Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nancy Pelosi in China, 2009:

In answering a question from a student about how Pelosi was going to get Americans to cut back on their carbon emissions, the leading Democratic lawmaker said it was important to educate children on how to conserve energy and for citizens to build more environmentally friendly homes. "We have so much room for improvement," she said. "Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory ... of how we are taking responsibility."


V.I. Lenin in Russia, 1917:

"Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything"



LOL: Obama's revenge on the Clintons

Asked why he was naming some of his rivals to top administration jobs, President Lyndon B. Johnson said it best: "I'd rather have them inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in." President Obama seems to echo Johnson's management style in his handling of Bill and Hillary Clinton. By bringing them into his inner circle, he has marginalized them both and sharply reduced their freedom of action.

It may appear odd to describe a secretary of State as marginalized, but Obama has surrounded Hillary with his people and carved up her jurisdiction geographically. Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) is in charge of Arab-Israeli relations. Dennis Ross has Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke has Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Hillary has to share her foreign policy role on the National Security Council (NSC) with Vice President Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, CIA chief Leon Panetta, and NSC staffer Samantha Powers (who once called Hillary a "monster"). With peers who are competitors and subordinates who can deal directly with the president, Hillary is reduced to announcing foreign aid packages for Pakistan while Holbrooke does the heavy lifting.

Part of Hillary's problem is the institutional shrinking of the State Department. During the Bush years, while war raged, the Defense Department became more relevant to the conduct of foreign policy. And, under Obama, the financial crisis has propelled the Treasury into the forefront. State, with its emphasis on traditional diplomacy, has been forced to take a back seat. Even though Obama appointed Hillary, he clearly has not been willing to make her a co-president and confines her to the diminished role of her department.

For his part, Bill Clinton has been asked to be a special envoy to Haiti. Yes, Haiti. Obama's predecessor asked the former president to orchestrate the response to the Asian tsunami and then to Hurricane Katrina. Obama gives him Haiti.

Meanwhile, both Clintons are effectively muzzled and cannot criticize Obama even as he reverses President Clinton's free market proclivities and budget balancing discipline. Hillary, the supposed friend of Israel, must sit by quietly and watch Iran get the bomb while trying all the while to stop Israel from preventing it.

Bill can't even make money. Denied the ability to accept speeches from foreign governments or their organs and fenced out of continuing his profitable relationship with the Emir of Dubai, he and his wife must accept the loss of the $13 million they spent on her campaign and sit by passively, unable to earn the money to replace it.



BrookesNews Update

Obama's economics brains trust is still getting it wrong on the US economy: Obama's economic brains trust has a brilliant plan to rescue the US economy: print oodles of money and when prices start zooming cut off the supply. That this will also cause interest rates to zoom and bond prices to dive is just something Americans would have to live with once the economy was comatosed again. There is more than just one flaw in the plans of these economic descendents of Wile E. Coyote
Can president Obama's policies heal the US economy? : Obama and his economic advisors are making a dreadful economic error. The heart of the current financial crisis is the boom-bust policies of the Fed. It is these policies that caused massive real wealth destruction and hence weakened the economy's ability to generate real savings. Obama's policy will only make the situation worse
Obama's bubble car economy: Obama's super duper new car policy was once popular in Europe in the 1950s and early 1960s. They were called bubble cars. They were small and they were dangerous. What the hell: they had great mileage, even if they tended to get you killed. But as Obama says, we must make sacrifices, He means you, not him and his mates
Bush's war against terrorism vindicated: When called upon, President Bush and Vice President Cheney took their responsibilities seriously. They made tough decisions to keep America safe from the predations of terrorists whose ultimate goal is to murder Americans and destroy US civilization
Obama at Notre Dame: In his Notre Dame speech Obama had the audacity to compare abortion to the civil rights struggle. He closed his speech with the Golden Rule and hoped his audience would respond to the call to treat one another as they wish to be treated. If only babies were given such an opportunity
Republicans need to return to their conservative principles: We need to tell the real story of what Republicans stand for — individual freedom, individual responsibility, conservative social ideals, smaller government, lower taxes, free enterprise — not socialism, and the opportunity for everyone to succeed without government interference



Michelle Malkin has got the lowdown on the huge taxpayer-finded ACORN group, showing that they worked hand in glove with the Obama campaign during the last election -- something that they were by law prohibited from doing. It is of course only the latest revelation about these crooked Leftist Brownshirts. The original Brownshirts under Ernst Roehm were socialists too, of course. Roehm was one of the very few people who spoke to Hitler per "du", the intimate form of address.

Good post from Taranto pointing out that the Democrats have now adopted Archie Bunker values. Taranto also argues that Sotomayor's claim of superiority to white men is not racist but "an expression of prejudice, an exercise in stereotyping". He fails, however, to recognize that if a white male had made the same clain in reverse, he would have been condemned as a "racist" by the Left.

I have put a new heading on this blog, in accord with what seems to be the new Democrat emphasis on the permissibility of racial claims.


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


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)


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shavuot (Commemorating the time when G-d gave the Torah to Moses)

Happy Shavuot to my Jewish readers!


Obama the disappointer: Hot air gives way to reality

Janet Albrechtsen comments from Australia

FEW leaders have brought so many tears to the eyes of so many people as US President Barack Obama. Oprah Winfrey says she almost cried her eyelashes off when the young Democrat from Chicago accepted the party’s nomination. Jane Fonda admits she became a bundle of nerves, crying all night at the thought of Obama losing the election.

Our own Guy Rundle summed up the election of Obama for many progressives. Writing last November, he described how he and the young desk clerk in the lobby of his Washington hotel, who had just come off a 12-hour shift ("because that’s how you work in (George W.) Bush’s America"), “just held hands and wept for a minute or so, in happiness, in relief, in the victory of something larger than both of us, that contained us both”. “It is a victory for the global Left,” Rundle wrote. “These are the great days.”

More likely those were the salad days. Now, plenty of Obama’s most ardent admirers are rethinking their exuberance. Rundle has attacked the “small stuff” - gaffes over gifts to Russians and bad jokes about the Special Olympics - and the “big stuff”: complaining at the paltry size of Obama’s $1.2trillion stimulus package. Democrats are meant to spend more. Bob Dylan, who once described Obama as “redefining the nature of politics”, is shrugging hisshoulders, describing politicians as “interchangeable”.

Al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is also disappointed: “America came to us with a new face.” But it was a ruse, he says. They have not “changed their crimes, aggressions, thefts and their scandals”, he says in a statement released by the SITE Intelligence Group.

And Wall Street bankers - who barracked for Barack by bankrolling his campaign to the tune of $US9.9million (not to mention giving Hillary Clinton $US7.4 million) - whine about getting hit by higher taxes. What did they expect? Democrats lowering taxes for the uber-rich?

Of course, Obama could never meet the great expectations surrounding his presidency. Indeed, the greatness of Obama’s presidency will depend on him disappointing Rundle’s “global Left”, not to mention al-Qa’ida. The responsibility of power means the 44th President has already proved he is more pragmatic than ideological. As much as the Left will loathe this, the unfolding of his presidency is a lesson in the old adage that the office changes the man more than the man changes the office.

Last November The New York Times was effusive in its praise about Obama’s promise to “restore Americans’ civil liberties and their tattered reputation around the world”. In office, Obama is talking like a Bushie, disappointed Times editorial writers noted in March.

Given Obama’s continuous backpedalling, The Wall Street Journal was right to advise the friends of newspaper editors to remove all sharp objects from their vicinity. Now it’s a case of: How do I not love thee? Let me count the ways.

Obama has refused to support the release of photographs detailing abuse of detainees, has supported warrantless wiretapping, boosted US involvement in the Afghanistan war, opposed the prosecution of those allegedly involved in torture and called a halt to rendition practices only to maintain what are conveniently called temporary facilities.

Campaigning for the presidency, Obama said: “As president I’ll close Guantanamo Bay, reject the Military Commissions Act, adhere to the Geneva Conventions.” He described Bush’s military commissions as a “legal framework that does not work” and promised to release Guantanamo Bay detainees, transfer them to foreign countries or try them in federal US courts. Four months after taking office, Obama says “military commissions have a long tradition in the United States” as he confronts the political reality - and presidential responsibility - of what to do with the 240 detainees still in Gitmo. The President’s lame changes to military commissions are acknowledgment of what Bush knew from the outset: military commissions are essential in dealing with suspected terrorists. And Obama admits indefinite detention will continue for some.

Ah, the fecklessness of those in search of a messiah. Anti-war group Code Pink is wondering whether Obama is a “war criminal”. The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are also disappointed. But Obama needn’t have bothered inviting human rights leaders to his 90-minute tea and biscuits, please-still-love-me routine at the White House last week. The more they cry foul, the clearer it becomes to a wider audience that Obama is behaving like a President responsible for the nation’s security, just as president Bush did.

Last week a leaked Pentagon report revealed that one in seven of the 534 prisoners released from the facility in Cuba since 2002 has returned to terrorism. FBI director Robert Mueller has told Congress that he, too, has concerns about the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Then came the ultimate rebuff to Obama supporters. Last Wednesday, in a 90-6 vote, even Democrats in Congress rejected Obama’s request for $US80 million to close down Guantanamo Bay - blocking the release of detainees - until he explains his precise plan. Montana’s senator Max Baucus said: “We’re not going to bring al-Qa’ida to Big Sky Country.” Nebraska’s Democratic senator Ben Nelson said: “I wouldn’t want them and I wouldn’t take them”; and Dianne Feinstein’s office in California said: “Alcatraz is a national park and a tourist attraction, not a functioning prison.”

Notice too that Europe, only too eager to describe Gitmo as Bush’s legal black hole, hasn’t rushed out the welcome mat for detainees. Indeed, Europe’s embrace of Obama as multilateralism man has produced little in the way of multilateral results. When the US received minimal assistance from European allies in Afghanistan, it was blamed on Bush’s brand of unilateralism. When Obama failed to secure more troops from NATO allies during meetings with European leaders in April, it was apparently just a case of Europeans pursuing their national interest. And the US is once again left to do the heavy lifting.

Not much happening over at the UN Security Council either. As the council convenes to consider its response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, it pays to remember that last month it could manage only a lame, non-binding presidential statement because members disagreed on a binding resolution.

Alas, Bush is no longer the reason for UN intransigence.

For some on the Left, the Obama presidency may well be a case of what began in tears ends in tears, of a different, more bitter taste. More canny observers knew that the Obama who presented before the presidential elections would change once in office. When Bob Ellis - who described Obama as “the present world’s likely saviour” - expresses his disillusionment, we will know Obama is on the right track.



Obama is a "Centrist" to the Left

Below is part of a transcript from a recent Chris Matthews Show. The transcript is of comments about 4:20 minutes from the end.

"MATTHEWS: It seems to me that they're--what they're going to do in politics--I'm going back to my baseball metaphor, win big games at the beginning of the season, roll up the score, you don't have to win them in October. It seems to me what they're going to try to do is get a second-rate Republican effort against them. Every week they've--since they've been in office they've ignored the Republican Party. They've gone after the screamers like Rush Limbaugh and Cheney and Newt Gingrich. They don't want there to be another governing party. And I'm wondering if they're just hoping to get a Mondale election against them, or a Bob Dole election, a second-rate effort by the other side so they can sweep 60 percent.

Mr. IGNATIUS: Well, I think they feel the Republicans are very demoralized. But they do want to get legislation passed and they would like to have Republicans voting for it. They're very pleased, for example, they just got a procurement reform bill with a lot of Republican supporters. It was a big John McCain issue. What's striking to me in these first few months is that--is that--is that Obama really is going for the center in American politics. He's really trying to redraw the map.

And Leftist cartoonist Ted Rall is disappointed with Obama too, though with better reason:

Encroaching Fascism: “In practice, Obama wants to let government goons snatch you, me and anyone else they deem annoying off the street. Preventive detention is the classic defining characteristic of a military dictatorship. Because dictatorial regimes rely on fear rather than consensus, their priority is self-preservation rather than improving their people’s lives. They worry obsessively over the one thing they can’t control, what Orwell called ‘thoughtcrime’ — contempt for rulers that might someday translate to direct action.”


Rewriting History

A few minutes ago, I did a radio-show piece with Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, who voiced her hope that this confirmation process would be dignified and merits-based, and not involve the “dumpster-diving” and smear-tactics to which, she asserted, extremists on the left and the right have resorted in the past, etc.

Look for expressions of regret, and calls for seriousness, civility, and the like, in the days to come from President Obama’s surrogates in the press and in the activist groups. You will have to look harder, though, for journalists to observe, and these surrogates to admit, that

(a) the “let’s use Supreme Court nominations as occasions to smear good people” tactic is one that the Democrats — but not, in fact, the Republicans — have practiced enthusiastically;

(b) that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg were easily confirmed, with substantial Republican support, not because they were “moderate,” but because the Republicans voted in accord with the “President gets his (qualified) nominees” standard; and

(c) that dozens of Democratic senators, including the president, abandoned this standard (to the extent they ever respected it) and disgraced themselves by voting against Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, easily among the most impressive nominees in history.

It also seems safe to predict that the press will, as they swoon over Judge Sotomayor’s personal story and Ivy League credentials, forget the extent to which Justice Thomas’s own story did not protect him from outrageous attacks, and his own prestigious degrees did not prevent snide insinuations that he was merely the beneficiary of affirmative action.

Oh, and I am just guessing that we will not hear any mutterings among those on the left about the nomination of (yet another) Roman Catholic.




A Leftist disparages a disabled person: "Alongside not talking with your mouth full and wiping, one of the elemental lessons in manners that civilized societies teach their young is not to mock the physically disabled. Someone should remind Joe Klein, the ostensibly adult political columnist for Time magazine. In a Politico story last week about conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, Mr. Klein said "there's something tragic" about the quadriplegic writer's work, as it "would have had a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he's writing about." In other words, don't trust the cripple because he can't take trans-Atlantic flights. [Imagine the uproar if a conservative had done likewise!]

Obama's men block prosecutiion of black thugs: "Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews. The incident - which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube - had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms. Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as "the most blatant form of voter intimidation" that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago."

A President who wants to emasculate America: "Barack Obama's legacy is coming sharply into focus, four years early. He's out to transform "a nation of laws," once the pride of the Anglo-Saxon heritage and exemplar to the world, into "a nation of feelings." We won't need judges, just social workers damp with empathy. This is in line with the president's larger vision, to cut America down to a size a community organizer could manage, making it merely one of the nice nations of the world, like Belgium or Brazil. The home of the brave and the land of the free would become what our English cousins call "wet," weak, ineffectual, fragile, fearful, and inconsequential. Sonia Sotomayor is one of the building blocks of the president's envisioned Mediocre Society."

GM bondholders offered a stake in the Titanic: "General Motors Corp said on Thursday it had reached a deal with some major bondholders that would give them a bigger stake in a reorganized automaker and could pave the way for a fast-track bankruptcy backed by the U.S. Treasury within days. The announcement was the clearest indication yet that GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, is close to filing for bankruptcy under the direction of the Obama administration. It would be the biggest-ever bankruptcy for a U.S. industrial company. Under the proposed deal, which is supported by major institutional creditors holding about a fifth of its debt, bondholders representing $27 billion in debt would be offered 10 percent of a reorganized GM -- the same stake they had been offered previously. In a sweetener, bondholders would also receive warrants to acquire another 15 percent of the equity in the new company, provided they support a quick Treasury-backed sale process similar to one now being used for rival Chrysler."

Indian verbal ability wins the day again: "There were thrills, spills and misspells aplenty as a 13-year-old girl took the crown at the US Scripps National Spelling Bee final in Washington today. Kavya Shivashankar, who at 13 is a four-time veteran of the competition, was the last speller standing after correctly reciting the letters of the word laodicean, which means means to be lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics. She beat 11 other junior spellers, who emerged from a record field of 293 participants, in today's network-televised final. The favourite to take out ths year's 82nd annual competition was Sidharth Chand, who was runner-up last year. Chand missed apodyterium, the entry cubicles to a Roman public baths, and appeared inconsolable burying his head in his hands, even as he received a standing ovation from the crowd and other contestants. The national spelling bee gained a greater cultural profile after the 1999 documentary Spellbound and Kavya cites the winning speller from that film. Nupur Lala, as her hero." [All three kids mentioned above are of Indian origin]

The subversion of capital punishment: “What they lack in popular support, death penalty opponents more than make up in tenacity, skill — and success. When a one-per-27 minutes, 36-year, 707,000 homicide holocaust results in 1,136 executions (0.16%), capital punishment has been all but abolished. What remains is a costly and agonizing farce, with a token few murderers served up to fool the public. The United States Supreme Court and other courts have played a major role, enormously aided by the media in suppressing critical information.”

You can’t handle the truth?: “I have alleles that suggest that I have a lower than average risk of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Other alleles, however, indicate that I am slightly more likely to experience age-related macular degeneration than other people of European ancestry. In addition, if I need to use the blood thinner warfarin in the future, I should let my physician know that I have a version of the CYP2C9 gene, suggesting that I have a greater sensitivity to the drug and probably should start with a low dose. How do I know this genetic information? Because I paid for a direct-to-consumer genotype test from the California start up 23andMe. … does such direct-to-consumer (DTC) genotyping need to be regulated — or banned? Last month, Germany banned direct-to-consumer genetic testing. In 2007, the Genetics and Public Policy Institute found that 24 states limited or restricted direct-to-consumer genetic testing in some ways.”

Army starts testing “Judge Dredd” weapon: “The U.S. Army is set to start testing a computerized, high-tech projectile launcher that can take out bad guys hiding around corners and in caves or trenches, even if they’re out of the soldier’s line of sight. Some experts call it the ‘Judge Dredd’ gun, after the Sylvester Stallone movie. The Pentagon calls it the XM-25 Individual Air Burst Weapon, which uses a laser rangefinder to precisely measure the distance to a target, then primes a fuse on a timed grenade so that the projectile explodes exactly where it should.”


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


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)


Friday, May 29, 2009

White House to critics of Obama's racist court nominee: Be 'careful'

Hey! I've got an idea! Why not be as careful as the Donks were when they were interviewing Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas?

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a pointed warning to opponents of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination Wednesday, urging critics to measure their words carefully during a politically charged confirmation debate. “I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they’ve decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation,” Gibbs said.

He was replying to a question from CBS’s Chip Reid about a blog post by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accusing Sotomayor of imposing identity politics on the bench and declaring: “A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. A Latina woman racist should also withdraw.” “I think we're satisfied that, when the people of America and the people of the Senate get a chance to look at more than just the blog of a former lawmaker… they'll come to the same conclusion that the president did” about Sotomayor’s qualifications, Gibbs replied.

The White House also took shots at politicians and commentators who have questioned whether Sotomayor has the intellectual capacity for the Supreme Court. In a statement Tuesday, Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he planned “to thoroughly review Judge Sotomayor’s record to make sure she has the right intellect and understands the proper role of a judge.” “A lot of people in the last couple of days…they've mentioned ‘intellect,” Gibbs said. “I'm not sure what number they graduated in their class at Princeton, but my sense is it's not second.”

Latino activists were up in arms over what one called “innuendo” challenging the smarts of Sotomayor, who graduated with highest honors from Princeton and was editor of the law review at Yale Law School. [We know what Clarence Thomas thought his Yale degree was worth] “Her intelligence is apparent. It is outrageous that she is being attacked on those grounds,” said Ramona Romero, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association. “I’m assuming these folks are grasping at straws….I wonder if she were a white male we would be hearing that about somebody with the same credentials.”

Gingrich and other commentators leveling the charge that Sotomayor is racist have seized on her comments in a 2001 lecture about how her Hispanic background contributed to her judicial work. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” Sotomayor said.

Gibbs said critics had taken out of context Sotomayor’s attempt to declare that “she has lived a different life than some people have, based on her upbringing—that she understands that.” He said Sotomayor was simply acknowledging that a different background “could certainly lead to different conclusions.” Journalists at the White House briefing were dubious about the press secretary’s explanation, with several shouting back in unison: “She said ‘better.’” “Look at the totality of it,” Gibbs replied....



A revolution is underway

While conservatives have been working to improve our democracy and our free-market economy, liberals have been working to replace our democracy with a dictatorship, and our free-market economy with a command economy controlled by the government. The liberals couldn't say this aloud, because if they did the American people would have tossed them out of office on their ears. So the liberals worked covertly, feigning support for democracy and for the free market while working diligently to undermine both.

This is why our politics has been so partisan, so vicious, and so deadlocked. This is why words have lost their meaning in Washington, why we can never get to the bottom of anything, why we lurch from one manufactured scandal to another. It's all been part of a decades-long effort by the liberals to throw sand in our eyes -- to keep us from seeing clearly where they really want to take us. (And this explains why, when we question their judgment on some issue, they go berserk and accuse us of questioning their patriotism. They're afraid we're on the verge of catching on. If you want to have some fun, the next time you're chatting with a liberal and he goes nuts when you call him a socialist, say to him: "I'm so sorry you're offended. Please tell me, what is there about socialism you don't like?" You won't get a coherent answer; he'll just accuse you of a hate crime.)

With the election of Barack Obama as president, the liberals have launched a massive, two-front offensive they believe will end in victory. They have judged that our public education system is so degraded that only a few Americans are left who even understand what a democracy is, and how the free market actually works. They are convinced that the majority of Americans are too frightened by the current recession to care about preserving the principles that made us the most powerful, productive and innovative country the world has ever known. In short, the liberals are reaching for victory because they believe that history now is on their side.

The speed of their offensive is breathtaking. At the core of democracy is the rule of law, and we have already lost it. The liberals lecture us incessantly that everything is "relative," but that's not true; some things are absolutes. You cannot claim to be faithful to your spouse because you never cheat on her -- except when you're in London on business. And you cannot claim to have the rule of law if the government can set aside the rule of law when it decides that "special circumstances" have arisen that warrant illegality. When the President and his aides handed ownership of Chrysler Corp. to the United Auto Workers union, they tried to avoid sending that beleaguered company into bankruptcy by muscling its bondholders into accepting less money for their assets than the law entitled them to collect. These contracts, and the law under which they were signed, were mere obstacles to a thuggish President bent on paying off his political supporters.

It's going to get much worse, fast. President Obama has told us time and again that among his criteria for choosing Federal judges will be "empathy." Empathy is a wonderful quality in any human being, but a judge's job is to rule according to the law. Once our courts are presided over by judges who will reach verdicts based on how they feel about an issue -- such as abortion or the right of citizens to bear arms -- the law will be whatever the judges wish it to be; the rule of law will become an empty phrase rather than the architecture of our civilization.

We have lost our free-market economy as quickly as we have lost the rule of law. Money is to an economy what blood is to a body; life and death resides within the organ that controls its flow. The government already owns our country's leading banks, which means the government now controls our economy. (And in all fairness to President Obama, it was the Bush administration that started us down this ghastly road.) One indicator of the Obama administration's real objective: When some banks that had taken federal money attempted to repay their loans, the Treasury Department refused to accept repayment and step aside. This shows the government's goal isn't to prop up the banks, but rather to control them.

Here, too, things are going to get much worse, fast. The government now owns General Motors Corp., is reaching for control of insurance companies, and has launched plans to take over our country's healthcare industry. It even wants authority to set the salaries of executives in industries that, at least for now, aren't being subsidized or underwritten by the government.

Put all this together, and what we have in our country today isn't a democracy and it isn't a free-market economy. Reader, what we have now is a revolution.

This revolution won't be stopped, and our country won't be rescued, by the Republicans in Washington. This isn't because they lack the votes. It's because most of them are careerist hacks who've been playing footsie with the Democrats for too long; with very few exceptions they lack the intellectual firepower to articulate the present danger, and the political courage to stand up to this Administration and really fight. But for the absence of frock coats and pince-nez glasses, these Republicans in Washington remind me of those bumbling Weimar Republic politicians in Berlin who never grasped where Hitler and the Nazis were going until it was too late to stop them, or of those hapless Mensheviks in Moscow's Duma who let themselves be tossed into history's dustbin by Lenin and his Bolsheviks. (Yes, of course I realize it's explosive to keep bringing up the Nazis and the Bolsheviks in an essay about the Democrats. I'm not doing this to be incendiary; I'm doing this to be accurate.)

Our country's future now lies within our own hands -- yours, mine, all of us who comprise what the Washington insiders sneeringly call the grass roots. Good, because unless I'm very much mistaken the liberals have over-estimated their strength. There still are more of us than there are of them. I mean ordinary, decent Americans from across the political spectrum who may disagree about specific issues, but who understand who we are and how we became who we are; who love our country, have a genius for self-organizing, and won't let the United States go down without a fight.

We need to launch a counter-offensive, so to speak, and the place to start is at the local level. Working with our county and state political parties when we can -- or working around them when we must -- our objective will be to elect as many people as we can to public office who understand what a democracy is and how the free market works. This will include city council members, county commissioners, school board members, judges, sheriffs and even members of the local parks commission. With the strength and political momentum their elections will provide, we can surge to the state level and then -- before it's too late -- take back the power in Washington DC.

I know this isn't the kind of battle most of us want to fight; we would rather watch the talking heads slug it out on Fox News than stand on a street corner handing out campaign flyers. And given our country's history, for a while it will be uncomfortable to find ourselves fighting against the revolution and for the status quo. But we'll get used to this as we make our case over and over again -- to our friends, our neighbors, at barbeques and PTA meetings and at public rallies like those marvelous April tea parties that drove the liberals insane. And we'll draw strength as our ranks swell with new recruits.

The alternative to launching this kind of peaceful and political counter-attack is horrific. Right now sales of guns and ammunition are rising sharply. This reflects an intuitive grasp by grass-roots Americans of what history teaches may lie ahead. It was only after the Nazis had secured their grip on power in Germany, and only after the Bolsheviks had seized control of Russia, that they set out to disarm and destroy the vast numbers of ordinary citizens who - to the astonishment and fury of the revolutionaries -- just wouldn't go along. That's when the real shooting started, and when blood began flowing in the streets.



And the Angels Rejoice

There is nothing so inspiring as public service, so I’ve been incredibly moved over the past few weeks to watch squads of corporate executives come to the White House so President Obama could announce that he was giving away their money.

A few weeks ago, we were privileged to see a gathering of health care executives standing behind the president as he announced that they would be donating $2 trillion in future revenue to the cause of health care reform.

Recently we were uplifted when the president informed Chrysler’s secured creditors that they had agreed to donate their ownership stake in the company to the United Auto Workers. Just last week, we were enthralled to see a group of auto executives beaming with pride as the president announced that in order to reduce gas consumption, they would henceforth be scaling back on all those car lines that consumers actually want to buy.

These events have heralded a new era of partnership between the White House and private companies, one that calls to mind the wonderful partnership Germany formed with France and the Low Countries at the start of World War II. The press conferences and events marking this new spirit of cooperation have been the emotional highlights of the administration so far.

These events usually begin when the executives gather in the Oval Office, where they experience certain Enhanced Negotiating Techniques. I’m not exactly sure what the president does to inspire the business leaders’ cooperation and sense of public service, though those who remember the disembowelment scene in “Braveheart” will have a general idea.

Then the president leads the executives out onto the White House lawn for the announcement ceremony. Often, the president will still be carrying the riding crop and the pliers used in the private negotiation. He moves to the microphone while the executives take their pre-assigned places behind him, the jingle of their leg shackles blending with the dulcet tones of spring. I thought one hospital executive was so moved by the occasion that he had slipped into catatonic shock, except that he was blinking “Save Me! Save Me!” in Morse code to his shareholders.

“We meet at an exciting moment for our country, a time of unprecedented cooperation between government and private industry,” the president intones, lifting his foot from the trachea of an unconscious pharmaceutical executive. “Many of the business leaders behind me have seized an exciting opportunity to join the nonprofit sector without even switching jobs.”

At this, the C.E.O.’s behind him don frozen smiles, exuding the sort of spontaneous enthusiasm often seen at North Korean pep rallies.

During the press conference with health care executives, I don’t even think Obama meant to give away $2 trillion of their money. He was going to give away just $750 billion, but he got carried away by the Era of Responsibility. “The stakeholders behind me have promised to cut costs by nearly 2 percent a year,” the president riffed. (The executives’ lips were like dead worms stretched across mirthless smiles. Their cheeks were like hardened clumps of concrete.) “They have agreed to support the administration’s reform package.” (Coronaries, epileptic seizures all around.) “They have agreed to donate their kidneys in my office right after this ceremony.” (The executives were now flopping about the stage, like a 3-D version of the Heimlich poster.)

These executives have been invited to make these donations in the same spirit that the Cossacks invited my ancestors to emigrate to the Lower East Side. And yet there is a moment during each of the ceremonies when the spirit of the Almighty descends upon the congregation. It usually happens while the president is describing the glorious future. He’ll be describing how, in three years, he will slash the deficit by cutting taxes and doubling spending. He will be describing how, in three years, he will create millions of jobs by raising energy costs.

You can see the ecstasy of Washington promise-making spread joy from soul to soul. Infected by these visions, automakers vow that in three years they will have created a resurgence of enthusiasm around the Chevy Aveo. Financiers vow they will build an entirely new banking industry that doesn’t rely so much on loan repayment. Health care executives vow that in three years they’ll perform CAT scans at Kinko’s.

Some say these are just meaningless promises that ignore hard choices and that no one has any intention of keeping. But this is ungenerous. At these events, the president has taken former rivals and has joined them in the holy bonds of mutual fantasy. He has taken a divided nation and has given us photo-ops to bind us and remind us of our common humanity. Business lies down with government. Management embraces labor. You call it what you will; I call it beautiful.



The Final Solution

From the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah which, as we all know, unlike Hamas is the ‘moderate’ party which will deliver a two-state solution and peace with Israel:
Therefore, it is high time that we found a final, comprehensive solution...With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.

... The use of weapons alone will not bring results, and the use of politics without weapons will not bring results. We act on the basis of our extensive experience. We analyze our situation carefully. We know what climate leads to victory and what climate leads to suicide. We talk politics, but our principles are clear. It was our pioneering leader, Yasser Arafat, who persevered with this revolution, when empires collapsed. Our armed struggle has been going on for 43 years, and the political struggle, on all levels, has been going on for 50 years. We harvest U.N. resolutions, and we shame the world so that it doesn't gang up on us, because the world is led by people who have given their brains a vacation – the American administration and the neocons.

The P.L.O. is the sole legitimate representative [of the Palestinian people], and it has not changed its platform even one iota. In light of the weakness of the Arab nation and the lack of values, and in light of the American control over the world, the P.L.O. proceeds through phases, without changing its strategy. Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.

This is what the American, British and EU governments are attempting to force Israel to accept. As the man says, it’s not a two-state solution -- it's a final solution.




Muslim charity leader jailed for 65 years: "The leader of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States was sentenced to 65 years in jail today for supporting Palestinian militants, in a major US-based terrorism financing case. The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation and five of its leaders were convicted late last year of funnelling more than 12 million dollars to Hamas. Jurors returned guilty verdicts on 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering and tax fraud. Skukri Abu Baker, whose brother Jamal Issa is the head of Hamas operations in Yemen, was Holy Land's chief executive officer and the first to be sentenced. Holy Land cofounder Mohamed El-Mezain, who is related to Hamas deputy political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Three other Holy Land organisers were expected to receive their sentences later today. The Holy Land case was a major victory in the "war on terror" of former President George W. Bush. Holy Land was one of several Muslim organisations the Bush administration shut down in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for allegedly raising money for overseas Islamic extremists".

Stimulus projects bypass hard-hit states: "States hit hardest by the recession received only a few of the government's first stimulus contracts, even though the glut of new federal spending was meant to target places where the economic pain has been particularly severe. Nationwide, federal agencies have awarded nearly $4 billion in contracts to help jump-start the economy since President Obama signed the massive stimulus package in February. But, with few exceptions, that money has not reached states where the unemployment rate is highest, according to a USA TODAY review of contracts disclosed through the Federal Procurement Data System. In Michigan, for example — where years of economic tumult and a collapsing domestic auto industry have produced the nation's worst unemployment rate — federal agencies have spent about $2 million on stimulus contracts, or 21 cents per person. In Oregon, where unemployment is almost as high, they have spent $2.12 per capita, far less than the nationwide average of nearly $13."

Government Motors: "The government would retain significant control over the restructured General Motors under an Obama administration plan that would allow U.S. officials to directly name or influence the appointments of the vast majority of a new 13-member board that would oversee the company, sources familiar with the discussions said. The plan calls for federal officials to directly appoint five or six members to the board after GM emerges from its expected bankruptcy, the sources said. Another six would roll over from GM's existing board, but even these directors would reflect the government's influence since GM is reconstituting its board under government direction. The United Auto Workers' health-care trust would name one director to the company board, the sources said, adding that Canada is likely to appoint a board seat as well."


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


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)


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Obama's SCOTUS nominee

Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, "has an inflated opinion of herself" and is "kind of a bully on the bench."

That view doesn't come from a conservative -- it's the view expressed by a former clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where Sotomayor now serves, to Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor for The New Republic. The New Republic is a decidedly liberal publication -- but the magazine published a harsh portrait of the new Obama nominee three weeks ago, when she was being mentioned as a contender for the Court post.

Rosen's article, headlined "The Case Against Sotomayor," also noted that he had spoken to a range of people who have worked with Sotomayor. Rosen wrote: "Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court.

"Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

"The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was 'not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,' as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. 'She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue.'"

Rosen added: "Her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees."

