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

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June 30, 2013

France, Homofascism, and the End of Freedom

If you want to know what the end of freedom looks like, simply look at France. With the ruling elites aligning themselves with the radical homosexualist agenda, they have declared war on their own citizens. Things are very dark right now in France, all because the militants have gotten in bed with the powers that be.

It is quite shocking to see a homo-police state emerge right before our very eyes, but that is what we have in France. Millions upon millions of ordinary French citizens are protesting the out-of-touch government and its sell-out to the radical homosexual lobby.

Plenty of recent reports about this have appeared, so let me cite some of them. Legal expert J.C. von Krempach puts it this way: “It is as foreseeable as it is unavoidable: a government that abuses its power to impose absurd and counter-natural laws such as on same-sex ‘marriages’ will soon face massive protest. And given that such laws cannot be defended with rational arguments, those in power take recourse to violence and blatant human rights abuse.

“Sadly, France is now in such a downward spiral. All those among us who believe in human rights and civil liberties should closely watch what is going on in this country, which once proudly thought of itself as the place where human rights originated, but which is now turning into something like a dictatorship in which gender-theory and homosexualist ideology hold sway, while human rights defenders are persecuted and the freedom of opinion is trampled upon.

“There is now a first victim to deplore. His name is Nicolas, a 23 year old student from Angers, who was arrested while peacefully protesting against the absurd re-definition of marriage and family by his country’s government. He has now been sentenced to one month of imprisonment for ‘rebellion’.”

“Rebellion.” Did you get that? All dictatorships of course hate any form of resistance and disagreement to the state. He continues, “This judgment apparently is intended as a clear message to all citizens that still dare to oppose the new gay-fascism: we are not going to listen to you, nor engage in any rational argument about the meaning of marriage and the family, but we will simply put you in jail. Dissident opinions will be silenced at all costs.

“Meanwhile, disturbing video footage has emerged on the internet. It shows how policemen mingled among the peaceful crowd that protested peacefully in favour of marriage and family on 26 May. These ‘agents provocateurs’ had the task of artificially provoking the violent ‘incidents’ that Manuel Valls, the French Minister of the Interior, had ‘warned’ against prior to the demonstration. The use of ‘agents provocateurs’ is a feature that is typically used by totalitarian regimes. It shows how far the gay lobby in Europe is prepared to go to push through its agenda.”

And a recent report documents all this. As Hilary White states, “A report will be presented today at a hearing at the Council of Europe detailing systematic use of excessive and violent police actions by France’s socialist government to suppress opposition to the same-sex ‘marriage’ law. The report on the French ‘Manif pour Tous and its police repression’ will be presented in conjunction with today’s session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and will be presented to the United Nations in Geneva.

“Since late 2012, millions of French citizens have participated in peaceful protests throughout France defending the natural family and the rights of children against the French government’s new gay ‘marriage’ law. The ECLJ says that in sheer numbers, this is the largest mass social movement in France since the epoch-making demonstrations of May 1968….

“The report records that from the 24th to the 26th of May, ‘around 350 people were arrested and held in custody for up to three days’. Of these 350 people, only seven were convicted, and received only light sentences. ‘The other arrests were arbitrary and were aimed to stop the social movement, in violation of fundamental freedoms of expression and manifestation,’ the report says.

“In addition to the 350 arrests, hundreds of people were arrested and detained for several hours under the pretext of identity checks.

Another write-up says this: “An international lawyer has filed complaints against France in the UN Human Rights Council for brutalizing peaceful demonstrators. Videos show French police beating marriage demonstrators, using tear gas and clubs against women, men, elderly and children.

“Homosexual marriage and adoption became law in France on May 18. But a movement numbering millions of French citizens is determined to change that. La Manif Pour Tous, which means ‘demonstration for all’, is not relenting despite the government’s attempts to intimidate and violently repress them. Since the law passed, La Manif has followed French President Francois Hollande with colorful demonstrations characterized by clean-faced youth, families, and elderly who believe children have a right to a mother and a father.

Included in those roughed up by police has been Christine Boutin, former Cabinet Minister for the Sarkozy government who was tear-gassed, and Jean-Fredrick Poisson, a Member of the French National Assembly.



Appeals Court: Hobby Lobby Can Challenge Contraception Mandate, And Will Likely Win

An appeals court said Thursday that Hobby Lobby and a sister company that sells Christian books and supplies can fight the nation's new health care law on religious grounds, ruling the portion of the law that requires them to offer certain kinds of birth control to their employees is particularly onerous, and suggesting the companies shouldn't have to pay millions of dollars in fines while their claims are considered.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain, along with Mardel bookstores, not only can proceed with their lawsuit seeking to overturn a portion of the Affordable Care Act, but can probably win.

The judges unanimously sent the case back to a lower court in Oklahoma, which had rejected the companies' request for an injunction to prevent full enforcement of the new law.

"Hobby Lobby and Mardel have drawn a line at providing coverage for drugs or devices they consider to induce abortions, and it is not for us to question whether the line is reasonable," the judges wrote. "The question here is not whether the reasonable observer would consider the plaintiffs complicit in an immoral act, but rather how the plaintiffs themselves measure their degree of complicity."

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Mardel Inc. and their owners, the Green family, argue for-profit businesses — not just religious groups — should be allowed to seek an exception if the law violates their religious beliefs. The owners approve of most forms of artificial birth control, but not those that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg — such as an IUD or the morning-after pill.

Hobby Lobby is the largest and best-known of more than 30 businesses in several states that have challenged the contraception mandate. A number of Catholic-affiliated institutions have filed separate lawsuits, and the court suggested faith-based organizations can follow for-profit objectives in the secular world.

"A religious individual may enter the for-profit realm intending to demonstrate to the marketplace that a corporation can succeed financially while adhering to religious values. As a court, we do not see how we can distinguish this form of evangelism from any other," they wrote.

A majority of judges couldn't decide whether the Oklahoma court had sufficiently addressed two parts of Hobby Lobby's initial complaint and sent them back for further review at the local level.

Throughout a ruling that covered more than 160 pages, the judges noted Hobby Lobby faced a difficult choice — violate its religious beliefs, pay $475 million in fines for failing to comply with the law (a $100 fine per day for each of its 13,000 workers), or pay $26 million to the government if it dropped its health care plan altogether.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel won expedited federal review because the stores would have faced fines starting Monday for not covering the required forms of contraception. The 10th Circuit judges said the Oklahoma court was wrong to not grant the companies an injunction in the face of serious financial penalties.

Hobby Lobby and other companies challenging the contraception mandate say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman's womb. The 10th Circuit heard the case before eight active judges instead of the typical three-judge panel, indicating the case's importance.

The U.S. Department of Justice argued that allowing for-profit corporations to exempt themselves from requirements that violate their religious beliefs would be in effect allowing the business to impose its religious beliefs on employees. In its ruling, the 10th Circuit cited a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court conclusion that for-profit corporations have rights to political expression.

"We see no reason the Supreme Court would recognize constitutional protection for a corporation's political expression but not its religious expression," the judges wrote.

Hobby Lobby calls itself a "biblically founded business" and is closed on Sundays. Founded in 1972, the company now operates more than 500 stores in 41 states and employs more than 13,000 full-time employees who are eligible for health insurance.



Radical Muslims post bounty on bloggers, Facebook users

An Islamic jihadist website, Islamic Socialist NetWork (ISN), based out of the U.K. was found on Tuesday where Muslims in the U.K., Australia, and Canada posted cash bounties on some operators of counter-jihad bloggers and Facebook users for speaking out about Islam.

On their website, photos of Facebook page administrators on “Wanted” posters were posted along with cash rewards in various amounts of up to a million dollars for personal information such names and addresses of where the operators reside.

The web site was first revealed by Schuyler Montague of Sharia Unveiled, an educational organization that teaches the truth about radical Islam, Sharia law, and history, while they were researching a story on the recent removal of Counter-jihad pages by Facebook.

Montague said, “While researching our story yesterday on the recent removal of Counter-jihad pages by Facebook, we uncovered some very disturbing information. In an attempt to locate the source of the Islamic onslaught against the freedom of expression, we ventured down the rabbit hole of Islamic hate… and what we discovered when we got there, tucked away in a dark corner, was a website operated by a terrorist organization called the Islamic Socialist Network.”

“It appears that the Islamic Socialist Network has created a “Hit List” of Counterjihad webpages to attack. And, if this wasn’t bad enough, we discovered this hit list also extends to the administrators of these web pages, as well.”

On the Islamic Socialist NetWork, one of the Jihadist posted, “Islamic socialist network has just started to name some of the most paranoid and filthy website who use [sic] “divide and rule strategy” in order to stop the message of Islam which is for all people, for those who love it like Muslim comrades and for those who are interested in this religion. This is a message for all people as well as all Muslim brother [sic] and sister (comrades).”

Then they placed a quote that said, “The goal of Islamic community [sic] is defeating their enemy. The unity of Islamic community [sic] is the first step to reach this goal.” The comment was in reference to Qur'an (3:151) "We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve"

One of the web site operators who has a $500,000 bounty threat launched against him is Jeremy Silbert, creator of the Ban Islam Facebook page, which was removed recently by Facebook due to complaints by ISN. Since that time, Silbert has since posted a video explaining his side of the story and his thoughts on having a death threat against him.

“The implications and intent of this terrorist organization and their website should be very clear. To offer such high amounts of money reflects their seriousness, their willingness to do harm and obvious financial backing with deep pockets,” Montague said.

“How many other sites are out there doing the same thing or worse? We are taking this very seriously.”



Another White House Play Date with Muslim Jihad

Michelle Malkin

Forget Paula Deen. There are far more dangerous bigots and poisonous haters spoiling the American landscape. They cook up violent rhetoric and murderous plots against our troops, our citizens and our allies 24/7. And they have direct access to the White House.

Earlier this week, the indefatigable Investigative Project on Terrorism blew the whistle on the Obama administration's latest flirtation with Muslim jihad. Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah bragged on his website that he had met with Team Obama on June 13. IPT reported that bin Bayyah was invited by National Security Council official Gayle Smith "to learn from you and we need to be looking for new mechanisms to communicate with you and the Association of Muslim Scholars."

Someone associated with bin Bayyah deleted his website reference to the meeting, but the Internet is forever. The White House has now 'fessed up to the confab. According to Fox News, a senior official spun the troubling event as a discussion about "poverty, global health efforts and bin Bayyah's own efforts to speak out against al-Qaida."

Bin Bayyah's moderate Muslim costume shouldn't fool anyone. This sharia thug, who has worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to boost his progressive-friendly cred, lobbied the United Nations to outlaw all mockery and criticism of Allah. He raised money to benefit the terror group Hamas. He is a top lieutenant of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi, who exhorts followers to kill every last Jew; sanctioned suicide bombings and the killing of our soldiers; expressed support for executing apostates and stoning gays; and declared that the "U.S. is an enemy of Islam that has already declared war on Islam under the disguise of war on terrorism and provides Israel with unlimited support."

As jihad watchdogs have reported, the administration has rolled out the red carpet for dozens of Muslim Brotherhood officers, flacks and sympathizers. IPT noted last year: "White House visitor logs show that top U.S. policy-makers are soliciting and receiving advice from people who, at best, view the war on terrorism as an unchecked war on Muslims. These persons' perspectives and preferred policies handcuff law enforcement and weaken our resolve when it comes to confronting terrorism."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 28, 2013

Homosexual "marriage"

The SCOTUS verdict recognizing homosexual "marriage" shows clearly how a self-selected liberal elite can run roughshod over the will of the people.  Effectively striking down a referendum result in California was particularly objectionable.  It is clearly the whims of a very unrepresentative Supreme Court that are sovereign in the USA, not the people or the States.

As a libertarian conservative, I think that marriage is no business of the State.  It should be a matter of private contract or a religious arrangement.  As it is however, the issue has become one of homosexual acceptance and the SCOTUS verdict has enforced that acceptance.  Again as  a libertarian conservative, I think such acceptance or non-acceptance should be a private matter, not one officially endorsed.

If homosexuals can find a church (Hint:  Episcopalians) that will let them wear pretty clothes and perform a ceremony it calls marriage, let them go for it  -- but leave the rest of us out of it.  As it is, we now have an official declaration that a union between two sodomites is equivalent to something which is basic to the survival of the human race -- a union between a man and woman.  And that surely disrespects and cheapens the standing of traditional marriage. Karl Marx would be pleased.


A shameful day for France:  A second Dreyfus case

The French establishment convict the innocent again.  And once again it is all about "The Jooos"

A French media analyst was convicted today of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a Palestinian boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces.

The footage more than a decade ago galvanised anti-Israeli sentiment, and shaped perspectives of the Mideast conflict during the second Palestinian uprising.

The al-Dura case has long stirred emotions in Israel, tapping into a larger sense of the Jewish state being victimised in the media.

The footage by France-2 broadcast on September 30, 2000, showed the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father amid a furious exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip.  It then cut to the motionless boy slumped in his father's lap. The report blamed Israeli forces for the death.

In a report issued in 2004, Philippe Karsenty said the footage was orchestrated and there was no proof that the boy had been killed.

France-2 sued for defamation, and after a long legal battle, a Paris court fined Karsenty £6,000 today. He called the verdict 'outrageous'.

Over the past decade Karsenty has amassed hours of video about the day of the shooting. At the heart of his claim is the fact that, according to the reporting by France-2, father and son were hit by a total of 15 bullets but in the video, neither appears to be bleeding.

He says the firefight is real, but the shooting of the man and boy was staged for the camera.

'I am serene because I know the truth will come out,' Karsenty said. 'Despite 15 bullets not one drop of blood was on their clothes, their bodies, the wall they were leaning against.'

Last month, the Israeli government issued a new report on the incident that said the report was misleading, provides no evidence and was part of a smear campaign against the Jewish state.

Benedicte Amblard, a lawyer for France-2, said the verdict would allow journalists to retain confidence in their work.

France-2 Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin said he and France-2 parent company France Televisions welcomed Wednesday's decision.  'Today's result is a relief,' he said, but added it did not put the matter to rest.

Enderlin, a French-Israeli national, said conspiracy theorists continue to hound them over the incident.

He said despite years of litigation and Israeli officials accusing him of fabrication, he welcomed an investigation.  'We are ready whenever Israel wants to go for a professional investigation following international standards,' he told The Associated Press.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said he had no comment on a case that delved into the intricacy of French defamation law. He said, however, that the Israeli position on the al-Dura case remains unchanged.

'It is improbable, not to say impossible, that the bullets which hit Jamal and Mohammed al-Dura came from the Israeli position,' he said. 'Where they did come from remains subject to many hypotheses, though none can be proven.'



Played Out: the Liberal Racists' "Uncle Tom" Card

By Michelle Malkin

Meet Ryan Patrick Winkler. He's a 37-year-old liberal Minnesota state legislator with a B.A. in history from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. He's also a coward, a bigot, a liar and a textbook example of plantation progressivism.

On Tuesday, Winkler took to Twitter to rant about the Supreme Court's decision to strike down an onerous section of the Voting Rights Act. The 5-4 ruling overturned an unconstitutional requirement that states win federal preclearance approval of any changes to their election laws and procedures. Winkler fumed: "VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas."

This Ivy League-trained public official and attorney relied on smug bigotry to make his case against a Supreme Court justice who happens to be black. "Uncle Thomas" wasn't a typo. Denigration was the goal, not an accident. It was a knowing, deliberate smear.

After being called out by conservative social media users for his cheap attack on Clarence Thomas, Winkler then revealed his true color: yellow. He deleted the tweet (captured for posterity at my Twitter curation site, twitchy.com) and pleaded ignorance.

"I did not understand 'Uncle Tom' as a racist term, and there seems to be some debate about it. I do apologize for it, however," he sniveled. "I didn't think it was offensive to suggest that Justice Thomas should be even more concerned about racial discrimination than colleagues," he protested.

Holding a black man to a different intellectual standard based on his skin color. Accusing a non-white conservative of collectivist race traitorism. Employing one of the most infamous, overused epithets against minority conservatives in the Democratic lexicon. "Apologizing," but disclaiming responsibility. Sorry ... that he got caught.

Just another day at the left-wing racist office.

Rabid liberal elitists expect and demand that we swallow their left-wing political orthodoxy whole and never question. When we don't yield, their racist and sexist diatribes against us are unmatched. My IQ, free will, skin color, eye shape, name, authenticity and integrity have been routinely ridiculed or questioned for more than two decades because I happen to be an unapologetic brown female free-market conservative. My Twitter account biography jokingly includes the moniker "Oriental Auntie-Tom"—just one of thousands of slurs hurled at me by libs allergic to diversity of thought—for a reason. It's a way to hold up an unflinching mirror at the holier-than-thou NoH8 haters and laugh.

We conservatives "of color" are way past anger about the Uncle Tom/Aunt Tomasina attacks. We're reviled by the left for our "betrayal" of our supposed tribes—accused of being Uncle Toms, Aunt Tomasinas, House Niggas, puppets of the White Man, Oreos, Sambos, lawn jockeys, coconuts, bananas, sellouts and whores. This is how the left's racial and ethnic tribalists have always rolled. But their insults are not bullets. They are badges of honor. The Uncle Tom card has been played out.

Of course Winkler didn't think it was offensive. Smarty-pants liberal racists never think they're being racist. In their own sanctimonious minds, progressives of pallor can never be guilty of bigotry toward minority conservatives. Ignorance is strength. Slurs are compliments. Intolerance is tolerance.

And when all else fails, left-wing prejudice is always just a well-intended joke. (PBS commentator Julianne Malveaux's death wish for Justice Thomas set the standard: "I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. ... He is an absolutely reprehensible person.")

Back in her day, before the advent of democratizing social media, Malveaux and her elitist PBS friends could get away with such vile bile. But liberal crabs in the bucket, viciously trying to drag dissenters "of color" down, can no longer engage in hit-and-run with impunity. Conservatives on Twitter have changed the dynamic in an underappreciated, revolutionary way. The pushback against liberal political bigotry is bigger, stronger and swifter than it's ever been.

You can delete, but you cannot hide.



The Regulated States of America

Tocqueville saw a nation of individuals who were defiant of authority. Today? Welcome to Planet Government


In "Democracy in America," published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation. "The inhabitant of the United States," he wrote, "has only a defiant and restive regard for social authority and he appeals to it . . . only when he cannot do without it."

Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. "In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals."

What especially amazed Tocqueville was the sheer range of nongovernmental organizations Americans formed: "Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations . . . but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fetes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools."

Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.

The decline of American associational life was memorably documented in Robert Puttnam's seminal 1995 essay "Bowling Alone," which documented the exodus of Americans from bowling leagues, Rotary clubs and the like. Since then, the downward trend in "social capital" has only continued. According to the 2006 World Values Survey, active membership even of religious associations has declined from just over half the population to little more than a third (37%). The proportion of Americans who are active members of cultural associations is down to 14% from 24%; for professional associations the figure is now just 12%, compared with more than a fifth in 1995. And, no, Facebook FB -2.43% is not a substitute.

Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington. On foreign policy, it may still be true that Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus. But when it comes to domestic policy, we all now come from the same place: Planet Government.

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly. Excluding blank pages, the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936 it was just 2,620.

True, our economy today is much larger than it was in 1936—around 12 times larger, allowing for inflation. But the Federal Register has grown by a factor of 30 in the same period.

The last time regulation was cut was under Ronald Reagan, when the number of pages in the Federal Register fell by 31%. Surprise: Real GDP grew by 30% in that same period. But Leviathan's diet lasted just eight years. Since 1993, 81,883 new rules have been issued. In the past 10 years, the "final rules" issued by our 63 federal departments, agencies and commissions have outnumbered laws passed by Congress 223 to 1.

Right now there are 4,062 new regulations at various stages of implementation, of which 224 are deemed "economically significant," i.e., their economic impact will exceed $100 million.

The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that's on top of the federal government's $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

Next year's big treat will be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, something every small business in the country must be looking forward to with eager anticipation. Then, as Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) warned readers on this page 10 months ago, there's also the Labor Department's new fiduciary rule, which will increase the cost of retirement planning for middle-class workers; the EPA's new Ozone Rule, which will impose up to $90 billion in yearly costs on American manufacturers; and the Department of Transportation's Rear-View Camera Rule. That's so you never have to turn your head around when backing up.

President Obama occasionally pays lip service to the idea of tax reform. But nothing actually gets done and the Internal Revenue Service code (plus associated regulations) just keeps growing—it passed the nine-million-word mark back in 2005, according to the Tax Foundation, meaning nearly 19% more verbiage than 10 years before. While some taxes may have been cut in the intervening years, the tax code just kept growing.

I wonder if all this could have anything to do with the fact that we still have nearly 12 million people out of work, plus eight million working part-time jobs, five long years after the financial crisis began.

Genius that he was, Tocqueville saw this transformation of America coming. Toward the end of "Democracy in America" he warned against the government becoming "an immense tutelary power . . . absolute, detailed, regular . . . cover[ing] [society's] surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way."

Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

If that makes you bleat with frustration, there's still hope.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTICAUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 27, 2013

Google protect crooks

I think there are some serious concerns about how Google operates.  My post on the topic is here.  In case they block access to this blog in response to my criticisms, make a note now of the address of my mirror site here.


So Much For “Patient Privacy”…….

The Obama Administration has been getting hammered recently for their lack of preparation in the lead-up to the “official” roll-out of The Great and Powerful Obamacare on January 1, 2014.

A mere 100 days before people are supposed to start signing up to be in the government exchanges, the administration finally decided it might be time to put up a hotline for people to get more information about what it’s all about, and what they need to do.

Wanting to be helpful (no, really - I just wanted to see how efficiently my tax dollars are being used; being a pest was merely a happy little added benefit), I decided to give the folks at the hotline a call (1-800-318-2596) and see just how much help they were going to be to the unsuspecting Low Information Voter (LIV) who decided they wanted to throw some extra money the government’s way (remember, the Supreme Court said that the government cannot force the citizenry to purchase ANYTHING).

Whoo boy.

Let me just start out by saying that if the young ladies I spoke with are any indication, Obamacare is one big implosion just waiting to happen.

There are currently 30-35 states (out of 50) who took the SCOTUS at their word, and chose not to “take advantage” of the government’s poison pill for setting up their own exchanges.  So Obama’s team gets to set up exchanges in those 30-35 states (have fun with that, m’kay guys?).

Guess who has no idea who is going to be running the exchanges in those states?  Or how much a basic policy is going to cost?  Or who is going to be paying the difference between the amount a “low-income” person will have to pay and the cost of the policy? (I neglected to point out that any exchange run by the federal government will not be eligible for the subsidies promised by the President and Congress, as expressly written in the bill – didn’t want anyone’s head to explode)

The first young lady told me that “nobody” has to pay that difference – the insurance company would be paying it.  When I tried to explain to her that the insurance company most definitely DOES NOT pay for a person’s policy, she tried her best to convince me that oh, yes, they do……

These people have no idea what a bare bones policy will cost – only that there will be a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum level of coverage.  They don’t know what the deductibles are going to be, nor do they know what the co-pays will be.  They have no idea how much of a percentage of a family’s income will be required to be shelled out for a policy premium – even though it is spelled out in black and white in the original legislation.

(She helpfully informed me that the insurance company had to pay “80/20″, but I had to inform her that the number she was quoting – per what I can only guess she was reading verbatim off of the screen in front of her – referred to the amount that had to be paid out by the company in health care costs vs. administrative costs, and had nothing to do with the cost of individual policies whatsoever).

I guess I flustered the first sweet young thing too much with my desire for explicit answers, because I was asked if I wanted to speak to an “escalation specialist” - I guess that’s the new customer-friendly term for a supervisor.

I said sure, and she asked when would be a good time for “The Escalator” to call me back.

I said I would just wait on the line – I didn’t trust them to “get back to me” otherwise.

Apparently that wasn’t something Obamabette was expecting to hear - she said “Wait a minute”, put me on hold…….and then I got disconnected.

So I called back.

I got a different Obamabette, who wasn’t any more help than the first one, but interestingly enough, she saw on her screen that I had already called in once before, and that The Escalators were scheduled to call me back – she said I should hear back from them within 2-5 business days (good thing I didn’t need a lung transplant).

She even started to call me by name – before correcting herself and calling me Ma’am.

There’s just one problem.

When Obamabette #1 asked me for my phone number, I told her I didn’t want to give it out.  I never gave her my name, either. So there should have been no way of anyone knowing anything about that first phone call when I called back the second time.

When pressed, it turned out that Obamabette #2 knew not only my name (and phone number), she knew my husband’s name as well – she even tried to tell me that perhaps my husband had also called earlier, and maybe he was the one who gave them that information.  Which he most definitely did not do, seeing as he WORKS FOR A LIVING, and therefore doesn’t deal with stuff like this (that’s my job).

When I asked her how they had gotten access to my personal information, she couldn’t give me a good explanation.

When I asked her why my information wasn’t kept private – per my explicit request – she couldn’t give me a good explanation either.

When I mentioned that a citizen might have grounds for a privacy lawsuit in light of this information, she sounded taken aback.

When I said that maybe all of the stuff that’s been reported in the media about Big Brother snooping on all of us has some merit, she got really quiet…….

Mind you, I don’t fault her for this – she’s just an entry-level employee; what bothers me is that if our government wants to make life difficult for people who are asking “inconvenient” questions, all some employee would have to do is to flag a call like mine for “further review”.

We can’t have any troublemakers in Obama’s land of Skittles and unicorns, now can we?

What happens if they look further into such an inquiry?

Will someone like me be denied coverage – even though they “promised” me that I wouldn’t be - for being obese?  For having high blood pressure?  For having high cholesterol?  For having Celiac Disease?  For having Myasthenia Gravis?

What about for voting Republican?  For supporting the Tea Party? For sending contributions to a conservative candidate’s campaign?

Will they deny my youngest daughter coverage because I didn’t have any prenatal testing done – which would have revealed her Down syndrome – and gave birth to a child who is going to be a “burden” on their system (which, I might add, we pay into quite handsomely each year)?

When I was asked for my phone number in my first call, I SPECIFICALLY stated that I did not want to give it out; I also made quite sure never to give them my name.

And yet, they had all of that information in front of them, and passed it along in a file to a supervisor.

One wonders what other information was on that computer screen – and just how they plan on using it in the future.

But no worries - The Administration promises that all of your data will be perfectly safe, and that no one will have access to your personal information unless you want them to.



Americans' foreign affairs strike home

Ever since President Clinton "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," whatever remains of standards seems to have fallen even lower among people who hold offices and positions once thought to require good behavior and strong moral character.

Last year, several Secret Service agents left the agency amid scandal after allegedly engaging the services of prostitutes while advancing a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, for President Obama.

A side note: One of the prostitutes, Dania Londono Suarez, wrote a tell-all book about the incident titled "Room Service." According to the Huffington Post's Latinovoices, she's also opening a nonprofit to "help hookers" and "has a modeling contract, plus a deal to bring her story to television." Of course, she does.

Just this week, CBS News reported that "the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within its ranks." The allegations were contained in an internal Office of Inspector General memo, leaked by a former State Department investigator, which, according to CBS News, "cited eight specific examples" of impropriety, including the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who "routinely ditched ... his protective security detail" in order to "solicit sexual favors from prostitutes."

The ambassador, of course, denies the allegations. So, not surprisingly, does the State Department, which, reports ABC News, "offered a point-by-point pushback" to the memo's claims.

"We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. Not so, says the memo. It alleges State Department investigations into the charges were "influenced, manipulated, or simply called off."

As if that isn't enough, the memo claims the State Department may have covered up details about an underground drug ring operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that allegedly supplied security contractors with drugs.

According to CBS News, the memo also includes allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards" and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security details "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries."

The solicitation of prostitutes among security details, alleges the memo, was an "endemic" problem.

This is worse than outrageous. These incidents, if proved true, are a stain on the honor and reputation of the country these people are, or were, supposed to represent.

In 1958, William Lederer and Eugene Burdick published a novel called "The Ugly American," which graphically detailed why U.S. diplomacy failed in Southeast Asia and why communism didn't. Our arrogance and boorish behavior doomed us there.

Unfortunately, the book turned out to be prophetic. Is history repeating itself, not on a military or political level, but in the destruction of what remains of our moral underpinnings?

How can the United States project its core values when people who represent it behave like out-of-control college kids on spring break?

There was a time when bad behavior carried serious consequences; a time when those who exhibited bad behavior suffered socially for their lapses. They lost jobs; they lost marriages; they lost friends.

Today, they're rewarded with book contracts and reality TV shows. What happened to doing what's right, instead of doing who's easy?

People who grew up with parents who instilled a strong moral code, attended schools that reinforced it and lived in communities that affirmed it, now find that if they question bad behavior today they're considered behind the times, even prudish.

With the media portraying all sorts of behavior as acceptable; with politicians in high places getting away with low behavior and in some cases paying little or no penalty, where are the deterrents?

Disappointing family used to be the default position for avoiding extramarital entanglements in cases where religious or ethical values did not apply.

While each man should be held accountable for his own behavior, the rest of us should consider what we're promoting and tolerating as a nation and the permission it gives others to follow bad examples.

Irving Berlin wrote a silly song called "The Secret Service (Makes Me Nervous)." We should all be nervous. We should also ask ourselves what we intend to do about it.



Obama's disturbing, hypocritical silence on Chicago gun violence

That's what we're getting from the president of the United States in the wake of Chicago gun violence that left eight dead and 46 wounded over one weekend.

Chicago is the adopted hometown of one President Barack Hussein Obama. It is a city that has some of the most draconian gun restrictions in the nation.

The weekend that began Friday, June 14, and ended Sunday, June 16, found Chicagoans enduring three days of gun carnage. According to a story on the website abclocal.go.com, Chicago police were involved in at least three of the shootings.

That means there were no fewer than 51 incidents of civilian-on-civilian mayhem. In one weekend.

You would think, as vociferous as our president was about the need for gun control and the need to end gun violence after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that we'd hear from him about the gun violence that occurred in just one weekend back in his hometown.

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But our president is no fool. He might be a smarmy, smooth-talking demagogue, but he's no fool.

He knows that saying anything about gun violence in Chicago will only highlight just how useless laws that seek to control or ban guns are.

He knows that he won't be able to make cheap, tawdry, demagogic appeals to emotion the way he did in the Newtown massacre, trotting out the parents of dead children to make the case for gun control.

He knows that probably few, if any, of the gun incidents in Chicago involved so-called assault weapons, which the Democrats howled about banning after the Newtown shootings.

And above all, the president knows this: there is no opportunity for him to be the demagogue when it comes to the Chicago shootings. There's no upside, at least not for Democrats.

Discerning Americans will note that Democrats, members of the president's party, have run Chicago for quite some time.

And those same Americans might point out that Chicago's mayor is one Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff.

You can bet that if Republicans controlled Chicago as tightly as Democrats do, and that the gun violence the city experienced in all of 2012 and just last weekend happened on the Republican watch, it would be HUGE news in the mainstream media.

And yes, there would be television and newspaper editors pointing the finger of blame for Chicago's gun violence in one direction and one direction only:  Directly at Republicans.

So lets' force Democrats -- and their esteemed leader in the White House -- to take ownership of their failure to control or even stem gun violence in Chicago.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTICAUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 26, 2013

New Deal Utopianism

BOOK REVIEW of Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning Review by George Leef

Drive south from Morgantown, West Virginia, and you soon come to the little town of Arthurdale. At the outskirts of town, there is a roadside plaque informing those who stop to read it that Arthurdale was “Established in 1933-34 under the Federal Homestead Act.” We also learn that it was a “pet project” of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and that the town was created to “assist the unemployed through self-sufficient farming and handicrafts.”

That certainly makes Arthurdale sound wholesome and quaint — proof that the federal government has the ability to improve the nation. As usual, however, there is much more to the story, and in Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning, C.J. Maloney, a writer for Bloomberg News, gives us a commendably thorough and illuminating history of Arthurdale. The town was a gigantic economic flop that was kept alive only with transfusions of taxpayer money. Far from an advertisement for the glories of government social intervention, the Arthurdale story is a testament to the social and economic damage that such intervention does.

Maloney begins with that most horrendous of all government interventions — war. World War I caused many economic changes, and one of them was that the price of coal rose dramatically, especially after Woodrow Wilson managed to drag the United States into the conflict. That led to a huge expansion of the American coal industry. Working in the coal industry paid rather well compared with the hard life of Appalachia, and many families were drawn to the “coal camps.” Coal prices remained high after the war but began to fall in 1926. Many workers left the industry, but others were “stranded” in the increasingly decrepit camps. Matters were made considerably worse by the militant posture of the United Mine Workers, which repeatedly called strikes against declining wages, refusing to recognize that consumers simply wouldn’t pay the old prices that made higher wages possible. The coal fields were riven by violence, hunger, and desperation.

As the Great Depression settled on the nation, conditions went from bad to unspeakable. Journalists wrote about the hungry, ill-clad children; the cheap, filthy houses; and the lack of sanitation. Among those who read about this extreme poverty was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of soon-to-be president Franklin Roosevelt. She was determined to help the suffering people, and one of the earliest of the New Deal programs greatly appealed to her, namely the Division of Subsistence Homesteads (DSH). She and many other Progressives who were intent on remaking America along collectivistic lines, saw DSH as a perfect opportunity to show how wonderful things could be under their philosophy. The idea was that if people would leave cities and industrial employment and go “back to the land,” clean, moral, natural life would replace the nasty conditions under capitalism. Arthurdale (and many other planned communities) would lead the way.

