to pay for that subsidy or competitor-crushing regulation. Just as F.A. Hayek recognized, "the worst rise to the top of government," and centers of power attract all types of opportunists.

Though lobbying for privilege has become a staple industry within the DC area, it isn't the sector experiencing the biggest growth in employment. Ferguson explains:
Why the boom? The size of the nonmilitary, nonpostal federal workforce has stayed relatively stable since the 1960s. What has changed is not the government payroll but the number of government contractors. It's estimated that, thanks to massive outsourcing over the past 20 years by the Clinton and Bush administrations, there are two government contractors for every worker directly employed by the government. Federal contracting is the region's great growth industry. A government contractor can even hire contractors for help in getting more government contracts. You could call those guys government-contract contractors.

Which means government hasn't shrunk; it's just changed clothes (and pretty nice clothes they are).

In order to project the image of a scant increase in the number of federal-government employees, a type of shadow economy of contractors has developed to deceive the public's eye. These contractors are employees of the state whether on the official payroll or not. Their income is derived from stolen funds just as much as the budget analyst at any of the alphabet-soup bureaucracy. The so-called private companies they work for do the bidding of the state at what is often an exorbitant price compared to what may prevail under free-market conditions. Government contractors are merely deceptive when describing themselves as private, for-profit companies. They are de facto agents of the state.

With all the money culminating in the Washington area, the city and its surrounding suburbs are indeed a world apart from the rest of the country. As the Time article shows, while regulatory uncertainty and the threat of increased taxation continue to stifle entrepreneurial capital investment, DC residents often help themselves to $150 meals, a taxpayer-subsidized metro system, and a variety of bars serving overpriced drinks. Armed with "fistfuls of disposable income," they live in paradise compared to recession-wrecked America.

This disconnect in lifestyle is understandable when we consider the anatomy of the state. As Murray Rothbard defines it,
Social power is man's power over nature, his cooperative transformation of nature's resources and insight into nature's laws, for the benefit of all participating individuals. Social power is the power over nature, the living standards achieved by men in mutual exchange. State power, as we have seen, is the coercive and parasitic seizure of this production — a draining of the fruits of society for the benefit of nonproductive (actually antiproductive) rulers. While social power is over nature, State power is power over man.

By being infused with the central state, much of Washington, DC, lives parasitically off of the collective labor of the rest of the country. Their standard of living comes at the expense of those whom they lord over. The ruling class establishes the rules of conduct for millions despite being made up of just a very small portion of the population. In return, it demands and receives compensation that is then funneled to the politically connected. This stream of violently confiscated funds is the lifeblood of the city.

To drive this point home, it must be emphasized that those on the payroll of the state don't actually pay taxes. As Rothbard points out, the notion that they do is "a mere accounting fiction." Claiming a government employee pays taxes is the equivalent of claiming they pay their own salary.

In the end, the people of Washington have little desire to have their lavish way of life fall by the wayside. Their goal is to keep the nation's focus on the government's operations. This guarantees more power, prestige, and authority for a city overrun by men and women who take pride in their lawful ability to wage war abroad and at home. As long as the federal government remains an overarching factor in everyday life, it will attract a great deal of wealthy interests looking to the game the system in their favor.

The DC mindset is fixated on the idea that such a state of affairs can last forever. Much of the younger crowd that resides in the nation's capital still doesn't see the writing on the wall. Ferguson ends the article explaining why:
The optimism of über-Washingtonians so far survives the unspoken worry about a coming age of austerity, in which government spending cuts would end the high life that Washingtonians have come to expect. They are right to be optimistic. The two most plausible deficit-reduction proposals — one by President Obama, the other by the Republican-controlled House Budget Committee — each calls for the government in 2021 to spend a trillion dollars more than it spends today.

Those living off the state are convinced the good times won't come to an end. Trillion-dollar deficits beg to differ however. The day will come when either investors demand higher interest rates for government bonds or prices pick up exponentially due to the extraordinary amount of inflation engineered by the Fed. Either way, Washington will then have no choice but to cut back or risk the complete destruction of the dollar. It will be a period of reckoning like no other. As Tom Woods writes in Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse, it is estimated that the federal government's unfunded liabilities comes in at around $111 trillion. According to Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the unfunded liability gap actually exceeds $211 trillion. Such staggering numbers mean a great default is coming. It's only a matter of who the losers will be.

For a country that is forced into subsidizing the profligate living habits of the state and its partners in crime, the only justifiable outcome would be for the latter to suffer.

For every government employee or contractor relieved of service in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, one or more taxpayers will be relieved of the burden of paying their salary. When such an event happens en masse, it will truly be a time of celebration for America as a whole.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Calvin Coolidge and the foundational truths of government

Calvin Coolidge had a penchant for silence but when he spoke, he did so with powerful effect. "The words of a president have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately,” he once warned. Underappreciated by historians and often marginalized through story and anecdote, the “throwback” president’s stock is on the rise. While it is true that the 30th president is due for a major reassessment, the ideas he put forward remain timeless because of his focus on foundational truths.

Silent Cal’s words and legacy speak directly to us and our national ills. Often referred to as the last Jeffersonian president, Coolidge praised limiting the state’s powers as he observed and reacted to the progressive era and the looming New Deal centralization. “These socialistic notions of government are not of my day,” he quipped during FDR’s rise.

Instead, Coolidge believed the progressive man bent on centralization was a stale soul. “Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers,” declared Coolidge. He continually harkened back to America’s Founding, believing that there are fundamental truths about man and his relationship to the state.

While early American debates centered on how important it is that federal power be limited, the progressive era saw the rise of breathless boasts about how much good and abundance could flourish out of unlimited federal power.

Seeing into the future, Coolidge warned Americans that if they thought they were speaking of the federal government when they referred to “the government” it would prove costly. A staunch defender of federalism, he believed local government took precedence when federal power is not specifically enumerated by the Constitution.

Seeing himself as civic educator, he explained: “The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager.” A glance at the federal debt today makes his case.

While Coolidge often spoke in short sentences full of common sense, there was considerable depth to his conservative views. Lampooned in part because of quotes like “The chief business of the American people is business,” Coolidge went on to also say in the same address, “Of course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence.”

Sneered at by intellectual elites for being old fashioned and a defender of free-markets, Coolidge championed capitalism by personalizing it, rooting work within the dignity of man and eschewing materialism and greed. He warned Americans against sinking into a “pagan materialism.”

Coolidge oversaw an era of unyielding prosperity for most and unprecedented technological advances, but he knew the citizens of the republic must be rooted in faith. “If we are too weak to take charge of our own morality, we shall not be strong enough to take charge of our own liberty,” said Coolidge. He declared, “We cannot depend on government to do the work of religion.” He simply proclaimed in his brilliant speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, “The things of the spirit come first.”

Coolidge’s authenticity stands in contrast to most modern politicians and leaders. When his biographer William Allen White expressed frustration with not being able to see the real Coolidge by telling him, “I need to peek at the man behind the mask,” Coolidge amusingly snapped back, “I don’t know if I can help you, maybe there isn’t any.”

After Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, he hung up a portrait of Coolidge in the White House. The Washington press corps snickered at the act. Coolidge however put forward a serious and deep vision for the country. It is a vision that stands in stark contrast with how our government and many of our leaders operate today.

While America experiences crippling debt, moral decay, and decline of purpose, Coolidge’s words and legacy will appeal even more. Fundamental truths are forever new to a society that has lost its way.



The Obama Administration’s Genocide Denial

Suppose that there was a country where Muslims were being massacred every month and mosques and imams were being targeted and destroyed. Could anyone imagine the Obama Administration choosing to remain silent in the face of such atrocities?

A mob attack on Muslims in Burma immediately resulted in a condemnation from the State Department and a call for its government to make more concessions to Muslims. But a car bombing and shooting attack on two churches in Nigeria have not been similarly commented on by the State Department, sending the message that Muslim life is precious, but Christian life is cheap. The Muslim dead of Burma are sacred, but the Christian dead of Nigeria are only more dead infidels.

Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist organization responsible for both attacks, has yet to be declared a terrorist organization by the State Department, despite having carried out religiously motivated bombings and shootings that have killed over a thousand people in the last few years alone. These numbers begin to approach the level of murders carried out by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The "Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2012", introduced by Senator Scott Brown, mandates that the State Department produce a detailed report that either designates Boko Haram as a terrorist group or justifies why it should not be listed as a terrorist group. A similar bill was introduced by Congressman Meehan in the House. It is a testament to the obstructionism of the State Department and its whitewashing of Boko Haram that such a bill even had to be introduced. While the State Department has played delaying games, the bodies of murdered Christians have continued piling up.

It is also tragically noteworthy that all eleven sponsors of the "Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act", in both the Senate and the House, have been Republicans. Not a single Democrat appeared to be willing to stand up for the human rights of Nigerian Christians. If the "Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act" comes down to a vote, that vote should be seen as nothing less than a test of complicity for individual Democrats in the cover-up of Nigeria's Islamic genocide by the Obama Administration.

Genocide denial pervades not only the Obama Administration and its Congressional allies, but also the media, which continues to promote the destructive myth that Boko Haram is not truly religiously motivated and that it can only be stopped by giving more money and power to the Muslim north.

Had a non-Muslim group carried out numerous attacks on mosques and Muslim worshipers, and then ordered Muslims to leave an area, it is absolutely inconceivable that the Obama Administration and its media allies would deny that these were religiously motivated attacks. It is even more inconceivable that its preferred solution would be to tell the government to stop fighting terrorism. But what is inconceivable when it comes to Muslims is Obama Administration policy for Christians.

At the end of April, Daniel Benjamin, from the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, testifying at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denied that Boko Haram was affiliated with Al-Qaeda, while conceding that its members were probably being trained by Al-Qaeda. Benjamin then stated that the State Department's response to the Islamic genocide of Christians by Jihadists in the Muslim north was "to press for a change to its (Nigeria's) heavy-handed approach to the security threats in the north".

The State Department's approach to the genocide of Christians by Muslims is to press the Nigerian government to scale down its efforts against that genocide. Benjamin's statement is not unique; it is the consistent policy of the State Department, which is the consistent policy of the Obama Administration, to respond to Islamic genocide in Nigeria by pressuring its government to step down its war on terror.Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs, in his remarks on Nigeria, claimed bizarrely, that despite a campaign of violence focused heavily around attacks on churches, "Religion is not driving extremist violence in either Jos or Northern Nigeria" and warned the Nigerian government to "avoid excessive violence".

That same month, Don Yamamoto, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs, testifying at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and reading from the same script, said that, "Religion is not the primary driver of extremist violence in Nigeria", like Carson, claimed that Nigeria's "religious and ethnic diversity is one of its greatest strengths" and demanded that the Nigerian government spend more time teaching its security forces to respect Muslim human rights.


Close to 900,000 Arab Jews were expelled from Arab Muslim countries and countless murdered. Today, Christians are suffering the very same fate with the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians in Muslim countries.

* In Egypt, 100,000 Christians have left since the "Arab Spring" began.

* Bethlehem and Ramallah are no longer Christian majority cities.

* In Syria, Muslims have gone door-to-door telling Christian homeowners to leave immediately or be shot. 50,000 men, women and children have been forced to flee empty-handed as Muslims appropriated their property and possessions.

* In Sudan,where shariah is being enforced, 600,000 Christians have been told to leave the country or be treated like foreigners.

* In 2003, Iraq's Christian population stood at 1.4 million. Today, there are only 300,000 Christians remaining......(Janet Levy)



A free market brings down health costs

by Jeff Jacoby

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY to make sure that Americans with chronic medical conditions -- those most likely to need costly or frequent health care -- can afford the insurance they need to meet their bills? The conventional answer, reflected in Mitt Romney's 2006 health-care reform law in Massachusetts and the federal overhaul signed by Barack Obama in 2010, contains these ingredients:

(1) Require everyone to have health insurance, with subsidized plans for low-income citizens. (2) Compel insurers to accept anybody who applies for coverage and to charge roughly the same premium for everyone, regardless of health status. (3) Make all health plans cover a fixed array of medical treatments, providers, and conditions that many customers may not need or want.

The orthodox view, in short, is that to shield people with serious medical needs from undue financial hardship we must suppress the normal workings of a free market -- supply and demand, competition, flexible prices. There's just one problem with this approach: It doesn't work.

Six years after RomneyCare became law, health insurance coverage in Massachusetts is all but universal. Yet a new statewide survey finds that those most in need of medical care are finding it harder than ever to pay for. According to the study, which was directed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and sponsored by WBUR, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, and the Robert Wood ­Johnson Foundation, 78 percent of sick adults consider health care costs a serious (50 percent say very serious) problem in Massachusetts. And far from seeing improvement, nearly two-thirds of sick adults say the problem has only gotten worse over the past five years.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Romney was confident his law would ease the pressure of medical costs. "Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced," he optimistically forecast in 2006. Yet today 14 percent of sick adults in Massachusetts report being unable to get medical care they needed at some point over the past 12 months, usually for financial reasons. About half of those who went untreated said they couldn't afford the out-of-pocket costs; another 21 percent said their insurer wouldn't pay for the test or treatment.

To be sure, the survey relies on respondents' own perceptions, which may not always be realistic or consistent. And its definition of "sick" adults is broad: It includes everyone who said they had a serious illness, medical condition, injury, or disability requiring a lot of medical care, as well as anyone who was hospitalized overnight in the past year. By that yardstick, 27 percent of Massachusetts adults are regarded as sick.

But even if that number should be taken with a grain of salt, it is clear that universal health insurance is no panacea for health care's financial pressures -- especially those that affect people with pre-existing or expensive medical conditions.

The way to make medical insurance more affordable and accessible for everyone, above all those whose health problems are greatest, is not by forcing insurers to pretend that the chronically ill or those requiring frequent care don't have above-average costs. If companies that sell homeowners insurance were barred from taking into account the size, location, or age of the houses they wrote policies for, it goes without saying that premiums and deductibles would keep rising and fewer losses would be covered. Making it illegal for health insurers to craft policies and charge premiums that accurately reflect the needs and risks of people with significant medical issues has a similar effect.

Rather than outlawing insurance for pre-existing conditions, health-care economist John C. Goodman argues, we should be encouraging it. In a new book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, Goodman offers an abundance of ways in which an unfettered market could address the problems of people with chronic medical needs. One proposal: employers could buy health insurance that was fully portable -- employees would own their policies and could take them from job to job. Another idea: Health Savings Accounts for the chronically ill that would allow disabled patients to manage their own budgets and choose the goods and services that best meet their needs. Still another: "Health status insurance," which would allow individuals to protect themselves against the risk that a pre-existing condition could emerge down the road and cause their insurance premiums to rise.

What America's health-care landscape needs is more freedom and competition, not less. True reform would end the tax-code distortion that links health insurance to employment. It would tear down the barriers to buying health insurance across state lines. It would roll back the mandatory benefits that make everyone's health coverage too expensive. Massive health-care "reforms" that restrict choice, suppress prices, and block innovation aren't reforms at all. In sickness and in health, they generally make things worse.



Oregon: Welcome to the jungle

The racist attacks on whites by groups of blacks continue

Portland Police are investigating two “large-scale” fights that happened in Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland earlier this week. According to Sgt. Pete Simpson, both fights involved groups of black teenagers randomly attacking people in the park.

Simpson said the first incident happened on June 13 around 10:30 p.m. That’s when officers responded to reports of 150 drunken teenagers in the park.

Officers arrived and found several groups of teens leaving. As they continued through the park a young woman flagged them down and pointed out a 14-year-old boy who had been beaten up, Simpson said. He was lying on a picnic table.

The boy had been hit in the face and paramedics were called to treat his injuries.

According to Simpson, the victim told officers he was with a friend in the park when he was punched from behind. He said his attackers were 5-10 black teenagers who were randomly attacking white teens in the park. He said they also attacked a homeless man.

The victim said the attackers stole his cell phone, iPod, headphones and hat.

The second attack happened the next night, also around 10:30 p.m. In that case, officers got a report of a fight involving more than 20 people in the park.

They didn’t find the fight when they arrived but did find three men who said they were attacked by a group of 20-30 black teenagers, Simpson said.

The three victims, who are all in their 20s, said they were playing “soccer tennis” at the tennis courts when some of the teens started calling out to them and throwing bottles on the court, according to Simpson.

The victims said they were then attacked by people in the group. Two of the men suffered facial injuries but declined medical treatment.
"As they came onto the court, it became clear it was time to get out of there," one of the victims told KATU. "In hindsight, being in a public park at night is not the safest place to begin with."

Portland Police officers plan on stepping up patrols in the park this weekend. The park will also close at 10 p.m. through the weekend instead of the normal midnight closing time.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

The Nation's Top 'Progressives' - and Socialists and Communists

Paul Kengor

The left-leaning magazine The Nation has published a list of what it deems America’s all-time, most influential progressives. The list, which you can review for yourself , is very revealing.

For starters, it’s fascinating that The Nation leads with Eugene Debs at number 1. Debs was a socialist. It was 100 years ago this year, in 1912, that Debs ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket.

Today’s progressives get annoyed if you call them socialists. Well, why is a pure socialist the no. 1 “progressive” on The Nation 's list?

Of course, progressives really get annoyed if you suggest they bear any sympathies to communism. That being the case, two other “progressives” on The Nation ’s list are quite intriguing: Paul Robeson and I. F. Stone.

Paul Robeson was a proud recipient of the “Stalin Prize.” Even the New York Times concedes Robeson was “an outspoken admirer of the Soviet Union.” When Robeson in 1934 returned from his initial pilgrimage to the Motherland, the Daily Worker thrust a microphone in his face. The Daily Worker rushed its interview into print, running it in the January 15, 1935 issue under the headline, “‘I Am at Home,’ Says Robeson At Reception in Soviet Union.”

The Bolsheviks, explained Robeson, were new men. He was bowled over by the “feeling of safety and abundance and freedom” he found “wherever I turn.” He discovered sheer equality under Joseph Stalin.

When asked about Stalin’s purges, Robeson retorted: “From what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!”

Yes, Robeson was deadly serious. Robeson told the Daily Worker that he felt a “kinship” with the USSR. So much so that he moved his family there. He also joined Communist Party USA. In May 1998, the centennial of Robeson’s birth, longtime CPUSA head Gus Hall hailed Robeson as a man of communist “conviction,” who “never forgot he was a communist.”

None of this is mentioned in The Nation ’s profile, which blasts anyone who dared consider Robeson a communist. Instead, The Nation insists that Comrade Paul was a “progressive.”

And that brings me to I. F. Stone. Stone is listed at number 26 on The Nation’s list. Stone has been hailed by liberals for decades as the literal “conscience” of journalism—a hero of impeccable honesty. In fact, we now know that Stone, at one time, was a paid Soviet agent.

In their latest Yale University Press work, historians John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev conclude that Stone (from 1936-39) was a “Soviet spy.” Also closely studying Stone’s case is Herb Romerstein. In The Venona Secrets , Romerstein likewise concluded that “Stone was indeed a Soviet agent.” One of the stronger confirmations from the Soviet side is retired KGB general Oleg Kalugin, who reported: “He [Stone] was a KGB agent since 1938. His code name was ‘Blin.’ When I resumed relations with him in 1966, it was on Moscow’s instructions. Stone was a devoted communist.” None of this appears at Stone’s “progressive” profile at The Nation .

And speaking of progressives with communist sympathies, also on The Nation ’s list is Margaret Sanger . The Planned Parenthood matron sojourned to Stalin’s Potemkin villages in 1934. “[W]e could well take example from Russia,” Sanger advised Americans upon her return, “where birth control instruction is part of the regular welfare service of the government.”

The Planned Parenthood founder was stunned by the explosion in abortions once legalized by the Bolsheviks. No fear, though. Sanger offered this confident prediction: “All the [Bolshevik] officials with whom I discussed the matter stated that as soon as the economic and social plans of Soviet Russia are realized, neither abortions nor contraception will be necessary or desired. A functioning Communistic society will assure the happiness of every child, and will assume the full responsibility for its welfare and education.”

This was pure progressive utopianism, an absolute faith in central planners.

Overall, the socialists, communists, and Soviet sympathizers on The Nation’s list are dizzying: Upton Sinclair, Henry Wallace, W. E. B. DuBois, Norman Thomas, Lincoln Steffens, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Hayden, Barbara Ehrenreich, and John Dewey—founding father of American public education.

Thus, I’m compelled to ask: Is this “progressivism?” Is progressivism synonymous with liberalism, or is it much further to left, closer to communism?

I plead with progressives: This is your ideology … Could you better define it, if that’s possible? Or is the definition of progressivism always progressing ? Actually, it is always progressing; that’s precisely the problem with this train-wreck of an ever-elusive ideology. The Nation’s list of leading American “progressives” is truly a teachable moment.



The GOP’s Emerging Backbone?

It may be too early to tell, but the Republican Party appears to be shedding its draw-no-blood, lose-gracefully approach to campaigns that has kept conservative voters either frustrated or stubbornly at home on election days.

On May 30, former New Hampshire governor and Mitt Romney supporter John Sununu sparred with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien over Romney’s association with Donald Trump, who is continuing to discuss the president’s birth certificate controversy. Sununu wasn’t interested, insisting that he would rather discuss “jobs. . . and the disastrous [economy].” O’Brien continued, snidely stating that, obviously, Republicans consider the birther issue important. Sununu wrote off the topic as “CNN’s fixation” and deftly highlighted the network’s blatant support of the president. Though not exactly a knockdown-dragout, is was certainly rousing, refreshing and long overdue. Way to go!

On the June 1 O’Reilly Factor, Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh (Chicago area, American Conservative Union score of 94 percent) appeared, who recently told his constituents that the Democrats are actively seeking to buy votes and promote dependency. “They’re trying to do it with Hispanics, just like they’ve done it with African Americans. . . Without government dependency, Jesse Jackson wouldn’t have a job.” Walsh stood behind his words in a live interview with O’Reilly, who, though he sided with Walsh’s sentiments, thought the congressman’s rhetoric might be insulting to some. “I was trying to be insulting to the Democratic Party,” Walsh replied.

“What if Jackson were sitting here?” O’Reilly continued. “Would you say that he doesn’t want the best for his community?” Ah, yes, the mantra of liberal good intentions, always used to stifle conservative passions. Didn’t work on Walsh who replied “Baloney. . . Jackson stands in the way of school choice” and other proposals that could strengthen the black community. He further referred to Jackson as a “race hustler.”

Yes! Meanwhile, Mitt Romney recently spoke outside the vacant Solyndra office building in California and has not allowed himself to be distracted by such controversies as Sandra Fluke, Bain Capital, etc.

A recent Democratic ad praised candidate John McCain for, in 2008, steering clear of questioning Barack Obama’s early years and associations. “Why won’t Mitt Romney do the same?” the ad asked in conclusion.

At question is, again, the governor’s relationship with Donald Trump and the birther issue. In truth, Romney has steered clear, preferring to highlight the president’s failed record. But whatever one thinks of Trump, why is he any more politically toxic than any of Obama’s lapdogs in entertainment and the mainstream media, including MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, whose ring (and I’m being nice here) all Democratic presidential candidates have to kiss at some point in the election cycle? Trump has supported Romney thus far, and a true leader does not turn his back on his friends in deference to the school-girl snippiness of a media campaign turning from desperation to panic mode (and rising unemployment numbers will only turn up the bile).

Not to say that Mitt Romney is a great leader. Nothing written here should be construed as an endorsement. Still, the passion of a party fighting for the highest ideals of the American people appears to be emerging — somewhat.

The epic determination of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker merits a volume unto itself, and even the limp leadership of House Speaker John Boehner has shown a few rhetorical signs of life. Republicans may well know that the stakes have never been higher, and after the uninspiring campaigns of Bob Dole and John McCain and the “kinder, gentler, new tone” administrations of both Presidents Bush, the freedom-loving American can only hope that the GOP’s backbone wasn’t found too late.



Supreme Court reins in an arrogant bureaucracy

Mark Calabria

Having one’s read of the law vindicated by the Supreme Court is always a nice feeling, even if I had to wait about a decade. From 2002 to 2003, I managed the HUD office which administered the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

In 2001, prior to my arrival, the legal staff at HUD released a “policy statement” claiming that RESPA’s Section 8(b) prohibited some instances of fees as excessive or unreasonable because said fees would constitute a person “giving or accepting any unearned fees”.

How HUD even knows what is earned or unearned is besides the point, Section 8(b) of RESPA only prohibits fees that are basically split between two or more parties. As far as statutes go, RESPA is actually quite clear. That clarity, however, did not stop HUD from taking the convoluted position that one can split or share a fee with one-self. This was obviously an attempt to create a “reasonable” test for fees where one did not exist.

During my brief tenure at HUD, the RESPA office largely ignored this section of the 2001 policy statement. The staff there related to me that its inclusion was largely “political” anyway, an attempt to the make the remainder of the policy statement more palatable.

I made clear at the time that the policy statement went far beyond any actual authority in RESPA. It seems, however, that the trial bar was not willing to let this statement remain dormant, and assembled a class action based upon this erroneous reading of RESPA, leading to last week’s decision, which rejected 9 to 0 HUD’s reading of RESPA.

Dodd-Frank moved the RESPA office from HUD to the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It moved much of the HUD enforcement and legal staff as well. What is not clear is whether the willingness to simply make up law where there is no statutory authority was also left behind.

One of the reasons why I, among others, have strong concerns as to the current structure of the CFPB is this trend of regulators constantly going around the letter of the law. How are we to hope for respect for the law when those tasked with enforcing it show so little respect themselves.



Jihad's Willing Executioners

Quietly, behind the scenes, the Muslim Brotherhood is enforcing censorship of all U.S. government training about Islam and the forces of Islamic jihad. Under the co-opted direction of National Security Council official, Quintan Wiktorowicz, key Cabinet Departments, including Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and State are purging their curriculum materials of any references about Islam that their Muslim Brotherhood advisors find objectionable. In effect, the national security policy of the U.S. government is being brought into compliance with Islamic law on slander.

It's much easier to conquer an adversary who's been anesthetized, cowed, infiltrated and lulled into ignorant passivity than one who's alert and on the defensive. That, in a nutshell, is why there is a campaign called "Islamophobia," designed and promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood to silence those who would speak truth about Islam. And it is why the Brotherhood coup that has just achieved the capitulation of the top levels of the U.S. government is so dangerous to the future of the Republic and America's Constitutional rights.

Farah Pandith is the Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the U.S. Department of State. In that official capacity, she repeatedly has associated with groups and individuals that are known affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood and its equally jihadist off-shoot, HAMAS. In an interview with the Gulf Times at the conclusion of the May 2012 9th U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Qatar, Pandith confirmed that it has been the policy of the Obama administration since its inception "to put the priority of engaging with one fourth of humanity [Islam] front and centre."

She's right: There's never before been an American president who so unashamedly and deliberately has sought to empower those who've openly and repeatedly declared themselves the sworn enemies of this country. It will be recalled that Muhammad Badi, the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide, effectively declared war on the U.S. in October 2010, about nine months before the Obama administration granted formal diplomatic recognition to the jihadist group.

Much more HERE



Public-sector growth is bad news: "Every (unsubsidized) job in the private sector exists because it generates more in wealth or value than it consumes in resources — and hence grows the economic pie. That’s not the case with the public sector. For example, between 1970 and 2010, public school enrollment went up by 8.5 percent — while public-school employee rolls swelled a mind-boggling 96.2 percent. This cost the country $210 billion and failed to produce one iota of improvement in student achievement. Was this money well-spent because the teachers who received it could spring for nice houses and vacations? Or was it a waste of precious resources that could have been better deployed elsewhere? Since public-sector jobs don’t pay for themselves, they have to be financed either through taxes or borrowing or inflation (printing money), all of which divert resources from productive private endeavors and hurt overall growth."

Holder Buckling Under Threat of Contempt Charges: "Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday agreed to make what he called "an extraordinary accommodation" to Republicans investigating the botched "Operation Fast and Furious" by turning over department emails he has long insisted deal with internal deliberations and should be protected. Holder is trying to head off a push by House Republicans to hold him in contempt of Congress for allegedly "stonewalling" their investigation. And he offered to personally brief the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in the next few days. Issa's office said in an early response that Holder's letter "only seems to indicate a willingness to offer a selective telling" of key events"

Recession: Family net worth down 35% in last 5 years: "The toll of the great housing bust and financial crisis came into clearer focus Monday, as the Census Bureau released numbers showing a 35 percent drop in net worth for the median US household between 2005 and 2010. The numbers give a report card on the financial health of US families before and after the recession. The typical household saw its net worth -- financial assets minus debts -- fall from $102,844 in 2005 to $66,740 five years later, with the census giving those numbers in inflation-adjusted 2010 dollars"

Let them eat healthcare: "An unfortunate aspect of the whole Healthcare Reform debate is that advocates of increased government intervention routinely confuse care and coverage. Even after this obfuscation is pointed out, advocates of increased government intervention continue to make the same error. There seems to be no way to shame an advocate of increased government intervention to accurately describe the debate as over healthcare coverage and not over healthcare itself. And yet, that is the point. Healthcare does become less available the more the government intervenes."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

EU on brink of a new dark age

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) always writes with a lightness of touch but he is a genuine classicist and it seems to me that his dark vision of the EU below could be largely true of the USA as well

It is one of the tragic delusions of the human race that we believe in the inevitability of progress. We look around us, and we seem to see a glorious affirmation that our ruthless species of homo is getting ever more sapiens.