Even's Glenn Greenwald, who defends Sotomayor, cites some of her less-than-praiseworthy behavior in court. Greenwald writes that he remembers, "... she was very assertive and aggressive - at times unpleasantly so - in how she presided over her courtroom. "In the first case I had with her ... I committed some sort of substantial procedural mistake ... and she very harshly excoriated me in a courtroom packed with lawyers from other cases. I certainly did not enjoy that, and at the time harbored negative sentiments towards her (who wouldn't?), but that behavior - for judges - is the opposite of uncommon."

The most controversial case in which Sotomayor participated as an appellate judge is Ricci v. DeStefano. She sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case that white firefighters brought after the city threw out results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough.



America is re-segregating

Sotomayor wasn't chosen solely for her liberal judicial philosophy, although that was a prerequisite. She was chosen for her status as a Latina woman. As Stuart Taylor of National Journal writes, "If Republicans attack Judge Sotomayor's more controversial actions, they risk provoking a backlash among Hispanic voters, who have already been moving into the Democratic column in droves.” Following on the heels of President Obama's election, which was largely about his status as a black man, we have entered a period in which politics is becoming more, not less, racial in nature.

With the election of Obama, many Americans believed that racial polarization in the country was over. White Americans in particular assumed that Obama's election would be a transformative moment, effectively capping America's centuries-long odyssey toward racial equality.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Over the past decade, racial groups have become more polarized, not less. A simple example will suffice. A personal friend, a white man who teaches at an inner-city school in Los Angeles County with an almost entirely Hispanic population, polled his students shortly before the 2008 election regarding their parents' presidential preferences. Every hand in the classroom went up for Obama. After class, my friend approached one of the students. "Why are your parents voting for Obama?” he asked a 10-year-old Hispanic girl. She answered him in four words: "Because he's not white.”

"Because he's not white” has become the rallying cry for racial minorities all across the country. There are 24 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Twenty-three are Democrats, and one is an independent. Leaving aside U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and two members of Congress who represent no district, the Hispanic population in the districts they represent averages 59.23 percent. That means that concentrated pockets of Hispanics elect Hispanics.

The same is true for the Congressional Black Caucus. There are currently 44 members of the Congressional Black Caucus; all are Democrats. Leaving aside Senator Roland Burris, D-Ill., and two nonvoting, at-large members of Congress, the black population in the districts they represent averages 48.47 percent. That means concentrated pockets of blacks elect blacks.

The same is largely true of whites, of course. The difference is that whites elect members of both parties -- racial identity is not bound up in political identity. For the Hispanic and black communities, however, racial and socioeconomic identity increasingly mean allegiance to one party: the Democratic Party. Thus, when Miguel Estrada is grilled by Democrats, no one worries about the electoral ramifications for the Democrats among Hispanics, yet when Sotomayor is nominated, critics worry that Republican criticism will drive away Hispanics. The same holds true for the black community: When Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is raked over the coals by Democrats, no one worries that blacks will run from the Democratic Party; when Barack Obama is criticized by Republicans, however, the press declares that Republicans will lose the black vote forever.

The implications of the racial separation of our republic are supremely dangerous. It seems that racial groups more and more often vote along tribal lines; multiethnic democracy now means racial re-segregation, at least in terms of electoral politics. Small-R republicanism relies on the willingness of individuals to discern and vote for the politicians with whom they agree, not the politicians with whom they share a skin color, racial heritage, and economic background.

Barack Obama's candidacy was supposed to usher us into a post-racial America. It seems that his election, and his continuing exploitation of racial differences through nominations like Sotomayor's, has only deepened the racial divides.



GM Bondholders Are People Like You and Me

The government is punishing one group of workers to reward another

I am an American retiree. Like many small investors, I am relying on "safe" investments such as bonds backed by America's largest companies to fund my retirement. One of these companies is General Motors.

First, let's set the record straight about who owns GM's bonds. We are hardworking families, individual investors and retirees who purchased billions of these bonds in $25, $50 and $100 increments. Many bonds were bought directly and others are held in our pension funds, 401(k) plans and other retirement programs. I purchased GM bonds in 2005 and own $91,000 worth. These bonds account for a very sizeable portion of my retirement income, and so it is absolutely devastating to watch GM's problems bring the once venerable company to the brink of failure. My standard of living is truly in jeopardy.

Despite the terrible position my fellow bondholders and I are in, we are being portrayed as the cause of GM's problems and inability to restructure. Who is perpetrating this myth? The American government, which is at once encouraging investment in U.S. companies and vilifying those who have already invested. Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars have been used to stabilize companies to restore investor confidence. But how can investors be confident when they're at risk of ending up on the wrong end of the government's stick?

Even more disturbing: The government's proposed restructuring plans benefit one class of retirees at the expense of another. I understand that we each have equal claims in bankruptcy. However, under the current plan GM's union retirees will receive 39% of the restructured company and $10 billion in cash in exchange for $20 billion in claims. Bondholders, however, receive a mere 10% for $27 billion in claims in the form of stock (and no cash).

I am a retired dye-making trade worker and even worked in the auto industry during my career. I don't understand why the government is penalizing people like me just for having funded my retirement with GM bonds. Bondholders, especially small bondholders, are being ignored in negotiations and singled out to bear the greatest share of the cost of restructuring GM.

We are not an unreasonable group. We understand that to save GM everyone will need to endure economic pain. But we are very troubled by the government's decision to give UAW retirees -- equal members, with the bondholders, of the unsecured creditor class -- preferential treatment. The government cannot be permitted to rewrite bankruptcy rules on a whim to selectively benefit equal groups.

Small bondholders use the interest from GM bonds for everyday living expenses and cannot afford to see GM go bankrupt. And though we've been branded as an obstacle, small investors like me are in fact the solution. Our continued investment in U.S. companies and markets is critical to an economic recovery. By treating investors fairly, GM could take the lead in making the market attractive once again.




Government Expected to Own 70% of Restructured G.M.: "In better times, many employees of General Motors called their company “Generous Motors” because of its rich benefits. Now G.M. may stand for something else: Government Motors. The latest plan for the troubled automaker, which is expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday, calls for the Treasury Department to receive about 70 percent of a restructured G.M. Including the more than $20 billion that has already been spent to prop up G.M., the government will provide G.M. at least $50 billion to get the company through Chapter 11, people with direct knowledge of the situation said Tuesday. By some estimates in Detroit, tens of billions beyond that amount may be required. The United Automobile Workers, meanwhile, will hold up to 20 percent through its retiree health care fund, and bondholders and other parties will get the remaining share. Shareholders would be virtually wiped out."

Homosexuals demonstrate against new law: "Around 175 people were arrested in San Francisco in peaceful protests against a California Supreme Court decision to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage, police said. A spokeswoman for the San Francisco Police Department said the arrests came as demonstrators blocked an intersection near the court building. Those arrested were released at the scene, Sergeant Lyn Tomioka said. Rallies were being held in several cities across California yesterday following the court ruling, which reaffirmed the results of a referendum that redefined marriage in California as unions between men and women."

Crooked NYC top cop: "[Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik -- above] faces trial in Washington on charges he lied to White House officials who were vetting him for the position of Homeland Security secretary. … Kerik is charged with falsely denying to White House officials that as a public official he had any financial dealings with individuals seeking to do business with the city. Prosecutors say contractors seeking work with the city spent more than $255,000 renovating Kerik’s apartment.”

10th Amendment movement: Return power to the states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. — U.S. Constitution, Tenth Amendment. Fed up with Washington’s involvement in everything from land use to gun control to education spending, states across the country are fighting back against what they say is the federal government’s growing intrusion on their rights. At least 35 states have introduced legislation this year asserting their power under the Tenth Amendment to regulate all matters not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.”

Army chief: US ready to be in Iraq 10 years: “The Pentagon is prepared to leave fighting forces in Iraq for as long as a decade despite an agreement between the United States and Iraq that would bring all American troops home by 2012, the top U.S. Army officer said Tuesday. Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, said the world remains dangerous and unpredictable, and the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars. ‘Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction,’ Casey said.”

Obama Blinks. Union bullying fails: "On April 30th, the Obama Administration sent to the California state government an unmistakably blatant letter threatening to withhold California's Medicaid "stimulus" money if a home healthcare workers wage cut was not rescinded.... To its credit, California pushed back—hard—stating that the budget cuts were necessary to make up for a $23 billion budget shortfall. The truth is, California had every duty to act in its own interests as a sovereign state to save $74 million on home healthcare workers. California's receipt of some $6.8 billion in federal stimulus, supplemental Medicaid money had been conditioned upon rescinding the cut, which reduces the state's maximum contribution to home health workers' pay from $12.10 per hour to $10.10 in July. Last week, ALG News and other media had called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to uphold the principle of federalism, and to rescind the ultimatum. Fortunately, Obama cowered when the blatantly thuggish Obama-union aggression was exposed. The Obama Administration was finally forced to back off its threat to withhold the supplemental Medicaid funds from California."

Millionaires Go Missing: "Here's a two-minute drill in soak-the-rich economics: Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it." One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates."


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


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)


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why oh why do a few Jews make it hard for Jews generally??

Once again I am going to go out on a limb and half cut off the branch behind me. But I seem to be one of the few who is ready to speak the unspeakable so I think I should take up that burden again.

Jews are overall exceptionally generous givers. They donate large amounts to charities and to causes that they see as worthy. I gather that around 50% of the funding for Mr Obama's election campaign came from Jews, despite the fact that Jews are only a small fraction of the U.S. population. You may question the wisdom of those donations (I do) but you cannot fault the generosity of them.

Sadly, however, that is good news and one look at any newspaper will tell you that it is bad news that people are interested in and take note of. And bad news about Jews will, sadly, be particularly noted. Jews are just too prominent in the community for it to be otherwise. And one set of foul deeds can negate a large set of good deeds.

So I come to Mr Anthony Steen (Stein) above. He is one of Britain's most well-known Jews. He has been a member of parliament since 1974 and in that time has served on many public bodies. His appalling behaviour has been noted on several occasions -- abusing a secretary who did not know who he was, parking his car in disabled zones etc. And he has always been impenitent about his misdeeds, though an apology usually gets forced out of him eventually.

In his latest performance he has however excelled himself. He is one of the many British politicians who have been caught up in the scandal of misused personal expense allowances. Most of those caught have shown embarrassment and been penitent to some degree but Steen was at his most impenitent when he was confronted and refused to admit to any wrongdoing at all. You can read the whole sorry story here. Rather than admitting any fault for his large and improper expenses claims, he went on the attack and said that his critics were just jealous of his large house -- which of course put pictures of his house into most British newspapers. See above.

It is hard to convey how offensive all that would have been to most Brits. The British are characterized by a self-effacing culture. If you inadvertently tread on a British man's foot, HE will usually apologize, despite being the injured party. Arrogance, ostentation and boasting are about as un-British as you can get. And yet here is a well-known Jew flaunting all those characteristics in public.

Perhaps there are occasions when that would not matter but Britain now is not one of them. Antisemitism has in recent years become acceptable in conversations among Britain's educated classes. And Steen will be seen as a graphic confirmation of all those opinions.

To be a Jew is to be in the public eye and given all the accusations that have been levelled at Jews over the years, people will be alert to bad Jewish behaviour. It may not be entirely rational but that is the way it is. One foul man can destroy the good work of thousands. It is the bad news that will be noted, not the good.

The only reason I am writing this at all is that I am aware that there is a certain cohesion among the Jewish community in a given area. If they do not see one another at shul, they see one-another at charitable functions etc. And it is my probably vain hope that the wiser members of such communities will press other Jews to avoid public displays of arrogance and ostentation. Perhaps that already happens to some degree but I think it should be carried to the point of shunning any offenders who do not reform. That way, if someone like Anthony Steen comes to public notice again, members of the local Jewish community can say: "We do not recognize him as one of us. We deplore his behaviour as much as you do".

That could be a big help.


The arrogant Obama

ADMIRAL Mike Mullen has some unusual credentials for the highest ranking military officer in the US.... Mullen was one of the Bush appointees kept on by Barack Obama but the idea that he gives fearless advice to the new President was called into question at the weekend during an appearance on the political talk show This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Pressured on issues ranging from Guantanamo Bay and the withdrawal timetable for Iraq to rising soldier suicide rates and the military ban on gays, Mullen blurted out a kind of apology.

"I'm not a policy and a strategy guy," he said. "I'm - you know, the military basically supports what the President wants, the decisions that he makes. And he has done that, he has done that in Iraq, he has done that in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. And I find that to be - to be a method that gives the military the kind of focus it needs for where we're going."

The comments reinforced perceptions of Obama as a supremely confident President who knows what he wants and often just goes through the motions of taking advice. This ego factor first became clear in a New Yorker article last year, where the Obama campaign's political director Patrick Gaspard recounted his first conversation with the then candidate.

Obama said: "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."

The New York Times columnist David Brooks has been alarmed by the extent of Obama's self-confidence and by an Obama administration that allows only "certain intellects" to be fluorescent. Therein lays a problem the Obama administration seems destined to confront.

Excess self-confidence and intellectual elitism don't generally help when policy gambles fail and there's a need to adapt to a new strategy quickly. In times like these, governments need honest and timely advice. The worry with Mullen and others is twofold: are they willing to deliver a stern message when needed and, if they are, do they have the ability to be heard?




Pelosi dodges human rights on China visit: “U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, long a fierce critic of Beijing, toured China’s financial capital on Monday on a visit focused on environmental issues rather than human rights, though her presence emboldened protesters. Pelosi took a low-key approach as she prepared for meetings in Beijing just days ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protests.”

Hilarious! One resolution ignored so let's have another: “The U.N. Security Council swiftly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test on Monday as ‘a clear violation’ of a 2006 resolution and said it will start work immediately on another one that could result in new sanctions against the reclusive nation. Hours after North Korea defiantly conducted its second test, its closest allies China and Russia joined Western powers and representatives from the rest of the world on the council to voice strong opposition to the underground explosion.”

Well-run banks to pay for the misdeeds of badly-run banks: “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday voted to charge U.S. banks a one-time assessment of 5 cents per every $100 of assets to replenish the Washington, D.C.-based regulator’s insurance fund, depleted by compensating for bank failures across the country. … Earlier this week, Congress passed legislation to increase the FDIC’s borrowing authority with the Treasury Department from $30 billion to $100 billion with a proviso for emerging funding up to $500 billion.”

Microsoft aims big guns at Google: “Microsoft has used attack ads to go after Apple, and now it has Google in its sights. The software giant is set to launch an $80 million to $100 million campaign for Bing, the search engine it hopes will help it grab a bigger slice of the online ad market. That’s a big campaign — big compared with consumer-product launches ($50 million is considered a sizable budget for a national rollout) and very big when you consider that Google spent about $25 million on all its advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, with about $11.6 million of that focused on recruiting. Microsoft, by comparison, spent $361 million. Certainly Google has never faced an ad assault of anything like this magnitude.”

France: Scientology on trial: “The Church of Scientology could be dissolved in France if it is convicted by a Paris court of organised fraud and illegal pharmaceutical activity. In a trial that opened yesterday, the group — which is considered to be a sect, not a religion, in France — will see seven of its French leaders stand trial, more than a decade after one of the three plaintiffs originally filed a complaint. A guilty verdict could shut down the group’s activities in France, and see the Church of Scientology fined 5 million (£4.4 million). … Investigating judge Jean-Christophe Hullin has spent years examining the group’s activities, and in his indictment criticised practices he said were aimed at extracting large sums of money from members and plunging them into a ’state of subjection.’” [It has always appeared clear to me that they are little more than a money-making racket, though they do appear to be of help to some people]

CA: Crisis spurs spike in “suburban survivalists”: “Six months ago, Jim Wiseman didn’t even have a spare nutrition bar in his kitchen cabinet. Now, the 54-year-old businessman and father of five has a backup generator, a water filter, a grain mill and a 4-foot-tall pile of emergency food tucked in his home in the expensive San Diego suburb of La Jolla. Wiseman isn’t alone. Emergency supply retailers and military surplus stores nationwide have seen business boom in the past few months as an increasing number of Americans spooked by the economy rush to stock up on gear that was once the domain of hardcore survivalists. These people snapping up everything from water purification tablets to thermal blankets shatter the survivalist stereotype: they are mostly urban professionals with mortgages, SUVs, solid jobs and a twinge of embarrassment about their newfound hobby.”

NATO disarms suspected pirates in Gulf of Aden: “A NATO warship from Canada intercepted two boats carrying suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, seizing a large amount of firearms, rocket-propelled grenades and hook ladders. The Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg chased the boats and eventually boarded them, releasing the suspected pirates after confiscating the equipment, the alliance said Monday. NATO does not have an agreement with Kenya to hand them over for trial.” [Once upon a time they would have been made to walk the plank. I am pleased to hear that Canada today has at least one warship, though]


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


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)


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Does having daughters makes fathers more likely to agree with Left-wing views?

The underlying assumption of the British article below is faulty. Women split roughly evenly between Left and Right at election time. Although it is often asserted, Leftism is NOT in fact "feminine". Women can be very practical and such women are by that fact less likely to succumb to Leftist fantasies. I will be very interested to see what the research methods were when the article behind the story below is finally published.

And other facts run contrary to its conclusions. Married people with children lean heavily towards conservative parties. So having ANY childen, male or female, moves you to the Right. And, in general, people with chidren, male or female, will be older and older people too tend to become more conservative than when they were young. It is young unattached females who lean Left. So the known demographic factors that influence political choice have nothing to do with the sex of the children concerned

When she needs a lift or money to buy clothes, a girl will turn the charm on her father. But it seems that a daughter’s influence on her dad goes far beyond the odd favour. Research has found that the more girls a man has, the more likely he is to be Left-wing. Daughters have such a profound effect on their fathers that they can switch their political viewpoint, a study suggests.

Compared to men, women are more likely to favour Labour or Liberal policies such as higher taxes to fund provisions like the NHS. They also tend to earn less than men so won’t be as hard-hit by higher taxation. As a man fathers more daughters, he will gradually be won round by their more Left-wing viewpoints.

The study, carried out by Professor Andrew Oswald from Warwick University and Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee from York University, also found that a predominance of sons can make a mother more right-wing. The researchers even suggested that well-known Left-wing politicians and personalities owed their beliefs to the high numbers of daughters in the family. The late John Smith, former leader of the Labour party, had three daughters. Similarly Cherie Blair’s father Tony Booth, the actor who starred in the BBC’s Til Death Us Do Part, who was renowned for being a strong supporter of the Labour Party, had eight daughters

In an unpublished article to be submitted to an economics journal, the researchers wrote: ‘This paper provides evidence that daughters make people more Left-wing, while having sons, by contrast, makes them more Right-wing.’ Professor Oswald said: ‘As men acquire female children, those men gradually shift their political stance and become more sympathetic to the “female” desire for a larger amount for the public good. ‘They become more Left-wing. Similarly a mother with sons becomes sympathetic to the “male” case for lower taxes and a smaller supply of public goods.

‘Potential feelings are much less independently chosen than people realise. ‘Children mould their parents. It’s so scientifically because it’s out of the parents’ control whether they have a boy or a girl.’ ‘We document evidence that having daughters leads people to be more sympathetic to Left-wing parties. ‘Giving birth to sons, by contrast, seems to make people more likely to vote for a right-wing party.’

They found that among parents of with between two to four children who voted for Labour or the Lib Dems, the average number of daughters was higher than average number of sons. The study is backed up by recent findings in America that showed US congressmen were more likely to support gender equality policies if they had daughters.

Sociologist Rebecca Warner from Oregon State University and economist Ebonya Washington from Yale University studied the voting records of the politicians before and after they had children. The authors concluded that parents realise the potential struggles their daughters will face and begin to sympathise with them.

Long before he even became a father, Brad Pitt broke down in tears and spoke of his desire to have daughters. The actor, who was in a relationship with Jennifer Anniston at the time, told a US TV show: ‘Yes, I have got family on the mind. Jen and I have been working something out. Little girls, they just crush me - they break my heart.’ Sylvester Stalone, star of the Rocky films, admitted he altered his career path and chose more emotive roles after the birth of his daughter Sophia in 1996. He said: ‘The birth of my daughter was a subtle indication of the way I should go. I want to get back to more emotional, character-driven films.’



If we build it, will they come?

By guest blogger Locutisprime.

Almost everyone has seen the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. And just as many people remember the tag line from the movie..."if you build it he will come." There are a number of metaphorical references and themes in that film that touch a certain spot in the heart of most people. I know it touched mine.

As I sit here contemplating this Memorial Day weekend, I am torn between realizing that many Americans only see this holiday as the first big cookout weekend of the summer season. It means little more to many than just that. A reason to kick back and relax on a three day weekend off. Time to burn some burgers, drink some beer and maybe go to the lake or beach or perhaps watch the Indy 500 on TV. But beyond those activities of shared interest and commonality, I fear that not many present day contemporary Americans will remember or even be aware of what the Memorial Day holiday is supposed to both signify and pay tribute to. Much more that it is supposed to honor the memory of our honored dead.

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance. A day when all Americans take pause to reflect on those who have sacrificed their lives in service to this nation. A day of remembrance of those that sacrificed so that there could be cookouts and burgers and beer and all the other activities and blessings of a free nation for generations to come. And ball games and days at the lake and vacations at the beach. For there are those who remain as they always have, prepared to take away our freedoms and abilities to pursue our versions of happiness, freedom and liberty. And there are those who have already deprived many who were innocent of their lives, as they did those who willingly died in the defense of other Americans who never even knew them.

Is there a higher calling than to be of service to your nation? Perhaps.

Perhaps it is a higher calling to be of service to your God and your family. I believe that there are few who would disagree with that, but there also comes the time when each generation is called upon to step forward and offer service to both themselves and their neighbors.

Jesus said: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." I have to agree. But what of the man or woman....who lays down their life for those that they never knew..... Or those who have yet to be born yet? Is this not also a demonstration of the greatest love? Albeit a demonstration of commitment to country, it still remains a commitment to all who cannot stand and defend themselves. At least that is the way I look at it.

And what remains of the lives lost during times of conflict for America. What remains other than the cherished memories of their families and loved ones. They weep in silence. We expect that remembrance from those closest to us, yet what do we expect from those who never knew us. What should be expected of those who follow in the blissful peace of never having known the mind tearing fear of war and combat. Of those who never knew the taste of sudden and brutal death in a land far removed from their former lives.

America's sons and daughters and father and mothers and brothers and sisters have long marched off to defend that which was being threatened here at home. And these same defenders have bled and left members of their bodies strewn across countless battlefields over the past 200 years. And many of them never left those battlefields at all. They lie there now in repose, or they rest in the bottom of the depths of the sea where they were interred having been wrapped in the flag of their nation. Their only remaining connection with their loved ones or descendants or those that came after, are some words on the page of a history book. Or perhaps, some words on a monument somewhere, lost to the day to day passing of time and the memories of those who knew them.

As I think about these things each year, I often wonder what those who have gone before us and who are no longer are with us think or thought about such things. For many of them there was no time to think or contemplate their actions or their death. It just happened suddenly and painlessly and they were gone. For others there was agony and lingering and there must certainly have been a desire of last will and testament to above all be remembered. What else can we leave to this world but our actions and the memory of our actions. And when those actions are of self sacrifice on a battlefield in defense of those who cannot defend themselves? I have to feel and believe that the emotions involved transcend death. I happen to believe that death cannot silence the memories of those who have sacrificed so greatly. I have to believe that our sacred lost stand as silent sentinels and testament to their commitment to love of country and family. Where they stand I do not know, but they certainly must become members of an honored cadre of the many who have similarly served and committed their lives and souls to an eternal presence in the glory of a God who recognizes their sacrifice.

If we build it? Will they come? I have often wondered about that. What of our memorials. What of our memorials in the form of monuments and designated days of observance? Is there really the reverence present that there should be? Do we as Americans truly feel thankful or grateful that we live in a nation, whose liberties have been so dearly paid for. And what of the sentinels that stand on the other side of eternity. Keeping constant watch and vigil. Asking now only that we remember them. Asking only that their lives not have been lost in vain. Asking only that we take a day here and there to remember them. Is that too much to ask? I wonder. As I wonder if our honored dead are aware of our present lives and what they died to preserve.

I wonder if the husband or son or brother, or sister or mother or daughter, can approach the lives we now live if only as an observer. Is it possible for them to return periodically for flickers of time, just to look in on their loved ones or just to see how things have proceeded and progressed in the absence of their lives? Is it possible for those who gave their last full measure to emotionally reach across and touch the minds of those who remain here on this plain of existence? I have often wondered those same curiosities whenever I looked upon that long black wall on the mall in Washington. I have been there three times now. It took me years to make the journey after the tribute was finally erected. I saw the photographs in magazines and I felt the rush of chills when the eerie illusion of the haunting shapes of the dead almost materialized in that black granite wall for a moment.

Then I realized that the images most often were simply the reflections of those passing by and those stopping to pay their respects. But what if there are really those there on the other side of that black granite wall. And what if there are those who went before them, now disembodied and periodically allowed to peek back into our lives via the conduit of their memorials? It is certainly a heavy thought for me to contemplate. If we build it will they come? Is it possible for our heroes to look back across the great divide and see the now aging faces of wives and mothers, fathers and brothers, sons and daughters, sisters and sweethearts. Can they see those others that meant so much to them in their brief lives here with us on earth.

I certainly hope so. I know that I want to believe that. And I know that my heart tells me that through God all things are possible. So yes, they are there as they have always been in my opinion, though not in flesh and bone. They are there in spirit and in love. And they remain there silently watching and remembering and thinking of the love that they held in this life and the love that remains here in the hearts of others for them.

Therefore, as we enter into another Memorial Day observance, before you light up the grill or open that beer, take the time to pause and reflect. Take the time to be thankful for all that you have and the price paid for in blood for you to have it. Take the time to offer up a prayer for those that you knew and those that you never knew. For those who are no longer with us and will never again be allowed to enjoy a May weekend in spring with their family and friends. Think of how the smell of those cookouts and the laughter of children are no longer shared or enjoyed by those who have laid down their lives for you and I.

By all means....thank a veteran this weekend, but even more importantly, pay respect to those who gave their all that you could enjoy the greatness of this nation and its bounty. They deserve no less from those of us who remain. From those of us who but by the grace of God survived and returned. They deserve to be remembered and saluted on these few days when we set aside the day for tribute to them. It is after all their day not ours. They earned it. Paid for in full with no apologies and no regrets.

They wait for us now and from time to time they assemble to look back on that which they preserved. Visit with them. Let them know that you know that they are there and that you know what they did for you and your family. Go to a national cemetery or visit a monument this weekend and reach out and touch the stone work. These are the tangible references to the fact that they lived and these are the conduits between them and us, their world and ours. These are the touch stones between their existence in memory and our continued existence in life. And they are our means of connection and remembrance.

I know that I certainly believe that they are, as I believe that they are there watching and waiting and endlessly loving those which they willingly sacrificed. I believe that when we built these tributes to their sacrifices, that those who gave are capable of seeing what we have done for them and in their honor and in their memory. As I believe that they are aware of those who never stop to think, much less visit one of them where they now stand as entombed sentinels to the memory of their love of country.

Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends.

Honor them. Honor their memory. Never let them die from our thoughts. For as long as they remain in our collective and individual memory, they remain as testament to all that love truly represents. And their sacrifices will not have been in vain.



What America Means to Me

by Bruce Bialosky

The special nature of this country was brought to mind during a recent journey to retrieve my son after his first year of college at the University of Kansas. I was to fly to Kansas City and drive back to Los Angeles, but an unexpected diversion in that plan reminded me of our country’s greatness.

I left LAX on my Southwest flight at 9 A.M. to arrive at 2 P.M. central time. The flight was beautiful except for a seatmate who made too many lavatory trips, interrupting my movie. Everything was wonderful until we were ready to land at KCI (Kansas International Airport) where there were thunderstorms. The pilot was scared of a little lightning so we hung in a holding pattern. Southwest planes do not carry loads of extra fuel so we were soon diverted to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to sit on the tarmac.

While preparing to be a victim of one of those long “sweatfests” I looked at the map and saw Tulsa was pretty much due south of Kansas City and on the road toward Los Angeles. Since there was no clear indication of when we might again attempt our final leg to Kansas City, I had the idea for my son to drive south to Tulsa, and we would push on from there. I went to the flight attendant and asked if I could get off the plane. I had my luggage and could depart without any particular inconvenience. Simultaneously, the pilot decided to head for a gate and humanely let us off until we had a secure time for a landing in Kansas City. I called my son and told him to start driving to Tulsa.

I was now standing in Tulsa’s airport wondering what I am going to do for the next 4+ hours when the wheels (in my brain) started to turn. It came to me that I have a friend who is frequently in Tulsa because his company’s headquarters are in Bartlesville -- not too far from Tulsa. During a call to my friend, I explained the facts – this was my first time here and inquired as to where I should go and what I should do. Of course, as one who lives on the coast, it is ingrained in me that places like Tulsa are “backwater” towns. With a few phone calls and emails, the owners of my friend’s company, who I had never met, had arranged to have me let at a business club of which they are members in downtown Tulsa.

Arriving by cab, I took the elevator to this club called the Summit, located on the 32nd floor of the local Bank of America building. I entered this beautiful club in my shorts, knit shirt and athletic shoes. I apologized for my inappropriate dress, but the people there did not care because I was a guest of Peggy and Tom.

They sat me at a table that had a magnificent view of the Arkansas River. The sunny clear day allowed a view that went on for twenty-plus miles each way, as this is a very flat part of the country. The view was just staggering. Why was I not told of the beauty of this part of the country? This majestic river bordered by beautiful tree-lined areas was captivating.

The staff filled me with some pretty fine grub and plenty of ice tea as I settled in to await the arrival of my son. I took out my book, muted my cell phone and started soaking in a part of America that I had never experienced. Other than driving through Oklahoma on my way home after 9/11, my closest experience in this state had previously been provided by Rodgers and Hammerstein. I had no comprehension about what a wonderful area this part of the country had become.

Early evening faded into nighttime and people started arriving for dinner. Two couples were seated in the table next to me. One of the ladies spotted my KU cap parked on top of my luggage. She mentioned she had graduated from KU in 1954 as had her husband, although their dinner guests were both Oklahoma Sooners. After I again apologized for my informal attire, we engaged in conversation. They had me pull up a chair and delayed ordering their dinner for almost an hour as the five of us talked as if we were long lost friends. They told me all about their wonderful city which Forbes magazine recently ranked the 5th best place to live in America.

I begged off so they could finally order their dinner and I called my son who was near arriving. The picture perfect weather had now turned into rain as can happen in this part of the country during spring. When my son landed in front of building, we stood there hugging in the rain for what seemed like an eternity.

We pushed on from there to Oklahoma City. The next morning we visited the Oklahoma City Memorial, dedicated to those who died at the Federal Building bombing. We drove on to Amarillo where we stopped at the Big Texan – home of the 72-ounce steak. Only in America could you have an experience like this where people would challenge themselves to eat this behemoth. A man had come from Norway to try his hand at tackling this chunk of sirloin. The experience was pure Texas.

For the next two days we drove through New Mexico, Arizona and finally to California. Interstate 40 parallels the historic route 66. As we motored through, we passed many iconic towns well known to Americans through popular songs.

This entire journey reminded me how very fortunate we are to live in this magnificent country which, for the most part, is underappreciated. To many of us, Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer. The fact that we are meant to spend the day remembering those who have sacrificed themselves to allow us to live this fine life is often lost.

Hopefully from reading this, you have focused on your own family and friends who make your life special. You have recalled a day when strangers may have done you a good deed simply because you are a fellow American. Maybe you will spend just a smidgen of time remembering those great people who loved our country and what we stand for enough to defend it and pay the ultimate price for that love. And possibly you might remember how blessed we all are to call ourselves Americans.



The Death of Israel

From Caroline Glick, deputy editor and op-ed writer for the Jerusalem Post, comes alarming news. An expert on Arab-Israeli relations with excellent sources deep inside Netanyahu's government, she reports that CIA chief Leon Panetta, who recently took time out from his day job (feuding with Nancy Pelosi) to travel to Israel "read the riot act" to the government warning against an attack on Iran.

More ominously, Glick reports (likely from sources high up in the Israeli government) that the Obama administration has all but accepted as irreversible and unavoidable fact that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. She writes, "...we have learned that the [Obama] administration has made its peace with Iran's nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the US to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the US will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy."

She goes on to write that the Obama administration is desperate to stop Israel from attacking Iran writing that "as far as the [Obama] administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran's nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself." She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel's doing, not Iran's.

In classic Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the Obama administration is empathizing more with the Iranian leaders who are holding Israel hostage than with the nation that may be wiped off the map if Iran acquires the bomb.

Obama's end-of-the-year deadline for Iranian talks aimed at stopping its progress toward nuclear weapons is just window dressing without the threat of military action. As Metternich wrote "diplomacy without force is like music without instruments." By warning only of possible strengthening of economic sanctions if the talks do not progress, Obama is making an empty threat. The sanctions will likely have no effect because Russia and China will not let the United Nations act as it must if it is to deter Iranian nuclear weapons.

All this means is that Israel's life is in danger. If Iran gets the bomb, it will use it to kill six million Jews. No threat of retaliation will make the slightest difference. One cannot deter a suicide bomber with the threat of death. Nor can one deter a theocracy bent on meriting admission to heaven and its virgins by one glorious act of violence. Iran would probably not launch the bomb itself, anyway, but would give it to its puppet terrorists to send to Israel so it could deny responsibility. Obama, bent on appeasement, would likely not retaliate with nuclear weapons. And Israel will be dead and gone.