Many years before, in 1911, Roosevelt himself had written a piece for the New York Globe extolling the Rousseauian notion that Americans should “return to the land” because, he claimed, those who live on farms “have more time to think and study.” He had never lived on a farm, much less done the tedious and exhausting work that farming involves. His was just a romantic notion, a yearning for an imagined golden past. He was full of such foolish ideas, and they flew out of the Pandora’s box of his New Deal like a swarm of vampire bats.

The subsistence-homesteads concept also appealed to one of Roosevelt’s top advisers, Rexford Guy Tugwell. Tugwell, trained in the Progressive economic theories of Richard Ely, had gone to the Soviet Union, and like so many other western intellectuals, came back convinced that central economic planning was the wave of the future. He was eager to show that the traditional American beliefs in individualism and free enterprise were outmoded and harmful. Arthurdale would help him prove his point that socialistic, communitarian life was far better. It just had to succeed, no matter the cost.

It is noteworthy that America had had quite a few of these collectivist/agrarian societies in its past. Maloney provides some of their history. All failed rapidly, foundering on the rocks of human nature. They did not, however, have the backing of government officials eager to spend vast amounts of money taken from taxpayers to shore up their idealistic experiments. The DSH communities would.

Funding for DSH came in a single paragraph inserted into the hastily enacted National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933. It stated that $25 million was “made available to the president, to be used by him through such agencies as he may establish and under such regulations as he may make, for making loans for and otherwise aiding in the purchase of subsistence homesteads.” It did not matter that there has never been any authority under the Constitution for Congress to make such appropriations for the president to do as he pleases. Five days later Roosevelt issued an executive order placing responsibility for this program with the secretary of the interior.

Blunder after blunder

Government officials promptly went to work designing new towns. They were no good at it, of course. Why should anyone expect bureaucrats to know anything about the numerous problems and tasks building a new town entailed? Maloney recounts the numerous blunders they made, beginning with the fact that the planners chose a poor site for the farming the people were expected to do. Moreover, because of a porous rock stratum, the water supply was unsafe. Next, the prefabricated houses that an eager official purchased to get the project moving quickly would have been suitable as beach houses, but they were a lousy choice for the cold winters in northern West Virginia. The houses, once delivered, did not fit on the foundations that had been prepared for them. Many of the houses, once constructed, suffered water damage because the officials did not think to have downspouts attached. This expensive comedy of errors continued on and on.

Homes that were built in the later stages of Arthurdale’s development were much better — so much so that they put most of the other housing in the area to shame. They were faced with native stone and had all the modern amenities, which rankled people in neighboring towns who were not lucky enough to be among the favored few. Moreover, the question of exactly how the residents would pay for their houses was unsettled a year after Arthurdale was begun. Because construction was costing far more than originally estimated, officials floated the idea of selling people their houses not on the basis of what they cost, but of what purchasers could afford to pay.

And how were the residents chosen? Faculty members at West Virginia University devised an eight-page questionnaire for anyone who wanted to apply for Arthurdale. (Large numbers did.) Applicants also had to go through extensive interviews that included intimate personal questions. One of the nonpersonal questions was whether the applicant had had any farming experience, an important consideration given that the residents were to engage in subsistence farming. Of those selected, however, a large majority had no farming experience. The entire process, Maloney writes, “had a healthy dose of the subjective and arbitrary.” A federal directive instructed the local officials to favor applicants “who seem likely to welcome supervision and guidance from project administrators.” In other words, they should discriminate against self-reliant individualists.

In a way, though, that discrimination made sense because the Arthurdalians were expected to be obedient. They were not allowed to modify their homes or grounds in any way (without approval that was very hard to obtain), and they could be removed from the community if they displeased their federal overlords, as five families were. Among the things they were forbidden to do was to sell any of their crops to outsiders. That would be inconsistent with the collectivistic philosophy behind the project. Secretary of
Agriculture Henry Wallace, a committed socialist, directed that crops be grown only for “home consumption or consumption of their neighbors in the community.” Any excess was the property of the government.

Arthurdale’s adults were also supposed to have work other than tending their small plots of land — after all, the growing season there was only about 130 days. But what would they do? The planners in Washington tried many different ideas but each proved to be a failure. In anticipation of the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, (“If you build it, they will come”), DSH officials built a 10,000-square-foot factory. It wasn’t used until June 1936, when it was leased to a company that made vacuum cleaners. It provided jobs for 29 residents — until the company closed it during the sharp economic contraction (“the depression within the Depression”) that began in 1937. But the bureaucrats were undaunted. They proceeded to spend more taxpayer money to build two more, substantially larger factories. Little use was ever made of either facility.

Another financial blunder was the Arthurdale Inn, built on the site of an old mansion that Tugwell had ordered destroyed. It provided jobs for a few residents, but the only customers it had were visiting federal bureaucrats and Eleanor Roosevelt, who frequently stayed there while checking up on her “pet project.” Once again, taxpayers shelled out a lot in return for virtually no value.

Naturally, there were children to be educated. The officials in charge of Arthurdale would not allow “their” children to be schooled with other West Virginia kids. No, they wanted a school just for them and proceeded to build, at huge expense — although not very competently — a state-of-the-art school. Then they chose a woman as principal who was a true believer in progressive education theory. Education, in her Deweyesque view, was to be used to shape young minds according to the collectivist philosophy of the New Deal. She believed in “learning by doing” rather than old-fashioned “book learning” and was determined to socialize students differently than in the past. She had the students sent out into the surrounding fields when the weather was good, and when it wasn’t, the boys were sent to home economics and the girls to shop class. Grading was taboo.

Eventually the people of Arthurdale, even though they had been selected for their compliance, rebelled at the pseudo education their children were getting and demanded that the school comply with West Virginia standards. It wasn’t just the miserable education that the parents were upset about; they were equally upset over the entitlement mentality the school was fostering in their children. Maloney writes, “The settlers in Arthurdale were lucky in escaping the debilitating effects of welfare before it could become too deeply ingrained within them or their children.”

Finally, with the country’s entry into World War II, the administration’s interest in Arthurdale and the other experimental communities evaporated. The houses were sold to the homesteaders at a huge loss. They had cost on average more than $16,000 to build and were sold at prices ranging from $750 to $1,249. The factories and farmland were sold for nominal amounts — $1. Arthurdale had been a stupendous loss for the taxpayers. And yet the visionaries continued to defend their planned communities. In 1958 Tugwell gave a speech in which he argued that government was superior to private enterprise because “we provided sewer and water systems, schools, parks, and other utilities. No speculator did any of those things.”

Maloney responds to that with a devastating counterattack. In truth, many “speculators” who built homes did provide those good things, and they did so without any use of coercion to take money from unwilling people. In particular he points to James Grimes, a Pittsburgh businessman who built durable homes (and whose son was instrumental in Arthurdale). “It is men like Grimes,” Maloney writes, “who built this country and created (rather than destroyed) wealth in the process; he made a profit while making a city.” Private enterprise uses resources wisely and efficiently when the state keeps hands off. In contrast, “Those responsible for Arthurdale were like a plague of locusts, consuming far more than they gave.”

Back to the Land is a book with a message that vast numbers of Americans need to grasp: When government goes beyond its purposes of defending our liberty and property, it is certain to be wasteful, arrogant, and authoritarian.



Farm Bill death is Republicans’ opportunity on food stamps

By Robert Romano

On June 20, the $939 billion so-called “farm” bill — it should really be called the food stamp bill with 80 percent of it is dedicated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — went down in flames in the House of Representatives, failing by a vote of 195 to 234. The reason?

62 House Republicans found the cuts to food stamps, amounting to just $2 billion a year for an $80 billion a year program, to be simply too small. House Democrats, on the other hand, thought they were too much, and were also upset with an amendment to the bill that would have allowed states to increase work requirements for receiving food stamps.

Turns out when you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. In the meantime, the program is still growing out of control.

Since 2009, the amount of individuals on food stamps has soared by 15 million to 47 million on the heels of the deep recession and high unemployment, but also a 2008 sweeping expansion of eligibility for the program. That’s a 46 percent increase in the program in just four years.

For comparison, the population has only grown by 3 percent in that time to its May 2013 level of 315.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2012, Republicans routinely bashed the Obama Administration for the dramatic expansion of the program, at least implying they intended to rein it in and reform the program. Now, with the first farm bill since 2008, the House had — and still has — an opportunity to make good on its word.

The question is what lesson House Republican leadership has drawn from the farm bill’s failure. Was it that the legislation failed to attract enough Republican support? Or enough Democrats?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor might have an answer. “I’m extremely disappointed that Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership have at the last minute chosen to derail years of bipartisan work on the Farm Bill and related reforms,” he said after the failed vote.

So, Republicans were counting on Democrat support — not their conservative caucus — to get the bill across the finish line, implying the goal never was to rein in the program.

Cantor further suggested that any differences between the bills, including the state-determined work requirements, would have been worked out in conference. Is that to suggest that any conservative provisions would have been simply gutted in conference?

Leaving that aside, if a conference was inevitable, what need was there to reach a “bipartisan” compromise in the House version? Why not pass something that was pleasing to the House majority to begin with?

It’s not as if the version they attempted to pass would have had a chance in the Senate anyway, despite the fact there was so little difference between the two versions. The House version would spend about $75 billion a year on food stamps, the Senate $77 billion. That’s a distinction without much of a difference.

Which is why the 62 House Republicans who broke ranks with their leadership, holding out for real reform, are to be praised. If not for their courage, the GOP would be missing yet another opportunity to take on the welfare state.

As Americans for Limited Government Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rick Manning noted after the farm bill’s failure, “It is time for Congress to begin considering what is in the best interests of taxpayers instead of constantly doling out corporate subsidies and expanding welfare without question.”

Indeed. It is time to stop rubberstamping these government programs. It is time to take a stand.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 25, 2013

A prophet who got it right

In 1884, Herbert Spencer wrote what quickly became a celebrated book, The Man Versus The State. The book is seldom referred to now, and gathers dust on library shelves — if, in fact, it is still stocked by many libraries. Spencer's political views are regarded by most present-day writers, who bother to mention him at all, as "extreme laissez faire," and hence "discredited."

But any open-minded person who takes the trouble today to read or reread The Man Versus The State will probably be startled by two things. The first is the uncanny clairvoyance with which Spencer foresaw what the future encroachments of the State were likely to be on individual liberty, above all in the economic realm. The second is the extent to which these encroachments had already occurred in 1884, the year in which he was writing.

The present generation has been brought up to believe that government concern for "social justice" and for the plight of the needy was something that did not even exist until the New Deal came along in 1933. The ages prior to that have been pictured as periods when no one "cared," when laissez faire was rampant, when everybody who did not succeed in the cutthroat competition that was euphemistically called free enterprise — but was simply a system of dog-eat-dog and the-devil-take-the-hindmost — was allowed to starve. And if the present generation thinks this is true even of the 1920s, it is absolutely convinced that this was so in the 1880s, which it would probably regard as the very peak of the prevalence of laissez faire.

Yet the new reader's initial astonishment when he starts Spencer's book may begin to wear off before he is halfway through, because one cause for surprise explains the other. All that Spencer was doing was to project or extrapolate the legislative tendencies existing in the 1880s into the future. It was because he was so clearsightedly appalled by these tendencies that he recognized them so much more sharply than his contemporaries, and saw so much more clearly where they would lead if left unchecked.

Even in his Preface to The Man Versus The State he pointed out how "increase of freedom in form" was being followed by "decrease of freedom in fact….

"Regulations have been made in yearly growing numbers, restraining the citizen in directions where his actions were previously unchecked, and compelling actions which previously he might perform or not as he liked; and at the same time heavier public burdens … have further restricted his freedom, by lessening that portion of his earnings which he can spend as he pleases, and augmenting the portion taken from him to be spent as public agents please."

In his first chapter, "The New Toryism," Spencer contends that "most of those who now pass as Liberals, are Tories of a new type." The Liberals of his own day, he points out, had already "lost sight of the truth that in past times Liberalism habitually stood for individual freedom versus State-coercion."

So the complete Anglo-American switch of reference, by which a "liberal" today has come to mean primarily a State interventionist, had already begun in 1884. Already "plausible proposals" were being made "that there should be organized a system of compulsory insurance, by which men during their early lives shall be forced to provide for the time when they will be incapacitated." Here is already the seed of the American Social Security Act of 1935.

Spencer also pays his respects to the anti-libertarian implications of an increasing tax burden. Those who impose additional taxes are saying in effect: "Hitherto you have been free to spend this portion of your earnings in any way which pleased you; hereafter you shall not be free to spend it, but we will spend it for the general benefit."

Spencer next turns to the compulsions that unions were even then imposing on their members, and asks: "If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafter any the less slaves?"

In his second chapter, "The Coming Slavery," Spencer calls attention to the existence of what he calls "political momentum" — the tendency of State interventions and similar political measures to increase and accelerate in the direction in which they have already been set going. Americans have become only too familiar with this momentum in the last few years.

Spencer illustrates: "The blank form of an inquiry daily made is — 'We have already done this; why should we not do that?'" "The buying and working of telegraphs by the State" (which already operated them in England when he wrote), he continued, "is made a reason for urging that the State should buy and work the railways." And he went on to quote the demands of one group that the State should take possession of the railways, "with or without compensation."

The British State did not buy and work the railways until 65 years later, in 1948, but it did get around to it, precisely as Spencer feared.

It is not only precedent that prompts the constant spread of interventionist measures, Spencer points out,

"but also the necessity which arises for supplementing ineffective measures, and for dealing with the artificial evils continually caused. Failure does not destroy faith in the agencies employed, but merely suggests more stringent use of such agencies or wider ramifications of them."

One illustration he gives is how "the evils produced by compulsory charity are now proposed to be met by compulsory insurance." Today, in America, one could point to scores of examples (from measures to cure "the deficit in the balance of payments" to the constant multiplication of measures to fight the government's "war on poverty") of interventions mainly designed to remove the artificial evils brought about by previous interventions.

Everywhere, Spencer goes on, the tacit assumption is that "government should step in whenever anything is not going right…. The more numerous governmental interventions become … the more loud and perpetual the demands for interventions." Every additional relief measure raises hopes of further ones:

"The more numerous public instrumentalities become, the more is there generated in citizens the notion that everything is to be done for them, and nothing by them. Every generation is made less familiar with the attainment of desired ends by individual actions or private agencies; until, eventually, governmental agencies come to be thought of as the only available agencies."

"All socialism," Spencer concludes, "involves slavery…. That which fundamentally distinguishes the slave is that he labors under coercion to satisfy another's desires." The relation admits of many gradations. Oppressive taxation is a form of slavery of the individual to the community as a whole. "The essential question is — How much is he compelled to labor for other benefit than his own, and how much can he labor for his own benefit?"

Even Spencer would probably have regarded with incredulity a prediction that in less than two generations England would have rates of income tax rising above 90 percent, and that many an energetic and ambitious man, in England and the United States, would be forced to spend more than half his time and labor working for the support of the community, and allowed less than half his time and labor to provide for his own family and himself.

Much more HERE


Regulation nation a symptom of an incurable disease?

Niall Ferguson has a piece in the Wall Street Journal which talks about the growth of regulation within the nation.  He starts with a quote from de Tocqueville in which de Tocqueville marvels at how Americans manage to self-regulate through associations.  He then notes that de Tocqueville wouldn’t recognize the US if he were to suddenly come back.  It looks too much like Europe.  Why?

Regulation has crept in to help smother us all the while the culture has changed to where Americans seem to no longer look to each other to solve problems, but instead look to government.

Regulations are simply a symptom of this business and autonomy killing movement.  And their growth track pretty well with our demise:

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly. Excluding blank pages, the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936 it was just 2,620.

True, our economy today is much larger than it was in 1936—around 12 times larger, allowing for inflation. But the Federal Register has grown by a factor of 30 in the same period.

The last time regulation was cut was under Ronald Reagan, when the number of pages in the Federal Register fell by 31%. Surprise: Real GDP grew by 30% in that same period. But Leviathan’s diet lasted just eight years. Since 1993, 81,883 new rules have been issued. In the past 10 years, the “final rules” issued by our 63 federal departments, agencies and commissions have outnumbered laws passed by Congress 223 to 1.

Right now there are 4,062 new regulations at various stages of implementation, of which 224 are deemed “economically significant,” i.e., their economic impact will exceed $100 million.

The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that’s on top of the federal government’s $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

Got that?  224 new regulations which will have an economic impact that will “exceed $100 million” dollars.  Negatively of course.  That was the purpose of having regulations rated like that – to understand the probable negative economic impact.  And we have 224 in the hopper, in a very down economy, which will exceed the negative $100 million dollar mark.  What are those people thinking?  Or are they?  Indications are they give it no thought when these new regulations are proffered. They just note the cost and move on. No skin of their rear ends.

And if you think that’s bad, just wait:

Next year’s big treat will be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, something every small business in the country must be looking forward to with eager anticipation. Then, as Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) warned readers on this page 10 months ago, there’s also the Labor Department’s new fiduciary rule, which will increase the cost of retirement planning for middle-class workers; the EPA’s new Ozone Rule, which will impose up to $90 billion in yearly costs on American manufacturers; and the Department of Transportation’s Rear-View Camera Rule. That’s so you never have to turn your head around when backing up.

Yes, that’s right, they’re hardly done. In fact, they’re not even slowing down. The accumulation of power within the central government – the ability to intrude in almost every aspect of your life – is attempting to reach warp speed.

To say America has lost it’s way is, well, an understatement. We aren’t close to being what was envisioned at our founding and we’re almost kissing cousins of that which our Founders attempted to keep us from becoming – today’s Europe.

Unfortunately, that ruinous drift and over reliance on government seems to be fine for all too many of those who call themselves Americans today.



Trust the Constitution, not the government

Without the slightest hint of irony, President Obama said last week, "if people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress, and don't trust federal judges, to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."

Yes we are, because more and more of us don't trust government. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, "trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high."

Furthermore, notes Pew, a "majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms." What has led to this distrust?

The Benghazi cover-up, the IRS fiasco, the Justice Department's monitoring of reporters, the commandeering of phone records of private citizens in the name of national security, "data mining," the so-called "kill list," drones with the power to spy and kill, the proliferation of surveillance cameras, DNA swabs after arrests, Obamacare, unrestrained spending and unending debt. This is the federal government encroaching on our civil liberties.

The federal government long ago exceeded its constitutional boundaries. It has reached into our public schools, our colleges and universities, our wombs, our wallets; Congress banned incandescent light bulbs, Bloomberg tried to ban Big Gulps, and now government wants to insert itself into our health care. Government does few things well, but it does them at great expense.

A loss of some privacy was supposed to be the price we had to pay for security following 9/11. Obama declared the war against terrorism over, but the surveillance expanded. Now it seems there are more cameras out there then there are cicadas.

The president claims, "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls." But the government has the ability to listen. Michael Isikoff of NBC News, citing two former U.S. intelligence officials, reports, "The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data." Oops.

When I was a kid, some of my relatives had party-line telephones. People shared the same phone line but were assigned different numbers of rings so you'd know which call was yours. My cousins and I eavesdropped on other people's conversations. Will the federal government now take listening in to a new level?

We have an "on the one hand, but on the other hand" attitude about security. On the one hand we want to be safe; on the other hand we don't like government intruding on our rights because once we've lost them, they will be difficult to regain.

The notion that we should trust government is foolish and dangerous. Government officials, like all human beings, have the capacity to do wrong as well as right. That's why the Founders gave us a Constitution, to control government that "the blessings of liberty" might be secured.

Here's some history for those who missed it in history class: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution ... are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite." -- James Madison.

"Freedom is lost gradually from an uninterested, uninformed, and uninvolved people." -- Thomas Jefferson.

On this 64th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's novel "1984," uninterested, uninformed and uninvolved Americans should consider his concocted language called Newspeak, which includes: "War is peace; freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength."

Obama is speaking in Newspeak when he says government can be trusted. Government cannot be trusted. We -- and he -- must trust the Constitution.


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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 24, 2013

The Ominous Parallels

Fascism: a system of government, marked by stringent socioeconomic control, and strong central government, usually headed by a dictator. (Webster’s II New College Dictionary)

Under fascism, private ownership is in name only. There is forcible oppression of opposition and criticism and regimentation of industry and commerce. The more the private sector is controlled the more fascistic is that society. A total fascistic society does not begin as such. A society must go through a transition before it becomes totally repressive and does not necessarily have to be led by a single dictator. A fascist country can be led by any entity that enforces socioeconomic control, such as a king, a political party or a committee. Fascism develops by stages because if a king or dictator or political party were to mandate or pass laws of total oppression overnight, its evil would be so evident that rebellion would become rampant. Therefore, the authorities use the frog-in-the-slow-boiling-water effect to eventually get you.

In The Ominous Parallels, written in 1982, the author, Leonard Peikoff compared the creeping regulations in America to the creeping regulations that occurred in Nazi Germany in the 1930s leading to the oppressive fascism of the 1940s. He then predicted that the ever-increasing government controls in America would eventually result in a fascist-style government, similar to Nazi Germany. At the time he wrote this, few believed that it was possible for fascism to take hold here in America, the land of the free. Indeed, I too, was incredulous in 1982 when the book was published. Well, I believe it now!

We already have enormously strong and stringent regimentation of industry and commerce. In fact, to make matters worse, in recent months the government has taken over ownership of many businesses, partially or totally.

Peikoff wrote, “Contrary to the Marxists, the Nazis did not advocate public ownership of the means of production. They did demand that the government oversee and run the nation’s economy. The issue of legal ownership, they explained, is secondary; what counts, is the issues of control. Private citizens, therefore, may continue to hold titles to property – so long as the state reserves to itself the unqualified right to regulate the use of their property.” Peikoff continues, “But the Nazis defended their policies, and the country did not rebel; it accepted the Nazi argument. Selfish individuals may be unhappy, the Nazis said, but what we have established in Germany is the ideal system, socialism.” "To be a socialist,” says Goebbels, “is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole.” In addition, Peikoff wrote, “The system which Hitler established – the social reality which so many Germans were eager to embrace or so willing to endure – the politics which began in a theory and ended in Auschwitz – was: the 'total state.'"

At this point I digress. When I was about 14 years old I was told a joke that was mildly funny but the joke is worth telling to make a point. A Jewish mother brought her son to a psychiatrist because whenever she served him kreplach he would have a nervous reaction by flailing his arms about and yelling, “keep it away, keep away the kreplach,” like he was insanely afraid of kreplach. (For those who don’t know, kreplach are square pieces of noodle with meat inside. The noodle is laid down flat on the table, the meat is placed in the center and each corner is folded over the meat so that the meat is enclosed inside of the noodle, similar to ravioli). The psychiatrist suggested that the son watch her make the kreplach such that he could see it made in stages and have nothing to fear. So the mother went home with her son and sat him in front of her while she made the kreplach. She cut out a square piece of noodle from a larger piece and placed it flat on the table. No reaction from the boy. She placed the meat in the center. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the first corner. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the second corner. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the third corner. No reaction from the boy. She folded over the fourth corner and the boy immediately went into a tantrum, flailing his arms about and yelling “keep it away, keep away the kreplach.”

There is an analogy here. How far must the regimentation, the oppressions, the controls, the regulations progress before they are recognized as fascism (kreplach)? Could one say that it is only 25% kreplach when the first corner is folded and 50% when the second corner is folded and 75% when the 3rd is folded and 100% when the final corner is folded? Is the oppression not fascism until it is total? Isn’t it 25% fascism and then 50% and then 75% some where along the way until it finally approaches 100% fascism? As demonstrated in Peikoff’s Parallels, fascism must be recognized before becoming total in order to prevent a Nazi-type catastrophe. A little bit of fascism is never good for a society and, most importantly, there is no law of nature dictating that total fascism can’t happen here. Fascism is creeping up on us at an increasing pace.

Ludwig Von Mises and F. A. Hayek, two of the greatest economists of the twentieth century, and Fredric Bastiat, one of the wisest economist of the nineteenth century, in their various writings, proved that there can be no mixture of freedom and fascism, just as the mixture of pure water and poison is still poison. Once a little fascism is condoned, it becomes part of the system and will eventually lead to full fascism, unless there is a complete turn around in the philosophy and ideology of the masses.

As I listen to the news on the radio and TV, I witness fear and anger in so many people. However, they are not aware of what it is that they fear and of the actual cause of their anger.

Previously, I wrote that fascism entails “forcible oppression of opposition and criticism of government policies.” In August of 2009 I heard on the news that we now have a government office within the Federal Communications Commission headed by Mark Lloyd, a “diversity officer,” whose job is to ensure that there is “fair diversity” over the airwaves. Lloyd chose Venezuela (a repressive society) as his model, which will have the effect of limiting freedom of speech and forcibly oppressing opposition and criticism of government policies. Oppression of the freedom of speech has already started with the concept of “political correctness.” Lloyd will have the power to fine those who do not cooperate with his idea of “fairness.”

Now in June of 2013 we are faced with a government that has been exposed for the communo-fascist system it really favors. Even the New York Times is criticizing the Obama administration for its allowing and promoting the listening in on our conversations via telephone, emails and other communication devices that most of us use on a daily basis. The Benghazi murder cover up and the IRS attacking those with political views that are antithetical to the views of the present administration are other examples of the threat that is upon us. Another example, of limiting freedom of speech is where politicians accuse as “unpatriotic” those people who dare to criticize government-proposed policies, past and present. I am one of those who dare to speak out. Will there be a knock on my door some day by those with the power, but not the right, to drag me away to some unknown prison camp for dissenters?

The dictator who takes over in America does not have to be a loud spoken, German speaking, mustached man or an overweight, round-faced man, wearing a military uniform, who speaks Italian. He can be a soft-spoken, clean-shaven man, in a business suit with a charming smile, who goes to church every Sunday, and with his minions insists on the enforcement of his fascist mission. It is the presence of the socioeconomic controls, government regulations and government suppressions through legal and illegal coercion that defines fascism.

For fascism to get a stronghold on a nation, one more condition might develop, but is not essential. When a serious crisis occurs, citizens cry out for someone to do something about it at any cost. Of course, that “someone” is the government. In Germany of the 1930s the crisis was runaway inflation. However, any crisis will do. For America the crisis could be another terrorist attack using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; a depression; a stock market crash; a food shortage; a torrent of bankruptcies and bank failures; a bursting of the housing bubble, etc. In most cases, the crisis is government-generated, while the government’s solution is to continue to do the very same thing that caused the crisis in the first place.

In some cases, as depicted in the movie “Z,” the government surreptitiously causes a crisis in order to motivate the citizens to succumb to more government control. This gives those on top of the power pyramid even greater power. That’s why the State loves war in spite of statements to the contrary.

Some of you may say, “There is a vast difference between America and those countries where fascism ruled. Those countries did not have a system of checks and balances with free elections to prevent such a take over, as we have in America. With those two mechanisms in place, it can’t happen here.”

In reply I remind you that Adolph Hitler was freely elected into office. In addition, if we did have a system of checks and balances that actually worked in practice, America would never have already gotten this far into fascism. We are being checked and balanced into becoming a third world country, with a currency that the world no longer respects, with the threat of terrorist attacks forever with us, with Tea Parties springing up everywhere, where anger is rampant, where we have a failing education system, and a failing socioeconomic system and a plethora of failing banks and failing businesses, with a huge unemployment rate and huge mortgage foreclosure rates. You can no longer blame the “other” political party or the greedy businessmen, or the unions or the rich or the illegal immigrants or capitalism or pick your favorite scapegoat, for our problems. Such blame won’t hold water any longer. It is time that one’s ideology is examined.

The problem is enormous when the common people who support the present course of government control, from the left or the right, do not recognize that they are supporting fascism. The man on the street thinks, “after all, fascism is bad and I am a good person, therefore I can’t be fostering fascism. Only the other guys in Nazi Germany were fascists. I am nothing like them.” Then, there are the uncommon people – those fascists in Congress and the White House who also think of themselves as humanitarians who are trying to do the right thing for their country, just like the other dictators or politicians of the past tried to do for their homelands. However, the results will always be the same—eventual destruction.

I believe that the common man on the street in Germany during the Nazi regime thought that he was supporting a good cause when he supported Hitler and his thugs. Like us, the German people and the Nazis loved their children, went to church, played bridge, went to the opera and concerts, played tennis and engaged themselves in the same everyday activities as we do.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Fascism can come from the right or the left. Doing what feels good and doing what is right and works are not necessarily the same thing. To determine what works, one must analyze cause and effect. The reasoning of the “feel good” proponents goes something like this: “wouldn’t it be nice if the poor were more prosperous?” (We all would like to see that the poor were more prosperous.) Solution—“let’s give them some of my money and your money and everybody else’s money.” Problem solved. Fascist doctrine does not bother to look at the morality of such acts, the unintended and long-term negative consequences of such a policy, the side effects of the policy and never bothers to seek out the cause of the very prosperity that they wish to establish. The problem is magnified by the fact that when the unintended consequences do become a reality, fascist ideology is never blamed. Other people, groups and greed are blamed.

I am at a loss to identify what is going on in our country as anything other than “fascism,” so allow me my passion to strive for a fascist-free America by pointing out in this essay, the underlying principle that constitutes fascism. Some of the pro-fascists may say, “We only want partial fascism. What harm can that do?” Leonard Peikoff already answered that in The Ominous Parallels. I reply, “A little fascism can go a long way – a long way to catastrophe.” It’s like a communicable disease that must be stopped or it will spread until it devours the entire country.

If you desire a system of government, marked by stringent (or non-stringent) socioeconomic control, a strong central government, whether it is headed by a president, a congress, a parliament, a political party, or any entity with the power to enforce control, you are a supporter of fascism, by definition. When you support the idea that the government should own, run, regiment, control, or regulate things such as healthcare, the banking industry, the insurance industry, commerce, the schools, prices, contracts, wages, rents ad infinitum, and in addition, provide largess to those who don’t earn it, you are supporting fascism. The devastation that will follow from such policies is not some mystical Nostradamus-like prediction. It follows as sure as night follows day. Full fascism will eventually envelop the lives of our children and grandchildren and may even occur within our own lifetime if the tide is not turned.

As Thomas DiLorenzo wrote in his book Organized Crime, “It would be very difficult indeed to argue against the proposition that the U.S. economy today is even more heavily controlled, regulated and regimented by the state than Nazi Germany was at the time Hayek was writing The Road to Serfdom. Americans have traveled many miles down the road to serfdom by deluding themselves that the god of democracy will somehow save them from statist slavery. As Hayek warned, ‘there is no justification for the belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary...’”

You can stem the tide. Refrain from voting for more and more government control of my life, your life and the lives of your neighbors and fellow American citizens! Peikoff is correct. The parallels are ominous. Start espousing the opposite of fascism – total freedom!



Medicaid Expansion: Sense and Nonsense

Some states are refusing to expand Medicaid, even though the feds have promised to fully fund an expansion for a few years. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is apoplectic. In a recent piece, he cited a study estimating that a Medicaid expansion would prevent 19,000 deaths per year. What he didn’t say about the study’s author is telling.

The estimate comes from a report by Katherine Baicker and her colleagues at RAND. Since then, Baicker has co-authored what Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman calls a “much more careful study”—the recently famous study on Oregon’s Medicaid experiment. “That study,” Goodman writes, “found no effect of Medicaid (versus uninsurance) on health! Further, the Oregon study is consistent with most of the serious literature on this subject, including a very famous study by the RAND Corporation itself.”

That finding from Oregon came as a surprise, but it shouldn’t have. One might have predicted such an outcome based on the low rates that Medicaid pays providers compared to what private insurers pay: 38 percent in California, 33 percent in New Jersey, 29 percent in New York, 59 percent nationwide. You get the idea. Would moving low-income patients into state-created exchanges, where they could purchase subsidized insurance, make more sense than enrolling them in Medicaid? Not necessarily. In some states the subsidized plans may pay even less than Medicaid, Goodman notes. If the Obama Administration wants to look for a better reform worth emulating, it should consider block grants to states. “Rhode Island has shown that Medicaid block grants can save money and improve care,” Goodman writes. “It’s time to allow other states to have a shot at similar reforms.”



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 23, 2013

Angry Liberals in America

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell is staring at me with the uncontrolled intensity usually reserved for serial killers and time-share salesmen. "We know how to get the country back to work. The government needs to lead the way."

He folds a napkin in what looks like some expensive oyster bar, but is probably just a television studio backdrop. "The government has to get us back to work."

O'Donnell already has a job. His job is to yell angry things on MSNBC. Most of his listeners also have jobs or at least they have parents.

MSNBC is not a news network for the unemployed. It is a news network for aging liberals still addicted to listening to angry liberals yell about George W. Bush.

On the television, O'Donnell, doing his best imitation of a strangler, wrings his hands and leans into the camera. Lean Forward, the ad, sandwiched between a drug ad that features smiling families at a picnic while the announcer soothingly tells you all the ways it can kill you and that multiracial Cheerios ad that General Mills hopes to use convince a new generation of consumers that racial progress is more important than good taste, tells me.