It is one of the tragic delusions of the human race that we believe in the inevitability of progress. We look around us, and we seem to see a glorious affirmation that our ruthless species of homo is getting ever more sapiens. We see ice cream Snickers bars and in vitro babies and beautiful electronic pads on which you can paint with your fingertip and - by heaven - suitcases with wheels! Think of it: we managed to put a man on the moon about 35 years before we came up with wheelie-suitcases; and yet here they are. They have completely displaced the old type of suitcase.

Aren't they grand? Life seems impossible without them, and soon they will no doubt be joined by so many other improvements - acne cures, electric cars, electric suitcases - that we will be strengthened in our superstition that history is a one-way ratchet, an endless click click click forwards to a nirvana of liberal democratic free-market brotherhood of man.

Isn't that what history teaches us, that humanity is engaged in a remorseless ascent?

On the contrary: history teaches us that the tide can suddenly and inexplicably go out, and that things can lurch backwards into darkness and squalor and appalling violence. The Romans gave us roads and aqueducts and glass and sanitation and all the other benefits famously listed by Monty Python; indeed, they were probably on the verge of discovering the wheely-suitcase when they went into decline and fall in the fifth century AD.

Whichever way you look at it, this was a catastrophe for the human race. People in Britain could no longer read or write. Life expectancy plummeted to about 32, and the population fell. The very cattle shrunk at the withers. The secret of the hypocaust was forgotten, and chilblain-ridden swineherds built sluttish huts in the ruins of the villas, driving their post-holes through the mosaics.

In the once bustling Roman city of London (for instance) we find no trace of human habitation save for a mysterious black earth that may be a relic of a fire or some primitive system of agriculture. It took hundreds of years before the population was restored to Roman levels.

If we think that no such disaster could happen again, we are not just arrogant but forgetful of the lessons of the very recent past. Never mind the empty temples of the Aztecs or the Incas or the reproachful beehive structures of the lost civilisation of Great Zimbabwe. Look at our own era: the fate of European Jewry, massacred in the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents, on the deranged orders of an elected government in what had been one of the most civilised countries on earth; or look at the skyline of modern German cities, and mourn those medieval buildings blown to smithereens in an uncontrollable cycle of revenge.

Yes, when things go backwards, they can go backwards fast. Technology, liberty, democracy, comfort - they can all go out of the window. However complacent we may be, in the words of the poet Geoffrey Hill, "Tragedy has us under regard". Nowhere is that clearer than in Greece today. Every day we read of fresh horrors: of once proud bourgeois families queuing for bread, of people in agony because the government has run out of money to pay for cancer drugs. Pensions are being cut, living standards are falling, unemployment is rising, and the suicide rate is now the highest in the EU - having been one of the lowest.

By any standards we are seeing a whole nation undergo a protracted economic and political humiliation; and whatever the result of yesterday's election, we seem determined to make matters worse. There is no plan for Greece to leave the euro, or none that I can discover. No European leader dares suggest that this might be possible, since that would be to profane the religion of Ever Closer Union. Instead we are all meant to be conniving in a plan to create a fiscal union which (if it were to mean anything) would mean undermining the fundamentals of Western democracy.

This forward-marching concept of history - the idea of inexorable political and economic progress - is really a modern one. In ancient times, it was common to speak of lost golden ages or forgotten republican virtues or prelapsarian idylls. It is only in the past few hundred years that people have switched to the "Whig" interpretation, and on the face of it one can forgive them for their optimism.

We have seen the emancipation of women, the extension of the franchise to all adult human beings, the acceptance that there should be no taxation without representation and the general understanding that people should be democratically entitled to determine their own fates.

And now look at what is being proposed in Greece. For the sake of bubble-gumming the euro together, we are willing to slaughter democracy in the very place where it was born. What is the point of a Greek elector voting for an economic program, if that program is decided in Brussels or - in reality - in Germany?

What is the meaning of Greek freedom, the freedom Byron fought for, if Greece is returned to a kind of Ottoman dependency, but with the Sublime Porte now based in Berlin? It won't work. If things go on as they are, we will see more misery, more resentment, and an ever greater chance that the whole damn kebab van will go up in flames. Greece will one day be free again - in the sense that I still think it marginally more likely than not that whoever takes charge in Athens will eventually find a way to restore competitiveness through devaluation and leaving the euro - for this simple reason: that market confidence in Greek membership is like a burst paper bag of rice - hard to restore.

Without a resolution, without clarity, I am afraid the suffering will go on. The best way forward would be an orderly bisection into an old eurozone and a new eurozone for the periphery. With every month of dither, we delay the prospect of a global recovery; while the approved solution - fiscal and political union - will consign the continent to a democratic dark ages.



An imperial presidency, on steroids

Hugh Hewitt

My new book, "The Brief Against Obama: The Rise, Fall & Epic Fail of the Hope & Change Presidency," already needs a second edition so I can expand the chapter on President Obama's abuse of his office.

If the president declares that his new immigration enforcement priority is octogenarian Estonians who entered the country without documents in the '40s, can he thereby unilaterally direct all other enforcement of the naturalization laws of the United States be suspended until all those scoundrels are rounded up?

If the president declares that justice requires that cosmetic surgeries in Los Angeles are necessary for his vision of the good life, can he unilaterally direct his Department of Health and Human Services to oblige all insurance-providing employers in California to require that benefit as part of the standard health insurance package?

If the president no longer cares to defend the federal laws criminalizing marijuana or any other drug, can he direct his Department of Justice to cease the defense of those laws in the federal courts of the United States?

The president's Friday edict on immigrants in the country illegally but brought here as children by others over the past decade and a half; his command regarding Catholic institutions and the morning-after pill; and the wave of his hand on the Defense of Marriage Act -- all of these acts and many more claim for the president a breathtaking unilateral authority over matters quite obviously within the shared control of the Congress and the executive.

There is no limiting principle curbing the president's unilateralism once exercised and unrebuked by Congress or the courts.

Defenders of the president's many decrees cite President George W. Bush's conduct of the war on terror as grounds for an expansive interpretation of executive authority, but they forget not only the Constitution's assignment of commander-in-chief authority to the president but also the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution from the fall of 2001. Bush acted pursuant to the Constitution's design and congressional authorization, not against it or without it, as is the case with President Obama.

Arthur Schlesinger wrote "The Imperial Presidency" in 1973. Forty years later, we realize he was decrying a piker by comparison with Obama.

Gov. Mitt Romney was right to note that the cases of young people brought here illegally and raised here for years and years present situations calling out for generous treatment and grace.

The working out of that treatment, however, is a complicated business with many subcategories of claims and circumstances, and Congress should be in the driver's seat. Sen. Marco Rubio is leading that effort -- or was, rather, until the president usurped the congressional authority, thus making comprehensive progress this year all but impossible.

The president's recklessness with regard to his understanding of his powers is growing in inverse proportion to his standing in the polls. As he falls farther and faster, and as crack-ups pile up, from "the private sector is doing fine" to his mistake-by-the-lake speech in Cleveland, he reaches wildly for any handle on which to hold and any special interest to which goodies can be delivered.

Same-sex marriage? You bet. The Dream Act? Why not? Recess appointees when the Senate isn't in recess? But of course.

A desperate and angry president can't even handle a boorish reporter without visible pique? Whatever happened to the maxim that the essence of good taste is never to be offended by bad taste?

Not with this president, not in this bunker, not during this campaign or, God forbid, after his re-election.

The Manhattan-Beltway media elites like the politics and the confrontations, as they are easy to film and drone on about.

Historians, though, will wonder, where were the grown-ups in the Fourth Estate who ought to have named and, if not condemned, at least noted an executive power on steroids, with all the irascibility and rage that such abuse brings?



Improving health care

By John Stossel

Any day now, the U.S. Supreme will rule on whether the Obamacare insurance mandate is constitutional. Seems like a no-brainer to me. How can forcing me to engage in commerce be constitutional?

But there's a deeper question: Why should government be involved in medicine at all?

Right before President Obama took office, the media got hysterical about health care. You heard the claims: America spends more than any country -- $6,000 per person -- yet we get less. Americans die younger than people in Japan and Western Europe. Millions of Americans lack health insurance and worry about paying for care.

I have the solution! said Obama. Bigger government will give us more choices and make health care cheaper and better. He proceeded to give us that. Bigger government, that is. The cheaper/better/more choices part -- not so much.

Costs have risen. More choices? No, we have fewer choices. Many people lost coverage when companies left the market.

Because ObamaCare requires insurance companies to cover every child regardless of pre-existing conditions, WellPoint, Humana and Cigna got out of the child-only business. Principal Financial stopped offering health insurance altogether -- 1 million customers no longer have the choice to keep their insurance.

This is to be expected when governments control health care. Since state funding makes medical services seem free, demand increases. Governments deal with that by rationing. Advocates of government health care hate the word "rationing" because it forces them to face an ugly truth: Once you accept the idea that taxpayers pay, individual choice dies. Someone else decides what treatment you get, and when.

At least in America, we still have some choice. We can pay to get what we want. Under government health care, bureaucrats will decide how long we wait for our knee operation or cataract surgery ... or if we get lifesaving treatment at all.

When someone else pays for your health care, that someone else also decides when to pull the plug. The reason can be found in Econ 101. Medical care doesn't grow on trees. It must be produced by human and physical capital, and those resources are limited. Politicians can't repeal supply and demand.

Call them "death panels" or not, a government that needs to cut costs will limit what it spends on health care, especially on people nearing the end of life. Medical "ethicists" have long lamented that too much money is spent in the last several months of life. Given the premise that it's government's job to pay, it's only natural that some bureaucrat will decide that 80-year-olds shouldn't get hip replacements.

True, surveys show that most Brits and Canadians like their free health care. But Dr. David Gratzer notes that most people surveyed aren't sick. Gratzer is a Canadian who also liked Canada's government health care -- until he started treating patients.

More than a million Canadians say they can't find a family doctor. Some towns hold lotteries to determine who gets to see one. In Norwood, Ontario, my TV producer watched as the town clerk pulled four names out of a big box and then telephoned the lucky winners. "Congratulations! You get to see a doctor this month."

Think the wait in an American emergency room is bad? In Canada, the average wait is 23 hours. Sometimes they can't even get heart attack victims into the ICU.

That's where we're headed unless Obamacare is repealed. But that's not nearly enough. Contrary to what some Republicans say, we didn't have a free medical market before Obama came to power. We had a system that limited competition through occupational licensing, FDA rules and other government intrusions, while stimulating demand through tax-favored employer-based "insurance," Medicare and Medicaid.

If we want affordable and cutting-edge health care, there's only one approach that will work: open competition. That means eliminating both bureaucratic obstacles and corporate privileges. Only free markets can give us innovation at the lowest possible cost.

Of course, that also means consumers should spend their own money on health care, limiting insurance to catastrophic expenses. Americans don't want to hear it. But that's the truth.



Scenes From Militarized America

* Deputies in Richland County, South Carolina will get “Navy SEAL” training. You remember Richland County. It’s the county where Sheriff Leon Lott put out a press release a few years ago to celebrate the new tank from the Pentagon’s 1033 program—one with a turreted, belt-fed, 360-degree rotating machine gun that shoots .50 caliber ammunition, and that he charmingly named “The Peacemaker.” He’s also the one who sent his SWAT team into the homes of University of South Carolina students whose only transgression was to have appeared in the same photo where Michael Phelps was pictured smoking pot.

* Portland, Maine gets a Bearcat, courtesy of DHS. The press release announcing/justifying the acquisition apparently cited Coumbine (in which the SWAT team didn’t go in, because it was too dangerous), and the infamous North Hollywood shootout, a 15-year-old story that has become the go-to incident to justify new military gear. It also cites two local incidents, one in which the suspect turned out to have been holding a pellet gun, and another that didn’t result in any criminal charges.

* The thumbnail above is from a series this photographer took of the Aventura, Florida SWAT team. Aventura is a town of 35,000 people, described on various blogs as a haven for shopping malls and country clubs. The town has recorded one murder in twelve years.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

A very consequential choice ahead

Hugh Hewitt

On Monday The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza launched a voyage of the imagination --an extremely well sourced essay on what Team Obama thinks a second term would look like. Lizza's article should be mandatory reading for the pundit class, especially those enamored of the idea that all the country needs is some collective group therapy.

I have interviewed both GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP Senate Conference Chair John Thune since the article's appearance, asking each of them for their assessments of the president's recent rhetoric and of the argument being advanced from 1600 Pennsylvania about the vast gulf between the parties.

Both agreed that there is a divide that is large and growing, and a choice that the American people cannot avoid making. Mitt Romney spent a productive week outlining the dimensions of the divide and that which has been obvious to Beltway folk for a while is now on full and indeed unavoidable display for the whole country to see.

This isn't an argument about civility, or about the virtues of bipartisanship. It is a fundamental separation of values and a divide of directions. On this finally there is agreement: The president is taking America on a course far from any it has pursued before and one on which there can be no false "compromise."

Read the Lizza piece and the transcripts of the two interviews. Read as well the transcript of my interview with Lizza, who himself seems uncomfortable with the reality of what he so accurately communicated. (I conducted my half of that conversation from the front porch of Ronald Reagan's ranch, on the 25th anniversary of the Gipper's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech, which may have produced in me determination to hold Ryan to the significance of what he had been told --a channeled "There he goes again" impulse.)

The president ran as a centrist in 2008. He is running now as a hard left, big government Alinskyite, fully committed to the politics and the purpose of the fabled Chicago organizer. The president's "reset" speech in Cleveland yesterday, widely panned even by an admirer as loyal as Jonathan Alter doesn't leave any room for trimming.

Good, and enough of the old school liberals who want to tut-tut their way past the consequences of the president's full throated demands for an acceleration of the assault on the private sector and still more expansion of the national government. They treat the president as though he doesn't believe what he is saying, as though the "private sector is doing fine" line was a Biden-like burp of incoherence.

He does believe it, and yesterday's marathon oration of cliches wrapped around the theme of more-money-for-the-government is Exhibit 1,000 in evidence of his intent. The president wants it all, and if he wins he will demand it.

It is tiresome beyond belief to have the president's MSM protectors daily trying to undo the president's meaning, like so many Penelopes waiting for their Ulysses to get home. He means it. He says it again and again. What is it that compels so many of his apologists to attempt to air brush the man's every public appearance of the meaning of his words?

Only this: They know it is a loser. They know this is not how the left advances. They know that letting President Obama be President Obama means letting him be former President Obama.

This is the next five months: The president saying what he wants, Mitt Romney hearing him clearly, repeating the message and saying "No!" and the president's handlers and accomplices trying to hold hands over the country's ears and shouting "We can't hear you" loud enough and long enough in the vain hope of changing the subject.

Nothing could be more clear, more stark, more consequential. Voters have to choose.



The Democrat’s War on Small Business

Small businesses owners are apparently one of the most misunderstood groups in America. Despite overwhelming respect from the American public, Democrat administrations openly use envy and resentment of small business success to justify enacting legislation that threatens their prosperity.

Periodic polling by Rasmussen and other national polling groups shows that small business owners are the most respected profession in America, respected by more than 80 percent of the American public. This is even higher than pastors and religious leaders that have a 50 percent favorability rating. At the bottom of the list are members of Congress with a 25 percent favorability rating. Similar polling by The Tarrance Group conducted in 2010 for The Free Enterprise Alliance, which also includes government bureaucrats and union leaders, give those occupations only a 20 percent favorability rating.

Since we live in a representative democracy, small business owners have always relied on their elected legislators to create an environment where their hard work and personal investment will lead to prosperity for themselves and their employees. For much of America’s history this was true. However today, the legislative and regulatory process has been hijacked by those on the left that want to use it for their own intellectual and financial gain at the expense of small business owners and taxpayers.

As a rule, small business owners are risk adverse. There is a very good reason for this. Almost every small business owner is financially at risk for the success of their business. In exchange for a bank line of credit, the business owner pledges their business and personal assets as collateral to the bank. Unlike large corporations like GM and Chrysler, small business owners do not have the political influence to get preferential government treatment if they default on their loans. If the small business owner fails, the bank will simply seize their personal assets and the owner will get to start over after many years of hard work.

Despite the risks, small business creates prosperity. As globalization and increased regulation encourages large corporations to move production to other countries, most new jobs created in America have been in small businesses. However, these small businesses require policies that allow prosperity to enable job creation to occur. When risk adverse small business owners are concerned about the impact of legislation and regulation, as they have been since 2009, they will not hire more employees.

If the Federal government passes a law that makes it easy for their employees be coerced into joining a union and then allows a government bureaucrat to determine the wages and benefits they will be paid, why should small business increase the number of employees beyond their existing loyal work force? That is exactly what recent NLRB regulations are designed to do.

If the energy cost for a small business will dramatically increase to subsidize renewable energy projects, why expand energy intensive processes? Given that uncertainty, it makes sense to move those processes to a manufacturer in another country to stay competitive. That is what large corporations have already done. This is why studies have shown that green energy policies in Spain have cost 2.2 jobs for every one they create.

If a small business already struggling with the cost of providing health care benefits, will face even higher insurance costs, why increase the number of employees or even provide coverage? Businesses over 50 employees will be forced to comply with all the provisions of Obamacare. Coverage mandates will force insurance companies to greatly increase the cost of coverage. However the fines are low for not providing coverage, so it is far cheaper to stop providing coverage. In addition, there are even fines for providing “unaffordable” coverage to employees that qualify for government insurance subsidies, so why hire less skilled workers.

In a free market economy, owners of small businesses cannot raise prices merely because their costs go up. If the wages paid to minimum wage employees, which are mostly part-time high school and college workers, go up, the employer will not be able to automatically pass those costs on to the customer. This is why after each minimum wage increase in the last ten years there has been a sharp increase in the unemployment rate for young workers. Yet progressive socialists propose even greater increases in the minimum wage, while at the same time demanding more funding for programs to reduce unemployment among young and minority workers.

What progressive socialists apparently resent most about free enterprise and small business is that it works. If a small business owner works hard, makes personal sacrifices, and does not demand instant gratification, a small business can be profitable during periods of economic prosperity. Because many small businesses are not organized as corporations, the profits of the small business appear on the owner’s personal tax return. That is why a significant portion of the people that report taxable earnings over $200,000 are small business owners. Unlike the very wealthy that have their earnings in sophisticated investments that reduce their taxation, most small business owners are taxed at the highest personal tax rates.

While Obama and the left have singled out those making over $200,000 to subsidize their wealth redistribution schemes, the reality is that those people already pay far more than their share of taxes. The top 5 percent of taxpayers in this country already pay 60 percent of all income taxes. When you include the employees of small businesses, the tax burden is even more unfair. Taxpayers earning above the median wage of $32,000 pay 97 percent of the tax burden in this country. Conversely, that means that the other 50 percent of taxpayers only pay 3 percent of income taxes. While the left tries to vilify those with high earnings during periods of prosperity, it is their earnings that pay for most of the cost of government.

The last time an administration demonized small business, created uncertainty, and raised taxes, it turned a recession into a depression. Very similar policies to those promoted by the Obama administration were first enacted voluntarily by Herbert Hoover, then legislatively by FDR. These policies were able to turn the Stock Market Crash of 1929 into the decade long Great Depression. Although unemployment started to decline on its own after 1929, Progressive Socialist policies created ten (10) years of high unemployment and misery until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and reduced employment through the induction of 12 million people into the military service.

Unfortunately for small business owners, just having the respect of the public does not ensure that legislators will enact policies that produce prosperity for small business owners, their employees and their communities. Small business owners and their employees must become involved in the political process if they are going to prevent legislators from enacting policies that threaten free enterprise and the prosperity it provides.



Liberal "revivals" of conservatives from the past

Jonah Goldberg does a good job below of showing that conservatives who were reviled in their time by the Left somehow experience a revival of respect after they have passed from the scene. The Left of today praise conservatives whom the Left of the past abhorred. It is a strange trope but I think there may be one element of truth in it. Conservatives were once more polite but after decades of unprincipled and treacherous behaviour from the Left, conservatives these days are more prone to call out the Left for the would-be totalitarians and thugs that they are

My daughter learned a neat rhetorical trick to avoid eating things she doesn't like. "Daddy, I actually really like spinach, it's just that this spinach tastes different."

Democrats and the journalists who love them play a similar game with Republicans and conservatives. "Oh, I have lots of respect for conservatives," goes the typical line, "but the conservatives we're being served today are just so different. Why can't we have Republicans and conservatives like we used to?"

"The Republican Party got into its time machine and took a giant leap back into the '50s. The party left moderation and tolerance of dissent behind." So reported the Washington Post's Judy Mann -- in July of 1980.

Today, of course, the 1950s is the belle epoch of reasonable conservatism. Just ask New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, or for that matter, President Barack Obama, who insists that the GOP is in the throes of a "fever" and is displaying signs of "madness." It's his humble wish that the GOP regains its senses and returns to being the party of Eisenhower again.

Today's intellectual conservatives, likewise, are held against the standard of yesterday's and found wanting. New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus wrote a book on "The Death of Conservatism" a few years ago (inconveniently, right before conservatism was dramatically revivified by the Tea Party, which helped the GOP win historic victories in the 2010 elections) in which he pined for the conservative intellectuals of the 1950s and 1960s.

Of course, the Tanenhauses of their day were horrified by the very same conservative intellectuals. Within a year of William F. Buckley's founding of National Review in 1955, liberal intellectuals insisted that the magazine's biggest failure was its inability to be authentically conservative. The editor of Harper's proclaimed the founding editors of NR to be "the very opposite of conservatives." Liberal titan Dwight Macdonald lamented that the "pseudo-conservative" National Review was nowhere near as wonderful the old Freeman magazine.

Again and again, the line is the same: I like conservatives, just not these conservatives.

As far as I can tell, there are competing, or at least overlapping, motives for this liberal nostalgia for the conservatives and Republicans of yesteryear. Some liberals like to romanticize and glorify conservatives from eras when they were least effective but most entertaining. Some like to cherry-pick positions from a completely different era so as to prove that holding that position today is therefore centrist.

But whatever the motivation, what unites them is the conviction that today's liberals shouldn't cede power, respect or legitimacy to today's conservatives. Hence when compassionate conservatism was ascendant, liberals lamented that the GOP wasn't more libertarian.

When, in response to the disastrous explosion in debt and spending over the Bush-Obama years, the GOP enters a libertarian phase, the same people who insisted they'd love Republicans if they became libertarian are now horrified by their "social Darwinism."

Look where G.W. Bush's moderation got him: denounced as a crazed radical by much of the liberal establishment, despite having run as a "compassionate conservative" who, once in office, vastly expanded entitlements and worked closely with Teddy Kennedy on education reform. Right on schedule, Dubya is now entering the rehabilitation phase.

It'll be some time before liberals bring themselves to say, "I miss George W. Bush." But already, the New York Times is proclaiming that Bush represented "mainstream conservatism," unlike today's Republicans, of course. As always, the problem with conservatism today is today's conservatives.




Leftist thug's Case Against Aaron Walker Dismissed!: "Capital Hill can confirm that the criminal case against Aaron Walker has been dismissed by the Maryland State Attorney. Walker, you will recall, was led away in handcuffs after a June 4 peace order hearing. The charge, filed by Brett Kimberlin, was that Walker has violated a temporary peace order. Go here to see a screenshot of the criminal case against Aaron Walker. Near the middle, you will see “Disposition” next to which you will see the words “NOLLE PROSEQUI.” Nolle Prosequi is Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute,” and “is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case...either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped.” One wonders why the prosecutors declined to go forward? Perhaps the evidence left something to be desired?"

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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

An amusing example of Leftist self-importance

I won't reproduce the whole of the piece below because it is rather repetitive. Its basic assumption is that Americans listen to, view, and read conservative media because Leftists draw their attention to it. That conservative media are closer to the American mainstream and that millions of Americans listen to conservative media for that reason alone seems to be an unthinkable thought to him. Amusing indeed

This, to be blunt, is the tragic flaw of the modern liberal. We choose to see ourselves as innocent victims of an escalating right-wing fanaticism. But too often we serve as willing accomplices to this escalation and to the resulting degradation of our civic discourse. We do this, without even meaning to, by consuming conservative folly as mass entertainment.

If this sounds like a harsh assessment, trust me, I’m among the worst offenders. Yes, I’m one of those enlightened masochists who tune in to conservative talk radio when driving alone. I recognize this as pathological behavior, and I always make sure to switch the station back to NPR before returning the car to my wife. But I can’t help myself. I take a perverse and complicated pleasure in listening to all the mean, manipulative things those people say.

Of course, not all right-wing pundits spew hate. But the ones who do are the ones we liberals dependably aggrandize. Consider the recent debate over whether employers must cover contraception in their health plans. The underlying question — should American women receive help in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies? — is part of a serious and necessary national conversation.

Any hope of that conversation happening was dashed the moment Rush Limbaugh began his attacks on Sandra Fluke, the young contraceptive advocate. The left took enormous pleasure in seeing Limbaugh pilloried. To what end, though? Industry experts noted that his ratings actually went up during the flap. In effect, the firestorm helped Limbaugh do his job, at least in the short term.

But the real problem isn’t Limbaugh. He’s just a businessman who is paid to reduce complex cultural issues to ad hominem assaults. The real problem is that liberals, both on an institutional and a personal level, have chosen to treat for-profit propaganda as news. In so doing, we have helped redefine liberalism as an essentially reactionary movement. Rather than initiating discussion, or advocating for more humane policy, we react to the most vile and nihilistic voices on the right.

Media outlets like MSNBC and The Huffington Post often justify their coverage of these voices by claiming to serve as watchdogs. It would be more accurate to think of them as de facto loudspeakers for conservative agitprop. The demagogues of the world, after all, derive power solely from their ability to provoke reaction. Those liberals (like me) who take the bait, are to blame for their outsize influence.

I’m not trying to soft-pedal the very real pathologies of the modern conservative movement. The rich and powerful have clearly found in the Republican Party a willing collaborator. They’ve spent billions peddling Americans a failed theology of deregulation and lower taxes that is designed to foster and protect obscene wealth, not to serve the vast majority of our citizens. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the coming election will mark an unprecedented infusion of corporate propaganda into the political bloodstream.

It’s for this exact reason that the left can no longer afford to squander time and energy engaging the childish arguments of paid provocateurs. We have to seek out those on the right willing to engage in genuine dialogue and ignore the rest.

Imagine, if you will, the domino effect that would ensue if liberals and moderates simply tuned out the demagogues. Yes, they would still be able to manipulate their legions into endorsing cruel and self-defeating policies. But their voices would be sealed within the echo chamber of extremism and sealed off from the majority of Americans who honestly just want our common problems solved. They would be marginalized in the same way as activists who rant about racial purity or anarchy.

Rush Limbaugh would be a radio host catering to a few million angry commuters, not the alpha male of conservatism. Fox News would be a popular fringe network, not the reliable conduit by which paranoid hogwash infects our mainstream media.

More HERE. The piece is by STEVE ALMOND and ran (predictably) in the NYT. It was called there: "Liberals Are Ruining America. I Know Because I Am One"


Special Operations Forces Organize Against Obama

My good friend Larry Bailey retired from the Navy in 1990 after a 27-year career as a SEAL, rising to Captain. Captain Bailey's most significant military assignment was as Commanding Officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center, where all Navy SEALS undergo basic and advanced training.

Bailey and others from across the spectrum of US special forces have banded together to form Special Operations Speaks. I'll let them speak for themselves:

Honorably discharged veterans of the Special Operations communities of all the Armed Services have organized an effort to elect Mitt Romney President of the United States. This group, “Special Operations Speaks,” or “SOS,” will be structured along quasi-military lines, with an umbrella organization coordinating the efforts of several subordinate Service-unique specialties. The Army will be represented by “Rangers Speak Out” and “Green Berets Speak Out;” the Navy by “SEALs Speak Out;” the Air Force by “Air Commandos Speak Out;” and the Marine Corps by “MARSOC Speaks out.”

SOS is configured as a “Super Political Action Committee” (Super PAC) that will enable it to exert maximum influence as an advocate for the election of Mitt Romney as President of the United States. Subsequent to the 2012 campaign, SOS will continue to exert pressure on behalf of the Special Operations community.