Those sunshine Jewish patriots who voted for Obama must realize that we, as Jews, are witnessing the possible end of Israel. We are in the same moral position as our ancestors were as they watched Hitler rise but did nothing to pressure their favorite liberal Democratic president, FDR, to take any real action to save them or even to let Jewish refugees into the country. If we remain complacent, we will have the same anguish at watching the destruction of Israel that our forebears had in witnessing the Holocaust.

Because one thing is increasingly clear: Barack Obama is not about to lift a finger to stop Iran from developing the bomb. And neither is Hillary Clinton.

Obama may have held the first White House cedar [seder?], but he's not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem


Complacent NYC Jews may like to reflect that the Iranian leaders could just as easily put a nuclear device aboard a ship and sail it into NY harbour. There would be no shortage of "martyrs" to man the ship and detonate the bomb


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


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


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)


Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day


I Want To Be A Liberal

By Nancy Morgan

I want to be a liberal, because then everyone will like me. My family will start talking to me again, and chances are, my ex-husband will want to renew the marriage vows he broke when I started spouting conservative opinions.

I'd like to be a liberal because its ever so much easier to allow others to form my opinions for me instead of researching an issue myself. That always gets me in trouble, especially when the facts I discover diverge from the latest politically correct consensus.

I'd like to be a liberal because then I'd be rewarded for all my shortcomings and nothing would ever be my fault. I'd be an important cog in the wheel of social justice, and a cherished warrior in the current fight for equality.

If I were a liberal, I would be free to have sex whenever and with whomever I want - and be considered 'empowered' to boot. I could abort any inconvenience with nary a thought because my rights to my body trump the life I would have suctioned out of me.

I'd like to be a liberal because any guilt I would normally feel for what used to be considered deviant, irresponsible behavior may be assuaged by merely advocating the expenditure of other people's money on whatever the cause du jour is. Very cool. Especially since my stock portfolio has been pretty much decimated.

I want to be a liberal because they care so much. They have a lock on all the fashionable emotions, like tolerance, diversity, equality and patriotism. And as long as my intentions are pure and I 'care', I won't have to accept responsibility for any negative consequences that my actions might cause.

I'd like to be a liberal because everyone knows that conservatives are racist, homophobic, stupid and, well, beneath contempt. Conservatives are motivated by gasp, profit, instead of being nice. Enough said.

I'd like to be a liberal because I'd be able to redefine reality to my own specifications. I could turn failure into success, murder into choice, lies into 'misstatements', and theft into investment. I would automatically be considered wise, instead of opinionated. Best of all, I could make up the rules as I go along, change them in midstream and then demonize anyone who doesn't agree with me.

I want to be a liberal because everyone knows they hold the moral high ground. They don't lie, cheat or steal. Oh, and they don't condone torture. The media says so, so it must be true.

Before I am able to join this community of man, however, there are a few ground rules:

I have to acknowledge that government is the best and only solution for any problems America has. Despite the fact that pretty much every government solution to date has been a disaster.

I must agree that America is bad and white Christian males are responsible for all that is wrong with the world. Further, I must agree that terrorists and third world dictators are either freedom fighters or misunderstood men of good will. Oh, and I must acknowledge that dialogue is better than war. Even though decades of dialogue haven't worked, things are different, now that Obama is president. I must have faith. After all, the times, they are a changin'.

I'd, of course, be expected to not only condone, but happily embrace gay marriage and the long list of newly minted sexual behaviors, and swear to never mention the adverse health risks or the proven harm they do to traditional families.

I'd also have to quit judging people (except for conservatives). After all, liberals will allow me to do whatever I want, free from moral censure, and its only fair I do the same for them.

I'd have to immediately quit smoking, in public at least. I'd be required to agree that global warming is real and man is the cause. Even though the earth has cooled in the last decade, everyone knows its still getting warmer. I'd also have to renounce Christianity in favor of Mother Earth and believe that the Constitution is a 'living instrument'.

I'd have to agree that victimhood trumps merit and that liberals know best. Always. And lastly, I'd have to support the notion that racism is still rampant, even if it is the silent 'institutional' type.

In return, I'll be accepted, popular, and invited to the best parties. I'll be eligible for the right to housing, health care, a living wage (even if I don't work) and happiness. And as long as I remain a liberal, no-one is allowed to insult me. How cool is that?

I'll finally get my columns published in my own hometown paper and will have a good chance of getting face time on MSNBC. Best of all, I'll be able to atone for my sins by merely paying Algore for a few carbon credits. Then, I will live happily ever after. Isn't that worth sacrificing such ethereal and frivolous notions like freedom, individualism and principles?



On offense, Cheney scores points

Former Vice President Dick Cheney's sweeping indictment of administration policy changes on the handling of terrorism-suspect detainees has thrown President Obama on the defensive and scored points for the vice president and his party, according to pollsters and political analysts.

While Mr. Cheney has come under increasing fire from Democrats for charging that Mr. Obama's policies have made the country more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks, polls show a majority of Americans side with him on using aggressive interrogation methods on high value al Qaeda prisoners and are against moving them from the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to maximum-security facilities in the U.S. "Cheney's critical comments in recent weeks and the Senate vote against funds for closing Guantanamo did put the president on the defensive and led to his speech" on Friday defending his national security policies, said Thomas Mann, a presidential scholar at the liberal Brookings Institution.

That speech occurred on the same day Mr. Cheney delivered a blistering speech of his own in defense of the Bush administration policies that he helped to shape and that he said had kept the nation safe in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Cheney's aggressive, nonstop criticism of the White House's actions, beginning with Mr. Obama's ban on harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, have unleashed a wave of attacks from his liberal critics. It has also won him praise from his party's conservative base and, according to polls, support for his positions among independent voters that the GOP needs if it is to make a political comeback in future elections. "I have tested the message and the message clearly helps Republicans," said Whit Ayres, a pollster for Resurgent Republic, a GOP advocacy group. A poll he conducted May 11 to 14 found voters supported "harsh interrogation" of al Qaeda prisoners by a 19-point margin, 53 percent to 34 percent - including 53 percent support among independents.

A similarly "strong majority believes the Guantanamo Base prison helps protect America, rather than undermines our moral authority. Independents are, again, much more like Republicans than Democrats on this issue," Mr. Ayres said in a report on his poll's findings. "The challenge for Republicans now is winning back independents who abandoned Republicans in droves in 2006 and 2008. This helps persuade independents that their values are most closely aligned with Republicans than with Democrats," he said.

While Mr. Cheney has been a constant Democratic target of derision for his outspoken criticism of Mr. Obama's policies on terrorism, polls show his low approval ratings have begun to rise lately. A CNN poll conducted last week found that 55 percent still view the former vice president unfavorably, but 37 percent now have a favorable impression of him, up eight points since January.

"Vice President Cheney has been the target of every media, from mainstream to comic. But he spoke today as before without regard to politics, but with abiding respect for the truth. His address today was direct, well-reasoned and convincing," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Thursday.



A Spy's View of Pelosi's War on the CIA

By Ion Mihai Pacepa

I paid with two death sentences—from my native Romania—for the privilege of serving the CIA, our first line of defense against terrorists and nuclear despots, and I am appalled to see the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and third in line for the White House undermining the security of the United States for personal political gain.

Nancy Pelosi’s blistering public attacks on the CIA will severely damage its ability to recruit ranking sources in enemy countries for years to come. No, the CIA officers will not run for cover—they are anonymous heroes, not cowards. But the potential high-ranking CIA sources in Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and many other tyrannical countries will. Espionage is a matter of life and death. From my own experience as both intelligence recruiter and intelligence defector I know that no high ranking official puts his/her life in the hands of a foreign espionage organization publicly pilloried by its own government.

Trust is the most valuable asset of any espionage service, no matter its nationality or political flavor. This is the most important thing I learned after spending 27 years in Romania’s version of the CIA—six of them managing it—and another 31 years cooperating with the CIA. There are many ways an espionage service can lose trust. Disrespect for its own commitments and careless exposure of its sources and operations are just two of them. But nothing could be more devastating than public distrust from its own government.

I do not intend to compare the CIA with my former Romanian foreign intelligence service, the DIE, but there is a lesson there. At the peak of the Cold War, my DIE recruited as agents the highest-ranking employees the Soviet bloc ever had in NATO: the chief of NATO’s department for secret documents (François Rousilhe) and NATO’s deputy finance director (Col. Nahit Imre). We paid them in gold Napoleon coins. Both were eventually arrested by the French DST, and Romania’s tyrant Ceausescu ordered a vengeful public investigation of the DIE. My service was never again able to recruit any significant sources in any of its target countries. After I broke with communism, Ceausescu ordered another public investigation of the DIE, which soon disintegrated.

The CIA helped the U.S. win the Cold War without firing a shot because it was an ultra-secret organization trusted by its government and able to protect its sources and methods from public exposure. That allowed the CIA to gain the confidence of many ranking officials in both Eastern and Western Europe. Some became builders of democracy, others fighters of communism. In 1962, the U.S. avoided a nuclear war because a ranking CIA source (Soviet colonel Oleg Penkovsky) provided top secret documents proving that Khrushchev was installing nuclear rockets in Cuba. Soon after that, NATO neutralized the Warsaw Pact because another ranking CIA source (Polish colonel Ryszard Kuklinski) passed the CIA over 35,000 pages of Warsaw Pact secret military documents, making Moscow’s strategic plans obsolete.




Black ex-astronaut named as NASA chief: "President Obama on Saturday chose as NASA administrator retired astronaut Charles Bolden Jr., a veteran space pilot and official who would become the agency's first black leader. Mr. Obama also named former NASA associate administrator Lori Garver as the agency's No. 2. Mr. Bolden has flown in space four times and was an assistant deputy administrator at one point. "These talented individuals will help put NASA on course to boldly push the boundaries of science, aeronautics and exploration in the 21st century and ensure the long-term vibrancy of America's space program," Mr. Obama said."

Report Shows Air Quality Improved During Bush Administration: "As the Obama administration considers further steps to fight air pollution, a recent report from a Washington think tank shows that air quality in the United States has improved significantly over the last decade. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research analyzed data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and concluded that levels of numerous gases linked with air pollution have fallen off since 2001. Among the findings: Carbon monoxide decreased by 39 percent, ozone by 6 percent, and sulfur dioxide by 32 percent. "Pick any category you want and pollution levels are generally lower than they were seven years ago," said Steven Hayward, the policy analyst who authored the report, titled "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," for the conservative think tank. "(Environmental groups) said air pollution was out of control, but this was always more about politics than it was fact," Hayward said."

Obama to Consider Preventive Detention: "President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said. Human rights advocates are growing deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama’s stance on these issues... “He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.” [Imprisonment without trial! Don't forget that gun owners, Christians and vets are potential terrorists to Obama. Soviet USA not far away]


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


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)


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A new crime syndicate

Would any of this survive a prosecution under RICO laws?

General Motors and the United Auto Workers on Thursday reached a deal that enables them to enter into bankruptcy at the end of the month with a united front against thousands of bondholders and dealers, who are being asked to bear the brunt of the cost of GM's monumental looming bankruptcy.

The massive restructuring of GM is shaping up to be historic not only for transforming the largest U.S. manufacturer in the nation's most important industry, but in sealing a political deal that fuses the interests of the union and car companies with the environmental allies of the White House with the overarching goal of creating a "greener" fleet of cars in the future.

In exchange for endorsing the White House mandate for much more fuel-efficient cars, the main sacrifice from unions in the deal is the acceleration of job losses as GM shuts 16 plants employing about a third of its 60,000 workers by 2010. But retirees and workers who stay on the job would be rewarded with 39 percent ownership of the company while the government, which has lent GM $15.4 billion, takes a 50 percent controlling stake.

Bondholders, an assorted group ranging from individual retirees to gigantic pension and mutual funds that lent GM $27 billion, are offered only a 10 percent equity stake in the company - a paltry sum that most bondholders have already rejected. Their reluctance to go along with the plan ensures that GM will have to go to bankruptcy court to force them to relinquish their claims against the company.

"The reality is that the direction of the auto industry restructuring is all about politics," said Glenn Reynolds, analyst at CreditSights, an investor research group. "The political calculus says there is little risk in shafting bondholders. ... All is fair in love, war, politics and apparently also bankruptcy" under the White House auto task force's game plan, he said, noting that votes in Ohio, Michigan and other auto-producing states will be pivotal in upcoming midterm elections.

As the administration did with its successful gambit to quickly usher Chrysler into a bankruptcy reorganization biased in favor of unions and against creditors, the GM plan represents an "outright politically motivated wealth transfer" from lenders to unions, he said.

Mr. Reynolds contended that political goals motivated the White House to seek approval between unions and management ahead of the bankruptcy filing, along with a small but significant number of creditors who can help make a convincing case before the bankruptcy court that the reorganization is fair and should be expedited, Mr. Reynolds said.

While the administration won the support of Chrysler's four largest bank lenders using the bargaining chip of bailout money the Treasury had provided, it gave much less to Chrysler's other secured lenders and persuaded a Manhattan, N.Y., bankruptcy court to rule against them in key initial skirmishes. Only a small contingent of teacher and police union pension funds continues to fight against the Chrysler plan.

With GM, the White House is following much the same playbook, although GM's bankruptcy is expected to be much bigger and more complex, analysts said.

The administration secured agreement ahead of time between management and labor in a deal that favors unions. Then, it aims to divide the company's creditors by offering full reimbursement to GM's secured lenders, who are owed about $6 billion, while offering very little to unsecured bondholders who are owed the biggest chunk of money.



Things That Could Have Killed Me

It's amazing any of us survived childhood


Friends and acquaintances sometimes remark that the world is more dangerous now for kids than "when we were growing up." Cut to images of happy kids frolicking through fields of sunflowers.

Not in my childhood. I don't think the world has ever been a particularly safe place for anyone, certainly not kids. I spent large swaths of my childhood unsupervised and getting into whatever trouble I could find. I seem to remember coming home for meals, at least breakfast and dinner. For lunch, I ducked into whatever friend's house I could find. There were certain obligations between parents and children when I was a kid, but more in line with a treaty observance by two wary nations than an actual desire to spend time together.

A brief catalogue of "things that could have killed me" while trotting around unsupervised when I was a kid:

- There was a 30-foot bluff at the end of my street in Athens, Ohio. A wire (not electric apparently) of some sort went from the bluff's ledge to the roof of a liquor store below. When I was five, my neighbor friend, a girl named Vonnie, and I decided to suspend ourselves over this bluff by the wire. We hung over the liquor store's parking lot for a minute or so before tiring and deciding to find some other deadly amusement.

- I built a bomb when I was nine. I rooted around under the sink and poured every chemical I could find (this was the 1960s, chemicals were never in short supply) and poured them into a Windex bottle and made a fuse out of a shoelace. Then I went outside and placed the bottle in a field full of dry brush. I didn't think it would work. It did. I set the field on fire, but luckily I was able to stamp it out before it spread and burned down the neighborhood. My sneakers melted.

- I bought a lot of illegal fireworks. I used to spend part of my summer at my grandmother Ida's beach house in Long Beach, N.Y. One summer, my friends Vince Tucci, Tommy Alfazy, and I became addicted to illegal fireworks that we bought from a woman whose basement was stuffed with fireworks. We called her The Firecracker Lady. Everyday, we would go down to the beach and blow up our plastic soldiers. That stopped when the Firecracker Lady was arrested and our supply dried up.

- I liked to disappear into the apartments of strangers. There was an apartment building near our house called the Athens Apartments. I used to go trick or treating there. A lot of students from Ohio University lived in the apartments, including a couple of guys I called The Rat People. These guys bred lab rats and their apartment was full of rats in cages.

I thought they were cool and I used to hang out at their apartment for hours playing with the rats. Then I'd go dumpster diving in the large trash bins outside the apartment complex, looking for cool things. My mother had no idea about any of this.

I could go on, but the point is that childhood was dangerous. Maybe not as dangerous as Dickens-era London, but still, I'm lucky I survived it. Some of my friends didn't, including poor Tommy Alfazy. One day, shortly after I had returned to Athens from Long Beach, he and Vince built a fort in the sand covered with boards and more sand. It collapsed, smothering him. I wish I could reach back now and tell Tommy and Vince not to build that fort, but would they listen to me, a grown-up?

Perhaps that's why I can be forgiven for being a little on the overprotective side when it comes to raising my four daughters. My wife Margie makes fun of me when we're at the airport and one of my older daughters (ages 15 and 17) excuses herself to find the restroom. It's all I can do to stop myself from following and posting guard at the door. Most often, I squirm for a bit while Margie cuts me sideways glances and then bursts out laughing when she sees my discomfort.

Generally, I give in to my paranoia, despite my wife's ridicule. My worry, of course, is absurd. But it's hard for me to accept the notion that, really, no one is safe and no one ever has been. Instead, I fall back on easy falsehoods. "You don't understand," I have told Margie, much to my discredit. "The world isn't like it was when we were kids."



Really Talented Performer Wins American Idol; Liberals Blame Christians

This week Kris Allen, who during the American Idol season prompted unabashed praise from Simon Cowell and the rest of the judges, was voted America’s favorite over Adam Lambert, his theatrical and inconsistent competitor.

Because Adam Lambert is, according to many, gay, the liberal media is blaming Christians for the tough loss. There are even rumblings that this “election” was rigged. Reminiscent of Bush/Gore 2000, anyone?

Liberals are once again falling back on the only explanation they can ever muster when an anointed protégé or pet cause du jour loses: blame the backwards, hickish, intolerant Christian masses. Yes, the same folks who – inexplicably – put George W. Bush in the White House (twice), fell for Sarah Palin, and voted for Proposition 8 all to the shock and awe of the apoplectic left.

The American Idol “upset” prompted Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh to offer this searing analysis: “Woah. So it’s really true: Kris Allen is the new American Idol. Really? Seriously?”

His shock was mitigated by what he considered an obvious explanation for the loss: “You could say…that religion is an irrelevant criterion for judging a singing competition. But the fact remains that Idol is one of TV’s most family-friendly shows, and it draws a large number of Christian viewers. Kris Allen had the edge here.”

The Buffalo Examiner’s gay and lesbian issues point man, Kelvin Lynch, likewise explained it, “Kris is practically a poster boy for heterosexual, white-bread Christianity, while Adam is an in-your-face Jewish gay man. That could very well have played a significant role in the final voting among red state voters with texting capability.”

And Elliot Olshansky wrote in the New York Daily News: “Going into the finale, there was talk of ‘red state-blue state’ politics at work, with Lambert’s painted fingernails, ‘guyliner,’ and uncertain sexuality against Allen’s down-home, churchgoing sensibilities. Given the current political climate, that matchup appeared to favor Lambert, but a number of blue-state types may be ‘too cool’ for Idol’s mass appeal, and unlikely to vote.”

Apparently for Olshansky, the Christian ear is too untrained to appreciate Lambert's nuanced vocal abilities, and thus fell for the likeable and talented Allen by default. Bizarre indeed.

I didn’t see every American Idol episode this year. Did I miss the one where Adam Lambert ran on stage, draped in a rainbow flag, condemning heterosexuality and celebrating Satanism? What exactly did Christians object to? Nail polish? Makeup? Hair products? Have you seen Christian rock heavyweights like POD, Manafest or Decypher Down? They don't exactly look like the Vienna Boys Choir.

The suggestion that Christian viewers not only correctly interpreted Lambert’s guyliner as code for “gay” -- and not just theatrical effect -- but then decided gay men have no business in, um, show business, is hysterical, paranoid, and incredibly bigoted.

But the whole thing was a set-up from the get-go. Liberal Hollywood and popular gay activists like Perez Hilton threw their weight behind Lambert early on. Adam was a sure-thing for them, but only because they wanted him to be. His performances were criticized by the judges more than once. But it’s not like these Idol arbiters based their convictions on statistics or polls. So if you are plugged into the gossip circles, you’d have believed Lambert was a sure thing, too. Singer Katy Perry put his name on her cape during a performance – and the Daily News claimed this was actually evidence that he was supposed to win.

With few and obscure exceptions, Christian Republicans didn’t launch the attack campaign against Adam Lambert that the left is now launching against Christian Republicans. As we witnessed with the assault on Miss California Carrie Prejean, the same voices seeking increased tolerance are the very voices attacking others for their opinions. And viciously.

American Idol has thus fallen the way of the Miss USA pageant and other one-time innocuous entertainment vehicles – it’s been politicized. Not, however, by the intolerant right, but by the intolerant left who can offer no other explanation for dissent than the lunacy of fringe Christians. Maybe Kris Allen was just the preferred performer? Nah, couldn’t be that easy.



BrookesNews Update

Obama's road to economic ruin and higher taxes: It should be obvious to any reasonably intelligent person that if Obama's economic policies are not abandoned or even dramatically restrained the next four years could make the Carter presidency look like an economic Elysium
The Australian budget exposes politicians economic ignorance and stupidity : Massive spending and deficits reveal that the government has no real idea on how to tackle the recession. Unfortunately, no one in our think tanks, the Reserve or the Treasury have any genuine understanding of the dangerous economic forces that are now at work. And this is why they keep getting it wrong
Austrian business cycle theory defended: Austrian trade cycle theory is the only that can adequately explain what the current economic crisis. For that reason a leftwing economists has attacked it — and failed miserably. Unfortunately, because our self-appointed gatekeepers of free market thinking have taken it upon themselves to determine who shall defend the market it is the market that is now being blamed for the financial meltdown
How America and Australia's central banks badly damaged manufacturing : The global economy is still in a parlous state. Obama's economic policies are a recipe for national bankruptcy. These are the same policies that brought the UK to the brink of economic ruin. What is being missed, however, is that manufacturing was the canary in the coal mine. The crisis — which is a monetary disorder — would have been avoided if the state of manufacturing had been correctly analysed.
Obama wants to "close tax loopholes" — not for more money but to flex government muscle : Under Obama's proposal Americans would have to prove they were not breaking U.S. tax laws by sending money to banks that don't cooperate with tax officials. Americans would no be presumed guilty until proved innocent. This means the abolition of an ancient right intended to protect the accused. I guess this is what Democrats mean by 'Hope and Change'


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


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)


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is red meat bad for you?

I originally wrote the post below for my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog but I think it is of general interest so I am posting it here too

Below is a research summary circulated on a mailing list for medical practitioners. It arrived under the heading: "Red meat is bad for you —and bad for everyone else". Further below is the journal abstract (summary) concerned -- from a very respectable medical journal. The whole thing is, however, one big confidence trick and will achieve nothing other than frightening people off perfectly harmless food that they would otherwise enjoy. The entire report is a scientific, statistical and ethical nothing. Let me tell you very quickly why.

For a start, the "hazard ratios" (relative risks) reported are negligible -- at 1.2, 1.3 etc. The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."

OK. So who cares about a silly old Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence? But it gets worse. The findings are reported in terms of upper and lower quintiles. In other words they threw away three fifths of the information that they had in order to arrive at their reported conclusions. That is quite simply dishonest and unethical. NO categorization of such data for analytical purposes is now ethically defensible. In pre-computer days, when all calculations had to be performed by hand, doing so could in some cases be justified but with the advent of computers there is NO reason why regression techniques that include ALL the data cannot be used. I note that before I had access to computers, I analysed the data from my first ever piece of research (in 1966) using a regressional technique. Even at that early stage I did not contemplate throwing away any of my data in the course of analysing it.

Had the whole of the data been analysed using a regressional technique, there is no doubt the the resultant correlation between meat consumption and disease would have been derisorily small and maybe even of negative sign, indicating that red meat eating is NOT a cause of cancer, heart disease etc. It is certainly not "bad for you —and bad for everyone else". The authors would of course be aware of that but have nonetheless chosen to present their data in a way that makes mountains out of pimples, which seems to me quite simply unethical.

So how did such a piece of utter crap get published in a medical journal? More particularly, why is such crap ROUTINELY published in medical journals? I am afraid that it is a sad outcome of the "publish or perish" regime that prevails in academe. Researchers need to get papers published in order to be promoted. So a well-meaning consensus has emerged among journal editors that they will accept extreme quintile reports out of solidarity with their colleagues. Otherwise they would have to reject more than half of what they currently publish. That the practice routinely results in the public being deceived is of no account. It is an utter disgrace but I doubt if I will live to see it stopped. An ethical vacuum prevails where the public would normally expect the highest ethical standards.

The emailed circular from DocAlert Messages below:
Further evidence of a link between red meat and poor health has emerged from a large cohort of older US adults. Men and women in the top fifth of red meat intake had a significantly higher risk of death over 10 years than men and women in the bottom fifth (hazard ratio for men 1.31, 95% CI 1.27 to 1.35; for women 1.36, 1.30 to 1.43). The authors also found a link between death and a high intake of processed meat such as bacon, ham, and sausage.

The 545 653 adults were between 50 and 71 when they filled in a detailed food frequency questionnaire in 1995. By 2005, more than 71 000 had died. These large numbers mean the authors were able to estimate with some precision the risks associated with eating red and processed meats for both men and women. The analyses were fully adjusted for other lifestyle factors likely to influence lifespan, especially smoking.

These data add to other observational studies that suggest we should all eat less red and processed meats. Not least because the increasing consumption of meat in many countries is putting a strain on global supplies of water, energy, and food in general, says a linked comment (p 543). It is costlier in all these precious resources to grow meat to eat than to grow vegetables and grains instead.

Journal abstract below:
Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People

By Rashmi Sinha et al.

Background: High intakes of red or processed meat may increase the risk of mortality. Our objective was to determine the relations of red, white, and processed meat intakes to risk for total and cause-specific mortality.

Methods: The study population included the National Institutes of Health–AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) Diet and Health Study cohort of half a million people aged 50 to 71 years at baseline. Meat intake was estimated from a food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline. Cox proportional hazards regression models estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) within quintiles of meat intake. The covariates included in the models were age, education, marital status, family history of cancer (yes/no) (cancer mortality only), race, body mass index, 31-level smoking history, physical activity, energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and menopausal hormone therapy among women. Main outcome measures included total mortality and deaths due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, injuries and sudden deaths, and all other causes.

Results: There were 47 976 male deaths and 23 276 female deaths during 10 years of follow-up. Men and women in the highest vs lowest quintile of red (HR, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.27-1.35], and HR, 1.36 [95% CI, 1.30-1.43], respectively) and processed meat (HR, 1.16 [95% CI, 1.12-1.20], and HR, 1.25 [95% CI, 1.20-1.31], respectively) intakes had elevated risks for overall mortality. Regarding cause-specific mortality, men and women had elevated risks for cancer mortality for red (HR, 1.22 [95% CI, 1.16-1.29], and HR, 1.20 [95% CI, 1.12-1.30], respectively) and processed meat (HR, 1.12 [95% CI, 1.06-1.19], and HR, 1.11 [95% CI 1.04-1.19], respectively) intakes. Furthermore, cardiovascular disease risk was elevated for men and women in the highest quintile of red (HR, 1.27 [95% CI, 1.20-1.35], and HR, 1.50 [95% CI, 1.37-1.65], respectively) and processed meat (HR, 1.09 [95% CI, 1.03-1.15], and HR, 1.38 [95% CI, 1.26-1.51], respectively) intakes. When comparing the highest with the lowest quintile of white meat intake, there was an inverse association for total mortality and cancer mortality, as well as all other deaths for both men and women.

Conclusion: Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.

Arch Intern Med (2009) Vol. 169 No. 6. 562-571

In addition to the statistical and ethical failures that I have detailed above, there are of course other large problems with the interpretation of the study. The first or second thing you learn in Statistics 101 is that "correlation is not causation". The authors above were cautious NOT to make causative inferences from their data but that message got lost downstream. Even well-informed people reading the report DID assume a causative relationship. They assumed that red meat eating CAUSED heart disease etc. But NO epidemiological study enables causative inferences. There could easily be third or fourth factors producing the observed association.

Just to give a top-of-the head example of how that could have played out: Given the weak associations reported, maybe a substantial proportion of those who ate little or no meat were Seventh Day Adventists. Adventists are an exceptionally healthy group who encourage vegetarianism. So WHY are they exceptionally healthy? Nobody really knows but it seems likely that the strong social and psychological support that they get from their heavy church involvement reduces stress and thus also reduces stress-related disease. And heart disease is partly a stress-related disease. So even if we accept as proper the statistical jiggery pokery reported above we may be basing our conclusions entirely on the doings of Seventh Day Adventists -- which is not of much relevance to the rest of society.


Don't let Leftists get away with their sneering ignorance

So I'm sitting around with family, and one conservative member mentions something he saw on Fox News.

A progressive member starts in with the passive-aggressive giggle of dismissal, and then the condescending "you mean you watch Fox News?"

And the conservative member says "Yup. Fair and balanced."

More giggles. "Oh, gosh! Do you know how many lies they tell?"

Now normally when this progressive member disparages Fox News (this is certainly not the first time) I keep my mouth shut in the name of family harmony. Which I think, unfortunately, only re-enforces the idea in such people's minds that their assertion is correct. But I decided I needed to chime in this time. The giggles are one thing. The condescension I usually gloss over. But the "lies" thing. I wasn't going to let that drop.

"No. I don't know. Tell me a lie Fox News has told."

Giggles. "Well I don't watch it."

"So you don't watch it, but you know they tell lies? How do you know they tell lies?"

"Well I read somewhere..."

"You read somewhere? How do you know that wasn't a lie?"

"Well I don't. They all do it, that's what I'm saying."

"Then why single out Fox?"

"Well I read somewhere that they were the worst."

"And you believe what you read?"

"Well let's not get into anything political. Why can't people just talk about things anymore?"

Why not indeed. Who brought it up? Who got nasty about it?

Fortunately, I suppose, the phone rang. It was for the progressive.

So I'm sitting here thinking ... "Fox News lies, but you don't have any examples and you don't watch it. They all lie, but you know Fox is 'the worst' because you read something one of the other liars wrote?"

The problem is, they're used to people either politely keeping quiet, backing down, or patting them on the head for echoing what they've been instructed to believe and many others have accepted ... typically the people they hang out with.

Don't let it happen anymore. When anyone tries to espouse how "hateful" conservative-friendly networks and show hosts are, make them back it up. Watch them back down. Stop an echo.




British aid money wasted : "Millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money have been wasted on failed reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, according to an internal assessment by the Department for International Development. An evaluation by independent consultants criticised the department’s approach to planning, risk management and staffing, and said poor co-ordination with the rest of Whitehall meant that the department was slow to shift strategy as the military effort moved to counter-insurgency. The report reveals that in 2006-07, more than half of the department’s large projects, in which millions of pounds were invested, were deemed likely to fail, excluding money put into a fund run by the World Bank. Only a quarter of state building projects were rated successful in 2006, with 4.5 per cent of them rated value for money. Among the failed projects singled out in the Country Programme Evaluation is the Afghanistan Stabilisation Fund, designed to “establish basic security and good governance in the district and provinces of Afghanistan”. This was begun in 2004 with a £20 million payment to the Afghan Government but ended three years later with “little evidence of tangible benefit”.

AK: Palin vetoes $28.6 million in federal “stimulus” funds : “Gov. Sarah Palin announced today she is vetoing the state Legislature’s decision to accept $28.6 million in federal economic stimulus money for energy relief. Palin also vetoed nearly $12 million from the state budget for construction projects. The biggest project she targeted was the improvement of the Anchorage courthouse. She also cut Southeast Alaska projects funded with cruise ship tax money. … Palin argued that taking the stimulus money would require the state to entice local communities to adopt building codes. ‘There isn’t a lot of support for the federal government to coerce Alaska communities to adopt building codes, but lawmakers can always exercise checks and balances by overriding my veto,’ Palin said in a written statement.”

NY: Terror suspects appear in court: “The four men arrested Wednesday night and accused of plotting to place bombs at New York City synagogues and shoot down National Guard jets appeared in court today, and an attorney for one of the defendants claimed his client suffers from mental illness. At a hearing for three of the defendants, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Snyder called the men ‘extremely violent’ and said, ‘It’s hard to envision a more chilling plot.’”

Stupid copyright restrictions: "Thanks to horribly egregious copyright legislation, books published from the late sixties onward are typically under copyright for 100 years, meaning that someone besides the author is charged with administering rights. That person is usually completely ignorant of book publishing and the content of the book or why it matters. All he wants is money that is not there. More often than not, this person will refuse to make a deal. And the book stays out of print, for the rest of our lifetimes at least. This is what copyright extensions have amounted to: great impediments to printing books and preserving literary legacies. Already, provisions of the law have burned more books than most despots in human history. And this has only just begun. We are going to be seeing this nonsense for another 100 years at least. Sad to say, many of the books that will fail to be printed are great books. But they might as well have never been written. The author is in no position to protest because he or she is six feet in the ground. His or her legacy, about which the heir cares less than nothing, is buried too. The problem is that within the structure of IP there is no rational way to price anything. The property is made scarce only by the state. Its scarcity is otherwise wholly artificial.”

Going Dutch : “Despite budget shortfalls, the Netherlands doesn’t seem interested in returning to its 1970s model of confiscatory rates of taxation. When their economy stagnated, the government quickly moved to slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25.5 percent. (In the United States, it’s roughly 40 percent) A recent proposal by the right-leaning government of Jan Peter Balkenende would lower inheritance tax rates from 27 percent to 20 percent for family members, and from 68 percent to 40 percent for non-family members. And with government coffers thinning and an aging population, a recent piece of legislation would push the retirement age from 65 to 67.”