The ads are more soothing than the angry MSNBC segments that they bookend. And soothing is code for upscale. Even Lawrence O'Donnell angrily leaning forward in his imaginary upscale oyster bar where there are no other people smells of that same soothing patina of a moneyed world where nothing can go wrong except minor servant problems.

Strip down MSNBC to its skivvies and you find an angry NPR. It's as if all the NPR people have given up speaking in their supercilious voices and after a few drinks at a cocktail party began holding forth on everything wrong with the canapés.

MSNBC is chock full of anger, but like Lawrence O'Donnell choking down his fury in an imaginary oyster bar over the inability of some people to understand that the government has to get us back to work in the fifth year of a liberal administration that promised to do just that, it's an anger that makes no sense.

Liberals like to mock conservatives as a bunch of angry white men, but there are more angry white men yelling at the camera in two hours of MSNBC than in two days of FOX News.

It's not the kind of yelling that unemployed men do when they get a call from the bank telling them that there will be no loan modification. It's the prissy raised voices you hear at Starbucks when the Chris Hayes lookalike is shocked to be told that the java isn't locally sourced and that if he doesn't like that he can take his MacBook Air and finish his Great Unamerican Novel in some other coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.

MSNBCers don't quite yell. Instead they tighten up, grind their teeth and treat viewers like the waiters in their oyster bar who got their order wrong. They aren't going to yell, but they make it clear that they are furious and the only thing keeping them from turning red and breaking down in a screaming fit over nothing is that they suspect deep inside that the only response to their innermost volcanic venting will be a shrug. What angry leftists who grew up convinced of their snowflake specialness fear is that their anger will not change the world. That like a squalling infant in his third rate news network crib, no one will even care.

That is liberal anger, the privileged wheeze of entitled brats who do for politics exactly what their younger counterparts do for music with Pitchfork Magazine. It's not righteous anger, but snob rage, the frustrated fury of the aesthetes of the Hill who hate what is on your iPod, your Kindle and your news feed.

"Republicans," they spit with the venom of a Mohammedan rug merchant matching wits and saliva with his camel on a hot desert day.

"Tea Party. Ted Cruz. John Boehner." These are the dread curses of the MSNBC set and are spoken like obscenities over an overturned car, like a starving urchin cursing the thief who stole his last loaf of bread, like a man sitting in an empty oyster bar speaking the name of the waiter who took his order an hour ago and then never came back.

These are the tales of the tribe that leans forward cupping hands around the smartphones that tell them who their enemies are and how they wronged them in the days of Nixon, the great betrayal of Bush v. Gore and the latest horrible plot just uncovered by the intrepid fabricators at Media Matters.

The tribe has few identities. It isn't big on religions and nations. The borders of the United States are an outdated detail to them and the only ancestry that interests them is the stark divide between white and official minority. What they have are tastes. Their tastes in music, movies, food and politics are more than interest or enjoyment... these things are their identity. The things that they love in a way that they could never love people... give them meaning.

The left is a creature of trends, it pops up in trendy places as the alternative and it is always changing and spawning alternatives to itself. It is always trying to be edgy as it can before it settles down to the pudgy displays of choked down anger of the man who does not quite dare to yell at a waiter on display nightly on MSNBC.

There is a lot of anger on MSNBC, but it is mostly misdirected anger. It is the anger of men who want to yell at their wives and sons but instead gibber at viewers in empty oyster bars that are as fake as their economics. It is the petty anger of men who have put so much of themselves into their hobbies because their shallow egotism permits them no more human a connection and tolerates not even the slightest slights against the objects of their impeccable tastes. It is the anger of an old elite that has become foolish and deranged and does not really know why it is angry anymore... except perhaps because it is dying.

Liberalism in those northeastern circles used to be a matter of good taste. There is nothing good about it anymore. It has become a suicide pact for angry lonely men who wait in imaginary oyster bars for a waiter who will never come, for an Age of Aquarius that will never be born and a transcendence of government that will never arrive no matter how they twist their hands, tug at their red napkins and lean forward.

Liberalism has become sick with its own disease. It is as dogma-ridden as any Red drinking sour beer in 1920s Chicago. It has nothing to offer to anyone except the ideological denunciation of thought crimes and the attendant superiority of being on the right side of the guillotine. And it has the misplaced self-righteousness of those who are busy pretending that they are angry about what is being done to other people, rather than their own egotistical anger with which they confront their sense of futility.

Liberalism, like all trends, seeks novelty, it burns brightest among the young, it plots to escape from history through the engine of progress only to discover that the mortality that is the greatest fear of the intellectual mayfly outlives the schemes of men.

The left personifies vanity. Its activists and advocates envision an escape from time only to drown it. Anger is their engine of change, but their anger makes only a little light and a little heat before it burns out leaving them alone in a cold dark oyster bar with history behind them, leaning forward into oblivion.



The media and the Obama administration are linked at the hip

All sorts of personal ties -- But that doesn't influence their reporting, of course (!)

The mainstream media might just be owned and operated by the Obama Administration-lock, stock and barrel. They are married at the hip, quite literally, and often have relatives within the Administration.

The Washington Post names names in a recent piece entitled, "Media, administration deal with conflicts." Conflicts of interest, that is.

But the Post takes an unusual approach to the conflicts. It says the media are unconcerned and can police their own behavior. Does this sound familiar? Eric Holder, anyone?

"So what to make of all the family ties between the news media and the Obama administration?" writes Paul Farhi for The Washington Post. "According to the news media, nothing much at all," he writes (emphasis added). "News organizations say they've worked out the conflicts-real or potential-involving their journalists. But that hasn't stopped a few eyebrows from being raised."

Consider the words of Richard Grenell, a political consultant who in an appearance on Fox News noted that top networks ABC, CBS and CNN have intimate family ties to the Administration. "CBS News President David Rhodes and ABC News President Ben Sherwood, both of them have siblings that not only work at the White House, that not only work for President Obama, but they work at the NSC on foreign policy issues directly related to Benghazi," said Grenell.

CNN's deputy bureau chief, Virginia Mosely, is married to Tom Nides, who was appointed by Obama to work under Hillary as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. This means that the Benghazi scandal causes some familial angst. What better (or worse, depending on your perspective) reason to go soft on reporting than because your own family is involved?

"Conservatives have suggested that these relationships may play a role in how the media cover Obama, specifically in their supposedly timid approach to reporting on the White House's handling of the terrorist attacks last year on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya," writes Farhi.

Clearly, ABC, CBS, and CNN cannot be trusted to tell the whole story on Benghazi. But the bias doesn't end there.

It is commonly known that David Plouffe, Obama's former campaign manager, has joined Bloomberg News as a commentator, and former senior advisor to the president David Axelrod was hired by MSNBC. (The President went so far as to joke at the latest White House Correspondents' Association dinner that "... David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.")

What is less well known is that 14 or more journalists have joined the Obama Administration and taken key posts there. "Those inside the administration hit 14 this month when the Post's Stephen Barr joined the Labor Department," reported the Washington Examiner last February. "That's a record, say some revolving door watchers, and could even be much higher: The [Washington] Post reports that "dozens" of former journalists have joined the administration, although Washington Secrets couldn't verify that tally." After all, there's "... a whopping 19 journalists and media executives, including five from The Washington Post and three each from ABC and CNN, who've gone into the administration or center-left groups supporting the president."

So the media have relatives in the Administration, accept political hacks from the Administration as commentators, and have former colleagues who work there. The interrelations are so complex that reporters have to recuse themselves behind the scenes and even reassign employees because the conflicts are too great.

What possible reason, then, would the media have to cover for the Administration's missteps? It looks like there are lots of reasons.

The Washington Post article outlines several more journalists with marital or familial conflicts. For example, "NPR's White House correspondent, Ari Shapiro, is married to a lawyer, Michael Gottlieb, who joined the White House counsel's office in April." And, "The Post's Justice Department reporter, Sari Horwitz, is married to William B. Schultz, the general counsel of the Department of Human Services; the reporter of this article sometimes writes about CBS News and is related to an employee there." In addition, "Biden's current communications director, Shailagh Murray (a former Post congressional reporter), is married to Neil King, one of the Wall Street Journal's top political reporters."

It's no wonder, then, that The New York Times and ABC News reported the recent IRS targeting scandal as a Republican attempt to gain political traction in Washington and throughout the nation, rather than as a Nixonesque grab for power.

But we are supposed to trust the media to recuse themselves from stories in which they have a conflict of interest. "Some outlets demand that their journalists recuse themselves from assignments that might tread too close to a family member's area of responsibility," reports Farhi. "ABC, for example, says that Sherwood doesn't get involved with any stories dealing with arms control, his sister's specialty," he writes. "NPR said Shapiro avoids any story in which a member of the White House counsel's office participates, such as a recent background briefing on Benghazi."

"And CNN said [Virginia] Moseley, who formerly was with ABC News, recuses herself from working on any story about the Benghazi investigation, even though her husband left the State Department in February." Note that two of the examples involve the Benghazi scandal.

While journalists may recuse themselves from stories that they may influence, that doesn't mean their existence as an employee-or, especially, as a leader-doesn't put soft pressure on a news organization to cover the story from a different angle. Sometimes all it takes is a behind-the-scenes comment to influence a story. And generally the biases are known in advance. Accepted truths are just that: the diffuse influence of friends, colleagues, and family members on a person's perspective.

But Farhi certainly leaves readers with the idea that we are safe from media bias. After all, ABC's Shipman "stopped covering politics in late 2008 after her husband, Carney, left Time magazine to become press secretary for Vice President-elect Joe Biden." Carney, of course, later became White House spokesman for President Obama. And late last month, after he had been caught either lying, or passing on wrong information about who at the White House knew about the IRS targeting of conservative groups and when they knew it, he was rewarded with a 900-word, two-page Style section puff-piece in The Washington Post about his musical proclivities and favorite band. If he were a conservative, this would have been said to have humanized him.

"She's [Shipman] now the senior national correspondent for ‘Good Morning, America'" and covers soft topics such as "diet and fitness," says Farhi.

Farhi quotes Jeffrey Schneider, ABC News' chief spokesman, as saying, "There is zero evidence, zero, that [Ben Sherwood's relationship] has had any impact on our coverage." Evidence is an interesting word in this context. How about common sense and human nature? Though not quantifiable evidence, they certainly lead us to draw conclusions. Conclusions that our liberal media clearly don't want us to draw.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 21, 2013

The news


Bill Clinton's war and his crooked and bungling antisemitic general

A war in which Clinton bombed Christians to help Muslims, it was also a military action that was not authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations and was therefore contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter. That set a rather clear precedent for the attack on Iraq by GWB but is rarely condemned, unlike the Iraq action.

Despite having a Jewish father, Clark's views about "New York money people" are well known. Some of Clark's follies are detailed below but we should also recollect his order for British forces under his command to attack a Russian contingent. Not without amusement, the British refused. Provoking mutiny is one of the lowest depths of military incompetence

The New York Times op-ed page has a piece by retired General Wesley Clark headlined: “To Get a Truce, Be Ready to Escalate.” The Times summarizes Clark’s wisdom: “The threat of force might get talks over Syria moving, as it did in Kosovo.”

Clark opines as if the military campaign which he headed was a stellar moral and strategic success: “In 1999 in Kosovo, the West used force as leverage for diplomacy. There, a limited NATO air campaign began after diplomatic talks failed to halt Serbian ethnic cleansing. The bombing lasted 72 days, and plans for a ground invasion of Serbia were under way when Mr. Milosevic finally bowed to the inevitable.”

It is stunning that anyone who showcase Clark as a wise man – considering the fiasco that he unleashed in the Balkans. For instance, NATO repeatedly dropped cluster bombs into marketplaces, hospitals, and other civilian areas. Cluster bombs are anti-personnel devices designed to be scattered across enemy troop formations. NATO dropped more than 1,300 cluster bombs on Serbia and Kosovo and each bomb contained 208 separate bomblets that floated to earth by parachute. Bomb experts estimated that more than 10,000 unexploded bomblets were scattered around the landscape when the bombing ended.

NATO worked overtime to explain away its “mistakes.” On April 12, a NATO pilot sent a missile into a passenger train on a railway bridge, killing 14 people. Clark took to the press podium to show the video from the nose of the missile, emphasizing that the pilot was focused on the bridge, “when all of a sudden, at the very last instant, with less than a second to go, he caught a flash of movement that came into a screen and it was the train coming in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dump the bomb at that point. It was locked, it was going into the target and it was an unfortunate incident which he and the crew and all of us very much regret.” The video was endlessly replayed on Western television stations, driving home the point that, with the speed of modern missiles, there was sometimes nothing pilots could do to avoid catastrophe.

However, in January 2000, the Frankfurter Rundschau revealed that the video was shown at the NATO press conference at triple the actual speed, thus making the attack on civilians look far more inevitable than it actually was. NATO officials had become aware of the deceptive nature of the video several months earlier but saw “no reason” to publicly admit the error, according to a U.S. Air Force spokesman.

On April 14, 1999, NATO bombs repeatedly hit a column of ethnic Albanian refugees a few miles from the Albanian border, killing 75 people. NATO spokesmen initially claimed that Serbian planes carried out the attack and used the incident to further inflame anti-Serbian opinion. Five days later, NATO spokesmen admitted that the deaths had been caused by NATO forces. NATO then released the audio tape from the debriefing of a pilot identified as involved in the attack.

As Newsday reported, “According to officials, the American pilot was selected because he gave a graphic account of Milosevic’s forces torching a series of ethnic Albanian villages near the Kosovo town of Dakojvica Wednesday. The pilot told how he selected a three-truck military convoy for a laser-guided bomb strike when he saw it pulling away from a village where fires were just starting.”

However, this gambit backfired when high-ranking military officers protested that NATO, at Clark’s urging, had released the tape of a pilot who had nothing to do with bombing the refugee column. The pilot’s words were a red herring to distract attention from the carnage inflicted on the refugees.

The main achievement of the war was that, instead of Serbs terrorizing ethnic Albanians, ethnic Albanians terrorized Serbs; instead of refugees fleeing south and west, refugees headed north.

Unfortunately, few Americans paid close enough attention to the Kosovo war to recognize the danger of permitting the U.S. government and military commanders to go crusading with bombs dropped from 15,000 feet.

Thus, Clark is treated with respect when he recommends unleashing the same recipe for carnage in Syria.



Hospital Pricing Strategies

CNN and Time Magazine discovered how hospital charges mounted for one family. Nurses pricked the patient’s finger for a glucose test 190 times. At $39 a pop that totaled $7,410. A breathing ventilator generated 32 separate bills, totaling $65,600. There were separate charges for the IV tube and for asking for a urine bottle.

A box of tissues is a “mucus recovery system.” A teddy bear is a “cough suppression device” and can cost between $128 and $200.

Remember those little white cups fast food restaurants give you for free to put ketchup in? In fact there are restaurants giving them away for free in the lobby areas of many hospitals. In the hospital room, however, these are billed as “oral administration fees” and for one patient they totaled $5,000.

How could things be different? They already are different. Show me a market where there is no BlueCross, no Medicare and no employer paying the bills and you very likely have found a health care market that works very well, as I point out in my recent book “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.”

All over the country, retail establishments are offering primary care services to cash-paying patients. Because these services arose outside of the third-party payment system, their prices are free market prices. Walk-in clinics, doc-in-the-box clinics, and freestanding emergency care clinics post prices and usually deliver high quality care.

Cosmetic surgery is rarely covered by insurance. Because providers know their patients must pay out of pocket and are price-sensitive, patients can typically (1) find a package price in advance covering all services and facilities, (2) compare prices prior to surgery, and (3) pay a price that has been falling over time in real terms — despite a huge increase in volume and considerable technical innovation (which is blamed for increasing costs for every other type of surgery).

In the market for LASIK surgery, patients face package prices covering all aspects of the procedure. As with cosmetic surgery, whenever there is price transparency and price competition, the cost tends to be controlled. From 1999 (when eye doctors began performing LASIK in volume) through 2011, the real price of conventional LASIK fell about one-fourth.

Medical services for cash-paying patients have popped up in numerous market niches where third-party payment has left needs unmet. It is surprising how often providers of these services offer the very quality enhancements that critics complain are missing in traditional medical care.

Bottom line: Markets in medical care can work and work well — especially when third-party payers are not involved.



Overkill: Why This Gigantic "Intelligence" Apparatus?

On July 19, 2010, the Washington Post published the first of three large reports by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin on the dimensions of the gigantic US apparatus of "intelligence" activities being undertaken to combat terrorist acts against the United States, such as the 9/11 attacks. To say that this activity amounts to mobilizing every police officer in the country to stop street fights in Camden only begins to suggest its almost-unbelievable disproportion to the alleged threat.

Among Priest and Arkin's findings from a two-year study are the following:

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

[We] discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space.

Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year — a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

According to retired admiral Dennis C. Blair, formerly the director of national intelligence, after 9/11 "the attitude was, if it's worth doing, it's probably worth overdoing." I submit that this explanation does not cut to the heart of the matter. As it stands, it suggests a sort of mindless desire to pile mountains of money, technology, and personnel on top of an already-enormous mountain of money, technology, and personnel for no reason other than the vague notion that more must be better. In my view, national politics does not work in that way.

As Priest and Arkin report, "The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 2 ½ times the size it was on September 10, 2001. But the figure doesn't include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs." Virtually everyone the reporters consulted told them in effect that "the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending." To be sure, they received more than they could spend responsibly, but not more than they were eager to spend irresponsibly. After all, it's not as if they were spending their own money.

"The most plausible reason why so few attacks have occurred is that very few persons have been trying to carry them out."
Why would these hundreds of organizations and contracting companies be willing to take gigantic amounts of the taxpayers' money when everyone agrees that the money cannot be spent sensibly and that the system already in place cannot function effectively or efficiently to attain its ostensible purpose? The question answers itself. It's loot for the taking, and there has been no shortage of takers. Indeed, these stationary bandits continue to demand more money each year.

And for what? The announced goal is to identify terrorists and eliminate them or prevent them from carrying out their nefarious acts. This is simultaneously a small task and an impossible one.

It is small because the number of persons seeking to carry out a terrorist act of substantial consequence against the United States and in a position to do so cannot be more than a handful. If the number were greater, we would have seen many more attacks or attempted attacks during the past decade — after all, the number of possible targets is virtually unlimited, and the attackers might cause some form of damage in countless ways. The most plausible reason why so few attacks or attempted attacks have occurred is that very few persons have been trying to carry them out. (I refer to genuine attempts, not to the phony-baloney schemes planted in the minds of simpletons by government undercover agents and then trumpeted to the heavens when the FBI "captures" the unfortunate victims of the government's entrapment.)

So the true dimension of the terrorism problem that forms the excuse for these hundreds of programs of official predation against the taxpayers is small — not even in the same class with, say, reducing automobile-accident or household-accident deaths by 20 percent.

Yet, at the same time, the antiterrorism task is impossible because terrorism is a simple act available in some form to practically any determined adult with access to Americans and their property at home or abroad. It is simply not possible to stop all acts of terrorism if potential terrorists have been given a sufficient grievance to motivate their wreaking some form of havoc against Americans. However, it is silly to make the prevention of all terrorist acts the goal. What can't be done won't be done, regardless of how many people and how much money one devotes to doing it. We can, though, endure some losses from terrorism in the same way that we routinely endure some losses from accidents, diseases, and ordinary crime.

The sheer idiocy of paying legions of twenty-something grads of Harvard and Yale — youngsters who cannot speak Arabic, Farsi, Pashtun, or any of the other languages of the areas they purport to be analyzing and who know practically nothing of the history, customs, folkways, and traditions of these places — indicates that no one seriously expects the promised payoff in intelligence to emerge from the effort. The whole business is akin to sending a blind person to find a needle inside a maze buried somewhere in a hillside.

That the massive effort is utterly uncoordinated and scarcely able to communicate one part's "findings" to another only strengthens the conclusion that the goal is not stopping terrorism, but getting the taxpayers' money and putting it into privileged pockets. Even if the expected damage from acts of terrorism against the United States were $10 billion per year, which seems much too high a guess, it makes no sense to spend more than $75 billion every year to prevent it — and it certainly makes no sense to spend any money only pretending to prevent it.

What we see here is not really an "intelligence" or counterterrorism operation at all. It's a rip-off, plain and simple, fed by irrational fear and continually stoked by the government plunderers who are exercising the power and raking in the booty to "fight terrorism."



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 20, 2013

Somebody owes the Heritage Foundation an apology

Disagreements happen all the time in Congress. It is a natural part of any democracy. But what doesn't happen all the time is a sitting senator essentially calling a witness a liar.

And that is exactly what Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., did to Heritage Foundation scholar Dr. Salim Furth during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on June 4th titled, "The Fiscal and Economic Effects of Austerity."

During that hearing, Furth testified that "austerity" is an overly broad term often used to obfuscate the true mix of spending cuts and tax hikes governments use to lower their debt burdens. He said that while spending cuts can often improve economic growth, tax hikes only harm the economy and often make debt worse.

To bolster his claims, Furth cited data from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showing that, "to date, 'austerity' in Europe has consisted mainly of tax increases."

For example in France, where unemployment is currently at a 15-year high, taxes as a percentage of GDP rose 2.6 percent between 2007 and 2012. By anyone's definition that is austerity.

But during those same years, government spending as a percentage of GDP went up, not down, by 7.2 percent. That is in no way austere. And it cuts against everything Senate Budget Democrats are trying to do. Like France, Democrats want to hike spending and taxes.

So when Whitehouse got his turn to ask the witnesses questions, he lit into the Heritage expert. "Dr. Furth, I am very concerned about your testimony," Whitehouse began, "I am concerned that your testimony to this committee has been meretricious."

Whitehouse then produced a chart showing that, among other things, not only had France cut spending, which was the opposite of what Furth testified, but that France had cut spending far more than they raised taxes.

According to Whitehouse's chart, 53 percent of France's austerity measures have come from spending cuts compared to 47 percent from tax hikes.

"I am contesting whether you have given us fair and accurate information," Whitehouse continued. "When you look at the actual balance between spending cuts and tax increases, that the OECD uses it self, to describe what took place in Europe, I cannot connect that to where you come out."

Clearly, Whitehouse believed he had caught Furth and The Heritage Foundation in a bald face lie. So happy was Whitehouse with his work that his staff quickly fed video of the exchange to The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews, who then wrote a story on the exchange agreeing with Whitehouse.

That post was then picked up by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote, "one does wonder, by the way, whether Heritage may at this point be destroying its own usefulness... Is there anyone not a committed right-winger who, at this point, believes anything coming out of Heritage?" (Disclosure: This writer worked at Heritage for three years as assistant director of strategic communications.)

There is just one problem with Whitehouse's big gotcha moment: The staffer who spoon-fed Whitehouse his OECD numbers on "the actual balance between spending cuts and tax increases" failed to also show Whitehouse the front page of the OECD report from which those numbers came.

That report is titled: "Fiscal consolidation targets, plans and measures in OECD countries."

Turns out, the numbers Whitehouse used to attack Furth for misreporting "what took place in Europe" were actually mostly projections of what governments said they were planning to do in the future (the report was written in December 2011 and looked at data from 2009 and projections through 2015).

At no point in Furth's testimony did he ever claim to be reporting about what governments were going to do in the future. He very plainly said his analysis was of actual spending and taxing data "to date."

Odds are that Whitehouse made an honest mistake. Senators can't be expected actually to read the title page of every report from which they quote.

But, considering he was the one who was very clearly in error, and not Furth, he owes Furth, and The Heritage Foundation an apology. Krugman and Matthews would be well advised to revisit the facts as well.



Left guilty of hypocrisy on freedom, terrorism

There are many idealistic progressives who've remained opposed to the National Security Agency's data mining programs regardless of who is in the White House. (We can't surrender our freedom for safety, you know!) It's only a shame that these same people have such little reverence for constitutional liberties in other areas of public life.

Really, it's worse than that. Consider the central case of the left these days: "Unfettered" freedom is a tragedy -- decadent, unfair and un-American. So if, as liberals like to argue, it's a moral imperative for Americans to scale back personal liberty to build a cleaner, fairer and healthier world, shouldn't we be willing to do the same to protect the nation from terrorists?

Why one and not the other? If Washington can shield you from the vagaries of economic life, why can't it do the same with terrorists?

Soon after news of the NSA's data mining and Prism programs hit the news, we learned that there are Democrats with an uncanny ability to be malleable, apathetic and partisan in the face of an intrusive state. In January 2006, when George W. Bush was president, Pew Research Center asked Democrats how they felt about the NSA's surveillance programs.

Thirty-seven percent labeled the spying "acceptable," and 61 percent said they were unacceptable. The reverse is true today, as 64 percent of Democrats believe that Barack Obama's surveillance programs are acceptable and 34 percent say they're not.

We could see this as an instance of mass hypocrisy if we assumed that the response is driven by a concern for the snooping itself rather than the administration in charge of the snooping. But it's likelier that folks on the left tend to be idealistic about presidents and less concerned about inquisitive NSA agents.

(No, Republicans aren't innocent by any stretch. But it's fair to say that they've become more ideologically consistent in their skepticism of state power. This position is now popularly defined as fanaticism.)

Even those Democrats who claim to have a special reverence for privacy regularly support policy that undermines it. If this affection for privacy were unwavering, would they be demanding that we expand government-run background checks on firearms?

Would they advocate legislation that forces Americans to ask the Internal Revenue Service for permission to assemble and partake in the political process? Government should be transparent, but shouldn't citizens be free to support politicians without registering with government?

And really, how could someone who claims to value privacy support a law such as the individual mandate, which coerces every American citizen to report the status of his health insurance to the IRS?

And why is privacy a more critical liberty than economic freedom -- or any other freedoms regularly pooh-poohed by progressives? Overregulating trade and markets can be more consequential to the freedom of an average person than any data mining program. Just ask a small-business owner.

Let's face it. Most of the concern about these NSA programs is likely driven by an antipathy toward the war on terror rather than a concern about the corroding of constitutional protections. And though I agree with progressives that we've lost too many liberties in this effort, it's a shame they don't believe we're deserving of similar liberty elsewhere in our lives.

H.L. Mencken wasn't exactly right when he wrote, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Let's concede that not all alarms are imaginary. Sometimes we are faced with genuine choice between more freedom and more safety. And as it stands, progressives almost always take the path of more safety. Why should it be different this time?



Obama administration: Some religions are more equal than others

The Obama administration “strongly objects” to a proposed House amendment to the defense authorization bill which would require, in the words of its sponsor, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., “the Armed Forces to accommodate ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the member.”

Fox News has the story. Fleming points to evidence that Christian service members and chaplains are being penalized for expressing their faith. Examples:

The Air Force censored a video created by a chaplain because it include the word “God.” The Air Force feared the word might offend Muslims and atheists.

A service member received a “severe and possibly career-ending reprimand” for expressing his faith’s religious position about homosexuality in a personal religious blog.

A senior military official at Fort Campbell sent out a lengthy email officially instructing officers to recognize “the religious right in America” as a “domestic hate group” akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.

A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because, consistent with DOMA’s definition of marriage, he could not allow same-sex weddings to take place in the chapel.

The Obama administration evidently thinks it important that such actions continue to be taken.

There’s a tension between this policy–arguably suppressing expressions of Christian faith–with the White House’s assurance, according to Investor’s Business Daily, that FBI surveillance not including any investigation of mosques.

So, it appears, Christian religious expression must be suppressed, while Muslim religious expression cannot even be monitored. Yes, government can appropriately limit the conduct of members of the military in ways that would be inappropriate in the case of civilians. So there’s not necessarily a contradiction between these policies. And perhaps there’s a need to restrict servicemembers from offending colleagues in a way that would not be appropriate outside the military (and is not on college campuses, where it often occurs).

But it sure looks like a double standard to me: Christianity, bad; Islam, good. I seem to remember, from some ancient reading, the phrase, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”



What part of 'no fence, no deal' does the Senate GOP not get?

"A fence from left to right, from east to west, except obviously the mountainous areas," Charles Krauthammer told me on air in an interview in late April.

"We know that fences work," he continued. "If the president tells you fences don't work, ask him why he's got one around the White House."

Krauthammer is easily the most influential commentator on the center-right today, and his position on the need for a very long border fence is a majority position within the conservative movement and indeed far beyond the movement.

Republicans outside of the Beltway are divided into two camps on immigration reform.

Camp one will accept and indeed many will enthusiastically support immigration reform built around real border security, which has as its centerpiece the construction of a very long double-sided fence with mandated design and location, assured funding and "notwithstanding any other law" authority.

That latter provision is to ensure that the fence will not be impeded by provisions of the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act or the National Environmental Policy Act. I am in camp one, as I suspect many millions of Republicans are.

Fencing has been promised and even passed in the past but never built except for tiny segments. Thus, the need for specificity and guarantees that are easily produced in a well-written law.

Camp two wants no part of the Senate bill, whether or not it has a fence. John Hinderaker of the Power Line blog, for example, hates the bill and the effort and writes at length and eloquently as to why it is a bad idea.

So people like me in camp one, "the fence people," are fighting it out on talk radio, on the blogs and in person with people in camp two, the "not now, not this" people.

The Beltway GOP, in yet another display of astonishing indifference to the people who fund it and elect its members, is preparing to anger and alienate both camps.

The Beltway GOP wants to pretend it is meeting the demand of camp one with a variety of ruses and pretend-security provisions, all of which depend upon easily manipulated formulas and transparently absurd guarantees such as an increased numbers of border agents, which can of course be reduced in future years.

There isn't a single fence advocate who opposes border security measures in addition to the fence, but I haven't talked with one who believes the bill is worth supporting without a very long, very tall fence built over at least half of the 2,000-mile border.

When Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Gang of Eight's first draft, he quite rightly waded into the controversy and listened to the critics. He also, in a display of how legislators are supposed to act, announced he would accept and indeed insist upon amendments to the bill that reflected the key criticisms of the draft law as it emerged from the Judiciary Committee. Camp one was encouraged. The missing fence would appear.

Then Sen. John Cornyn's proposed "border security" amendment was floated, and camp one was stunned. The Texas Republican's measure consisted of paragraph after paragraph of glop. No specifics about the fence. No mention of the fence. To all of us, it looked like a huge head fake.

Border security means a fence to the vast majority of conservatives willing to support the reform bill. No fence, no support. Camp one marches into camp two, amazed and disappointed, but resolute that the only thing they must have -- real, genuine border security -- isn't part of the Beltway GOP's agenda.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 19, 2013

Behind Iran's 'Moderate' New Leader

So this is what democracy looks like in a theocratic dictatorship. Iran's presidential campaign season kicked off last month when an unelected body of 12 Islamic jurists disqualified more than 600 candidates. Women were automatically out; so were Iranian Christians, Jews and even Sunni Muslims. The rest, including a former president, were purged for possessing insufficient revolutionary zeal. Eight regime loyalists made it onto the ballots. One emerged victorious on Saturday.

That man is Hassan Rohani, a 64-year-old cleric, former nuclear negotiator and security apparatchik. Western journalists quickly hailed the "moderate" and "reformist" Mr. Rohani. The New York Times's Tehran correspondent couldn't repress his election-night euphoria on Twitter: "Tonight the Islamic Republic rocks Rohani style." A BBC correspondent gushed: "The reaction of the people showed how much they trusted the electoral system." Just hours earlier the broadcaster had condemned Iranian security forces for threatening to assassinate a BBC Persian journalist in London, but such is the Western media's hunger for good news from Tehran.

Turnout was high, with more than 70% of eligible voters casting ballots. That figure should be taken with a grain of salt, since voting is obligatory for many sectors of Iranian society. Still, some of the victory parties in Tehran and other cities did seem genuine, with voters taking to the streets to celebrate the end of a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad era that saw a rise in repression and in economic hardship caused by the regime's mounting international isolation.

But disillusionment with seemingly heroic new leaders promising change is a centuries-old theme in Iranian history. The current regime's theocratic structure—with a supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and numerous unaccountable bodies lording over popularly elected officials—will soon remind voters that this latest hero has little room to maneuver.

That is, if he's inclined to seek change in the first place. The new Iranian president was born Hassan Feridon in 1948 in Iran's Semnan province. He entered religious studies in Qom as a child but went on to earn a secular law degree from Tehran University in 1969.

Mr. Rohani spent Iran's revolutionary days as a close companion of the Ayatollah Khomeini and would go on to hold top posts during the Islamic Republic's first two decades in power. For 16 years starting in 1989, Mr. Rohani served as secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. During his tenure on the council, Mr. Rohani led the crackdown on a 1999 student uprising and helped the regime evade Western scrutiny of its nuclear-weapons program.

As Mr. Rohani said at a pro-regime rally in July 1999: "At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur. From today our people shall witness how in the arena our law enforcement force . . . shall deal with these opportunists and riotous elements, if they simply dare to show their faces."

The "opportunists and riotous elements" Mr. Rohani referred to were university students staging pro-democracy protests. His words at the time were widely viewed as a declaration of war, authorizing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the basij militia to unleash hell on Tehran's campuses.

Reza Mohajerinejad was one of those students. A founder of the National Union of Iranian Students and Graduates in the 1990s, he resides today in the San Francisco Bay area. Speaking in a phone interview on Saturday, Mr. Mohajerinejad recalled how after Mr. Rohani's statement in 1999 security forces "poured into the dorm rooms and murdered students right in front of our eyes."