Of particular interest to SOS is the urgency of maintaining the level of secrecy that has heretofore been a hallmark of Special Operations. The recent leaking of highly classified information from the offices of the Commander-in-Chief himself clearly indicates the need to protect sensitive information from the public (and enemy’s) eye. SOS will educate the public and its representatives in the US Congress about this issue.

Until November 6, 2012, SOS will organize and execute operations designed to help elect Mitt Romney and to defeat Barack Hussein Obama.



Wal-Mart's Positive Effects

Devin G. Pope and Jaren C. Pope have recently had a Working Paper published by NBER. It's #18111 (May 2012) and it's cleverly titled, "When Walmart Comes to Town: Always Low Housing Prices? Always?" Here's an ungated version. In it, they examine empirically the effect of arrival of new Walmart stores on the prices of houses within a small radius. Their idea is that such a measure will give the net effect of the benefits of having nearby Walmart and the other stores it attracts and the costs of congestion, traffic, etc.

Why does this matter? They point out that opponents of Walmart sometimes use a decrease in surrounding property values as an argument against allowing a Walmart in their neighborhood. They cite, for instance, "Top 10 Reasons Why Wal-Mart Is Wrong for Northcross."

The Popes' bottom line is:
Using a difference-in-differences specification, our estimates suggest that a new Walmart store actually increases housing prices by between 2 and 3 percent for houses located within 0.5 miles of the store and by 1 to 2 percent for houses located between 0.5 and 1 mile.

One other thing I found useful about the study is their terse review of the literature on other effects of Walmart. Here are the guts of the two main paragraphs on those other effects:
Phone surveys suggest that 84% of households in the U.S. shop at Walmart in a given year with 42% of households reporting to be regular Walmart shoppers (Pew Research Center, 2005). These surveys also show that lower-income households are more likely to shop at Walmart than upper-income households. In fact, Basker, (2005b), Hausman and Leibtag (2007), and Basker and Noel (2009) have shown that Walmart "Supercenters" that sell groceries offer many identical food items as other grocers at an average price that is substantially lower than their competitors. Hausman and Leibtag (2007) also find that these lower prices translate into a significant increase in consumer surplus.

Despite the consumer benefits from the expansion of supercenters into new geographic markets, there is often significant opposition and controversy when Walmart tries to open a new store. One concern of opponents is the impact that a new Walmart will have on local employment opportunities and wages. There is a small literature that has analyzed this common concern including Basker (2005a), Hicks (2007a) and Neumark et al. (2008). The findings of these studies have been mixed with Basker (2005a) and Hicks (2007a) finding positive effects on employment and/or wages, while Neumark et al. (2008) found negative effects.

I found the reference to Hausman and Leibtag intriguing. Following it up, I found this in a link provided by Mark Thoma:
The indirect effect of Wal-Mart occurs "even if you never enter a Wal-Mart," Hausman said, since supermarkets tend to drop their prices in competitive response to Wal-Mart's. In addition, Wal-Mart does not raise its prices after it has driven out the competition, he said.
"The indirect price effect is 5 percent even if you never go into a Wal-Mart," he said.

Hausman presented graphs to show that Wal-Mart's impact on consumers varies by income category: For families with incomes less than $10,000 annually, a super center makes a 30 percent difference in what they can buy. "The marginal utility on the poor is greater," he noted.

The rate of overall improvement in consumer welfare thanks to a Wal-Mart super center's direct and indirect effects on the cost of food in a community averages 3.75 percent, Hausman said.

"Getting a 3.75 percent improvement in consumer welfare is greater than any tax reform or other policies. And while Wal-Mart pays its employees less -- which does affect local wages -- you still can't beat that 3.75 percent. If economists could improve consumer welfare by that much, we'd all be heroes," Hausman said.



Polarization is a good sign

Emmett Tyrrell

Frankly, I wish the Pew Research Center would occasionally keep its thoughts to itself. Sometimes those thoughts are merely insipid and beneath the attention of serious minds. Sometimes they are alarming and capable of stirring up an already excitable populace. There is talk of cannibalism being practiced by the criminal element. There is Lady Gaga. These are worrisome times. Yet the Pew Research Center has gone and done it again. The Center released a study Monday that employed exhaustive polling and ingenious charts to render my fellow Americans restive, or so it seems.

The Pew Research Center's overall finding is that political polarity in America is tremendously more intense than it has been in decades -- possibly since the Civil War, and 618,000 soldiers died in the Civil War! Of course, intense partisanship is the kind of thing that profoundly troubles Bien Pensants everywhere. It leads to legislative gridlock and stalemate.

The Bien Pensants agree with the memorable plaint of one of their own, Rodney King, who pled: "Why can't we all get along?" He uttered those imperishable words as Los Angles was going up in flames, and between several more of his epic run-ins with the law, with neighbors, and with the inevitable bill collector. Yet no matter, he was expressing the Bien Pensants' staunchly held view that if we would all get along, we could establish consensus, follow the Bien Pensants' diktats and pay more taxes, accept more government, and live happily ever after.

Of course, the Bien Pensants do not exactly put it this way. Instead, they say that political polarization is more intense today and troubling. Or as the Pew Research Center's Andrew Kohut, who directed the study, put it, "The only thing that's changed is the extent to which Republicans and Democrats go to opposite sides of the room on most issues." That leaves the center empty and a kind of no man's land.

Kohut's colleagues cited a massive amount of evidence, but let me just mention a few to give you the gravamen of their complaint. Twenty-five years ago on the question of the scope and performance of government, the Pew researchers found the spread between Republicans and Democrats was just 6 percent. Today it is 33 percent. On support for a social safety net, the spread was 21 percent. Now it is 41 percent. On environmental issues it is up from 5 percent to 39 percent. Time and again on public policy after public policy, the gap between Republicans and Democrats has widened. Consensus is dying. What to do?

The alarmists will say: Come back, Republicans and Democrats. Join together in happy comity at the center of Mr. Kohut's room. Mr. Kohut and his friends will tell us what policy to accept and at what cost to taxpayers. Yet in the last three and a half years, the federal government has increased its size to almost 25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, up from under 20 percent. Traditionally, in peacetime it has been under 20 percent. Is it really wise to accept the Bien Pensants' 25 percent now and into eternity.

There is another matter. Has anyone paid any attention to how effective these policies have been over the past 25 years? Or how expensive they have become? Or what other matters have inched their way up the national agenda, such as the federal debt that today stands at $16 trillion? Possibly, it is time to review our experience with, say, the scope and performance of government or the social net and seek alternative solutions. Perhaps it is time to learn from experience.

To all the alarmed social scientists at the Pew Research Center, I would suggest that ever more Republicans and even many Independents have learned from experience with these public policies. They want to employ different approaches to them like entitlements, which are putting this country on the path to Greece. They also might want to privatize or follow Rep. Paul Ryan's policies of choice.

Some people learn from experience. Some people just keep plodding along, spending more money and heading for bankruptcy. And some seem to believe they can scare the electorate into doing the same old thing. The colleagues at the Pew Research Center are to be numbered among the latter, but they ought to review the content of the policies that Republicans are deserting. We tried them, and they failed.




Flakiness all over the place: "I've blogged about flakiness among libertarians before, when I did my Venn Diagram. And I hasten to assure you that I don't think libertarians are particularly flaky. You find flakiness everywhere, in all political and social groups. Among the left-liberals and neocons who are running things right now, it's almost a prerequisite for membership. It just particularly pains me to encounter it with libertarians, because I'm a sort of libertarian myself, and I've been fighting flakiness all my life everywhere I go. I'll define flakiness here as the ability to hold an opinion that is in clear, obvious contradiction to either common sense or logic or the evidence of your senses or all three." [I've been looking for a good definition of "flaky". Is this a good one? I was thinking more along the lines of being shallow or pretending to be what you are not]

Britain fights euro zone threat with £100 billion credit boost: "The government and central bank will flood Britain's banking system with more than 100 billion pounds ($155.43 billion), seeking to pump credit through an economy struggling to escape recession under the 'black cloud' of the euro zone crisis. In his annual Mansion House policy speech to London financiers on Thursday, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said Britain would launch a scheme to provide cheap long-term funding to banks to encourage them to lend to businesses and consumers"

It’s time to end Britain's exploitative minimum wage laws: "For those who are 21 years old or over, the national minimum wage is currently £6.08 -- do we really believe that the moment they earn £6.07 they are being exploited? Why should it be left to government bureaucrats to arbitrarily decide what constitutes exploitation? Payment should be between the employer and employee. If the employee doesn’t like the offer being made they are free to refuse it and if they are willing to accept it, then it’s not for anybody else to label it exploitation."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


15 June, 2012

Moral "taint" still seeps along blood lines

The article below treats it is absurd that people should suspect criminality in the relatives of criminals, though it does in the last sentence admit that most personal traits have a strong element of genetic inheritance -- which makes such suspicions perfectly logical. The Milat case in Australia recently was an appalling example of a familial tendency to brutal crime

It may be unfair, it may be antiquated, but we are still blamed to some degree for the sins of our relatives, according to a set of newly reported surveys.

Ordinary people "exhibit the intuition that individuals are somehow tainted by the acts of persons with whom they share blood tieseven when they share little else," wrote researchers who described the findings in the May 31 advance online issue of the journal Cognition.

"Our results suggest that the `sins of the father' practices observed in the modern and ancient worlds are not entirely due to beliefs about the social ties held between family members. Rather, they may be guided by intuitions about blood; that, much like physical and psychological features, the taint of immoral actions is something that spreads between biological relatives."

Researchers at Yale University and three other institutions carried out the study. Officially or openly ascribing blame to the relatives of criminals is rare in modern, well-educated societies. Such practices are largely relegated to ancient history, including Biblical times, and to "honor based cultures such as Albania," wrote the researchers. There, "if one's own family member is murdered, it is seen as justified to murder a member of the perpetrator's family in retribution."

Still, even in advanced societies, official practice and gut feelings don't always match. The researchers recruited 191 adults as study participants through an Amazon.com service known as Mechanical Turk, which has also been used in past social science research. A study published in the Aug. 2010 issue of the journal Judgment and Decision Making concluded that study subjects recruited through the service were reasonably representative of the U.S. population.

The researchers in the new study presented their participant group with various hypothetical scenarios, then asked them their feelings about culpability and responsibility among the characters in these vignettes.....

The simplest reason why people may ascribe taint to relatives of criminals is through "brute association," the researchers wrote. "For example, participants avoid individuals who have a haircut similar to a person they dislike."

However, there may be logical, or simply practical reasons to do so, the investigators added. Parents may plausibly pass their moral values on to their children. And as a deterrent, threatening lawbreakers' families with punishment often works -- unfair though it may be.

"A different, yet compatible explanation is that of common sense essentialism -- the notion that physical objects and living organisms have an underlying essence that makes them what they are," the researchers wrote. "In the case of living organisms, that underlying essence is assumed to be passed on from parents to their children."

And while modern genetics shows that traits really are inherited, they added, many people simply believe it on a gut level even if they know nothing about genes.



Gospel of Matthew linked to bizarre trail of self-mutilations

I wonder if I should comment on the cases described below. Leftists will undoubtedly make hay of them so conservatives should at least be aware of them. The basic point is that all the self-mutilators were found to be clearly mad in some way. Normal people realize that Jesus was speaking figuratively, as he often did. His parables, for instance, are well known.

Becoming a "eunuch", for instance, was simply a vivid way of describing what we would now call celibacy. Indeed that verse is one of the principal justifications that have been cited by Christian celibates over the centuries. Christ was simply saying to let no temptation deflect you from the path that leads to salvation

It happens only sporadically -- a bit more than every three years on average, judging by published medical reports -- but that makes it no less disturbing each time for hospital staff faced with the situation.

"It" may be described by citing the most recent example, reported in a medical journal last month: that of a 62-year-old man whom physicians dubbed Mr. P to protect his privacy. Mr. P showed up at the emergency room of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., complaining of a case of "Matthew 19:12." Asked to clarify, he just kept repeating the same thing: Matthew 19:12.

The nurse on duty searched the Internet for Matthew 19:12. The result was, to put it mildly, worrisome. The Biblical verse, as she learned, reads as follows.

"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

As it quickly became clear, Mr. P had made this hospital visit unaccompanied by his penis. That, he explained, he had flushed down the toilet three days ago after severing it with a pocket knife. His testicles were also absentremoved four years earlier at Mr. P's request by a doctor in Mexico.

Although his speech and thoughts appeared muddled, Mr. P did state that he had "done this because his penis had caused him to sin and as an eunuch he could be closer to God as described in Matthew 19:12," three researchers affiliated with St. Joseph's wrote in a report describing the incident. Mr. P also claimed to have pondered the decision for months before acting.

Mr. P. received urgent medical treatment at St. Joseph's, including a skin graft onto the stump. He was then confined to a local psychiatric hospital by court order, leaving little but questions behind.

The three investigators proceeded to search an online medical literature database, PubMed, for other cases of this nature. They discovered that the Bible -- indeed, the Gospel of Matthew specifically -- has left a trail of selfmutilations inspired largely by four of its verses.

The bloody toll listed in case reports dating back to 1967 -- PubMed doesn't go back much further -- included three partially or fully amputated penises; four pairs of castrated testicles; three amputated hands and 11 severely damaged eyeballs. Saws, circular saws, screwdrivers and pencils were among the tools used for the horrifying procedures, although several patients put out their eyes with their fingers alone.

"Our literature review revealed 16 patients in addition to [Mr. P] who had injured themselves in connection with specific religious text," the researchers wrote. Their review of the cases is published in the May 29 online issue of the research journal Psychosomatics.

All but one of the patients were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders or psychotic disorders or had substance abuse issues, they wrote; Mr. P., for example, "had a long history of severe bipolar illness marked by hyperreligious delusions."

"Ideas of reference (specifically, that the Bible directly refers to them) is a repeated theme in this group, underscoring a common thread of psychotic disorders," Caplan and colleagues wrote. "Guilt over sexual acts or desires is another recurrent theme. Recent homosexual experiences occurred in three of the cases of genital selfmutilation." Four of the 17 self-mutilators were females; they had poked out their eyes or, in one case, amputated a hand.



Social Security is not your money

WALTER E. WILLIAMS on history's greatest Ponzi scheme

Some of the responses to my recent column, titled "Immoral Beyond Redemption," prove that Americans have been hoodwinked by Congress. Some readers protested my counting Social Security among government handout programs that can be described as Congress' taking what belongs to one American and giving to another, to whom it doesn't belong – legalized theft. They argued that they worked for 45 years and paid into Social Security and that the money they now receive is theirs. These people have been duped and shouldn't be held totally accountable for such a belief. Let's look at it.

The Social Security pamphlet of 1936 read, "Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States Government will set up a Social Security account for you. ... The checks will come to you as a right." (http://www.ssa.gov/history/ssb36.html). Americans were led to believe that Social Security was like a retirement account and that money placed in it was, in fact, their property. Shortly after the Social Security Act's passage, it was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, in Helvering v. Davis (1937). The court held that Social Security was not an insurance program, saying, "The proceeds of both employee and employer taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like any other internal revenue generally, and are not earmarked in any way." In a 1960 case, Flemming v. Nestor, the Supreme Court said, "To engraft upon Social Security system a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands."

Decades after Americans were duped into thinking that the money taken from them was theirs, the Social Security Administration belatedly and quietly tried to clean up its history of deception. Its website (http://www.ssa.gov/history/nestor.html) explains:

"Entitlement to Social Security benefits is not (a) contractual right." It adds: "There has been a temptation throughout the program's history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. ... Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law."

The Social Security Administration's explanation fails to mention that it was the SSA itself that created the lie that "the checks will come to you as a right."

Here's my question to those who protest that their Social Security checks are not handouts: Seeing as Congress has not "set up a Social Security account for you" containing your 45 years' worth of Social Security contributions, where does the money you receive come from? I promise you it is not Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.

The only way Congress can give one American a dollar is to first take it from some other American. Congress takes the earnings of a person who's currently in the workforce to give to a Social Security recipient.

The sad fact of business is that Social Security recipients want their monthly check and couldn't care less about who has to pay. That's a vision shared by thieves who want something; the heck with who has to pay for it.

Then there's the fairness issue that we're so enamored with today. It turns out that half the federal budget is spent on programs primarily serving senior citizens, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But let's look at a few comparisons between younger Americans and older Americans. More than 80 percent of those older than 65 are homeowners, and 66 percent of them have no mortgage.

Homeownership is at 40 percent for those younger than 35, and only 12 percent own their home free and clear of a mortgage. The average net worth of people older than 65 is about $230,000, whereas that of those younger than 35 is $10,000.

There's nothing complicated about this; older people have been around longer. But what standard of fairness justifies taxing the earnings of workers who are less wealthy in order to pass them on to retirees who are far wealthier?

There's no justification, but there's an explanation. Those older than 65 vote in greater numbers and have the ear of congressmen.



Employment Non-Discrimination Act Makes as Little Sense as Chemotherapy for a Cold

Hans Bader on more senseless and destructive privileging of homosexuals

American business is quite happy to hire gay and lesbian employees, and needs no federal mandate to do so. Virtually all Fortune 500 companies already ban sexual orientation discrimination in their own hiring and firing, and have done so for years. But on June 12, a Senate Committee held a hearing to promote a bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), that would hold private employers liable for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages and attorneys fees if a judge or jury later decides they committed discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Never mind the fact that free-market competition already provides private employers with a powerful incentive not to discriminate, as even the bill’s supporters, like the Center for American Progress (CAP), have admitted in the past. As CAP conceded on March 22, “Businesses that discriminate based on a host of job-irrelevant characteristics, including sexual orientation . . put themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared to businesses that evaluate individuals based solely on their qualifications and capacity to contribute.”

Since American business seldom discriminates based on sexual orientation, the potential benefits of ENDA are limited, at best. But ENDA would impose real and substantial costs on business, and it could trigger conflicts with free speech and religious freedom. Even if chemotherapy cured a cold, you wouldn’t use it, because the “cure” would be worse than the disease. ENDA should be rejected for the same reasons: its costly “cure” is not warranted given the increasing rarity of private-sector discrimination against gays.

ENDA would harm even businesses that hire and fire based on merit, not sexual orientation. It would also erode free speech in the workplace about sexual-orientation-related political and religious issues.

Since ENDA is modeled on other employment laws that have produced many meritless discrimination lawsuits (through one-way fee shifting), ENDA, too, is likely to result in wasteful litigation and settlements paid out by employers that are actually innocent of discrimination (most employment discrimination claims turn out to be meritless). ENDA’s attorney fee provision, Section 12, uses the same language as other federal employment laws that incorporate the Christiansburg Garment standard for awarding attorneys fees — a sort of “heads I win, tails you lose” scheme under which the plaintiff gets his attorneys fees paid for by the other side if he wins, but the employer has to pay its own attorneys fees even if it wins (a win at trial typically costs an employer at least $250,000).

While the language of ENDA’s attorney-fee provision is seemingly neutral on its face, similar provisions in other federal employment laws have consistently been interpreted by the courts as favoring plaintiffs under the Supreme Court’s 1978 Christiansburg Garment decision. Moreover, even if the plaintiff’s case is so insubstantial that the plaintiff only wins $1 at trial, the employer can still be ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. For example, an appeals court ruling awarded $42,000 in attorneys fees to a plaintiff who suffered only $1 in damages. (See Brandau v. Kansas, 168 F.3d 1179, 1181, 1183 (10th Cir.1999).) These attorney fee provisions will lead to some employers paying thousands of dollars to plaintiffs just to settle weak or meritless discrimination claims.

While the typical private employer has no reason to hire or fire based on sexual orientation (and few do), ENDA’s Section 4(a)(1) reaches beyond hiring and firing to vaguely defined “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,” which courts interpret as requiring certain restrictions on speech. In Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), the Supreme Court interpreted the same vague “terms or conditions” language in another statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as requiring employers to prohibit employee speech or conduct that creates a “hostile or offensive work environment” for women or blacks. The employer is liable for damages and attorneys fees if a court decides that it was negligent in failing to detect, prevent, or punish such speech or conduct. Such “hostile work environment” liability applies to each and every protected class covered by federal law, such as race, religion, national origin, and disability, not just gender. See, e.g., Amirmokri v. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., 60 F.3d 1126 (4th Cir. 1995) (employer was liable for national-origin based taunts and harassment by plaintiff’s co-workers).

Much more HERE


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


14 June, 2012

Guilty Until Proven Innocent -- in the USA

Many countries recognize an individual's right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in court. This is known as the presumption of innocence, and is a fundamental tenet of law in many modern countries. However, as has been reported in many free-minded, libertarian-oriented publications and communities, this is changing. Take the following case.

An American citizen and acquaintance of mine, Jim* has lived as a PT (perpetual traveler) for many years, having sold a successful business and thus having the financial means to do as he pleases. While he has no wife or children, he returns to the US periodically to see his sister and other extended family. Jim has had an arrangement with his sister, Donna*, for several years, whereby she assists with his financial management. His funds are in the US, and he lives inexpensively overseas, so he keeps on hand just what he needs. When requested, Donna withdraws cash from his US bank account (she is, of course, authorized to do so), and sends the funds to him via Western Union - always less than $10,000. For some time this system has worked well for them with no complications ... until late last year.

The last time Donna went to Western Union to send her brother funds, she was unsuccessful. Upon entering all the data into the computer, the Western Union employee told Donna that her transaction was denied and would not be accepted. Furthermore, she was told, she would never again be permitted to use any Western Union office to send funds anywhere in the world. Why? Because she was summarily, on the spot, placed on a nationwide Terrorist Watch List. Just like that. It so happened that her grandson, Noah*, was with her, so she asked him to complete the transaction. Noah had never used the services of Western Union before. Nevertheless, when he attempted to complete the transaction the result was the same; another name added to the Terrorist Watch List.

Jim explained that he had tried to resolve the issue with Western Union by phoning them. It's nearly impossible to reach a person by phone, he said, but eventually he did correspond with them via email. They said they would arrange a phone interview with him, to give him an opportunity to explain his circumstances. He agreed to this, but has not had an interview, nor given a date for one.

Meanwhile, Donna was contacted via email by Western Union. They informed her, after apparently reviewing her record of transactions, that her monthly income was not sufficient to cover the sums that she was sending overseas. They wanted to know where the money came from, and were not satisfied when she explained the arrangement she had with her brother. They asked her to provide her financial records, bank statements and proof of income. Donna politely declined.

Consider the Implications

What are the possible implications of these events for Jim and his family? The issue remains unresolved, and, while he was permitted to fly out of the US, one wonders what will happen the next time Jim tries to enter the country. Since he was the intended recipient of the transferred funds, is he also a member of the (not too exclusive) Terrorist Watch List club? What will happen to him is anyone's guess.

Donna, still living in the US, may be subject to all manner of scrutiny. Everywhere she goes, everything she does, every financial transaction, phone call, and internet keystroke, may be recorded and stored for eternity, to potentially be used against her if she so much as jaywalks. She may be prevented from traveling outside the US, or detained upon reentry.

But the one who concerns me most is Noah, the grandson. In his early twenties, he has his whole adult life ahead of him, under the watchful eye of Big Brother. Consider how having his name on a Terrorist Watch List might affect him. Every school, every employer, and every professional or social organization that performs a background check on him, may learn his status. Any time he opens a bank account, applies for a loan or mortgage, buys a car, opens an investment account, or any number of other ordinary activities, a red flag may appear. Will Noah be permitted to obtain a passport if he does not yet have one? Will he be permitted to travel outside the US? Will his name be on the list indefinitely? Does he have any recourse to clear his name and have it removed from the list? To whom does he appeal?



The land of the free bureaucratic tyranny

Feds evicting mobile homes at North Dakota lake. Bureau of Reclamation move would wipe out $6 million in investments, ruin the local economy and destabilize every federal leasehold

For over half a century, picturesque Lake Tschida in southwestern North Dakota has been the destination of choice for residents of nearby communities to spend warm summer weekends with friends and family. In this semiarid part of the Northern Plains, where recreational lakes are few and far between, the reservoir has attracted cabins and mobile homes, whose owners lease lakefront parcels of land from the Bureau of Reclamation.

But if the bureau has its way, an arrangement that has worked well for decades will be cast aside, with the owners of all 114 mobile homes being told to pack up and get out by 2022. The bureau justifies its action by claiming that the mobile homes could be ripped from their moorings during a flood, posing a risk to the reservoir’s earthen dam and to areas down river. After a severe flood – the worst in 50 years -- struck the area in 2009, the bureau, without consulting leaseholders, abruptly directed that all mobile homes be removed from the lake no later than 2010. Yet of 114 mobile homes on the lake, only 16 had water in them, and no homes became detached from their moorings.

The bureau’s draconian move came less than a year after it had advised owners of cabins and mobile homes that they could expand the structures on their parcels. Believing in the good faith of the bureau, many people, at considerable personal expense, added decks, sheds, and other improvements to their properties. “By issuing building permits for decks, septic systems, and other structures,” the Bismarck Tribune noted in a recent editorial, “the bureau has forfeited the ability to tell those with mobile homes parked in low-lying areas to simply clear out.”

Leaseholders at the lake have gone to extraordinary lengths to reach an accommodation with the bureau. They have offered to move their mobile homes to a higher elevation on their lots, and to remove the homes altogether over the winter months. The latter proposal would effectively eliminate whatever remote risk the mobile homes posed from floodwaters, because they would not be brought back to the lake until after the winter snow had melted. All of this has been to no avail. The only “compromise” the bureau has been willing to make is to allow the mobile homes to stay until 2022. After that, they must go. All the leaseholders have gotten is a stay of execution.

What’s more, the bureau’s claim that the mobile homes are situated in a so-called “flood pool” rests on shaky scientific ground. It is based on information dating to 1943, six years before the Heart Butte Dam was built, creating Lake Tschida.

For the time being, the bureau is targeting only mobile homes. Even though some of the cabins are also in the “flood pool,” the bureau is leaving them in peace – for now. But once the mobile homes have been expelled from the lake, what’s to keep the cabins from suffering the same fate? Cabin owners on the lake must view the mobile homes as their last line of defense against whatever arbitrary and capricious action the bureau takes in the future.

“We’ve installed electric power service, planted trees, dug wells, built sheds, installed sewage systems, hauled in rock to protect banks from erosion, built decks, and landscaped our lots,” says Scott Ressler, president of the Heart Butte Association, a group representing leaseholders on the lake. “This work – occurring year after year for over 50 years – has been done with the bureau’s knowledge. Typically, with its written consent”

Apart from the deep emotional attachment and the sweat equity the leaseholders have in their lots, significant financial investments are at stake. New mobile homes installed and lot permits transferred in the past few years cost in the $40,000 to $70,000 range. “When coupled with lot improvements, many of us have upwards of $100,000 invested, some even more,” Ressler points out. “Assuming the value of our individual interests to be $55,000 – a conservative amount for some –, collectively the bureau’s actions affect well over $6 million in equity,” he adds.

The bureau’s move will have economic repercussions that go far beyond the leaseholders. In a letter to North Dakota’s congressional delegation, Aaron Leverson, branch president of the First International Bank & Trust in neighboring Elgin, noted that local businesses “need the traffic of the Lake Tschida cabin owners, their extended families, and guests.” He pointed out that, “Businesses such as the hospital, lumber yard, gas station, grocery store, hardware store, and bars, even our animal veterinarian, rely on Lake Tschida residents to keep their business up and running financially.”

“Frankly, the bureau probably isn’t the right landlord for the job,” the Bismarck Tribune says, “but it’s the landlord the Lake Tschida people have.” In truth, the federal government is never the right landlord. People leasing land from a federal agency will always be at the whim of bureaucrats with their own agendas. The controversy at Lake Tschida raises serious questions about how secure leaseholders are at other reservoirs around the country that are subject to the Bureau of Reclamation’s oversight.

Determined to fight back by drawing attention to the bureau’s bullying, the Heart Butte Association has recently affiliated with the American Land Rights Association. The battle is far from over.



Prague Diary: Reagan and the Charter

Peter has put up some great posts on Reagan's famous speech at the Berlin Wall. Apart from the question of the wisdom of this or that line in these foreign addresses, one sometimes hears the argument that these sorts of addresses just don't matter that much. They will get some ink in the US and foreign papers the next day--maybe even generate some controversy over a longer span, but fundamentally, they don't mean anything. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Here is what former Czech dissident Pavel Bratinka told me about Reagan's evil empire speech:

"Andropov paved the way for Gorbachev right at the moment when Ronald Reagan’s truth talk about the Soviet evil empire penetrated the heart of the system with a metaphysical blow from which the system never recuperated. At long last, the Communists met an opposing force declaring determination to bring about the end of Communist empire."