Don’t judge the chemo kid : “The story of Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy from Minnesota with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, became tabloid fodder overnight. The boy and his mother are on the lam because the mother refuses, because of her beliefs, to authorize chemotherapy treatments for her son. Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a 90 percent cure rate with chemotherapy, and a 95 percent chance of killing a person without it. Chemotherapy will likely save Daniel’s life, and as a pediatrician I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend it. But I would also like to turn down the volume on the talk-radio chatter and outraged editorials. That’s because nobody seems to be talking about what it takes to beat Hodgkin’s (or any other cancer). What it takes is a grueling regimen that can indeed give even a dying person pause.”

Will the government be the new king of all media? : “Howard Stern swore off free broadcast radio in 2004 in part because of federally mandated decency rules. The self-annointed ‘king of all media’ may have stepped off the throne in doing so. Them’s the breaks in the competitive media marketplace, contorted as it is by government speech controls. Some would argue that a new king of all media is seeking the mantle of power now that the Obama administration is ensconced and friendly majorities hold the House and Senate. The new pretender is the federal government.”

All cost, no benefit : “The Obama administration’s plan to require new passenger vehicles sold in 2016 to get an average of 39 miles per gallon or better (30 mpg or more for SUVs, pickups and minivans) is likely to be all cost and no benefit. If the proposed fuel efficiency standards were in place today, reports that only two cars — the 2010 Toyota Prius (50 mpg) and the 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid (42 mpg) — would meet the standard. Angry environmentalists might thus find themselves key-scratching ‘gas guzzlers’ such as the 2009 Honda Fit (31 mpg), the 2009 Mini Cooper (32 mpg) and the 2009 Smart ForTwo (36 mpg). There is little dispute that, as a consequence, cars would become more expensive and industry profits more scarce.”


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


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)


Friday, May 22, 2009

The Goebbels of IQ research?

I have just been re-reading the Rushton & Jensen reply to Nisbett and am struck by something remarkable: Not only does Nisbett misrepresent a whole range of research but he even misrepresents research by Rushton. Rushton is a major figure in IQ research, not because of the popularity of his conclusions but because of the rigor and quality of his research and thinking. And the fact that Nisbett refers quite a bit to Rushton is a testament to that.

But surely Nisbett must have known that Rushton would see the misrepresentation of his research and correct Nisbett's claims about it? But Nisbett apparently didn't care about that. He seems to have figured that Rushton's voice in protest would be a small and almost inaudible squeak compared to the megaphone that the media would hand him. In other words, he was confident that the media would enable him to get across a big lie. He believed that if you tell a big enough lie often enough people will believe it -- which was also the view of Dr Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister.

It's reminiscent of that old neo-Marxist fraud, Stephen J. Gould, whose book The mismeasure of man still gets quoted quite a lot by Leftists despite having been comprehensively demolished many year ago. See here and here and here and here.


An Easily Understandable Explanation of Derivative Markets:

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans). Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.

By providing her customers' freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets. Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics.

Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi.

Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since, Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers.

Now, do you understand?


Stimulating Ourselves to Death: They might sound great, but do stimulus packages work?

This is an article from last month but still has some good points

Barack Obama says his “unprecedented” economic stimulus package will not merely be “a short-term program to boost employment.” No, it “will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care; and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.”

The massive cost of the stimulus doubled even before any legislation was written, much less approved. Originally tagged at $400 billion, the proposal quickly jumped to $825 billion, and latest estimates at press time have it costing north of $1 trillion (comprised of 60 percent spending and 40 percent tax cuts).

Given the size, will the stimulus work as advertised? Will the goods and services—be they concrete for new highway projects or groceries for hungry families—pump up flagging demand and boost stalled economic activity? If so, it will be the first time in modern recorded history.

Take the New Deal. According to the economists Christina Romer—chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers—and David Romer, New Deal spending did not pull the economy out of recession. In a 1992 Journal of Economic History paper, the Romers examined the role that aggregate demand stimulus played in ending the Great Depression. They concluded: “A simple calculation indicates that nearly all of the observed recovery of the U.S. economy prior to 1942 was due to monetary expansion. Huge gold inflows in the mid- and late-1930s swelled the U.S. money stock and appear to have stimulated the economy by lowering real interest rates and encouraging investment spending and purchases of durable goods.”

Even the massive spending during World War II, long touted as pulling America out of the Depression, didn’t necessarily help. In a 2006 paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economists Joseph Cullen and Price V. Fisher asked whether the local economies that were the biggest beneficiaries of federal spending on military mobilization during World War II experienced more rapid growth in consumer economic activity than others. Their finding: Military spending had virtually no effect on consumption.

Another economist, Robert Higgs, offered an even more thoroughgoing critique in an excellent 1992 Journal of Economic History paper. After challenging the conventional portrayal of economic performance during the 1940s, Higgs concluded that “the war itself did not get the economy out of the Depression. The economy produced neither a ‘carnival of consumption’ nor an investment boom, however successfully it overwhelmed the nation’s enemies with bombs, shells, and bullets.” Breaking windows in France and Germany didn’t bring prosperity in America.

In his 2008 book Macroeconomics: A Modern Approach, Harvard economist Robert Barro shows that $1 of government spending in wartime produces less than $1 in GDP—80 cents, to be exact. Stanford economist Bob Hall and Sand Hill Econometrics chief Susan Woodward, neither particularly pro-market, argued recently that each dollar of government spending during World War II and the Korean War produced about $1 of GDP. In other words, the economy is not stimulated by war spending.

The example of 1990s Japan, with its collapsed housing and stock markets, is also relevant. Between 1992 and 1999, Japan passed eight stimulus packages totaling roughly $840 billion in today’s dollars. During that time, the debt-to-GDP ratio skyrocketed, the country was rocked by massive corruption scandals, and the economy never did recover. All Japan had to show for it was some public works projects and a mountain of debt.

Finally, the Bush administration passed the Tax Relief Act of 2001 and the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, two similar packages with similar effects on the economy. Which is to say, not much. In 2008 the major component was sending $100 billion in cash to Americans so they would have more to spend and thus jumpstart the economy. It failed. People spent little if anything of the temporary rebate, and consumption did not recover....

The theory of economic stimuli suffers from several serious problems. First, it assumes people are stupid. Tax rebates, for example, presume that if people get some money to increase their consumption, businesses will expand their production and hire more workers. Not true. Even if producers notice an upward blip in sales after the rebate checks go out, they will know it’s temporary. Companies won’t hire more employees or build new factories in response to a temporary increase in sales. Those who do will go out of business....

The biggest problem is that the government can’t inject money into the economy without first taking money out of the economy. Where does the government get that money? It can a) borrow it or b) collect it from taxes. There is no aggregate increase in demand. Government borrowing and spending doesn’t boost national income or standard of living; it merely redistributes it. The pie is sliced differently, but it’s not any bigger. In fact, the data suggest that stimuli often end up shrinking the pie....

If politicians actually want to do something cost-effective to solve our economic woes, here’s some advice: Stay away from spending and tax rebates. Instead, focus on real incentives to work and invest, such as cutting marginal tax rates for everyone.




A great video for bird lovers here

Airline mechanics who can't read English: "News 8 has recently revealed serious flaws in the way the FAA licenses mechanics who fix planes. There is evidence of years of problems in testing these mechanics. There is also evidence that hundreds of mechanics with questionable licenses are working on aircraft in Texas. Now there is evidence of repair facilities hiring low-wage mechanics who can't read English. Twenty-one people were killed when U.S. Airways Express Flight 5481 crashed in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2003. The plane went wildly out of control on takeoff. One reason for the crash, investigators found, was that mechanics incorrectly connected the cables to some of the plane's control surfaces in the repair shop. The FAA was cited for improper oversight of the repair process. Repairing airplanes is a complicated business. Airplanes have many manuals. Typically, when mechanics repair a part, they open the manual, consult the book, and make the repair step-by-step, as if it were a recipe book. They make a list of every action they take, so the next person to fix the plane (as well as the people who fly it) will know exactly what has been done. If mechanics don't speak English, the international language of aviation, they can't read the manual and they can't record their activities. There are more than 236 FAA-certified aircraft repair stations in Texas, according to the FAA's Web site. News 8 has learned that hundreds of the mechanics working in those shops do not speak English and are unable to read repair manuals for today's sophisticated aircraft."

Obama's Green car industry: "So far, the Obama administration has yet to lay out its magical thinking on how the homegrown auto makers are to become 'viable' when required to subordinate every auto attribute that consumers find desirable in favor of achieving a passenger-car average of 39 miles per gallon by 2016. Nonetheless the answer has quietly seeped out: Taxpayers will write $5,000 or $7,000 rebate checks to other taxpayers to bribe them to buy hybrids and plug-ins at a price that lets Detroit claim it's earning a 'profit' on its Obamamobiles."

Beer tax on tap for health care? : “Consumers in the United States may have to hand over nearly $2 more for a case of beer to help provide health insurance for all. Details of the proposed beer tax are described in a Senate Finance Committee document that will be used to brief lawmakers Wednesday at a closed-door meeting. Taxes on wine and hard liquor would also go up. And there might be a new tax on soda and other sugary drinks blamed for contributing to obesity. No taxes on diet drinks, however.”

FEC dismisses case against Wal-Mart: “The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint by labor groups accusing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of unlawfully pressuring employees to vote against Democrats in the November election. FEC commissioners found no evidence to support claims that Wal-Mart broke election law by telling employees that Democrats such as Barack Obama would support a bill to make it easier for workers to unionize.”

The return of the God King: “Most of human history is riddled with misery, poverty and slavery, save a few bright episodes that brought us great benefits, but were ultimately swallowed up by the darkness again. What was it that changed that created those bright spots? There is a simple answer, freedom. Free societies always produce more than centrally controlled ones do. The creative output increases because human energy is allowed to flow and technology is generated from the experimentation that comes with being unfettered. Without exception this is the cycle of mankind, a free people produce great wealth, not just in commodity, but intellectual wealth as well and then the pendulum swings, there is a backlash against the rising tide of equality that freedom encourages.”

The virtuous path to African development: "A source of great frustration to those concerned with world poverty is the relative stagnation of much of the African continent. It is frustrating because we know that widespread poverty is a function of human limitations, not the availability of natural resources. This fact renders less helpful than it might be the guidelines recently released under the title, Natural Resource Charter. Designed by an independent group of economists, lawyers and political scientists to help developing countries manage their natural resources in ways that create real economic growth, the Charter provides helpful insights. Unfortunately, it does not emphasize enough the crucial role of social mores beyond economics and political governance.”


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


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)


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nisbett answered by Rushton & Jensen

When the first publicity for Nisbett's recent book on IQ came out, I said: "I have not read the book and nothing in the review encourages me to do so but I assume that some of my colleagues who specialize in IQ studies will read it and dissect it in due course. Meanwhile, I just offer a few comments that occur to me".

My expectation has now been fulfilled. I have just received from J.P. Rushton the draft of a paper which dissects Nisbett's arguments in detail. It is in the form of a book review so should see academic publication fairly soon.

As I also expected, the liberties taken with the facts by Nisbett are enormous. If there is only one finding out of 5 that suits Nisbett, he will quote that one finding and ignore the other 4. That is a caricature of how real science is done.

Many of the points that Rushton & Jensen make are similar to points I have made in my various comments on Nisbett (See here, here and here) but Rushton & Jensen give the actual figures complete with full references.

As the paper is in draft, I cannot quote any of it directly but I can quote an excerpt that they provide from Flynn. Flynn has been one of the chief proponents of environmental rather than genetic influences on IQ and Nisbett relies on him heavily for some of his arguments. Flynn does however listen to those on the genetic side of the debate and he has recently changed his tune considerably. The following is from page 85 of Flynn's 2008 book.
There are two messages. The first is familiar: You cannot dismiss black gains on whites just because they do not tally with the g loadings of subtests. But the second is new and unexpected. The brute fact that black gains on whites do not tally with g loadings tells us something about causes. The causes of the black gains are like hearing aids. They do cut the cognitive gap but they are not eliminating the root causes. And conversely, if the root causes are somehow eliminated, we can be confident that the IQ gap and the g gap will both disappear".

In other words, Flynn accepts that there is an underlying black/white difference in IQ that cannot be traced to environmental factors. Nisbett quotes a lot from Flynn but he does NOT quote that conclusion.

And Rushton & Jensen also report empirical tests of the arm-waving assertions that emanate from Leftists about black environmental disadvantage. None of the assertions are in fact borne out by the research findings.

In that connection I found out about a quite remarkable fact that I was not previously aware of. What if a little kid came from such a poor environment that he had to be hospitalized for malnutrition and was then adopted out into a white family? One would think that a kid from such a background would be permanently handicapped. They obviously would not come from an elite family to start with and nutrition during infancy is known to be very important to subsequent development. Yet precisely that experience has happened to considerable numbers of children from East Asian backgrounds (Korea etc.). I think you know what I am going to say: Far from being dumb, these kids were after only a few years scoring ABOVE the white average on IQ! Genetics triumph! East Asians are of course in general smarter than we Anglos. Their weakness is that they respect authority too much.

Leftists will of course argue that the finding simply show what a wonderful job white adoptive parents do but isn't it odd that blacks adopted by whites still stay close to THEIR average racial IQ -- i.e. around a whole standard deviation below whites -- particularly if we look at adult IQ rather than IQ measured during childhood. It is an old truth that efforts to raise black IQ sometimes seem to be doing some good during childhood but by adulthood the improvement vanishes. Needless to say, Nisbett quotes adoption studies where IQ was measured in childhood and ignores major studies where IQ was measured in adulthood.

In most fields of science, work as incompetent as Nisbett's would earn him nothing but scorn from his colleagues but Nisbett is already heavily laden with honours and will no doubt receive even more honours before long. The human race loves its myths far more than it loves facts.


Karl Marx on “The Russian Loan”

It was in his article, “The Russian Loan,” published in the New-York Daily Tribune on January 4, 1856, that the grotesque antisemitism of Karl Marx’s writing was on full display:
Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets.

… the real work is done by the Jews, and can only be done by them, as they monopolize the machinery of the loanmongering mysteries by concentrating their energies upon the barter trade in securities… Here and there and everywhere that a little capital courts investment, there is ever one of these little Jews ready to make a little suggestion or place a little bit of a loan. The smartest highwayman in the Abruzzi is not better posted up about the locale of the hard cash in a traveler’s valise or pocket than those Jews about any loose capital in the hands of a trader… The language spoken smells strongly of Babel, and the perfume which otherwise pervades the place is by no means of a choice kind.

… Thus do these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is as dangerous to the people as the aristocratic organization of landowners… The fortunes amassed by these loan-mongers are immense, but the wrongs and sufferings thus entailed on the people and the encouragement thus afforded to their oppressors still remain to be told.

… The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish moneychangers out of the temple, and that the moneychangers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence. The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize their organization.

A Marxist website has provided a list of articles written by Karl Marx between 1852 and 1861 for the New York Daily Tribune. It does not surprise me that “The Russian Loan” does not appear on this list. When apologists for Marx’s antisemitism run out of explanations, they simply ignore his words.

Much more HERE

The Marx article concerned was however reprinted in "Karl Marx, The Eastern Question" (ed. by Eleanor Marx & Edward Aveling, 1897: new ed. 1969). pp. 600-606. I have also previously excerpted it here



Obama’s new fuel economy rules deadly for both people and carmakers: "Today President Obama will unveil a plan to sharply increase federal gas mileage rules for vehicles sold in the United States, eventually bringing the requirement up to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon. Unfortunately, these rules — known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards — have the deadly effect of causing new cars to be lighter, smaller and less crashworthy. ‘CAFE is among the deadliest government regulations we have, and with today’s announcement it’s going to get even deadlier,’ said Competitive Enterprise Institute General Counsel Sam Kazman.”

Calif. Voters Reject Measures to Keep the State spending: "A smattering of California voters on Tuesday soundly rejected five ballot measures designed to keep the state solvent through the rest of the year. The results dealt a severe setback to the state’s fragile fiscal structure and to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislators who cobbled together the measures as part of a last-minute budget deal passed in February. The measures, which would have prolonged tax increases, capped state spending, earmarked money for education and involved the state in a complex borrowing scheme against its lottery, were rejected by roughly 60 percent of those who voted. The failure of the measures, combined with falling revenues since the state passed its budget, leaves California with a $21 billion new hole to fill, while foreclosure rates and unemployment remain vexing problems here. “Tonight we have heard from the voters, and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system,” Governor. Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. “Now we must move forward from this point to begin to address our fiscal crisis with constructive solutions,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said." [Like firing some bureaucrats?]

Netanyahu stands firm against demands from Obama: "Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in his first meeting with the US president, made it clear that while he welcomed Mr Obama's commitment to the region, he was more concerned about dealing with the threat of Iran than peace talks. Mr Obama was unable to secure any commitments on ceasing the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank or embracing the "two-state solution" to achieving peace in the Middle East.... Though Mr Netanyahu made clear he wanted to hold peace talks with the Palestinians, he refused to utter the words "two-state solution", the consensus approach towards peace agreed by previous Israeli governments and US administrations...."The terminology will take care of itself," said Mr Netanyahu. "The important thing is to resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible. The issue is less one of terminology than of substance." He said that if a peace deal delivered a "terror base next door" to Israel than it would be worthless, and insisted that Hamas, the militant group that controlled Gaza, had to recognise Israel before he was ready to make concessions. The prime minister dwelt at length on the threat posed to Israel by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. His goal is to persuade the Americans that Tehran must be reined in before peacemaking with the Palestinians can progress."

Senate OKs bill to regulate credit card industry: “The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to rein in credit card rate increases and excessive fees, hoping to give voters some breathing room amid a recession that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans jobless or facing foreclosure. The House was on track to pass the measure as early as Wednesday, paving the way for President Barack Obama to see the bill on his desk by week’s end.” [Lots of low income people will now have their cards cancelled or have very low limits imposed]

Senate Dems won’t fund Gitmo closing: “President Barack Obama’s allies in the Senate will not provide funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until the administration comes up with a satisfactory plan for transferring the detainees held there, top Democrats said Tuesday. And in a further break with Obama, the Senate’s top Democrat said he opposes transferring any Guantanamo prisoners to the United States for their trials or to serve their sentences. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said 50 to 100 Guantanamo detainees may be transferred to U.S. facilities. ‘I can’t make it any more clear,’ Reid said. ‘We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.’”

GPS system needs stimulating: “Mismanagement and underinvestment by the U.S. Air Force could possibly lead to the failure and blackout of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a federal watchdog agency says. The risk of failure starts in 2010, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report quoted by PC World. The failure would impact not only military operations, but also the millions of people and businesses who rely on the satellite-based navigation systems built into cars, boats and cell phones. ‘If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the U.S. government commits to,’ the GAO report states. The report says the Air Force has struggled to build successful GPS satellites within cost and on schedule.”

Ireland: Child abuse report to be released: “The findings of a nine-year inquiry into abuse suffered by children in Catholic institutions in Ireland over a 60-year period are due to be published. About 35,000 children were placed in a network of reformatories, industrial schools and workhouses up to the 1980s. More than 2,000 told the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse they suffered physical and sexual abuse while there.”

Why journalists deserve low pay: “Journalists like to think of their work in moral or even sacred terms. With each new layoff or paper closing, they tell themselves that no business model could adequately compensate the holy work of enriching democratic society, speaking truth to power, and comforting the afflicted. Actually, journalists deserve low pay. Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days. Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, twittering or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models.”

“Parasitic” new media beats old media to the punch: “Last week, I covered the arrest of three independent journalists in Jones County, Mississippi, who appear to have been scooped up for the non-crime of photographing police during a traffic stop. The first ‘old media’ story on the arrests appeared today, in the Laurel Leader-Call. In related news, over the weekend, the Christian Science Monitor reported that bloggers ‘outnumbered national reporters by a good margin’ in the press box at the National Rifle Association convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Even as fans of ink-stained fingers and bloated, institutional journalism bemoan the rise of individualistic and often partisan new media journalists, the old pros they defend barely seem to be making the effort — and when they do get off their duffs, they often do a poor job.”


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


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)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Appropriate advice for the nest of low thieves who currently govern Britain

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice. Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God's help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do. I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go, get you out!

Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

Those are of course the wonderful words of Oliver Cromwell, addressed to the Rump Parliament, on 20 April 1653. See here for background on the present corruption


How Specter's Defection Actually Helps the GOP Fight Liberal Judges

That nifty quorum rule

In light of liberal Supreme Court Justice David Souter's pending retirement, careful insider analysis of Senator Arlen Specter's defection from Republican to Democrat reveals a strange irony: Although he could give the Democrats a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority, his defection actually strengthens the "rule of quorum" power and purity of Republican opposition within the Senate Judiciary Committee, who are now more united than ever in their opposition to liberal judges. The prime example is President Obama's nomination of the ANTI-JESUS, ANTI-LIFE Judge David Hamilton, the same bad judge who issued controversial rulings banning public prayers offered "in Jesus name," and hastening the abortion of unborn children. Republicans are following traditional "quorum rules" which can prevent Judge David Hamilton from getting any committee vote. If this continues, we'll win, and this anti-Jesus, anti-Life Judge will never be promoted to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Quorum rules? Yes! The Senate Judiciary Committee procedural rules state: "Eight Members of the Committee, including at least two Members of the minority, shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business... If there is objection to bring the matter to a vote without further debate, a roll call vote of the Committee shall be taken, and debate shall be terminated if the motion to bring the matter to a vote without further debate passes with ten votes in the affirmative, one of which must be cast by the minority." On April 29th, only one minority Member attended the Hamilton hearings, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), whose tough questioning opposed Hamilton, so no vote was permissible.

When Specter had ruled Judiciary as GOP minority ranking member, he could likely be counted on by the Obama administration as "one soft vote" to promote liberal judges. But now since Specter is no longer Republican, he cannot help Obama. And in breaking news this week, solid conservative Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has assumed Specter's place of leadership as minority ranking Member, and all other Judiciary Republicans Hatch, Grassley, Kyl, Graham, Cornyn, Coburn, can generally be counted upon (with the possible exception of gang-of-14 member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, 202-224-5972), to stand firm against abortion and religious censorship. Now Sen. Sessions says he agrees with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), that we should oppose and filibuster Hamilton's nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that reversed his liberal, activist, aggressive decisions for years. Only by re-writing the quorum rules, and overriding Senate tradition, can Democrats claim absolute power.

To support Senators Inhofe and Sessions, and stop Hamilton, we first need solidarity among any good conservatives or moderates seated on the 19-member Senate Judiciary Committee, especially Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who remains on Judiciary as a Democrat. Senator Specter's phone number is 202-224-4254, and you might call to ask him to OPPOSE AND FILIBUSTER Judge David Hamilton, and keep his promise not to "rubber-stamp" the Obama administration.

But even then we'll need 40 strong Senate votes, including Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), both Arkansas Senators Pryor and Lincoln (D-AR), both Maine Senators Collins and Snowe (R-ME), and all Senators in either party from southern states, to inhibit the majority cloture vote, and prevent Hamilton from getting a final floor vote.

We're now the leading national voice against Hamilton, and we're getting traction, much to the horror of many liberal groups (including the National Abortion Rights Action League who is actively campaigning FOR Hamilton). So please also call both your own Senators at 202-225-3121.



The myth of the parasitical bloggers

The comment by a Leftist blogger below is probably true as a picture of journalists using Leftist blogs but I doubt that many journalists read conservative blogs

Maureen Dowd's wholesale, uncredited copying of a paragraph written by Josh Marshall (an act Dowd has now admitted) -- for what I yesterday called her "uncharacteristically cogent and substantive column"-- highlights a point I've been meaning to make for awhile. One of the favorite accusations that many journalists spout, especially now that they're searching for reasons why newspapers and print magazines are dying, is that bloggers and other online writers are "parasites" on their work -- that their organizations bear the cost of producing content and others (bloggers and companies such as Google) then unfairly exploit it for free.

The reality has always been far more mixed than that, and the relationship far more symbiotic than parasitical. Especially now that online traffic is such an important part of the business model of newspapers and print magazines, traffic generated by links from online venues and bloggers is of great value to them. That's why they engage in substantial promotional activities to encourage bloggers to link to and write about what they produce. Beyond that, it is also very common -- as the Dowd/Marshall episode illustrates -- for traditional media outlets and establishment journalists to use and even copy content produced online and then present it as their own, typically without credit. Many, many reporters, television news producers and the like read online political commentary and blogs and routinely take things they find there.

Typically, the uncredited use of online commentary doesn't rise to the level of blatant copying -- plagiarism -- that Maureen Dowd engaged in. It's often not even an ethical breach at all. Instead, traditional media outlets simply take stories, ideas and research they find online and pass it off as their own. In other words -- to use their phraseology -- they act parasitically on blogs by taking content and exploiting it for their benefit. Since I read many blogs, I notice this happening quite frequently -- ideas and stories that begin on blogs end up being featured by establishment media outlets with no credit.




Well-fed terrorist leader finally killed: "The leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers was shot dead yesterday while trying to flee government troops, a senior defence official said. Velupillai Prabhakaran, 54, and several close aides were in a convoy of a van and ambulance which tried to drive out of the battle zone, but were attacked and killed. The defence ministry said the rebels' leadership was decimated, heralding an end to their 26-year-fight for an independent ethnic homeland in the north of the island. Mr Prabhakaran's son and several key aides were killed by commandos earlier yesterday."

Rise of Europe’s extreme politics: “From Stockholm to Sardinia, Waterford to Warsaw, a noisy and eclectic band of nationalists and eurosceptics are on the campaign trail hoping to unseat their mainstream rivals in the European Parliament. Dutch anti-Islamists, Hungarian nationalists, Italian separatists and an Irish-backed anti-Lisbon Treaty party are all clamouring for seats when Europe goes to the polls between 4 and 7 June. And a combination of dismally low voter turnout and the economic downturn looks set to play into their hands in the vote. Job losses and the grimmest economic forecasts in decades have created the ideal conditions for single-issue candidates and marginal groups hostile to the EU to win seats in the Strasbourg assembly.” [Pic of an Italian candidate appropriately on the right above]

Health care — speaking of taxes: “According to AP, there’s not much of an appetite among Democrats to raise taxes to support ‘health care reform.’ And, of course, given the estimates of the cost of ‘health care reform,’ aimed at making health care ‘more affordable’ (how do they get away with that, especially in light of our experience with Medicare and Medicaid), there’s no question that taxes must increase. Right now the administration and Democrats are attempting to convince a skeptical public that most of that cost can be recovered in ‘efficiencies’ government will introduce into the system. It is the oldest con game going.”

Sexting: A grown up approach: “Teenagers will be teenagers, and during that period of their lives their hormones are rampant and the opportunity to explore takes on attractive new levels. Throughout this time there are many dangers and one of which seems to have taken hold of the media’s imagination is the apparent craze of ’sexting.’ This is the new mode of communicating juvenile lust, whereby the sender of a text attaches anything from, titillating to pornographic pictures of themselves and then presses send. The recipient usually being the latest crush. In the United States there have recently been some high profile cases of teens being arrested and charged with child pornography and shackled with the tag of being sex offenders. But as highlighted by this article there are two very different approaches to dealing with teens just being teens.”

How to get ahead via the Leftist media: “Should my advice be solicited by any ambition young writer seeking the quickest path to wealth and fame, I would outline a strategy like this: * Establish yourself early as a ‘promising conservative intellectual’ — Become the token conservative columnist for your college newspaper, get into a Republican youth leadership summer program, do an internship at National Review or a GOP-leaning non-profit. * Aggressively suck up to Republican politicians — Try to land a speechwriting or ‘policy advisor’ gig for a senator or governor who is seen as a prospect in the next presidential campaign. * Once you’ve made a name for yourself, go ‘rogue’ — That is to say, after leaving your job as a Republican staffer, think-tank analyst or conservative journalist, do everything possible to sabotage GOP prospects. Followed carefully, this plan will land you a book deal before you’re 30, a regular spot as a panelist on a Sunday network news show, and a twice-weekly op-ed column in an influential newspaper.”

Obama’s magic bubble deflator : “In case you’ve ever wondered what it must have been like to read Pravda, reading the American media’s treatment of the financial crisis and our wise leaders’ expert management of it all has given everyone a wonderful opportunity. For instance, check out this piece from several days ago on Politico. If you can’t bring yourself to click on the link, I’ll give you the headline: ‘Obama Would Regulate New ‘Bubbles.’”

Great Right North: “Reports last week that the recession is draining Social Security and Medicare funds were just one more reminder that the United States needs to fix its finances. For inspiration, why not look to Canada? Long derided by American conservatives as ’socialist’ and praised by the left for its generous government spending, Canada is casting off those stereotypes. Over the past few years, while U.S. politicians presided over huge increases in spending and debt, the Canadian government tightened its belt, slashed tax rates and balanced budgets.”

Banker of the Year: “Beal has been buying toxic assets and broken-down banks in big huge gulps. And he’s been doing it without the help of government. Forbes says that he ‘has purchased $800 million of loans from failed banks, probably more than anyone else.’ How? Well, back in 2004 he stopped making loans. He almost stopped banking. He cut back his hours. He had to lay off a lot of employees. Why? He didn’t trust the market. He thought the binge of borrowing and lending utterly foolish. Forbes relates that his behavior puzzled regulators, who were worried that he was over-capitalized! How could he resist the huge profits? Well, Beal sure showed the regulators. And his competition. Today he’s buying assets for pennies on the dollar.”


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


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)


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Leaky Jonathan has discovered Nisbett

Jonathan Leake is the science writer for the London "Times" who can always be relied upon to draw the most politically correct conclusions -- no matter how much he has to distort the facts. Some of his global warming reports are classics of deliberate distortion. He has now discovered Nisbett's work on the flexibility of IQ and has taken Nisbett's determined optimism fully on board. Since I have already fisked a lot of Nisbett's assertions (See here and here), I won't say a lot here but a few comments are in order.

The more you know about a subject, the more laughable some of the assertions are. One of the recommendations for making your kid smarter, for instance, is to teach them delay of gratification. Yet my careful psychometric research on that subject (psychometrics is notoriously absent from delay of gratification research) showed that such a thing hardly exists. The popular tasks for assessing a kid's tendency to delay gratification correlate with one-another hardly at all. Delay of gratification is highly situational. It is not a stable trait like IQ is. Yet it is precisely the hope of those who recommend delay of gratification training that delay of gratification IS a stable and generalizable disposition.

I think you should already be getting the impression that the conclusions Leftists such as Leake and Nisbett come to are more driven by hope than facts. Much of the argument put by readers of Nisbett is a straw man argument. They seem blissfully unaware that nobody has ever claimed that IQ is solely determined by genetics. Everybody has always conceded that a good or bad environment can also make a difference. A good environment can help you make the most of what genetics has given you. The usual estimate is about two thirds of the determination of IQ is genetic while about one third is environmental. Nisbett himself concedes that. His only innovation is to make the split more equally. On rather specious grounds he reduces the causation to about 50/50 genetic/environment. So the upshot is that the small improvements in IQ that have been demonstrated by various environmental interventions are no surprise to anybody and upset no assumptions or generalizations.

Leake overstates the significance of the Flynn effect. Flynn found that average IQ rose through the 20th century. Yet from the beginning it was always held that an environment which is both visually and verbally stimulating was ideal for getting the best out of a child's genetic potential for intelligence. So what happened beginning in the second half of the 20th century? TV! And huge exposure of kids to TV -- which is a VERY rich source of verbal and visual stimulation. Much as the Leftist elite hate the thought, TV alone could potentially explain the rise in overall IQ. There is more to it than that but I think one can see from that alone that the Flynn effect disturbs no prior theory or generalization.

And we also see in the Leake article a rather unfortunate mention of the fact that the black/white IQ gap is small during childhood but is large during adulthood. That finding is held to support the view that blacks are made dumber because of their poorer educational experiences. There is however a simple biological explanation that requires no reference to education. It is HIGHLY politically incorrect, however, so I will just give the link here. It starts from the fact that baby chimps are just as smart as human infants.

Perhaps under the influence of Flynn, who seems quite obsessed with it, Leake also brings up the absurd Eyferth study, as proof of equal black/white genetic potential for intelligence. The study looked at mixed race children fathered by black U.S. servicemen in Germany after WWII. As the obvious implications of the study are a bit brutal, I will again simply refer readers to some prior comments of mine here and here

Perhaps I should take this opportunity for a comment on another publication by Nisbett -- one that seems at first crushing but which in fact suggests that Nisbett has not the faintest idea of what a correlation coefficient means. Rushton & Jensen commented on Nisbett's work by drawing attention to the overall correlation between IQ and head size -- which strongly suggests a significant genetic contribution to IQ, as nobody argues that head size can be influenced by better education etc.

Head size is however only one of the factors affecting IQ. There is absolutely no doubt that the causation of IQ is polygenetic and what some of the genes are is now emerging in medical research. A high degree of myelinization in the brain has, for instance, recently been found to be helpful. So it should be no surprise that head size and IQ correlate only moderately -- at around .40, implying only 16% of shared variance between the two variables. Head size is, in other words, only one of many physical influences on IQ. So a correlation as low as .40 allows for a large number of exceptions to the rule. Somebody with a small head but (say) good myelinization can still be quite smart.

So what does Nisbett do in response to the careful survey evidence summarized by Rushton & Jensen? He quotes a whole lot of exceptions to the rule as if that proved something! He answers overall generalizations with particular instances. He puts up an argument by example and such arguments can support anything. They are certainly no basis for generalizations. I suspect that Nisbett needs to do a course in the philosophy of science some time.