Mr. Mohajerinejad was arrested and detained for six months. Among other torture methods they used, his captors during this era of "reform" would tie him to a bed and whip his feet to a pulp. In between flogging sessions, the imprisoned students would be forced to run laps on their bloody feet or be suspended from their wrists for hours at a time.

"If we're ever going to get freedom and democracy," Mr. Mohajerinejad now says, "we're not going to get them from Rouhani."

Beyond Iran's borders, Mr. Rohani has largely favored "resistance" and nuclear defiance. During the campaign, he boasted of how during his tenure as negotiator Iran didn't suspend enrichment—on the contrary, "we completed the program." And on Syria, expect Mr. Rohani to back the ruling establishment's pro-Assad policy. "Syria has constantly been on the front line of fighting Zionism and this resistance must not be weakened," he declared in January, according to the state-run Press TV.

These inconvenient facts from the Rohani dossier should give pause to those in Washington and Brussels eager to embrace this smiling mullah.



Israeli Defense Minister on situation in Syria

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave a broad assessment of Israel’s security policy in the Middle East during a breakfast discussion at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy on Friday.

The defense minister said he “can’t see stability in the near future” in Syria, noting that the worst-case scenario for Israel would be one in which al Qaeda elements cause further destabilization in the region, particularly in Jordan.

“We do not intervene, we do not interfere,” he said. “We are in a very sensitive position of course so any Israeli intervention might affect the side we might support.”

“From our standpoint what should be very clear that Jordan is an asset in the Middle East in terms of stability,” he added. “That’s why we support it and we actually believe Jordan should be supported by the United States by other allies in order to keep Jordan as a stabilizer in the region.”

Ya’alon said the Israeli government has not asked the United States not to arm the anti-Assad forces.

“We are not in a position to dictate or to ask the United States what to do in Syria, but that doesn’t mean there are no consultations,” Ya’alon said.

He said Israel was troubled by Russia providing weapons for Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but said it has not seriously damaged the relationship between the two countries.

“We are not happy with all the Russian activities in the region, we have our opportunity to make our comments about it,” Ya’alon said. “I believe that when we look to the Russian policy, it’s not against us. … The main considerations are not Israel, the main considerations are what they call the ‘superpowers game’ between Russia and the United States.”

On Iran, the defense minister said the West needs to show that it has the “political stomach to go all the way” if it wants to force the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

He said the recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which said that Iran has made progress on its program but has not yet reached Israel’s “red line” of producing 250 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, suggests that “it may be Iran has internalized Netanyahu’s red line which is why they have avoided reaching [it].”

Ya’alon also addressed the Obama administration’s efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, reiterating that Israel is willing to come to the table without preconditions.

“We say from the very beginning we’re ready to sit at the table immediately,” Ya’alon said. “[The Palestinians] want to get something for coming to the table.”

The defense minister said that the United States should use its leverage of Palestinian aid money in order to influence the actions of Palestinian leaders.

“We believe regarding incitement, the money given to the Palestinian Authority should be conditioned,” Ya’alon said. “There are many leverages on behalf of the West, especially the money.”

Ya’alon said he was “very optimistic” about Israel’s future.

“My optimism is based on what I know about our strengths,” he concluded. “[Israel’s] very well-known secrets, our brains and our hearts.”



The Stalinization of Amerika

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, rather than hold accountable and roll the heads of the bunglers at the U.S. intelligence agencies who failed to follow up on multiple reports of possible terrorist activity, students learning to fly but not land, and possible hijacking plots, such as—

"In a memo from the Phoenix FBI to headquarters, the agents recommended an urgent nationwide review of flight schools “for any information that supports Phoenix’s suspicions” of a terrorist connection. The memo reportedly cited Osama bin Laden by name."

Intelligence agencies were instead granted the expanded budgets and power that are always sought in the aftermath of a crisis. They were forced to abandon the nifty name and logo they had come up with (pictured at right, above) when its too-graphic, Big Brother-isc depiction elicited protest, but the spirit was fully retained, and a new era of unprecedented, total and widespread spying on innocent Americans began.

Unfortunately, the problem with a Total Information Awareness state is that it sweeps up prodigious amounts of data that is just so much noise that U.S. security agencies are demonstrated to be bad at filtering.

Wasting countless resources on false positives, violating the rights of innocent people, etc., the FBI bungled yet more direct information in failing to follow up on warnings concerning the Boston bombers.

As has been learned in every community in the U.S. as budget “crises” and the militarization of police forces result in less and less security for the common citizen, individuals sensitized and acting upon their powers of observation are far more effective at reducing crime than any number or force of police. Neighborhood Watch, for example, despite its sullied reputation in the Trayvon Martin case, is a proven-effective tool for empowering individuals to take charge of their security.

The only terrorists actually stopped since 9/11 have similarly resulted from sensitized individuals acting: the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber, the Times Square bomber, were all foiled by “common” people acting on their powers of observation.

Thus the irony that the trend of U.S. “intelligence” agencies away from good old fashioned detecting towards trampling the rights of individuals results not only in the loss of our liberties, but also in the loss of our security.

The second problem with the U.S. government collecting and indefinitely storing every email, phone call, text, website posting, etc., and the response to those innocents who bleat “But why should I mind? I have nothing to hide,” is something that Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s notorious secret police chief, well knew:

"Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime."

There is no individual whose private calls, emails, postings, bank and credit card transactions, online activities, and even private conversations in the “privacy” of your home, cannot be edited to paint the portrait of an enemy of the state.

And a police state makes for very many enemies indeed.



Hospital Care That Is Priceless

Something is wrong in the hospital marketplace. Government data released recently show that some hospitals in Dallas charge five times as much as other hospitals for the same procedures! This follows on the heels of a Time magazine/ CNN report, showing that hospitals routinely charge ridiculous prices for items and services: prices that bear no reasonable relationship to real costs.

But then we learn that no one is actually paying these prices, except some poor sap who happens to be uninsured and has to negotiate with the hospital on his own. Even so, there is no way you and I can know what we are going to pay in advance. We can’t get what we would get in every other market for repairs (a dented car, a damaged roof, etc.): an estimate. Even if we did have an estimate, we would have no way of knowing what competing hospitals charge.

There is just one problem with the flurry of news about hospitals. No one is pointing out that all these problems are the result of government intervention in the marketplace. They are not the result of a free market for medical care. In health care, we have so completely suppressed the market—for year after year, decade after decade – that few people ever see a real price for anything.

Employees never see a premium reflecting the real cost of their health insurance. Patients almost never see a real price for their medical care. Even at the family doctor’s office, it’s hard to discover what anything costs. This is detailed further in my book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.

Although many would like to think that our system is very different from the national health insurance schemes of other countries, the truth is that Americans mainly pay for care the same way people all over the developed world pay for care at the time they receive it—with time, not money.

On the average, every time we spend a dollar at a physician’s office, only 10 cents comes out of our own pockets. The rest is paid by third-party payers (insurance companies, employers, and government). As a result, for most people, the time price of care (waiting to get an appointment, getting to and from the doctor’s office, waiting in the reception area, waiting in the exam room, etc.) tends to be greater—and probably much greater—than the money price of care. When patients aren’t spending their own money, doctors will not compete for their patronage based on price. When doctors don’t compete on price, they won’t compete on quality either. The services they offer will be only those services the third parties pay for and only in settings and ways the third parties have blessed.

In a very real sense, there are no prices at a typical hospital, or even in a physician’s office. Medicare pays one rate, Medicaid another, BlueCross yet a third. In some cases the rates are negotiated. When the government is the payer, they are typically dictated.

The result is a hospital marketplace that has no resemblance at all to a free market.

In my next blog, I’ll illustrate markets in medical care that can work and work well—especially when third-party payers are not involved.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 18, 2013

A Libertarian Turn on Marijuana Legalization, Same-Sex Marriage and Gun Rights

Are Americans becoming more libertarian on cultural issues? I see evidence that they are, in poll findings and election results on three unrelated issues -- marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage and gun rights.

Start with pot. Last November voters in the states of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana, by a 55 to 45 percent margin in Colorado (more than Barack Obama's margin in the state) and by 56 to 44 percent in Washington.

In contrast, California voters rejected legalization 53 to 47 percent in 2010. These results and poll data suggest a general movement toward legal marijuana.

State legislatures in Denver and Olympia have been grappling with regulatory legislation amid uncertainty over whether federal law -- and federal law enforcers -- override their state laws.

But marijuana has already become effectively legal in many of the states that have reduced penalties for possession of small amounts or have legalized medical marijuana. You can easily find addresses and phone numbers of dispensaries on the Web.

Same-sex marriage, rejected in statewide votes between 1998 and 2008 and most recently in North Carolina in May 2012, was approved by voters in Maine and Maryland in November 2012, and voters then rejected a ban on it in Minnesota.

Since then, legislators in Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island have voted to legalize same-sex marriage. A dozen states and the District of Columbia now have similar laws that would have been unthinkable two decades ago.

I have yet to see signs of political backlash. Polls show that support for same-sex marriage is well nigh universal among young Americans, but it has also been rising among their elders.

To some it may seem odd to yoke together marijuana and gay rights, generally thought of as causes of the left, with gun rights, supported more by the political right. Yet in all three cases Americans have been moving toward greater liberty for the individual.

One landmark was the first law, passed in Florida in 1987, allowing ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons. Many, including me, thought that the result would be frequent shootouts in the streets.

That hasn't happened. It turns out that almost all ordinary citizens handle guns with appropriate restraint, as they do with the other potential deadly weapon people encounter every day, the automobile.

Concealed-carry laws have spread to 40 states, with few ill effects. Politicians who opposed them initially, like former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, have not sought their repeal.

In contrast, voters have reacted negatively to gun control proposals, even after horrific events like the Newtown massacre. That was apparent in the Senate's rejection of the Toomey-Manchin gun registration bill.

What about the cultural issue that most pundits mention first, abortion? Attitudes have remained roughly the same: Most Americans think abortion should be, in Bill Clinton's phrase, safe, legal and rare.

Young Americans, contrary to their libertarian leaning on same-sex marriage, are slightly less pro-abortion rights than their elders. They've seen sonograms, and all of them by definition owe their existence to a decision not to abort.

And from the point of view of the unborn child, abortion is the opposite of liberating.

Back in the conformist America of the 1950s -- a nation of greater income equality and stronger labor unions, as liberals like to point out -- marijuana, homosexual acts and abortion weren't political issues. They were crimes. And opposition to gun control measures in the 1950s and 1960s was much less widespread and vigorous than it is today.

Is this libertarian trend a good thing for the nation? Your answer will depend on your values.

I'm inclined to look favorably on it. I think the large majority of Americans can use marijuana and guns responsibly. Same-sex marriage can be seen as liberating, but it also includes an element of restraint. Abortions in fact have become more rare over a generation.

But I do see something to worry about. In his bestseller "Coming Apart," my American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray shows that college-educated Americans have handled liberating trends of the 1970s like no-fault divorce with self-restraint.

But at the bottom of the social scale we have seen an unraveling, with out-of-wedlock births, continuing joblessness, lack of social connectedness and civic involvement.

In conformist America the old prohibitions provided these people with guardrails, as The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger has written. In today's more libertarian America, the guardrails may be gone.



Our Partisan Bureaucracy — Lawyers Love President Obama

Thanks to the TaxProf blog and to Instapundit, I discovered this chart detailing political giving by government lawyers:

With certain limitations understood (we don’t know the affiliations of non-donors), the chart above looks more like the political affiliations of Ivy League women’s-studies departments than those of an allegedly impartial federal bureaucracy.

The civil-service system was designed to replace the spoils system, which — in addition to creating chaotic rushes of office-seekers with each change of administration — packed political hacks into important administrative positions. A civil service was supposed to change that unacceptable reality by placing the administration of the more neutral functions of the government into the hands of dispassionate professionals. Thus the strong federal job security in the civil service, greater security than enjoyed by virtually any private-sector employee. The job security — so the argument goes — was necessary to prevent the re-emergence of blatant political patronage.

But what if the combination of increasingly activist government with strong bureacratic bias re-creates federal service as a kind of permanent spoils system for the Left? Isn’t it inevitable that this leftist bureaucracy will eventually view itself not as a servant for all citizens but as an instrument of its own righteous ideology?

If the recent history of our universities is any guide, the products of a leftist bureacratic monoculture will be characterized by the following:

Ignorance: Groups of like-minded people are notoriously incurious about the ideas and perspectives of dissenters.

Condescension: They don’t let ignorance stand in the way of a bulletproof sense of moral and intellectual superiority.

Hatred: Since all the good people they know agree with them, they ascribe the worst of motives to the other side, believing them to be motivated by little more than greed and bigotry.

And, finally . . .

Fanaticism: Cass Sunstein described the ”law of group polarization” like this: “In a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments.” In other words, when like-minded individuals deliberate, their common views grow more extreme over time.

We conservatives have a problem with Big Government, no matter who’s running it. But we also have a particular problem with this big government, as key agencies are increasingly staffed and run by individuals who wield enormous power, cannot be fired, and despise roughly half the American population. When Barack Obama urges supporters to “punish our enemies,” there are many federal employees only too willing to comply.



Liberalism is bankrupt

By Marta H. Mossburg

The high priests of liberalism must be tossing and turning in their organic cotton bedding and downing more small-batch artisan whisky each night trying to cope with the abject failure of their cause.

They know, even if the masses do not yet fully understand, that their worldview no longer makes sense in light of the scandal after scandal in Washington and that the end result could be a great, if slow, deconversion on the scale of the millions who no longer believe in the Christianity its philosophy replaced.

Government, they have told us, is inherently good, like the people it helps. Its largesse helps the poor, its inclusiveness expands rights for all and fairness motivates it. And it is intrinsic to individual success — as the hypothetical “Julia” portrayed in Barack Obama’s recent presidential campaign tried to prove. (See here.)

This worldview diagnoses government problems as merely a question of bad management or lack of funding, which is why federal government workers and contractors have become in the past decade some of the most highly educated and best paid people in America. And it is why programs which fail to meet goals expand and quality is almost always measured by “inputs” — how much money is spent, how many people are signed up, how many training courses are completed, for example — instead of “outputs” like knowledge acquired and people living independent, productive lives.

But the Internal Revenue Service abuse of conservative groups and revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) is cataloguing every phone call and email Americans make don’t mesh with the prevailing view of government benevolence. Neither do revelations that the Justice Department criminalizes reporting nor those that show high ranking State Department leaders quashed investigations of prostitution and drug abuse among its ranks sync with that outlook. And it clashes with the promise newly elected Barack Obama made in January 2009 that he would, “hold myself as president to a new standard of openness …. Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

With respect to the NSA and press monitoring revelations it seems the only right to privacy Barack Obama’s administration recognizes is the right to kill unborn children without restrictions with taxpayer dollars.

This unhinging of the administration from recognizable liberal ideals is the end result of progressivism, which knows no law except “forward.” As Philip Rieff wrote in his brilliant 1966 “The Triumph of the Therapeutic,” “We believe we can live freely at last, enjoying all our senses — except the sense of the past — as unremembering, honest and friendly barbarians all, in a technological Eden.”

But to admit that once sacred principles are obsolete would be political suicide for a man who fulfilled the promises of the great 20th century liberal causes — civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, workers’ rights — for millions of Americans. So Mr. Obama is struggling to maintain the old order by making it seem the omnipresent monitoring of email and tracking of phone records of Americans are really just “modest encroachments” on privacy that are perfectly legal and nothing new.

True believers will cling to his words. But the scales have fallen from the eyes of a media that protected the administration it believed in, and it is only a matter of time before any American who cares to look will see the disconnect between the personal fulfillment and liberation promised by big government and the evil it delivered in the name of safety.

Given that decades of Americans have been steeped for their full lives in the doctrine of government as the solution and savior in public schools, colleges and culture, to what will they turn when liberalism’s lie hits them? I don’t know. But its undoing will give the timeless principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution a fighting chance against a “forward” that looks more like a backward totalitarian state than the utopia John Lennon sang about in “Imagine.”



Obamacare Loophole to Hammer Low-Wage Workers

The predictable hits just keep on coming as the Obamacare clock ticks down toward full implementation. Liberals have shifted gears from arguing the law will lower costs and reduce premiums for everyone -- which is how the unpopular overhaul was dishonestly marketed -- to shrugging that hey, at least many uninsured and lower-income citizens will get affordable coverage. But even that's not universally true, as many American workers are about to painfully discover. Behold, the "Affordable" Care Act in action (via the Associated Press):

"It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels. That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer "affordable" coverage or face fines. But what's reasonable? Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee, it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach. The company can get off the hook, say corporate consultants and policy experts, but the employee could still face a federal requirement to get health insurance. Many are expected to remain uninsured, possibly risking fines. That's due to another provision: the law says workers with an offer of "affordable" workplace coverage aren't entitled to new tax credits for private insurance, which could be a better deal for those on the lower rungs of the middle class. Some supporters of the law are disappointed. It smacks of today's Catch-22 insurance rules."

They're "disappointed," and are already mobilizing to pin their own mess on insurance companies. Their solution, of course, will be to forge ahead to a fully government-run single payer system -- which has been the objective from word one. They'll ask Americans to forgive them for producing a disastrous, unworkable federal power-grab, insisting that it can only be fixed by even bigger government. No thanks. The AP story above shines the spotlight on a gaping loophole in Obamacare. Basically, major employers of low-wage workers can technically satisfy the law's requirement that they offer "affordable" coverage to full-time employees, even if the new rates aren't actually affordable in reality. Unable to pay the premiums being offered by their employers, and ineligible for taxpayer subsidies to obtain coverage on their own (because they're "choosing" not to accept their "affordable" employer options), many of these workers will determine they have no choice but to remain uninsured -- and will pay the anti-middle classObamacare mandate tax for the privilege of doing so. What a deal. Guess who's heading for the exits as this monstrosity looms? Ta-da:

"Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting. The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive...If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform. The problem is far more acute in the House, where lawmakers and aides are generally younger and less wealthy. Sources said several aides have already given lawmakers notice that they’ll be leaving over concerns about Obamacare. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said the chatter about retiring now, to remain on the current health care plan, is constant."


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


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 17, 2013

Pathological Altruism

As JAMES TARANTO suggests below, the concept of Pathological Altruism could become a powerful and widely-used concept in debunking Leftist proposals. It has the virtue of being polite. It assumes that Leftists have altruistic intentions. I am less polite. Given the regularly destructive overall results of Leftist actions and policies, I think we have to assume that the motives are destructive too. It is absurd to say that Leftists never get the results they intend. They are often smart people. The results they get are therefore the results they intend. There is nothing altruistic about Leftism. It is just a camouflage coat that they wear. They are haters, not helpers. -- JR

We don't think we'd ever heard of Oakland University, a second-tier institution in suburban Rochester, Mich., but Barbara Oakley, an associate professor in engineering, may help put the place on the map. Earlier this week Oakland's Oakley published a fascinating paper, "Concepts and Implications of Altruism Bias and Pathological Altruism," in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper is a concise summary of an innovative idea that informed Oakley's two recent books: "Cold-Blooded Kindness: Neuroquirks of a Codependent Killer, or Just Give Me a Shot at Loving You, Dear, and Other Reflections on Helping That Hurts" (Prometheus, 2011) and "Pathological Altruism" (Oxford University Press, 2012). The former has been described as a true-crime thriller; the latter is a dense, 496-page collection of 31 academic papers, edited by Oakley and three other scholars.

The PNAS paper has the virtue of brevity, running only eight pages despite including 110 footnotes. Yet it's remarkable for its breadth and depth. It introduces a simple yet versatile idea that could revolutionize scientific and social thought.

Oakley defines pathological altruism as "altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm." A crucial qualification is that while the altruistic actor fails to anticipate the harm, "an external observer would conclude [that it] was reasonably foreseeable." Thus, she explains, if you offer to help a friend move, then accidentally break an expensive item, your altruism probably isn't pathological; whereas if your brother is addicted to painkillers and you help him obtain them, it is.

As the latter example suggests, the idea of "codependency" is a subset of pathological altruism. "Feelings of empathic caring . . . appear to lie at the core of . . . codependent behavior," Oakley notes. People in codependent relationships genuinely care for each other, but that empathy leads them to do destructive things.

Yet according to Oakley, "the vital topic of codependency has received almost no hard-science research focus, leaving 'research' to those with limited or no scientific research qualifications." That is to say, it is largely the domain of pop psychology. "It is reasonable to wonder if the lack of scientific research involving codependency may relate to the fact that there is a strong academic bias against studying possible negative outcomes of empathy."

That is a provocative charge, and one that Oakley levels more generally at the scientific establishment:

"Both altruism and empathy have rightly received an extraordinary amount of research attention. This focus has permitted better characterization of these qualities and how they might have evolved. However, it has also served to reify their value without realistic consideration about when those qualities contain the potential for significant harm.

Part of the reason that pathologies of altruism have not been studied extensively or integrated into the public discourse appears to be fear that such knowledge might be used to discount the importance of altruism. Indeed, there has been a long history in science of avoiding paradigm-shifting approaches, such as Darwinian evolution and acknowledgment of the influence of biological factors on personality, arising in part from fears that such knowledge somehow would diminish human altruistic motivations.

Such fears always have proven unfounded. However, these doubts have minimized scientists' ability to see the widespread, vitally important nature of pathologies of altruism. As psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes, "Morality binds and blinds."

"Empathy," Oakley notes, "is not a uniformly positive attribute. It is associated with emotional contagion; hindsight bias; motivated reasoning; caring only for those we like or who comprise our in-group (parochial altruism); jumping to conclusions; and inappropriate feelings of guilt in nonco-operators who refuse to follow orders to hurt others." It also can produce bad public policy:

"Ostensibly well-meaning governmental policy promoted home ownership, a beneficial goal that stabilizes families and communities. The government-sponsored enterprises Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae allowed less-than-qualified individuals to receive housing loans and encouraged more-qualified borrowers to overextend themselves. Typical risk–reward considerations were marginalized because of implicit government support. The government used these agencies to promote social goals without acknowledging the risk or cost. When economic conditions faltered, many lost their homes or found themselves with properties worth far less than they originally had paid. Government policy then shifted . . . the cost of this "altruism" to the public, to pay off the too-big-to-fail banks then holding securitized subprime loans. . . . Altruistic intentions played a critical role in the development and unfolding of the housing bubble in the United States."

The same is true of the higher-education bubble. As we've argued, college degrees became increasingly necessary for entry-level professional jobs as the result of a well-intentioned Supreme Court decision that restricted employers from using IQ tests because of their "disparate impact" on minorities.

Universities altruistically established admissions standards that discriminated in favor of minorities, a policy that proved pathological because underqualified minority students struggled to succeed and even qualified ones face the stigma of being assumed to be "affirmative action" beneficiaries. The institutions tried to help by setting up separate orientations, which of course only reinforced their separation from the broader student body.

And when, in 2003, the discriminatory admissions standards faced a constitutional challenge, the Supreme Court upheld them. In Grutter v. Bollinger, a five-justice majority declared that administrators' declaration of altruistic intent--"obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body"--was sufficient to meet the court's purportedly exacting standard of "strict scrutiny."

It was left to Justice Anthony Kennedy, in dissent, to note the absence of "empirical evidence." The court is currently revisiting the question-- Fisher v. Texas is expected to be decided in the next few weeks--and one hopes that, if it stands by the "diversity" rationale, Kennedy will finally succeed in imposing some scientific rigor.

Pathological altruism is at the root of the liberal left's crisis of authority, which we discussed in our May 20 column. The left derives its sense of moral authority from the supposition that its intentions are altruistic and its opponents' are selfish. That sense of moral superiority makes it easy to justify immoral behavior, like slandering critics of President Obama as racist--or using the power of the Internal Revenue Service to suppress them. It seems entirely plausible that the Internal Revenue Service officials who targeted and harassed conservative groups thought they were doing their patriotic duty. If so, what a perfect example of pathological altruism.

Oakley concludes by noting that "during the twentieth century, tens of millions [of] individuals were killed under despotic regimes that rose to power through appeals to altruism." An understanding that altruism can produce great evil as well as good is crucial to the defense of human freedom and dignity.



Democrats just LOVE Obama's domestic spy operations

Because they are afraid of their fellow Americans and see spying as a way of gaining control over them. They fear that aroused patriots might do to them what they would like to do to those who oppose them. Glenn Greenwald reviews some of the facts below

What Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez said after Congress on Wednesday was given a classified briefing by NSA officials on the agency's previously secret surveillance activities:

"What we learned in there is significantly more than what is out in the media today. . . . I can't speak to what we learned in there, and I don't know if there are other leaks, if there's more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up, but I will tell you that I believe it's the tip of the iceberg . . . . I think it's just broader than most people even realize, and I think that's, in one way, what astounded most of us, too."

The Congresswoman is absolutely right: what we have reported thus far is merely "the tip of the iceberg" of what the NSA is doing in spying on Americans and the world. She's also right that when it comes to NSA spying, "there is significantly more than what is out in the media today", and that's exactly what we're working to rectify.

But just consider what she's saying: as a member of Congress, she had no idea how invasive and vast the NSA's surveillance activities are. Sen. Jon Tester, who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said the same thing, telling MSNBC about the disclosures that "I don't see how that compromises the security of this country whatsoever" and adding: "quite frankly, it helps people like me become aware of a situation that I wasn't aware of before because I don't sit on that Intelligence Committee."

How can anyone think that it's remotely healthy in a democracy to have the NSA building a massive spying apparatus about which even members of Congress, including Senators on the Homeland Security Committee, are totally ignorant and find "astounding" when they learn of them? How can anyone claim with a straight face that there is robust oversight when even members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are so constrained in their ability to act that they are reduced to issuing vague, impotent warnings to the public about what they call radical "secret law" enabling domestic spying that would "stun" Americans to learn about it, but are barred to disclose what it is they're so alarmed by? Put another way, how can anyone contest the value and justifiability of the stories that we were able to publish as a result of Edward Snowden's whistleblowing: stories that informed the American public - including even the US Congress - about these incredibly consequential programs? What kind of person would think that it would be preferable to remain in the dark - totally ignorant - about them?

(1) Much of US politics, and most of the pundit reaction to the NSA stories, are summarized by this one single visual from Pew:

The most vocal media critics of our NSA reporting, and the most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance, have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. As I've written many times, one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents: exactly what the CIA presciently and excitedly predicted in 2008 would happen with Obama's election.

Some Democrats have tried to distinguish 2006 from 2013 by claiming that the former involved illegal spying while the latter does not. But the claim that current NSA spying is legal is dubious in the extreme: the Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted efforts by the ACLU, EFF and others to obtain judicial rulings on their legality and constitutionality by invoking procedural claims of secrecy, immunity and standing. If Democrats are so sure these spying programs are legal, why has the Obama DOJ been so eager to block courts from adjudicating that question?

More to the point, Democratic critiques of Bush's spying were about more than just legality. I know that because I actively participated in the campaign to amplify those critiques. Indeed, by 2006, most of Bush's spying programs - definitely his bulk collection of phone records - were already being conducted under the supervision and with the blessing of the FISA court. Moreover, leading members of Congress - including Nancy Pelosi - were repeatedly briefed on all aspects of Bush's NSA spying program. So the distinctions Democrats are seeking to draw are mostly illusory.

To see how that this is so, just listen to then-Senator Joe Biden in 2006 attack the NSA for collecting phone records: he does criticize the program for lacking FISA court supervision (which wasn't actually true), but also claims to be alarmed by just how invasive and privacy-destroying that sort of bulk record collection is. He says he "doesn't think" that the program passes the Fourth Amendment test: how can Bush's bulk record collection program be unconstitutional while Obama's program is constitutional? But Biden also rejected Bush's defense (exactly the argument Obama is making now) - that "we're not listening to the phone calls, we're just looking for patterns" - by saying this:

"I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing. If I know every single phone call you made, I'm able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. . . . If it's true that 200 million Americans' phone calls were monitored - in terms of not listening to what they said, but to whom they spoke and who spoke to them - I don't know, the Congress should investigative this."

Is collecting everyone's phone records not "very intrusive" when Democrats are doing it? Just listen to that short segment to see how every defense Obama defenders are making now were the ones Bush defenders made back then. Again, leading members of Congress and the FISA court were both briefed on and participants in the Bush telephone record collection program as well, yet Joe Biden and most Democrats found those programs very alarming and "very intrusive" back then.

(2) Notwithstanding the partisan-driven Democratic support for these programs, and notwithstanding the sustained demonization campaign aimed at Edward Snowden from official Washington, polling data, though mixed, has thus far been surprisingly encouraging.

A Time Magazine poll found that 54% of Americans believe Snowden did "a good thing", while only 30% disagreed. That approval rating is higher than the one enjoyed by both Congress and President Obama. While a majority think he should be nonetheless prosecuted, a plurality of young Americans, who overwhelmingly view Snowden favorably, do not even want to see him charged. Reuters found that more Americans see Snowden as a "patriot" than a "traitor". A Gallup poll this week found that more Americans disapprove (53%) than approve (37%) of the two NSA spying programs revealed last week by the Guardian.

(3) Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower who was unsuccessfully prosecuted by the Obama DOJ, writes in the Guardian that as a long-time NSA official, he saw all of the same things at the NSA that Edward Snowden is now warning Americans about. Drake calls Snowden's acts "an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience." William Binney, the mathematician who resigned after a 30-year career as a senior NSA official in protest of post-9/11 domestic surveillance, said on Democracy Now this week that Snowden's claims about the NSA are absolutely true.

Meanwhile, Daniel Ellsberg, writing in the Guardian, wrote that "there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago." He added: "Snowden did what he did because he recognized the NSA's surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity."

Listen to actual experts and patriots - people who have spent their careers inside the NSA and/or who risked their liberty for the good of the country - and the truth of Snowden's claims and the justifiability of his acts become manifest....

The predictable personality assaults on Snowden have begun in full force from official Washington and their media spokespeople. They are only going to intensify. There is nobody who political officials and their supine media class hate more than those who meaningfully dissent from their institutional orthodoxies and shine light on what they do. The hatred for such individuals is boundless....

The New York Times reports today that Yahoo went to court in order to vehemently resist the NSA's directive that they join the Prism program, and joined only when the court compelled it to do so. The company specifically "argued that the order violated its users' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures."



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 16, 2013

Crossroads for the GOP

Patrick J. Buchanan

How to deal with 12 million illegal aliens —send them home or grant them amnesty and a "path to citizenship"— the party's rancorous division will be starkly visible when the bill reaches the House.

But the existential crisis of the GOP, from which it has turned its eyes away since George H.W. Bush, is demography.

Yet the matter cannot be avoided now, for it is on page one. "White Numbers Shrink," was the headline on the lead story in USA Today. "More Whites Dying Than Being Born," blared The Wall Street Journal. What does this mean?

In demographic terms, more white Americans died in 2012 than were born. Never before—not during the Civil War bloodletting, not during the influenza epidemic after World War I, not during th Great Depression and birth dearth of the 1930s—has this happened.

In ethnic terms, it means that Americans whose forebears came from Great Britain, Ireland and Germany, Southern and Eastern Europe—the European tribes of North America—have begun to die.

The demographic winter of white America is at hand, even as it began years ago for the native-born of old Europe.

In political terms, this is depressing news for the Republican Party. For nearly 90 percent of all Republican votes in presidential elections are provided by Americans of European descent.

In 1960 white folks were close to 90 percent of the entire U.S. population and 95 percent of the electorate. Nixon's New Majority was created by pulling Northern Catholic ethnics and Southern conservative Protestants, white folks all, out of the Roosevelt coalition and bringing them into a new alliance that would give Nixon a 49-state landslide in 1972, which Reagan would replicate in 1984.

But since that New Majority gave the Republicans five victories in six presidential elections, four of them 40-state landslides, the political world has turned upside down, and demography is the cause.

Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote, a 3-to-2 victory over Obama among America's majority. In any year before 1980, that would have meant victory. But in 2012 whites were only 74 percent of those who went to the polls.

Thus, Obama's sweep of 80 percent of the African-American, Asian and Hispanic vote, one-fourth of the electorate and rising, enabled him to coast to a second term.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Hispanic vote rose 1.4 million, the black vote by 1.7 million, and the white vote fell by 2 million.

Where is America going? What does the GOP future look like?

America's white majority, 64 percent of the population and 74 percent of the electorate, still declining in relative terms, has begun to decline in real terms. Deaths outnumber births. Among all U.S. births in 2012, white babies were outnumbered by babies of color.

If Republicans are opposed to what mass immigration is doing to the country demographically, ethnically, socially and politically, there are, as Reagan used to say, "simple answers, just no easy answers."

Those answers: No amnesty, secure the border, enforce laws against businesses that hire illegals, and impose a moratorium on new immigration so wages can rise and immigrants enter the middle class and start voting as did the children and grandchildren of the immigrants of 1890-1920 by 1972.

So what are the Republicans doing?

Going back on their word, dishonoring their platform, and enraging their loyal supporters, who gave Mitt 90 percent of his votes, to pander to a segment of the electorate that gave Mitt less than 5 percent of his total votes.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.