Tonight I was at a meeting with Kamila Bendova (whom I wrote about here). We were discussing her life under Communism--Charter 77, house searches, her husband's imprisonment, you name it. People often make the claim, I said, that the Charter didn't ever accomplish what it was designed to because it never grew into a large enough movement to affect the society as a whole. Well, Mrs. Bendova countered, the Charter did affect future events--it made people imagine new possibilities. She mentioned many other things--among them that it clashed with the peace movement in Western Europe and pointed to its futility and backruptcy. And important people payed attention to the Charter, she said. At this point she got a little smile on her face and she went to her files. She quickly produced a piece of paper containing numerous instances when people in the West had quoted a Charter document. I glanced down at this paper and what did I see? June 4, 1984, President Ronald Reagan, speech to the Irish Parliament:

"In the moving words used by the Czechoslovak Charter 77 group just a week ago, in reply to supporters of nuclear disarmament in the West, they said, ``Unlike you, we have personal experience of other, perhaps less conspicuous, but no less effective means of destroying civilization than those represented by thermonuclear war; some of us, at the very least, prefer the risk involved in maintaining a firm stance against aggression to the certainty of the catastrophic consequences of appeasement.

The struggle between freedom and totalitarianism today is not ultimately a test of arms or missiles, but a test of faith and spirit. And in this spiritual struggle, the Western mind and will is the crucial battleground. We must not hesitate to express our dream of freedom; we must not be reluctant to enunciate the crucial distinctions between right and wrong -- between political systems based on freedom and those based on a dreadful denial of the human spirit."

Can you imagine what this did for the morale of those Charter members? Those people were hounded and harassed by the police, made to live in constant fear. And so this was proof that there was someone out there who was listening to what they said! I don't know if you wrote that one Peter, but cheers to you or whoever did.



More obstructive regulation

R. Andrew Hicks, a Drexel University math professor, has invented a driver’s side mirror that eliminates the dangerous blind spot that traditional mirrors have. But federal regulations are preventing car manufacturers from using his potentially life-saving invention.

The improved mirrors give a 45-degree field of view, compared to 15 to 17 degrees for traditional flat mirrors. And they do it without giving the distorted fish-eye view that plagues curved mirrors. Prof. Hicks told the website Phys.org how it works:

“Imagine that the mirror’s surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball,” Hicks said. “The algorithm is a set of calculations to manipulate the direction of each face of the metaphorical disco ball so that each ray of light bouncing off the mirror shows the driver a wide, but not-too-distorted, picture of the scene behind him.”

Pretty ingenious, frankly. And unlike many ivory tower projects, this could save lives. The trouble is that federal regulations require side mirrors to be flat. The rule made sense because, until now, curved wide-view mirrors give such a distorted view that their safety benefits are dubious at best.

Prof. Hicks’ mirrors are curved, which is why they violate federal rules for standard equipment. Of course, the curves are non-uniform with tens of thousands of inflection points, which is why they give triple the field of view with distortion comparable to flat mirrors. Regulations would do better to focus on distortion or field of view than on whether or not a mirror is curved.

Regulators should modernize mirror regulations post-haste so that car manufacturers can make Prof. Hicks’ mirrors standard equipment. As it is now, drivers could buy and install the mirrors themselves. But millions more people would benefit if car manufacturers were able to make them standard equipment.

Or, better yet, regulators could get out of the way altogether so that people like Prof. Hicks can save lives without having to say, “Sir, may I?”




SCOTUS declines Rumsfeld torture case: "The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case examining whether government officials who order the alleged torture of a US citizen on American soil can be sued for violating the citizen’s constitutional rights. Apparently, the answer is no. The high court rejected, without comment, an appeal filed on behalf of former enemy combatant José Padilla, who was held for 3-1/2 years in military detention. Mr. Padilla was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques to break him psychologically and force him to reveal everything he might know about Al Qaeda."

Mexico should just legalize drugs: "According to a front-page article in today’s New York Times, Mexico’s top presidential contenders are signaling a shift in how Mexico intends to fight the drug war. While the movement is in a positive direction, unfortunately it still doesn’t go far enough. Mexico should just end its entire participation in the drug war. It should legalize drugs."

Beware the word “extremist”: "As far as I can tell, the first widespread use of the 'extremist' label was in the 1964 presidential election campaign, when liberals so tagged Senator Barry Goldwater. Yet Goldwater’s Senate voting record was well within the American mainstream. His domestic platform rested largely on following the Constitution, and his foreign policy was drawn from traditional principles later used effectively by President Reagan."

Michael Bloomberg, soda jerk: "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on big sodas in the Big Apple is generating accusations that he is a Nanny Statist. But that’s not quite accurate. A nanny forces others to do things for their own good. Bloomberg is a moral narcissist forcing New Yorkers to do things that make him feel good."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


13 June, 2012

More Obama deception

Blaming others for the results of his own policies

President Obama’s latest campaign talking point on the economy is that the Republicans in Congress are responsible for laying off teachers, police officers, and firefighters.

The “private sector is doing fine” line was the one that got all the attention on Friday in the president’s remarks to the press, but Mr. Obama’s other message was just as newsworthy: “the private sector has been hiring at a solid pace over the last 27 months. But one of the biggest weaknesses has been state and local governments, which have laid off 450,000 Americans. These are teachers and cops and firefighters. Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work right now, giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring.”

Mr. Obama followed up over the weekend in his weekly address: “it should concern everyone that right now—all across America—tens of thousands of teachers are getting laid off. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 9,000 fewer educators in our schools today than just a year ago. In Ohio, the number is close to 7,000. And nationwide, over the past three years, school districts have lost over 250,000 educators....I hope you’ll join me in telling Congress to do the right thing; to get to work and to help get our teachers back in the classroom.”

This message is so misguided, and at the same time so characteristic of Mr. Obama’s overall approach, that it is worth taking it apart in greater detail in five ways as an illuminating example.

The focus on inputs rather than outputs. President Obama is concentrating on how many teachers, police, and firefighters there are. What matters more to me is whether the students in schools are learning, what the crime rate is, and how many fire-related fatalities there are. If standardized reading and math scores are increasing, homicide statistics are decreasing, and fire-related losses are diminishing even with fewer teachers, police officers, and firefighters, that could be a good thing, because it saves taxpayers money. In the private sector, increased productivity—doing the same amount of work with lower labor costs, or getting more work out of the same number of person-hours —is a goal, often achieved through technology or innovation. To President Obama, it seems like a threat.

The stasis. For a guy who ran on a promise of “change,” Mr. Obama sure seems alarmed by minor fluctuations in teacher headcount. The president talked about the decline in teacher employment in Pennsylvania, though he did not say how much of it was owing to retirements and attrition and how much was attributable to layoffs. He also didn’t mention that the number of students in Pennsylvania has also declined—to 1,765,327 in October 2011 from 1,801,760 in October 2007, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The same is true in the other state Mr. Obama mentioned, Ohio, where the student headcount dropped to 1,832,832 in October 2010 from 1,892,490 in October 2004. Private businesses add and shed employees all the time in response to how many customers there are. Why shouldn’t governments make the same adjustment?

The obliteration of distinctions between federal and local responsibilities. The best people to decide how many police or teachers or firefighters are needed are the people within the jurisdiction being policed, or protected from fire. Some places may prefer lower taxes and a volunteer fire department. Other places may prefer higher taxes and a fancier high school. The framers of the Constitution realized this when they created a national government with limited and enumerated powers and left the rest of the powers to the states.

The redistribution. There’s a certain amount of redistribution that goes along with most government functions, and it can sometimes be unjust. Residents who do not have children, or who chose to send their children to private schools, are taxed to support the public schools. Non-smoking residents who live in brick houses with working smoke-detectors and sprinkler systems are taxed to support firefighters to rescue neighbors who smoke in bed in their straw houses and who have let the batteries in their smoke detectors go dead. But people can make choices about where to live based on their preferences. Injecting the federal government into these local government payroll choices means that even the childless couple who deliberately moved into a low-tax district with leanly staffed schools is stuck having their federal tax dollars pay for the teachers in the overstaffed district next door.

The vote buying. Mr. Obama can’t fairly be blamed for being political. He is, after all, a politician. But I can’t recall ever encountering another politician who so sanctimoniously preens about being above politics while so crassly engaging in vote-buying with taxpayer money. Pennsylvania and Ohio, after all, are swing states in the presidential election, and Mr. Obama’s effort to bolster state and local public-sector payrolls there with federal taxpayer dollars would expand and enrich government-employee unions that are reliable Democratic allies. Yet Mr. Obama’s weekly address concludes, “I know this is an election year. But some things are bigger than an election. Some things are bigger than politics....We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

There are a lot of listeners who may agree about the “can’t afford to wait any longer” part — not about re-hiring the laid-off public employees in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but about allowing a certain Washington-D.C.-based government employee to join them in the ranks of the newly unemployed come January 2013.



Socialist or Fascist?

Thomas Sowell

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a "socialist." He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama's point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous -- something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the "greed" of the insurance companies.

The same principle, or lack of principle, applies to many other privately owned businesses. It is a very successful political ploy that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.

One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left.

Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely -- and correctly -- regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg's great book "Liberal Fascism" cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists' consistent pursuit of the goals of the left, and of the left's embrace of the fascists as one of their own during the 1920s.

Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W.E.B. Du Bois, as a man of the left.

It was in the 1930s, when ugly internal and international actions by Hitler and Mussolini repelled the world, that the left distanced themselves from fascism and its Nazi offshoot -- and verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.

What socialism, fascism and other ideologies of the left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people -- like themselves -- need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.

The left's vision is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves, as superior beings pursuing superior ends. In the United States, however, this vision conflicts with a Constitution that begins, "We the People..."

That is why the left has for more than a century been trying to get the Constitution's limitations on government loosened or evaded by judges' new interpretations, based on notions of "a living Constitution" that will take decisions out of the hands of "We the People," and transfer those decisions to our betters.

The self-flattery of the vision of the left also gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision, which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider, regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the left, and regardless of its disastrous consequences.

Only our own awareness of the huge stakes involved can save us from the rampaging presumptions of our betters, whether they are called socialists or fascists. So long as we buy their heady rhetoric, we are selling our birthright of freedom.



Socialism in action

The Soviet Union lasted as a socialist workers' paradise from 1917 until 1991. As a direct result of that experiment, at least 30 million Russians died. It may have been twice that. China's experiment was shorter: 1949 to 1978. Perhaps 60 million Chinese died.

The system failed to deliver the promised goods. I can think of no topic more suitable for a class in economics than a discussion of the failure of socialism. The same is true of a course in modern world history. A course in political science should cover this failure in detail.

They don't, of course. They do not begin with the fundamental challenge to socialist economic theory, Ludwig von Mises's 1920 essay, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth. Why not? Because most social scientists, economists, and historians have never heard of it. Among people over age 50, the few who did hear of it heard about it from some prosocialist or Keynesian advocate, who wrote what he had been told in graduate school in the 1960s, namely, that the article was totally refuted by Oskar Lange in 1936.

They are never told that when Lange, a Communist, returned to Poland in 1947 to serve in several high-level posts, the Communist government did not invite him to implement his grand theory of "market socialism." No other socialist nation ever did.

For 50 years, the textbooks, if they mentioned Mises at all, said only that Mises had been totally refuted by Lange. The Establishment academics dropped Mises down Orwell's memory hole.

On September 10, 1990, multimillionaire socialist author-economist Robert Heilbroner published an article in the New Yorker. It was titled "After Communism." The USSR was visibly collapsing. In it, he recounted the story of the refutation of Mises. In graduate school, he and his peers were taught that Lange had refuted Mises. Then he announced, "Mises was right." Yet in his bestselling textbook on the history of economic thought, The Worldly Philosophers, he never referred to Mises.

The Visible Failures

The universal failure of 20th-century socialism began from the opening months of Lenin's takeover of Russia. Output declined sharply. He inaugurated a marginally capitalist reform in 1920, the New Economic Policy. That saved the regime from collapse. The NEP was abolished by Stalin.

Decade after decade, Stalin murdered people. The minimal estimate is 20 million. This was denied by virtually the entire intelligentsia of the West. Only in 1968 did Robert Conquest publish his monumental book, The Great Terror. His estimate today: closer to 30 million. The book was pilloried. Wikipedia's entry on the book is accurate.

Published during the Vietnam War and during an upsurge of revolutionary Marxist sentiment in Western universities and intellectual circles (see The Sixties), The Great Terror received a hostile reception.

Hostility to Conquest's account of the purges was heightened by various factors. The first was that he refused to accept the assertion made by Nikita Khrushchev, and supported by many Western leftists, that Stalin and his purges were an aberration from the ideals of the Revolution and were contrary to the principles of Leninism. Conquest argued that Stalinism was a natural consequence of the system established by Lenin, although he conceded that the personal character traits of Stalin had brought about the particular horrors of the late 1930s. Neal Ascherson noted:

"Everyone by then could agree that Stalin was a very wicked man and a very evil one, but we still wanted to believe in Lenin; and Conquest said that Lenin was just as bad and that Stalin was simply carrying out Lenin's programme."

The second factor (1918) was Conquest's sharp criticism of Western intellectuals for what he saw as their blindness towards the realities of the Soviet Union, both in the 1930s and, in some cases, even in the 1960s. Figures such as Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw, Jean-Paul Sartre, Walter Duranty, Sir Bernard Pares, Harold Laski, D.N. Pritt, Theodore Dreiser and Romain Rolland were accused of being dupes of Stalin and apologists for his regime for various comments they had made denying, excusing, or justifying various aspects of the purges.
The Left still hates the book, still attempts to say that he exaggerated the figures.

Then came The Black Book of Communism (1999) which puts the minimum estimate of citizens executed by Communists at 85 million, with 100 million or more likely. The book was published by Harvard University Press, so it could not be dismissed as a right-wing fat tract.

The Left tries to ignore it.

The response of academia has been to dismiss the entire experiment as misguided, but not inherently evil. The cost in lives lost is rarely mentioned. Before 1991, this was even more rarely mentioned. Prior to Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago (1973), it was considered a breach of etiquette for an academic to do more than mention it in passing, limiting it to Stalin's purges of the Communist Party in the late 1930s, and almost-never-mentioning forced starvation as a matter of public policy. "Ukraine? Never heard of it." "Kulaks? What are kulaks?"

Felix Somary records in his autobiography a discussion he had with the economist Joseph Schumpeter and the sociologist Max Weber in 1918. Schumpeter was an Austrian economist who was not an Austrian School economist. He later wrote the most influential monograph on the history of economic thought. Weber was the most prestigious academic social scientist in the world until he died in 1920.

Schumpeter expressed happiness regarding the Russian Revolution. The USSR would be a test case for socialism. Weber warned that this would cause untold misery. Schumpeter replied, "That may well be, but it would be a good laboratory." Weber responded, "A laboratory heaped with human corpses!" Schumpeter retorted, "Every anatomy classroom is the same thing."[1]

Schumpeter was a moral monster. Let us not mince words. He was a highly sophisticated man, but he was at bottom a moral monster. Anyone who could dismiss the deaths of millions like this is a moral monster. Weber stormed out of the room. I don't blame him.

Weber died in 1920. That was the year in which Mises's essay appeared: Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth. Weber gave it a footnote in his masterpiece, published posthumously as Economy and Society (p. 107). Weber understood its importance as soon as he read it. Academic economists did not. Even today, there are few references to it.

Mises explained analytically why the socialist system is irrational: no capital markets. No one knows what anything should cost. He said that the systems would either violate the commitment to total planning or else fail totally. He has never been forgiven for this breach of etiquette. He was right, and the intellectuals were wrong. The socialist commonwealths have collapsed, except for North Korea and Cuba. Worse, he was right in terms of simple market theory that any intelligent person can understand. That article is a testimony to the West's intellectuals: "There are none so blind as those who refuse to see."



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


12 June, 2012

The end nears for a 50-year mistake

by Jeff Jacoby

IN RETROSPECT, there were two conspicuous giveaways that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was headed for victory in last week's recall election.

One was that the Democrats' campaign against him wound up focusing on just about everything but Walker's law limiting collective bargaining rights for government workers. Sixteen months ago, the Capitol building in Madison was besieged by rioting protesters hell-bent on blocking the changes by any means necessary. Union members and their supporters, incandescent with rage, likened Walker to Adolf Hitler and cheered as Democratic lawmakers fled the state in a bid to force the legislature to a standstill. Once the bill passed, unions and Democrats vowed revenge, and amassed a million signatures on recall petitions.

But the more voters saw of the law's effects, the more they liked it. Dozens of school districts reported millions in savings, most without resorting to layoffs. Property taxes fell. A $3.6 billion state budget deficit turned into a $154 million projected surplus. Walker's measures proved a tonic for the economy, and support for restoring the status quo ante faded -- even among Wisconsin Democrats. Long before Election Day, Democratic challenger Tom Barrett had all but dropped the issue of public-sector collective bargaining from his campaign to replace Walker.

The second harbinger was the plunge in public-employee union membership. The most important of Walker's reforms, the change Big Labor had fought most bitterly, was ending the automatic withholding of union dues. That made union membership a matter of choice, not compulsion -- and tens of thousands of government workers chose to toss their union cards. More than one-third of the American Federation of Teachers Wisconsin membership quit, reported The Wall Street Journal. At the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, one of the state's largest unions, the hemorrhaging was worse: AFSCME's Wisconsin rolls shrank by more than 34,000 over the past year, a 55 percent nose-dive.

Did government workers tear up their union cards solely because the union had lost its right to bargain collectively on their behalf? That's doubtful: Even under the new law, unions still negotiate over salaries. More likely, public-sector employees ditched their unions for the same reasons so many employees in the private sector -- which is now less than 7 percent unionized -- have done so. Many never wanted to join a union in the first place. Others were repelled by the authoritarian, belligerent, and left-wing political culture that entrenched unionism so often embodies.

Even before the votes in Wisconsin were cast, observed Michael Barone last week, Democrats and public-employee unions "had already lost the battle of ideas over the issue that sparked the recall." Their tantrums and slanders didn't just fail to intimidate Walker and Wisconsin lawmakers from reining in public-sector collective bargaining. They also gave the public a good hard look at what government unionism is apt to descend to. The past 16 months amounted to an extended seminar on the danger of combining collective bargaining with government jobs. Voters watched -- and learned.

There was a time when pro-labor political leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Fiorello LaGuardia regarded it as obvious that collective bargaining was incompatible with public employment. Even the legendary AFL-CIO leader George Meany once took it for granted that there could be no "right" to bargain collectively with the government.

When unions bargain with management in the private sector, both sides are contending for a share of the private profits that labor helps produce -- and both sides are constrained by the pressures of market discipline. Managers can't ignore the company's bottom line. Unions know that if they demand too much they may cost the company its competitive edge.

But when labor and management bargain in the public sector, they are divvying up public funds, not private profits. Government bureaucrats don't have to worry about losing business to their competitors; state agencies can't relocate to another part of the country. There is little incentive to hold down wages and benefits, since the taxpayers who will be picking up the tab have no seat at the table. On the other hand, government managers have a powerful motivation to yield to government unions: Union members vote, and their votes can be deployed to reward politicians who give them what they want -- or punish those who don't.

In 1959, when Wisconsin became the first state to enact a public-sector collective-bargaining law, it wasn't widely understood what the distorted incentives of government unionism would lead to. Five decades later, the wreckage is all around us. The privileges that come with government work -- hefty automatic pay raises, Cadillac pension plans, iron-clad job security, ultra-deluxe health insurance -- have in many cases grown outlandish and staggeringly unaffordable. What Keith Geiger, the former head of the National Education Association, once referred to as "our sledgehammer, the collective bargaining process," has wreaked havoc on state and municipal budgets nationwide.

Now, at long last, the pendulum has reversed. The 50-year mistake of public-sector unions is being corrected. Walker's victory is a heartening reminder that in a democracy, even the most entrenched bad ideas can sometimes be unentrenched. On, Wisconsin!



Words Matter

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Words have power; they create images and possibilities, and provide a window into the future of what could be. The best leaders use positive words to communicate a potential future for a country that is possible if actions are taken. They inspire action, progress and positive results. For words to matter, there must be a solid foundation underlying them. They cannot be all fluff and flutter.

President Ronald Reagan clearly communicated when he spoke 25 years ago this coming week in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate. "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization," Reagan challenged, "come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

This same speech noted that there was "one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds. ... Freedom is the victor."

Slightly more than two years later, the wall was torn down. Words made it seem possible; words had fostered ideas, led to action and caused the wall to tumble down.

His challenge to tear down the wall was built on the foundational understanding that freedom and liberty lead to prosperity. That government could not produce the output of freedom.

Words without a solid foundation are simply a veneer.

President Barack Obama used the tagline "Hope and Change" during the 2008 election. The campaign's promise of a better future led many Americans to vote for him without understanding how the slogan would lead to action and what the outcome might be.

Now that we are living in the future intended by Obama to have been shaped by his message of "Hope and Change," we can see what it has accomplished: Obama has a tough record to defend. Federal government debt has increased under his watch from $10.6 trillion at the time of his inauguration to $15.7 trillion today.

Unemployment remains high. Some 14.7 percent of those Americans who would like to work are either unemployed or underemployed, based on June 1, Bureau of Labor Statistics data. These economic indicators do not provide a solid foundation for a conventional incumbent campaign, which would promote the president's record and accomplishments.

In May, the Obama campaign rolled out a 7-minute video with the theme "Forward."

Given Obama's record as president, it is easy to figure out why his campaign would like to focus on the future. His record is hard for anyone to defend.

When Reagan ran as an incumbent, his campaign ran a commercial titled "Morning in America." It highlighted that after three years of Reagan's leadership, our country was "prouder and stronger and better."

It worked because the voters knew that it was true in their own lives. Their lives were stronger and better.

While Obama runs on a "Forward" campaign, American voters are going to be asking questions: Am I better off than I was three years ago? Do I have confidence in this president? If he is re-elected, do I believe that in four years I will be better off?

This year's Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney is running with the current tagline "Restore American's Greatness." While looking backward to a great past might provide a rallying point for core conservatives, the focus on the past rather than looking forward to a brighter future might leave many in the political middle uninspired.

Romney's campaign might want to refocus the campaign on two fronts. The first, on a clear and repetitive description of the Obama administration record (to be done by everyone but Romney); the second, on a clear vision of a positive future that will inspire people to not only vote, but to work for the Romney campaign.

The clearer, more simple and more direct the vision, the faster people will connect and embrace it.

Reagan was effective because his words reflected who he was. His foundation had been formed over a long period of time, and he focused not on changing his core belief system, but on communicating his vision for a brighter future to those around him.

Comfortable in his own skin, he provided the calm reassurance that America is great, that the people are resilient and that we simply had to have as much faith in ourselves as he did.

Like Reagan, we must have the courage to speak out against evil, and use our words to support and encourage freedom and liberty.



Compromise' Is Not a Dirty Word; Democrats just need to practice it

Jonah Goldberg

Compromise has always been a holy word for the Washington establishment. But against the backdrop of ever-increasing anxiety over our fiscal dysfunction, most particularly the next budget showdown, the word has taken on a tone of anger, desperation and even panic.

But in all its usages these days, "compromise" remains a word for bludgeoning Republicans. "Congress isn't just stalemated, it's broken, experts say," proclaims the typical headline, this one in The Miami Herald. And the experts say it's all the Republicans' fault.

"The challenge we have right now is that we have on one side, a party that will brook no compromise," President Obama explained at the Associated Press Luncheon in April. The Republicans' "radical vision," Obama insisted, "is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity."

The speech was hailed as a "thunderclap" by the editors of The New York Times because Obama signaled he was done asking Republicans to put their "destructive agenda" aside. "In this speech, he finally conceded that the (Republican Party) has demonstrated no interest in the values of compromise and realism."

Now the standard Tea Party-Republican-conservative response is to note that Democrats didn't care much for compromise when they ran Washington for Obama's first two years in office. Moreover, what Democrats now mean by compromise is capitulation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., summarized the attitude well during last year's budget negotiations: "We're recognizing that the only compromise that there is, is mine."

Accept 'half a loaf'

While I largely concur with that standard retort, it's worth at least saying something nice about compromise. Conservatism, rightly understood, does not consider compromise a dirty word. "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter," observed Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism. A willingness to accept half a loaf when half is the best you can possibly get is the essence of wisdom.

Indeed, Obama is right when he says, "America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise." The Founders placed compromise at the heart of the Constitution -- compromise between the state and the federal governments, between the different branches of government, even between the two houses of Congress. That is all well and good.

But let's not go crazy here. The Founders didn't fetishize compromise, either. When Patrick Henry proclaimed at the Virginia Convention in 1775, "Give me liberty or give me death," even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson allegedly leapt to their feet to roar approval. Suffice it to say, the spirit of compromise didn't fill the air.

And that's a point worth keeping in mind. The merits of compromise depend mightily on direction. If my wife and I agree on moving to Chicago, then the opportunities for compromise are limitless. When we move, where we live when we get there, even how we get there: these are all reasonable subjects for negotiation. But if I want to move to Chicago and she wants to stay in Washington, D.C., then splitting the difference and moving to Cleveland would be absurd. But it would be compromise.

Right now, the two parties are split fundamentally on the issue of direction. The Democrats -- not to mention the "experts" and so much of the political press -- would have you believe it is a choice between forward and backward. Hence, Obama's perfectly hackneyed slogan "Forward!" According to this formulation, reasonable compromise amounts to acquiescing to the direction Obama and the Democrats want to go, but demanding concessions on how fast we get there and by what means.

Forward vs. backward

From the conservative perspective, this is madness. It is like saying Republicans must agree to let Obama drive the country off a cliff, but Democrats must be willing to negotiate how fast the car goes. And if a Republican counsels hitting the brakes or pulling a U-turn, he is dubbed "extreme" by the establishment cognoscenti.

Conservatives see it differently. Washington is aflame in debt; the national debt clock reads like a thermostat in an inferno. The annual budget deficit is approaching 10 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, the actual deficit is larger than our entire GDP. Under Obama, the deficit has grown by $5 trillion to more than $15 trillion (and as a headline in USA Today recently reported, "Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally").

Hence, the Democratic insistence that Republicans enter negotiations about how much more gasoline we should throw on the fire is a non-starter, at least for conservative Republicans. As Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., likes to say, "Republicans and Democrats must start compromising over how much we have to cut, not how much we want to spend."

None of this has a chance of being settled before the election in November, and even then odds are we'll be having this argument for years to come.

But you can be sure of one thing. If Republicans take over the White House and the Congress and start cutting, the same voices now championing compromise as a virtue in itself will be applauding the principled idealism of Democrats who refuse to compromise.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


11 June, 2012

Another desperate Leftist attempt to escape obvious reality

In yet another of their implacable attempts to deny the reality of racial differences, they make some quite surpising assumptions -- such as the immutability of institutions and the inability of poor people to change or benefit from example

There is absolutely no doubt that institutions matter but why different people have the institutions they do will astound you. They apparently have no choice in the matter. But I won't go on. Let Steve Sailer tell the story:
MIT’s Daron Acemoglu is a rock star among economists, one of the ten most cited in his profession. This is largely because of the paper the Istanbul-born Armenian cowrote in 2001: The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development. Other economists have found that it provides a suave way to finally answer the embarrassing question of why, in the 21st century, some countries are rich and some are poor.

Acemoglu has a big new book out with James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, that makes his case at great length.

To understand Acemoglu’s professional popularity, you have to grasp how awkward the major features of global economic reality are to careerist economists. If you look naively around the world, you might get the impression that, say, Chinese territories such as Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong have been economically dynamic because they have a lot of Chinese people in them. Moreover, the Overseas Chinese control much of business in Southeastern Asia, so we might assume that the Chinese tend to have a lot on the ball wherever they go.

The epochal conclusion that Deng Xiaoping, urged on by Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, drew from this in the late 1970s was that if all the Chinese folks in the world were getting rich except the Maoist Chinese, the problem must lie more in the “Maoist” than in the “Chinese” part. And, indeed, once liberated from Mao’s dogmas and whims, the Mainland Chinese responded with one of history’s greatest economic surges.

To an economist looking for invitations to conferences, however, the danger of adopting the Lee-Deng perspective is its flip side: Some other peoples, such as black Africans, New World Indians, and Pacific Islanders, have tended to lag notably behind Northeast Asians and Europeans, whether at home or abroad, and under all sorts of ideologies and institutions.

Acemoglu’s contribution was to come up with a regression analysis that, he claimed, showed that Third World poverty was the fault of those all-purpose bad guys, European imperialists. In colonies where early Europeans settlers faced low risks of dying from tropical diseases (such as Massachusetts), they set up good “inclusive” institutions. But in colonies where white men died like flies (such as Nigeria), they set up bad “extractive” institutions.

Institutions are (practically) everything, you see. If, say, the Central African Republic is poor, it’s not because it’s a republic in Central Africa (or because poverty is the default condition of humanity), but because it has extractive institutions. And that’s because Europeans didn’t set up inclusive institutions for the Central Africanese.