"Some of my best friends are Chinese"

As every regular reader of this blog knows, I regularly put up on a blog the latest thoughts from Chris Brand, whom every right-thinking person would identify as a "racist". I think he is just a realist but, even so, I don't agree with all that he says. Mostly I think that he should be heard. Stigmatizing some views as beyond the pale grates on me. I even think that epidemiological journals should continue to be published -- and considering the large amount of rubbish that appears in them, that is a large concession, I can tell you. Anyway, I thought I would put up the recent picture below.

It is of Chris and friends at a dinner at Edinburgh's Cafe Royal. Chris says that you may recognize the table he is at from the Oscar-winning film, 'Chariots of Fire.' In the middle of the picture is the equally wicked emeritus Prof. Richard Lynn with his wife. Chris is on the right and his beautiful Taiwanese wife, Shiou-yun, is on the left.

There is a famous measure of racism in the academic psychology literature -- the Bogardus scale -- that says that you are least racist if you would marry a person of another race.

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


Dems Lack Waterboarding Exit Strategy

Many Democrats in Congress have pushed for release of documents and the holding of hearings on waterboarding and other interrogation methods. Putting aside for now whether the release of such information should take place, it appears that Obama started the ball rolling down hill by releasing the interrogation memos. Barring active intervention by Obama, there will be some further level of document release, Congressional investigations, and public hearings.

This presents a problem mostly for Democrats. Republicans who were briefed on the interrogation methods at least will be consistent, for the most part, in maintaining that the methods were lawful and useful. No Republican is going to be harmed politically by the revelations because most Americans support these methods against people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If leaks of a Justice Department report are to be believed, there will be no prosecutions. Republicans are safe politically and legally.

For Democrats, however, the damage could be significant. Nancy Pelosi already has lost a great deal of credibility from her changing stories. Dozens of other Democrats, including such senior Senators as Jay Rockefeller, apparently also were briefed on the interrogation methods and either were silent, approved, or encouraged the policy.

The irony is that a full-blown investigation and hearings will turn mostly on what the Democrats knew, and when they knew it. The Republicans mostly couldn’t care less if they were “blamed” for keeping the country safe even if necessitated waterboarding the mastermind of 9/11 to prevent further attacks. When faced with sacrificing a city versus using harsh interrogation methods, most voters would opt for harsh interrogation.

That the Democrats have more to lose is demonstrated by the looming fight between Democrats in Congress and the CIA. The Democrats are complaining that the CIA is out to get them through selective leaks of documents. These are the same Democrats who cheered when the CIA leaked information damaging to Bush administration policies. So that complaining is going to go no where.

Where this seems to be heading is: (1) Republicans claim Democrats are damaging national security, thereby setting Democrats up for blame when there is a terrorist attack; (2) Republicans claim the mantle of putting the safety of the country ahead of politics; (3) Democrats claim the mantle of putting politics ahead of the safety of the country; (4) Democrats end up exposing Democratic Party leaders to be untruthful, misleading, deceptive and/or too smart by half; (5) the CIA fights as it always has for its institutional interests, in a battle politicians mostly lose; and (6) Democrats turn on each other.




There is another of these allegedly superior search engines out: It is supposed to allow natural language queries. I tried it with a query on the subject that I know most about: myself. I asked it "who is John Ray". I was told that I was born in 1627. Not impressed.

Did anybody wonder why I said yesterday that my comments about Tamils were risky? See here.

The age of debt: “Beware when politicians promise ‘fiscal responsibility.’ It’s pretty much a guarantee that every word that follows the phrase will be a lie. President Barack Obama’s first budget, entitled An Era of New Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promises, is no exception to this rule. Every page comes with a promise to end budget tricks and save money by reforming procurement and cutting various types of waste, but the actual plan boosts spending and deploys gimmicks galore. If this is a new era, it’s one made of debt.”

Obama picks a health dictator to head CDC: “In tapping New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Obama on Friday chose an official who has been on the front lines of the fight against swine flu. Frieden, 48, helped lead New York’s efforts over the last month to contain the spread of the disease, after the first concentrated outbreak in the U.S. was tied to a school in Queens. But Frieden may be known best in public health circles as an advocate of government action in preventive medicine, which many experts say is crucial to the health system overhaul envisioned by Obama and his congressional allies. In his 7 1/2 years leading New York’s public health department, Frieden led campaigns to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, expand labeling of unhealthful ingredients in food, and develop a network of electronic health records in doctors’ offices citywide.”

Russia still despises homosexuals: “Riot police broke up several gay-rights demonstrations in Moscow on Saturday, hauling away scores of protesters hours before the capital hosted a major international pop music competition. Activists had targeted Moscow, which was holding the finals of the Eurovision song contest, hoping to use the event’s global popularity to draw attention to their claims that Russia officially sanctions homophobia. Led by a mayor who describes homosexuality as ’satanic,’ city officials had warned they would not tolerate marches or rallies supporting the rights of gays and lesbians. Among those detained were British activist Peter Tatchell and American activist Andy Thayer of Chicago, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.”

The stupidity of the trade war with Canada: “I am sorry to see the following development. Before 9/11, the trend was toward a mutually beneficial co-operation between the U.S and Canada; now, there is a death of goodwill in trade, at borders, in employment, in consumer preferences …. How does converting a friend into an enemy make either nation safer or more prosperous?… The xenophobia gripping the U.S. will almost guarantee that, in the near future, anyone who buys foreign goods or hires a foreign worker will be seen as unAmerican, unpatriotic … a traitor to decent hard-working folk who deserve his/her money and will use the force of law to make sure they get that entitlement.”


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


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)


Monday, May 18, 2009

Sri Lanka and the Tamils (and Israel)

I am going to take a risk here and say a few words about the endgame going on in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) at the moment. Sri Lanka is a large island just South of India with nearly 20 million people living there. Most Sri Lankans are an ethnic group known as the Sinhalese but in the far North is a minority of Indian affinity called Tamils, some relatively recent arrivals from India and some of more ancient origin. Most of the world's Tamils live just North of Sri Lanka in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Tamils have a civilization going back over 2,000 years and the ones in Sri Lanka felt that the Sinhalese did not treat them with due respect. They were more prosperous than the Tamils in India, however, so they accepted the status quo, with very few escaping the Sinhalese "oppression" by taking the 20 mile journey across the Palk strait to Tamil Nadu. Then along came some far Leftist creators of trouble who whipped up feelings of grievance among the Sri Lankan Tamils and thus the Tamil Tigers were born: Communist "nationalists" much like Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam or Stalin during WWII.

What the Tigers demanded was "eelam" -- a homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka independent of the rest of Sri Lanka. That they already had a homeland just across the strait in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu was ignored. But the Sinhalese did not like the idea of losing part of their island at all -- particularly to a hostile Communist regime. They wanted Sri Lanka to remain united. But for 30 years they negotiated with the Tigers off and on in the hope of finding a peaceful solution. At one time they even allowed an Indian "peacekeeping" force into their island to stand between them and the Tigers. All they got was terrorism in return. The suicide belt is a Tamil invention. And all India got was the assassination of their Prime Minister by a Tamil. There is a great deal of sympathy for the Sri Lankan Tamils in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu but the Tigers threw away any prospect of Indian support by their viciousness.

So in the end all patience was exhausted and the Sinhalese accepted aid from China which enabled them to move from containing the Tamils towards an all out military solution -- gradually grinding the Tigers down to nothingness. And that is now just about all done. It proved to be the only way to peace and to rescue the ordinary Tamil population from the tyranny of the Tigers. All very sad -- particularly because it shows how Israel's patience must run out one day too. Sometimes peace can NOT be gained by talk. Neville Chamberlain found that out. Sometimes the enemy can only be destroyed. 30 years! Just remember that! The Sinhalese negotiated for 30 years before they decided that they had to wipe the Tigers out if they wanted peace. One is reminded of Bismarck's much reviled but sadly true dictum: "Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided - but by iron and blood".

Israel has now been negotiating with the Arabs for around 60 years and it is not presently foreseeable that they will treat Gaza the way the Sinhalese eventually treated the Tamil enclave. But "transfer" (deportation) of recalcitrant Arab populations to other countries has long been discussed in Israel so could become a majority view who knows when? So it is no wonder that the two Arab countries which have peace treaties with Israel are Egypt and Jordan. Because they are the two neighboring countries which have historic and quite recent ties with the Gazans and the West Bank Arabs and into which the Gazans and the West Bank Arabs could be expelled. But they don't want the "Palestinians" either. But Syria remains foolishly hostile. In the 19th century the Arab population of what is now Israel was described as Syrian. So the Syrians could reasonably be expected to welcome their Arab brothers back, could they not? The Arab countries expelled or forced out their Jewish populations so why should the Jews not expel their Arab population?


Whither the GOP?

There has been the predictable breast-beating among the more wishy-washy Republicans over "where did we go wrong?" and "What should be our policies next time?" The NYT sums up some of that debate rather gleefully. It is not however a debate that should bother old hands. Sad to say, the policies of the party out of power matter little. There is an old saying in British/Australian politics that "Oppositions don't win elections. Governments lose them" and given the extremism and unrealism of the Obama administration, the auguries for big blunders from them are good. It will then be "kick the bums out" and the GOP will be back in power, hopefully in next year's mid-terms.

The other thing that determines political victories is personal appeal or charisma. Historically, Republicans have put up more attractive candidates -- peaking with the Gipper -- but it can be a close-run thing and Obama learnt the Reagan lesson well: Talk feelgood talk. He was undoubtedly the most personally smooth and appealing candidate and that is why he is now President. So the GOP need to focus on finding charismatic candidates at all levels. There is no need for major policy change.



It seems to be very popular so I am trying to get a handle on what this Twitter business is all about. From what I can make out, you start out with a group of people who know one-another to some degree and each person in that group puts up frequent daily reports of what they are doing and thinking. And the people concerned read one-another's reports of that kind.

I think my life is pretty well un-twitterable as all I do is sit in front of my computer all day, with occasional breaks to eat. And any thoughts I have eventually make their way onto one of my blogs.

But I am going to give it a go so have opened up a twitter account in the name of (surprise!) jonjayray. So if you want to read my tweets, such as they are, I guess you can sign up for that. And I guess I should read tweets from anyone who reads mine. All a bit confusing at this stage but I may get it eventually.


US faces a future of big tax rises and smaller cars

A pretty good summary by economist Irwin Stelzer below

Green shoots continue to sprout. The supply of homes for sale has dropped; banks have survived the stress tests in better shape than many feared and are going about the process of raising capital; the cautious European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet thinks the global economy is starting to recover; the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says several of the world’s leading economies are turning up; Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, said demand for computer chips has bottomed out; and spending on technology has stabilised.

However, as usual, there are counter-signals: continued falls in house prices, weakness in the labour market, an impending wave of defaults on commercial-property loans, and heaven only knows what Congress will concoct.

Longer term, there is little doubt that we will be paying more for energy, either directly or indirectly by paying higher taxes to cover the costs of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and of the subsidies being lavished on solar, wind, ethanol and other parts of the green economy by environmentalists. Or, in the case of ethanol, by politicians who equate ethanol with corn, corn with Iowa, and Iowa with the first presidential primary in 2012. Throw in the costs of a “smart grid” and all of us will pay more, especially those who have been stockpiling incandescent electric bulbs so as not to be dependent on the dangerous, malfunctioning and costly energy-saving fluorescents when America follows your country and outlaws incandescents in 2014.

Last week Democrats in the House of Representatives reached an agreement on a cap-and-trade system for carbon-dioxide emission permits by bribing recalcitrant congressmen with free pollution permits for important constituents in the utility, oil and other industries. Which is too bad: cap-and-trade is a woefully inefficient way of imposing emissions costs on polluters. Experience in Europe shows that the price of permits fluctuates so wildly that potential producers of renewable energy don’t have a target against which to compete. Green power might make economic sense when users of coal have to pay $40 a tonne for a permit but is uncompetitive when the price drops to $10, as it has done.

We will also end up paying more to borrow than we would have paid before the government decided that contracts can be broken. The Obama administration demonstrated in the Chrysler bankruptcy that it has no regard for the contracts that have in the past protected lenders who made their money available on the assumption that they would have a preferential claim on the borrowers’ assets. Nor does it believe that contractual pay deals should withstand a raised voiced in Congress. This weakening of the sanctity of contracts increases lenders’ risk, which leads to a demand for an offsetting higher interest rate.

There will also be a big change in the structure of the financial-services sector. New regulations will have a greater effect on institutions that create systemic risk than on smaller, below-the-radar enterprises. So the best and brightest will leave the job of second-vice-presidential-assistant-to-the deputy-risk-manager to the more bureaucratically inclined, and set up shop on their own, or seek other outlets for their entrepreneurial urgings – one of the few pleasant unintended consequences of new regulations.

We are also certain to see take-home pay decline significantly. The debt that Obama is running up will have to be repaid. Already, there are grumblings in the market about the future of the dollar, with the Chinese not the only one of our creditors worrying that we will inflate our way out of our obligations. Run the presses, make dollars cheaper, and use the debased currency to repay debts. But that is not the only possibility. Instead, politicians, remembering the fate of Jimmy Carter when he allowed inflation to climb towards 20%, will try to restore fiscal sanity by raising taxes.

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, who supported the president’s stimulus package, puts the needed tax increase at $1.1 trillion over the next decade; the International Monetary Fund puts the figure at $1.9 trillion, the magnitude of which can be better understood when written as $1,900,000,000,000.

After all, Congress won’t be able to cut spending. Obama’s drive towards a $1 trillion healthcare tax-funded system seems irresistible. Drug companies will go along so they will be relieved of the cost of subsidising lower-income patients’ drug needs. Insurers will go along because the law will require everyone to take some sort of coverage. Employers will go along so they can shift the cost of employee-benefit plans to taxpayers.

So higher taxes are in our future, as is the inevitable queuing with which patients in Canada and Britain are familiar, examples being cited by Obama’s critics in television ads aimed at rousing voter opposition to his programme. Polls show that most Americans are satisfied with the quality of their healthcare. But like so much of what Obama is pushing through, this “reform” will prove irreversible.

Finally, there are the cars we will be driving. It is difficult to predict whether the government can prevent carmakers from producing the big, comfortable, safe cars we prefer, and shoe-horn people into smaller European-style vehicles. But the greens will give it a good try.

Where is the outrage? Perhaps among the mass of voters worried about the rising debt burden faced by their children. We won’t know until next year’s congressional elections.




Landslide victory in historic election: "The leader of India's Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, said yesterday that the Indian people have made "the right choice" after her party and its allies swept to a commanding election victory. "First of all I would like to thank the people for reposing faith in the Congress party once again,'' Ms Gandhi said in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The people of India know what is good for them and they always make the right choice,'' she said. Results still coming in from the Election Commission show the Congress-led alliance has crushed its Hindu nationalist rivals, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)." [Great to hear that economist Manmohan Singh will still be in charge. His free-market reforms have done wonders for India]

Shocking Cluelessness from the Federal Reserve Inspector General: "Rep. Alan Grayson probes Federal Reserve Inspector General, Elizabeth Coleman, by asking simple, basic questions about the trillions of dollars lent by the Federal Reserve and where it went, and the trillions of off balance sheet obligations. Coleman responds that she does not know and is not tracking where this money is. According to the Fed's OIG web page: The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts independent and objective audits, inspections, evaluations, investigations, and other reviews related to programs and operations of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board). OIG efforts promote integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; help prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; and strengthen accountability to the Congress and the public."

Is Mrs Obama a "babe"? "One more reason why I detest the left is that they are constantly trying to distort reality in the manner so accurately described by George Orwell. This may seem like a trivial example, but the in-your-face insistence that our first lady is some kind of smokin' hot babe is a case in point. All heterosexual men know that this is an outrageous lie. Who are they trying to kid, and why? Look, we're talking about an average looking woman here. Sarah Palin is not going to lose any sleep over the comparison. But why is this lie being promulgated with such urgency and to such absurd lengths by the liberal media? There must be something more significant going on when someone is in such an insistent state of denial. It reminds me of the liberal love-fest over the Edwards' marriage a couple of years ago. How'd that work out? Here is a typical tongue bath by closet lesbian columnist Sally Quinn. She says that the first lady's arms -- her arms, fer cryin' out loud -- "are representative of a new kind of woman: young, strong, vigorous, intelligent, accomplished, sexual, powerful, embracing and, most of all, loving." Now, I am quite confident that I speak for all heterosexual males when I say that we don't place a great premium on upper arms."


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


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)


Sunday, May 17, 2009

That famous mainstream media fact-checking again

Recently I have been messing around with Twitter, the social media site of the day (shameless plug: see me as warnerthuston on Twitter). So, checking out some of the Old Media to see what they were saying about Twitter, I ran across Time Magazine’s attempt to seem cool with the Twitterers, er Twitterists, er Twits, er whatever they are called. Time was following some “Tweets From a Washington Dinner” and I found something amusing there. Time, you see, added the Tweet from a guy claiming to be a John McCain adviser that was outed as a fraud months ago; Martin Eisenstadt.

You will recall that this fake Martin Eisenstadt was the same nonexistent fellow that fooled the media for weeks into thinking he was part of the McCain campaign for president. This Martin Eisenstadt even pretended to be a “Senior Fellow of the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy.” But it was finally revealed that this Martin Eisenstadt was really a liberal named Eitan Gorlin. But it didn’t come to light before he was quoted by several Old Media news outlets as a legitimate McCain adviser.

You might also recall that this fake McCain adviser made a splash in the Old Media because he claimed to know for a fact that Sarah Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent. The Old Media was completely taken in by this fraud. By November of 2008, though, he was discovered as a hoaxer.

There is no Martin Eisenstadt and there is no such place as the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy. The Old Media got taken. But, don’t tell that to Time Magazine. Let them continue in their little fantasy that Martin Eisenstadt still exists even though the rest of the world knew he was a hoax 6 months ago. Unfortunately for Time, even the mythical Eisenstadt is guffawing at their gullibility on his blog. Ah, the Old Media establishment. Always so reliable.



Nancy Pelosi was aware of CIA torture

DEMOCRAT Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful person in the US Congress, and a critic of Bush administration interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, knew about the practice in 2003 and said nothing. The Speaker in the US House of Representatives made the admission yesterday in an extraordinary press conference as she fought to maintain her credibility among the Democratic base.

Appearing tense and flustered on the podium as she rifled through her notes, Ms Pelosi is in the firing line after offering several versions of events in the past few weeks about CIA briefings on interrogation policies in 2002 and 2003.

Republicans have accused her of hypocrisy and the Democrat from San Francisco has tried to hit back. She charged yesterday that the CIA was lying over what it was doing with detainees caught after 9/11. But she admitted for the first time that she learnt the CIA was employing harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding - which simulates drowning - in February 2003. She said a staffer alerted her to the contents of CIA briefings to other top politicians. She said the secrecy of the program prevented her from speaking out and denied that made her complicit in any detainee abuse.

The revelation is just one more of the bizarre explanations from Ms Pelosi over the CIA interrogation controversy. She acknowledges she was directly briefed by the CIA five months before that February conversation. But her account of the September 2002 meeting with CIA officials on the interrogation program differs markedly from that of the CIA and a Republican politician who was present.

Ms Pelosi said that in the briefing the CIA simply outlined the legal framework backing detainee interrogation but she was never told what interrogation measures the CIA had in mind or that any had been carried out - an explanation contradicted by others present.



A Quick Lesson in Economics

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked; that no one would be poor, and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged, and everyone would receive the same grade; so no one would fail, and no one would receive an A. After the first test, the grades were averaged, and everyone got a B.

The students who studied hard were upset, and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less, and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame, and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings, and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that.

That's pretty much what those dedicated Communists -- The Pilgrim Fathers -- found out too. He who will not learn from history ....


Some Israelis understand Arabic

But none of the Western media do, it would seem

When talking among themselves and in Arabic, Middle East radicals often "let their hair down," to use the English-language idiom, meaning talk frankly about how they are fooling the dumb rubes in the West and what their real goals are. I often come upon this -except, of course, in the Western media. But the latest example, translated by MEMRI is irresistible.

The speaker in this case is Fatah's leader in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Einen, speaking on al-Quds television, April 6, 2009.

Very few people realize that during the Oslo peace process era, from 1994 to 2000, Israel admitted more than 200,000 Palestinians to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This includes Palestinian Authority (PA) personnel and their families and many others. This was an extraordinary humanitarian gesture and confidence-building measure for peace.

Unfortunately, such actions weren't reciprocated. And many of these people were no doubt involved in trying to murder Israelis-directly or indirectly-in the ensuing years.

Abu al-Einen, who put the number at 250,000 which is somewhat exaggerated but not that far off, is bragging. He has been asked by the interviewer what can be said that was good in the Oslo accords. He doesn't say that it brought the Palestinians closer to a compromise peace or a state, proved that Israel was a partner for peace or reduced bloodshed, or anything like that. His big example is that the Palestinians got a quarter of a million people back onto the battleground while giving nothing in return.

His second example of what was good about the Oslo accords is even more disconcerting. Israel allowed the Palestinians to bring in, or even gave them, guns which, according to Abu al-Einen totaled 40,000. Ha-ha! He says. Israel might have let these weapons be handed over, under the urgings of the United States and Europe, to maintain order in the Palestinian-governed areas and to prevent terrorism. But the ruling Fatah movement saw the weapons as a way to promote terrorism and kill Israelis.

Or in Abu al-Einen's words, "The weapons that were used against the Israeli enemy in Gaza and elsewhere - the Palestinian Authority takes pride in...weapons that were brought in as part of the agreement. These weapons were used in various times and places, and some people who returned from exile and bore these arms were martyred."




Germany now the ‘sick man of Europe’: "The eurozone economy slumped by a record 2.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, dragged down by Germany, which recorded the biggest drop in its GDP in nearly 40 years. The German economy, the engine room of the 16-nation eurozone, contracted by 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year, battered by the fall in demand for manufactured goods. This was the biggest drop in German GDP since records began in 1970 and followed a 2.2 per cent decline in the final quarter of last year. According to official data from Eurostat, the weakness in the eurozone economies was widespread, with Austria and the Netherlands suffering a 2.8 per cent drop in GDP. France, the second-largest eurozone economy, was slightly more resilient, contracting by 1.8 per cent, but the country has officially entered recession. The eurozone economy, which shrank at an annual rate of 4.6 per cent in the first quarter, has been in recession for a year.

Energy deal clubs Obama tax hopes: "House Democrats touted a weakened global-warming package Friday, releasing a compromise plan that undercuts President Obama's hopes to raise nearly $650 billion from the climate bill to pay for middle-class tax cuts. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who have been locked in debate over how to tax carbon-dioxide emissions while protecting American industries, said Friday that their revised plan would give away 85 percent of the plan's carbon permits for free. Under Mr. Obama's original plan, businesses and other users would be required to purchase all of the permits through an auction, with the proceeds returned to middle- and lower-class taxpayers."

White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs': "The Obama administration's new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use. In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues. "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country." Mr. Kerlikowske's comments are a signal that the Obama administration is set to follow a more moderate -- and likely more controversial -- stance on the nation's drug problems. Prior administrations talked about pushing treatment and reducing demand while continuing to focus primarily on a tough criminal-justice approach. The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said."

The SEIU: A Case Study in Corruption: "The Services Employees International Union (SEIU) has been in the headlines in recent days for its collusion with the Obama Administration to strip the state of California of its rightful share of stimulus funds. It's a pay-to-play union ploy, one that California Representative Brian Bilbray (R), in an exclusive Washington News Observer interview, has termed “absurd.” Said Mr. Bilbray, “The entire concept of the president holding the taxpayers and the budget process in California hostage to be able to pay back to a union that gave [60] million dollars to his campaign, is just the kind of cynical politics that people are fed up with. We were promised change, and this is not change. This is really Chicago politics at its best—or its worst. I think that, the fact is, the local legislators, the governor have worked out a crisis policy here, and to have the president now use taxpayers money to extort policies out of the state of California is absurd. “Remember, this is not President Obama's money, this is California's taxpayer's money, that rightfully should be returned back to them, and without the strings. We're not talking about the stimulus package now being something that helps; this is not an issue of aid, this is an issue of control, and control from Washington.”


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


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)


Saturday, May 16, 2009

More on World Vision bigotry

My recent post about World Vision was sparked by the news that they have now gone into the business of promoting global warming. That really was the last straw. See my comment here. Up until that time I had kept my disquiet about them to myself as I think their model of uniting a particular donor with a particular recipient is one that probably does much good and I didn't want to knock that. I was myself a World Vision donor in the '90s but pulled out when they started making anti-Israel statements. So my enquiries to them in 2006, which I have recently posted, were really a probe to see how deeply their antisemitism went. And since I do already donate to Israeli causes, a favourable reply from them would have met with a favourable response from me. But, as Jesus said, "By their fruit shall ye know them" and at the end of their high-flown talk, the result was certainly antisemitic: A refusal to help Jews. Below is some history of their political bigotry. In typical Gramscian style, their leadership has obviously now been taken over by the Left.

The organization’s Brief History of the region repeats many of the standard Palestinian myths and distortions. For example: “In 1948 a war broke out resulting in the establishment of Israel on 77% of historic Palestine.” Pointedly, in using the passive tense, the authors of this summary fail to mention the Arab invasion that led to the war. Similarly, the profile offers no background or context to the 1967 Six Day War that led to Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip simply stating: “In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”

The current Palestinian campaign of violence is blamed solely on Israeli policies leading to Palestinian ‘disillusionment’, Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and the failure of Camp David. World Vision, strangely, quotes an Israeli death toll of 302 in the period September 2000 to March 2003, some hundreds less than the accurate figure for that time. By quoting a significantly higher Palestinian death toll and ignoring the terrorism that was responsible for the deaths of Israeli civilians, World Vision promotes an amoral equivalence between perpetrators and victims of terror, and offering no context to the loss of life. Instead, Israeli security measures are described as “a policy of sealing entries and exits to cities, villages, and towns as a form of collective punishment of the Palestinian population.”

World Vision’s casual attitude towards Israeli security is demonstrated in a December 17, 2002 news article “Bethlehem has little to rejoice about at Christmas” which states: “Bethlehem's population of 120,000 is under collective punishment. The reason given by Israel for re-entering Bethlehem is because the last suicide bomber to blow up a bus in Jerusalem was from the Bethlehem area.” Other news archives demonstrate a lack of context behind events. For example, a January 5, 2004 news article “World Vision helps 245 homeless families in Rafah” claims that “One hundred homes were demolished and another 70 were severely damaged during an Israeli army incursion on October 10th,” failing to mention the terrorist activities and weapons smuggling tunnels that prompted the Israeli military operations.

World Vision’s response to Israel’s security barrier also displays almost no acknowledgement of this impact of this obstacle in preventing terror. For example, Tim Costello, Word Vision Australia’s Chief Executive described the barrier as “part of the problem, not part of the solution”, in a July 14, 2004 op-ed in The Age (Melbourne). Costello evokes the highly politicized and inappropriate claim that the barrier “is reminiscent of the Cold War and Eastern Bloc oppression.” (Costello’s comparison reflects the Palestinian propaganda effort to compare the Berlin Wall, designed to keep citizens from fleeing, with Israel’s security barrier, which saves the lives of its citizens.) These issues are noted in Colin Rubinstein’s response to Costello, who also points to reliance on the faulty advisory decision of the ICJ, in response to the highly politicized indictment from the UN General Assembly.

Analysis of World Vision International’s website also reflects the clear political agenda, with little attention to entirely legitimate Israeli security concerns, as well as a total disregard for the effects of Palestinian terrorism on the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thus, World Vision’s activities in the region reflect a strong political bias, with a high level of misunderstanding and negative attitudes displayed towards Israel, while encouraging or at least condoning terrorism and incitement. This agenda is entirely inconsistent with the claimed emphasis on “economic development and promotion of justice”.

More here. See also a follow-up here


The Axis Of Liberal Media Bias

The Leftist substitution of abuse for rational consideration of the facts that is described below will be familiar to most conservatives. The facts are just too threatening to Leftists. Facts threaten the imaginary world that they rely on

Conservatives have suspected for years that traditional journalists take news cues from liberal bloggers. Stories about secret, online gatherings between said bloggers and journalists have fueled those suspicions.

Now a Brigham Young University political scientist has confirmed that the axis of liberal media bias runs straight from lefty blogs into the mainstream press. He surveyed journalists about their blog reading habits. Here's the summary (via Instapundit):

[Professor Richard] Davis also queried more than 200 journalists to learn how they use blog content in their coverage of political news. Most journalists were aware of influential blogs on both sides of the political spectrum, such as Daily Kos and Talking Points on the left and Michelle Malkin and Instapundit on the right. Despite equal awareness, journalists spend more time reading posts in the liberal blogosphere.

For example, more journalists know about Michelle Malkin than Talking Points. Yet twice as many journalists actually read Talking Points than read Michelle Malkin.

"When journalists take story ideas from blogs, those ideas naturally will come from blogs they read," Davis said. "These reading patterns suggest journalists may be getting primarily one view of the blogosphere."

Lefty bloggers and liberal journalists undoubtedly will dismiss the finding because it does not, and cannot, prove cause and effect. But the hostile online encounter I had recently with a former co-worker is all the proof I need.

Our discussion started on Facebook when conservative friends of mine criticized Obama in the comment section of an article I had posted to my profile. My colleague took offense that people would mock the president. I agreed that some Obama-bashing has been shameful but wondered why he hadn't voiced the same concern during the eight years of vicious ridicule heaped upon President Bush.

His response: "Mean things were said about Bush, but they do not come close to some of the things that talk radio has said about Obama and his wife!!!" (Yes, he used three exclamation points.)

Doesn't that sound like something he might have read on a liberal blog -- the sweeping generalization about talk radio with no evidence to support it? I thought it did, so I suggested that he expand his information horizons by reading all about the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" documented so thoroughly by Malkin, Charles Krauthammer and others. I was sure my colleague wouldn't continue claiming that Obama has had it worse than Bush if he just saw the evidence.

I was wrong. He promptly cussed me and dumped me as a friend on Facebook.

I've worked with dozens of journalists inside the Beltway over the past 18 years, and I'm glad to report that most of them aren't that close-minded. But my former co-worker's hostility to the mere suggestion that he gather information from sources on both sides of the political spectrum speaks volumes about how willing some journalists are to parrot the talking points of the nation's left wing.



India hearts Israel

For a good reason. Indians have been fighting off Muslims for centuries

A study undertaken on behalf of Israel's foreign ministry by an international market research company found that India is the most pro-Israel country in the world, beating out the United States by two percentage points.

The study, undertaken as part of the "Branding Israel" project, looked at what it calls the world's 13 most important countries and included 5,215 interviewees. Asked a series of questions, participants graded their sympathy for Israel on a 1-to-10 scale. Some results, given in terms of percentage expressing sympathy to the Jewish State:

58% India
56% United States
52% Russia
52% Mexico
50% China
34% Great Britain
27% France
23% Spain

Comment: The Indian statistic is not the only striking one - note the continent of the countries clustered at the bottom and how much lower their numbers than those of Russia and China. Just as the U.S government should rethink its military alliances, so might Israelis take a fresh look at the globe.



1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart every hour of every day.

2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!

3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St.Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.

4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.

5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer. And most speak English

6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the World.

7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only 15 years.

8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie)..

9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world..

10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.

11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion.)

12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart

Let Wal-Mart bail out Wall Street. Better yet . . . let them run the damn Government



Google bias again? As regular readers here will be well aware, I put up a weekly roundup of the posts on Brookes News. Gerry Jackson, editor of Brookes News, has just emailed me as follows: "You might find this interesting. For some time Google results for Brookesnews have been shrinking. I was once about 40,000-odd: I am now to about 1,740. At this rate Brookesnews will soon disappear from Google’s data base. Incidentally, a Yahoo search brings more than 47,000 results for Brookesnews". I have just checked that myself -- as Google results vary a lot from time to time -- and found over 5,000 hits via Google, but that is still way down on the 47,000 I found via Yahoo.

Interesting that former members of the military whom the Left trot out as "antiwar" usually turn out to be fakes. Michelle Malkin has the lowdown on the latest such.

Pelosi admits waterboard briefing: "Under pressure to explain conflicting stories, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that in 2003 she was told waterboarding and other tough tactics were being used on suspected terrorists and did not object to them, even as she defiantly accused the CIA of lying to her and Congress about the use of such controversial techniques during 2002 briefings. The CIA said it stood by its record of the 2002 briefing that showed, based on recollections of agency employees, that Mrs. Pelosi was briefed that techniques had been used on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah. "It is not the policy of this agency to mislead the United States Congress," said George Little, a spokesman for the CIA.

Pelosi's got ants in her pants: "Nobody's having more fun watching Nancy Pelosi squirm than the ants in her pants. The dowager queen of Capitol Hill was shocked - shocked! - by what's been going on at Guantanamo, and reveled in telling everyone so. Now it turns out that maybe she wasn't so shocked after all. When she was told soon after 9/11 that some of the prisoners there had been deprived of sleep and "waterboarded" she did not object. Like everyone else back in the day, she was terrified that 9/11 was merely a prelude to something really, really bad. The speaker has told so many versions of what she knew about what was going on at Guantanamo, and when she knew it, that all we know now is that she can't keep her stories straight... None of the members who served with her on the House Intelligence Committee support Miz Pelosi's remarkable claim of brainwashing. Other congressional colleagues, trying to defend her, have had to clarify their clarifications about what they said about her imaginative stories. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attempted to defend the speaker with the argument that what someone said seven years ago must be measured against the temperature of the times in the wake of 9/11, when nearly everyone was terrified of a "second wave" of attacks. But Democrats have to be careful with this line of argument, lest they arouse speculation about just why there has been no "second wave." Could it be because someone named George did what was necessary, even introducing vicious terrorists to good bathing hygiene, to prevent that "second wave"?