The "national security" state


There's more, much more, to the Lois Lerner story

By George F. Will

As soon as the Constitution permitted him to run for Congress, Al Salvi did. In 1986, just 26 and fresh from the University of Illinois law school, he sank $1,000 of his own money, which was most of his money, into a campaign to unseat an incumbent Democratic congressman. Salvi studied for the bar exam during meals at campaign dinners.

He lost. Today, however, he should be invited to Congress to testify about what happened 10 years later when as a prosperous lawyer he won the Republican Senate nomination to run against a Democratic congressman named Dick Durbin.

In the fall of 1996, at the campaign's climax, Democrats filed with the Federal Elections Commission charges alleging campaign finance violations by Salvi's campaign. These charges dominated the campaign's closing days. Salvi spoke by phone with the head of the FEC's Enforcement Division, who he remembers saying: "Promise me you will never run for office again, and we'll drop this case." He was speaking to Lois Lerner.

After losing to Durbin, Salvi spent four years and $100,000 fighting the FEC, on whose behalf FBI agents visited his elderly mother demanding to know, concerning her $2,000 contribution to her son's campaign, where she got "that kind of money." When the second of two federal courts held that the charges against Salvi were spurious, the lawyer arguing for the FEC was Lois Lerner.

More recently, she has been head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, which has

used its powers of delay, harassment and extortion to suppress political participation. For example, it has told an Iowa right-to-life group that it would get tax exempt status if it would promise not to picket Planned Parenthood clinics.
Last week, in a televised House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., Salvi's former law partner, told the riveting story of the partisan enforcement of campaign laws to suppress political competition by distracting Salvi and entangling him in bureaucratic snares. The next day, the number of inches of newsprint in The Washington Post and New York Times devoted to Roskam's revelation was the number of minutes that had been devoted to it on the three broadcast networks' evening news programs the night before: Zero.

House Republicans should use their committee chairmanships to let Lerner exercise her right to confront Salvi and her many other accusers. If she were invited back to Congress to respond concerning Salvi, would she again refuse to testify by invoking her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination? There is one way to find out.

Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat who will seek a fourth term next year, defeated Salvi by 15 points. He probably would have won without the assistance of Lerner and the campaign "reforms" that produced the mare's nest of FEC regulations and speech police that lend themselves to abuses like those Salvi endured. In 2010, Durbin wrote a letter urging Lerner's IRS division to look closely at a political advocacy group supporting conservatives.

Lerner, it is prudent to assume, is one among thousands like her who infest the regulatory state. She is not just a bureaucratic bully and a slithering partisan; she also is a national security problem, because she is contributing to a comprehensive distrust of government.

The case for the National Security Agency's gathering of metadata is: America is threatened not by a nation but by a network, dispersed and largely invisible until made visible by connecting dots. The network cannot help but leave, as we all do daily, a digital trail of cellphone, credit card and Internet uses. The dots are in such data; algorithms connect them. The technological gathering of 300 billion bits of data is less menacing than the gathering of 300 by bureaucrats. Mass gatherings by the executive branch twice receive judicial scrutiny, once concerning phone and Internet usages, another concerning the content of messages.

The case against the NSA is: Lois Lerner and others of her ilk.

Government requires trust. Government by progressives, however, demands such inordinate amounts of trust that the demand itself should provoke distrust. Progressivism can be distilled into two words: "Trust us." The antecedent of the pronoun is: The wise, disinterested experts through whom the vast powers of the regulatory state's executive branch will deliver progress for our own good, as the executive branch understands this, whether or not we understand it. Lois Lerner is the scowling face of this state, which has earned Americans' distrust.

Lois Lerner, it is prudent to assume, is one among thousands like her who infest the regulatory state. She is not just a bureaucratic bully and a slithering partisan. Now she also is a national security problem because she is contributing to a comprehensive distrust of government.



Scholar Awarded Julian L. Simon Memorial Award for Moral, Historical Defense of Freedom

CEI is pleased to announce that Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the recipient of CEI’s prestigious Julian L. Simon Memorial Award. McCloskey’s groundbreaking scholarly work has focused on historical analysis of the factors that led to advancement in human achievement and prosperity.

“Deirdre McCloskey is a great intellectual and one of the most prominent economic historians alive today,” said CEI Founder and Chairman Fred L. Smith, Jr. “McCloskey offers a moral defense of freedom: She understands that for society to really thrive, society can’t just accept or tolerate economic freedom – society must embrace it. When societies value freedom and capitalism, they prosper.

“McCloskey's impeccable research has documented the cultural transformation in 17th and 18th Century Europe that changed the way society thinks about trade and commerce, which in turn resulted in lifting people out of squalor. Before then, only aristocrats had wealth. That new way of thinking freed people from thousands of years of grinding poverty.”

The Simon Award was established in 2001 in honor of the late free market economist, Julian L. Simon, whose classic 1981 work, The Ultimate Resource, debunked alarmist predictions of eco-doomsayers such as Paul Ehrlich. The award will be presented at CEI's annual gala dinner, June 20, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Previous award recipients include Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic and "Skeptical Environmentalist" Bjørn Lomborg.

“Professor McCloskey perfectly embodies the spirit in which CEI’s Julian Simon Award was created,” said CEI President Lawson R. Bader. “Her work contributes tremendously to our understanding of the value of free markets, vigorously defends capitalism and entrepreneurialism and makes the case for freedom with a rare eloquence. It is our pleasure to honor her work.”

Quotes & wisdom from Deirdre McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce:

* One can think of the calamities of the 20th century as caused by the sins of capitalism. The left does. Capital was born, wrote Marx, “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” I think on the contrary that most of the calamities were a consequence of the attacks on capitalism.

* Viewed over a longer period, however, the most amazing political fact since, say, 1800, as Tocqueville noted as early as 1835, is the spreading idea of equality in freedom, that theory of the ascendant bourgeoisie. Cynics and Jeremiahs to the contrary, it spreads yet. According to Freedom House, the percentage of “free” countries rose from 29 percent in 1973 to 46 percent in 2003, containing 44 percent of the world’s population. Think of Ukraine and South Korea. The world continues to draw on a lost, failed, used-up liberalism. Liberal democracy keeps on explaining events.

* Possibly modern economic growth is as large and important an event in human history as the sudden perfection of language, in Africa around 50,000 BC. In a scarce 200 years our bourgeois capitalism has domesticated the world and made it, Chicago to Shanghai, into a single, throbbing city.

* The triple revolutions of the past two centuries in politics, population, and prosperity are connected. They have had a cause and a consequence, I claim, in ethically better people. I said “better.” Capitalism has not corrupted our souls. It has improved them.

* On the political left it has been commonplace for the past century and a half to charge that modern, industrial people, whether fat or lean, are alienated, rootless, angst-ridden, super?cial, materialistic; and that it is precisely participation in markets which has made them so. Gradually, I have noted, the right and the middle have come to accept the charge. I claim that actually existing capitalism, not the collectivisms of the left or of the right, has reached beyond mere consumption, producing the best art and the best people. People have purposes. A capitalist economy gives them scope to try them out. Go to an American Kennel Club show, or an antique show, or a square-dancing convention, or to a gathering of the many millions of American birdwatchers, and you’ll ?nd people of no social pretensions passionately engaged. Yes, some people watch more than four hours of TV a day. Yes, some people engage in corrupting purchases. But they are no worse than their ancestors, and on average better.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 14, 2013

Food For Thought -- updated

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally ...you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If the only school curriculum allowed to explain how we got here is evolution, but the government stops a $15 million construction project to keep a rare spider from evolving to extinction ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book, but not to vote who runs the government ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If an 80-year-old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more ...you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher’s "cute," but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If children are forcibly removed from parents who discipline them with spankings while children of addicts are left in filth and drug infested “homes”... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing and free cell phones ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If the government's plan for getting people back to work is to incentivize NOT working with 99 weeks of unemployment checks and no requirement to prove they applied but can’t find work ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.

If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more "safe" according to the government ... you might live in country founded by geniuses but run by Progressives.


The all-knowing ones


A simpler religion


Boston bomber


FEMA denies aid to Texas for blast

Could it be because Rick Perry is the Governor and Texas reliably votes Republican?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people.

According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA says it reviewed the state's appeal for the funds to help West. But the agency says the impact from the explosion "is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration."

West Mayor Tommy Muska says the money is needed to cover $57 million in damage, including $40 million to rebuild a destroyed school. The West Fertilizer Co. blew up in April.

The letter is addressed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and dated June 10. FEMA did not immediately return a call seeking comment.



Israel shows the way

A bill that aims to cut the salaries of Israeli public officials, including parliamentarians, passed its first hurdle in the Knesset on Monday.

The bill, which implements a compromise agreement between Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Histadrut labor union head Ofer Eini, was approved in its first reading by a vote of 38-15. According to the legislation, Knesset members, ministers, and the president will all take a 10 percent salary reduction. The average cut for other public sector workers will be 1%.

A press release from the Knesset said the bill was a result of the 2012 national budget deficit, which was 4.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP), marking four consecutive years with a deficit that exceeded 3%. At the same time, the government has made very large financial commitments in the past two years, according to the bill.

Therefore, “the government must make significant adjustments, in terms of both expenditure and income,” the bill stated. “These developments demand an immediate, significant and long-term change in its fiscal policy.”

In addition to many benefits, including leased cars and an allowance for clothing, parliamentarians currently receive an average salary of approximately NIS 38,000 ($10,500) per month.

Hadash party chairman Mohammed Barakeh opposed the bill on the grounds that “employees should not have to pay the price of the government’s conduct.”

MK Ya’akov Margi (Shas) condemned the “government sticking its hand in the pockets of workers,” while Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) called for a drastic cut in salaries of the upper echelons of Israeli society, such as judges and CEOs of public companies.

MK Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) acknowledged that cutting the wages of workers was painful, but nevertheless called the move a necessity.



If the GOP Is This Stupid It Deserves to Die

Ann Coulter

Democrats terrify Hispanics into thinking they'll be lynched if they vote for Republicans, and then turn around and taunt Republicans for not winning a majority of the Hispanic vote.

This line of attack has real resonance with our stupidest Republicans. (Proposed Republican primary targets: Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.) Which explains why Republicans are devoting all their energy to slightly increasing their share of the Hispanic vote while alienating everyone else in America.

It must be fun for liberals to manipulate Republicans into focusing on hopeless causes. Why don't Democrats waste their time trying to win the votes of gun owners?

As journalist Steve Sailer recently pointed out, the Hispanic vote terrifying Republicans isn't that big. It actually declined in 2012. The Census Bureau finally released the real voter turnout numbers from the last election, and the Hispanic vote came in at only 8.4 percent of the electorate -- not the 10 percent claimed by the pro-amnesty crowd.

The sleeping giant of the last election wasn't Hispanics; it was elderly black women, terrified of media claims that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote and determined to keep the first African-American president in the White House.

Contrary to everyone's expectations, 10 percent more blacks voted in 2012 compared to 2008, even beating white voters, the usual turnout champions. Eligible black voters turned out at rate of 66.2 percent, compared to 64.1 percent of eligible white voters. Only 48 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters went to the polls.

No one saw this coming, which is probably why Gallup had Romney up by 5 points before Hurricane Sandy hit, and up by 1 point in its last pre-election poll after the hurricane. Only two groups voted in larger numbers in 2012 compared to 2008: blacks aged 45-64, and blacks over the age of 65 -- mostly elderly black women.

In raw numbers, nearly twice as many blacks voted as Hispanics, and nine times as many whites voted as Hispanics. (Ninety-eight million whites, 18 million blacks and 11 million Hispanics.)

So, naturally, the Republican Party's entire battle plan going forward is to win slightly more votes from 8.4 percent of the electorate by giving them something they don't want.

As Byron York has shown, even if Mitt Romney had won 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost. No Republican presidential candidate in at least 50 years has won even half of the Hispanic vote.

In the presidential election immediately after Reagan signed an amnesty bill in 1986, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote actually declined from 37 percent to 30 percent -- and that was in a landslide election for the GOP. Combined, the two Bush presidents averaged 32.5 percent of the Hispanic vote -- and they have Hispanics in their family Christmas cards.

John McCain, the nation's leading amnesty proponent, won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, not much more than anti-amnesty Romney's 27 percent.

Amnesty is a gift to employers, not employees.

The (pro-amnesty) Pew Research Hispanic Center has produced poll after poll showing that Hispanics don't care about amnesty. In a poll last fall, Hispanic voters said they cared more about education, jobs and health care than immigration. They even care more about the federal budget deficit than immigration! (To put that in perspective, the next item on their list of concerns was "scratchy towels.")

Also, note that Pew asked about "immigration," not "amnesty." Those Hispanics who said they cared about immigration might care about it the way I care about it -- by supporting a fence and E-Verify.

Who convinced Republicans that Hispanic wages aren't low enough and what they really need is an influx of low-wage workers competing for their jobs?

Maybe the greedy businessmen now running the Republican Party should talk with their Hispanic maids sometime. Ask Juanita if she'd like to have seven new immigrants competing with her for the opportunity to clean other people's houses, so that her wages can be dropped from $20 an hour to $10 an hour.

A wise Latina, A.J. Delgado, recently explained on Mediaite.com why amnesty won't win Republicans the Hispanic vote -- even if they get credit for it. Her very first argument was: "Latinos will resent the added competition for jobs."

But rich businessmen don't care. Big Republican donors -- and their campaign consultants -- just want to make money. They don't care about Hispanics, and they certainly don't care what happens to the country. If the country is hurt, I don't care, as long as I am doing better! This is the very definition of treason.

Hispanic voters are a small portion of the electorate. They don't want amnesty, and they're hopeless Democrats. So Republicans have decided the path to victory is to flood the country with lots more of them!

It's as if Republicans convinced Democrats to fixate on banning birth control to win more pro-life voters. This would be great for Republicans because Democrats will never win a majority of pro-life voters, and about as many pro-lifers care about birth control as Hispanics care about amnesty.

But that still wouldn't be as idiotic as what Republicans are doing because, according to Gallup, pro-lifers are nearly half of the electorate. Hispanics are only 8.4 percent of the electorate.

And it still wouldn't be as stupid as the GOP pushing amnesty, because banning birth control wouldn't create millions more voters who consistently vote against the Democrats.

Listening to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus burble a few weeks ago on "Fox News Sunday" about how amnesty is going to push the Republicans to new electoral heights, one is reminded of Democratic pollster Pat Caddell's reason for refusing to become a Republican: No matter how enraged he gets at Democratic corruption, he says he can't bear to join such a stupid party as the GOP.



Greece disbands state broadcaster

State broadcasters in Britain and Australia deserve the same fate for similar reasons

The Greek government has shut down the public broadcaster ERT, calling it a "haven of waste". Viewers watching the news on the main TV channel saw the screens go to black late on Tuesday evening.

All employees have been suspended pending a re-organisation. Thousands of people held a protest against the decision outside ERT headquarters. It is the latest move in rafts of spending cuts and tax rises aimed at leading the country out of recession.

"ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said earlier.

Authorities confirmed that the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) had been formally disbanded, as some transmissions stopped on Tuesday night. However, shortwave and internet broadcasts from ERT remain on air.

ERT, which began broadcasting in 1938, is funded by a direct payment of 4.30 euros (£3.80; $6) added monthly to electricity bills. It ran three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, as well regional radio stations and an external service, Voice of Greece.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 13, 2013

Are conservatives "Right-wing"?

I wrote a little on the above topic here a little while ago. Since then I have however considerably expanded my coverage of the question and used the expanded text as an improved preface to my big essay on the history and psychology of conservatism. Since the readership of big essays seems to be small, however, I thought it might be useful to extract that preface and present it here as a separate post. See below -- JR

For the excellent reason that Right is the opposite of Left, opponents of the Left are commonly referred to as Rightist -- and that should be the end of the matter. But it is not. The problem arises from the expression "extreme right". What is "the extreme right"

The answer to that has been greatly distorted by Leftist disinformation about Hitler. Hitler was by the standards of his day a fairly mainstream socialist. Even his ideas about "Aryans" were shared by such Leftist eminences as U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. But Hitler's defeat in war created a desperate need in Leftists to deny all that. So they invariably describe him as "right-wing" to deflect attention from the fact that he was in his day one of them. He was in fact to the Right of Stalin's Communism only so the Communist view of Hitler has been conveniently adopted by the Left generally. See here for full details about Hitler's ideas and background.

So Leftists tend to describe all tyrants and dictators as extreme Right on the grounds that their behaviour is like Hitler's. But all the great tyrants of the 20th century -- Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot -- were in fact Leftists so the various postwar tyrants should logically be called "extreme Leftists" -- though that's not logic that Leftists like, of course. It's only when a tyrant or a tyranny is clearly Communist (as in, for example, Peru, Nicaragua and Nepal) that Leftists will generally desist from calling the tyrant "Right wing". It would probably be most accurate to say that most tyrants are wingless: They believe only in their own personal power

So calling conservatives Rightists does little harm when normal everyday democratic politics is concerned but once we start talking about extremes of belief a large problem arises. Conservatives reject utterly the association with Hitler that Leftists try to pin on them.

There is clearly a lot of variation among postwar tyrants so presumably some are better examples of what Leftists call "right-wing" than others. The Latin American dictators seem to be prime candidates but what do we make of clowns like Idi Amin or democratically elected authoritarians like Lee Kuan Yew? Exactly WHICH dictators are good examples of "Right-wing" seems to be vague. Leftists appear to have no systematic thinking on that. So some lists include Fascists like Chiang Kai Shek, the monarchs of the Muslim world and even in some cases undoubted Communists like the Kim dynasty of North Korea.

So I too will have to leave vague just who is a good example of an "extreme Rightist". For the sake of looking at the subject at all, I will use "Hitler-like" or "Fascist" as a specification of what Leftists are talking about when they say "Right wing extremist" -- and leave it at that. I have however given separate coverage of the Latin American dictators further below. They have mostly been Bolivarists, a form of Fascism. And that Fascism is/was Leftist I set out at length here.

There are also of course a few individuals around in Western countries who are Hitler sentimentalists but they are so few and so unorganized that they are essentially irrelevant to modern politics. I do however have a discussion of them here.

Extremism versus stability

We are accustomed in political discussions to describe both ends of the political spectrum as "extremists". But what are the extremes? In the case of the Left it is easy: Communism. But what is an extreme conservative? The Left are sure that it is someone like Adolf Hitler but the logic of conservative commitment to individual liberty and suspicion of government makes libertarianism a much likelier extreme form of conservatism.

At this point I am going to skip forward a little, however, and say where I think people go wrong. I don't think there IS any such thing as extreme conservatism. Libertarians believe in a lot of stuff that conservatives reject. But I do believe that there is such a thing as extreme Leftism. How come?

I think that the whole polarity of politics is generally misunderstood. The contest between Left and Right is a contest between stability and irritability/anger/rage. Conservatives are the sheet anchor of society. They ensure that there is some continuity and predictability in our lives. They are the anchor that prevents us all from being blown onto the shoals of arrogant stupidity in the manner of Pol Pot and many others.

For various reasons most people in society have gripes about it. Even conservatives can usually give you a long list of things that they would wish otherwise in the world about them.

But some of the discontented are REALLY discontented -- discontented to the point of anger/rage/hate -- and among them there is a really dangerous group: Those who "know" how to fix everything.

So the political contest ranges across a spectrum from valuing stability to various degrees of revolutionary motivation.

But can there be an extreme of valuing stability? In theory yes but I have yet to hear of ANY conservative-dominated government that lacked an active legislative agenda. BOTH sides of politics have changes they want to legislate for. Conservatives don't want stability at any price any more than they want change that threatens stability. So as far as I can see, ALL conservatives want change PLUS stability. And mostly they get that.

Pulling against that anchor that keeps society going on a fairly even keel, however, there is the Left -- who want every conceivable sort of change. Some just want more social welfare legislation and some want the whole society turned upside down by violent revolution. And the latter are indeed extremists.

So there is no sharp Left/Right dividing line -- just a continuum from strong support for stability amid change to a complete disrespect and disregard for stability among extreme advocates of change.

It is possible that there is somebody somewhere in the world who values stability so much that he/she want NO change in the world about them at all. If so, I have never met such a person. Everybody has gripes and change is a constant. The only question is whether we can manage change without great disruptions to our everyday lives. Conservatives think we can and should. Leftists basically don't care about that. For them change is the goal with stability hardly considered.

Now let me skip back to a question I raised earlier. I think we are now in a better position to answer that question. The question is why do conservatives and Leftists disagree over what extreme conservatism or extreme Rightism is? And the answer is now obvious. If it does not exist, no wonder people disagree over what it is. The theoretical inference would be that an extreme conservative wants ZERO change: he/she wants stability alone. But, as I have noted, such people appear not to exist and if they do exist they are surely too few to matter.

But what about the Leftist conviction that society is riddled by people like Hitler: "Racists" and "Nazis". Leftists never cease describing those they disagree with that way. Even a moderate and compromising Christian gentleman such as George Bush Jr. was constantly accused of being a Nazi during his time in office.

Again our conception of stability versus extremism helps answer that -- particularly if you add in a dash of history. Take the "racist" allegation:

Some history

Before WWII, everybody was racist in the sense that they believed that racial differences are real and that some of those differences are more desirable than others. Both conservatives and Leftists agreed on that. And if they feel safe to say it, many conservatives still think that. I do.

But, exactly as I have pointed out above, prewar Leftists went a lot further than that. They carried their views to an extreme. They did not care how many applecarts they upset. They wanted either to breed out the inferior races (American progressives) or to exterminate them (Hitler). See here. Where conservatives just accepted a complex reality of long standing, Leftists KNEW what had to be done about it and so hurt a lot of people and did a lot of damage in the process.

When their old friend Hitler lost the war, however, Leftists had a desperate need to disavow all he stood for and so threw their whole rhetoric into reverse gear. They were still obsessed in their minds by race and racial differences but denied their previous destructive intentions towards other races. They now claimed benevolent intentions towards other races. Abandoning all interest in race was apparently beyond them. And in good Freudian style, they projected what they now disapproved of onto their opponents, conservatives. They accused conservatives of being what they still deep-down were. To see what's true of Leftists, you just have to see what they say about conservatives. They are too alienated from society to understand their fellow-man very well so they judge others by themselves

Leftist ostensible attitudes had flipped. But since conservatives had opposed Hitler and Leftism generally, conservatives for a long time just carried on with their existing moderate, balanced views. But for various reasons, what is moderate and balanced will change over time and conservative views do change to reflect that. Conservatives hold the middle ground. And while there is some change, there is also a lot of continuity in the middle ground.

For instance, a conservative today will most likely welcome Jews to his club where a conservative of the 1930s would not. But having separate clubs is hardly a major impact on civilization and the stability of society is not threatened in either case. Club membership and gassing millions are worlds apart in any objective evaluation of the matter

So in a sense Leftists are right to see that Hitler and conservatives have something in common -- some willingness to admit racial differences, for instance -- but are very wrong in their implicit claim that conservatives would carry such views to any kind of extreme. Extremes are for the Left -- not just theoretically but as a matter of historical fact. So Leftists are now as extremely anti-racist in their advocacy as they were once pro-racist. Conservatives by contrast just jog along trying to keep a firm hold on reality

So Leftists now say that what they once believed (until it became inconvenient) is "Rightist". Beat that!

Leftists take some generally accepted idea and carry it to extremes, hoping to be seen as great champions by doing so. Their extremism is a "look at me" phenomenon, a claim on especially great virtue. So whatever is conventional at the time will be something that leftists loudly champion, hoping to gain praise for doing so.

If it is eugenics that is a popular idea (as it was before the war) Leftists will energetically champion that. And they did up to WWII. Conservatives at the time also saw some sense in eugenics but did little or nothing to push it -- pointing out how eugenic policies would conflict with other values (Christian values especially) and could lead in unexpected and nasty directions.

Antisemitism is also a good example of how the Leftist decides on policy. Long before and up to WWII, antisemitism was virtually universal. Nobody liked the Jews and some degree of discrimination against them was normal and accepted. Not allowing Jews in your club was the commonest form of that.

So Leftists took antisemitism to extremes and became the leading critics of Jewry, culminating in the holocaust, which was the work of the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Leftists transformed minor discrimination into mass murder. Leftists don't present new ideas. They just push existing ones to extremes.

When Hitler lost the war, however, antisemitism suddenly had bad associations so Leftists abandoned it forthwith and became, for a while, great champions of Israel. Democrat President Truman recognized the state of Israel within minutes of its being proclaimed and the Soviet Union was only three days behind him. Popular sentiment had changed so Leftists became energetic champions of the new sentiment.

The document above signed by Truman gives a vivid contrast to what his Democrat predecessor BEFORE the war did. FDR is of course well known for sending a shipload of German Jewish refugees (aboard the MS St. Louis) back to Hitler, rather than allowing them to disembark when they arrived at Miami.

For another example of "how we were" (or how prewar Leftists were) read the following from the Old Grey Lady (NYT) herself:

"In so far as Mexican immigration is concerned, it would be idle to deny the economic usefulness of Mexican laborers. But it is essential to face the fact that the great mass of Mexican immigrants is virtually not assimilable. For the most part Indian in blood, their traditions as well as standards of living are very different from ours." [Immigrants From The New World, Jan 16, 1930]

So the default meaning of "Right" or "Rightism" in the following essay will be: "committed to stability". That is only a minimum meaning, however. There is a lot more to conservatism than that. And I hope to present below extensive historical evidence to show what conservatism is and to show continuity in how conservatism works out in practice.

Flavors of Leftism

At this stage, however, I think I should flesh out my contention above to the effect that the beliefs that would be described by the Left as extreme Right are in fact just another flavor of extreme Leftism -- perhaps a broadly old-fashioned form of Leftism but Leftism nonetheles.

Leftists would decribe that identification as patently absurd. They would say say of the "extreme Right" that "they stand for everything we are against: antisemitism, capitalism, patriotism, eugenics etc."

That is a rather amusing list but before I go on let me introduce you to the People's Action Party, long-time rulers of Singapore. At first glance, the identification of the PAP as extreme Right would seem easy. They are arguably the most pro-business party in the world. They are a shining example of the economic triumph of capitalism. And they are also very authoritaraian, with strict limits on free speech and control of even minutiae of Singapore life.

So surely the PAP is a prime example of "far Right"? Just one niggling little detail, though. They were for many years a member of the Socialist International. Their origins are on the Left and their authoritarianism is what all Leftists try for -- as is the PAP's regulation of the private sector, activist intervention in the economy, and its welfarist social policies. And its self-identification as a "People's" party is in fact characteristic of the far-Left. And for a bit of color say what the party symbol below reminds you of:

Singapore is a long way from being Nazi but it illustrates that Leftism is a house of many mansions and that support for capitalism is no bar to being Leftist. The PAP was joined in that not only by Hitler but also by 20th century Sweden. And even the U.S. Democratic party gives at least lip-service to it when in campaign mode.

The PAP even has a eugenic program. It subsidizes and otherwise supports well educated women to marry and have babies.

And then we come to antisemitism. I feel I hardly need to say anything about Leftist support for antisemitism. It goes at least as far back as Karl Marx and, under the thin disguise of "anti-Zionism" is as virulent among the modern-day Left as ever. Truman represented only a short-term blip in Leftist antisemitism. So antisemitism is certainly no bar to being Leftist.

What about patriotism? Leftist intellectuals scorn it as a weakness of simple minds so can you be a Leftist and a patriot at the same time? Again I don't think we need to go far to answer that. The U.S. Democrats claim to be patriotic and the pompous challenge, "Are you questioning my patriotism?" always seems to come from Democrat politicians. Democrat patriotism does seem to be mostly a hollow charade these days but we only have to go back to the revered JFK to find it breathing unaided: "Ask not what your country ....". And the popular patriotic song "This land is my land" was written by Woody Guthrie, a Communist. And Stalin referred to his war with Germany as "The Great Patriotic war". Yes. you clearly CAN be patriotic and Leftist.

So there is nothing incongruous at all in identifying the so-called "extreme Right" as just another flavor of Leftism. Anybody who has had much to do with the far-Left will be aware of how fractious they are and the ice pick in the head that Trotsky got courtesy of Stalin is emblematic of that. Leftists can hate one-another at least as much as they hate conservatives and the rivalry between the "far Right" and the modern-day Left is sibling rivalry -- just as it was in the days of Hitler and Stalin.

So after that detour we can now go on to look at the full complexity of what actual conservatism is and why


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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June 12, 2013

The Chilean Miracle Shows that Economic Liberty is the Best Way of Helping Ordinary People

Daniel J. Mitchell

I’m in Vienna, Austria, for the annual European Resource Bank meeting. I had the pleasure last night of listening to Jose Pinera speak about economic reform in Chile, particularly the system of personal retirement accounts.

He shared a chart that conclusively shows why good economic policy makes a difference.

(Bigger image here)

Wow. Look at how much faster the economy has grown since the communists were ousted in 1975 and replaced by a pro-market government.* And the poverty rate has plummeted from 50 percent to 11 percent!

Simply stated, economic reform has been hugely beneficial to poor and middle-class people in Chile. Something to remember as we try to rein in the welfare state in America.

Let’s look at some more data. A couple of years ago, I shared this chart showing how Chile had out-paced Argentina and Venezuela. In other words, Chile’s performance is ultra-impressive, whether examined in isolation or in comparison with other nations in the region.

The reason for all this success is that Chile didn’t just reform its pension system. As you can see from this Economic Freedom of the World data, Chile has made improvements in virtually all areas of public policy.

The nationwide school choice system, for instance, is another example of very beneficial reform.

It’s not quite Hong Kong or Singapore, but Chile is definitely a huge success story.

* The Pinochet government that took power in the 1970s may have been pro-economic liberty, but it also was authoritarian. Fortunately, Chile made a successful and peaceful transition to democracy in the late 1980s and has generally continued on a pro-free market path.



Bush is just as much to blame?

John Ransom replies to a "progressive" who is defending Obama by saying that

You’re a liberal, so even when you are right- like you are now- it’s accidental. So as a public service, let me explain to you, in the simplest terms, what you got right, accidentally.

Certainly the GOP has helped establish a track record of what might be the sorriest 25 years of governing in American history. But it’s because they have supported watered-down versions of the Democrat agenda.

For every frick we have in government, we have another frack on the other side, proposing something equally idiotic.

I mean really: How do you run against each other for president as Mitt Romney and Barack Obama did and pretend like there is that much substance between the two parties at times?

Obama spied, so did Bush. Was Mitt Romney going to stop the NSA spying program? Heck and no.

Obama declared war, as president, without the consent of Congress. Bush waged an unpopular war, which was poorly justified and poorly run.

Obama’s kept GTIMO open, killed American citizens by assassination, which he claims he has the legal authority to do.

George Bush on the other hand opened GITMO as a prisoner of war camp and allowed the torture of enemy combatants, which he claimed that he had the legal authority to do.

But here’s the difference: Bush isn’t some moralizing, Nobel-peace prize-winning, hypocrite wannabe who thinks America’s problem is that he’s not emperor. Obama, on the other hand, is.

If the GOP – and George Bush- made mistakes, they’ve been honest mistakes.

Obama’s nothing but a pile of deceit, stuffed into an empty suit and trumpeted from a teleprompter.

When you allow your president to allow the attorney general to desist from prosecuting one of the most egregious examples of voter intimidation in the last 30 years, it’s not going to end well for you and your party.

And do you know why? Because you pretend that there is some moral virtue that makes progressives better than anyone else.

And you pinned that claim to a guy with many talents, but virtue is not amongst them. You guys have that habit too.

Bill Clinton was even a more talented guy than Barack Obama is; he’s a wretched person, however. And I think his wife is even worse.

I can’t wait to read the new book, she’s writing. From what I hear, it will likely make average Americans cringe. Of course Democrats will treat it like it deserves a Nobel prize in literature.

But here’s the real point for both parties: Our mode of government is inadequate for a period of time when there is more freedom, more equality of access, more people entering the middle class globally than ever before.

What we need is less government interventionism, less Big Brother, not more.

In a period where we have more data to make decisions about how to live our lives, how to best use our talent and how to gain an education that’s right for us, our government is using that technology to limit our choices, to revert to a patristic, feudalism that keeps us trapped in the intellectual remnants of the 19th and 20th century.

What people do with the conflict between technology’s liberating capacity and the desire of government to limit us, well, one day that will be called “The History of the 21st Century.”



God Save The Queen

By Paul Greenberg

Sixty years on the throne of the United Kingdom. Sixty years. Can it have been that long since, even before she was crowned, she was addressing an uncertain nation in her still almost child's voice at Christmas 1952? "You will be keeping it as a holiday," Britain's (very) new monarch told her subjects, "but I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me on that day -- to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve him, and you, all the days of my life." All the days of her life. Even unto now.

Sixty years. And now at 87 a no longer young queen enters Westminster Abbey, this time to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury say a prayer of thanksgiving

Sixty years. She's now the longest-reigning British monarch since Victoria, who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 -- yes, that Victoria, "Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India." Or, for short, the greatest queen of England not named Elizabeth. Much like Victoria, who witnessed two great prime ministers alternate during her reign (Disraeli and Gladstone), this second Elizabeth has also known two great first ministers, Churchill and Thatcher. And though both served her well, she has served well, too.

Sixty years. She may have inherited a royal crown, but she earned what an ancient sage called the highest of crowns -- the crown of a good name. And in the process gave not only the British monarchy but the whole institution of monarchy a good name, redeeming its history from the likes of George III and her uncle Edward VIII, aka the Duke of Windsor. Which took some doing, not to mention endurance, dedication and just plain longevity.