If Australia or New Zealand or Canada are richer than the Central African Republic, it’s not because Australia or New Zealand or Canada are full of Europeans, it’s because the Europeans hogged the inclusive institutions for the places they colonized. Or something. Acemoglu wrote: "These results suggest that Africa is poorer than the rest of the world not because of pure geographic or cultural factors, but because of worse institutions."

According to Acemoglu, that’s pretty much all you need to know. From the abstract of his 2001 paper:

"Our estimates imply that differences in institutions explain approximately three-quarters of the income per capita differences across former colonies. Once we control for the effect of institutions, we find that countries in Africa or those farther away from the equator do not have lower incomes."

Now, you might think that Acemoglu’s model for predicting national wealth in ex-colonies, such as the United States or New Guinea, is:

1. More white people means more wealth.

How dare you think such a thing! Instead, it’s a two-step process:

1. More white people hundreds of years ago means better institutions today.

2. Better institutions then means more wealth today.

Two steps are better than one, according to Occam’s Butter Knife.

In Why Nations Fail, Acemoglu and Robinson have extended their Inclusive Good/Extractive Bad dichotomy. If anything good ever happened anywhere in world history, it was due to “inclusive institutions” and vice-versa. Sir Karl Popper, the philosopher of science, would have torn his hair out trying to read Why Nations Fail. He would have found Acemogluism as unfalsifiable (and thus as unscientific) as Freudianism and Marxism.

Now, I’m a big fan of inclusive institutions and don’t like exploitative ones. But Acemoglu’s dogma strikes me as a tad superficial. For instance, he focuses on the border cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora. Why is the American side richer? It must be because America has better institutions.

OK…but what makes for better institutions north of the border? After all, Mexico has had plenty of opportunity to study American institutions. Could the enduring differences have something to do with America having a lot of Americans?

What’s the real story behind good and bad institutions? Two brave economists from Africa, Isaac Kalonda-Kanyama of the University of Johannesburg and Oasis Kodila-Tedika of the University of Kinshasa, have tackled this question head-on in a new study entitled Quality of Institutions: Does Intelligence Matter? Their conclusion:

"We analyze the effect of the average level of intelligence on different measures of the quality of institutions, using a 2006 cross-sectional sample of 113 countries. The results show that average IQ positively affects all the measures of institutional quality considered in our study, namely government efficiency, regulatory quality, rule of law, political stability and voice and accountability. The positive effect of intelligence is robust to controlling for other determinants of institutional quality."

Don’t expect Kalonda-Kanyama and Kodila-Tedika to get big career boosts from their finding.


I taught in a School of Sociology at a major Australian university for many years and did a lot of research while I was there. The one sociological fact that impressed me most during all that time, however, was something I saw during a trip to California in the '70s. I was staying in Los Angeles and decided to take a day trip down to Tijuana, which was at that time much better known for brass bands than for drugs and crime.

I was impressed by the 8-lane American concrete highway leading all the way to the border but was astounded to emerge from border control onto a dirt track lined with barrels. A first-class American freeway suddenly gave way to a Mexican dirt track. I guess that the Mexicans have improved their side of the border since then but the contrast between the two sides of the border could not have been more graphic at the time and has stood in my mind ever since as proof of the importance of culture and its associated institutions.

And there is no difficulty in seeing why Mexican culture bears much responsibility for the state of Mexican roads. But with the tutelary example of a triumphant American culture visible just over the border, how do we explain the failures of Mexican culture today? Are Mexicans incapable of learning? That claim sounds rather like a racist statement in itself.

To attribute current Mexican culture to something Spaniards did hundreds of years ago rather that to what Mexicans are like today is something only a Leftist could believe. No doubt the conquistadores had a big influence in their time but culture is ever-changing and what it is at any one point in time has to reflect the choices made by people around that time.

Note just a few examples of rather rapid changes of culture within the same society. These days men rarely wear hats. Within living memory men were regarded as improperly dressed if they stepped outside their door at any time of the year without a hat on. I remember going to work with a hat on myself. And in the 19th century, beards were virtually universal on men. And less trivially, what has happened to the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor that so dominated 19th century social thinking? One could go on about the decay of civility, manners, standards etc. The very idea of a static, immutable culture and its associated institutions is a towering absurdity.

And when it comes to differences between cultures, look, for instance, at whether in the given culture there is little general respect for impartial justice. In such a culture you will bribe the judge and the judge will take the bribe. And much flows from that

Furthermore, the claim that the British left behind some sort of malevolent cultures and institutions in Africa is itself malevolent. When the British departed places like Nigeria and Ghana they left behind well-organized countries with good communications and prosperous economies -- plus standards of law, order and justice far higher than anything there today. In short, they left behind excellent foundations for the development of modern, prosperous and civilized societies. That no such development took place is the doing of the inhabitants, not the doing of the evil "colonialists".

How Leftists hate that very word: "colonialist"! It seems to make them shake with rage, regardless of the reality it denotes. They are deeply irrational people. That there has never been in recent centuries a more rabid colonial power than Soviet Russia doesn't count, of course


The Brazen lie: Goebbels used it. So does Obama. It's Leftist stock in trade

When the President tells the American people that the nation has made "extraordinary progress" in recovering from the economic downturn, it is all too obvious that someone should ask the follow-up question, "Compared to what?"

Obama offered his "extraordinary" description at a fundraiser for his re-election in Washington a few weeks ago, so in that crowd of regular Obama Kool-Aid drinkers nobody was willing to call him on the outlandishness of the statement.

In reality, this supposed recovery is the "worst on record since World War II" as the Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily were quick to document following last Friday's horrible jobs report. There have now been eleven recessions since the Great War ended.

The following set of graphics courtesy of IBD, tells much of the disappointing truth of the economic facts. It is particularly revealing in that it compares the dismal performance of the Obama recovery to the average of the other ten recessions in the post-WW II era. The only thing "extraordinary" is the extent of the failure of Obama's economic policies and his attempt to deceive the American people.

If you are having trouble reading the graphic, just realize that "actual" translates as "Obama"



Reagan’s Advice Wins Again--Romney Should Pay Attention

By Richard A. Viguerie

In the wake of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's overwhelming victory in the Wisconsin recall election I shared the following comments with various media outlets:

Gov. Scott Walker“The real reason Governor Scott Walker won is simple and something that Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign team should take to heart. Walker won because he ran and governed as an unabashed principled, small government, constitutional conservative.

“The power of Walker’s win could contribute greatly to a Romney victory in November if Mitt’s campaign team can shake-off their moderate establishment Republican instincts and absorb its real lesson.

“Just as Ronald Reagan once described his vision of the Republican Party, Governor Walker’s campaign was a campaign, not of pale pastels, but of bold conservative colors --encouraging jobs and economic development, balancing the budget, reducing taxes, and streamlining the state’s bureaucracy.

“By standing for conservative principles, Scott Walker traveled the trail Reagan blazed to victory in 1980 and 1984, that Newt Gingrich followed to the Contract with America victory in 1994, and the Tea Party took to win the wave election in 2010. These were big agenda-changing victories--not skin of your teeth wins, such as Bush’s in 2000 and 2004, where we traded one set of establishment players for another.

“Victory always has 1,000 fathers, but no amount of money or organization could have helped Scott Walker if he had not stuck with his conservative principles.

“Governor Walker’s victory proves once again the lesson Republicans should have learned in 1980: Reagan’s bold colors win elections. If Mitt Romney will adopt those bold conservative colors for his campaign and his administration, he will win, even in traditionally Democratic-leaning states like Wisconsin.”



It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good

Freedom can cost lives but save others

Simon needed a liver transplant immediately and in California, all else being equal, there was a six-month waiting list. He upped and moved to Tennessee, where he got a liver in two weeks, then moved back to LA.

Simon might vote Republican for the first time in his life because of the party's national push to repeal, state by state, mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. Tennessee allows adults to choose if they want to wear helmets or not.

As a direct result, Tennessee and increasing numbers of other states are peeling back mandatory helmet laws, leading to a surplus of healthy young men's organs becoming available, almost on demand.

Thirty-one states have returned the motorcyclists' rights to have the wind rush through their mullets. At one time, the states' compulsory helmet laws were tied to federal highway grants. When that policy lapsed, so did state legislators' stand.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated head injuries were the leading cause of motorcyclist deaths. Helmets reduced fatalities by 37 per cent and were effectively preventing brain injuries by an incredible 69 per cent. Helmet-free riders had three times the injuries of helmeted ones.

But every cloud has a silver liver and Simon is the beneficiary of a phenomenon that has been examined by three surgeons in a US midwest hospital after they were lobbied by an insurance company to help reintroduce helmet legislation. One surgeon had noticed the plentiful supply of organ donors since the repeal of helmet laws and the trio started to query the ethical question raised by this.

The hospital was finally making a profit, transplanting eyes, kidneys and more body parts than a second-hand car yard. Which way should the hospital and its practitioners lean? Organ donations had increased 10 per cent - most from young males and motorcyclists. The dearth of helmets prevented a third of deaths on the waiting lists.

Simon followed in the footsteps left by Steve Jobs of Apple. In Silicon Valley, California, organ donors became scarce on the ground because of helmet laws and crackdowns on drink-driving.

Jobs got sick of waiting in LA and got himself a Tennessee liver from a Memphis hospital. It gave him a couple of good years to get the iPad2 out and the iPhone4 off the ground.

He did not move his residence, like Simon, but Jobs's vacancy in the queues would not be an unheard-of proposition. There may never be an iLiver, but if the experience of US state legislatures teaches us one thing, it is the first law of physics and life: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.


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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


10 June, 2012


My Sabbath got slightly derailed yesterday. I had a lot of good stuff ready to put up so I posted it in the early hours of Saturday morning before I went to bed. There were posts here and also on TONGUE-TIED and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH.


The Fear Vote

Bill O'Reilly

If the election were held tomorrow, Mitt Romney would be the next president of the United States. Why? Because many voters are afraid, that's why. And fearful people usually try to change their circumstances.

If you listen to talk radio or watch cable news, you'd think everyone was an ideologue, obsessed with party politics. But many, perhaps most, American voters are not wedged into a voting pattern. The same country that elected the conservative George W. Bush voted for the very liberal Barack Obama the next time around. It is perception that wins national elections.

Bush was perceived to be a terror warrior, and that's why he won a second term. Voters wanted payback for 9/11, and Bush, along with the fierce Dick Cheney, simply had more tough guy cred than Al Gore or John Kerry. At least that was the perception.

Obama isn't nearly as tough as Sen. John McCain, but by 2008, the faltering economy had overridden the terror threat, and the slick senator from Illinois promised hope and change, a return to prosperity and fairness. McCain promised "Country First." Nobody quite knew what that meant, and voters did want a change from the vicious recessionary economy, so Obama won.

Now, voters are scared that their jobs may disappear. They already see their retirement and educational funds evaporating, and most of us know folks who are desperate for money. So the economic fear is real, not perceived, and President Obama has done little to soothe the angst. He's still hoping his Big Government policies will stimulate the economy even as the TV flashes pictures of Greeks rioting in the streets.

Romney is not exactly John Kennedy, so Obama still has a chance to squeak out a victory in November. Romney must perform well in the debates and convince Americans that the president simply does not understand economics -- and that he has the magic capitalistic touch that will rebuild the empire. If the governor can stay out of foolish controversies and dodge the landmines the pro-Obama media will lay for him, he will be living larger than he lives now. The White House dwarfs even Romney's lavish beachside shack in La Jolla, Calif.

I believe Obama knows he's in trouble, and that's why he is courting his leftwing base so hard. He has to get all of them out on Election Day, and if that means "evolving" on gay marriage, so be it. Obama is a hardball player who will do everything he can to keep his job. There are not that many openings for messiahs these days in the private sector.

The election is about five months from now, and many things can happen in that time. But fear is a powerful emotion and not easily diminished. So the president should be afraid. Very afraid.



Inequality has its benefits

John C. Goodman

The topic de jour on the political left is inequality. From President Obama to the editorial pages of The New York Times the message is the same: low taxes (especially on the wealthy) and deregulation are making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Their solution: more big government.

Here's the problem: nothing about this message is true. The George W. Bush tax cuts made after-tax incomes in the United States more equal, not less equal. Furthermore, all over the world low taxes, less regulation and limited government are associated with more income equality, not less. In addition, the greatest beneficiaries of economic freedom tend to be those at the bottom of the income ladder, not those at the top.

Because a lot of the work debunking left-wing myths about income inequality has been done by my colleagues at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), I have had a special interest in these questions over the years. What I am about to summarize are the results of careful study and analysis by some of the nation's top economists. These are studies that are routinely ignored by those who parrot the standard liberal line about how unfair capitalism is.

Let's start with the Bush tax cuts. Stephen F. Austin State University economist Michael Stroup has analyzed their impact based on statistics gathered by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As reported in an NCPA study, here is what he found:

* The Bush tax cuts (so hated by almost every left-wing columnist) led to a more progressive tax system — with the top 1% of the income distribution now paying about one third of all income taxes, while those in the bottom half saw their share of the tax burden cut in half (falling from 6.3% of income taxes to 3.5%).

* Further, those in the top 1% now pay a greater share of their income in taxes, while those at the bottom are paying a smaller share.

* Over time, pre-tax income in the United States has become more unequal; but the share of taxes paid by the rich has increased by more than their share of national income.

Incidentally, Stroup found that the tax system became more progressive throughout the 1990s as well – after the Bush (1990) tax increase, the Clinton (1993) tax increase and the Clinton (1970) decrease in the capital gains tax rate. But here is the message most voters never hear: Virtually every Republican tax cut — going all the way back to the early rate reductions under Ronald Reagan — left the tax system more progressive. One reason for that is that the Republican tax reform measures took millions of low-income families off the tax rolls. Even though high income taxpayers face lower rates than they once did, they are still shouldering a greater share of the overall tax burden.

As for the international evidence, the Frasier Institute of Canada has gathered an international team of economists to study and measure economic freedom in countries around the world and report annually. (Milton Friedman was an early participant in this project, as was yours truly.) Here are some recent findings:

* There is almost no relationship between the degree of economic freedom and the share of national income going to the poorest 10% of the population. (It’s 2.4% in the one-fifth of least free countries and 2.6% in the one-fifth of most free countries.)

* There is a huge difference in absolute income, however: Per capita income for the bottom 10% was only $1,061 in 2009 in the least free countries, but reached $8,735 in the most free.

By the way, economic freedom is also very important for the average person. In 2009, per capita income was $4,545 in the one-fifth of least free countries and a whopping $31,501 in the one-fifth of most free countries. In other words, the difference between living in a country with low taxes, low regulation and limited government versus living in a big government country is a nine-fold increase in income!

A final study of interest was produced by Gerald Scully, one of the finest economists of my generation who passed away a few years ago. Like Stroup, Scully used a general measure of overall inequality. In a seminal NCPA study he found that other things being equal:

* Freer economies enjoy higher rates of economic growth than less free ones.

* Economic growth increases income inequality, but the effect is small.

* Overall, the increase in inequality from economic growth is outweighed by the reduction in inequality caused by greater economic freedom — creating a net benefit to lower income groups.

Here is the bottom line: economies with the greatest degree of economic freedom not only produce higher incomes for the average family, they also produce a more equal distribution of income than would otherwise have been the case.



California Vote Deals Blow To Public Sector Unions

The news out of Wisconsin on Tuesday shook the world of politics. Less noticed but perhaps just as startling were the seismic results out of California, where two cities shook up their public unions.

Voters in San Diego (the nation's 8th-largest city) and San Jose (the 10th-largest) overwhelmingly approved big cuts to city workers' retirement benefits.

The size of the cities and the sweeping nature of the results will no doubt lead to similar challenges - not just in debt-strapped California, but across the nation.

That this would take place in the bluer-than-blue Golden State no doubt comes as a shock to public employee unions that have used their insider political clout to quietly fleece California taxpayers for decades. But it's now a bipartisan issue. In San Diego, two-thirds of voters voted for Proposition B, which trimmed benefits mainly for new city hires.

As the Associated Press reported, this came as the city's payments into its pension fund soared from $43 million in 1999 to $231.2 million this year, gobbling up 20% of the city's total spending.

San Jose, meanwhile, saw its pension payments jump from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million this year, more than a quarter of the city's entire budget. Some 70% of voters approved the plan - again, huge bipartisanship. At last it has sunk in: Overly generous spending on public employee benefits is killing California's cities.

San Diego is a case in point:"As the pension payments grew," the AP reports, "San Diego's 1.3 million residents saw roads deteriorate and libraries and recreation centers cut hours. For a while, some fire stations had to share engines and trucks."

Yet, following this defeat, union officials say they'll challenge the outcome in court. Well, let them.

San Diego and San Jose are emblematic of the tidal wave of pension liabilities faced by cities across California - and, indeed, the U.S. It's unsustainable.

Politicians took money and votes from public unions in exchange for ridiculously generous pay and benefits. They figured that sucker taxpayers would just pay the bill later - long after they were out of office.



Greek chief tax inspector says Christine Lagarde right to criticise evasion

Christine Lagarde was right to highlight the tax-dodging that costs Greece up to €45 billion a year, twice the sum the country needs to pay off its debts, the Greek chief tax inspector has admitted.

The head of the IMF sparked outrage in Greece two weeks ago after she suggested that it was “payback” time for Greeks who had worsened their country's finances by evading taxes.

But Nikos Lekkas, the head of the Greek tax inspectorate, the SDOE, has backed Mrs Lagarde and insisted that Greece could easily pay off its debts if taxes due for payment were paid into the Greek state's coffers.

”Tax evasion in Greece has reached 12 to 15 per cent of the gross national product,” he told Germany's Die Welt newspaper. “That is €40 to €45bn per year. If we could recover even half of that, Greece would have solved the problem. Our politicians have begun to understand that.”

Mr Lekkas expressed particular concern over 500 cases involving suspected tax evasion by Greek politicians, from different political parties and delays by banks to provide information on accounts, by which time the money “is probably gone”.

”Currently, I am sorry to say that there is not a good cooperation with the banks,” he said. “In over 5,000 cases, we have requested to inspect the accounts of suspects. Only in 214 cases were we successful.”

The tax inspector has warned the government that if the Greek elite remains unpunished for tax evasion amid the “systemic corruption that permeates the whole of society” then “there will be a social explosion.”



Mass killer Breivik may have rare forms of Aspergers and Tourette’s syndromes, says Norway's leading psychiatrist

Good testimony to the idiocy of psychiatry: Maybe Breivik is diabetic, hypertensive and suffering from peanut allergy too. A grab-bag of diagnoses makes no sense. It is undoubted that Breivik is a bit narcissistic but so are most politicians. And there has been NO evidence of Tourettes, a very noticeable disdorder. And if writing a lot and having a good memory makes you mad then I am as mad as a hatter.

Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik has a rare, high-functioning form of Asperger's that has left him incapable of empathy or real friendship, one of Norway's most prominent psychiatrists has told a court in Oslo.

Professor Ulrik Fredrik Malt of Olso University told the court: 'It is plausible that there is Asperger's, Tourette's, and a narcissistic personality disorder.'

As evidence, he cited the lack of emotion Breivik showed when discussing those he killed, his impressive memory for details, his obsession with numbers, his hypergraphia [obsessive writing], and his monotonous tone of voice. All of these, he said, were evidence of 'functional disorders of the brain lobes'.

Breivik angrily interrupted Professor Malt's testimony, complaining that his claims were 'insulting' and 'abusive'.

But when given the opportunity to comment at the end of the day, he was cooly ironic. He said: 'I would like to congratulate Professor Malt for his well-executed character assassination. 'In the beginning I was quite offended, but in the end I thought it was pretty funny. The premises outlined are not true.'

The 33-year-old extremist has instructed his lawyers to fight for him to be declared sane, even though this would mean he spends the next 21 years in prison, rather than in a secure mental hospital.

As he has confessed to killing 77 people during his massacre last July, his sanity is the key question at the trial.

Professor Malt argued that Breivik did not appear to suffer from the absurd, bizarre delusions or hallucinations normal for a schizophrenic, so he did not agree with the conclusions of the first psychiatic report received by the court, which concluded he was insane.

But he agreed that Breivik could not be treated as responsible for his actions, contradicting a second psychiatric report, which argued Breivik was criminally accountable.

Prfessor Malt said: 'It is important that we take on board that this is something much more than only a pure right-wing extremist. 'It is a tragedy for Norway, and for us. But I believe it is also a tragedy for Breivik. The first time I saw Breivik coming into the hall, I did not see a monster. I saw a deeply lonely man.'

He said that Asperger's would explain the problems Breivik's mother had with her son when he was four years old, leading the two of them to spend several months staying at Norway's National Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Breivik's mother, Wench Behring, has also described him as being constantly thirsty, a symptom Professor Malt said was frequently displayed by young Asperger's sufferers.

Breivik's violent acts could also be the result of a version of Tourette's syndrome, which is associated with Asperger's. He said had observed that Breivik suffered frequent suppressed tics.

Asperger's support groups in Norway have attacked previous attempts to attribute Breivik's massacre to the condition, arguing that there is no evidence that Asperger's is associated with increased criminality or violence. Norway's Dagbladet newspaper was forced to publish an official apology in February, after it failed to make this clear.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


9 June, 2012

Politicians are top-of-the-line cons

Politicians keep selling distortions because voters keep buying it

Would anyone work to support themselves or their families – and then turn over a chunk of that hard-earned money to somebody else, just because of the words used by that somebody else?

A few people may be taken in by the words of con men, here and there, but the larger tragedy is that millions more are taken in by the words of politicians, the top-of-the-line con men.

How do politicians con people out of their money? One example can be found in a recent article titled "The Autism-Welfare Nexus" by Paul Sperry in "Investor's Business Daily."

Genuine autism is a truly tragic condition, both for those afflicted by it and for their parents. Few people would have any problem with the idea that both voluntary donations and government expenditures are well spent to help those suffering from autism.

"Autism," however, has been sweepingly redefined over the years. What was discovered and defined as autism back in 1943 is just one of a number of conditions now included as being part of "the autism spectrum." Many, if not most, of these conditions are nowhere near as severe as autism, or even as clearly defined.

The growing number of children encompassed by a wider and looser definition of autism has been trumpeted across the land through the media as an "epidemic" of increasing numbers of cases of autism. Before 1990, one child out of 2,500 was said to be autistic. This year, it is said to be one out of 88. As Paul Sperry points out in IBD, "the number of language disorder cases has fallen as autism cases have risen, suggesting one disorder has simply been substituted for another."

Having heard, over the years, from many parents of late-talking children that they have been urged to let their children be diagnosed as autistic to get either government money or insurance money to pay for language problems, I am not the least bit surprised by Sperry's findings.

Every dollar spent on children falsely labeled autistic is a dollar lost – and urgently needed – in dealing with the severe problems of genuinely autistic children. But money added to the federal budget for autism is money that can be given to people, in the expectation of getting their vote at election time.

Another example of words substituting for realities was a front page story in the May 24 issue of USA Today, showing that the official statistics on the national debt only count about one-fourth of what the federal government actually owes. Even the staggering official national debt is literally not half the story.

Under ordinary accounting rules and laws, the money promised to people as pensions when they retire has to be counted as part of the debts of a business or other organization. But, since Congress makes the laws, the trillions of dollars owed to people who have paid into Social Security do not have to be counted as part of the federal government's debts.

When you or I owe money, we are in debt – and face consequences if we don't pay up. But we are not the federal government and cannot write our own accounting laws.

Perhaps the biggest frauds committed by redefining words are the many fraudulent uses of the word "poor."

For most of the history of the human race, there was no problem in defining who were "the poor." They were people without enough to eat, often without adequate clothing to protect them from the elements, and usually people who lived packed in like sardines in living quarters without adequate ventilation in the summer or adequate heat in the winter, and perhaps also lacking in such things as electricity or adequate sewage disposal.

Today, most of the officially defined "poor" have none of these problems, and most today have amenities such as air conditioning, a car or truck, a microwave oven and many other things that once defined a middle class lifestyle. Americans in poverty today have more living space than the average European.

Why are they called "poor" then? For the same reason that autism, the national debt and many other things are redefined in completely misleading ways – namely, to justify draining more money from the public in taxes, expanding the government, and allowing politicians to give handouts to people who are expected to vote for their reelection.

If we keep buying it, politicians will keep selling it.



If You Don't Like It

By economist Bryan Caplan

Suppose your boss screams all the time, has extremely bad breath, or requires all his employees to speak in a faux British accent. Even today, the law usually offers you no recourse - except, of course, for "If you don't like it, quit." Discrimination law has carved out a list of well-known exceptions to employment-at-will. But "If you don't like it, quit," remains the rule.

While researching firing aversion, I came across an interesting piece by Mark Roehling showing that few American employees realize that the law affords them almost no protection against discharge. Empirically, his work seems sound. But Roehling also clearly wishes that American workers had the kind of legal protection they falsely believe they already possess. Yes, he admits, employment-at-will has some academic defenders:

Legal scholars adopting classical or neoclassical contract law perspectives argue that employment at-will is justified in that it preserves the principle of freedom of contract, promoting efficient operation of labor markets and advancing individual autonomy (e.g., Epstein, 1984).


The standard rejoinder to this argument is that employees' "consent" to at-will employment is, in many instances, neither voluntary nor informed due to inequality in bargaining power between employers and employees and asymmetric information (i.e., the lack of equal information about future risks and the effect of at-will disclaimers) that both tend to favor employers (Blades, 1967). These defects in the bargaining process, it asserted, cause at-will employment to be both inefficient and unfair.

How solid is Roehling's "standard rejoinder"? Let's start with "inequality in bargaining power." Sounds sinister. But we could just as easily say, "some people have more to offer than others - and the more you have to offer, the better a deal you'll get." Then it sounds utterly trivial.

In any case, what would the economy look like if people could only make deals when they happened to have "equal bargaining power"? Almost all trade would be forbidden. Parties have equal bargaining power about as often as they have equal heights. The beauty of the price mechanism is that it persuades unequals to trade by giving parties with more to offer a sweeter deal.

Roehling's invocation of "asymmetric information" is even more off-target. In any standard asymmetric information model, the effect is not to "favor" parties with more information, but to scare off parties with less information, leading to fewer trades and making both sides poorer. The upshot: If the law somehow solved the asymmetric information problem, the result would be a big increase in labor supply - presumably making Roehling's first problem - unequal bargaining power - even worse.

Still, Roehling's intuitions are clearly widely held. My question for people who share his intuitions: Why don't the same arguments make you want to tightly regulate the dating market? With a few exceptions, modern dating markets are based on a strong version of "If you don't like it, break up." People's complaints about romantic partners are endless: "He's mean to me," "She nags me," "He's cheap," "She won't have sex before marriage," etc. Yet prior to marriage, "If you don't like it, break up," is virtually your only legal recourse.

If you take Roehling's "unequal bargaining power" or "asymmetric information" rejoinders seriously, current rules of the dating market should outrage you. Think about the inequality of bargaining power between, say, Channing Tatum and an unattractive single mom who cleans hotel rooms for a living. He has movie star looks, magnetic personality, fabulous riches, and millions of female fans; she's ugly, poor, alone, and responsible for her child's support. As a result, he could practically dictate the terms of any relationship. Does this mean she should have some recourse beyond, "If you don't like how Channing treats you, break up"?

The same goes for asymmetric information. People keep all kinds of secrets from those they date - past relationships, current entanglements, income, philosophy, whether they'll ever commit. And again, people's ultimate legal threat against romantic partners' concealed information and dishonesty is only, "If you don't like it, break up."

You could say we have a double standard because personal relationships, unlike work relationships, are too complicated to regulate. Maybe so, but I doubt it. Work relationships are incredibly complex, too. It's almost impossible to objectively define a "bad attitude," but no one wants to employ someone who's got one. You could argue that if we regulate one aspect of unequal bargaining power in the dating market, it will just resurface elsewhere. But that holds for the labor market as well: If the law requires employers to provide health insurance, they'll obviously cut wages to compensate. The simple story works best: The apparent double standard is real. Since people resent employers, they're quick to rationalize policies that tip the scales against them - even if employees ultimately bear the cost.

"If you don't like it, quit" and "If you don't like it, break up," sound unappealing - even heartless. But in the real world, it's hard to do better. In any case, trying to "do better" is probably unjust. The fact that Channing Tatum has incredibly high value in the dating market is a flimsy excuse to restrict his freedom to date. And the fact that Peter Thiel has incredibly high value in the labor market is a flimsy excuse to restrict his freedom to hire. Instead of complaining about the stinginess of people who have lots to offer, we should celebrate the universal human right to say, "I don't want to see you anymore."



From Hope and Change to Fear and Smear

Barack Obama lately has been accusing presumptive rival Mitt Romney of not waging his campaign in the nice (but losing) manner of John McCain in 2008. But a more marked difference can be seen in Obama himself, whose style and record bear no resemblance to his glory days of four years ago.