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


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)


Friday, May 15, 2009

Russia's Pravda Calls Obama a Communist

Pravda was once the mouthpiece of the old Soviet regime. Russia is now of course a Fascist State so are we seeing the old Fascist/Communist rivalry revived? Fascism sees a role for private business but Obama seems to tolerate it only

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American descend into Marxism is happening with breathtaking speed, against the backdrop of a passive, hapless sheep. Excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

True, the situation has been well prepared, on and off, for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds were conducted upon our Holy Russia...and bloody a test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas than the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds or a Burger King, than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blinds the foolish.

Then, their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more than Sunday circuses, and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more than happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money-printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more than another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Weimar Republic and at worst, Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breathtaking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, losses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. Those make our Russian oligarchs look little more than ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beaten our own thieves in sheer volumes. Should we congratulate them?

These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more then a whimper to their masters.

Then came Barack Obama's command that GM's (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of "pure" free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and, we can assume, other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go thither, the centurion commands his minions.

So, it should be no surprise that the American president has followed this up with a "bold" move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantors of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK's Blair [Brown], not to follow the path to Marxism; it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing as foolish, drunken Russians; so let our "wise" Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.

Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper...but a "freeman's" whimper. So, should it be any surprise to discover that the Democratic-controlled Congress of America is working on passing a new regulation that would give the American Treasury department the power to set "fair" maximum salaries, evaluate performance and control how private companies give out pay raises and bonuses?

Representative Barney Franks, a social pervert basking in his homosexuality (of course, amongst the modern, enlightened American societal norm, as well as that of the general West, homosexuality is not only not a looked down upon life choice, but is often praised as a virtue) and his Marxist enlightenment, has led this effort. He stresses that this only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and, if taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.

The Russian owners of American companies and industries should look thoughtfully at this and the option of closing their facilities down and fleeing the land of the Red as fast as possible. In other words, divest while there is still value left. The proud American will go down into his slavery without a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world how free he thinks he is. The world will only snicker.



BrookesNews Update

Obama is taking the US economy down the disastrous UK road: The British Labour Government has driven the UK to the brink of bankruptcy. Taxes are rising, the public debt will 80 per cent of GDP this year and unemployment is inexorably rising. His solution is to flood the economy with money. What should unnerve Americans is that Obama's economic policies are basically the same: massive spending, massive borrowing and massive monetary expansion. The consequences will indeed be dire
Why the Fed is frustrated with low price inflation: The CPI is thwarting the Fed's attempts to bring about a regime of negative interest rates. Nevertheless the Fed's monetary pumping remains massive. The yearly rate of growth of the Fed's balance sheet stood at 139.2 per cent in April versus 122.6 per cent in the month before. The fallacious economics that is driving Fed policy will have dire consequences for the economy
Why a cap and trade carbon taxes will savage living standards: Americans should be warned that President Obama's energy policy of wasting astronomical amounts of capital on so-called alternative energy projects will — if fully implemented — savage American living standards and crush industry by dissipating capital on a colossal scale and sending energy prices through the roof
Unemployment and production: the Austrian approach : Unemployment, manufacturing, recession and the importance of the Austrian approach
Carbon capture and burial — a recipe for economic destruction: Carbon taxes in any form are weapons of mass economic destruction. If implemented they will devastate living standards by destroying masses of capital. Energy prices will soar, real wages will dive and unemployment will rocket. And for what? To gratify a bunch of lying green fanatics
American journalists stand condemned for outrageous media malfeasance: America's so-called mainstream media is thoroughly corrupt. It is dominated by politically bigoted activists posing as journalists. For these propagandists 'news' is what advances their leftwing agenda, meaning omissions, distortions and outrageous lying are the order of the day
Is Obama's policy of stripping Israel of its nuclear defences meant to favour Iran? : Obama has developed a brilliant strategy for Middle East peace. Strip Israel of its nuclear weapons while allowing Iran's Mad Mullahs to build a nuclear arsenal with a first strike capability. Obama's deep-seated hostility to Israel's existence is becoming more and more apparent. Does that explain why he supports a policy could result in Israel's outright destruction at the hands of Tehran's Islamofascists?
How to infiltrate American public access television to recruit terrorists: It is more than likely that Public Access TV shows put on by journalists from terrorist countries would be used to spread propaganda and recruit terrorists. Nevertheless, the US government is paving — and paying — the way for them to learn these skills
Obama's 'Hate Crimes' Bill is gull of swill that violates the First Amendment: According to Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama the First Amendment needs to butchered to save transvestites from hordes of inbred, homophobic, bat-wielding rednecks. Yep, the Democrats have discovered another crisis that requires the further curtailment of Americans' liberties



Senate rejects credit card interest limits: “Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday easily turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent. The effort by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, drew only 33 votes and needed 60, with a bipartisan group of 60 senators opposing it as the Senate pushed its credit card overhaul toward the finish line. Some Democrats and consumer groups have said that an interest cap is needed to put real teeth into an otherwise solid bill. Other backers of the measure calculated that an interest rate ceiling would doom the popular legislation.”

Report citing veteran extremism is pulled: "A contentious "Rightwing Extremism" report that warned of military veterans as possible recruits for terrorist attacks against the U.S. was not authorized, has been withdrawn and is being rewritten, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Capitol Hill lawmakers. "The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed," Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. "The report is no longer out there," she said. "An employee sent it out without authorization." The report was shared with state and local law enforcement officials nationwide via the department's internal Web site on April 7, angering Republican lawmakers and military veterans who said it unfairly stereotyped veterans."

Liberals want to tax soda to pay for government-run health care: “During the presidential campaign of 2008, Barack Obama pledged that those making below $250,000 would not see their taxes go up one dime. He promised to cut taxes for the middle class and poor people. But if his friends in Congress get their way, President Obama will have a tough decision to make — whether to break his campaign pledge again in the form of higher taxes on soda and ’sugary drinks’ like sports and energy drinks. Some liberals in Congress have proposed paying for government-run health care by hiking taxes on soft drinks and other beverages.”

Rich Businessman Sinks Bucks Into Attacking Obama Over Flyover Snafu: "A wealthy Obama donor who turned on the president is launching an attack on Obama over the Air Force One flyover screw-up, linking it to his big spending policies, an assault that may involve radio and TV ads in a preview of what to expect in the 2010 midterm elections. The donor, businessman Fred Tausch of New Hampshire, announced in February he’d be sinking some $100,000 into assaults on Obama. Now he’s adding the flyover snafu to his list of grievances, tying it to “wasteful spending” in a direct mail piece sent out to his state’s voters"

The tentacles of Taxachusetts: “Last week, Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in Town Fair Tire v. Massachusetts. In the coming months, the Supreme Judicial Court will decide the issue at hand: whether Massachusetts has the right to force businesses in New Hampshire to collect Bay State sales taxes when selling items to Massachusetts residents. Given the recent vote in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to increase sales taxes by 25 percent, the impulse to dam the flood of Massachusetts shoppers into sales-tax-free New Hampshire grows stronger among Bay State officials perpetually frustrated with potential tax dollars flowing north across the border.”

Global democracy over a barrel: “Everyone knows that business isn’t good these days, and now we can add the business of democracy promotion to the list. The world may have woken up to a global economic recession in the past year, but a global political recession has been underway for at least three years. According to Freedom House, 2008 was the third consecutive year in which there was a decline in freedom worldwide, the first three-year setback in the past 15 years. Moreover, the Obama administration hasn’t offered much comfort. No senior officials seem to have democracy promotion as part of their portfolio. So, in these tough economic times, many civil-society advocates have turned to one of the economic crises’ silver linings for hope: the fall in the price of oil. … For those looking for the democratic tide to turn, the conventional wisdom is that collapsing oil prices will make it much harder for some of the world’s oil autocracies like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela — the so-called axis of oil — to maintain their hold on power.”

“Suddenly,” Social Security is in trouble: “As it turns out Medicare/Medicaid is in much worse shape than Social Security, and deserves some discussion as well — but the Social Security question is instructive. This isn’t some ’sudden’ problem brought on by the recession. This is one that was identified years ago and ignored by the very same people who are now trying to lay blame elsewhere.”


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


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)


Thursday, May 14, 2009

World Vision will not sponsor poor Jewish children

Most people are unaware of it but there are quite a lot of poor Israeli Jews. So in August 2006, I sent the following email to World Vision:

"I was thinking of helping a poor Jewish child in Israel. Do you have a facility for that?"

On 8.23.2006 I got the following reply:

"Thank you very much for contacting World Vision! I appreciate the time you took to communicate with us, and I am happy to respond. On behalf of World Vision, I want you to know how grateful we are for your interest in our organization.

World Vision always serves the most needy children in a community. We never choose to sponsor children on the basis of race or religion, but rather on poverty indices alone. We do have programs in Israel, including sponsorship which has been funded by World Vision Canada, but the worst poverty is in Palestinian areas. In this region, those areas are found in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem and are mostly occupied by Palestinian families.

World Vision United States funds sponsorship programs in other countries that include children from different religious backgrounds, including Jewish children. However, it is important to note that every child in our program has the same needs (they lack the basic essentials of life); a child's religion is not a criteria that is included when enrolled in our sponsorship program; therefore, we do not have a process or system in place to select a child for sponsorship based on race, religion, or political background.

Persons living outside the U.S. may sponsor a child through the World Vision office in the United States only with an international credit card. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs/constraints, international donors are not eligible to receive any premiums (for example, a free CD or stuffed animal). Currently monthly sponsorship rates are US$30.00 and Hope Children are $35.00.


Michael D. Restivo, Donor Contact Services, World Vision U.S.

World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. Motivated by our faith in Jesus, we serve the poor--regardless of a person's religion, race, ethnicity, or gender--as a demonstration of God's unconditional love for all people."

I wrote back saying: "Sorry you don't want my money"

On 8.29.2006 I received the following reply:

"Thank you for your return email. Yes, you are correct, it is not possible to choose a sponsored child through our organization based on his/her religion. However, in the future, you may be able to sponsor a child from our sponsorship projects located in Jerusalem/Westbank/Gaza. This option is not currently available due to the impact of the recent Middle East crisis. After this situation settles down, sponsored children from these projects may be available for sponsorship. Once again, it is important to note that we cannot and do not guarantee that sponsored children from these projects are of the Jewish faith."


Michael Restivo"

I dropped the matter at that time but I am putting the emails up now as an illustration of how "non-discrimination" can be used as an insidious mask for discrimination -- refusing to help a needy group because of their religion. If they really were a charity solely concerned with the welfare of poor children, they would be delighted to receive all donations, regardless of the religion of the intended recipients. It would have cost them nothing to honour the wishes of a donor in this matter but they would rather lose the donation than direct it to Jews. They are modern-day Pharisees: "Whited sepulchres", as Jesus called them.


Afghan-bound GIs Surge Ahead of Gear

Thousands of U.S. troops are being rushed to Afghanistan without the equipment they will need to fight an emboldened Taliban, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military officials said Thursday. The equipment delay is "a considerable concern," Gates said as he toured a dusty forward base in south Afghanistan where some 200 newly deployed Marines and sailors are arriving each day as part of the buildup of 21,000 new U.S. troops.

Marines who arrived in southern Afghanistan this week mark the vanguard of the expansion Obama has ordered to reverse a war his commanders say they are not winning. Pentagon officials said the initial Marine units are small advance parties, to be followed by much larger waves of forces in the coming weeks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe troop movements. "I heard this on several occasions today, that the equipment is coming in behind the troops and is not here and available for them when they arrive," Gates said at a news conference Thursday night in Kabul before a fly-around through bases in Afghanistan.

Gates attributed the delays to "the amount of equipment that has to be brought in and, frankly, the relatively limited infrastructure in terms of airfields and so on of how to get it in here." Despite concerns about pressing U.S. military needs in Iraq and insurgents' interference with supply lines, the real problem has been "more a logistical challenge than it is anything else," Gates said. He promised to pursue the problem after he returns to Washington on Saturday.

The scope of the equipment shortage was not immediately clear. One Marine corporal at Camp Leatherneck told Gates during a 15-minute town-hall meeting in sweltering heat that he needed more communications equipment. The Pentagon has already been grappling with how to beef up mine-resistant patrol trucks that have shown success in Iraq but are not resilient enough to withstand Afghanistan's hilly and rugged terrain.

The equipment shortage leaves U.S. troops vulnerable as the Taliban and other extremist groups are ramping up attacks with Afghanistan national elections approaching. In a chilling reminder of the risks U.S. troops face, Gates said casualties among American, Afghanistan and other international security forces are up 75 percent since the beginning of the year.

Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of military forces in Afghanistan's southern region, predicted a surge of violence through the Aug. 20 elections. But Nicholson said he expects the attacks will cease once the Taliban understands that they cannot drive away U.S. and international forces. "There will be an increase in violence, initially, because the enemy will not easily give up their hold on the population," Nicholson told reporters at Camp Leatherneck. "But this will be a spike, not a continuous upwards slope." The United States is sending 21,000 troops to add to the 38,000 already in place.

Taliban forces show few signs of backing down as the U.S. ramps up its forces - underscored by the confrontation with American troops this week in the western Farah Province that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians. The incident, still under investigation by U.S. and Afghan authorities, came just days before Gates flew to Afghanistan, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met in Washington with President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials as well as Pakistani leaders.

At Leatherneck, a Marine asked Gates if U.S. troops in Afghanistan might be sent into Pakistan for peacekeeping missions. Hours later, in Kabul, an Afghan reporter asked a similar question. In both cases, Gates said no. "I do not anticipate at all there will be American troops going into Pakistan from Afghanistan to deal with this problem," Gates said.




Tax Increases Could Kill the Recovery: "The barrage of tax increases proposed in President Barack Obama's budget could, if enacted by Congress, kill any chance of an early and sustained recovery. Historians and economists who've studied the 1930s conclude that the tax increases passed during that decade derailed the recovery and slowed the decline in unemployment. That was true of the 1935 tax on corporate earnings and of the 1937 introduction of the payroll tax. Japan did the same destructive thing by raising its value-added tax rate in 1997. The current outlook for an economic recovery remains precarious. Although the stimulus package will give a temporary boost to growth in the current quarter, it will not be enough to offset the combined effect of lower consumer spending, the decline in residential construction, the weakness of exports, the limited availability of bank credit and the downward spiral of house prices. A sustained economic upturn is far from a sure thing. This is no time for tax increases that will reduce spending by households and businesses. Even if the proposed tax increases are not scheduled to take effect until 2011, households will recognize the permanent reduction in their future incomes and will reduce current spending accordingly. Higher future tax rates on capital gains and dividends will depress share prices immediately and the resulting fall in wealth will cut consumer spending further. Lower share prices will also raise the cost of equity capital, depressing business investment in plant and equipment."

The budget cuts charade: “There are plenty of empty and annoying rituals in official Washington: the pompous playing of ‘Hail to the Chief’ when the president materializes; tiresome standing ovations during the annual State of the Union address; the State of the Union address itself. But among the most silly, at least in modern Washington, is the ritualistic axing of wasteful and superfluous federal programs in the president’s budget. Every president in recent memory, no matter the party, proposed bringing the hatchet down on wasteful, duplicative, anachronistic programs. And each president, when he did so, knew full well that none of the targeted programs would be eliminated or even cut, once Congress intervened.”

Britain's minimum wage rises by 7 pennies!: Britain's minimum wage is to increase to £5.80 an hour. The 7p rise was far less than unions had asked for. But yesterday's move, which will take effect in October, has angered business leaders who wanted a freeze on the rate to help companies cope with the economic downturn. The increase means adults working a 40-hour week will receive at least £232. From October next year, this adult minimum rate will apply to 21-year-olds as well. Their minimum wage is currently set at a lower rate - together with that of workers aged 18, 19 and 20. The Government said almost one million people will benefit from this year's increase after it approved recommendations from the independent Low Pay Commission.

Financial health of SSI, Medicare worsens: “The financial health of Social Security and Medicare, the government’s two biggest benefit programs, has worsened because of the severe recession, and Medicare is now paying out more than it receives. Trustees of the programs said Tuesday that Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2016, one year sooner than projected last year, and the giant trust fund will be depleted by 2037, four years sooner. Medicare is in even worse shape. The trustees said the program for hospital expenses will pay out more in benefits than it collects this year and will be insolvent by 2017, two years earlier than the date projected in last year’s report.”

UK: "Gorbals Mick" is a disgrace to his high office: "Ministers have told Gordon Brown that the Speaker of the House of Commons must go, amid growing concern within the Labour Party that it is unable to regain the initiative on expenses from David Cameron. Downing Street said that the Prime Minister thought Michael Martin was “doing a good job”. But within hours the Speaker was embroiled in his second spat with backbench MPs in 24 hours. The Speaker’s latest outburst was directed at David Winnick, the Labour MP, who asked Mr Martin to apologise for the way he had attacked two MPs in the chamber on Monday. Mr Martin replied that if any MP was unhappy with him, “then he knows what he must do” — a taunt that his critics should put up or shut up. Some ministers said privately that Mr Brown must meet David Cameron and Nick Clegg as soon as possible to decide how to oust Mr Martin. “He must be handed the pearl-handled revolver,” a senior member of the Government said. “He has to go. He has shown an astonishing lack of judgment.” The comments are an indication of the depth of anger at Mr Martin on the government benches. Many MPs believe that the rehabilitation of Parliament’s reputation cannot begin until he is removed, since the Speaker oversees the system of allowances, which is now discredited widely."

Stopping the snooping of police databases: “Information is power and law enforcement seems hungry for both. A recent report that police in Massachusetts pried into personal information about movie stars and sports heroes by trolling the Criminal Offender Record Information system is the latest example of the abuse that occurs when police and other government agencies have unchecked power to collect, use, and even share personal data about citizens. This kind of abuse doesn’t stop with the stars, and it doesn’t stop with CORI. The misuse of law enforcement databases, as reported by the state auditor, can have serious consequences for ordinary residents as well as celebrities. Unmonitored access to poorly regulated databases gives power to local law enforcement to pry into and share information about innocent people and potential criminals alike.”

Transportation alternatives: How others manage : “Transportation is the most important service function in the community. Unfortunately in America the transportation marketplace in most cities has been closed to private non government entities for a number of years. There are a few exceptions. Were we to open the transportation market to private mom and pop operations, or corporation we might find we have a powerful tool to put a significant dent in poverty. The government’s own research notes that certain groups in our society have poor access to transit services.”

Democrat wipeout planned for the 2010 mid-terms? "Senate's top tax writer said Tuesday that taxing employer-provided health benefits is a possibility as lawmakers search for ways to pay for overhauling the nation's health care system and to insure 50 million Americans who lack coverage - a stance that riles both business and union leaders and is at odds with some leading Democrats. At the last in a series of public forums on health care reform, Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said scaling back the tax-free status of employer-provided health care benefits must be considered."

Moral-values groups hail tax ruling: "In a move cheered by conservatives, the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that ministers and pastors do not risk losing their tax-exempt status for engaging in political acts on behalf of issues such as traditional-values advocacy. The IRS said in a letter to the Niemoller Foundation that the Houston-based nonprofit organization did not violate its tax-exempt status when it brought together pastors and politicians to champion moral issues during Republican Gov. Rick Perry's 2006 re-election campaign. Short of endorsing a particular candidate or spending substantial portions of their nonprofit budgets on legislative lobbying, ministers and their churches are free to engage in political acts on behalf of moral values, the IRS said. Clergy are also free to encourage their congregations' members to get out the vote based on those issues and values. The long-awaited IRS decision benefits Republicans, since religious conservatives constitute a large and influential bloc in the party's electoral coalition. Many political analysts in both parties have maintained that but for the active support of Christian ministers who spoke out for the same moral values that the Republican presidential candidate espoused, George W. Bush would not have won Ohio and, therefore, would not have been re-elected in 2004."

Extortionist lawyers: "Court cases get dismissed all the time, but rarely are dismissals as significant as the two lawsuits against Dole Food and other companies that were tossed recently by a California judge. Among other good things, the ruling is a setback for tort lawyers who troll abroad seeking dubious claims to bring in U.S. courts. The allegations against Dole, the world's largest fruit and vegetable producer, involved banana plantation workers in Nicaragua who alleged that exposure to the pesticide DBPC in the 1970s left them sterile. The only problem is that most of the plaintiffs had not worked at plantations and weren't sterile. In fact, there's no evidence that farm workers at Dole facilities were exposed to harmful levels of the chemical -- which was legal and widely used at the time -- or that the level of exposure they did experience even causes sterility. "What has occurred here is not just a fraud on the court, but it is a blatant extortion of the defendants," said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney in her oral ruling. More than 40 related cases involving thousands of plaintiffs from Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Ivory Coast are pending in her court. And the ruling puts in doubt some $2 billion in judgments that plaintiffs lawyers have already obtained in Nicaragua."


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


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)


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A small grumble

There are times when I wish I could leave politics alone and concentrate on something more intelligent -- such as medieval theology. Medieval theology was brilliant. The name of Aquinas still resounds in the Christian world and the name of Rashi still resounds in the Jewish world. By comparison current politics seem utterly juvenile, with Nancy Pelosi denying that she heard what she was told about waterboarding and Al Gore refusing to debate anybody who knows anything about climate.

But I cannot leave politics alone. I first realized the importance of politics in my teens, when I read in Thucydides about how the demagoguery of Alcibiades led Athens into the disastrous Sicilian expedition -- which greatly weakened Athens and sowed the seeds for its decline.

But the importance of politics was most brought home to me when I took a vacation in California in the '70s. At one stage I decided to visit Tijuana in Mexico just to see what it was like. I drove down the big 8-lane concrete highway from Los Angeles to San Diego and thence to the border. As soon as I got through the border control, I found myself in Mexico -- not on 8-lane concrete highway but on a barrel-lined dirt track. The transition was shocking. I assume the road on the Mexican side of the border has improved since then but to me at the time it told me how important politics is. The landscape on both sides of the border was much the same. What differed was the politics. In the USA politics were governed at that time by Anglo-Saxon values of individual liberty; in Mexico there was typical Latin-American Fascism. The consequences of that political difference were huge and omnipresent.

So that is why I still write about the vast politial follies that I see about me.


Another pathetic attempt to explain away the black/white gap in academic achievement

An excerpt from another skeptic:
Today’s New York Times column by David Brooks touts a new study by Roland Fryer and Will Dobbie of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) Promise Academy charter schools, two celebrated schools in Harlem. Fryer and Dobbie’s finding that the typical eighth-grader was in the 74th percentile among New York City students in mathematics leads Brooks to state that HCZ Promise Academy eliminated the black-white achievement gap. He’s so dumbstruck by this that he says it twice. Brooks takes this evidence as support for the “no excuses” model of charter schools, and, claiming that “the approach works,” challenges all cities to adopt this “remedy for the achievement gap.”

Coming on the heels of yesterday’s release of the 2009 New York State English Language Arts (ELA) results, in which the HCZ schools outperformed the citywide white average in grade 3, but were well behind the white average in grades 4, 5 and 8, skoolboy decided to drink a bit more deeply from the datastream....

It’s true that eighth-graders in 2008 scored .20 standard deviations above the citywide average for white students. But it may also be apparent that this is a very unusual pattern relative to the other data represented in this figure, all of which show continuing and sizeable advantages for white students in New York City over HCZ students. The fact that HCZ seventh-graders in 2008 were only .3 standard deviations behind white students citywide in math is a real accomplishment, and represents a shrinkage of the gap of .42 standard deviations for these students in the preceding year. However, Fryer and Dobbie, and Brooks in turn, are putting an awful lot of faith in a single data point — the remarkable increase in math scores between seventh and eighth grade for the students at HCZ who entered sixth grade in 2006. If what HCZ is doing can routinely produce a .67 standard deviation shift in math test scores in the eighth grade, that would be great. But we’re certainly not seeing an effect of that magnitude in the seventh grade. And, of course, none of this speaks to the continuing large gaps in English performance.

But here’s the kicker. In the HCZ Annual Report for the 2007-08 school year submitted to the State Education Department, data are presented on not just the state ELA and math assessments, but also the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Those eighth-graders who kicked ass on the state math test? They didn’t do so well on the low-stakes Iowa Tests. Curiously, only 2 of the 77 eighth-graders were absent on the ITBS reading test day in June, 2008, but 20 of these 77 were absent for the ITBS math test. For the 57 students who did take the ITBS math test, HCZ reported an average Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) score of 41, which failed to meet the school’s objective of an average NCE of 50 for a cohort of students who have completed at least two consecutive years at HCZ Promise Academy. In fact, this same cohort had a slightly higher average NCE of 42 in June, 2007.

So what we have is a truly laughable attempt to generalize from a single aberrant instance. The first thing you learn in Statistics 101 is that you CANNOT generalize from a single instance. That the unusual result was "fudged" in some way would be the most rational conclusion. Teachers "helping" students do tests in various ways is reported from time to time.


The elite versus the people

Who says socialists and liberals can’t learn? With just a bit over 100 days of the Obama regime behind us, the Hard Left is realizing one of the great truths of American politics; a hard fact that conservatives have known and suffered under for quite a long time.

When all is said and done, there are no “Democrats” or “Republicans” or “liberals” or “conservatives” in Washington, D.C. There are only those “in” and those “not in.” The establishment structure is no more concerned with petty differences of ideology or party labels than they are with adhering to the Constitution. For them, such considerations are plebian and only useful to keep the rabble confused and diverted.

The Left is getting a full taste of this truth. By now, everyone knows that Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania “switched” from being a Republican to being a Democrat. It means absolutely nothing. The fact is Republicans were ready to draw and quarter Specter. He had zero chance of keeping power with the GOP label. So, he changed labels. Nothing more to it.

Within days of his big switch, Specter had voted against his new Party on two big issues. He is still what he has always been; a shill for the establishment. He represents established interests, not the People of Pennsylvania and never has.

The Left sees clearly that Specter brings nothing to their side of the debate. In fact, he is now the same problem and distraction for them that he has been for conservatives for the last 30 years. And, as conservatives tried to rid themselves of the pest through primaries, so too do leftists want to primary Specter for the Democratic nomination.

And just like when he was a Republican, Specter has the White House coming to his aid to defend him and get him passed a primary challenge. What is it about this guy? We all know he was the fool who came up with the magic bullet theory in the Kennedy assassination investigation. Did he keep a copy of the pictures? Does he know something that those in power just can’t allow to become public knowledge? We’ll leave such questions to Oliver Stone to explore.

But the fact remains. Honest people who embrace ideological positions out of deep commitment—leftists embracing socialism and conservatives advocating the Constitution and individual liberty under the rule of law—are blocked at every turn from getting honest representation by an establishment that stacks the deck, blocks primary challenges and denies real choice to the voters.

David Sirota of Open Left calls this an entitlement mentality on the part of the D.C. insider elite. He is getting closer to the truth but he is not there yet. Scott Rasmussen has been showing graphically for more than a month the stark difference between the governing class and the People. His polls on a range of issues have shown that those in power, those that actually run the country are radically different from what most people think and believe.

Want to bet whose views prevail—the positions of the overwhelming majority of Americans or the views of the insider elite? The safest bet in town is to bet on the establishment. They don’t care what the public thinks or wants. And worse still, they cynically use the public’s own desires and positions to divide and divert the voters from making truly radical change.

It is encouraging for those of us who are pledged to the restoration of the Constitution to see people like Sirota start to realize the truth of the situation. I would be hard pressed to find anything on which I agree with him. But on this fundamental process point, we are in complete and total agreement. The politicians and those that control them feel they are entitled to their office and their perks. They become angry and confused and hostile if their “right” is challenged in any way.

And that is exactly why it is so vital that they be challenged at every turn. We need a real debate in America, not the phony stacked deck we have suffered for far too long. Obama vs. McCain a real contest between competing views of government? Please! Give me a break. That deck was stacked from the get-go. And when it looked like the American people might not go for the Obama scam, McCain did everything in his power to throw the race, to ensure his own defeat.

What Sirota and others on the Hard Left are starting to realize is that the entitlement mentality is destructive and harmful to the political process, just as it is in the economic or social realm. It needs to be attacked, debunked and overturned. Once we can get agreement on that fact, we can turn to a real debate on the role of government and whether the government rules the People or the People rule the government.




Liberty creates order: "David Brooks, the New York Times’s resident neoconservative, delights in peddling a false alternative: freedom or social order. His latest column hawking this snake oil comes in the form of advice to the struggling Republican Party: ‘If the Republicans are going to rebound, they will have to reestablish themselves as the party of civic order.’ In other words, give up freedom.”

Seeking empathy on the court: “We might as well start with the handicapping and explain the reasons later. Barack Obama could easily surprise us, but if I were laying odds today I would say the leading candidates to be the next Supreme Court justice are Judge Diane P. Wood, 58, of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago; Sonia Sotomayor, 54, of the 2nd Circuit court in New York; and Elena Kagan, 49, currently solicitor general and formerly dean of the Harvard Law School. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, 50, a Harvard law graduate and former assistant U.S. attorney, and Kim McLane Wardlaw, 54, of the 9th Circuit court in San Francisco figure as long shots. You probably noticed that all those named are women and all relatively young.

How Ford restructured without federal help: “While General Motors and Chrysler will emerge from the government restructuring wringer with significantly reduced debt, Ford will still likely be obliged to repay its lenders. This could put Ford at a competitive disadvantage — an unfortunate irony for the one Detroit car company that has gotten the decisions mostly right in the last few years. … Ford is like a homeowner who planned prudently and can pay his mortgage, while his spendthrift neighbors get their mortgage reduced by some new federal program.”

Beyond the paleos: "There is a flavor of conservatism that has not been discredited by the events of the past eight years. If anything, its criticisms of loose monetary policies, overconsumption, reckless private and public borrowing, uncontrolled immigration, and foreign adventurism now seem prescient. It is a conservatism unburdened by the Iraq War, the ‘heckuva job’ response to Hurricane Katrina, and the financial meltdown, which are really the biggest contributors to the GOP’s decline. Most of all, it is a conservatism that does not need to rehabilitate the Bush legacy since its leading exponents were never full-time Bush apologists. An objection is likely to enter even the minds of sympathetic readers. This sounds a lot like paleoconservatism, whose adherents are too quirky, too cantankerous, and too small in number to put together an effective political movement. But we needn’t call it ‘paleo’ anything. It’s the ideas that matter. Not so long ago a platform along these lines — limited government, decentralism, a national interest-based foreign policy, and resistance to multiculturalism — would have been considered conservatism without the prefix. And is it really that outlandish compared to the leading alternatives?”


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


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)


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obama's dangerous African values

What anthropologists call "tribal values" are very widespread in the world: in Africa, the Middle East, Melanesia etc. They dictate ethical relativism. You have different standards of justice and morality towards people according to whom that other person is. Members of your tribe are treated much differently from non-members, for instance. Such morality is wholly antithetical to Western society, however, as Jeff Jacoby explains below.

It could be argued that Mr Obama's elevation of emotion over law is not, as I suggest, African but simply Leftist. It could be argued that what we see in him is the moral "flexibility" that characterizes Leftists generally. But I know of no previous Democrat President who has argued that the rule of law should be subordinated to emotional considerations. And there is a good reason for that. Any such advocacy could cause laws favoured by the Left to be disregarded too. It seems that only Mr Obama is so dumb as not to have figured that out yet -- despite his alleged qualifications as a lawyer. His law degree may be purely an "affirmative action" one

JUDICIAL DISPASSION -- the ability to decide cases without being influenced by personal feelings or political preferences -- is indispensable to the rule of law. So indispensable, in fact, that the one-sentence judicial oath required of every federal judge and justice contains no fewer than three expressions of it: "I . . . do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God."

There are biblical echoes in the wording of that oath -- a reminder that the judge's obligation to decide cases on the basis of fact and law, without regard to the litigants' wealth or fame or social status, is a venerable moral principle.

"You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike," says Moses in Deuteronomy, instructing the Israelite judges. "You shall not distort justice; you shall not respect persons, and you shall not take a bribe." Elsewhere they are reminded that it is not only the rich they are forbidden to favor. "Neither shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute," Exodus firmly warns. Judges may not bend the law, not even to help the underprivileged.

Without judicial restraint there is no rule of law. We live under "a government of laws and not of men," to quote John Adams's resonant phrase, only so long as judges stick to neutrally resolving the disputes before them, applying the law and upholding the Constitution even when doing so leads to results they personally dislike. That is why the judicial oath is so adamant about impartiality. That is why Lady Justice is so frequently depicted -- as on the sculpted lampposts outside the US Supreme Court -- wearing a blindfold and carrying balanced scales.

And that is why President Obama's "empathy" standard is so disturbing, and has generated so much comment.

Time and again, Obama has called for judges who do not put their private political views aside when deciding cases. In choosing a replacement for Justice David Souter, the president says, he will seek not just "excellence and integrity," but a justice whose "quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles," would be "an essential ingredient" in his jurisprudence. In an interview last year, he said he would look for judges "sympathetic" to those "on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless."