Sixty years. No one ever confused this Elizabeth with an intellectual, thank God, but she had something far rarer and more valuable than intellectuality: common sense. That, and her respect for the simple proprieties, which is a much underestimated gift in these times, got her and her realm through many a crisis. More good than great, much like her father, good King George VI, she has been a bridge over troubled waters, a constant in ever-changing times. She inherited a kingdom, a nation, an empire that was said to be in decline, but she refused to decline, rising to meet every challenge.

Sixty years on now, may this queen -- and her realm -- be granted many happy, healthy years more. Though the end of her life and reign approaches inevitably, may it still be afar off. But when it arrives, in addition to the joyous ceremonies all through her Jubilee Year, with Her Majesty's permission, allow me to utter one more wish and prayer for her in addition to all those hosannas sung at Westminster Abbey last Tuesday. It comes from the Compline, the service at the end of the day in the incomparable Book of Common Prayer: a peaceful night and a perfect end.



Crushing the Middle Class

Like a carefully memorized religious incantation, politicians and central bankers continually stress how their stimulus policies are designed to promote the interests and prosperity of the middle class. Cynical observers may note that this brave political stance may have something to do with gaining the support of the vast majority of voters who identify themselves as "middle class." However, the cumulative effect of their economic programs has achieved the opposite. The middle class is being crushed under increased taxes, negative real interest rates, debased currencies and increasingly intrusive regulations.

A large and healthy middle class is the single most important bastion of democracy and freedom in the modern world. Individuals who identify with the middle class exhibit strong support of their nation and economic system. A small, weak middle class opens the political door to dictatorial control and tyranny. This was the case in the waning days of czarist Russia when, the small Bolshevik party was able to court the discontent of the underclass to seize control over more than one hundred million people.

Many government policy decisions lead Americans to take on debt, such as Clinton's home ownership push, Bush's post-911 spending prescription, or the tax code's mortgage interest deduction. As the largest debtor in the world, it is not a leap in logic to imagine the U.S. Government prefers policies that favor debtors rather than creditors. These efforts can be magnified if central bank monetary debasement destroys the value of any savings the middle class had managed to save. The explicit policy of the Federal Reserve is now to hold interest rates below the rate of inflation, which by definition discourages saving and encourages debt.In exchange for the loss of their savings, the middle class can't point to any significant gains. Wage rates in America and Europe have been largely flat for several years. In Japan, a similar recession caused a flat economy that has lasted for more than ten years while the broader economy has largely stagnated.

Meanwhile the middle classes are reeling from price increases in many of the areas that are most vital to their lives, such as food and energy. Statistics show that the share of income that Americans must devote to these basics has increased significantly in recent years. In addition, huge new stealth taxes, such as ObamaCare, threaten to dig the hole even deeper. The combination has been a serious reduction in the net disposable income of many consumers in the middle classes. However, even these reduced incomes disqualify many in the middle from government aid programs such as mortgage relief, Medicaid, and food stamps. In short, the middle class is being squeezed between lower net earnings and higher living costs. It's no wonder that many have turned to debt to get by.

Many of those members of the middle class, who have scraped and saved during their working lives, now face serious unemployment, often long-term in nature as old skills become redundant. In retirement, these people live often on fixed incomes. Many who are fearful of recession and the resulting market vulnerabilities of securities have hoarded cash in bank deposits. Today's interest rates manipulated downwards by central banks offer depositors less than half of one percent a year on most deposits. With even 'official' inflation running at just over one percent, bank deposits and short-term financial instruments offer only negative yields. If a more realistic rate of inflation were widely known, almost all fixed instruments, other than those of very high risk, would offer negative real yields.

Finally, the oppressive regulations and aggressive intrusion of today's government are reducing the incentive and raising the costs of starting and continuing in small businesses. In fact, a recent report detailed the increasing difficulties of starting a small business in America. Despite small but steady increases in the overall employment picture, more small businesses are cutting workers rather than bringing on new hires.

In short, the policies of central banks, combined with those of overbearing government, are crushing the middle class and with them the single most important bastion of democracy. Students of history recognize this trend as dangerous. People who believe that society offers no hope of improvement are often willing to enlist in open class warfare and subscribe to the views of dangerous demagogues. Perhaps this is the direction that Washington, Brussels, and Tokyo want to go? We should take great efforts in spreading the word that freedom is good for everyone, not just the rich.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 11, 2013

The All-Seeing State

The inevitable corruption of the permanent bureaucracy

By Mark Steyn

A few years ago, after one corruption scandal too many, the then Liberal government in Canada announced that, to prevent further outbreaks of malfeasance, it would be hiring 300 new federal auditors plus a bunch of ethics czars, and mandating “integrity provisions” in government contracts, including “prohibitions against paying, offering, demanding or accepting bribes.” There were already plenty of laws against bribery, but one small additional sign on the desk should do the trick: “Please do not attempt to bribe the Minister of the Crown as a refusal may offend. Also: He’s not allowed to bribe you, whatever he says.” A government that requires “integrity provisions” is by definition past the stage where they will do any good.

I thought of those Canadian Liberal “integrity provisions” passing a TV screen the other day and catching hack bureaucrats from the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division reassuring Congress that systems had now been put in place to prevent them succumbing to the urge to put on Spock ears and moob-hugging blue polyester for the purposes of starring in a Star Trek government training video. The Small Business/Self-Employed Division had boldly gone where no IRS man had gone before — to a conference in Anaheim, where they were put up in $3,500-a-night hotel rooms and entertained by a man who was paid $27,500 to fly in and paint on stage a portrait of Bono. Bono is the veteran Irish rocker knighted by the Queen for his tireless campaign on behalf of debt forgiveness, which doesn’t sound the IRS’s bag at all. But don’t worry, debt forgiveness-wise Bono has Africa in mind, not New Jersey. And, as Matthew Cowart tweeted me the other day, he did have a big hit with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which I believe is now the official anthem of the IRS Cincinnati office.

It took Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina to get to the heart of the matter: “With all due respect, this is not a training issue,” he said. “This cannot be solved with another webinar. . . . We can adopt all the recommendations you can possibly conceive of. I just say it strikes me — and maybe it’s just me — but it strikes me as a cultural, systemic, character, moral issue.”

He’s right. If you don’t instinctively know it’s wrong to stay in $3,500-a-night hotel rooms at public expense, a revised conference-accommodations-guidelines manual isn’t going to fix the real problem.

So we know the IRS is corrupt. What happens then when an ambitious government understands it can yoke that corruption to its political needs? What’s striking as the revelations multiply and metastasize is that at no point does any IRS official appear to have raised objections. If any of them understood that what they were doing was wrong, they kept it to themselves. When Nixon tried to sic the IRS on a few powerful political enemies, the IRS told him to take a hike. When Obama’s courtiers tried to sic the IRS on thousands of ordinary American citizens, the agency went along, and very enthusiastically. This is a scale of depravity hitherto unknown to the tax authorities of the United States, and for that reason alone they should be disarmed and disbanded — and rebuilt from scratch with far more circumscribed powers.

Here’s another congressional-subcommittee transcript highlight of the week. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois asks the attorney general if he’s spying on members of Congress and thereby giving the executive branch leverage over the legislative branch. Eric Holder answers:

“With all due respect, senator, I don’t think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss that issue.”

Senator Kirk responded that “the correct answer would be, ‘No, we stayed within our lane and I’m assuring you we did not spy on members of Congress.’” For some reason, the attorney general felt unable to say that. So I think we all know what the answer to the original question really is.

Holder had another great contribution to the epitaph of the Republic this week. He went on TV to explain that he didn’t really regard Fox News’s James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” but had to pretend he did to the judge in order to get the judge to cough up the warrant. So rest easy, America! Your chief law officer was telling the truth when he said he hadn’t lied to Congress because in fact he’d been lying when he said he told the truth to the judge.

If you lie to one of Holder’s minions, you go to jail: They tossed Martha Stewart in the slammer for being insufficiently truthful to a low-level employee of the attorney general’s. But the attorney general can apparently lie willy-nilly to judges and/or Congress.

This, incidentally, is at the heart of the revelation (in a non-U.S. newspaper, naturally) that hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records have been subpoenaed by the United States government. In 2011, Eric Holder’s assistant attorney general Todd Hinen testified to the House Judiciary Committee that “on average, we seek and obtain Section 215 orders less than 40 times per year.” Forty times per year doesn’t sound very high, does it? What is that — the cell phones of a few Massachusetts Chechens and some Yemeni pen-pals? No. The Verizon order will eventually be included as just another individual Section 215 order, even though it covers over a hundred million Americans. Ongoing universal monitoring of mass populations is being passed off to Congress and the public as a few dozen narrowly targeted surveillance operations. Mr. Hinen chose his words more carefully than his boss, but both men are in the business of deceiving the citizenry, their elected representatives, and maybe the judges, too.

Perhaps this is just the way it is in the panopticon state. Tocqueville foresaw this, as he did most things. Although absolute monarchy “clothed kings with a power almost without limits” in practice “the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.” What would happen, Tocqueville wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to bring “the details of social life and of individual existence” within the King’s oversight?

Eric Holder and Lois Lerner now have that power. My comrade John Podhoretz, doughty warrior of the New York Post, says relax, there’s nothing to worry about. But how do I know he’s not just saying that because Eric Holder’s monitoring his OnStar account and knows that when he lost his car keys last Tuesday he was in the parking lot of Madam Whiplash’s Bondage Dungeon?

When the state has the power to know everything about everyone, the integrity of the civil service is the only bulwark against men like Holder. Instead, the ruling party and the non-partisan bureaucracy seem to be converging. In August 2010, President Obama began railing publicly against “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity” (August 9th, a speech in Texas) and “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names” (August 21st, radio address). And whaddayaknow, that self-same month the IRS obligingly issued its first BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) for groups with harmless-sounding names, like “tea party,” “patriot,” and “constitution.”

It may be that the strange synchronicity between the president and the permanent bureaucracy is mere happenstance and not, as it might sound to the casual ear, the sinister merging of party and state. Either way, they need to be pried apart. When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.



The decay of Progressivism in America

Derek Hunter

Culture is the culmination of everything happening in a society, the collective stew of the nation. A good stew, a healthy stew, has all the flavors melting together to create something better than the sum of its parts – garlic is great, but it’s much better on something than simply eating a bulb of it. Our stew, our nation, is reversing course and coagulating to the point that some parts are actively working against the whole and making the stew inedible.

No, I’m not talking about the president as a man, or any elected Democrats. Their tactics sometimes cross the line – up to and including voicing support for fascistic oppression of speech (Media Matters) or violent thugs (the Occupy gang) – but they are hardly the problem.

Political differences are a good thing in a free society, so you’d think people espousing a philosophy they claim to be rooted in “democracy” and righteousness would revel in the opportunity to engage those with whom they disagree on the field of intellectual battle. But for modern liberals, nothing is further from the truth.

Liberalism was once a philosophy based in Constitutional respect and American exceptionalism, but it’s been a long time since that was the case. Perhaps not since John Kennedy has there been a national Democrat who believed in this vision of America, one in which individual liberty and personal responsibility brought about collective greatness, not a partisan legislative agenda and the systematic silencing of dissent. The left says Ronald Reagan could not be elected in today’s GOP; there is no way JFK could be elected by today’s Democrats – not for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts and especially not as a president. It has changed that much.

The progressive philosophy is based on the idea of the supremacy of a few, a “better class.” It’s history is rooted in racism, eugenics and genocide, but that is for another op-ed. Members of the “better class” are self-declared intellectuals who know your needs better than you. Everyone judges, and it’s normal to feel this way when offering advice to friends. But friends are free to take or reject the advice. That’s not good enough for progressives. They legislate their advice; you have no choice but to take it.

The Democratic Party was infected by the progressive philosophy at the dawn of the 20th century [i.e. from the late 19th century on], as was the Republican Party and the world. Republicans largely rejected them (McCain and Dole being noted [recent] exceptions), but they found a willing host with the Democrats. The concept sounds great – government can make things better…only it can’t and hasn’t. Soon, they had metastasized through the Democratic Party and won the White House with Woodrow Wilson. Wilson abused his power and sought to imprison opponents whose only crime was criticizing his administration. (On top of his rabid racism, another staple of the progressive movement no one likes to talk about.)

Since Wilson, most all Democrats have displayed varying degrees of the progressive addiction to power. But until recently, there was always a check within the party to counter it.

President Clinton had some progressive tendencies, staff and wife. But he was, at heart, a traditional Democrat. He was a proud member of the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council, which was so hated by progressives for its unwillingness to embrace the progressive philosophy that it was shut down a few years ago. With the last semblance of a moderate faction in the party gone, the parasites’ transition to host was complete.

Now we find ourselves dealing with the aftermath of a major political party’s inability to deal with the extreme elements in its midst. These extremists now run the show and the results are splashed across headlines from shore to shore.

The laundry list of stretching and abusing power makes War and Peace look like a Cliff Notes version of a 30-second commercial. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS, seizing of journalist’s phone records and a spying scandal so vast it would have the old Soviet leaders spinning in their graves from jealousy, just to name a few.

All of this and more is personified in the progressive “news” network MSNBC. They used to say the Internet would kill journalism; little did they know an insider – the Peacock – would do the job itself.

With hosts masquerading as journalists, the once-great NBC News has done more damage to discourse and civil society than anything our greatest enemies could’ve dreamed of. People such as Al Sharpton, the discredited and disgraced Pied Piper of race-baiting bigot of Tawana Brawley and Freddie’s Fashion Mart infamy, now enjoys a lucrative contract and a prime slot at 6 p.m. As National Review’s Jonah Goldberg put it. “In a more just society Al Sharpton would probably be out on parole by now.”

Or Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Senate staffer turned Hollywood wannabe with the intelligence for neither. This week, the anchor of MSNBC’s primetime line-up tweeted, “Giuliani attacked POTUS last night for Benghazi, so I am forced to remind Giuliani how many firefighters were killed on 9/11 because of him.” Forced? Really? Why? Because his compulsion to protect the president required him to lie about a man who has probably buried more friends than any living person. Disgraceful. Larry didn’t go all “southie” accented and challenge Rudy to a fight like he did Mitt Romney’s son, probably because Giuliani would take him up on the offer.

And then there’s Martin Bashir. Unemployable elsewhere, Bashir makes his home in the land of mediocrity aspirants as their king. Someday he may rise to the level of being a disgrace, but he must first acquire an accomplishment of any sort in his chosen field. Unlikely. Bashir recently declared Republicans are using the term “IRS” as a code word for the N-word by lying about an interview of Lee Atwater from 1981. Bashir is a one-trick-pony who sees racism and bigotry everywhere, which must mean he lives in a home without reflective surfaces.

MSNBC is a megaphone of the progressive movement, the modern Democratic Party. But it’s not the only one. It’s a disgusting propagandist outfit on par with history’s most despotic. It imposes itself on the culture through a willful minority eager to believe the trials in their lives are not the result of their actions but some unforeseen force against which they’re powerless without a government looking out for them. They’re content to not look behind the curtain and see it was that government and the attitude it foments that has been holding them back all along.

The progressive philosophy is coagulating in our national stew, just as it has everywhere it’s woven its destructive self into the fabric of a culture. It is manifesting itself in the ever-growing list of scandals we are seeing today and is personified by the activists parading as journalists on MSNBC who seek to silence and destroy those who dare challenge their claim to moral superiority. To that claim, and every other attempt to curtail individual liberty through manipulation of news and culture, conservatives must stand tall and offer an alternative.

Andrew Breitbart always said, “Politics is downstream from culture,” and he was right. It’s the most important fight in which anyone can engage right now, and one in which lovers of individual liberty sorely lag. Thankfully this is a marathon, not a sprint. And to those “journalists” at MSNBC so fond of code words, all I can say is “Go ‘IRS’ yourselves.”




The high cost of “free”: "Why does a large portion of the population choose not to work when there are many jobs available? The answer is simple. If you can receive 2-3 times as much money from unemployment, disability, and/or welfare benefits (subsidized housing, food stamps, free cellphones, etc.) as you can from a temporary or part-time job, and live a life of leisure, why work?"

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


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 10, 2013


The number of hits on my EYE ON BRITAIN blog has halved over the last year or so. I have therefore discontinued that blog. I infer that the steady focus on the horrors of socialized medicine in Britain has become deterring.

My "Paralipomena" blog is where I put up interesting stories that don't obviously fit on on any of my other blogs. I am quite sporadic in updating it as updates depend on what stories I see. I have however put up a fair bit in recent months. The blog also has a new site. The old site had begun to attract malware, for some reason. The current site is HERE and the old site is HERE


A revisionist history of the first capitalist revolution


The working classes had a thoroughly rotten time of it during the Industrial Revolution - or so history books maintain. Uprooted from their picturesque rural hovels, they were crammed together in filthy factories where they either wheezed themselves into early graves, or else became hideously entangled in their Spinning Jennies.

However, Emma Griffin doesn’t see it like this. As far as she’s concerned, the Industrial Revolution came as a tremendous boom to a lot of working people: they earned far more than they had done before, escaped lives of crushing poverty and for the first time began to exert some measure of control over their lives.

It might be tempting to dismiss this as the ravings of a particularly cranky historian desperate to make a splash - except that Griffin has lots of evidence to back up her claims. For this was also the era in which large numbers of working men and women learned how to read and write.

Remarkably, their testimonies, or ‘autobiographies’, as she calls them, have been sitting - largely untouched - in county archives for the past 200 years.

It soon becomes clear that Griffin has stumbled on an enormous treasure trove. Here are our ancestors, falteringly at first, then with increasing confidence, describing their daily lives.

Just a generation earlier they would have been illiterate. Now, with the world changing at a furious pace all round them, they wanted to set down their experiences for the benefit of their children.

And what unexpectedly jolly times they turn out to have had. One man recalling the seven years he spent working in a Lancashire factory in the early 19th century wrote wistfully that ‘I was never as happy as I was then.’
A hero of the Industrial Revolution: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A hero of the Industrial Revolution: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A man called Charles Campbell, faced with a choice between working in a medical practice in a small village in the Highlands, or being a spinner in a Glasgow cotton mill, plumped unhesitatingly for the latter and never regretted it.

Rather than slog his guts out for next-to-nothing in the Highlands, he earned a hefty 30 shillings a week in a mill. ‘We seemed to be rolling in wealth,’ crowed another man who worked weaving cotton shawls in Manchester.

This, though, as Griffin concedes, is only part of the story. Even the sunniest optimist would have a job persuading anyone that the Industrial Revolution brought joy to generations of working-class children.

In most cases, they simply exchanged one form of drudgery for another. One man recalled how, aged six, he’d been sent off to work at a local farm. ‘I sometimes lost my way in a fog, and wandered miles shouting and crying for my mother, half-blind and nearly heartbroken.’

Most children, wherever they lived, started work between the ages of six and ten, sent out by their parents to supplement the family income.

One boy, apprenticed to a carter ‘who used me ill’, ran home hoping his parents would protect him. Instead, his father promptly lashed him to a pony and took him straight back, whipping him all the way.

In textile mills, children usually started off as ‘piecers’, standing by the spinning machines repairing breaks in the thread. There, they worked 12 to 13-hour days, six days a week. A former piecer, Moses Heap recalled being so tired that he was carried to and from work by his father.

It wasn’t just working practices that changed during the Industrial Revolution. Everything did - including sexual behaviour. On the face of it, the stigma of illegitimacy remained as high as it had always done, hence the number of shotgun marriages. By the end of the 18th century it’s estimated that between 30 and 40 per cent of women walking down the aisle were pregnant.

But peer a little closer and the picture changes. Women were now able to earn more working in factories than they had ever done before. As a result they were less dependent on men - and better equipped to look after any illegitimate children they might have. Slowly, attitudes became less rigid. Two sisters called Shaw living in 19th-century Preston both had illegitimate children without anyone in their family being too fussed, let alone turfing them out on the street.

And for the first time, working-class men noted down their sexual experiences. Some, not surprisingly, got a bit carried away: ‘I swiftly proceeded to attempting a great piece of indecency ... I put my hands under her coats to her knees,’ panted one.

Others were more matter-of-fact - and you can’t get much more matter-of-fact than the man who regularly made the following joyless entry in his journal: ‘I did wife.’

Being crammed together in large cities also helped working-class people educate themselves. They began forming ‘improvement societies’, which in turn gave rise to Sunday schools. By the 1830s, more children were being educated at Sunday schools than day schools. And last of all, the way in which people worshipped changed. In rural Anglican churches, the poor had pews set aside for them - but they had to curtsy or bow to the vicar’s wife before they sat down, while the squire and other notables sat safely cordoned off behind a curtain.

Starting in the mid-18th century, various noncomformist denominations were founded - among them the Methodists - where the poor could go without having to dress up, or kowtow to anyone, and where they were encouraged to talk rather than bury their heads in their hands.

So how did the Industrial Revolution get such a bad reputation? Much of the blame must be laid at the feet of Friedrich Engels, whose book, The Condition Of The Working Class in England, published in 1845, became the definitive work on the subject. But the revolutionary Engels had his own motives for saying how bloody it had all been - and until now no one seems to have bothered examining the first-hand testimonies for themselves.



To Win Millennials, the GOP Needs to Embrace Its Inner Libertarian

The under-30 crowd doesn’t think much of most Democrats, but it’s got an easily lower opinion of Republicans. Nick Gillespie on how the GOP can revive its brand.

Earlier this year, Bobby Jindal, the GOP governor of Louisiana, surveyed the wreckage of Mitt Romney’s sad-sack presidential campaign and told his fellow Republicans that if they ever want to capture the White House again, “we must stop being the stupid party.”

College juniors purchase T shirts during a Rock the Vote bus tour at the University of North Carolina on September 5, 2012, in Charlotte. (Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty)

While Michele Bachmann’s decision not to run for a fifth term helps the party out on that score, a new report from the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) strongly suggests that another tack would be even more successful: The GOP should embrace its small, youthful, and increasingly influential libertarian caucus that focuses on cutting government spending—even or especially on old-age entitlements—and quit fretting over gay marriage or the need to invade and occupy foreign countries.

Despite its endless small-government rhetoric, such a change may be too radical for a Republican Party whose last two candidates were a combined 138 years old when they ran for the Oval Office. But it’s the best way forward for a GOP that’s even less exciting than your father’s Oldsmobile.

Drawing on August 2012 and March 2013 surveys and focus groups of 800 registered voters ages 18 to 29 from around the country, “Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation” observes that it was the youth vote that largely consigned Mitt Romney to the ranks of presidential losers. Romney pulled 2 million more votes than Barack Obama among voters over 30, but the incumbent won a whopping 5 million more votes than the former Massachusetts governor from so-called Millennials. That’s even more stunning given that voters ages 18 to 29 had lost much of their enthusiasm for Obama. In 2008, Obama outpolled John McCain among young people by 34 percentage points, while in 2012, his lead dwindled to just 23 points. “The election reinforce[s] the generational challenge fac[ing] the GOP,” deadpans the report.

What do young voters want? More than anything, a shot at working and thriving in a growing economy. Yet even though only 22 percent of Millennials thought “Obama’s policies had made it easier for young people to get a job” and “only 29 percent thought they were better off as a result of the stimulus package ... Democrats held a 16-point advantage over the Republican Party among young voters on handling of the economy and jobs (chosen as the top issue by 37 percent of respondents).”

That’s because young voters are turned off by the GOP’s emphasis on tax cuts über alles and habit of embracing big businesses rather than scrappy entrepreneurs. They are equally turned off by the GOP’s constant thumping on gay marriage, which more than any other social issue has emerged as a “deal breaker,” or an issue that will cause a voter who agrees on everything else with a candidate to vote for his or her opponent. Abortion, immigration, even health care are less important in this regard, according to the CRNC.

Millennials, says the report, don’t care much about abstractions such as that favorite Republican bogeyman, “big government.” But they are into cutting government spending and reducing the national debt, as they realize both things are strangling their future before it begins. Fully 90 percent agree that Social Security and Medicare need to be reformed now, 82 percent are ready to “make tough choices about cutting government spending, even on some programs some people really like,” and 72 percent want to cut the size of government “because it is simply too big.” Only 17 percent want to increase spending on defense and just 30 percent said that “marriage should be legally defined as only between a man and a women,” with 44 percent saying same-sex marriage should be legal everywhere and 26 percent saying it should be up to individual states.

You don’t need a decoder ring to read the libertarian strain in such responses. Often described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, libertarians argue for keeping the government out of the boardroom and the bedroom. They tend to favor more-open borders for people as well as goods and services, agitate for legalization (or at least decriminalization) of drugs, and push for choice in whom you can marry as well as where you send your kids to school.

Today’s younger voters—who have grown up in a wild, wired world in which the click of a mouse brings forth endless options in entertainment, commerce, and identity—naturally imbibe an essentially libertarian ethos that privileges individual choice over top-down control. They’re not anarchists: The CRNC report notes that 88 percent support safety-net programs that help people temporarily and 86 percent favor trimming regulations but maintaining ones “that keep us safe.” But Millennials plainly have a spirit of innovation and experimentation that is stymied by centralized government.

These views should provide an opening for Republicans. If Obama once conjured up the audacity of hope, he has pissed it away with a failed economic program, endless new regulatory schemes, and continued wars on terror and drugs that rival or exceed the follies of George W. Bush. During January 2013 focus groups conducted for the study, the CRNC asked respondents to name future leaders of the Democrats. Even Democrats had trouble coming up with one. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rare Democratic champion of school choice who got into trouble with the Obama administration for defending Mitt Romney’s private-equity firm Bain Capital during the election, came up occasionally, but more typical responses were “We don’t have any” and “I can’t think of any.”

The Republicans, on the other hand, seem relatively flush with young studs who are at least partly libertarian in spirit: “Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, and Rand Paul were all mentioned” in focus groups, according to “Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation.”

Of these, the last two are perhaps most interesting and on point. As governor of Louisiana, Jindal has simultaneously taken a scalpel to his state’s budget—garnering an A grade in fiscal policy from the libertarian Cato Institute—pushed school choice, and, despite being an “unapologetic pro-life Republican” called for oral contraceptives to be made available without a prescription. Whatever the merits of his individual proposals, he is working hard to save the GOP from the “stupid party” label and he is certainly not your father’s Oldsmobile.

Rand Paul, the freshman senator from Kentucky, is already a frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016, having won the straw poll at CPAC after making a speech in which he called his own party “stale and moss-covered.” He’s made a name for himself by challenging the Obama administration on its terrible civil-liberties record, calling for a non-interventionist foreign policy, and proposing a budget that would immediately trim $500 billion in annual federal spending and theoretically balance the budget in five years. He’s also a proponent of industrial-hemp legalization and drug-sentencing reform, issues on which he’s reached across party lines. While he is himself a socially conservative Christian, he also believes “states should be able to craft their own drug or marriage policies, instead of the federal government.”

Unlike most of his fellow Republicans, he takes seriously the idea of reaching out to a broad cross-section of Americans, telling a New Hampshire audience, “We need to be white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to be with tattoos, without tattoos, with pony tails, without pony tails, with beards, without.” Paul has taken his “hipster outreach program” to historically black colleges and to Silicon Valley. He is one of the few politicians of either party who openly talks about changing old-age entitlements so they no longer rob from the relatively young and poor and give to the relatively old and wealthy.

Characters such as Paul and Jindal suggest that the Republican Party might just have a future with younger voters. Which means it also may have a future with the rest of us, too, by offering an alternative not just to the Democrats but to the old and “stupid party” that fared so poorly in the last two presidential elections.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 09, 2013

Agents of Influence

By Robert Stacy McCain

Diana West’s new book unravels the lies Americans have been told about Cold War history

BOOK REVIEW of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, By Diana West.

There is no statue of Elizabeth Bentley at her alma mater, Vassar College, nor is there any memorial to her at Columbia University, where she received her master’s degree. Bentley’s career as a Communist spy could be the stuff of a Hollywood thriller, complete with a romantic interest in the form of her lover, Soviet intelligence agent Jacob Golos.

Yet Bentley is nearly forgotten today for the very reason that she became famous: She quit the Communist Party in 1945 and went to the FBI with the names of nearly 150 Soviet agents — including such prominent officials as Victor Perlo, chief of the aviation section of the War Production Board — and subsequently testified before Congress about the Communist espionage network she supervised.

Hollywood and academia don’t celebrate anti-Communists, but as Diana West points out, there is a professorship at Bard College named for arch-traitor Alger Hiss. This perversion of history, in which the heroes and villains are reversed in accordance with liberal myth, has important consequences, as West explains in her new book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character.

The book examine the lost history that, as West told me Tuesday, “is not taught to Americans and is not known to Americans,” because “the people who do know it would never be permitted to teach it on our campuses,” which West describes as “occupied territory.” This misunderstanding of Communism is the result of a dishonesty that entered American discourse after 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended diplomatic recognition to Josef Stalin’s totalitarian Russian regime and, as West says, “we as a society learned to tell lies.”

American lies about Soviet reality — including Stalin’s terror-famine in the Ukraine and the bloody purges of the infamous Moscow “show trials” — flourished in the Popular Front era of the 1930s, even as Soviet agents burrowed into the U.S. government in FDR’s New Deal programs. The lies continued through World War II, when the West’s alliance with Russia against Hitler’s Germany was promoted through U.S. government propaganda that portrayed Stalin as a benevolent figure (“Uncle Joe”) and suppressed information about Soviet atrocities, including the 1940 slaughter of Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest. Not only was it during the war that Communist spies obtained top secret information about the atomic bomb, enabling the Russians to develop their own nuclear weapons within four years of the Hiroshima bombing, but the influence of Soviet agents on U.S. wartime policy helped Stalin conquer Eastern Europe and also helped spread Communist revolution to China.

Even while we were allies with the USSR, the Stalinist regime and its American agents were “engaged in a secret war against us,” West says, and when witnesses like Bentley and Chambers came forward to tell the truth, they were vilified and maligned in much of the press. Not only were these ex-Communists smeared, but officials who sought to investigate Russian espionage and subversion (including both Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy) were also smeared and, in many cases, these smears originated as Soviet propaganda funneled through Communist-controlled organizations and disseminated by sympathetic liberals. So powerful was the counter-attack that, nearly six decades after Joe McCarthy’s death and more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, popular understanding of Cold War history is still hopelessly confused. Many Americans have been taught to think of anti-Communism — mocked as a hysterical “Red Scare,” and condemned as “McCarthyism” — as more dangerous than Communism itself.

The record should have been clarified during the 1990s, when information from Soviet defectors — including Vassily Mitrokhin, who smuggled thousands of pages of KGB archives out of Russia — and the declassification of the so-called “Venona” intercepts of Soviet intelligence cables confirmed the truths told by Bentley and Whittaker Chambers. Indeed, as these ex-Communists testified, and as McCarthy and other anti-Communist investigators had tried to prove, the U.S. government during the Roosevelt presidency was penetrated by scores of officials who took their paychecks from Uncle Sam but were secretly working for Uncle Joe.

Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie — guilty! guilty! guilty! — were prominent among the Stalinist agents in FDR’s administrations whose identities were confirmed by Venona decryptions. These post-Cold War revelations and others contradicted the “Red Scare hysteria” narrative that had treated as preposterous the suspicions aimed at well-credentialed liberals like Hiss (a Harvard Law alumnus) and Currie, a graduate of the London School of Economics who was a key financial policy adviser to Roosevelt.

“With so much confirmation of Soviet infiltration and subversion now in hand,” West says, “not only is a major rewrite of history in order, there are some major wrongs that need to be righted.”

Among the Cold War wrongs in need of correction are not only restoring the smear-damaged reputations of McCarthy and other anti-Communists, but also rescuing from obscurity some other truth-tellers who were demonized for the truths they told. Consider, for example, Army Maj. George R. Jordan, who during WWII worked at an air base in Montana where military supplies were sent to Russia under the Lend-Lease program. In 1949, Jordan told a congressional committee that these supplies included materials like uranium necessary to the development of nuclear weapons, and also testified that the Soviets used Lend-Lease shipments to smuggle secret U.S. documents back to Moscow.

As West details in her new book, Jordan was mocked and denounced by liberals at that time, and he is nearly forgotten now, but nearly all of his testimony has since been confirmed. And one of Jordan’s most controversial claims points to just how high up in the Roosevelt administration the hidden hand of Soviet influence reached. Jordan testified under oath that he got a phone call in April 1943 from top FDR aide Harry Hopkins who gave him direct orders in regard to a shipment of “special” chemicals that were about to arrive at the air base in Montana. Jordan said Hopkins instructed him to make no record of this shipment, which proved to be uranium from Canada. Officials at the top-secret Manhattan Project had ordered an embargo of U.S. uranium shipments to Russia, but according to Jordan, Hopkins had intervened to help the Soviets bypass that obstacle to their own atomic ambitions by arranging the Canadian shipment via Lend-Lease through Montana.

Jordan’s account of the phone call from Hopkins was one element of his testimony that congressional investigators were unable to confirm, but there is other evidence — including testimony of a KGB defector and documents from KGB archives — that points toward the conclusion that Hopkins was a willing agent of Soviet influence.