Recently, the president purportedly has been reassuring Democratic donors that his signature achievement, Obamacare, could be readjusted in the second term -- something Republicans have promised to do for the last three years. What an evolution: We have gone from being told we would love Obamacare, to granting exemptions to favored companies from it, to private assurances to modify it after re-election -- all before it was even fully enacted.

Obama's calls for a new civility four years ago are apparently inoperative. The vow to "punish our enemies" and the intimidation of Romney campaign donors are a long way from the soaring speech at Berlin's Victory Column and "Yes, we can." Obama once called for a focus on issues rather than personal invective. But now we mysteriously hear again of Romney's dog, his great-great-grandfather's wives, and a roughhousing incident some 50 years ago in prep school.

The "hope and change" slogan for a new unity gave way to a new "us versus them" divide. "Us" now means all sorts of targeted appeals to identity groups like African-Americans for Obama, Latinos for Obama, gays for Obamas, greens for Obama, or students for Obama.

"Them," in contrast, means almost everyone else who cannot claim hyphenation or be counted on as a single-cause constituency. In 2008, the Obama strategy was supposedly to unite disparate groups with a common vision; in 2012, it is to rally special interests through common enemies.

Remember the Obama who promised an end to the revolving door of lobbyists and special-interest money? Then came the likes of Peter Orszag, who went from overseeing the Obama budget to being a Citigroup grandee, and financial pirate Jon Corzine, who cannot account for more than $1.5 billion of investors' money but can bundle cash for Obama's re-election. If you told fervent supporters in 2008 that by early 2012 Obama would set a record for the most meet-and-greet fundraisers in presidential history, they would have thought it blasphemy.

Obama is said to go over every name on his Predator drone targeted-assassination list -- a kill tally that is now seven times larger in less than four years than what George W. Bush piled up in eight.

Guantanamo is just as open now as it was in 2008. If Obama supporter and former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh was once accusing President Bush of being "torturer in chief," he is now an Obama insider arguing that bombing Libya is not really war and that taking out an American citizen and terrorist suspect in Yemen is perfectly legal. Previously bad renditions, preventative detentions and military tribunals are now all good.

Some disgruntled conservatives jumped ship in 2008 for the supposedly tightfisted Obama when he called for halving the deficit in four years and derided George Bush as "unpatriotic" for adding $4 trillion to the national debt. Yet Obama already has exceeded all the Bush borrowing in less than four years.

What accounts for the radical change in mood from four years ago?
The blue-state model of large government, increased entitlements and high taxes may be good rhetoric, but it is unsound reality.

Redistribution does not serve static, aging populations in a competitive global world -- as we are seeing from California to southern Europe. "Hope and change" was a slogan in 2008; it has since been supplanted by the reality of 40 straight months of 8-percent-plus unemployment and record deficits -- despite $5 billion in borrowed priming, near-zero interest rates, and vast increases in entitlement spending.

Obama's bragging of drilling more oil despite, rather than because of, his efforts is supposed to be a clever appeal to both greens and business. Private equity firms are good for campaign donations but bad when a Republican rival runs them. "Romney would do worse," rather than "I did well," is the implicit Obama campaign theme of 2012.

To be re-elected, a now-polarizing Obama believes that he must stoke the fears of some of us rather than appeal to all of our hopes by defending a successful record, while smearing with the old politics rather than inspiring with the new. That cynical calculation and constant hedging and flip-flopping may be normal for politicians, but eventually it proves disastrous for the ones who posed as messianic prophets.




Enterprise value tax: "A proposal from the Obama administration that has generated significant opposition from the financial sector is the enterprise value tax. This is because high taxes on investment income can be a hindrance to investment by reducing incentives for investors and financial managers to engage in certain financial activities or higher risk investments."

Markets and generosity: "A frequent though quite unjustified charge against free markets is that they encourage what Karl Marx called the cash nexus or, as it is also put, commodification, treating people as items for sale. The claim is that when people engage in commerce, they are hardhearted, stingy, or as the Oliver Stone and OWS crowd would have it, greedy. But this is a complete distortion."

Bloomberg takes a Big Gulp out of liberty: "If the Mayor can dictate the size of soda pop servings, he can dictate every other aspect of any business in his city. He could pass an ordinance restricting donut shops from selling more than 2 donuts at a time to a customer. He could outlaw larger portions of French fries; more than one pork chop per plate; any serving of steak more than 3/4 of an inch thick -- there is no limit to what evil he could do to our appetites."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


8 June, 2012

Democrats show their never-ending hate

Just as you would expect, the Democrats kept it classy last night, flooding Twitter with calls for Scott Walker and his family to be murdered. Twitchy has collected dozens of death threats. A sampling:

Somebody gone kill Scott Walker man.


Somebody need to Abe Lincoln Scott Walker cave frog lookin ass.

I wanna kill scott walker so fucking baddd!!!!! & the racist dumb assholes that voted for him #nbs

Please somebody kill Scott Walker.

Scott walker will die within the next week ive already payed for the hit

Scott walker needs fall down the capital stairs & die..

NBS I Know What School Scott Walker Son Go To

AND If Scott Walker Got A Wife Imma Fuck Her Face—
Tj Fucked Yo Bitch (@iWusGetnSumHead) June 06, 2012

Ah yes, the modern Democratic Party. The liberals’ rhetorical violence contrasts with Walker’s own restrained and dignified victory speech last night

The degree to which Walker has remained calm and civil through months of crazed attacks from the Democrats–culminating over the weekend in the “love child” smear–is remarkable.



Walker win a turning point

With Scott Walker’s crushing victory over Tom Barrett to retain his seat as Governor of Wisconsin, the nation may be reaching a critical turning point over the fundamental relationship between taxpayers and public employees. Between the government, and the governed.

Predicated on the consent of the governed, the U.S. experiment with democracy has reached a fundamental crossroads. Where the American people will either choose either a path that will enslave taxpayers to pay for the level of government that the government demands, or a sustainable, responsible fiscal path based on what can be afforded.

With the defeat of Senate Bill 5 in Ohio in Nov. 2011 and various reform measures in California in 2005 both via referendum, it looked as if perhaps the power wielded by the public sector unions was an insurmountable political force.

In California, those measures would have limited teacher tenure, made public union political contributions require written consent by employees, and imposed state spending limits. In Ohio, Senate Bill 5 would have restricted collective bargaining for public sector employees on health and pension benefits.

Much of the same policies were invariably implemented by Walker in Wisconsin despite strong opposition from the unions.

His plan, as enacted, limits state employees from being able to collectively bargain anything except wages, giving the legislature full authority once again over expensive health and pension benefits. Instead, it requires state employees to contribute half of the cost of their pension payments and 12 percent of their health care premiums. And why shouldn’t government employees pay their fair share for their own benefits?

Walker went even further to break the back of the political power wielded by the unions, prohibiting state agencies from collecting union dues. But the real axe to their power was providing public employees with an annual vote on whether to keep their public employee union.

With the opportunity, many employees are opting out of the union system, preferring to negotiate individually with their employers. This is costing millions of Big Labor’s political coffers, and costing labor bosses their jobs.

And that, more than any other provision, is what is hurting Big Labor —and their Democrat Party patrons — the most. It is why they have spent upwards of perhaps $50 million to oust Walker.

But it was all for naught. For once, the voters have chosen to rein in the beast. For once, a state, in this case Wisconsin, said no to the unions.

Walker’s win in Wisconsin should prove that given an opportunity voters will not simply vote for themselves more benefits at other taxpayers’ expense. Judging by Walker’s margin of victory, with more than 53 percent of the popular vote, at least some union members voted for Walker. This hopefully will provide much-needed courage to other politicians across the nation to take on and defeat the seemingly all-powerful public employee unions — and the looming insolvency their demands threaten states and localities with.

Public employee unions have for decades transformed public servants into the taxpayer’s masters in local, state and federal government. No longer. With Walker’s win, this is the first step in restoring the consent of the governed. And not a moment too soon.



The real 'War on Women'

By Thomas Sowell

Among the people who are disappointed with President Obama, none has more reason to be disappointed than those who thought he was going to be "a uniter, rather than a divider" and that he would "bring us all together."

It was a noble hope, but one with no factual foundation. Barack Obama had been a divider all his adult life, especially as a community organizer, and he had repeatedly sought out and allied himself with other dividers, the most blatant of whom was the man whose church he attend for 20 years, Jeremiah Wright.

Now, with his presidency on the line and the polls looking dicey, President Obama's re-election campaign has become more openly divisive than ever.

He has embraced the strident "Occupy Wall Street" movement, with its ridiculous claim of representing the 99 percent against the 1 percent. Obama's Department of Justice has been spreading the hysteria that states requiring photo identification for voting are trying to keep minorities from voting, and using the prevention of voter fraud as a pretext.

But anyone who doubts the existence of voter fraud should read John Fund's book "Stealing Elections" or J. Christian Adams's book, "Injustice," which deals specifically with the Obama Justice Department's overlooking voter fraud when those involved are black Democrats.

Not content with dividing classes and races, the Obama campaign is now seeking to divide the sexes by declaring that women are being paid less than men, as part of a "war on women" conducted by villains, from whom Obama and company will protect the women -- and, not incidentally, expect to receive their votes this November.

The old -- and repeatedly discredited -- game of citing women's incomes as some percentage of men's incomes is being played once again, as part of the "war on women" theme.

Since women average fewer hours of work per year, and fewer years of consecutive full-time employment than men, among other differences, comparisons of male and female annual earnings are comparisons of apples and oranges, as various female economists have pointed out. Read Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute or Professor Claudia Goldin of Harvard, for example.

When you compare women and men in the same occupations with the same skills, education, hours of work, and many other factors that go into determining pay, the differences in incomes shrink to the vanishing point -- and, in some cases, the women earn more than comparable men.

But why let mere facts spoil the emotional rhetoric or the political ploys to drum up hysteria and collect votes?

The farcical nature of these ploys came out after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared that Congress needed to pass the Fair Pay Act, because women average 23 percent lower incomes than men.

A reporter from The Daily Caller then pointed out that the women on Nancy Pelosi's own staff average 27 percent lower incomes than the men on her staff. Does that show that Pelosi herself is guilty of discrimination against women? Or does it show that such simple-minded statistics are grossly misleading?

The so-called Fair Pay Act has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with election-year politics. No one in his right mind expects that bill to become law. It will be lucky to pass the Senate, and has no chance whatever of getting passed in the House of Representatives.

The whole point of this political exercise is to get Republicans on record voting against "fairness" for women, as part of the Democrats' campaign strategy to claim that there is a "war on women."

If you are looking for a real war on women, you might look at the practice of aborting girl babies after an ultrasound picture shows that they are girls. These abortions are the most basic kind of discrimination, and their consequences have already been demonstrated in countries like China and India, where sexually discriminatory abortions and female infanticide have produced an imbalance in the number of adult males and females.

A bill to outlaw sexually and racially discriminatory abortions has been opposed and defeated by House Democrats.



A cheer for constitutional monarchy's restraint on government

It diminishes politicians

As the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations wind down, it may be well to reflect on an aspect of public choice theory which supports constitutional monarchy — principally its rôle as a brake upon self-aggrandising politicians.

Public choice argues that, contrary to the myths propagated about the selfless motives of public servants, politicians and bureaucrats can be as self-interested in their public personas as they are as private citizens.

This is not the time to examine the unitive functions of the Crown, nor the acts of public service performed by the Royal Family — and how monarchy either refutes or conforms to the political landscape sketched out by public choice theory (though I personally believe the opportunities for gain are very few, while the burdens are many).

Neither is this an argument for constitutional monarchy as against republican forms of government; indeed, this may be one of the few areas where both forms, when modelled on justice, are equally serviceable according to the respective country’s traditions and national character — quite in variance, by the way, with respect to economics, where all the arguments are in favour of classical liberal/Austrian theories and quite contrary to Keynesian prescriptions.

Moreover, let it be admitted that constitutional monarchy is rarely an active force in limiting the power of politicians (minority parliaments being one exception, where the Crown has legitimate avenues of intervention), but serves rather more as a passive agent in limiting the State.

First, the very hereditary nature of British constitutional monarchy — i.e., non-elective — disinclines government to aggrandise the Head of State. Governments are reluctant to invoke public criticism for expenditures which do not in some way flatter the ‘heirs’ of democracy (especially when the House of Windsor is itself exceptionally well-endowed financially): Witness the absence of a royal yacht when H.M.Y. Britannia was decommissioned.

Second, the constitutional role of the monarch in the Westminster parliamentary system means that the prime minister is a servant of the Crown and cannot therefore with impunity rise above his station. It is at best to be guilty of lèse-majesté, and at worse an affront to the parliamentary party which can always be relied upon to remember that the inhabitant of No. 10 is simply primus inter pares.

The theoretical ground of this public choice defence is laid out by Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe who, while he may not necessarily be a monarchist, sees the unrestrained growth of elective governments as far more destructive of personal liberty and economic freedom.

When absolute monarchy reigned, Hoppe argues, the State and its appurtenances were held as private property, and husbanded wisely as a future inheritance; subjects were jealous of their rights and defended them tenaciously (arising from an awareness of ‘class consciousness’), leaving the Crown on guard not to exceed its authority.

Democracies, to the contrary, do not arouse a corresponding scepticism — Why, one day I too may be leader of the country! — but nor do they engender similar feelings of safeguarding wealth: Without the responsibility of bequeathing royal estates to one’s children, politicians become mere ‘caretakers’, and the spoils of State become transitory gifts that must be enjoyed and shared with one’s cronies while the democratic gods shine (a form of present-orientedness that is reflected in citizens’ consumption rather than investment).

Arthur Seldon called this ‘the dilemma of democracy’, noting four weaknesses in popular government: short-sighted with material resources; over-expansive with a tendency to ‘grow’; liable to conspiratorial patronage; and uncritical of majoritarian electoral decisions. All of which leads me to wonder why classical liberals are so often enamoured of the republican ideal. As Hoppe observes:
From the viewpoint of those who prefer less exploitation over more and who value farsightedness and individual responsibility above shortsightedness and irresponsibility, the historic transition from monarchy to democracy represents not progress but civilizational decline.

One can understand their inability to appreciate a Tory reverence for tradition and continuity, yet why do they so cavalierly dismiss the public choice arguments that demonstrate that limited government in the age of the Welfare State is held hostage to democratic fortune?

‘It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the œconomy of private people, and to restrain their expence,’ wrote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. ‘They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will (II.iii.36).’

Let not the irony be lost: Britain has gone from the time when a burgeoning representative democracy set in motion the end of the divine right of kings, transformed thus into constitutional monarchy — which itself has become the most visible restraint on elected politicians who behave as if themselves graced with divine sanction. We may no longer fear kings, but their ministers remain a threat to our rights and freedoms. Elizabeth II embodies the limits we must impose upon the political classes; her Diamond Jubilee an occasion to remember the State is the servant of the people. God Save the Queen!



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


7 June, 2012

Immoral Beyond Redemption

Walter E. Williams

Benjamin Franklin, statesman and signer of our Declaration of Independence, said: "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." John Adams, another signer, echoed a similar statement: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Are today's Americans virtuous and moral, or have we become corrupt and vicious? Let's think it through with a few questions.

Suppose I saw an elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. She's hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention. To help the woman, I walk up to you using intimidation and threats and demand that you give me $200. Having taken your money, I then purchase food, shelter and medical assistance for the woman. Would I be guilty of a crime? A moral person would answer in the affirmative. I've committed theft by taking the property of one person to give to another.

Most Americans would agree that it would be theft regardless of what I did with the money. Now comes the hard part. Would it still be theft if I were able to get three people to agree that I should take your money? What if I got 100 people to agree -- 100,000 or 200 million people? What if instead of personally taking your money to assist the woman, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take your money? In other words, does an act that's clearly immoral and illegal when done privately become moral when it is done legally and collectively? Put another way, does legality establish morality? Before you answer, keep in mind that slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; the Nazi's Nuremberg Laws were legal; and the Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal. Legality alone cannot be the guide for moral people. The moral question is whether it's right to take what belongs to one person to give to another to whom it does not belong.

Don't get me wrong. I personally believe that assisting one's fellow man in need by reaching into one's own pockets is praiseworthy and laudable. Doing the same by reaching into another's pockets is despicable, dishonest and worthy of condemnation. Some people call governmental handouts charity, but charity and legalized theft are entirely two different things. But as far as charity is concerned, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, said, "Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." To my knowledge, the Constitution has not been amended to include charity as a legislative duty of Congress.

Our current economic crisis, as well as that of Europe, is a direct result of immoral conduct. Roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of our federal budget can be described as Congress' taking the property of one American and giving it to another. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for nearly half of federal spending. Then there are corporate welfare and farm subsidies and thousands of other spending programs, such as food stamps, welfare and education. According to a 2009 Census Bureau report, nearly 139 million Americans -- 46 percent -- receive handouts from one or more federal programs, and nearly 50 percent have no federal income tax obligations.

In the face of our looming financial calamity, what are we debating about? It's not about the reduction or elimination of the immoral conduct that's delivered us to where we are. It's about how we pay for it -- namely, taxing the rich, not realizing that even if Congress imposed a 100 percent tax on earnings higher than $250,000 per year, it would keep the government running for only 141 days.

Ayn Rand, in her novel "Atlas Shrugged," reminded us that "when you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good."



The Upside of the Downside

Jonah Goldberg

One of my heroes, Irving Kristol, used to say that there's nothing wrong with the country a bad recession couldn't fix.

Kristol (father of the more famous Bill, by the way) wasn't hoping for a recession, he was merely making the point that so many of the problems with our culture, both popular and political, were the sorts of challenges that come with affluence.

Wealth makes it easier to abandon the old customs, rituals and habits of the heart that generated the wealth in the first place.

For instance, I always love reading about irresolute rich families that lose their mojo within a generation or two. When the illiterate shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt died, he had amassed a personal fortune larger than the U.S. Treasury. Within a few generations, his family had squandered it all. Vastly better educated and more refined than their tobacco-juice-spitting patriarch, they also lacked his entrepreneurial drive and financial thrift because they never needed it. It's a pattern that repeats itself in countless families. Billionaires so often raise their children to be playboys or poets.

Edward Gibbon's theory of the fall of the Roman Empire has come in for some revision over the years, but his basic thesis still has merit. The Romans became so wealthy they lost the civic and martial virtues that built the empire in the first place. They in effect contracted out the hard work of civilization that allows civilization to continue.

And then, of course, there's the universally recognized lesson of Rocky Balboa, who learned the hard way from Clubber Lang (aka Mr. T) that success can make you lose the eye of the tiger more than failure can.

Anyway, you get the point.

And while I hope we can get back to having the problems of a rich country really soon, it's worth pausing to appreciate America's capacity for self-correction and the fact that many of the problems we had over the last couple decades were good problems to have.

Illegal immigration is a great example of a rich country's problem. (For instance, no one but terrorists are sneaking into Somalia in search of work.) After years of screaming over what to do about it, the rate of illegal immigration has suddenly plummeted. Some say it has actually stopped entirely, as many illegal immigrants have started going home. Yes, there are other issues at work, but no one denies that if the U.S. economy were in good shape, we wouldn't be seeing what we're seeing.

In terms of self-correction, the examples are all over the place. In 2005, America had the lowest personal savings rate since 1933. In fact it was outright negative -- i.e., consumers spent more money than they made. Today it's at 3.4 percent.

For years intellectuals looked enviously at the way the Japanese live in multigenerational homes. Grandma and grandpa looked after the grandkids, and everyone looked after grandma and grandpa. From 2008 to 2010, American multigenerational households increased at a faster rate of growth than in the previous eight years combined, according to AARP.

In perhaps the most welcome news, laser tattoo removals have increased by 32 percent from 2011 to 2012 alone. "Employment reasons" are cited as the new No. 1 reason for the procedure. It turns out that in an era of austerity, having a Chinese-character tattoo that translates into "I have Kung Pao chicken pants" is an act of unnecessary self-indulgence rather than glorious self-expression.

It also turns out that our politics have a capacity for self-correction that few experts anticipated. When President Obama came into office, his administration's mantra was "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." This little prayer to cynicism masquerading as an idealistic insight was used to justify vast expansions of government. The social scientists even told us this was to be expected. After all, they explained, during times of economic hardship, voters rally around the government.

Except that's not true. Yes, it happened during the Great Depression. But ever since, liberalism has been a luxury thriving on prosperity, not austerity. The Great Society was a byproduct of the so-called Affluent Society.

Instead of a tsunami of political support for ObamaCare and government unions, we got the Tea Party and the rollback of public-sector collective bargaining. Instead of massive support for Obama's green agenda, the air is thick with calls for more drilling, more fracking and more Keystone pipelines. It turns out the "new progressive era" was just too pricey.

Hopefully, the interminable winter of Obama's "Summer of Recovery" will soon end. And when it does, I hope we take the lessons to heart.



Obama's Clinton problem

Back in 2008, after a hard-fought primary battle against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., then-Sen. Barack Obama had a choice: he could put her on the ticket as his vice presidential nominee, thereby healing the rift that had torn apart the Democratic Party or he could go another direction. He chose Joe Biden over Clinton -- a move for which comics everywhere will forever thank him -- and relegated Clinton to a figurehead secretary of state.

The question at the time was: Why?

Pundits then settled on two answers. The first was ego: Obama didn't want to be outshone by his second-in-command, especially with regard to national security issues. The second was more nefarious: Obama feared having Hillary Clinton as the second-in-line to the presidency. Conspiracy theorists suggested that the Clintons weren't beyond Shakespearian action to obtain the highest office in the land once again; less kooky commentators theorized that a Clinton vice presidency would motivate her to undercut him in order to get a shot at the big chair.

It all seemed a bit overblown at the time. Not anymore.

This week, a desperate President Obama called on former President Clinton to help him reinvigorate his base. They held a joint fundraiser in New York City that netted the president some $3 million.

It also netted him some good old-fashioned Arkansas ass-whuppin' from the prospective first gentleman. "I care about the long-term debt of the country a lot," Clinton told the crowd. "Remember me, I'm the only guy that gave you four surplus budgets out of the eight I sent." Ouch. The only way the moment could have been more uncomfortable for Obama is if he'd been wearing something low-cut at the time, so Clinton could undress him visually as well as verbally.

Obama should have seen it coming. The week before the event, Clinton completely undercut Obama's central strategy of attacking Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital, calling that record "sterling." "I think he had a good business career," said Bill. "A man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold."

But Clinton wasn't done. He also declared the American economy in a "recession" and suggested that President Obama re-up President Bush's tax rates.

Bill Clinton may be petty and vindictive, but that doesn't mean he's stupid. Backstabbing President Obama is a concerted strategy, not an emotional revenge tactic.

If Obama loses his re-election bid, Clinton will still be seen as the greatest Democratic president since FDR; no one-term president can challenge that title. If Obama loses, Hillary can also claim that he lost because she was isolated from central administration decisions and prepare to run as a moderate in 2016.

And so Bill has leapt into action. Driven by pride and opportunism, he's got President Obama right where he wants him. And yet, like a deer transfixed by headlights, Obama has no choice but to stand pat and hope that the Clinton bus doesn't run him down.

Every day, that hope seems less and less realistic.



Austrian economics explain what Keynes cannot

Most of my classes at UNLV were very forgettable, but classes with Rothbard changed my mindset. He made me understand that peace and prosperity can only come from free markets and liberty. It is a message that will save the world.

Although Murray is no longer with us, his colleagues and students are here to pass his wisdom on to a whole new generation of students each year at Mises University. "There exists nothing as comprehensive, learned, or world-class as Mises U," Amherst College's Gregory Campeau wrote about MU a couple years ago. "If taken seriously, it can be a life-changing week in your intellectual life."

The mainstream financial press calls this the worst economic recovery in history. Bernanke's Fed and the Obama administration have thrown everything at the economy but the kitchen sink, and even the phony government numbers are punk. GDP grew 3 percent in 2010, 1.7 percent in 2011, and 2012 doesn't look any better. Millions are unemployed and many more millions have given up. Uncle Sam provides groceries for 46 million Americans.

While government and its captive press desperately want to characterize the current economy as a recovery, it is anything but. And for young people it is a tragedy. "I've never seen the world so bad for young people. The only way I can describe it is as a Great Depression," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston's Northeastern University, who has studied young-adult unemployment in depth.

The number of young adults in their 20s without jobs is the highest since recordkeeping began after World War II, and the bleak outlook has barely improved even as the broader US economy has seen new hiring in recent months.

Only 55 percent of Americans in the 16-to-29 age bracket were working in 2010, which is down dramatically from 67 percent in 2000. However, the situation is even worse than those numbers indicate. That's because millions of young adults are also underemployed, working part time while looking for a full-time job — the modern term for that being "mal-employed," which means holders of college degrees working low-end jobs.

The average young college graduates don't know what hit them. They've done everything they were told. They went to good universities, persevered, earned their diplomas, and collectively piled up a trillion dollars in debt doing it. Now, depending on their major, they're tending bar or waiting tables.

Northeastern's Sum is outraged that the Obama administration hasn't created a stimulus plan to employ college graduates. "We've betrayed our young people badly," he said.

However, government has betrayed young people with its continuous meddling in the economy. The future is cloudy because of the endless stimulus plans, high taxation, and overregulation by government busybodies. The Federal Reserve continuously prints money, bailing out bankrupt businesses, allowing these capital wasters to destroy the resources that could spur job growth.

The Fed-induced booms and busts have decimated the retirement savings of older Americans, at the same time that price inflation keeps those hoping to retire from saving enough. Instead, they must remain on the job rather than enjoy retirement, denying positions to young people.

The worst of it is, Ben Bernanke has every intention of making matters worse. He believes it when people call him the foremost authority on the Great Depreciation. The Fed chair believes he must flood the world with money to eradicate deflation. He holds the dangerous notion in his head that he knows just the right amount of money to inject and just the proper interest rate to fix in order to centrally plan the economy.

He told a 60 Minutes TV audience a couple years ago that he was 100 percent certain of being able to control inflation. But the nation's high unemployment bothers him, and he thinks he can fix it with more money. He's wrong, but he doesn't understand that he's wrong.

Students question the authorities and the government's quashing of personal and economic freedoms. They know something is wrong when day-to-day economic news bears no relation to the state of the real economy. They don't believe the mainstream babble, because their job prospects are abysmal and they want to know what caused this mess. At Mises University they gain an academic understanding of the diabolical effects of this government tyranny. The education they receive has relevance each and every day.

Mises, Rothbard, and the rest of the great Austrian thinkers taught us that meddling by Washington and the Federal Reserve will not create economic riches. The malinvestments of the boom must be liquidated, and that liquidation process will continue despite Obama and Bernanke claiming they can reinflate the bubble prosperity. They can't.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


6 June, 2012

The American media knows where to find its friends

Barbara Walters, the grande dame of American television news, was forced to apologise on Tuesday night after it emerged that she had tried to use her influence to further the career of a former leading aide of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Emails seen by London's The Daily Telegraph show that Walters tried to help Sheherazad Jaafari, the daughter of Syria's UN ambassador, secure a place at an Ivy League university and an internship with Piers Morgan's CNN programme.

When confronted with the emails, which were obtained by a Syrian opposition group, the 82-year-old ABC broadcaster admitted a conflict of interest and expressed "regret" for her actions.

Miss Jaafari, 22, who in some reports has been dubbed "Serious Kim Kardashian", was a close adviser to Mr Assad and was at his side as Syrian troops dramatically stepped up their campaign of killing and repression.

She would speak to the president several times a day, sometimes calling him "the Dude" in her adopted American accent, and was sometimes the only official in the room when he did interviews with Western journalists.

Miss Jaafari, whose father Bashar Jaafari has known Walters for around seven years, began dealing with the broadcaster late last year as ABC News lobbied for an interview with Mr Assad.

Walters's interview in December - the first with an American television network - made headlines around the world as Mr Assad denied he was responsible for the crackdown which had already resulted in thousands of deaths across Syria. The emails show that after the interview Miss Jaafari and Ms Walters stayed in close contact.

Miss Jaafari did not ultimately get the internship nor the university place.

Miss Jaafari was part of a young circle of aides who advised Mr Assad to speak to the Western media as evidence of atrocities mounted. When he agreed to the interview with Walters in December, Miss Jaafari wrote a list of talking points advising that the "American psyche can be easily manipulated" if he were to make a limited expression of regret.




For a while, the country had the Midas touch. During 2003-07 the Icelandic stock market grew ninefold, while real estate prices tripled. But the newfound riches proved fool’s gold. The three largest banks, whose assets at their peak were nearly 10 times the national GDP, collapsed in the fall of 2008. The Icelandic currency, the krona, lost more than half its value against the euro and became all but worthless outside the country. Employers shed jobs and inflation reached 20 percent. The stock market took an 85 percent dive. And Icelanders were now on the hook for an estimated $85 billion to $100 billion in bank losses, or roughly $300,000 for every man, woman and child. And you thought we had it bad.