When he voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005, Obama declared that the "truly difficult" cases that come before the Supreme Court can be decided only with reference to "the depth and breadth of one's empathy," and that "the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart."

But such cardiac justice is precisely what judges "do solemnly swear" to renounce. Sympathy for others is an admirable virtue, but a judge's private commiserations are not relevant to the law he is expected to apply.

If Obama means what he says, he wants judges who can be counted on to violate their oath of office.

"We need somebody who's got the heart -- the empathy -- to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom," he told a Planned Parenthood conference in 2007. "The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

With such criteria, what would remain of the rule of law? What would happen to "Equal Justice Under Law," which is carved above the Supreme Court's entrance? What would be left of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws" to every citizen?

Lady Justice wears a blindfold not because she has no empathy for certain litigants or groups of people, but because there is no role for such empathy in a courtroom. "Our constitution is color-blind," wrote Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, in his great dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, "and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens." Harlan had supported slavery; he believed whites were superior to nonwhites. He had his empathies, but he confined his judging to the law.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)



AT LEAST 378 CIVILIANS" KILLED OVERNIGHT--NO JOOOOOOS INVOLVED, SO NO PROTEST MARCHES. What the AP story below carefully omits is that the Tamil Tigers are extraordinarily brutal Communist terrorists who make HAMAS look like amateurs and whose chief victims are other Tamils. They have repeatedly undermined all offers of peace. An indication of their mentality: India has a large Tamil population and the Tigers thought that India should support them. They conveyed that message by assassinating the Prime Minister of India. The result was of course the opposite of what they sought. None of that would of course undermine Leftist support for them if it were opportunistic to do so. Witness the past Leftist support for the Soviet regime or their present support for the Palestinian terrorists. Though it must be admitted that Leftists have never seemed much interested in dark-skinned people being ghastly to one another. Their obvious but unspoken attitude is that dark-skinned people are an inferior race from whom not much good can be expected

A massive barrage of artillery in Sri Lanka's northern war zone killed at least 378 civilians and wounded 1,100 overnight, a government doctor said Sunday, calling it the bloodiest day he had seen in the government's offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels.

V. Shanmugarajah, a physician working in the war zone, said he feared many more may have been killed since some bodies were being buried on the spot without being brought to the makeshift hospital he runs. "We are doing what is possible. The situation is overwhelming; nothing is within our control," he said. Mr. Shanmugarajah described seeing shells fly through the air, with some falling close to the hospital, sending many to take shelter in bunkers.

The rebel-linked TamilNet Web site accused Sri Lankan forces of launching the attack, a charge the military denied. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said it was only using small arms in its effort to wipe out the Tamil Tiger rebel group and that there "is no shelling taking place."

The government vowed two weeks ago to cease firing heavy weapons into the tiny coastal strip that remained under rebel control in an effort to avoid civilian casualties. However, medical officials in the area have reported that airstrikes and artillery attacks have continued unabated, despite the presence of an estimated 50,000 ethnic Tamil civilians in the tiny conflict zone.

Reports of the fighting are difficult to verify because the government bars journalists and aid workers from the war zone. U.N. figures compiled last month showed that nearly 6,500 civilians had been killed early this year as the government renewed its efforts to end its 25-year civil war with the rebels.

The government has brushed off international calls for a humanitarian cease-fire, saying the beleaguered rebels would use any pause in fighting to regroup. It has accused the rebels of using civilians in the north as human shields, and Brig. Nanayakkara said the insurgents shot families who tried to escape the war zone Saturday, killing nine people.

The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate state for minority Tamils, who have suffered decades of marginalization at the hands of governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority.




The Weasel animal (Wieseltier) does give me a laugh. I have outlined his odious character on Feb. 25 but he still seems to have a perch as "Washingtom Diarist" at TNR. He has literary pretentions so I was amused to note in reading his latest effusion that he seemed to feel a need for an excursion into a foreign language. But rather than Latin, French or Greek, all he could come up with (for no obvious reason) was the Spanish word for "opening": abertura. Poor weasel! The funniest thing about his article was however his condemnation of Hillary Cliton and Obama on the grounds that their policies have no grounding in morality or principle! That the accusation was an example of the pot calling the kettle Afro-American was shown by the fact that the weasel made no attempt to specify what those morals and principles should be! He is as morally bankrupt as they are.

When emotions take over, logic flies out the window: “Here is a paradox in the position being championed by several commentators on a prominent anti-vivisectionist website: If other animals may kill and maim fellow animals, and if human beings aren’t significantly different from other animals, why are human beings derided for killing and maiming other animals just as those kill and maim other animals? All those pictures of animals that have been hurt by people could be matched by pictures of animals that have been hurt by non-human animals. Nature is replete with cases of that kind. Some defenders of non-human animals claim that humans are not all that different from other animals; if this is so, why do they demand that humans treat non-humans so differently from how non-humans treat other non-humans? This paradox is a serious one and it requires an answer from those who condemn human beings for treating non-human animals hurtfully! But there are others, too, that are worth mentioning.”

China recovering: "It is now clear that Beijing was right and global markets were wrong on China's ability to quickly overcome its extraordinary economic collapse in the second half of last year. Last week the closely watched CLSA purchasing managers index, a gauge of manufacturing activity, catapulted into expansion territory, matching an earlier jump in the official purchasing managers Index. While inventory adjustments continue to be wild (electricity generation, a proxy for heavy industries like steel, fell 3 per cent from March to April) the latest official and anecdotal reports are mostly strong. "April was another record for us," the China representative for an international car company told me at the weekend. "Our wealthy car clients are back - they never really went away but they were waiting for the economy to turn - and the new thing is that truck sales are soaring." [And they did it by going all out to encourage business. Obama take note]

The fruit of Leftist moral relativism: "A "decade of yobbery" under Labour has seen the number of persistent young offenders plaguing Britain's streets increase by 60 per cent while the number of crimes they commit has almost doubled. In one police force they account for one in seven offences brought to justice while another saw the number of problem offenders more than treble. A persistent young offender is anyone aged 10 to 17 who is guilty of at least one offence on four or more separate occasions within a set number of years. The figures show the problem is growing suggesting a new generation of serial criminals committing more and more crime. David Ruffley, the Conservative police reform minister, said: "These new figures show that Labour Ministers have presided over a decade of yobbery, fuelled by massive increases in the number of repeat young offenders. "These figures make a mockery of Labour's promises to tackle youth crime. There have been 46 Labour strategies since 1997 to try and tackle youth crime and it's now clear they have failed."

British Labour party response to fraud revelations? A coverup: "A Labour plot to suppress the future release of MPs’ expenses has been uncovered by The Times. As the frenzy over MPs’ claims continues into a fourth day, senior figures from all parties will meet this morning to discuss how to salvage Parliament’s battered reputation and it emerged that the tax authorities are expected to investigate whether MPs have breached the law. Plans to bring in a private-sector company to run the expenses department have raised fears, however, that the move is being used as a smokescreen to suppress future embarrassing revelations."

Gangster government gave Chrysler to the UAW: “So reads the Washington Examiner’s editorial today about how Obama effectively gave ownership of Chrysler to the United Auto Workers Union (which spent millions electing Obama), rather than taxpayers (who have spent billions to bail out Chrysler) or the institutions that lent money to Chrysler based on the legal right and expectation that they would receive its assets before the UAW union would. Veteran political commentator Michael Barone also calls it ‘gangster government.’”

Libertarian accusations: “Libertarians say ‘we have no desire to take from you what is yours’ and are called ‘greedy.’ Libertarians say ‘we have no desire to run your life for you’ and are called ‘arrogant.’ Orwell would be proud of modern political debate because it so closely mirror the doublespeak he wrote about in 1984. Libertarians are constantly accused of saying the exact opposite of what libertarians actually are saying.”

Obama hearts Big Labor: “The Obama administration has delivered a strong message to crooked union bosses everywhere: happy days are here again. On Thursday President Obama, who has pledged to usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility, touted $17 billion in proposed cuts to his $3.4 trillion budget. The media noted that about half of the reductions came out of the defense budget, but lost in most reports is the fact that the administration also slashed funding for the only entity in government tasked with policing unions.”


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


Monday, May 11, 2009

Presidential Sleight of Hand

A journalist tells her boss how hard it is to keep up with Obama

I planned to write more about Obama's search for housing for Guantanamo detainees. But, before I could get my computer booted up, Obama changed his mind and decided, rather than simply releasing them as he had said in his campaigning days, he would instead allow military tribunals for them and see how that goes. Ok, so I switched gears and started to write about that. He said one thing when campaigning; he does another when he gets to the White House.

Then Monday morning, Obama dropped another bomb – he proposed a $190 billion tax increase on American companies. You're aware that Coke has bottling facilities everywhere but on the moon and that may yet happen, if we decide to develop a program of some sort there. Anyhoo, Coke has plants all over the world and they are run by citizens of the countries they are in. For instance, the companies operate as local businesses in local communities across Japan. The workers are Japanese, the managers and owners are Japanese. The profits are, mainly, Japanese.

Obama and his cronies want to tax Coke for the money made in the Japanese market. That's 'taxes' as in 'extra taxes' as in 'we-want-more-of-your-profits taxes.' Coca-Cola already pays taxes in Japan for a product made in Japan, delivered to stores in Japan and sold to the people of Japan. Obama wants Coke to pay US taxes on top of the Japanese taxes, which will make the price of Coke more expensive in Japan and they will sell less.

Also on Monday, Iran threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Well, that's nothing that hasn't happened many times in the last few months but, this time, they went even farther and admitted that their nuclear program is designed for that purpose – to wipe Israel off the map. Israel, concerned over heightened threats from Iran, recently issued a deadline to Palestinians to leave their houses. On Sunday, Ahmadinejad reiterated his call for the end of Israel. As usual, Obama said nothing and the press all but ignored the story.

I looked around the 'tubes on that one for a while and found somebody saying that Obama wants to have Turkey, Syria and Lebanon side with us in dealing with Iran. Several sites emphasized how Israel will work to get around needing America's help in dealing with Iran. It seems that Israel takes Ahmadinejad at his word and fully expects him to deliver on his promise. President Bush backed Israel. I can't find any comment by Obama indicating he feels the same. However, I did see where Rahm Emanuel met secretly with Israeli leaders to reassure them of our continued support. At least, we will support them if the Jews stop dodging Palestinian rockets long enough to go back into peace talks with the Palestinians. If they will do that, Emanuel promised that Obama would do his part to stop Iran's march to achieve their very own nuclear weapons.

Knowing that Iran has been gunning (pardon the pun) for Israel for over 30 years, and knowing that, if the Jews come out of hiding, the Palestinians will just lob more rockets straight at them, maybe it seems logical that Israel would warn the Palestinian people to leave their homes under the possibility of war if something doesn't happen for the better – and soon. Politics is all about 'tit for tat' you do this for me and I'll do this for you. This was no tit nor was it tat. Emanuel threatened the tiny little country of Israel. Now the question is, who does that tiny little country fear more - Iran or Obama?

Why did the press ignore that story? Because, on Sunday evening, Barack and Michelle held hands and walked around the White House. Sorry Boss, but I didn't pick up on that quick enough to get an exclusive for The Observer.

So I kept watching the news and digging around and then I saw that Obama's folks were meeting with some of Chrysler's creditors and figured that was worth following. I thought Chrysler was going to declare bankruptcy and it would all be settled by an experienced bankruptcy judge in a courtroom. It looked to be heading that way until Obama's reps threatened the Chrysler creditors, telling them that he wanted the United Auto Workers Union to be given 55 % ownership of the restructured company. Any of Chrysler's creditors that hold secured loans will have to settle for about 29 cents on every dollar owed them. So, now the Union is set to own Chrysler. Gee, that President of ours sure is a jack of all trades. Who knew he knew so much about the financial workings of an auto manufacturer? He must have studied bankruptcy law when he was in college.

I started looking into Obama's college major but then I got sidetracked by a hot news story that Obama and VP Biden had zipped over to Arlington for burgers and they were yummy. Now I know why those reporters in DC get the big bucks; I sure hope someday I get a chance to report hot news like they do. Maybe Michelle will come to NC and I'll get to post a story about her and her shoes. Did you know she paid $540.00 for them? I think the store threw in the box for free.

Have you heard about this one? USCAP is an environmental group. They are helping democrats draw up the design of the cap and trade program. World Resources Institute is one of the founding members of USCAP. Guess who sits on the board of WRI? AL Gore! And, he's also a partner in Kleiner Perkins, at least since last year, anyway. KP will invest over $600 million in technologies that aim to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Sounds like standard business practice 'til you read further and see that, under cap and trade policy, businesses will have to pay for the amount of carbon dioxide that they release during their manufacturing process. AL Gore's money will come from companies that produce products that companies can use to reduce those emissions. Al Gore is part of the group suggesting ways that the cap and trade policy can be structured. He will benefit financially from that policy. What could possibly be wrong with that?

That's when my head started pounding …

So, I took some aspirin and moved on to today's news to see what the President was up to. Remember Tim Geithner, that guy that didn't choose to pay his taxes? The one that, rather than be sent to jail, was chosen to be Secretary of the US Treasury? (I admit, I still haven't figured out what Obama had in mind when he did that but I am certain that all will be revealed at the right time.) Well, Geithner came out and stood beside the President and announced that his office now plans "to end tax loopholes which allow well-off citizens to evade the rules that the rest of America lives by." Yep, he said that, Boss. The rich man who didn't pay his taxes is going after other rich folks who don't pay taxes.

Also, he said that Obama has plans to raise taxes on US companies by $190 billion. And there's when I quit, just gave up. If Obama raises corporate taxes, who does he think will pay them? Big companies don't pay taxes. They just add them to the product they manufacture and pass it on down the line, When Wal-Mart receives that product, they add on a bit for profit and an extra bit to cover the higher cost and then stack it on the shelves. Then Susie Shopper comes along and buys it, paying the accumulated taxes along with the store's profit. Or maybe Susie doesn't buy it 'cause the extra few cents make it too expensive for her budget.

When gas was so high last year, the price of Georgia peaches went up. The price went up because the price for the gas to run the truck to bring the peaches to the grocery store went up. I knew the reason - all of us shoppers knew it. Raising prices at one end of the process simply raises the cost of the product when it gets to the consumer. It doesn't take a math genius to realize that raising taxes on companies will raise the price of the end product and consumers will have to pay that price to get the product. Maybe the President just never shopped for groceries. Maybe the President just doesn't understand how things work after all.

Maybe if the President slowed down and actually paid attention to what he's doing, he might not lead this country off a cliff. And, if he did slow down, I might be able to get that story that I promised written and emailed to you. Things are just going too fast for me to keep up, Boss. I barely get one paragraph written and Mr. Speedy has moved on to a new line of attack. I can't keep up. How does Obama expect us to? Or is that his whole point?



NOT too big to fail

Washington regulators have justified several recent interventions in the financial realm by warning that firms like Bear Stearns and AIG are too big to fail. Allowing these firms to go bankrupt, the argument goes, would result in fire sales and a domino effect, which pose systematic risks to the entire economy. But Jean Helwege, associate professor of finance, writes that there is little to no evidence to support these too-big-to-fail threats of counterparty risk and fire sales.

In "Financial Firm Bankruptcy and Systematic Risk," which Helwege will present April 18 at the FDIC's annual Derivatives Securities and Risk Management Conference in Arlington, Va., she finds that cascading failures are unlikely to occur because of diversification, and that U.S. bankruptcy law allows for plenty of time to avoid fire sales and dispose of assets slowly.

When justifying bailouts or other government actions in the finance sector, regulators warn of a domino effect: One bank's failure triggers another bank's failure, which triggers other failures, and so on. But, Helwege says, this result is, at best, unlikely in reality.

"While the idea of a domino effect of one firm failing and starting a cascade of addition failures seems eminently plausible," she writes, "the empirical evidence to date suggest that no such domino effect would take place were regulators to abandon TBTF policies." Helwege cites prior research that shows that second firms rarely fail because of a first firm's failure and "that there is never a third firm involved, let alone a fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, or 10th."

"Cascades can only arise when firms' loans to other firms are very large as a fraction of their capital, a notion that is both at odds with bank regulations and good business practices regarding diversification," she writes.

Firms are more likely to be exposed to the same risk because they have made similar poor investment choices; such is the case with the current credit crisis and firms' common exposure to the subprime mortgage market. In this scenario, Helwege argues that "regulatory aid to one firm is of little use to the entire economy. Such assistance might bolster confidence, but clearly increasing confidence among all such firms is more productive than merely attempting to boost confidence in one particularly weak firm."

Helwege writes that the best policy oftentimes is to allow a portion of firms to fail without any assistance. Regulators warn that failures like this will result in fire sales, so they often force failing firms into mergers like the Federal Reserve-assisted takeover of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase. However, Helwege points out that bankruptcy law allows plenty of time for less desirable assets to be sold off slowly so that their true worth can be discerned. In fact, mergers like Bear and JPMorgan, which took place over the course of a weekend, actually allow less time for assets to be properly valued. "Mergers like the Bear/JP deal are examples of fire sales, not paths to avoiding them," Helwege writes.

She concludes that the best way to maintain stable, liquid, and orderly markets — the ultimate goal of financial regulators — is to allow individual firms to file for bankruptcy and slowly sell off their distressed assets while allowing Congress to find ways to provide more general assistance to the overall economy.



Marvellous news

The Israeli organization Efrat persuades women not to abort their babies -- in part by giving them financial assistance, something that I have long advocated, so it is good to hear that it is now getting increased funding for its lifesaving work

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), a Druze Israeli, declared his intention to do whatever he could to assist the pro-life Efrat organization. He made the commitment following a personal tour of the organization's Jerusalem facilities on Sunday.

"I cannot believe what I see here," Kara enthusiastically said after hearing about Efrat and its activities combating what the organization sees as unnecessary abortions. "There is no other organization of this high caliber in the country. They are literally saving lives here and, in that, assisting the nation in confronting the demographic problem," he added.

"I will assist you in every possible way that I can," Kara told Efrat Chairman Dr. Eli Schussheim. "You will yet hear from me. The whole country needs to know about the great and unbelievable thing that you are doing. I am really moved by what I see here."

Efrat was established in 1977 by Dr. Schussheim, an Argentinian immigrant who served as senior surgeon in Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek Hospital during the Six Day War. The organization provides information on abortion that might not otherwise be seen by pregnant women, as well as financial and emotional assistance to expecting mothers who are considering terminating their pregnancies for reasons other than medical necessity.

In his presentation to Deputy Minister Kara, Dr. Shussheim discussed the database of over 4,000 Israeli women currently receiving financial aid from Efrat. The meaning of that figure, Shussheim said, is that the organization is saving the lives of over 4,000 children annually by means of economic assistance alone.


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


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


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)


Sunday, May 10, 2009

The corrupt Leftist crooks who run Britain

Despite the caution expressed below, almost all the crooks have been from the Labour party. Even the Prime Minister has been implicated. Only one Conservative member has been implicated as far as I have seen

The systematic misappropriation by MPs of the allowance paid to defray the expense of keeping a second home is one of the great scandals of modern public life. It is a story that our readers, indeed the whole country, need to be told. Now, for the first time, it can be. As The Daily Telegraph discloses today, it goes far beyond the now familiar tales of barbecue equipment, bath plugs or adult movies bought at the taxpayer's expense. Many honourable members (of all parties, because this is, explicitly, not a party political matter) have been complicit in what amounts to an officially sanctioned and sustained abuse of public funds perpetrated against their own constituents over many years.

The extent of their rapacity is astonishing; and its scale can only be fully appreciated with the disclosure of the information being published by this newspaper. It will make uncomfortable reading for the MPs, for their families and for their voters. But it is right that the public should know what has been going on. Indeed, had the House of Commons accepted a ruling by the Freedom of Information Tribunal, a body established under legislation passed by Parliament, it would already have been published....

Many have claimed tens of thousands of pounds to furnish and renovate what any reasonable person would consider to be their principal residence – the home where their families reside. A large proportion of MPs have refurbished, decorated and sold second homes at taxpayers' expense, using the allowance to pay the mortgage interest and then pocketing the profit or buying another property. Many seem to have come to regard the allowance as a basic human right to be used for the most prosaic purchase.

MPs maintain they are all acting within the rules, but that is only because they set the rules and enforce them. It is arguable that some have acted beyond the rules. Those responsible for the most egregious abuses must have known that what they were doing was far removed from the purpose of the additional costs allowance. Yet because everyone was at it, they all joined in, with few exceptions. It is clear many MPs regarded the money as theirs to be claimed whether it was proper to do so or not.

They have done so to bolster what many in the Commons consider to be an insufficient salary, currently £63,291. That may be so; and it is a matter to be considered by Sir Christopher Kelly and the independent committee on standards in public life in the inquiry now under way. This tawdry state of affairs is having a serious impact on the country's opinion of our elected representatives. A recent YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph showed that 60 per cent of voters thought worse of MPs because of what they have discovered about the allowances system. Yet the evidence seen by this newspaper demonstrates that we did not know the full story – and nor were we going to be told it even when the receipts are officially published in a few weeks' time.

Efforts are under way to clean up this mess. Some reforms were agreed last week after a somewhat ham-fisted attempt by Gordon Brown to obtain political advantage from a scandal that afflicts every party. However, the central issue of the second-home allowance was deferred to Sir Christopher's inquiry. It is essential his committee expedites its work and comes up with its recommendations before the end of the year. In view of what we know now, there can be no doubt that the current system is rotten and cannot survive.

Any system based on an allowance that MPs are encouraged to claim in order to increase their income must be abandoned. There needs to be an independent audit of expenses that will obviate the need for future publication of receipts. If a system has public trust, it is not necessary for everyone to see what MPs claim. But in order for the Augean stables to be cleansed, it is first necessary to show how filthy they have become. Today, The Daily Telegraph does just that.



Deja vu

We’ve largely forgotten that Herbert Hoover, as secretary of commerce, initiated the first major Washington campaign to boost homeownership. His motivation was the 1920 census, which had revealed a small dip in ownership rates since 1910—from 45.9 percent to 45.6 percent of all households. The downturn was likely the result of a temporary diversion of resources away from housing during World War I. For Hoover, though, the apocalypse seemed nigh. “Nothing is worse than increased tenancy and landlordism,” he warned—though surely many things were worse. With little justification, he predicted that in just a few decades, three-quarters of all Americans would be renters. The press echoed the urgency. “The nation’s stability [is] being undermined,” the New York Times editorialized. “The masses [are] losing their struggle for a better life.”

Without waiting to see if postwar prosperity might solve the problem, in 1922 Hoover launched the Own Your Own Home campaign, hailed at the time as unique in the nation’s history. “The home owner has a constructive aim in life,” Hoover said, exhorting Americans to buy property. “He works harder outside his home, he spends his leisure hours more profitably, and he and his family live a finer life and enjoy more of the comforts and cultivating influences of our modern civilization.” Hoover urged “the great lending institutions, the construction industry, the great real estate men . . . to counteract the growing menace” of tenancy. He pressed builders to turn to residential construction and employers to support the cause. Some, like United States Steel and General Motors, agreed to provide parks and other amenities for the new housing developments that proliferated in response to Hoover’s call.

Hoover also called for new rules that would let nationally chartered banks devote a greater share of lending to residential properties. Congress responded in 1927, and the freed-up banks dived into the market, despite signs that it was overheating. The great national effort seemed to pay off. From mid-1927 to mid-1929, national banks’ mortgage lending increased 45 percent. The New York Times applauded the “wave of homebuilding” that “swept over” America; the country was becoming “a nation of home owners.” The 1930 census would later reveal a significant elevation in ownership rates, to 47.8 percent of all households.

But beneath the surface were disquieting signs. For as homeownership grew, so did the rate of foreclosures. From just 2 percent of commercial bank mortgages in 1922, they rose to 9 percent in 1926 and to 11 percent in 1927. This happened, of course, just as the stock-market bubble of the late twenties was inflating dangerously, making the federal housing initiative all the more hazardous. Soon after the October 1929 Wall Street crash, the housing market began to collapse, just as in today’s crisis, though the reasons were slightly different: panicked depositors withdrew money from their accounts, prompting bank runs; the banks ran out of capital and stopped making loans; and the mortgage market seized up. Homeowners, who in that era typically had short-term mortgages that required several refinancings before being paid off, suddenly couldn’t find new loans. Defaults exploded—by 1933, some 1,000 homes were foreclosing every day.

The Own Your Own Home campaign had trapped many Americans in mortgages far beyond their reach. New homeowners who had heard throughout the initiative that “the measurement of a man’s patriotism and worth as a citizen” was owning a home, wrote housing policy expert Dorothy Rosenman in 1945, had been “swept up by the same wave of optimism that swept the rest of the nation.” Financial institutions were exposed as well. Their mortgage loans outstanding had more than doubled between the early twenties and 1930—from $9.2 billion to $22.6 billion—one reason that about 750 financial institutions failed in 1930 alone. Construction firms, too, were ensnared, since they had heeded the government’s call and shifted to residential building. Housing starts jumped from about 250,000 new homes a year in the early 1920s to nearly 600,000 after the housing campaign—before slumping more than 80 percent after the crash. Construction jobs fell 70 percent from 1929 to 1933.

You might think that the Own Your Own Home campaign would have taught Washington the danger of trying to force homeownership up. Instead, the feds responded to the crisis with the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), a New Deal bailout program that made government an even bigger player in the housing market. Congress designed the HOLC to buy up troubled mortgages from lenders and then let homeowners refinance the loans with the government on more affordable terms. In theory, this would both aid strapped homeowners and clear bad loans from banks’ books, allowing them to resume mortgage lending.

The HOLC was a massive new federal agency, employing at its height some 20,000 people—appraisers, loan officers, auditors. By 1936, the agency’s total payroll was $26.2 million, the equivalent of $388 million today. The HOLC eventually received 1.9 million applications for mortgages and approved 1 million. Despite the more favorable terms that the HOLC offered, however, about one-fifth of the new mortgages defaulted, a failure rate that would sink a private-sector bank. Many who failed to pay might have been able to, but chose not to work out any arrangement with the government and essentially challenged the feds to kick them out—which officials were reluctant to do in the face of public opposition. HOLC loan officers classified about 65 percent of the defaults as resulting either from borrowers’ “noncooperation” or “obstinate refusal,” according to an analysis by Columbia University economist C. Lowell Harriss. “This type of noncooperation could sometimes be attributed to a desire to obtain free housing . . . an object that, in view of HOLC’s nature, was not difficult to realize,” Harriss wrote.

Ultimately, the HOLC did file more than 200,000 foreclosure actions. And its purchase of bad loans never revived mortgage lending, which stayed flat for the rest of the decade. The nation’s economic fundamentals were so lousy that little demand existed for new home loans.

Much more HERE


BrookesNews Update

Obama's economic policy is a recipe for lower living standards : America faces two enormous problems: Bernanke and Obama. Bernanke is doing what he can to flood the economy with money. This can only lead to surging inflation, rising interest rates, current account problems and depreciation. Obama's spending, taxing and regulatory policies amount to an assault on capital accumulation. Unless he abandons these destructive policies any inflationary recovery engineered by Bernanke will be short-lived and possibly followed by a distinct fall in living standards
Professor Mankiw's plan to revive the US economy with a dose of super inflation: Professor Mankiw of Harvard University has come up with a brilliant scheme to rescue the US economy — flood it with money. In addition, force people to spend by taxing their dollars. This is the kind of destructive nonsense that is being taught in the universities
The Australian economy is still tanking : It is finally being noticed — at least by some — that something is seriously wrong with manufacturing and that it does not bode well for recovery. You're damn right it doesn't
US National Security betrayed: Nancy 'Scooter' Pelosi: Pelosi lies through her teeth about an intelligence briefing while he Democratic pals out the US intelligence apparatus with total impunity. This are the same phony patriots and their media collaborators who demand that 'Scooter' Libby by hanged drawn and quartered for having a faulty memory. These Democrats, led by Obama, have demonstrated complete contempt for US national security. Liars and hypocrites, everyone of them
From General Motors to United States Motors: Crushed by a greedy and stupid union, a craven management and arrogant, bullying politicians General Motors is in reality a nationalised car company, courtesy of the brilliant Obama and his clever advisors, and a permanent drain on the American taxpayer. Mussolini must be laughing in his grave
The Democrats target the U.S. Constitution for destruction: To patriotic Americans the Constitution is a sacred document to be cherished and protected. It is a symbol of American exceptionalism and the Inalienable Rights of Man. To the Democrats it is a decaying and irrelevant document, a barrier to their lust for power that needs to be overcome
When Hatred is Common : Why does the world not react with outrage to calls for extermination of Jews from anyone other than Ahmadinejad? If the West is serious about peace, then all hatred must be condemned
Perez Hilton: The foul face of 'gay' activism : So, insofar as liberals continue to dig their own hole by defending Hilton and piling on Prejean, I submit they're doing the other 70 percent of us a favor. In their biting anger, they've cast aside the sublime mask of 'tolerance,' revealing an ugly, desperate and most intolerant countenance



Obama stiffs Chrysler's secured creditors: "Rebel lenders have dropped their legal fight against Chrysler's restructuring plan, increasing the carmaker's chance of a speedy exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Tom Lauria, of White and Case, the lenders’ attorney, said that the rebel investment funds lacked the “critical mass to withstand the enormous pressure and machinery of the US Government”. The funds will no longer oppose a restructuring plan announced by Chrysler and President Obama’s automotive taskforce last week, increasing the chance of the car group getting out of Chapter 11 within the President’s 30-to 60-day target. Oppenheimer Funds and Stairway Capital Management, the two most prominent opponents of the restructuring, dropped the fight, admitting that there was little chance of winning a better deal from Chrysler for lenders. A group of about 20 funds forced Chrysler into Chapter 11 last week when they refused to sign up to a $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) deal to wipe out the company’s $US6.9 billion debt. The debt deal was part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan, under which the United Auto Workers (UAW) union would receive a 55 per cent stake in the company in return for forgiving half of Chrysler’s $US10.6 billion liability to a workers’ healthcare fund. The funds argued that the $US2 billion deal contravened US bankruptcy law because they were being offered a lower repayment on their secured debts than unsecured creditors such as the UAW. However, they were condemned by President Obama as selfish opportunists for refusing the offer."

Congress got 40 briefings from the CIA on interrogations: "On September 4, 2002, Porter Goss, then the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Nancy Pelosi, the ranking Democratic member, were given a classified briefing by the CIA on what the Agency calls "enhanced interrogation techniques," or, in persistent media parlance, "torture." In particular, the CIA briefed the members on the use of these techniques on Abu Zubaydah, a high-ranking al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan the previous March. These days, Speaker Pelosi insists she heard and saw no evil. "We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," she told reporters late last month. "What they did tell us is that they had . . . the Office of Legal Counsel opinions [and] that they could be used, but not that they would." That doesn't square with the memory of Mr. Goss, who has noted that "we were briefed, and we certainly understood what the CIA was doing," adding that "Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough."

More Acorn Voter Fraud Comes to Light: "Democrats are split on how to deal with Acorn, the liberal "community organizing" group that deployed thousands of get-out-the-vote workers last election. State and city Democratic officials -- who've been contending with its many scandals -- are moving against it. Washington Democrats are still sweeping Acorn abuses under a rug. On Monday, Nevada officials charged Acorn, its regional director and its Las Vegas field director with submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms last year. Larry Lomax, the registrar of voters in Las Vegas, says he believes 48% of Acorn's forms "are clearly fraudulent." On Thursday, prosecutors in Pittsburgh, Pa., also charged seven Acorn employees with filing hundreds of fraudulent voter registrations before last year's general election".

Italy hearts Israel: "The foreign minister of Italy said his country's "friendship with the state of Israel and the Jewish people is a key plank of our foreign policy." Speaking at the American Jewish Committee's annual meeting on Thursday evening, Franco Frattini also discussed his country's decision to boycott last month's so-called Durban II conference on racism held in Geneva. The Obama administration joined Jewish groups and several other countries in boycotting the U.N. sponsored Durban Review Conference because of the failure of organizers to persuasively disassociate the conference from its 2001 predecessor in Durban, South Africa, which devolved into an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel forum. "We could not legitimize a message of hate," Frattini said. He said his country's decision not to attend was designed to "strengthen the legitimacy" and "credibility of the United Nations." But Frattini said the conference was a "missed opportunity" because "Europe was divided and hesitant." "The European Union must learn to speak with one voice," he said. Frattini also said he hoped the United States' decision to become a candidate for membership in the UN's Human Rights Council "is a sign there could be room" for the body to improve its role and become depoliticized. He also said Israel's "right to security and to defend itself is strictly non-negotiable and that Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is "not acceptable."

Ethics complaint against Palin dismissed: "An ethics complaint filed against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been dismissed. The Alaska Personnel Board on Friday dismissed the complaint, which alleged Palin violated ethics rules by accepting outside employment with her political action committee. Anchorage resident Sondra Tompkins, who filed the complaint in April, also alleged Palin participated in partisan activities when she spoke at an anti-abortion dinner in Indiana. An investigator hired by the personnel board to review the complaint determined the allegations did not constitute ethics violations."


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


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)


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Britain shows the fraud of socialism

They are purely destructive. They do no good even by their own criteria. They have been running Britain since 1997

The gap between rich and poor grew to record levels last year, official figures have disclosed. The number of children living in poverty rose by 100,000, the data showed, confirming Labour's failure to meet a promise to cut child poverty. The Department of Work and Pensions yesterday released income data for 2007/08, the last full financial year before the UK economy went into recession.