“If Harry Hopkins, the top aide to President Roosevelt, was indeed a conscious agent … what does this say about Roosevelt?” asks West, posing a question fraught with implications for what we know, and still don’t know, about the direction of American policy and the meaning of American history.

Unfortunately, academic historians seem little interested in those question, and the liberals in charge at Vassar College and Columbia University would probably rather erect a statue of Stalin than to pay tribute to their ex-Communist alumna who told the truth about Soviet espionage, Elizabeth Bentley.



Verizon scandal: Barack Obama's national security state is now beyond democratic control

The sheer number of scandals exposes Obama's inner authoritarianism

Those crazy conspiracy theorists who live up trees with guns and drink their own pee don’t seem quite so crazy anymore. It turns out that a “secret court order” has empowered the US government to collect the phone records of millions of users of Verizon, one of the most popular telephone providers – a massive domestic surveillance programme and a shocking intrusion into the lives of others. For the first time in history, being an AT&T customer doesn’t seem such a bad thing after all.

Of course, it isn't the first time that a US administration has spied on its own people. The origins of this particular order lie first in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and then in Section 215 of the Patriot Act, backed by George W Bush and passed by Congress after 9/11. Normally, domestic surveillance only targets suspicious individuals, not the entire population, but in 2006 it was discovered that a similarly wide database of cellular records was being collected from customers of Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth. There was plenty of outrage and plenty of lawsuits, but the National Security Agency never confirmed that the programme had been shut down. It would appear that it’s still in rude health: the latest court order for collecting data runs from April 25 to July 19.

A few observations. First, America is so conscious and proud of its history as a beacon of liberty that it often overlooks the tyranny that occurs on its own shores in the name of safeguarding democracy. The national security state has expanded to the point whereby it now functions outside of democratic control and with clear disregard for the Constitution. What’s especially creepy about this case is that the state felt no legal obligation to tell citizens that it was spying on them – or at least considering it. The result is a disturbing paradox: it’s legal to collect information from companies but illegal for the companies to try to tell their customers about it. It seems that the law prefers to take the side of the state.

Second, you get what you vote for – and both Republicans and Democrats keep on voting for authoritarians. There’s a frustrating hypocrisy that many conservatives applauded the accrual of state power under Bush for the sake of fighting the War on Terror only to scream blue murder about it now that it’s happening under Obama. Likewise, many liberals resented the domestic espionage programme of Bush but have been less vocal about opposing it under Obama. The journalist Martin Bashir has gone to far as to claim that the IRS scandal is a coded attack upon the President’s race, that “IRS” is the new “n word”. Sometimes it feels like Obama could be discovered standing over the body of Sarah Palin with a smoking gun in his hand and liberals would scream “racist!” if anyone called him a murderer. Their capacity for self-delusion knows no bounds.

Finally, totaling every scandal up – IRS, AP phone records, Fox journalists being targeted, the Benghazi mess – this has to be the most furtively authoritarian White House since Nixon’s. We don't yet have a "smoking email" from Obama ordering all of this, but it can’t be said often enough that there is a correlation between Obama’s “progressive” domestic agenda and the misbehavior of the other agencies governed by his administration – forcing people to buy healthcare even when they can’t afford it, bailing out the banks, war in Libya and the use of drone strikes to kill US citizens. This is exactly what the Tea Party was founded to expose and oppose. All the laughter once directed at the “paranoid” Right now rings hollow.



US agency casts wide net, say whistleblowers

A US court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records shines a light on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major US phone companies, former National Security Agency employees say.

"NSA has been doing all this stuff all along and it's been all these companies, not just one," William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday.

"They're just continuing the collection of this data on all US citizens."

Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11, because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of US citizens.

British newspaper The Guardian on Wednesday released an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requesting Verizon to give the NSA the details on every phone call on its landline and wireless networks on a daily basis between April 25 and July 19.

Binney estimates that the NSA collects records on three billion calls per day.

"These are routine orders," said Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower. "What's new is, we're seeing an actual order and people are surprised by it. "We've been saying this for years from the wilderness," Drake told Democracy Now.

"But it's like, hey, everybody went to sleep while the government is collecting all these records."

Drake started working for the NSA in 2001 and blew the whistle on what he saw as a wasteful and invasive program at the agency.

He was later prosecuted for keeping classified information. Most of the charges were dropped before trial, and he was sentenced to one year of probation and community service.

The NSA's original charter was to eavesdrop on communications between countries, not inside the US. That expansion of its mission appears to have happened after 9/11, but the agency has continuously denied that it spies on domestic communications.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, three of the largest phone companies, said they had no comment on the matter, while a representative from Sprint did not respond to a message.

Verizon's general counsel emailed employees on Thursday saying that the company has an obligation to obey court orders, but did not confirm the existence of an order.

James Bamford, a journalist and author of several books on the NSA, said it's very surprising to see that the agency tracks domestic calls, including local calls.

In 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA was secretly collecting a database of domestic call information, however, some phone companies denied any involvement in such a program.

Bamford's assumption was that the uproar over a separate, post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping program and the departure of the Bush administration meant that the NSA had been reined in.

"Here we are, under the Obama administration, doing it sort of like the Bush administration on steroids," he said in an interview with the Associated Press.

"This order here is about as broad as it can possibly get, when it comes to focusing on personal communications. There's no warrant, there's no suspicion, there's no probable cause ... it sounds like something from East Germany."

Bamford believes the NSA collects the call records at a huge, newly built data centre in Bluffdale, Utah.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 07, 2013

Obama's Inspector General Negligence

The president was on notice at least by 2010 that the State Department was impaired by a lack of IG independence

With so many scandals breaking in Washington, one may well ask: Where were all the inspectors general when these bad things—at the IRS, at Justice, and at State before, during and after Benghazi, for instance—were going on? Where were the presidential appointees who, since the Inspectors General Act of 1978, are meant to root out gross mismanagement, fraud and other abuses at their federal departments and agencies, or among those whom the agencies regulate? The sad truth is that in the Obama administration many of the most important IGs mandated by Congress simply are not in place.

For years, President Obama has neglected his duty to fill vacant inspector-general posts at the departments of State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security and Defense and at the Agency for International Development. The president has nominated only two candidates to fill any of these six vacancies, and he subsequently withdrew both nominations. All told, an IG has been missing in action at each of those cabinet departments and the AID agency for between 18 months and five years.

At a time when American confidence in the integrity and transparency of the federal government has been shaken, inspectors general can help Washington get back to basic principles of accountability—but only if the IGs are properly appointed and allowed to do their jobs.

Although there are 73 inspectors general in the federal system, less than half fall into a category that indicates their special importance for the effective functioning of the government. The nomination of these IGs typically involves a collaborative process between the president and his cabinet secretaries. Congress has also mandated that each cabinet-level inspector general "shall be appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations."

The story at the State Department underscores the problem. For Hillary Clinton's entire four-year tenure as secretary of State, she relied on a retired foreign service officer, former Ambassador Harold Geisel, to function as an inspector general—though he could never hold the title.

Upon the departure of State's IG Howard Krongard in 2008, Mr. Geisel was appointed deputy IG until, it was presumed at the time, a new IG could be named within the customary 210 days stipulated in the Vacancies Act. Mr. Geisel was not eligible to be the inspector general because of an explicit, congressionally mandated safeguard for IG independence that rules out "a career member of the Foreign Service" from ever being "appointed Inspector General of the Department of State."

That is one reason why, as Mr. Geisel's de facto "acting" IG role at State extended into late 2010, the nonprofit Project On Government Oversight complained about this apparent violation of law in a Nov. 18 letter to President Obama. The letter also noted the personal friendship between Mr. Geisel and State's undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy, who was at the time "responsible for the people, resources facilities, technology, consular affairs, and security of the Department of State," according to his official biography.

Mr. Kennedy's long and close association with the person effectively responsible for inspecting and reviewing the department's performance wasn't the only troubling issue for many who knew and respected both men. As a group of "very concerned employees" of the State Department made clear in a letter released to Congress in January 2008—when Ambassador Geisel's appointment as "acting IG" was rumored—the ambassador was so well known as a member of the State Department family that it did not sound like a good idea to have one of their own in charge of investigating, auditing and assessing them.

Mr. Geisel's honesty and dedication were not at question. As the Benghazi whistleblower scandal unfolded on Capitol Hill this spring, however, the last Senate-confirmed inspector general of the State Department, Mr. Krongard, told me in an email that while Mr. Geisel is "an able man . . . his status significantly undercuts his authority and effectiveness within [the office of inspector general], within the Department, in the IG community, and on Capitol Hill. His status is like attaching a sign on his back that says 'Ignore Me, I am temporary.' "

The depth of the IG vacancy problem became clearer when three State Department whistleblowers testified before Congress about Benghazi. One of an IG's many jobs is to protect whistleblowers, but the three said they had suffered reprisals for telling the truth.

Greg Hicks, for instance, was the deputy chief of mission in Libya who became the top U.S. diplomat in Libya after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. Mr. Hicks told Congress he suffered retaliation within the State Department when he asked a superior about Ambassador Susan Rice's five TV interviews after the attack—in which we now know she falsely claimed that the cause of the attack was an online video. Mr. Hicks said he was told by his superiors at State that "he should not proceed" with his questions about events surrounding Benghazi, and he was later given a "blistering critique" of his management style and effectively demoted to "desk officer."

We are left wondering whether the presence of an independent and effective Senate-confirmed IG at the State Department might have encouraged Mr. Hicks and others who were aware of wrongdoing to speak out even earlier, say, in October last year, without fear of reprisal. How many other whistleblowers are not being protected as required by law in the other federal agencies without a Senate-confirmed inspector general? The fact that the IG who recently reported on the IRS tea-party targeting scandal is Senate-confirmed speaks for itself.

If the president continues to be derelict in his duty to nominate inspectors general for the Departments of State, Interior, Labor and Defense, and for the Agency for International Development, he should not expect to know about fraud, waste and abuse in his executive branch agencies—unless and until journalists inform him.

Mr. Schmitz, inspector general of the Defense Department from 2002-05, is the author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional 'Enemies, Foreign and Domestic,' " just out from the Center for Security Policy Press.



Does capitalism make us dumb?

The anti-capitalists contend that the market fosters whatever has the broadest appeal, even when the lowest common denominator indulges our basest appetites.

Defenders of freedom and markets tend to fall back on one of two strategies: either explaining why capitalism’s apparent vice is really a virtue (would we really prefer a system in which a self-selected elite got to plan the supply independent of demand?), or championing the products impugned by capitalism’s critics.

Ludwig von Mises took the first position. In The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, he defended the popularity of detective stories not because of any inherent virtue in the genre but because murder mysteries were what the reading public wanted, whether or not the literati approved of their preferences.

Attempts at the second approach include compelling defenses of car culture, panegyrics to the Twinkie, even praise for shoddy products.

Some targets of disparagement, however, deserve a third approach. One such target is the canned laughter of television comedies, which has been the object of critical censure for over half a century. As University of Minnesota art history professor Karal Ann Marling says,

"Most critics think that the laugh track is the worst thing that ever happened to the medium, because it treats the audience as though they were sheep who need to be told when something is funny — even if, in fact, it’s not very funny."

James Parker, entertainment columnist for the Atlantic, disagrees. In fact, he laments the laugh track’s recent decline:

"Silence now encases the sitcom, the lovely, corny crackle of the laugh track having vaporized into little bathetic air pockets and farts of anticlimax. Enough, I say. This burlesque of naturalism has depleted us.… Who knew irony could be so cloying?"

So do we file the laugh track in the same category into which Mises put pulp fiction?

Or should we instead follow the model of the staunch defenders, and explain why the elitists are simply wrong?

The third approach is to question the premise. Is the laugh track really a product of the market, or did it dominate TV comedies for decades because of government regulation of broadcast media?

In “Did Capitalism Give Us the Laugh Track?” I act as defense attorney in the case of The People versus Capitalism, pleading not guilty in the case of the laugh track.



The past was a better country

In many things, we know we can do better than we are at the present

We Americans like our movie heroes: Tough, free thinking, adaptive, willing to defy authority to save the people. The problem is, no one ever acts like that in real life. Cheering Arnie or Chuck or Sly is a long, long way from doing something heroic yourself – and the current batch of Americans are not so big on that. (Nor are Europeans, or most others.)

One of the great Roman writers called the Romans a “royal, rebellious race.” Likewise Americans, especially in the West, had a real tradition of unflinching individualism. But, as in Rome, American virtue has been lost, while stories of the virtue remain.

21st Century Westerners obey. They do as they are told. They feel free to complain, but they never stop obeying.

You know the script that people try to follow: Do well in school, rebel a little, wear the new shoes/jeans/accessories with the popular logos, get a university degree (take student loans to do so), get a job at a big firm with great benefits, buy a house, vote, send your kids to daycare, watch TV, and so on.

The problem is that the “Obedience Script” isn’t working out very well. Please consider these recent reports:

Nearly one out of every four women in the United States are taking antidepressants.

In 2010, the average teen in the US was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.

Suicide has now actually surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of “injury death” in the United States.

More US soldiers killed themselves than were killed in combat last year.

One-third of American employees suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all ‘millennials’ (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder.

28 million Americans have a drinking problem, and about 22 million Americans use illegal drugs.

People in the US are tied with the UK for the highest average number of hours spent watching television: 28 hours per person per week.

One out of every three children in America lives in a home without a father.

For women under the age of 30 living in the United States, more than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock.

The United States has the highest child abuse death rate in the developed world.

In the United States today, it is estimated that one out of every four girls is sexually abused before they become adults.

The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.

It is estimated that about one out of every six Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 have genital herpes.

One out of every four teen girls in the US has at least one sexually transmitted disease.

Americans spend more time sitting in traffic than anyone else in the world.

America has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world by a very wide margin.

There are many more statistics I could add, including some pretty horrifying stats on obesity, huge percentages of people living on government checks (on both sides of the Atlantic), and astronomical government debts being laid upon generations yet unborn.

The script isn’t working out very well, no matter how much it is shown on TV. You have to wonder how much pain it will take before people will decide to give it up.



The Real Reason Politicians Want a Bigger Bite of Apple computer company

Earlier this month, I explained four reasons why the Apple “tax avoidance” issue is empty political demagoguery.

And Rand Paul gave some great remarks at a Senate hearing, excoriating some of his colleagues for trying to pillage the company.

But this Robert Ariail cartoon may be the best summary of the issue.

What makes this cartoon so effective is that it properly and cleverly identifies what’s really driving the political class on this issue. They want more revenue to finance a bigger burden of government spending.

When I did my contest for best political cartoonist, I picked a cartoon about Greece and euro for Robert Ariail’s entry. While I still think that was a very good cartoon, this Apple cartoon would probably take its place if I did a new contest.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 06, 2013

That IRS bias was worse than you thought

Campaign finance zealots and free speech regulators have sought to stifle the freedom of conservative organizations, such as the Tea Party, by falsely claiming they are “political” while giving a pass to leftist groups that still enjoy unimpaired 501(c) IRS tax-exempt status. As the IRS attacked Tea Party groups, it left hundreds of leftist activist groups alone. A quick review of just eight of those leftist, tax-exempt activist groups demonstrates the IRS's hypocrisy.

Americans United for Change

Americans United for Change enjoys 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. The organization exists, according to its own website, “to amplify the progressive message--to contribute to a grass roots groundswell for progressive policies. Progressives need to redefine ‘common sense’--by reasserting the primacy of the traditional progressive values that resonate with most Americans.”

The group spent $4.7 million in 2009 “redefining” common sense and, according to their IRS form 990, on “advocacy and education about public policy issues.” Americans United for Change directly engaged Republican senators facing reelection in 2008, running television advertisements against them. Naturally, no Democrat complained. Nor did the IRS revoke its 501(c) status.

Ruckus Society

The Ruckus Society (photo above) is part of the Occupy Movement--and donations to this 501(c)3 organization are tax deductible. The George Soros-funded organization’s purpose reads like a parody of the modern Left.

The Ruckus Society provides environmental, human rights, and social justice organizers with the tools, training, and support needed to achieve their goals through the strategic use of creative, nonviolent direct action.

Ruckus also evidently organizes criminal trespass:

"The Brass Liberation Orchestra accompanied a second round of the “I Will Survive…Capitalism” flashmob before leading the crowd of over 1,000 people onto the Bank of America, and deployed a giant balloon banner with our friends at [Rainforest Action Network] reading “Defend Human Dignity: Challenge Corporate Power”...The day of course culminated in the truly mass marches to the Port of Oakland to shut down all operations at the Ports for the night. Some reports say 50,000 people marched and danced the three miles to the ports from Camp, and it was truly an unforgettable experience, marching in a sea of thousands at sunset."

None of this seems to attract any IRS attention. Ruckus's 2011 IRS Form 990 indicates that it has maintained undisturbed 501(c)3 status. The form states Ruckus “provides environmental, human rights, and social justice organizers with the tools, training and support needed to achieve their goals.”

The Ruckus training offers the manual “Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution” and provides suggestions for direct action such as “take over intersections and use for community activities,” give “fake parking tickets on SUV’s,” “Occupy Bank Foreclosed Homes,” and “rip out rancher’s fences” to free livestock.

Planning illegal acts is incompatible with 501(c)3 status. Ruckus is run by Megan Swoboda.

Women’s Action for New Directions

Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) is another leftist organization funded by George Soros that engages in activity designed to transform politics and America. It dates back to the era when the KGB was funding anti-nuclear movements in the West, and was involved in the effort to block installation of Pershing II missiles in West Germany. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the organization continued to oppose America’s national defense.WAND enjoys 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. The organization also boasts a “Students Action Network for New Directions” that encourages leftist students “to become politically active, to vote, and to network with other WAND members.”

Despite the overt political mission and anti-defense militancy, the 990 Forms submitted by WAND to the IRS whitewash their mission in one short sentence: "Empowering women to stop violence through the legislature."

New World Foundation

The New World Foundation, like so many others, uses the money from industrialists who built America to help reduce America. Cyrus McCormick’s daughter formed the NWF to help transform the world, starting with America. The foundation enjoys 501(c)3 tax exempt status and exists, according to its IRS Form 990, to support “community activists across America and around the world.”

The IRS Form 990 also states that the NWF seek to “build stronger alliances for social justice, environmental justice...while encouraging democratic participation to achieve real and lasting [sic].” The form details the mission of “mobilizing of the least enfranchised in working class and people of color communities.”
In 2010, NWF spent over $15 million. It funnels money to a variety of activist leftist groups like the Coal River Mountain Watch, Colorado Progressive Action and National Peoples Action.


Fierce is a New York-based organization that employs the Saul Alinsky organizing model toward activist gay issues. Its website unapologetically proclaims that it is “building the leadership and power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth of color,” and “We develop politically conscious leaders.”

Looking toward the future, as always, “FIERCE is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of social justice movement leaders who are dedicated to ending all forms of oppression.” This unapologetic political mission is also included in the IRS Form 990 submitted by Fierce, so it should not surprise the IRS.

Fierce also provides a chart showing its organizing model is dedicated first to “Build our Power,” then “Exercise our Power,” and finally “Sustain our Power.”

Fierce! has 501(c)3 status, making contributions to the overtly political organization tax deductible. Last tax year it spent $529,713 on stipends for activists, travel and other expenses.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration enjoys 501(c)3 status. The organization “advocates for administrative changes to visa, detention and deportation regulations” according to the IRS Form 990 it filed with the IRS.

For whom does it advocate these changes? The Black Alliance webpage states:

"Historically and currently, U.S. immigration policy has been infused with racism, enforcing unequal and punitive standards for immigrants of color. African Americans, with our history of being economically exploited, marginalized and discriminated against, have much in common with people of color who migrate to the United States, documented and undocumented."

Executive Director Gerald Lenoir told me by telephone that the IRS has never questioned the tax status of the organization. After providing this information, Mr. Lenoir also asked: “is Breitbart a progressive news publication?”

Brennan Center for Justice

Few organizations have worn nonpartisan sheep’s clothing while behaving like a partisan wolf better than the Brennan Center for Justice. Enjoying 501(c)3 status, the Brennan Center’s stated mission on its IRS Form 990 barely scratches the surface. They merely “focus on fundamental issues of democracy and justice,” they claim. The Brennan Center also told the IRS that it is engaged in “the study and solving of intractable problems of social justice and implementing those solutions by coordinating strategies.”

What Brennan didn’t tell the IRS was that those “coordinating strategies” involved bare-knuckle attacks on election integrity laws around the country. The IRS probably doesn’t know that Brennan is hip deep in the effort to derail public policies such as photo voter identification laws. Both the effort and the results of the effort are bathed in politics.

Brennan’s executive director Michael Waldman isn’t above publishing outright falsehoods or phony social science data about election integrity measures in order to advance the group's agenda and enable voter fraud.

Voto Latino

Voto Latino is dedicated to mobilizing Hispanic voters into powerful political coalitions. It also enjoys 501(c)3tax exempt status.

The group holds an annual “Power Summit.” The April 2013 Power Summit included panels entitled “Activism Everyday--I’m Hustling,” “We Voted, Now What?,” “How to Run for Office,” and “Field Operations for Beginners.”

Voto Latino also has a webpage dedicated to the 2012 Democratic National Convention (click while it still exists).

Some on the left are defending the IRS attacks on the Tea Party by falsely claiming the Tea Party is a political organization. These charges sound like projection when considering the descriptions of Voto Latino on itsown webpage:

“We firmly believe that the quality of our future depends on our ability to mobilize and vote....Texas and Florida, two states with the largest Latino populations, passed restrictive voting laws that intimidate people from going to the polls. There's never been a more pivotal time for us to flex our collective power and move our country forward. Despite our economic difficulties and educational needs, Latinos profoundly believe in America....The quality of our future depends on our ability to mobilize today.”

When contacted, a representative at Voto Latino told me its IRS 501(c)3 tax status had never been challenged. Voto Latino receives money from the Soros-affiliated Open Society Foundations.

These are a mere eight groups dedicated to activist political outcomes. Many, many more exist. Under the law, anyone can demand a copy of the IRS 990 form filed by a tax-exempt organization. All you need to do is pick up the phone and call whatever leftist organization you wish and demand its “IRS 990 form.” If they don’t send it, call the IRS.



California, Obamacare and the young

Philip Klein says that if young adults won't play ball Obamacare will sink

Late last month, California provided new details on the coverage offerings on its health insurance exchange, set to begin providing benefits next January, in accordance with President Obama’s health care law. Liberals hailed the California news as evidence that Obamacare would be able to deliver quality health insurance to individuals at an affordable rate, and avoid the huge premium spikes that opponents have been warning about. But, as I immediately pointed out, the California claims were misleading. In a subsequent column and post, I explained why the California rates were a particularly raw deal for younger and healthier individuals, and why this is a problem.

Separately, Avik Roy caused a stir by writing in Forbes that some in California would see rate increases of up to 146 percent. This prompted denunciations from liberal writers Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman and Jonathan Cohn. Essentially, these liberals argue that it isn’t fair to focus on the insurance premiums for the young and healthy, because what really matters is that the health care law expands insurance to those who really need it but cannot get it now, either because it’s too expensive, or because they have pre-existing conditions and thus cannot obtain insurance at any price. Krugman wrote that looking at the cheap rates for bare bones coverage currently available for healthy individuals, “tells you nothing at all about the success of a program that offers insurance to everyone, regardless of medical history, and sets fairly high minimum standards for the quality of that insurance.”

The reality is the exact opposite. The success of Obamacare hinges completely on the young and healthy. The reason is that the dream of a system in which sicker individuals can obtain coverage at affordable rates is predicated on the idea that the government can corral a lot more young and healthy individuals into the insurance market to offset costs. As long as insurers are raking in profits by collecting premiums from individuals with virtually no medical costs, they can afford to take on more expensive patients. This is precisely why as president, Obama abandoned his prior opposition to the individual mandate and why his administration fought so hard to preserve it in court.

Liberals, as Cohn writes, have openly acknowledged that, “some young and healthy people would have to pay more.” The problem for Obamacare supporters is that right now, millions of younger Americans don’t bother getting insurance. So, if currently, this subset of the population doesn’t think insurance is a good deal for them, why would they be compelled to purchase even more expensive insurance once Obamacare goes into effect? As I constantly reiterate, a young American who chooses to go uninsured under the current system pays $0 per month in premiums.

There are two hopes for liberals to lure younger Americans into the market. One is through subsidies. The problem is, because insurance is cheaper for younger Americans, they don’t receive the same level of subsidies through Obamacare. Though the often-quoted figure is that Americans earning up to $46,000 (or 400 percent of the federal poverty level) will qualify for Obamacare subsidies, a 26-year old in California would stop receiving subsidies at $32,000. So, the other way to lure younger and healthier individuals is by punishing them for not having insurance. The problem is, in 2014, the penalty for not having insurance is either $95 or 1 percent of taxable income (roughly $213 for our hypothetical 26 year-old). Yet the cheapest policy offered on the California exchange would cost $1,944 annually. Would a young worker without much disposable income, quite possibly carrying student loans and credit card debt, have an extra $1,700 to toss around? And again, if that worker already chooses to go uninsured under the current system, why would he purchase more expensive insurance under Obamacare?

There’s an important moral and philosophical debate about whether it is fair to shift more of the nation’s medical cost burden on younger and healthier Americans. (Liberals would emphasize that one day, everybody will be old and sick.) But practically, liberals are making a huge miscalculation by dismissing those who argue that the health care law is a bad deal for the young. Ultimately, this debate will settle itself. And if Obamacare cannot make it worthwhile for young Americans to participate in the insurance market, the law will not be able to deliver the promised benefits to the old and sick.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 05, 2013

A Leftist who admits he hates America

It's all about him

I was watching “The Voice” last night, NBC’s singing competition and I could not believe the words coming out of my flat screen television.

It happened near the end of the two-hour episode just after country music crooner Amber Carrington had been saved from elimination by television viewers.

Coach Adam Levine was upset because two of his singers were in the bottom three – and that’s when he muttered something under his breath.

“I hate this country,” he said – apparently unaware his microphone was hot. “I hate this country.”

Levine, the Maroon 5 frontman, is a passionate supporter of President Obama. During the 2012 presidential election he warned the nation in a tweet: “Dear America, if you don’t re-elect @barackobama, I’m gonna lose my sh*t.”

And after Obama won re-election, Levine tweeted: “That’s what happens when you f*ck with Sesame Street.”



How strongly do believers believe: Historical evidence

George Orwell, writing about religious belief in England, commented that what he wanted to know was not how many people confessed to a vague belief in a supreme being but how many believed in Heaven the way they believed in Australia.

I was recently reminded of that comment reading a book on Ottoman law. Under that legal system, there were situations in which a defendant could clear himself by swearing an oath. According to the author's account, there were records in the surviving legal documents of capital cases where the defendant refused to swear and was executed as a result, as well as other cases where the defendant was convicted of a capital offense on his own voluntary confession. The obvious conclusion is that the defendant must have believed in Heaven and Hell very much as Orwell's contemporaries believed in Australia, and preferred death with a hope of Heaven to a life leading to Hell.

It is the obvious interpretation, and the one the author of the book I was reading offered. It may well be the correct interpretation. But I would want to know more about the situation to be sure.

Imagine someone a few centuries hence looking at records from the current American legal system without much knowledge of how it actually worked. Observing that a large majority of felony convictions were by confession, he might well conclude that 21st century American criminals were so honest, perhaps so afraid of divine punishment for denying their crimes, that they preferred a certainty of prison to a chance of freedom bought at the cost of a lie.

What he would be missing would be the institution of plea bargaining, under which a defendant confesses to a lesser charge in exchange for not being tried on a greater, choosing a certainty of (say) one year in prison over a gamble between going free and serving a much longer sentence. Given that institution, the fact that someone pleads guilty not only does not show that he is honest, it does not even show that he is guilty.

Which makes me wonder whether we might be missing similar features of the Ottoman case. The charges were probably for Hadd offenses, the short list of offenses deemed Koranic. Hadd offenses have fixed penalties and high standards of proof. Zina, unlawful sexual intercourse, is a capital offense if committed by someone who is or has been married and so has had the opportunity for lawful intercourse, but normally requires four witnesses to the same act for conviction. Or confession.

In some, perhaps all, cases the same act that can be prosecuted as a Hadd offense with a fixed penalty and a high standard of proof can also be prosecuted as a Tazir offense with a variable penalty, set by the judge, and a lower standard; the schools of law differ on the upper bound of the penalty. One can imagine a case where a defendant believed that if he denied the Hadd charge he would be tried instead on the Tazir charge and receive a penalty as severe or almost as severe. And one can also imagine pressures, legal or non-legal, religious or secular, that would make him prefer the former alternative.

There is another possibility. Islamic religious law, fiqh, does not permit torture. Ottoman law, a fusion of fiqh and Sultanic pronouncements (kanun), did. So we do not know, at least I do not know, how voluntary the voluntary confessions were.

One might be able to explain away the evidence for strong religious belief along these lines, but it is entirely possible that the author I have been reading is correct in his interpretation.

For those of us who do not believe in religion, it is tempting to see other people's belief as only semi-real, as more like my belief in the world of Lord of the Rings (the book, which I read early enough so I had to wait for the second volume to be published, and have reread many times since) than my belief in Australia. It is tempting to interpret our picture of how religious people were in the past as an artifact of filtered data, our sources for the relevant history largely consisting of accounts written by clerics, a point made by Georges Duby, a prominent medieval historian, in a book that used a rare secular source to provide a balancing picture.

But it is hard to see how one can give a complete account of history, or even of the present world, without concluding that for a substantial number of people Heaven really was, or is, as real as Australia.



Neuroscientist: Religious fundamentalism a “curable mental illness”

Another Soviet style Leftist

A leading neurologist at the University of Oxford said this week that recent developments meant that science may one day be able to identify religious fundamentalism as a “mental illness” and a cure it.

During a talk at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday, Kathleen Taylor was asked what positive developments she anticipated in neuroscience in the next 60 years.

“One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” she explained, according to The Times of London. “Somebody who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology – we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.”

“I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults,” she explained. “I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorized as mental illness.”

“In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm.”



The sad truth about today's modern Germany and Jews

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Three years ago I was contacted by an editor of Rowohlt, one of the biggest book publishers in Germany. She said she loved my articles in the Zeit, the prestigious German newspaper I’ve been writing for, and would like me to come to Germany for a few months, interview people and write about them “in the same style you write for the Zeit.”

It didn’t take long to convince me and soon enough I showed up in Germany.

Unbelievable landscapes, delicious food, shiny museums, celebrated intellectuals, tireless farmers, sleepless artists, blasphemous zealots, faithful atheists and a highly modern society welcomed me. All I had to do was to befriend everybody.

Germany, I sadly found out, was obsessed with Jews. Even those who claimed to like Jews had very strange thoughts about them.
I interviewed people from all walks of life. From the famous chain-smoking iconic Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, to the forlorn heroin addicts on the streets of Frankfurt; from the publisher of the largest European daily, Bild, to obscure bloggers; from the Prime Minister of Saxony, to bored museum guards; frail WWII veterans, to sporty high schoolers; radical leftists who want to overthrow the government, any government, to neo-Nazis who won’t settle for anything less than Adolf Hitler; top officials of Mercedes and Volkswagen, to street sellers of cheep necklaces; educated and illiterates; rich and poor; on the east and on the west, in the north and in the south.

We ate together, drank together, and they talked.

Hardly a day passed by without at least one interviewee talking to me about the “rich Jews," the "shrewd Jews," the Israelis who eat Palestinians for breakfast on a daily basis, the "manipulating Jew," or anything else "Jew."

Germany, I sadly found out, was obsessed with Jews. Even those who claimed to like Jews had very strange thoughts about them. Some told me that all Jews knew each other, others said that all Jews helped each other, and still others claimed that all Jews were "very good" with money.

The people thus talked and I wrote down what they said, word for word. I submitted the book, a testimonial to the rampant anti-Semitism in today's Germany, to my editor.

We met a week later and she told me that she cried and laughed when reading the book and that it was even better than what she had expected it to be. But the head of the publishing company, who comes of Germany’s top families, went into a rage. He told me that I couldn’t write and that the book needed serious editing.

I asked him to show me what good writing was. He did.

If there was a line in the book about people not liking “Jews,” he demanded that I change the word to “Israel.”

A chapter about a club that preached the killing of all living Jews had to be erased, he ordered. If somebody told me in an interview that the Jews were “the real Nazis,” their words had to be changed or cut.

Only if I obeyed him, I was led to understand, would I become a "good writer."

He didn't stop there. He went really low, at one point calling me a "hysterical Jew." And then he broke our contract.

No American publisher I approached agreed to give the book life. No matter what evidence at hand, mainstream American publishers were not willing to take on Germany. Taking on a Western ally, I guess, is not on the agenda of present-day publishers.

Fearing that the book’s findings would get forever lost, the Jewish Theater of New York decided to make the book available to Americans and published it under the title “I Sleep in Hitler’s Room.”

In December of 2012 one of the most prestigious of German publishers, Suhrkamp, made the book available in Germany, under the title “Allein unter Deutschen.”

Initially, German critics went ballistic, passionately denying the book's findings that most Germans today hold anti-Semitic views.
One of them, in the highly regarded Liberal newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, didn't shy away from going racist, shamelessly referring to me as "the Jew Tenenbom."

Responding to the growing claims against me, I offered to face any intellectual willing to debate me in public.