Yet here it is, 2012, and Iceland appears to have recovered from this debacle rather nicely – and without a bailout from the IMF. Put simply, the government allowed major banks to fail and told foreign creditors to bite the bullet. It dismantled the failed banks, paid off creditors from the proceeds of asset sales, and tightened bank capitalization requirements. The country still faces major problems. Household and business debt remains high. And some Icelanders are migrating to Norway and elsewhere in search of a job. Yet on balance, the country is far better off than could have been predicted three years ago.

Here’s how the Washington Post’s Brady Dennis this January described the scene in the principal city of Reykjavik:
On the snowy streets of this capital city, the economic panic of 2008 has mostly faded. The trendy cafes along Laugavegur brim with customers. Restaurant menus feature $40 grilled minke whale and $60 racks of lamb, and hardly a table goes empty. Boozy youths line up to pack nightclubs that thump all night. It’s even okay now to joke about the crash, or kreppa, as it’s known: “We may not have cash, but we have ash!” reads one T-shirt with a picture of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that erupted in 2010.

“Three years later,” the author writes, “the unemployment rate has fallen. Tourism has increased. The economy is growing. The government successfully raised money from investors in the summer for the first time since its crisis.”

In many ways, Iceland is an easy country to like. The 40,000-square-mile North Atlantic republic, located just south of the Arctic Circle some 500 miles from its nearest European neighbor Scotland, is a hybrid of Old Norse and modern culture. Average life expectancy at birth is now 81. Median income (2011) is around $38,000. The nonprofit watchdog group Transparency International continues to rate Iceland as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, even after the banking collapse. The country has spectacular natural scenery, including more than 100 volcanoes. One of its filmmakers, Baltasar Kormakur, directed a hit Hollywood movie this winter, “Contraband,” starring Mark Wahlberg; Kormakur, in fact, had starred in the 2008 film on which it was based, “Reykjavik-Rotterdam,” directed by another Icelander, Oskar Jonasson. And, of course, there is the instantly recognizable female singer-songwriter, Bjork, whose mix of folk-rock, post-punk and electronica has won tens of millions of fans the world over.

But the main reason to like Iceland may be its reluctance, at least when it counted, to transfer part of its sovereignty to the European Union. Iceland, despite its short-sighted bank deregulation of a decade ago, had a 7 percent unemployment rate in 2011, to be sure, way above the 1 percent preceding the collapse and yet slightly lower than the average of the immediate post-crash years – no mean feat. Annual GDP has been growing at 3 to 4 percent since 2009. “For a country whose entire financial system collapsed, Iceland is doing remarkably well,” admits Julie Kozack, IMF mission chief for Iceland.

This raises the question: Why? How could a nation witness the evaporation of its financial assets and yet stabilize the situation within a relatively short time, while much of the rest of Europe approaches the abyss? Certainly, Iceland is in far better shape without international aid than is subsidized Greece. So given all that it did wrong, Iceland must have done a few things right since.

Without discounting the importance of cultural explanations, arguably the main reason for Iceland’s resurgence is related to the economics concept of moral hazard. In essence, moral hazard refers to the additional risks that a particular party – be it a person, a corporation or a nation – takes on when it does not have to bear the costs of its mistakes. People by nature are less cautious when they know in advance that an outside party will cover them. As a corollary, the outside party, typically armed with better information about motive and action, is more likely than otherwise the case to behave irresponsibly, believing he won’t get caught or otherwise bear the cost. Think of Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, in the two “Wall Street” movies.

The flip side of moral hazard is aversion to it. That is, in assessing a possible transaction or long-term agreement, a principal party may decide that the risk of an agent mishandling his money isn’t worth the gain in expertise. Equally to the point, he may sense that taking responsibility for the consequences of his own mistakes will reduce the likelihood of making them in the first place.

Iceland is an example of the second scenario. Its government during those dark months of late 2008 and early 2009 wisely eschewed a “too big to fail” policy in dealing with the nation’s financial institutions, recognizing, if out of necessity, that it can’t compensate reckless banking decisions. “No responsible government takes risks with the future of its people, even when the banking system itself is at stake,” said then-Prime Minister Geir Haarde in an emergency address to the nation in October 2008. He would resign on February 1, 2009. Johanna Sigurdardottir, a Social Democrat, would take over.

But why did the recklessness occur in the first place? It happened in large measure because country’s bankers thought Iceland was ready for the big time. The global economy, especially the demand for homeownership, was expanding. The bankers believed they could grow rich by radically ramping up mortgage lending and then packaging the loans as marketable securities to investors on Wall Street and elsewhere – sound familiar? Escalation in house prices presumably could cover any shortfalls, and the Icelandic government or the IMF could rescue them if prices didn’t keep rising. Who wanted to be a fisherman when the world was your oyster anyway?

“You had to be crazy not to want to become a banker,” says University of Iceland student Heimir Hannesson, looking back at those years. “You went to college, studied business. You became a millionaire overnight. That was the dream. And for a few years, it was the reality.”

Unfortunately, the reality of Geir Haarde, who served as prime minister for less than three years, is that he’s out of a job and likely headed for prison. The Sigurdardottir administration is bent on meting out justice to those whom it sees as responsible for the financial collapse. Her predecessor makes for a good trophy. This March, former Prime Minister Haarde, facing four separate criminal negligence charges, took the witness stand in his defense, arguing that no government could have prevented Iceland’s crash since nobody outside the banks was aware of how much debt they were carrying. He would be found guilty anyway in April on one of the charges.

Under its new leadership, Iceland may go the way of European integration. Finance Minister Oddny Hardardottir affirmed her commitment to adoption of the euro. The country applied for membership in the European Union in July 2009 and opened talks in 2010, despite widespread domestic opposition. Hardardottir believes that using the euro isn’t in conflict with becoming more solvent, and that the euro is a superior alternative to the highly fluctuating krona. “I’m not concerned about the future of the euro,” she remarked early this year. “The demand is that countries become more disciplined in their economic management. That’s something that we should also take to heart, although we’ve shown great effort and performance in that regard following the economic collapse.”

One only can hope. But in the meantime there are a couple reasons why Americans should pay close attention to the situation in Iceland.

First, like it or not, from the beginning of the EU, we have been committed to its solvency via the International Monetary Fund. And lately we’ve become more committed than ever. This spring, IMF officials cobbled together an additional $430 billion in pledges on top of the $380 billion in existing IMF lending capacity and the aforementioned 750 billion euro (US$950 billion) EU-IMF crisis package. Our total IMF liability now stands at $172 billion, second only to the $186 billion of Japan. (It could have been higher, actually, had the Obama administration pushed Congress on the issue.) The U.S. helped pay for the Irish and Portuguese bailouts this way. Now we’re covering the Greeks.

Second, having instituted our own bailouts over the last four years, we should be experts by now on the risks of growing an economy based on moral hazard. The Bush and Obama administrations, each aided by Congress, have created large-scale emergency conduits to support the automobile and financial services industries. In the short term, we mitigated a highly painful collapse. But in the long term, we are laying the groundwork for a potentially far deeper and intractable collapse. By signaling to “too big to fail” enterprises that they need not fear going extinct, we are enabling them to make bad decisions at taxpayers’ expense. The ever-expanding federal deficit is in some measure a consequence of this. Take heart, at least, that we’re not the lead player in some North American Union; one only can imagine the ultimate cost of bailing out Mexico.

One wishes Iceland well in its ongoing recovery. It may have only roughly one-hundredth of our land area and one-thousandth of our population, but its aversion to joining the EU during the Haarde years likely has benefited other nations, ours included. “I don’t want the euro, hell no,” remarked a female food truck operator in Reykjavik several months ago. “The countries that have the euro, it’s going pretty badly.” Iceland may well get the euro anyway. If that happens, it’s conceivable the U.S., if indirectly, will be responsible for some of its bills.




WI: Walker survives recall vote: "Gov. Scott Walker, whose decision to cut collective bargaining rights for most public workers set off a firestorm in a state usually known for its political civility, held on to his job on Tuesday, becoming the first governor in the country to survive a recall election and dealing a painful blow to Democrats and labor unions."

CA: Appeals court won’t touch pro-family ruling, SCOTUS likely next: "An escalating showdown over gay rights in America appears to be heading inevitably to the US Supreme Court. Two major appeals court cases dealing with same-sex marriage are poised for possible review at the nation’s highest court -- perhaps with decisions as early as next year. A federal appeals court in San Francisco announced on Tuesday that it would not examine a February decision striking down as unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative, which effectively banned same-sex marriages in the state."

A liberal war on women: "The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), a law passed by a liberal Congress in 2009 and signed by President Obama, 'keeps many homemakers from qualifying for credit cards,' notes the world’s oldest law blog, Overlawyered."

The Bernanke bust: "To Austrians, all economic 'booms' founded on monetary largesse always end in economic busts, roughly equal in size and intensity to the preceding booms. By distorting interest-rate and price signals and, as a consequence, creating malinvestments that must eventually be liquidated, monetary booms necessitate economic busts. This is true regardless of whatever short-term benefits the economy or financial markets appear to enjoy from this largesse.

Lese majesty: "A farmer decides, in the wake of the Mad Cow outbreak to conduct tests above and beyond those required by the government in order to advertise that his beef is safer than the national standard. The USDA doesn’t allow him to do so, he cannot conduct his own tests with his own money."

Universal health care does not mean government health care: "Maybe social means are inadequate; or maybe there is some reason, which has yet to be mentioned, why governmental control is preferable, as a means for getting it, to voluntary associations for mutual aid. But whether the position is right or wrong, it’s certainly not one that can be answered simply by defining it out of existence, as you do when you pretend that the only alternatives available are (1) corporate coverage of only those who can afford it; or else (2) universal coverage by means of government mandates; as if there were no (3) universal coverage by non-governmental means."

The power of market-driven diversity: "The story of Chicago-based Supreme Life Insurance Company of America, one of the most venerable black-owned businesses in American history, challenges the prevailing fiction that minority customers need the government to guarantee services for them and is a dynamic reminder of the power of markets as a basis for economic freedom."

Wealth creation is not the enemy: "President Obama accuses Mitt Romney of putting profits above people by striving to create wealth rather than jobs during his 15 years at Bain Capital. This critique of Romney's work at the private equity firm, which Obama says will be central to his re-election campaign, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism"

The case for single-issue activism: "The only period, as I see it, when the supporters of freedom have made really sizeable inroads against the state was in the early nineteenth century where single-issue campaigns against the Corn Laws, slavery, emancipation of Catholics and so on brought substantive achievements. Many of those involved were, as Lord Acton observed, not true supporters of freedom. Similarly, amongst Thatcherism’s greatest achievements must surely be the great utility privatisations or curbing of excessive union powers even though many Thatcherites were hardly typical supporters of Liberal freedoms. It is this limited, achievable and comprehensible type of reform we first need to find and then unite behind."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


5 June, 2012

More on how a criminal Leftist got a law-abiding conservative arrested

With the help of many misrepresentations and an aged scofflaw judge

David Hogberg

As reported last week on Capital Hill, the judge in the Brett Kimberlin-Aaron Walker peace order hearing granted Kimberlin’s peace order. At the end of the hearing, Walker was led away in handcuffs.

I went back to the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County on Friday to get a copy of the warrant for Walker. I have uploaded it here (addresses and phone numbers are redacted).

The warrant was filed by Kimberlin on Sunday, and from it a few things are now clear that I got wrong in the post from last week. First, Kimberlin claims that Walker violated the second peace order Kimberlin filed against Walker, not the first. Kimberlin filed the second peace order on May 22, and it is “temporarily” in effect until the hearing on May 29th.

In it, Kimberlin basically claims that the blog posts Walker wrote between May 22 and May 27 constitute a violation of the peace order (more on that in a bit).

Also, in the blog I wrote that the “court apparently agreed (that Walker had violated the peace order) and Walker was arrested.”

That leaves the impression that the judge had Walker arrested. He did not. Rather, the warrant was carried out by a Montgomery County Sheriff, as is clear from the first page of the warrant. The easiest way for a sheriff to arrest someone is to know exactly where he is, and the sheriff obviously knew Walker would be in court that day.

In the warrant, Kimberlin claimed: "Mr. Walker has tweeted on Twitter about me in alarming and annoying ways over hundreds of times in the past week and urged others to attack me. He has generated hundreds of blog posts directly and indirectly based on false allegations that I framed him for an assault.

Mr. Walker has had many people threaten me directly with death, and told me to stop talking to the police, and not show up in court or I would die."

Notice that Kimberlin doesn’t explicitly say how Walker had people threaten him. Nowhere on his blog or Twitter feed does Walker tell anyone to threaten Kimberlin. What proof does Kimberlin then have that Walker had people threaten him? If the Tuesday hearing was any indication, he has none. Kimberlin then gets very slippery in this part:

The peace order prohibits as special condition “threats” and “no electronic contact.” I have received many threats by Electronic contact on behalf of Mr. Walker. On Saturday, May 26, 2012, at 7:57 pm, “A message from Aaron — Don’t show up in court Tuesday or you are dead. This is your only warning.” On Sunday, May 27, 1:24 pm, “If Brett does not start acting like a grown up and quit calling the police on people like a little punk, there will be hell to pay.”

Note that Kimberlin claims he has received these “on behalf of” Walker. Thus, we can safely assume that the first message is not actually from Aaron Walker. (Having spoken to Mr. Walker, I can say that it seems highly unlikely he would be that stupid.)

But the broader point here is that Kimberlin apparently believes that if Walker writes a blog post or tweets about him, and then third parties send him threatening emails, it constitutes harassment on the part of Walker. Then there is this laugher:

"Mr. Walker has urged people to intimidate me if I come to court on Tuesday by tweeting for a mob of people to show up."

While there are some tweets in Walker’s Twitter feed encouraging people to show up (see here and here), I can’t seem to find the ones where he says he wants a “mob” to “intimidate” Kimberlin.

Yet Kimberlin seems to believe that a blogger who writes about him is responsible for death threats from third parties. So maybe he also believes that asking people to show up to court is the equivalent of egging on a mob. None of this would even pass the laugh test, let alone the principles set forth in the Supreme Court case Brandenburg vs. Ohio.

But, apparently, it might pass the Vaughey test. That would be the test named after C.J. Vaughey, the judge in the Kimberlin-Walker peace order hearing who found in favor of Kimberlin last Tuesday.

Someone has posted the full audio of the hearing here, and blogger Patterico has done an excellent job posting text of some of the more outrageous moments. Here is the part where the judge invoked the Vaughey standard:

"WALKER: But, your honor, I did not incite him within the Brandenburg standard though.

VAUGHEY: Forget Bradenburg (sic). Let’s go by Vaughey right now, and common sense out in the world. But you know, where I grew up in Brooklyn, when that stuff was pulled, it was settled real quickly."

Not much to say here except that the rot that is judicial activism has obviously spread far and wide in our court system.

There was one part that was not included in Patterico’s post that is worth examining since it may shed some light on Vaughey’s biases. At one point in the hearing the judge asks Walker what if a “freak somewhere up in Oklahoma” does nasty things to Kimberlin. A little later he says, “You don’t get all these people from Oklahoma, Indiana, Wyoming, wherever the heck it is, and all of these past things.”

Looks like Vaughey forgot to mention Montana and Texas. Seriously, does Judge Vaughey think that “freaks” come from primarily red states? If so, it says a lot about his mindset. On the other hand, that may be reading too much into it. Maybe he was just listing states off the top of his head. But then, why not use the term “freak” without associating it with any states?

Vaughey is technically a “retired” judge. Perhaps he should enjoy retirement in the more traditional fashion of not going back to one’s old job.

WARNING: If you are going to post comments on this, keep it civil. In other words, NO threats of violence. Any such comments will be removed.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Florida to Continue Voter Purge in Defiance of DOJ

Florida, a key U.S. electoral battleground where the 2000 presidential election was decided by a few hundred ballots, will defy the U.S. Justice Department's warning to stop its effort to purge ineligible voters, a state spokesman said on Saturday.

The warning issued this week by the head of the Justice Department's voting section said the move to purge voters appeared to violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities. It demanded a response by Wednesday.

But a spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said the state must ensure only eligible voters cast ballots, and intends to go forward with the campaign.

"We have a year-round obligation to ensure the integrity of Florida's elections. We will be responding to (the Justice Department's) concerns next week," Chris Cate said in an email message.

Polls show Florida will be closely contested between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the outcome could swing the Nov. 6 election.

A mere 537 Florida votes decided the 2000 election in favor of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore, amid charges from both sides that some people were unable to vote, some votes were uncounted, or were counted incorrectly.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decided the contest in a ruling that halted the recount process.

Supporters of Florida's voter scrub, conducted by the administration of Republican Governor Rick Scott, say it is aimed at clearing voter registration rolls of non-citizens. But critics call it part of longstanding Republican efforts to deter minorities and the poor, who tend to vote Democratic, from casting ballots.

In its letter to Detzner on Thursday, the Justice Department also said the effort seemed to violate the 1993 National Voter Registration Act and its rules for maintaining "accurate and current" voter registration lists "in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner."

The purge effort, begun in April, compares lists of registered voters with driver's license records that contain information on citizenship. Critics contend the information can be out of date as many people become citizens after they get their driver's licenses or state IDs.

So far the state has identified about 2,700 voters as suspicious and sent them letters demanding they produce proof of citizenship to avoid being stricken from the voter rolls.



Only Getting Worse

by GADI ADELMAN (Gadi Adelman grew up in Israel, studying terrorism and Islam for 35 years after surviving a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem in which 7 children were killed)

Since returning to the United States in 1981 I've been attempting to educate people on the truth of Islam. Over the years I have seen dozens of new people emerge writing about the same thing, and it is obviously helping. There is no doubt that we are making headway and more people are aware of the threat of Islam.

It would seem to me that if more people have become educated and are aware of the situation things should be getting better rather than worse but sadly, that's not the case. Day in and day out, if you read publications other than the mainstream media, it's the same headlines, stories and news reports from all over the world. Islamic terrorism, honor killings, child brides, female genital mutilation and innocent people being murdered for no other reason than not being Islamic.

The so called "Arab Spring" has certainly made matters worse with the birth of new Islamic Republics that are demanding Sharia governments and laws.

Since 9/11 there has been 18,985 deadly attacks all carried out in the name of Islam and explicitly for Allah.

Just yesterday 15 people were killed and 38 wounded in two separate church bombings in Nigeria. Without a doubt this was the work of ‘Boko Haram', the Al Qaeda linked group who refer to themselves as the "Nigerian Taliban". The name ‘Boko Haram' actually translates to "Western education is forbidden".

Over 2 years ago, in April 2010 I wrote an article "No Big Deal, Just Some People In Africa, Right?", in which I explained that Christians were being killed by the hundreds for no reason other than because they were Christian, and yes, this was happening all in the name of Islam. Well this year alone there have been over 530 people, including women and children who have unfortunately become more of that statistic.

This week, like all others, we just see more of the same. Another Israeli soldier was killed Friday morning when a terrorist from Gaza crossed the border in to Israel and opened fire on a group of soldiers. Staff-Sergeant Netanel Moshiashvili, a medic, was mortally wounded.

Eleven Lebanese girls, between six and eight years old, were all victimized by their 22 year old teacher. The sexual assault occurred at a school in Mount Lebanon.

The teacher is said to have harassed the girls, forcing them to undergo nude photo sessions. According to the Lebanese website Naharnet:
One six-year-old told her father that the teacher had instructed her "to lift her skirt before pressing himself up against her."

A young mother was found guilty of adultery in Sudan and has been sentenced to death by stoning according to a report in the Guardian.
Intisar Sharif Abdallah was tried without access to a lawyer and is being detained with her four-month-old baby, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty puts Abdallah's age at 20; Human Rights Watch says she may be under 18.

Abdallah admitted to the charges only after her brother reportedly beat her. The conviction was based solely rests on this testimony. The man held with her reportedly denied the charges and was released.

What a shocker, she had no right to an attorney, they beat a confession out of her, and the man who denied any wrong doing was released. Sharia and women's rights hard at work once again.

Reuters reported that Brussels Police were attacked Thursday night after they arrested a Muslim woman for refusing to remove her face veil:
the woman had scuffled with officersed and she was taken to hospital with mild concussion," the police spokesman told Le Soir newspaper.

The woman's husband went to the police station later that day to complain, accompanied by about 20 others.

Protesters hurled bins and metal barriers at a Brussels police station, a spokesman for Brussels police stated "They tried to enter by force, but they were not able to, so instead they threw metal barriers and bins."

For those that don't recall, "Belgium and France both banned people from wearing full face veils in public last year."

Iran is only upping its game of words now warning the United States not to resort to military action against it, saying on Saturday that US bases in the region were vulnerable to the Islamic Republic's missiles. The Jerusalem Post article explains,
"The politicians and the military men of the United States are well aware of the fact that all of their bases (in the region) are within the range of Iran's missiles and in any case are highly vulnerable," Press TV reported Brigadier-General Yahya Rahim Safavi as saying.

Safavi also warned that Iranian missiles could reach all parts of Israel.

Yes and they really are just using the nuclear power for "peaceful purposes", why on earth would anyone not believe that after they outright threaten the US and Israel.

This article wouldn't be complete without the story of the former associate professor at Sweden's medical institute. According to the UK Daily Mail:
A former associate professor at Sweden's prestigious Karolinska medical institute is being held in police custody for cutting off his wife's lips with a knife and then eating them in Stockholm.

Talk about "eating your words.: So what would make someone do this, yes, you guessed it, honor.
The man, who is 52, admitted to cutting off his wife's lips in a closed court hearing, the paper reported, saying it was retaliation.

"It was honour related. He doesn't seem to regret a thing. He believes she insulted him," a source with knowledge of the matter told the paper.

The man, who is from Iran, was doing post-Doctoral research at the institute in 2010.

So there is just very small sample of what goes on throughout the world week after week in the world of the "religion of peace."

Yes, more people are aware, but even less seem to care. All we can do is educate, it is up to you the reader to pass it on further. Remember, we can still speak out about these atrocities, as long as we have lips.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


4 June, 2012

GOP Whistling Past the End of America

Ann Coulter

An election almost as important as the presidential election will be held next Tuesday, and conservatives aren't making a big deal of it, just as they didn't make a fuss over the 2008 Minnesota Senate election as Al Franken stole it from under their noses. (Gov. Tim Pawlenty: "Minnesota has a reputation for clean and fair and good elections. We've got 4,100 precincts run by volunteers. They do a good job, and we thank them.")

The public sector unions are trying to oust Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office for impinging on their princely, taxpayer-supported lifestyles. If Walker goes down, no governor will ever again suggest that snowplow operators work when it snows. No governor will dare try to deprive public school teachers of their Viagra. Forget about ever firing self-paced, self-evaluated, unnecessary government employees.

Always leading the nation, California has already been bankrupted by the public sector unions. That's the country's future if Walker doesn't win, and it's not going to matter who's in the Oval Office.

Democrats know what's at stake. They're treating this election like the Normandy invasion. Meanwhile, Republicans are sitting back, complacently citing polls that show Walker with a slight lead.

Polls don't register passion. Public employee unions have vast organizing abilities, millions of dollars in union dues at their disposal, and millions of voters who are either union members themselves or relatives of union members. And it's their lifestyles being voted on.

The public sector unions will turn out 99.9 percent of their people. Even if they are only 15 percent of the electorate, that could be enough. Union members will have every distant relative, every neighbor, every person they can drag to the polls, voting to recall Walker next Tuesday.

Ordinary people answering polls may agree with Walker, but they'll have to decide: "Do I really want to get out of bed early and drive to the polls, just so they don't recall the governor?"

News reports blare with the information that the Walker campaign has spent more money than the opposition. This is absurd. Every union member in the country is working to defeat Walker.

Union political operatives aren't volunteers: They're getting salaries from the unions. But those expenditures don't get counted as money spent on a campaign -- a little detail of campaign finance laws Republicans have been screaming about for 20 years.

One measure of the unions' disproportionate passion is how difficult it is to obtain non-union information about the Wisconsin fight. Try running a few Google searches on Scott Walker and the public sector unions, and you'll get 20 pages of union propaganda under names such as "Common Dreams," "All Voices," "United Wisconsin," "Veterans News Now," "Struggles for Justice," "One Wisconsin Now," "Defending Wisconsin" and "Republic Report."

From the hysteria, you wouldn't know Walker's reforms have nothing to do with government employees' salaries. He eliminated collective bargaining only for all other aspects of government employees' contracts. OK, you can have two guys on a snowplow, but you can't have a snowplow watcher.

One of the most egregious union scams Walker dispensed with was the requirement -- won in collective bargaining -- that all school districts purchase health insurance from the same provider. The monopolist insurer was WEA Trust, which happens to be affiliated with the teachers union.

Simply by eliminating this union boondoggle, Walker has already saved individual school districts millions of dollars per year, which could easily rise to hundreds of millions of dollars. (Most districts still get their health insurance from WEA Trust, but the mere threat of competition forced it to lower its price.)

Amazingly, Walker actually had to eliminate "overtime" for snowplow operators who work outside of their 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. shifts. Isn't the whole idea of snowplowers to have them work when it snows and not during specific, pre-set hours of the day?

The teachers unions wail, "It's all about the kids!" -- and then we find out the Milwaukee teachers union sued the school district because their health insurance didn't cover Viagra. Yes, it's all about the kids.

Fox News has barely mentioned this election, while on MSNBC they're doing non-stop campaigning on behalf of the unions. Apparently, James Madison will be rolling over in his grave if government unions aren't allowed to dictate how many employees are required to move a copy machine.



Race Matters...To Racists

And Democrats have dishionest arguments galore to support their racial agenda

In February 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder said America is a “nation of cowards” on race because we don’t talk about. So let’s talk about it.

Progressives are up in arms over the prospect of voters being required to show something at the polls they must show regularly to function as a productive member of society – a photo ID. It’s because progressives, particularly progressive Democrats, have a vested interest in preventing as many people as possible, especially minorities, from becoming productive members of society.

Productive members of society – and those who aspire to be – don’t need or want government to do for them what they can do for themselves. The socialists, communists, fascists and anarchists – in other words, progressives – obviously don’t have the support to win elections. They must find many votes beyond their core supporters to survive. So they attempt to manipulate minorities.

They play the race card. They attempt to convince them Republicans, particularly conservatives, are racists.

Never mind only a few generations ago, it was Democrats who were lynching black people in the South, turning water cannons on them, toying with the idea of using eugenics to eliminate them and, always, trying to prevent them from voting. Since the party of slavery couldn’t own the bodies of black people anymore, it turned to trying to own their minds.

And votes. In the last 50 years, progressives have become quite interested in minority votes as the popularity of their message has waned. They pushed for a web of government dependence to entangle minorities – direct subsidies of just enough money to encourage complacency, public housing that serves as a staging ground for continuing criminal enterprises, an education system that coddles and babysits but does not, no matter how much money is sunk into it, educate, and, from their leaders, the soul-crushing rhetoric of victimhood and entitlement. Utopia is only an election cycle away – if we can get rid of those damn Republicans.

How else to explain how U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has been in office since 1965? It certainly isn’t because he has helped his district in Detroit. It looks like a nuclear bomb went off … twice. You can tell what it used to be when you drive through, and it’s sad. There is no one in that district not named Conyers whose life is better off since he assumed office, yet he’s re-elected by overwhelming margins every two years. Why?

They vote Democrat because they are told Republicans will only make things worse. Never told – or asked – is how things truly could be worse. But it’s folly to seek logic in irrational thought.

Which brings us back to voter ID laws. Holder told a group of black preachers this week the push in some states to require a government-issued ID to vote constituted an assault on minority voting rights. He seemed unconcerned about protecting the integrity of that right.

Holder claims requiring a photo ID to vote would disenfranchise minorities disproportionately…somehow. MSNBC harps on this point relentlessly, and progressives from Rev. Al Sharpton to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., equate voter ID laws with a return to Jim Crow. But why? Do these progressives fear their partners in democracy are too stupid to obtain a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID?

The sad part is the rhetoric surrounding this issue figures only to get worse. Get real, progressives. Almost everyone has a photo ID these days. You have to have one to deal with banks, stores, school registrars, property managers, traffic cops and with the HR people where you work. Progressives should be encouraging minorities to get IDs, not concocting excuses so they don’t have to. A few years ago, they demanded illegal aliens have access to drivers’ licenses. Was that Jim Crow? Only if you want to keep those people lashed to the ship of government dependency.

There’s no upward mobility in that plan. You can’t even move across the street. You’re just stuck where you are, where your parents were, where your children will be. But you’ll keep voting for Democrats because there will always be “leaders” who you view as having the job of helping you telling you the alternative is worse.