Standing before the people who demanded honesty, it soon became very clear that my staunchest critics assailed the book without actually reading it.

Happily, other critics took a closer look at the book and published glorious reviews. Tens of thousands bought the book, sending it to the top 10 of Spiegel magazine's best sellers list (equivalent to the New York Times best sellers list in the U.S.), and thousands of the book's fans attended public readings across Germany.

At its conclusion, I ended my journey into Germany having many more friends than when I started it. This makes me happy, as having new friends is always good, but this doesn't mean that I'm not worried. I am, and much more than I ever was.

Germany is a wonderful, beautiful country, its society one of the more sophisticated of our time. Germany's cultural institutions, such as museums, theater and journalism, are the most advanced in the Western world -- which probably explains why its society's stars are not movie actors but intellectuals.

To me, and as far as I could witness, most of those intellectuals are pseudo intellectuals: they are brainy beyond repair, full of themselves, have a very narrow view of the world, lack a healthy sense of reality and, worse yet, suffer from acute anti-Semitism.

Again and again, history teaches us where this senseless hate will lead. Before WWII, just as now, Germany was very advanced for its time, proudly holding one of the best human rights records. But then as now, the people had hate inside their hearts at the same time their mouths were uttering the loveliest words of freedom.

It was Adolf Hitler who knew to their deeper thoughts and he turned them into the most sadistic known to humanity.

If today Germany doesn't wake up to its inner hate, a more sophisticated Adolf will appear and nobody will be powerful enough to stop him.

It is time to tell Germany, in the clearest of words: People who suffer from cancer can't afford to ignore it. Germany must wake up to its cancer, before it will be fatally consumed by it.

Telling Germans the truth is not hate but the purest form of love. I deeply love them, and therefore I deeply care.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 04, 2013

Is this any way to help the poor?

By Jeff Jacoby

Is welfare corrupt? Of course it is, and in a damning report last week, the Massachusetts state auditor, Suzanne Bump, rounded up some of the scams:

Welfare payments issued to recipients long after they were listed as dead. Multiple recipients using one Social Security number — and multiple Social Security numbers being used by one person. Electronic benefit cards from Massachusetts being used in places like Hawaii, Las Vegas, and the Virgin Islands. Tens of thousands of blank EBT cards missing from state welfare offices. Repeated requests for “lost” benefit cards to be replaced.

In a report that covered only a two-year period, Bump’s investigators identified at least $18 million in illegal or suspicious welfare payments. “It pains all of us,” Bump told reporters, “to think that the program’s integrity is not being maintained.”

If this sounds familiar, it should. Blistering exposés of welfare fraud and abuse, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, have become almost routine.

Over a 22-month period in New Jersey, that state’s comptroller disclosed last week, prison inmates collected almost $24 million in unlawful welfare benefits — including $10.6 million in unemployment checks and $4.2 million in food stamps. TV reporters in Florida documented the use of electronic benefit cards in strip clubs, liquor stores, bowling alleys, and bingo parlors. A 65-year-old cashier in New Hampshire was fired last year for refusing to let a young man use a benefit card to buy cigarettes.

The new Massachusetts audit, meanwhile, followed an earlier report by the state’s inspector general, who estimated that the state is squandering $25 million a year on improper welfare payments. And before that was a national investigation by the US Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program. It uncovered fraud in every state it reviewed.

Is welfare corrupt? Is it ever. And yet the infuriating waste of taxpayer funds is only the beginning of the corruption.

More Americans rely on government assistance today than ever before. Food stamps have become almost a middle-class entitlement. At the end of 2012, a record 47.8 million people were on food stamps. Of the 115 million households in the United States, 23 million — one in five — are on the food dole.

It wasn’t so long ago that such a degree of dependency would have been inconceivable. In 2001, according to federal data, 17.3 million people were receiving food aid. In little more than a decade, the food stamp rolls have almost tripled.

That didn’t happen by accident. Under the last two presidents, increasing food stamp enrollment became an explicit government goal. George W. Bush sharply expanded eligibility, rebranding food stamps as “nutritional assistance” instead of welfare. States were encouraged to sign up more recipients — a ball the Obama administration took and ran with. The Agriculture Department promotes food stamps through radio ads and “public service” announcements; billboard-style ads appear on city buses. To attract even more participants, the department advises local welfare agencies to “host social events where people mix and mingle” — show them a good time, and try to get them on welfare.

Is this any way to help the poor? FDR didn’t think so. In his annual message to Congress in 1935, President Roosevelt warned that “continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.” The father of the New Deal knew that “to dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of a sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America.”

It is a mark of how far we have declined that a political figure who dared to say such a thing today would be denounced as heartless, a hater of the poor, even a racist — as Newt Gingrich found out when he tried to make an issue of soaring food stamp rates during the presidential campaign. When Massachusetts lawmakers last year tried to prevent electronic benefit cards from being used to pay for tattoos, guns, or jewelry, Governor Deval Patrick vetoed the measure, saying he would not be a part of “humiliating poor people” or making them “beg for their benefits.”

FDR feared the effect of long-term dependence on government. Political leaders today enable it.

Welfare corrupts in so many ways. What it does to taxpayers is bad, and what it does to welfare recipients is worse. But what it is doing to our nation’s character and deepest values may well be worst of all.



Abolish the Corporate Income Tax!

Sen. Carl Levin was aghast. Before his committee sat, unapologetic and uncontrite, Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose company had paid no U.S. corporate income taxes on the $74 billion it had earned abroad in recent years.

"Apple has sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance," said Levin. "Apple has exploited an absurdity."

Actually, Apple had done nothing wrong, except hire some crack accountants who chose Ireland's County Cork as the headquarters of their international division. Thus Apple paid on profits earned outside the U.S.A. nothing but a 2 percent tax imposed by the Irish government.

Far from being condemned, Apple's CPAs ought to be inducted into the Accountants Hall of Fame.

It is no more immoral for Apple to move its headquarters for foreign sales to Ireland than for Big Apple residents to move to Florida to escape the 12 percent combined state and city income tax.

Among the reasons the Sun Belt is booming at the expense of the Rust Belt is not just the weather. Southern states strive to keep income and estate taxes low or nonexistent. They want companies and families to relocate and live there, and to spend their money there.

The problem here is not with Apple, it is with Sen. Levin & Co.

In a press release, "Avoiding Their Fair Share of Taxes," the AFL-CIO hails Levin and bewails the fact that though the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, highest in the world, corporate income tax revenue has fallen to well below 10 percent of federal tax revenue.

"Cash tax payments by non-financial companies in the S&P 500 Index fell ... to $222 billion in 2010," moaned the AFL-CIO.

"Another corporate tax avoidance strategy is to move overseas to a corporate tax haven like Bermuda. By reincorporating offshore, companies avoid paying federal income taxes on profits earned outside the United States."

Yes, they do. But instead of bewailing this, perhaps we should start thinking and acting as our forebears did. In the same Wall Street Journal that reported on Cook's defense of Apple, former Sen. Phil Gramm described that earlier America:

"Over the late 19th century, real GDP and employment doubled, annual average real earnings rose by over 60 percent and wholesale prices fell by 75 percent, thanks to marked improvement in productivity."

Astonishing. And what is the difference between that age and ours? A 35 percent income tax rate on individuals and corporations that did not exist then, and would have been regarded by Americans of the Gilded Age as the satanic work of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

From the Civil War to World War I, our economy grew from one-half the size of Great Britain's to twice Britain's. American companies were capturing markets abroad. Today's U.S. companies are looking for ways to relocate abroad.

Herewith, a modest proposal to turn this around.

Since the U.S. corporate income tax now produces less than 10 percent of federal revenue and less than 2 percent of gross domestic product, abolish it. Get rid of it.

Think of it. A continent-wide nation that doesn't tax business.

Assume this would cost the Treasury $250 billion in lost revenue.

How to make it up? Put a 10 percent tariff on imports entering the United States, which last year added up to $2.7 trillion.

This tax reform would thus be revenue neutral.

And what would a corporate income tax rate of zero, with a 10 percent tariff on goods entering the U.S.A. from abroad, accomplish?

First, every U.S. corporation that had moved abroad in search of lower taxes in recent years would start thinking about coming home and bringing its production and its jobs back to America.

Second, that $2 trillion in income U.S. companies have stashed abroad would come roaring back into U.S. institutions.

Third, foreign companies would begin to relocate and produce here in America, both to get around the tariff and pay no taxes.

Fourth, U.S. producers would see sales soar inside the $17 trillion U.S. market, at the expense of foreigners who would pay a 10-percent admission fee to get into this market, a fraction of what they used to pay in the 19th century.

While this would cause a surge in unemployment among IRS agents and accountants, hundreds of millions of man hours could be redirected away from filling out tax forms and into productive work.

"Since 1980, the U.S. has run trade deficits in every year totaling about $9 trillion," writes columnist Robert Samuelson.

That is 9 thousand billion dollars in trade deficits!

It is what unmade America as a self-reliant republic and made China a manufacturing marvel. And those trade deficits are how America became a dependent nation in hock to the world.

From 1865 to 1914, America had 10 Republican presidents. All believed in financing government by taxing imports, not the incomes of U.S. citizens or the U.S. companies that employed them.

And this was how the miracle Sen. Gramm details came about.



Now The Gibson Guitar Raids Make Sense

IRS Scandal: The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another targeting by this administration of its political enemies.

On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.

In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island's government that no law had been broken.

In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson's response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.

Interestingly, one of Gibson's leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin's catalog, several of their guitars contain "East Indian Rosewood," which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson's guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

"We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted," Juszkiewicz said at the time, adding the matter "could have been addressed with a simple contact (from) a caring human being representing the government. Instead, the government used violent and hostile means."

That includes what Gibson described as "two hostile raids on its factories by agents carrying weapons and attired in SWAT gear where employees were forced out of the premises, production was shut down, goods were seized as contraband and threats were made that would have forced the business to close."

Gibson, fearing a bankrupting legal battle, settled and agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to the U.S. Government. It also agreed to make a "community service payment" of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — to be used on research projects or tree-conservation activities.

The feds in return agreed to let Gibson resume importing wood while they sought "clarification" from India.

The feds say they acted to save the environment from greedy plunderers. America is a trivial importer of rosewood from Madagascar and India. Ninety-five percent of it goes to China, where it is used to make luxury items like $800,000 beds. So putting Gibson out of business wasn't going to do a whole lot to save their forests.

Juszkiewicz' claim that his company was "inappropriately targeted" is eerily similar to the claims by Tea Party, conservative, pro-life and religious groups that they were targeted by the IRS for special scrutiny because they sought to exercise their First Amendment rights to band together in vocal opposition to the administration's policies and the out-of-control growth of government and its power.

The Gibson Guitar raid, the IRS intimidation of Tea Party groups and the fraudulently obtained warrant naming Fox News reporter James Rosen as an "aider, abettor, co-conspirator" in stealing government secrets are but a few examples of the abuse of power by the Obama administration to intimidate those on its enemies list.


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


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


June 03, 2013

The Old Order is Dying

Victor Davis Hanson

Ideas of the 1960s have now grown reactionary in our world that is vastly different from a half-century ago.

Take well-meaning subsidies for those over age 62. Why are there still senior discounts, vast expansions in Social Security and Medicare, and generous public pensions?

Five decades ago all that made sense. There was no such thing as double-dipping. Seniors often were physically worn out from blue-collar jobs. They were usually poorer and frequently sicker than society in general. The aged usually died not long after they retired.

Not now. Seniors often live a quarter-century or longer after a mostly white-collar retirement, drawing subsidies from those least able to pay for them.

Seniors are not like today's strapped youth, scrimping for a down payment on a house. Most are not struggling to find even part-time work. None are paying off crushing student loans. In a calcified economy, why would an affluent couple in their early 60s earn a "senior discount" at a movie, while the struggling young couple with three children in the same line does not?

Affirmative action and enforced "diversity" were originally designed to give a boost to those who were victims of historical bias from the supposedly oppressive white-majority society. Is that still true, a half-century after these assumptions became institutionalized?

Through greater intermarriage and immigration, America has become a multiracial nation. Skin color, general appearance, accent or the sound of one's name cannot so easily identify either "oppressors" or "victims."

So who exactly should receive privileges in job-hiring or college admissions -- the newly arrived Pakistani immigrant, or the third-generation, upper-middle-class Mexican-American who does not speak Spanish? Both, or neither? What about someone of half-Jamaican ancestry? What about the children of Attorney General Eric Holder or self-proclaimed Native American Sen. Elizabeth Warren? What about the poor white grandson of the Oklahoma diaspora who is now a minority in California?

Even if the 21st-century state could define who is a minority, on what moral grounds does the targeted beneficiary deserve special consideration? Is his disadvantage defined by being poorer, by lingering trauma from his grandparents' long-ago ordeals, or by yesterday's experience with routine racial prejudice?

If Latinos are underrepresented at the University of California, Berkeley, is it because of the stubborn institutional prejudices that also somehow have been trumped by Asian-Americans enrolling at three times their numbers in the state's general population? Are women so oppressed by men that they graduate from college in higher numbers than their chauvinist male counterparts?

Consider also the calcified assumptions about college education. The expanding 1960s campus was touted as the future gateway to a smarter, fairer, richer and more ethical America. Is that dream still valid?

Today, the college-educated owe a collective $1 trillion in unpaid student loans. Millions of recent graduates cannot find jobs that offer much chance of paying off their crushing student debts.

College itself has become a sort of five- to six-year lifestyle choice. Debt, joblessness or occasional part-time employment and coursework eat up a youth's 20s -- in a way that military service or vocational training does not.

In reaction, private diploma mills are springing up everywhere. But there are no "diversity czars" at DeVry University. There is no time or money for the luxury of classes such as "Gender Oppression" at Phoenix University. Students do not have rock-climbing walls or have Michael Moore address them at Heald College.

The private-sector campus makes other assumptions. One is that the hallowed liberal arts general-education requirement has been corrupted and no longer ensures an employer that his college-graduate hire is any more broadly educated or liberally minded than those who paid far less tuition for job-training courses at for-profit alternative campuses.

Scan the government grandees caught up in the current administration's ballooning IRS, Associated Press and Benghazi scandals. In each case, a blue-chip Ivy League degree was no guarantee that our best and brightest technocrats would prove transparent or act honorably. What difference did it make that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice had degrees from prestigious universities when they misled the American people or Congress?

The now-aging idealists of the 1960s long ago promised us that a uniformly degreed citizenry -- shepherded by Ivy League-branded technocrats -- would make America better by sorting us out by differences in age, gender, education and race. It is now past time to end that ossified dream before it becomes our collective nightmare.




Why has the topic of "inequality" been getting so much attention in recent years? My theory: people on the left don't have solutions to any other problems.

But first things first. What do the writers who are obsessing about it mean by "inequality"? They basically mean inequality of income. That would make sense if we all agree that the most important way in which people are unequal is differences in income. But what if that isn't the case? Almost all of the people who are doing the complaining have chosen professions that earn less income than they could have had. That is, all these professors and editorial writers could have gone to law school or gotten an MBA or done something else that would have earned them more money. Obviously, money isn't the most important thing in their lives.

The list below shows some other ways in which people are unequal. These things basically can't be purchased. But if we were really concerned about life's unfairness, we could compensate those who have less of these attributes and tax those who have more.


Physical health

Mental health


Leisure time

Physical attractiveness

Athletic ability

Music ability

Life expectancy

On the last item, there has been a persistent gap between the life expectancies of men and women -- across all racial and ethnic groups. We don't want to lower the life expectancy of women and we don't know how to raise the life expectancy of men. But a general tax on women to be distributed to men would help redress some of nature's injustice (see Dwight Lee.)Plus, with this tax there would be very little of the avoidance and evasion behavior we see with the income tax. (Not many people would get a sex change just to avoid paying it.)

To return to college professors, for a moment, they have an enormous amount of time to do whatever they feel like doing. They only have, say, six to nine hours of required work every week (teaching) and even then they have enormous discretion over what they actually do. Plus they have the whole summer off. The term "leisure time" doesn't really capture what is going on here. Let's just say they have leisurely jobs. Contrast that with people who have no discretion over how they perform their jobs, who work 40 hours a week or more, who hate their work and who can't wait to retire. (College professors rarely want to retire.)

If you care a lot about inequality, an argument could be made for taxing college professors and giving the money to people whose work experience is boring, uninteresting, unfulfilling and has no purpose (for them) other than paying their bills.

If you believe Tom Wolfe, the most important thing on the list above is status. In Wolfe's novels, status is far more important than income ? for almost everybody. What are some indictors of status? Being quoted in major newspapers. Being interviewed on TV. Winning a Nobel Prize. By way of contrast, think of all the people who have never been quoted in any newspaper, who have never been on TV and who have never won any prize. I believe there is far more inequality of status than inequality of income, although I'm not sure how to measure these things.

In any event, if inequality bothers you, think about a special tax on Nobel Prize winners, on TV talk show guests and on people whose names appear in the national news media ? with the proceeds distributed, of course, to people who have no status. Anyone called "counselor" or "esquire" or "doctor" is an obvious candidate for a status tax. Someone called both "professor" and "doctor" ought to be a candidate for double taxation. If the professor/doctor also has an eponymous blog, make that a triple tax!

I definitely would include politicians. In fact, if status is what is most important in life, there should be a special tax on elected officials and a huge tax on whoever is president.

There is a closely related issue. In my line of work I meet an enormous number of people who are frustrated because the world pays no attention to what they think. They have no forum from which to get their ideas in front of everyone else.

But imagine you could be an editorial writer for The New York Times. Better, imagine you could say anything you wanted to say -- ignoring facts and even saying things that are demonstrably untrue. Plus, no matter what you say, you never have to publish a retraction or apologize. Imagine that you could use your column to say mean and nasty things about people you don't like and you could call them any name The NYT regards as "fit to print."

Now imagine auctioning off the right to have this job. How much do you think people would be willing to pay? I'll bet there would be some willing to pay $1 million for the opportunity.

In any event, there should be a special tax on whoever gets this job. A very big tax.



The suppressed history of how the Left have been betraying America for a very long time

Diana West

A book called "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character" (St. Martin's Press) shouldn't promise uplift and spiritual renewal. I know. I wrote it.

That said, the story of "betrayal" that my new book lays out -- betrayal enabled by a de facto Communist occupation of Washington by American traitors loyal to Stalin, which would solidify in the 1930s under FDR and be covered up by successive U.S. administrations and elites -- is not without inspiration. I am talking about the inspiration of the truth-tellers.

"American Betrayal" presents a rewrite of most of World War II and Cold War history, something I never imagined doing when I first began writing the book. This is simply the story that took shape from my research. And it takes shape in the book in a first-person narrative exactly as I stumbled across the revelations and put them together according to two basic mechanisms.

One relates to revelations from secret archives in Moscow and Washington that opened, briefly and partially, after the USSR dissolved in 1991. I discovered that the treason documented in these archives, treason committed by Americans in government, some in the very highest positions of power, had not been incorporated into our general historical understanding of such defining events as World War II and the Cold War. So I did my best to incorporate them. What emerges makes our history look completely different -- even our near-sacred history of World War II.

The other stream of new information that I was able to reweave into the American story came from those I think of as the truth-tellers. These are the forgotten and/or maligned witnesses and investigators who told and sought the truth about the massive penetration and infiltration by Americans serving a hostile foreign power. (Yes, among them is Sen. Joe McCarthy.)

Their truth-seeking example is inspiring, particularly in an age of routine, serial lying and obfuscation in Washington. If there is one thing I hope my book does, it is to reintroduce us to these great Americans. Because they contradicted the official narrative -- the "court histories" as author and historian M. Stanton Evans calls it -- these Americans were smeared, marginalized and lost to us, their rudderless descendants.

We need them back in our historical and moral consciousness. To that end, I am embarking on an occasional series devoted to truth-tellers highlighted in "American Betrayal."

I will begin with Maj. George Racey Jordan, who in 1949 and 1950 came forward to testify under oath before Congress that one big reason the Soviet Union had recently surprised the world by exploding an atomic bomb was that he, Jordan, the top "expediter" shipping thousands of tons of U.S. war supplies and aircraft through an airfield in Great Falls, Mont., to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease during World War II, had personally overseen the shipment of uranium to Moscow.

Really? Sure enough, as a congressional investigator would testify, two specific shipments of uranium oxide and nitrate were "completely documented to include even the number of the plane that the flew the uranium ... out of Great Falls." This postwar revelation before Congress would shock and anger Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, because he had slapped an embargo on the wartime export of uranium from the U.S. Of course, the shipments in question came from Canadian stocks. How did that happen? Therein lies a tale -- a tale of betrayal.

Meanwhile, it wasn't just uranium that Jordan expedited, as he testified. Heavy water, too.

The congressional committee was able to document the shipment of heavy water, too.

In all, Jordan "expedited" 23 atomic materials through the big airbase in Montana to Moscow during the war, along with nearly 14 million pounds of aluminum tubes, also essential to atomic experimentation.

Findings in Soviet archives would later confirm that possession of the atomic bomb was what emboldened Stalin to trigger the Korean War in 1950. The implications of the theft of U.S. atomic secrets, then, becomes staggering.

After Jordan went public, all manner of witnesses stepped forward to corroborate different aspects of his story. There was the pilot who flew the uranium shipment (and said he handled brown grains of uranium that spilled from a box). There was the GI who recognized in Moscow-bound blueprints the chemical structure of uranium. Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko, celebrated author of "I Chose Freedom," would himself testify before Congress and corroborate specific allegations by Jordan attesting to Lend-Lease as a giant conduit of Soviet espionage.

What even this skeletal synopsis of a tale that unfolds in detail in "American Betrayal" should make clear is that it wasn't just the Rosenberg atomic spy ring that enabled the Soviet theft of U.S. atomic secrets. There was a massive looting effort underway inside the U.S. government overseen by senior Washington officials. Chief among these powers was Harry Hopkins, FDR's very top, very enigmatic, very sinister (I have concluded) adviser. Hopkins was the power behind Lend-Lease -- often the power behind Roosevelt, too -- and a central figure in my book.

I knew none of this "lost" history going into my research more than four years ago. Precious few Americans, I've since learned, do. Hopkins, once famously known as Roosevelt's "co-president," is as absent from our national history lessons as Jordan, a credible eyewitness to what might well have been treason. Why do we have such blanks? Why isn't Jordan's earth-shaking testimony, most of it corroborated by documentation and supporting eyewitness accounts, ever taught? How did Hopkins, once the most powerful man in Washington next to FDR (and maybe more so) slip out of our collective memory? Who stole our history -- and why?

These are the questions I set out to unravel in "American Betrayal." On this quest, I learned there was nothing like seeking out, dusting off and listening to history's truth-tellers.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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June 02, 2013

The BILDERBERGERS are coming!

Conspiracy theorists of all stripes get their knickers in a knot over the Bilderberg meetings. They are the cabal that controls the world, according to some. So expect great explosions of attention-seeking from the usual suspects when this latest meeting takes place. It seems to occur to none of the demonstrators that the Bilderbergers could crush them like a nut if the Bilderbergers really did have the power that is attributed to them

British taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the ‘exceptional costs’ of policing of the clandestine Bilderberg meeting to be held in Watford next week.

The annual meeting of royalty, prime ministers and business chiefs - famous for being shrouded in secrecy - is taking place in Britain for the first time since 1998.

Given the amount of – so far unnamed - prestigious people set to attend the event at the luxury Watford hotel in Hertfordshire, local police have been forced to step up security, which will be part-funded by the government.

The cloak of secrecy surrounding the meetings, which ban journalists from attending, has fuelled various conspiracy theories, including that attendees are plotting world domination.

As a result, there are fears that anti-capitalist protesters will cause ‘violence and disturbance’ at the meeting on 6 June.

Hertfordshire police have refused to release the cost of security for the event, which has previously drawn mass demonstrations in other locations around the world.

However, they are in talks with the Home Office about a grant for ‘unexpected or exceptional costs’ that is only given out if it threatens the stability of the force’s policing budget.

Dorothy Thornhill, the mayor of Watford, told the Watford Observer: 'I have my concerns about it because it does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance. ‘But I am confident the police will be able to minimise that and give them their right to protest.

‘I am ambivalent about whether this is a good thing. It’s potentially a positive thing as long as things don’t kick off,’ she said.

The invitation-only Bilderberg meetings, which began in 1954, are attended by around 140 people of influence from North America and Europe.

Previous guests are thought to have included Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Prince Charles, Peter Mandelson, David Cameron and Queen Beatrix of Holland.



What is driving income inequalities?

Peter Saunders

I was recently asked by a journalist if we should be concerned about widening income inequalities. Here is my reply:

The question is not whether wider material inequalities are a good or bad thing, but what is driving them.

If it were the case, as Wilkinson and Pickett claim, that greater economic inequality creates individual unhappiness and social malaise, I might be worried about recent trends. But the claim is untrue. Their work has been demonstrated to be fundamentally flawed (not just by me); propaganda masquerading as social 'science'.

A number of factors in the last 20 years or so have combined to increase income inequalities in advanced capitalist countries. The main one is a big increase in remuneration for the very top earners - the distribution among the bottom 95% hasn't shifted much - and this reflects the globalisation of the market for corporate leaders.

Is this widening income inequality a bad thing? If it is a result of fraud, deception or outright coercion, yes it is. But if it is a result of freely-taken decisions by people using their own money, no it isn't.

Consider the world's top footballers who nowadays earn $250K or more per week. Why do they get this much? Because top clubs chase scarce talent to improve their team performance. Who pays for these huge salaries? Ultimately, the millions of people who want to watch these players and who are prepared to pay higher ticket prices and/or monthly Pay-TV subscriptions in order to do so. Who gains? Everyone: players, the clubs who employ them, the clubs' customers who want to watch them, and the taxpayer. Who loses? Nobody.

It's the same with corporate high-flyers. Institutions compete for their services and bid up the price, but nobody is forced to pay it. Shareholders benefit from the enhanced profits these guys bring (if they don't, they sack them); customers benefit from the efficiencies they generate; taxpayers benefit from the increased tax revenues. If they break the rules, of course they should be penalised. But if not, they have a right to every dollar they earn.

For a thoroughly reasoned defence of this position, look no further than Robert Nozick's 'Anarchy, State and Utopia.' Nozick provides a compelling argument for assessing the ethics of inequality, not in terms of outcomes (how much do different people get?) but in terms of inputs (why do some people get more than others?).

If your labour creates more value than mine, you have a right to a higher reward. Similarly if as a result of exchanging and trading freely with others, you end up with more than me, you have a right to keep the proceeds. I have no grounds for complaint in either case. If I do still choose to complain (and even worse, combine with other malcontents and mobilise the coercive power of the state to take from you what is rightfully yours), my action is not ethical; it is malicious, driven by nothing but envy and spite.

Equality is a crucial principle, if we mean simply that all individuals should be subject to the same rules, without prejudice or favour. Everyone has equal value in the eyes of the law.

But the morality of equality gets twisted when applied to the results of free individuals operating under a common system of law. Working and freely exchanging goods and services with each other, equal individuals will always generate unequal outcomes between themselves.

Providing a welfare safety net for those who fail is one thing, but deliberately using the state to rob those who succeed is quite another. It is ironic that those who support policies of radical redistribution often believe they are expressing the highest 'moral' principles, when in reality they are peddling envy and greed.



BOOK REVIEW of Hitler's Ideology: A Study in Psychoanalytic Sociology By Richard A. Koenigsberg

On my reading of Hitler's words and deeds, the analysis below is pretty right. American Progressives of the time thought similarly. The human body as a model for a nation seems to have been pretty popular in both Europe and America in the first half of the 20th century -- JR

Once again available, Hitler’s Ideology identifies and conveys the central images and metaphors contained in the writings and speeches of the leader who defined and articulated Nazi ideology.

Rigorously examining the empirical data, Koenigsberg identifies recurring metaphors in Hitler’s rhetoric in order to reconstruct the central fantasy underlying, defining and supporting Nazism: the idea that Germany was a real body politic in danger of disintegrating—unless radical actions were undertaken.

Hitler’s political role was to maintain the life of the body politic—to prevent Germany from falling apart. To keep Germany from disintegrating, Hitler would bind Germans into a “closely united body.” Hitler’s strategy was to throw his people into the “great melting pot,” the nation, so that they would “weld one to another” into a “single block of steel.”

Hitler was not satisfied with abstract concepts of the nation. He refused to embrace a theory of nations as “imagined communities.” Rather, Hitler conceived of Germany as a “national organism:” an actual “substance of flesh and blood.”

Hitler devoted his life to this German organism—a substance of flesh and blood—and asked his people to do the same. In Hitler’s ideology, the body politic was more important than the bodies of individuals. Hitler mobilized a struggle to “maintain that body—which is the people.”

Nazism conceived of each citizen as a cell of a gigantic organism. Hitler acted to unite these cells to create a single, indestructible body. Out of the “weak will of 60 million individuals,” Hitler would forge a “gigantic mighty compressed will of all.” To prevent national disintegration, the German people had to “hold together as a single block of steel.” If Germany did not succeed in creating a body politic “hard as iron,” then—lacking internal consolidation—the nation would “fall into final ruin.”

The Psychology of Ideology

Hitler’s Ideology is a study in the psychology of ideology and culture. What is the source of an ideology’s power? How may we account for the shape and form of specific cultural ideas or beliefs? Why are certain discourses embraced with such passion? What was the source of Nazism’s appeal?

“Obedience to authority” is not an explanation. Hitler lured the Germany people by presenting a fantasy of omnipotence that they could share and embrace. Each citizen would partake of—become one with—the massive, powerful German body politic.

The Nuremberg rallies (see photo to the left) conveyed the heart of Hitler’s ideology. In these rallies, tens of thousands of people massed together in a stadium. Here at last was the German organism of Hitler’s dreams: the people as cells united to form a single, massive body. Hitler was ecstatic.

The Nuremberg rallies persuaded Hitler that Germany was real—not simply an imagined community. The people at these rallies embodied the nation: Germany had materialized. Hitler saw and experienced the nation with his own eyes: an actual “substance of flesh and blood.”

Fighting for the Resurrection of Germany

Hitler entered politics because he felt that German nation was weak and ill—in danger of succumbing to a fatal disease. He feared the “political disintegration of the body of the people;” believed he was witnessing the “slowly spreading decomposition” of Germany.

Hitler would persuade the German people to undertake a “fight against death.” Either Germany and the German people would sink, or they would enter a “fight against death and rise up against the fate that has been planned for us.”

Hitler’s leadership was based on his belief that the German body politic was in the process of disintegrating. He would reverse the process: make certain that the nation did not disintegrate. Still, the nation was in critical condition. “Drastic measures” were required if Germany was to survive.

Hitler justified the need for political risk by comparing Germany’s plight to that of a “cancer victim whose death is otherwise certain”—who would be willing to attempt an operation even if it promised “only half a percent likelihood of cure.” He compared the nation’s plight to that of a man who “appears to have cancer and is unconditionally doomed to die.” Under these circumstances, it would be senseless to refuse an operation just because the possibility of success was slight.

Would Germany be able to survive? Hitler possessed the “inner assurance” that the people’s fight to live would be brought to a successful conclusion. In spite of Germany’s desperate plight, Hitler remained optimistic, claiming that a national state could sometimes withstand long period of the worst leadership without disintegrating. At such times it seemed as if there were “no more life in such a body”—as though it were dead and done for. But one fine day the supposed corpse suddenly rises and “gives the rest of humanity astonishing indications of its unquenchable vital force.”

Hitler became Fuehrer in order to help Germany recover from her disease. Soon, Hitler believed that he had achieved his goal. Germany had “found herself.” The nation had “risen again.” The people could rejoice in the “renewal of a body that had fallen into senility.” Hitler proudly announced the “mighty miracle of the German resurrection.”

Hitler’s Ideology shows how Nazism grew out of the fantasy of Germany as an actual body—and Hitler’s belief that the purpose of politics was to maintain the life of this body. As a result of actions undertaken by the Nazis, Hitler believed that he had brought the nation back to life: Germany had been resurrected.

Maintaining the Life of the Body Politic

Hitler’s ideology revolved around devotion to this second body—the German body politic. Hitler explained to his people: “You are nothing, your nation is everything.” In Nazism, individual human lives were insignificant compared to the life of the body politic. Why? Because individual bodies pass away, whereas the Reich had the potential to live eternally.

Hitler explained: “The individual is transitory, the people is permanent.” Men come and die, but “this community shall last forever.” Hitler asked the German people to disregard their own lives—to place no value on their actual bodies. Rather, the existence of each person would be devoted to maintaining the life of a second body: the body politic.

Hitler was not content with an abstract idea of national immortality. Rather, the permanent element—what would endure—was “that substance of flesh and blood which we call the German people.” The nation, Hitler believed, was an actual body consisting of the German people as its flesh and blood.

Politics revolves around devotion to entities called nations that human beings imagine possess an existence separate from their own lives. Citizens sacrifice their bodies—die and kill—in order to make certain that national bodies “live on.” In order to maintain the lives of nations—to assure their immortality—anything and everything is deemed permissible. “We may be inhumane,” Hitler said, “But if we rescue Germany we have performed the greatest deed in the world.”

Received by email from Library of Social Science


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The 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)

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.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

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.

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

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

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

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!

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.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.


The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

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: "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

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

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."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
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basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
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