Democrats know upward mobility is not their friend. Even the prospect of it threatens their power structure. That’s why they don’t want you having a photo ID. It’s crucial to helping you improve your life on your own. And if you can improve your life on your own, you don’t need them or anything they’re selling.

If vote fraud is such an insignificant thing – as progressives falsely claim – then why not root it out completely? Because the party that always seems to ensure the polls in St. Louis stay open just long enough to get right amount of votes to pull out close elections at the 11th hour, or miraculously finds forgotten “lost” votes in car trunks or offices after the number needed to win is known has no interest ensure the integrity of our “sacred” right to vote. They need Mickey Mouse and the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys on the rolls in every jurisdiction.

Because they want to win. And they’re willing to do anything to win. They will cheat the process they hold so dear. They will oppress the people they claim to champion. They will spend $10 trillion on the war on poverty and make not a dent in the poverty rate. Because it’s not the defeat of poverty they seek. It’s political power. Their ideas won’t win elections, so their bought votes must.

A progressive will look at someone, assess the amount of pigment in their skin and determine how that person should think and vote. Hell hath no fury like that of progressives when someone of color who dares stray from their pigmentally assigned expectations. Just ask Clarence Thomas.

That’s because what progressives want is power – government power, their power – and they have no problem using race baiting to steer votes their way.

Even if voter fraud were as rare as progressives claim, the real fraud is when they tell large chunks of the population their destiny is determined by their skin tone. A photo ID won’t set anyone free, but it is a passport to a society that values work, rewards diligence and offers an upward path. Progressives can’t have that because those who choose that path are significantly less likely to vote progressive.



Obama and the TV Networks Ignore America's Number One Issue

The government says the economy is weakening yet again and unemployment claims are rising, but President Obama is going about business as usual.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits jumped by 10,000 last week to nearly 400,000.

And the Commerce Department said the economy grew at a snail's pace 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year -- slower than the government's earlier estimate.

Despite all those glowing, exaggerated stories on the network nightly news shows that the Obama economy was taking off, Commerce officials discovered a grimmer and more negative reality in their latest numbers. Consumers were spending less than was once thought, the U.S. trade deficit shot up, and businesses aren't restocking as much because of unsold inventories.

With Election Day a little more than five months away, the Gallup Poll continues to find the weakening Obama economy and high unemployment levels remain far and away the overriding issue for most Americans. No other issue comes close.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll confirms that finding, with more than half of the voters calling the economy and jobs the "single most important issue" before the country.

But Obama continues to campaign merrily about the country as if this 800 pound gorilla of an issue didn't exist. He doesn't talk about it. He doesn't complain about it. He doesn't bemoan it. He isn't seen doing anything about it, except to blame the previous administration.

The Democratic leadership up on Capitol Hill, which controls the U.S. Senate, is similarly mute on the issue of jobs and the economy, praying things will get better on their own before November.

It is going to take more than prayer to get this economy up and running again, it's going to take aggressive, pro-job, pro-investment policies. But the so-called "party of the working class" hasn't a clue about what it takes to create economic growth and spur risk-taking private investment.

As for Obama, it isn't as if he's been busy doing more important work. There he was this week handing out gold medals to nearly a dozen of his biggest supporters, while insulting Poland with a stupid remark about "Polish death camps," when they were Nazi death camps.

On other days he is bashing Republican Mitt Romney for investing in companies to help get new businesses off the ground, despite Romney's high job creation success rate.

But even Obama, as much as he avoids the harsh daily truth of his feeble economy, can't escape the grim reality of the unemployment rates across the country -- from California (10.9 percent) to Rhode Island (11.2 percent).

The politically devastating evidence of millions of Americans who can't find full time work was on the front page of the Washington Post this week. He couldn't have missed the story.

Beneath a blunt headline that read, "Prime-age workers still lost in the recession's undertow," economics reporter Peter Whoriskey reports that the number of Americans "in their prime-working years" (between ages of 25 and 54) who have jobs was "smaller than it was at any time in the 23 years before the recession..."br />
The shrinking share of these workers now stands at 75.7 percent. Before the recession hit, it was at 80 percent.

This disturbing figure, more than any other, Whoriskey writes, "captures more of the ongoing turbulence in the job market. It reflects 'missing workers' who have stopped looking for work and aren't included in the unemployment rate."

When he talks about the unemployment rate coming down, Obama never talks about these long discouraged, jobless workers who are never added to the monthly unemployment rate. But Whoriskey says "huge numbers are on the sidelines."

"What it shows is that we are still near the bottom of a very big hole that opened in the recession," says Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a far-left think tank. She estimates the number of missing workers at about 4 million.

The immensity of this economic issue is hard to hide, though the White House, the president, the Democrats in Congress are doing their best to distract voters with other issues that are of little if any concern to most Americans.

About 83 percent of the voters polled by the Post in mid-May said the Obama economy was "poor" or "not so good," reflecting higher negative ratings than in the entire decade preceding the recession.

But the Obama administration is getting a lot of help from the network news programs who have gone to great lengths to bury this story for as long as possible.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is intensifying his focus on the economy and jobs, knowing these are the issues that will decide this election.

Obama may not want to talk about his failed record on these two issues, but he's going to be held accountable for them at the ballot box in the end.


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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


3 June, 2012

My Sabbath

In case anybody wonders how that turned out, there is a small update on my Personal blog. Wynnum is a seaside area of Brisbane.


Legal Piranhas

In this corner, weighing 110 pounds and standing 5-feet 7-inches tall, 18-year-old pop star Justin Bieber. In the other corner, some guy who was aggressively taking his picture in a California shopping mall.

Los Angeles County police are investigating accusations that Justin struck a photographer, which, if true, would violate California Penal Code 242 even if the striking blow was, well, glancing. Detectives want you to call them if you saw the brawl or if Justin attacked you, as well.

So far Bieber is not talking.

Apparently, the photographer called the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's department last Sunday afternoon. The victim says he was "battered" by the singer, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, Selena Gomez. The victim complained of "pain" and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released into the custody of a lawyer who immediately contacted the media.

Now, I am certain being attacked by Justin Bieber is no laughing matter. If the guy ever got a haircut and a neck tattoo, he could look menacing. Perhaps Justin knows kung fu.

But the odds are that this is yet another shakedown generated by a loser and his sleazy attorney who will game the system hoping Bieber will throw some money at them in order to make the annoyance go away.

There are now legions of lawyers who will file lawsuits against famous and rich people for just about anything. Lawsuits cost money to defend, and the media are overjoyed to publicize any and all alleged "transgressions." No evidence has to be provided to the press; a lurid accusation is enough. This is now an industry: Fleecing the Rich and Famous. In fact, it could be a reality show. Paging Robin Leach.

But if you really look at what's happening, it's despicable. Legalized extortion and blackmail are now epidemics in America. Famous people are routinely slandered, libeled, followed and menaced in public. And there's little they can do about it. If you are a public figure and/or have money, you are a huge target and will get little sympathy from the court or from the court of public opinion.

Recently, I took three young teenagers to see the play "Jesus Christ Superstar." Upon leaving the theater, a guy who identified himself as an "Occupy protester" was waiting for me with a camera and recorder. He began screaming nonsense. I told the guy to knock it off because he was scaring the kids. He actually yelled louder and even chased my car down the street. The girls were unnerved.

I truly wish Bieber had been with me that night so he could have smacked down that guy. I guess I could have done it, but the line of attorneys responding would have stretched from Broadway to Michigan.

We absolutely need tort reform in this country, and we need to adopt a brand-new slogan, as well: "Free Justin Bieber."



The anti-job Obama

Now would be a really good time for Obama to re-think the Keystone Pipeline. And Dodd-Frank. And Obamacare. And ANYTHING the EPA rules against outside of its own cafeteria.

Maybe lobbying and regulating against measures that would create jobs isn’t the right message a presidential reelection aspirant wants to project to the American people.

It occurs to me that maybe- I’m reaching here- the American people value the… um… jobs that would come along with the pipeline.

About 200,000-300,000 jobs would be created by the $7 billion pipeline project according to various estimate, including the estimates from Trans Canada, the compny that wants for build the pipline. A few jobs in the energy field tend to produce lots of other jobs. See: Dakota, South.

Because on Friday any president looking to be reelected got the worst of possible news outside of the Eurozone

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that the number of jobs that were created last month here in the USzone is roughly half of what economists expected, even in their worst case scenario, raising unemployment faster than people are leaving the job market.

That’s pretty darned fast.

Because up until now the only thing Obama’s done to help alleviate unemployment is to get people to stop looking for work. And as they stop, they help the “official” unemployment rate go down when people are subtracted out of the workforce.

It’s so bad that I half expect Obama and his own Mortimer Snerd, Jay Carney, to say that the real problem with unemployment is that “freakin’ people keep looking for jobs. If they’d just stop and claim to be disabled, unemployment would be solved. It can’t be constitutional for people to be looking for jobs this late in my reelection campaign.”



A crook in charge of justice

Attorney General Eric Holder recently told a group of black clergymen that the right to vote was being threatened by people who are seeking to block access to the ballot box by blacks and other minorities.

This is truly world-class chutzpah, by an Attorney General who stopped attorneys in his own Department of Justice from completing the prosecution of black thugs who stationed themselves outside a Philadelphia voting site to harass and intimidate white voters.

This may have seemed like a small episode to some at the time, but it was only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting that case -- J. Christian Adams -- resigned from the Department of Justice in protest, and wrote a book about a whole array of similar race-based decisions on voting rights by Eric Holder and his subordinates at the Department of Justice.

The book is titled "Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department." It names names, dates and places around the country where the Department of Justice stopped its own attorneys from pursuing cases of voter fraud and intimidation, when it was blacks who were accused of these crimes.

If Mr. Adams is lying, he has taken a huge risk in citing individuals by name and quoting them directly. Yet, despite the fact that most of those he accuses are lawyers, apparently no one has sued him. Moreover, Adams has also testified under oath before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, on the racial double standard at the Department of Justice, when it comes to voting rights.

What Attorney General Holder has been complaining loudly about, and launching federal lawsuits about, are states that require photo identification to vote. Holder calls this blocking minority "access" to the voting booths.

Since millions of black Americans -- like millions of white Americans -- are confronted with demands for photo identification at airports, banks and innumerable other institutions, it is a little much to claim that requiring the same thing to vote is denying the right to vote. But Holder's chutzpah is up to the task.

Attorney General Holder claims that the states' requirement of photo identification for voting, in order to prevent voter fraud, is just a pretext for discriminating against blacks and other minorities. He apparently sees no voter fraud, hears no voter fraud and speaks no voter fraud.

Despite Holder's claim, a little experiment in his own home voting district showed how easy it is to commit voter fraud. An actor -- a white actor, at that -- went to a voting place where Eric Holder is registered to vote, and told them that he was Eric Holder.

The actor had no identification at all with him, either with or without a photo. He told the voting official that he had forgotten and left his identification in his car. Instead of telling him to go back to the car and get some identification, the official said that that was all right, and offered him the ballot.

The actor had the good sense not to actually take the ballot, which would have made him guilty of voter fraud -- and, being white, he would undoubtedly have been prosecuted by Eric Holder's Department of Justice.

But the actor had made his point. When a white man with no identification can go to a voting site, impersonate a black man who lives in that district, and get his ballot offered to him, then it is far too easy to commit voter fraud.

Does not Attorney General Eric Holder understand that? Of course he understands it! The man is not stupid, despite his other failings.

Holder's pooh-poohing of voter fraud dangers, and hyping the "threat" of denying minorities "access" to the voting booth, are completely consistent with his drive to (1) maximize the number of votes by black Democrats and (2) spread as much fear as possible among minorities that they are under siege, and that the Democrats are their only protection and salvation.

It is a political protection racket, with payoffs in votes.

Nor can Holder's boss, Barack Obama, be unaware of voter fraud. After all, he comes from Chicago, where voting officials refuse to discriminate against dead people.



Reprehensible international bureaucracies

I’m not a big fan of international bureaucracies, mostly because they always seem to promote bad policy such as higher tax rates.

* The International Monetary Fund is urging higher tax rates and pushing for nations to replace flat tax systems with so-called progressive taxation.

* The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has embraced Obama’s class-warfare agenda and is pushing for higher tax rates in America.

* The United Nations is working with statists such as George Soros and urging global taxes.

* Even the World Health Organization has adopted some of this activist left-wing mentality, and is pushing global tobacco taxes.

To add insult to injury, the bureaucrats who work at these organizations have created very comfortable lives for themselves while the rest of us pick up the tab, as documented here and here.

But the ultimate insult is that the overpaid and pampered bureaucrats receive tax-free salaries while they jet-set around the world pushing for higher taxes.

Yes, you read correctly. They demand higher taxes for everyone else, but their bloated salaries are exempt!

Here’s some of what the UK-based Guardian just reported about the head of the IMF.
“Taxes for thee, but not for me”

Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged. As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes. …Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it. The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees.

To make matters worse, these globe-trotting bureaucrats have figured out all sorts of ways of padding their pay.
Base salaries range from $46,000 to $80,521. Senior salaries range between $95,394 and $123,033 but these are topped up with adjustments for the cost of living in different countries. A UN worker based in Geneva, for example, will see their base salary increased by 106%, in Bonn by 50.6%, Paris 62% and Peshawar 38.6%. Even in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, one of the poorest areas of the world, a UN employee’s salary will be increased by 53.2%. Other benefits include rent subsidies, dependency allowances for spouses and children, education grants for school-age children and travel and shipping expenses, as well as subsidised medical insurance. For many years critics have complained that IMF, World Bank, and United Nations employees are able to live large at international taxpayers’ expense.

So how do these bureaucrats justify their lavish salaries and gold-plated benefits?
Officials from the various organisations have long maintained that the high salaries are a way of attracting talent from the private sector. In fact, most senior employees are recruited from government posts.

Kudos to the Guardian for exposing this nonsense, particularly the fraudulent claim that lavish compensation packages are need to attract and retain these incompetent bureaucrats.

But let me add to the Guardian’s analysis. In a recent email exchange with several people, I addressed this issue, specifically commenting on whether the head of the IMF, Ms. Lagarde, should get a giant salary because she could earn more money in the private sector. I wrote that there were two responses to this assertion.

1. She has genuine skills as a wealth creator. In which case, we should force her out of the IMF as soon as possible so her talents can be used productively rather than destructively.

2. She can get big bucks by trading on her connections and entering the world of corporatism. Work for KPMG, or the Carlyle Group, or some other entity that specializes in getting favorable deals for the elite. That’s not the private sector.

In either case, her salary in her current position should be zero. Unless we think she should be paid the value of her marginal product, in which case she probably owes the world’s taxpayers several hundred billion dollars.

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether Ms. Largarde’s ability to earn lots of money is the result of genuine ability or cronyism. Since the IMF is pursuing bad policy, her value in that position is below zero.

My Cato colleague Richard Rahn was correct when he wrote that it is the ultimate hypocrisy for tax-free bureaucrats to lobby for higher taxes on the rest of us.

And that’s why defunding these parasitic international bureaucracies is not just good fiscal policy and good economic policy, it’s also the morally just policy.



The Great Debate

Emmett Tyrrell

Here I am on the campaign trail, frenetically promoting my book, "The Death of Liberalism." I appear on scores of radio interviews, in and out of the studio. I appear on Fox News and C-SPAN. I hardly have time for dinner, but it could be more demanding still. I could be invited to appear on mainstream media, as it is still quaintly called. Yet I am not. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC do not call. I, the editor of a major magazine from the right that has been around for 45 years, have written a book arguing that a major political ideology, Liberalism, is dead, and no one in the mainstream media seems to think it merits even a spitball. Things have changed even more than the mainstream media knows.

Thirty years ago, when I came out with a book, all the above networks -- at least all the above networks that were then in business -- would have me on. They thought I was crazy, but they would have me on. Through all these years, my views have not changed or radicalized. They remain pretty much fixed, though possibly I am a little bit more liberal. I am more tolerant of sexual diversity. I have flipped and oppose capital punishment. I am open to reforming the criminal justice system to treat nonviolent crime differently from violent crimes. But today, the mainstream media is alien country to me. I cannot get in even with a green card. Three, possibly four, presidents have been my friends, but I remain persona non grata with mainstream media, especially when I talk about politics.....

I say wherever I go nowadays that Liberalism is dead. One piece of evidence is mainstream media. It pretends the dominant political view in the country, conservatism, does not exist.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


1 June, 2012

History: The Obama version

Riffing on the re-election trail, President Obama often tells crowds that "We've got to move forward to the future we imagined in 2008." An imaginary future from the past—got it. Then there's the imaginary history of the past that Mr. Obama has been recounting lately, when his first-term spending and debt boom never happened.

Mitt Romney "warned about a 'prairie fire of debt.' That's what he said," Mr. Obama said on the Des Moines fairgrounds on Thursday, as if he couldn't believe it either. "He left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion," Mr. Obama continued, with the finely shaded eloquence for which he is known. "What my opponent didn't tell you was that federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any President in almost 60 years."

Making this a new White House theme, press secretary Jay Carney chimed in to "make the point, as an editor might say" to White House reporters that they should not "buy into the B.S. that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint with regard to this Administration. I think doing so is a sign of sloth and laziness."

Mr. Carney the media critic deeply sourced his view to someone named Rex Nutting, who wrote an 856-word column for MarketWatch that argued "There has been no huge increase in spending under the current President, despite what you hear."

Mr. Nutting claims that spending is rising at 1.4% annually, versus 8.1% for George W. Bush's second term. How did he manage to suss out the insights that have eluded every other human being who has spent time with the historical budget tables? His accounting methods are, er, unusual.

Mr. Nutting claims that Mr. Obama is only responsible for $140 billion worth of spending in his hyperactivist first year in office because . . . the fiscal year technically begins on October 1, 2009. Therefore he says Mr. Obama had no control over the budget, though in February 2009 he did famously manage to pass an $800 billion stimulus that was supposed to be a one-time deal. Mr. Nutting then measures Mr. Obama's spending growth rate against an inflated 2009 baseline that includes the spending Mr. Obama caused but which he attributes to Mr. Bush.

This is like an alcoholic claiming that his rate of drinking has slowed because he had only 22 beers today and 25 beers yesterday. To extend the analogy, let's stipulate that Mr. Bush was no fiscal teetotaler, though that's even more an indictment of Mr. Obama.

Mr. Nutting also has some fun toggling among Congressional Budget Office estimates, CBO baselines, White House budget proposals and actual spending to make the Obama record look better. To anyone who really knows the numbers, Mr. Obama's spending has increased by closer to 5% a year. Comparing apples to apples, CBO says total federal spending was $2.98 trillion in 2008 and has risen every year to reach $3.72 trillion in Mr. Obama's fiscal 2013 budget.

The larger conceptual error of the Nutting-Obama-Carney troika is neglecting to compare the budget to the size of the economy. The best perspective on how outlays, tax receipts and deficits change over time is as a share of GDP. Those data reveal historical trends because they account for different inflation rates and include changes over society as a whole like population growth.

Prior to Mr. Obama, the U.S. had not spent more than 23.5% of GDP—that was in 1983, amid the Reagan defense buildup—since the end of World War II. Yet Mr. Obama has managed to exceed that four years in a row: 25.2% in 2009, 24.1% in 2010 and 2011, and an estimated 24.3% in 2012, up from a range between 18%-21% from 1994-2008.

Democrats try to explain this away by saying that the economy is lousy, so spending's share of GDP looks larger than it would be with faster growth. But that is hardly an endorsement of Mr. Obama's economic policies, and in any case the recession officially ended nearly three years ago, in mid-2009.

The economy has since been growing but spending has been growing too even from the stimulus-inflated baselines. Every time House Republicans have tried to cut more spending since 2010, Mr. Obama has fought them tooth and claw.

As for that prairie fire of debt, Mr. Obama can fairly blame $1 trillion or so of the $5 trillion debt increase of the last four years on Mr. Bush. But what about the other $4 trillion? Debt held by the public now stands at 74.2% of the economy, up from 40.5% at the end of 2008—and rising rapidly.

In Des Moines, Mr. Obama's reading of U.S. fiscal history—"what generally happens"—was that "Republicans run up the tab" and then blame Democrats for the bill. Meanwhile, Mr. Nutting floated and Mr. Carney cited the "fact" that even Herbert Hoover spent more than Mr. Obama. Oh great. That means the President may stop blaming George W. Bush for the problems he inherited and instead start blaming Bush, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Eisenhower and Hoover.



Tragedy of unbridled self-interest


Our nation is rapidly approaching a point from which there's little chance to avoid a financial collapse. The heart of our problem can be seen as a tragedy of the commons. That's a set of circumstances when something is commonly owned and individuals acting rationally in their own self-interest produce a set of results that's inimical to everyone's long-term interest. Let's look at an example of the tragedy of the commons phenomenon and then apply it to our national problem.

Imagine there are 100 cattlemen all having an equal right to graze their herds on 1,000 acres of commonly owned grassland. The rational self-interested response of each cattleman is to have the largest herd that he can afford.

Each cattleman pursing similar self-interests will produce results not in any of the cattlemen's long-term interest – overgrazing, soil erosion and destruction of the land's usefulness. Even if they all recognize the dangers, does it pay for any one cattleman to cut the size of his herd? The short answer is no because he would bear the cost of having a smaller herd while the other cattlemen gain at his expense. In the long term, they all lose because the land will be overgrazed and made useless.

We can think of the federal budget as a commons to which each of our 535 congressmen and the president have access. Like the cattlemen, each congressman and the president want to get as much out of the federal budget as possible for their constituents. Political success depends upon "bringing home the bacon." Spending is popular, but taxes to finance the spending are not. The tendency is for spending to rise and its financing to be concealed through borrowing and inflation.

Does it pay for an individual congressman to say, "This spending is unconstitutional and ruining our nation, and I'll have no part of it; I will refuse a $500 million federal grant to my congressional district"? The answer is no because he would gain little or nothing, plus the federal budget wouldn't be reduced by $500 million. Other congressmen would benefit by having $500 million more for their districts.

What about the constituents of a principled congressman? If their congressman refuses unconstitutional spending, it doesn't mean that they pay lower federal income taxes. All that it means is constituents of some other congressmen get the money while the nation spirals toward financial ruin, and they wouldn't be spared from that ruin because their congressman refused to participate in unconstitutional spending.

What we're witnessing in Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and other parts of Europe is a direct result of their massive spending to accommodate the welfare state. A greater number of people are living off government welfare programs than are paying taxes. Government debt in Greece is 160 percent of gross domestic product. The other percentages of GDP are 120 in Italy, 104 in Ireland and 106 in Portugal. As a result of this debt and the improbability of their ever paying it, their credit ratings either have reached or are close to reaching junk bond status.

Here's the question for us: Is the U.S. moving in a direction toward or away from the troubled EU nations? It turns out that our national debt, which was 35 percent of GDP during the 1970s, is now 106 percent of GDP, a level not seen since World War II's 122 percent. That debt, plus our more than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, has led Standard & Poor's to downgrade our credit rating from AAA to AA+, and the agency is keeping the outlook at "negative" as a result of its having little confidence that Congress will take on the politically sensitive job of tackling the same type of entitlement that has turned Europe into a basket case.

I am all too afraid that Benjamin Franklin correctly saw our nation's destiny when he said, "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."



Alger Hiss is still betraying you

It was high political drama more than six decades ago—controversial and polarizing. A Harvard trained and highly ranked member of the Federal Government charged by a self-confessed former Soviet spy of being a partner in those very same nefarious enterprises.

On the one hand there was Whitaker Chambers, the somewhat frumpy-looking accuser, a man who had wandered in from the darkened cold years before, having seen the sinister reality behind the propaganda-driven hope and change promised by Communism. Then there was this other guy with poster-child-for-success looks, brains, friends in very high places, and a killer resume with seemingly endless references. His name was Alger Hiss.

Add to that mix a committee in the House of Representatives increasingly dominated by a young Congressman named Richard Nixon who was quickly climbing a ladder to somewhere—and no Hollywood writer or gifted novelist could devise a more compelling story. Along the way we learned about microfilm squirreled away in a pumpkin on a Maryland farm, one man’s dental challenges, and a President of the United States talking about something called a “red herring.”

The story simply won’t go away—nor should it. It contains the DNA of our current national political discussion and cultural divide. Ask people about the Hiss case today and many will predictably give you a deer-in-the-headlights stare. But those old enough to remember, or who have demonstrated a cultivating interest in the political history of our country for the past hundred years or so, tend to quickly reach animation. “Hiss was smeared,” or “Chambers was right,” or my favorite: “Well, that was just McCarthyism at its worst.”

Never mind that Senator Joe McCarthy didn’t even begin to make a name for himself until after Alger Hiss’s conviction on a couple of counts of perjury.

But as the saying goes—“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” And with the Hiss case it took years for a preponderance of evidence to come out proving that Whitaker Chambers was right and that Alger Hiss lied. He was a traitor and perjurer. And it still matters today, not just because of the idea of finding out the true story but because the philosophies the two men represented at the time are alive and well and every bit as distinct and diametrically opposed as the Tea Party is from the group purporting to Occupy Wall Street.

Even while denying his guilt throughout his life (he died in 1996 at the age of 92), Mr. Hiss maintained a steadfast belief in the liberalism behind all the manifestations of the New Deal. And this remains the salient talking point—the very real connection between the “progressive” political machinations and actual Marxist thought and methodology. “What Is To Be Done” gave way to what has been done. This is the story of American political liberalism from the heady days of the New Deal to the conjured euphoria of “Yes, We Can.”

In her new book, Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, Christina Shelton, a retired U.S. intelligence analyst, refreshes our memory not only about the Hiss case itself, but why it indeed still very much matters:

“The story doesn’t go away, because it has become a symbol of the ongoing struggle for control over the philosophical and political direction of the United States. It is a battle between collectivism and individualism; between centralized planning and local/state authority, and between rule by administrative fiat and free markets…
Hiss firmly believed in a collectivist political ideology; he believed government was the ultimate instrument of power for solving problems and that the U.S. Constitution should be bent or bypassed to support this view. Hiss put his political belief into practice in his support for Communism and loyalty to the USSR, a state where government authority and power were not limited by the rule of law—in fact it would brook no limit.”

Whitaker Chambers, who died in 1961, never lived to see the fall of Soviet communism. In fact, he truly believed that it would never happen and that when he left communism to embrace the ideas and ideals of American freedom he was leaving the winning side for a losing cause. We know that he was wrong—at least in the short run. Having read his wonderful political tome, Witness, several times, I often wonder what Chambers would have made of the events of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Yet, to sort of quote Ronald Reagan: “Here we go again.”

These days, the “constant vigilance” consistently needed to perpetuate liberty in the face of what often seems to be humankind’s default affinity for a clueless slouch toward tyranny (weeds grow naturally, flowers take work), seems to be in dangerously short supply. The Hiss case would be a great story for all Americans to revisit every few years—as a caveat and catalyst. Christina Shelton’s book is a great place to start. She reminds us that, “Hiss has become emblematic of the ideological divide that continues to this day in the United States…Hiss’s advocacy of collectivism and the need for government control over society and his support for international policies ahead of national security interests still resonate today.”

Toward the end of the book, Shelton tells the story of Vladimir Bukovsky, a man who spent a dozen years in Soviet prisons and labor camps as a dissident. He reflectively compared the former USSR and the European Union (EU), where “nationalism is suppressed in an attempt to establish a socialist European state.” He summarized his comments with words of warning:

“I have lived in your future and it didn’t work.”




TN: Judge’s ruling stops mosque construction: "A judge’s ruling has stopped construction of a Nashville suburban mosque that has been at the center of a rowdy debate for more than two years. Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled Tuesday that proper public notice was not given for the May 2010 meeting that approved the site plan for the mosque being built near Murfreesboro, a booming city of about 100,000 people southeast of Nashville"

Is commerce decent?: "Most people take it for granted that medicine, education and science have merit and those doing work in those fields are doing the right thing. They can claim credit for having chosen a fine calling or vocation. But the same is not so with business. A clear indication of this is that there is a great deal of talk about the social responsibility of corporations, and how companies should give back to the community in contributions, something few other professionals hear of. Are college professors being implored to do likewise? No, because their work is deemed to be worthwhile in and of itself."

Fascism is the real object of OWS wrath: "What so enrages OWS folk is actually State Capitalism, in which large enterprises operate under the guidance of and for the benefit of the State, which returns the favor by enacting laws to give each an effective monopoly. A better term for that is 'Fascism,' with every economic activity within the State and controlled by the State but not actually owned by the State; while it's an ancient idea -- 18th Century Mercantilism was one form of it -- it formed a more successful alternative to Communism in the 20th Century and seems to have been worked out first by Mussolini, who began adult life as a Communist and attracted the notice of Lenin as such, but who later recognized that it's much smarter to direct the cow and milk her, than to own her outright. What we see all around us, and what our OWS friends are protesting, is a well-developed version of such fascism."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent and 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.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ? John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"