The data showed that while incomes for the better-off grew only slowly, they still increased more quickly than those of the poorest. Inflation also hit the incomes of the poorest disproportionately, eroding the value of their welfare payments. People are commonly defined as being in poverty when their income is only 60 per cent of the median salary in Britain. By that measure, the number of children, working-age adults and pensioners in poverty rose by 300,000 to 11.0 million in 2007/08 before housing costs are considered. After housing costs, the number in poverty rose by 200,000 to 13.5 million.

According to economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the figures mean that the Gini Coefficient, a measure of income inequality, is now at its highest level since they began compiling figures in 1961. Alastair Muriel, an IFS economist said: "Since the election, average incomes across the population have grown slowly, whilst they have fallen for the poorest." He added that the recession may see poorer households regain some ground if benefits grow more rapidly than the pay of the better off. Many companies are imposing pay freezes and even cuts on staff to cope with the downturn.

The data also dealt a heavy blow to Labour's claims on child poverty. Before housing costs are considered, the number of children in poverty remained unchanged at 2.9 million in 2007/08. After housing costs, the total increased by 100,000 to 4.0 million. In 2004/05, the figure hit a low of 3.6 million.

According to the DWP, the median weekly income in 2007/08 for a couple with two children was £601 before housing costs and £533 after housing costs. Such a couple would be considered poor if their monthly income pre-housing was £361, or £322 after housing.

The child poverty figures represent a political embarrasment for the Government and the Prime Minister. Labour in 1999 made a political pledge to eradicate child poverty, and reduce the "before housing costs" total to 1.7 billion by 2010. In 2001 Gordon Brown said to child poverty is a "scar on Britain's soul."

Ministers have already admitted that the 2010 target will be missed by around 1 million. Beverley Hughes, the Children's Minister, again admitted the target will be missed and hinted that child poverty could worsen. She said: "It is very difficult to model the impact of the recession on child poverty."

Last year's Queen's Speech promised a new legal obligation on ministers to end child poverty by 2020. Ms Hughes insisted that the government remains "absolutely committed" to that goal.

Colette Marshall, UK Director of Save the Children, said: "The Government has clearly broken its promise to lift up to three million children out of poverty in the UK. It is outrageous that so many children continue to miss out on the basic necessities most children take for granted."

Theresa May, the Conservative shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "Gordon Brown's pledge to halve child poverty by 2010 is just one of countless Labour promises that lies in tatters."




By Neal Boortz

Yesterday I gave you a Boortz economic lesson in an attempt to explain what the Barack Obama administration is trying to pull in this Chrysler bankruptcy. The latest on this story ... Thomas Lauria, a lawyer for top creditors, has officially filed a motion to stop the Chrysler bankruptcy. Lauria claims that the Obama administration has violated the Constitution by trying to devalue the senior creditors' holdings on behalf of junior creditors. What does Lauria base this on? Something called the 5th Amendment. Maybe you have heard of it. Just in case, here is a little reminder:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But wait ... as they say ... there's more! Lauria, who represents the group referred to as the non-TARP lenders, is going to ask that the bankruptcy court keep the names of his client confidential. Why would that be? Because they have been receiving threats. You can bet that some of the threats are coming from union members. These union goons like the idea of their pension debts being given priority to Chrysler's secured lenders, and I think we all know what union goons do when something happens they don't like. There was a time not too long ago when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms noted that the number one illegal use of explosives in the United States came at the hands of union members engaged in work actions.

But there's another group threatening the secured non-TARP creditors. That would be the White House. Lauria and others have claimed that people within the Obama administration have made it clear that if any of these secured lenders get in the way of Obama's gift to the unions the White House will work to destroy their reputation. Now the White House denies this. What would you expect? But listen to the language ... Obama has attacked these people in public as being "vultures" and has painted them as evil capitalists who don't want to stand by the families of Chrysler workers. If he'll do this in public, what do you think his attack dogs will do in private?

Even if you think Obama hung the moon; even if you're now calling him the best president this country ever had; you just have to recognize the danger in the precedent that's been set here. The United Auto Workers are getting priority for their unsecured Chrysler debt simply because they are political powerful. Now just how is that going to work out for us in the future? Do you want to live in a financial world where lenders base lending decision in part on the political prominence of the borrower?

Giving unsecured creditors priority over secured lenders in bankruptcy proceedings .. now that's change you can believe in.




Obama budget cuts target military funding: "President Obama has targeted the Department of Defense to absorb more than 80 percent of the cuts he has proposed in next year's budget for discretionary programs. In its "Terminations, Reductions and Savings" booklet, which the administration released Thursday, the White House highlighted the results of the president's line-by-line scrubbing of the federal budget. The administration identified $11.5 billion in discretionary program terminations and reductions for next year. The Defense Department will take a $9.4 billion hit, constituting 82 percent of the cuts. Defense accounts for 49 percent of spending on discretionary programs, which Congress must fund each year... The $17 billion in total cuts represents less than one-half of 1 percent of the $3.6 trillion 2010 budget the president proposed in February, and it is less than 1 percent of this year's budget deficit."

Britain still printing money: "The Bank of England yesterday stepped up its aggressive campaign to end Britain’s economic slump by ordering a surprise £50 billion expansion of its radical scheme to jump-start growth by “printing money”. Much of the City was wrong-footed as the Bank announced that it would immediately increase the size of its drive to pump extra cash through the economy by buying government and corporate bonds. The unexpected move will add to the Bank’s purchases so far of £46 billion of government bonds, or gilts, and corporate debt using newly created money under the £75 billion first phase of its radical “quantitative easing” scheme. It said that it would now raise the total to be spent under the plan to £125 billion. The Bank added that the measures would run for a further three months, beyond the first phase that was due to end at the end of this month, extending the unprecedented action until the end of August."

GM draws closer to bankruptcy in first quarter: “General Motors drew closer to bankruptcy Thursday, acknowledging that its revenue fell by nearly half as car buyers worldwide steered away from showrooms for fear that the auto giant would not be around to honor its warranties. The company lost $6 billion in the first three months of the year.”

The usual Illinois corruption: “Illinois State Police troopers seized a high-performance muscle car and set it aside for the personal use of an influential police official. The Associated Press reported that a suspected drunk driver in a 2006 Dodge Charger was pulled over in January 2007. The troopers used a state seizure law to confiscate the vehicle. Once the paperwork was complete, the 425-horsepower vehicle — which had an as-new base price of $38,000 — was handed over for the personal use of Ron Cooley, 56, the Executive Director of the Illinois State Police Merit Board. Taxpayers also pick up the fuel tab for gas-guzzling 6.1 liter V-8 as he drives to and from work each day and on various business trips.”

Moving toward drug legalization: “I think we’ve got a real shot at knocking out the drug war in the near future. Ten years ago, the average person would never even consider the idea, despite the fact that such notable figures as Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize winner), Bill Buckley (noted conservative), Kurt Schmoke (mayor of Baltimore), and others were calling for an end to the drug war. Today, even though there are a still plenty of people who won’t let go of the drug war, despite its manifest failure and destructiveness, everyone would concede that drug legalization is now a credible position, one that is being debated all across the country.”

Insolvent banks should feel market discipline: “Joseph Schumpeter famously argued that the essence of capitalism was creative destruction, by which new economic structures are born from the rubble of older ones. The government stress tests on the 19 largest US banks … could have facilitated this process. The opportunity looks likely to be missed. The tests, which measure how viable banks are under adverse economic conditions, have no ‘failed’ category, even if as many as 10 are reported to need additional capital. … Once again, the question will be how the near-insolvent banks can be kept afloat, to avoid systemic risk. But the question we really should be asking is: why keep insolvent banks afloat?”

Socking stocks: “Just as the economy begins showing glimmers of a turnaround, here comes President Obama with a ‘tax-reform’ effort that’s sure to sock the stock prices and after-tax profits of many of the biggest US employers. Obama’s $190 billion business-tax hike will hit Americans whose jobs and pensions depend on these companies doing well, and will increase pressure on already struggling colleges and hospitals. Why? Because millions of individual investors hold the companies’ stocks in their portfolios, mutual funds and pension funds, as do many colleges, hospitals, museums and other institutions in their endowments.”


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


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)


Friday, May 8, 2009

That famous journalistic "fact-checking" that makes newspapers so superior to blogs

AN Irish student's fake quote on the Wikipedia online encyclopedia has been used in newspaper obituaries around the world, the Irish Times reports. The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died in March. Shane Fitzgerald, 22, a final-year student studying sociology and economics at University College Dublin, told the newspaper he placed the quote on the website as an experiment when doing research on globalisation.

He quoted Oscar-winning composer Jarre as saying, "One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. "When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear."

The quote was posted on Wikipedia shortly after Jarre's death and later appeared in obituaries in major British, Indian and Australian newspapers.

Mr Fitzgerald told the newspaper he picked Wikipedia because it was something a lot of journalists look at and it can be edited by anyone.

While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone's death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre's life, he said.

Mr Fitzgerald said he was shocked by the result of his experiment. "I didn't expect it to go that far. I expected it to be in blogs and sites, but on mainstream quality papers? I was very surprised about," he said. He said the hoax remained undiscovered for weeks until he emailed the newspapers that had been deceived to tell them that they had published an inaccurate quote.

The Irish Times said that despite some newspapers removing the quote from their websites or carrying a correction and the fact that it had been dropped by Wikipedia, it remained intact on dozens of blogs, websites and newspapers.



Israel savages UN report on Gaza attacks

And the UN has gone very wobbly on it

ISRAELI officials lashed out yesterday at a UN report accusing the Jewish state of "negligence or recklessness" in attacks on UN facilities in the Gaza Strip during its war with Hamas in January. "The spirit of the report and its language are tendentious and entirely unbalanced," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who reportedly accused Israel of lying about the damage it caused to UN facilities in the three-week conflict, nevertheless rejected the report's call for a full and impartial investigation into the war. He tempered the report's findings by telling a press conference that Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip "faced and continue to face indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups".

The five-man inquiry commission was led by Ian Martin, a Briton who is a former head of Amnesty International. Its brief was to investigate casualties or damage involving UN facilities in Gaza but its conclusions touch on broader humanitarian issues regarding Israel's use of massive firepower in the densely populated strip.

Mr Ban refused to publish the complete 184-page report but released his own summary of it. The report accused Israel of "varying degrees of negligence or recklessness" towards UN facilities in its Gaza operation and said the deaths of civilians should be investigated under international humanitarian law...

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the report ignored the fact that Hamas and other militants had fired about 4000 rockets and mortar shells at Israel. "After eight years, we said 'enough'. We have the most moral army in the world. Responsibility lies solely with Hamas."

A central issue in the UN inquiry was a much-publicised incident at the Jabaliya refugee camp, where more than 40 civilians were reported killed inside a UN school compound by Israeli mortar fire, according to the Palestinians. UN officials in the area initially lent credence to the report. In response, Israeli officials said the army was responding to Hamas mortar fire from the compound. It eventually emerged that no Hamas fire had come from the compound and that no Israeli shells had hit the compound...

The first of the commission's 11 recommendations was that the UN seek "formal acknowledgment by the Government of Israel that its public statements alleging Palestinians fired" from within the UN school compound "were untrue and regretted". The report, however, apparently made no mention of the initial claims that Israeli shells had hit the school, causing more than 40 civilian casualties - a claim supported at the time by a UN agency - which were also untrue...

"When we saw the summary of the report, we were appalled," said an Israeli official to the news agency YNet. "It was written as if they didn't listen, didn't understand, maybe didn't want to understand."



Nigel Farage, the Leader of the UK Independence Party, gets the European Parliament right

This is one of the best political speeches I have heard for a long time. Do American politicians ever speak so frankly and forcefully? I think the GOP should recruit him, myself. He is referring to the Fascistic decision by the EU parliament to act as if their huge new "constitution" had been approved by the voters when in fact majorities in France, Ireland and Nederland (Holland) have rejected it at the ballot box

He points out that abuse is all they have to offer when he points out the impropriety of their actions. Sound familiar?

"A complete shower" is British slang meaning a group of completely incompetent and useless failures. It originated in the British armed forces where its unabbreviated version was "A complete shower of sh*t". I wonder how the EU translators translated it? It probably stumped them. All of the Anglospheric countries have rich slang vocabularies that are not usually in the dictionaries and which are not fully understood even in other Anglospheric countries. If I had been giving the speech above, I might well have called the EU parliament "a mob of drongoes", which is a rough translation into Australian English of Farage's remark.

Farage's UKIP is a minor British conservative party because the mainstream Tories include a substantial number of Europe-lovers. UKIP wants Britain out of the EU. I personally think that membership of NAFTA would suit Britain better than membership of the EU.



Klaus vetoes Czech approval of Lisbon Treaty: “The Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he would not ratify the Lisbon Treaty after it was approved by the senate yesterday, raising a new obstacle to plans to reform the EU. Mr Klaus explained that he would not sign the treaty because of its rejection by Irish voters last year and an expected court challenge in the Czech Republic.”

Pentagon to add 20,000 more bureaucrats: “Under pressure to overhaul its troubled weapons-buying process, the U.S. Defense Department is planning to add 20,000 new federal jobs over five years to reinforce its ability to handle contracts, cost estimates and oversight, the deputy defense secretary said Wednesday. William Lynn told the Senate Armed Services Committee that as the department increases personnel, it also will move toward more fixed-price contracts, scrutinize programs more closely and link incentive payments to contractors’ performance.”

Report: FBI slow to update terror watchlist: "The FBI has been slow to update the national terror suspect watchlist — and the lapses pose real risks to U.S. security, a Justice Department audit has found. A report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Glenn Fine, found that 12 terror suspects who were either not watchlisted or were slow to be added to the list may have traveled into or out of the United States during the period when they were not placed on the list.”

Trickle-down corruption: “The White House, as a matter of policy, is rewriting legal contracts, picking winners (mostly labor unions and mortgage defaulters) and singling out losers (evil ’speculators’), while much of the media continue to ponder whether Obama is already a greater president than FDR. If a Republican administration, staffed with cronies from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, were cutting special deals for its political allies, I suspect we’d be hearing fewer FDR analogies and more nouns ending with the suffix ‘gate.’”

Britain got there first: "General Motors is now co-owned by the American taxpayer and labor unions. As a Briton, I find this development astonishing. It repeats the mistakes of the 1970s Labor government, which essentially killed off the British auto industry. America should avoid the same mistake. By the late 1960s, most of Britain’s famous motor industry names—including Rover, Austin, Morris, Triumph and Jaguar—had consolidated into a “Big Two”: British Motor Holdings (BMH) and Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC). LMC was profitable; BMH was not. BMH was trying to sell cars that reflected the tastes of a bygone era—its Morris Minor, for example, had been designed in 1948. Foreign-owned companies were making cars in the UK that were more to the buying public’s taste, like the famous Ford Cortina, which gave much better performance and fuel economy. Sound familiar? In 1968, the Labor government encouraged the merger of BMH and LMC into British Leyland Motor Company (BL). This company maintained production of a variety of brands that competed against each other, and engaged in a research and development crash program to develop new cars that people would actually want to buy. The results were the Morris Marina, a car that my family happily bought and even more happily discarded, and the Austin Allegro. Both models sold strongly, on the basis that they were British (huzzah!), but in the end their shoddy design destroyed the reputation of British automaking.... All these struggles bought was time. The company was simply not viable. Ironically, today the most productive car plant in Europe is in my home town of Sunderland, where 5,000 workers build 330,000 Nissan cars a year. There are still around 250,000 people employed in the design and manufacture of vehicles in the UK, more than BL employed in Mrs. Thatcher’s time.

Increase trade with Korea, check China: “The People’s Republic of China is ever more confident, challenging U.S. naval ships in the South China Sea and the U.S. dollar in international forums. China has displaced America as the No. 1 trading partner with leading East Asian states. How do the Obama administration and Democratic Congress respond? By retreating economically from the region. Barack Obama called the U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement ‘badly flawed’ and urged the Bush administration not to even submit it for ratification. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk calls the agreement ‘unacceptable.’ Although increased trade with South Korea is ‘one of the biggest opportunities we have,’ he affirms that the administration ‘will step away from that if we don’t get it right.’ This policy represents economic and geostrategic folly. Washington should be expanding American investment and trade opportunities in East Asia. The starting point should be to ratify the South Korean trade agreement.”


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


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)


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jesus on Property Rights and Resource Preservation

Perhaps the most important proposition in the economics of property rights is that people will not care for a resource they do not own as well as they will care for a resource they do own. It is amazing how much fashionable economic belief — for example, nearly everything ever advanced in support of socialism, as well as the bulk of what passes for environmentalist policy proposals — fails to take adequate account of this virtually axiomatic proposition.

But don’t take my word for it — or even the word of any of my illustrious former collegues at the University of Washington. Take the word of Jesus of Nazareth.

In the tenth chapter of the Gospel According to John, Jesus is trying to make a point, but his listeners are not getting it, so he finally gives them a parable he can be sure they will understand (verses 11-13):
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.

Hired hands must be monitored closely if the owner is to prevent them from diminishing or destroying the value of the capital he has provided for them to work with. In postbellum southern agriculture, for example, plantation owners monitored sharecroppers, to whom they furnished mules, more closely than they monitored tenants who furnished their own mules.



Don't Confuse Justice and Charity

by Michael Medved

I was very pleased to read the article below as it largely echoes a point I made in 2006. The text I used was, however, Exodus 23:3. But to find it repeated in the "Second Law" (Deuteronomy) is of course no surprise -- JR

The core mistake of liberalism involves the confusion of charity and justice. How do we know it’s a disastrous error to blur the distinction between these two timeless virtues? Because the Bible specifically warns us against it.

Last Saturday, Jewish people around the world read Leviticus 19:15 as part of the weekly “Torah Portion” – the specific segment of the Five Books of Moses assigned since ancient times for synagogue recitation on this particular Sabbath of the calendar. The text declares (in the best modern translation): “You shall not commit a perversion of justice; you shall not favor the poor and you shall not honor the great; with righteousness shall you judge your fellow.”

The unmistakable commandment to avoid favoring the poor comes as something of a shock: doesn’t the Bible, and especially the New Testament, repeatedly remind us to deal generously with the less fortunate, and to care for widows, orphans and paupers in general?

The truth is that the Bible – both Old and New Testament—views compassion as a personal obligation rather than a public priority for governmental or judicial policy. The all important warning against tilting the scales of justice toward the poor appears just three verses before the most famous single injunction in all of Scripture: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus, 19:18).The juxtaposition of God’s directives makes it clear that not even love for your neighbor can allow “perversion of justice.” Justice and charity must remain distinct—not just separate, but in some ways opposite polarities.

The importance of this distinction particularly concerned the great Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Ytizchaki, 1040-1105), considered the most authoritative expositor of millennia-old oral traditions on the Biblical text. More than 900 years ago, Rashi addressed the verse in question and faced the puzzle of why the Bible forbids bias on behalf of the poor even before it forbids favoritism for the rich. “You shall not say, ‘This man is poor, and the rich man is obliged to support him,” the eminent Rabbi wrote. A judge is strictly prohibited from saying “I shall favor the poor man in this suit, and thus he will make a respectable living.” As a 20th Century rabbi (Nosson Scherman) succinctly summarized the point: “The Torah insists that justice be rendered honestly; charity may not interfere with it.”

Ironically, the Jewish world focused on this point this year in precisely the same week (the first Sabbath in May) in which President Obama faced his first opportunity to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court of the United States. In some of his campaign comments about criteria for such an appointment, the future president specifically indicated he wanted a judge with a “heart” for the poor and downtrodden, and who would concentrate on their specific interests and needs—in other words, precisely the sort of jurist prohibited by Leviticus.

Allowing justice to be twisted by emotions of sympathy for the unfortunate is no less corrupting than bending toward the rich and powerful out of a sense of awe or admiration, or in hopes of personal advancement. In both cases, feelings block the scrupulous application of rules of logic and fairness. In both cases, Jewish tradition suggests that the judge (or any other government official) has been, in effect, bribed.

On this point, leaders of the liberal Jewish establishment would no doubt object to the whole line of scripture-based reasoning, making the point that the Hebrew word for justice – “tzedek” – is directly related to the colloquial term for charity – “tzedaka.” This linguistic point has allowed many generations of Jewish fundraisers to make the pitch that for us, charitable giving isn’t a matter of special kindness or generosity, but an obligation of simple justice. As the Book of Deuteronomy (16:20) famously and resonantly declares: “Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.”

Actually, the better translation for this celebrated phrase (“Tzedek, tzedek teerdof” in Hebrew) would be “Righteousness, righteousness you should pursue.” When the book of Leviticus bans bias toward the poor as a “perversion of justice” the word used isn’t “tzedek” (best rendered as “righteousness”) but rather “Mishpat” (best rendered as “law” or “judgment”). Righteousness constitutes a personal goal for each individual – and very much includes charitable giving, and acts of loving-kindness for the impoverished and powerless. “Law” (or “judgment”) on the other hand describes an expression of organized society or governmental authority, which should treat all society’s members, rich and poor alike, in a non-prejudicial and neutral manner.

This distinction between personal obligations and official policy brings important implications for current controversies. As individuals, we should never try to look on Bill Gates and a homeless beggar as equally deserving of our sympathy or generosity. At the same time, twisting the law or administrative policy to favor the beggar in a dispute with Bill Gates would require the same abandonment of impartiality as privileging the Software Sultan over the pauper.

Does this mean that a system of progressive taxation constitutes the blurring of justice and charity that the Bible decries? The answer is almost certainly yes, and helps explain why so many conservatives yearn for a system of flat taxes or consumption taxes to replace the current nightmare of the IRS. This doesn’t mean that Mr. Gates would ever pay the same tax bill as our imaginary homeless gent--- if they both paid 10%, Mr. Microsoft would still pay vastly more in precisely the same ratio that he earned vastly more. But a system under which top earners get slammed with a 39.6% rate (as they will if Obama lets Bush tax cuts lapse, as promised) and struggling householders pay nothing, but actually get checks from the government totaling thousands of dollars (through the Earned Income Tax Credit and other scams), very clearly represents a society organized to favor the poor in a way that violates unbiased justice.

At a time when the outspoken religious left wants to claim scriptural sanction for its redistributionist schemes, when President Obama searches for a judge who will follow her compassionate heart rather than the Constitution, it’s appropriate to recall the timeless and necessary Biblical separation between public justice and private compassion.




"Torture" lawyers not likely to be charged: “Bush administration lawyers who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects should not face criminal charges, Justice Department investigators say in a draft report that recommends two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions. The recommendations come after an Obama administration decision last month to make public legal memos authorizing the use of harsh interrogation methods but not to prosecute CIA interrogators who followed advice outlined in the memos.”

DHS: “Lexicon” source a “maverick office”: “The Department of Homeland Security is reining in a ‘maverick’ division of the agency following criticism of a report it issued that details domestic ‘extremists’ ranging from anti-tax movements to pro-environment groups, a DHS official told FOX News on Tuesday. The report, released in March and recalled within hours, was on top of a controversial document the same office produced last month that said U.S. veterans were ripe for recruitment by terrorist groups. The quickly withdrawn report, titled the ‘Domestic Extremism Lexicon,’ comes from the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the same unit that produced the report on right-wing extremists recruiting vets. The document, first uncovered by The Washington Times, uses a broad brush to define terms used when analyzing dozens of supposedly extremist ideologies inside the United States.”

Obama is exactly wrong: "In the Austrian view, depressions come about because expansion of bank credit results in malinvestments. Because these need to be liquidated, the government should follow a "do nothing" policy that allows the market to return to normal conditions. When this policy was followed, recovery from depression took no more than a few years, in the 1873 depression, in contrast to the total failure to recover during the New Deal. The results were even better in the 1920–1921 depression, when both Wilson and Harding slashed government spending: "the 1920–1921 depression was so short-lived that most Americans today are unaware of its existence."

Can Obama be called an economic fascist? : “It is dangerous in this day and age to use the word ‘fascism’ lightly. Liberals sling around the term ‘fascism’ without regard to its meaning — for the left, ‘fascism’ applies to everything from religious social perspectives to conservative tax cut prescriptions. But economic fascism has a precise, defined meaning. And Barack Obama’s economic policy fulfills that meaning in every conceivable way.”

Overeducated redneck: “I’m generally certain that I’m considerably more intelligent, educated, and informed than those calling me ignorant (and for that matter, they are almost certainly racists whether they realize it or not; and I am definitely not; but that’s another post entirely); but that doesn’t address the point I want to make here. To these people, redneck is an insult. So is ‘cowboy’ for that matter, or really anything to do with rural America or ‘country.’ This is of course another form of class warfare, and identity politics. By calling me a redneck, they believe they are dismissing me, my ideas, my opinions, and the facts I present; as not credible, irrelevant, or below them. Well … to me, call me a redneck, and that’s a compliment. They didn’t intend it that way, but it is.”


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


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)


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Capitalism Mafia style is now the system

Listening to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, we get a sense of the "new capitalism" that our new Democratic leadership tells us America needs.

Frank recently praised Bank of America chairman (now ex-chairman) Ken Lewis for acting in "the public interest" for caving in to bribes and threats from former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke regarding B of A's takeover of Merrill Lynch. Lewis wanted to back out the deal last year when he discovered the massive scope of Merrill's losses. But Paulson and Bernanke decided that Merrill shouldn't fail, so they bribed Lewis with $20 billion of taxpayer funds, instructed him to conceal the agreement from his shareholders, and told him his job would be on the line if he didn't play ball -- which he did.

These sordid details have come to light in an investigation being conducted by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. So if such behavior is what Barney Frank calls economic patriotism, what might constitute subversive behavior?

When Congress moved last year to politically engineer changes in terms of existing mortgages in the name of bailing out distressed homeowners, Bill Frey, who manages a fund that holds mortgage-backed securities, protested. Frey told the New York Times, "Any investor in mortgage-backed securities has a right to insist that their contract be enforced."

Contracts? Private property? That's the old capitalism. Frank fired off a letter to Frey saying he was "outraged...that you are actively opposing our efforts to achieve diminution in foreclosures by voluntary efforts." Frank then clarified his idea of "voluntary" by summoning Frey to testify in Washington, noting that "if this cannot be arranged on a voluntary basis, then we will pursue further steps."

The House has passed legislation, which is now in the Senate, containing Frank's idea of "diminution in foreclosures by voluntary efforts." It amounts to -- what a surprise -- taxpayer funded bribes to abrogate existing mortgage contracts and provisions for legal protection for doing so. Frey and others managing funds for investors holding billions in mortgage-backed securities are fighting back. We're not talking Bernie Madoff here. We're talking about funds that have invested in these securities on behalf of pension funds and 401Ks.

Financial institutions -- banks like B of A and Wells Fargo -- originate mortgages and then sell them off to be sliced and diced up into bonds that individual investors can purchase. This financial innovation has been a boon for providing capital and liquidity to our mortgage markets. The originating bank, however, stays in the picture to service the loan, collecting and processing the payments. Contractual agreements exist between the bank and the bondholders that this will be done in good faith, according to the terms of the original mortgage.

For a host of reasons, mostly massive government meddling and social engineering, the mortgage market exploded and thus, we've got homeowners who can't make payments. The House passed bill proposes to bail these folks out by paying banks servicing the mortgages $1000 for each one they re-finance, cutting interest rates and payments. Those who actually own the loans -- the bondholders -- are left out to pasture. And, the bill protects servicing banks from lawsuits to which they would normally be exposed for breaking their contracts.

So taxpayers will subsidize banks to refinance the bad loans they originated but no longer own, homeowners who borrowed beyond their means get bailed out, and investors -- the bondholders -- are left to bear the costs. On top of this, many of these same banks originated second mortgages on these same homes. The second mortgages, which the banks still own, bear even higher interest rates because they are allegedly more risky. Yet, they will be left secure and undisturbed.

Aside from the costs that our society will bear as law and contracts no longer have meaning, Frey rightly points out that it all will just make future mortgage borrowing more expensive. Who will take risks to lend when politicians can change contracts at the drop of a hat?

Welcome to the new capitalism. Where politicians rule, irresponsible behavior is rewarded, and theft is legal.



Shipping Jobs Overseas?

A common refrain among protectionists, economic nationalists and other advocates of strong government intervention in the economy is that so-called “big corporations” are “shipping jobs overseas.” This charge is used particularly often with regards to manufacturing jobs, where the specter of jobs fleeing en masse to China, India and Mexico is described in breathless terms.

Whether the goal is “renegotiating” (or ending altogether) free trade agreements like NAFTA, bailouts of domestic industries or some sort of tax code manipulation to “reward” companies who “create American jobs,” the bogeyman of choice is what Ross Perot dubbed the “giant sucking sound” in the 1990s—particularly when a politician is campaigning in former manufacturing centers in Rust Belt areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Along with the loss of jobs themselves, the so-called “trade deficit” is often mentioned, noting that it is at record highs and that it somehow signifies loss of American jobs and a manufacturing base; foreign capital investment is often also a target of political derision.

The facts, however, continue to show otherwise. As documented by the pro-trade Center for Trade Policy Studies, foreign investment by multi-national companies tends to be focused on opening up new markets to goods and services—to making these companies more profitable by reaching new customers—rather than a method for shipping out American jobs and moving capital out of the United States.

One by one, Director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies Dan Griswold’s research punctures the myths promulgated by the anti-trade crowd. Worried about the U.S. manufacturing base moving factories to China, India and Mexico? Then consider this: “Between 2003 and 2007, U.S. manufacturing companies sent an average of $2 billion a year in direct investment to China and $1.9 billion to Mexico”; meanwhile, U.S. corporations were investing $165 billion per year in the USA. An additional $15 billion per year was being invested in manufacturing in the United States by foreign corporations during this time. These data show that while, yes, American companies were spreading their manufacturing wings overseas, they were investing more than 80 times as much here at home.

But what about the loss of manufacturing jobs? True, the U.S. workforce employed in manufacturing shrank by 3 million in the years 2000-2006. But as shown above, corporations were making capital investments in the United States; those investments, rather than workers, were in technology and automation. Those jobs weren’t being shipped overseas, they were being replaced with more efficient technology, creating other high-tech jobs elsewhere in the labor market. Meanwhile, “an increase in 172,000 jobs at U.S.-owned affiliates in China was partially offset by an actual decline of almost 100,000 jobs at affiliates in Mexico.”

One by one, the justifications for increased government intrusion in the marketplace fall by the wayside when examined more closely, when facts are employed rather than innuendo. A free market and free trade, unencumbered by government interference, management or directives is still the best way to promote prosperity.




Rather silly PC guesswork: Fragments of bone from Europe of around 40,000 years ago have been used to "reconstruct" what ancient Europeans looked like. The reconstructor has given his reconstruction brown skin even though modern Europeans are all pale-skinned and he admits that there is no way of determining the skin colour from the bone fragments.

I have put up a few things on my Paralipomena blog in the last few weeks -- for anybody who fancies a bit of offbeat reading.

Some charming Muslim on Muslim action: "At least 41 people have been killed in an attack on a wedding party in a village in southeast Turkey, an official from the governor's office said. At least three others were wounded in the shooting in the village of Bilge, the official, who requested anonymity, said. In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was briefed about the incident by Interior Minister Besir Atalay, Anatolia news agency reported. There was no official word on who might be behind the shooting. Separatist Kurdish rebels are active in southeast Turkey, where they have waged a 24-year campaign for self-rule. Blood feuds are also frequent in the region." [It's all Israel's fault, of course]

Communists lose one in Nepal: "Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda announced his resignation yesterday, plunging the country into a political crisis triggered by a stand-off between his ex-rebels and the army chief. In a televised address to the nation, Mr Prachanda said he was stepping down in response to an "unconstitutional and undemocratic" move by Nepal's President to stop the elected Maoist Government from sacking the head of the army. He also warned that the impoverished nation's 2006 peace deal, which ended a decade of civil war, was at risk. The Maoist Government on Sunday fired the army chief, General Rookmangud Katawal, for refusing to integrate 19,000 former Maoist rebel soldiers into the regular army, as stipulated by the peace accord. But President Ram Baran Yadav, a member of the main opposition party, yesterday told the head of the army - traditionally a bastion of Nepal's elite and the former monarchy - to stay put. "The move by the President is an attack on this infant democracy and the peace process," said Mr Prachanda, a former school teacher who led the insurgency before signing up for peace. Since the elections, the Maoists have managed to carry through with their pledge to abolish the monarchy but complain Nepal's traditional ruling elite is blocking other key reforms. Centrist parties, meanwhile, appear to have sided with the army against what they see as an attempt by the Maoists to assume dictatorial powers."

House Democrats leave Gitmo closing money out of bill: “Amid fears that terror suspects could be brought to the U.S., House Democrats on Monday rebuffed the Obama administration’s request for $50 million to relocate prisoners from the detention facility at Guantanamo, Cuba. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., dropped the request from a $94.2 billion measure funding military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan through the fall.”

ACORN charged in voter fraud case: “Nevada authorities filed criminal charges Monday against the political advocacy group ACORN and two former employees, alleging they illegally paid canvassers to sign up new voters during last year’s presidential campaign. ACORN denied the charges and said it would defend itself in court. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now had a handbook and policies requiring employees in Las Vegas to sign up 20 new voters per day to keep their $8- to $9-per-hour jobs.”

Congress leery of Obama’s plan on tax loopholes: “President Barack Obama promised sternly on Monday to crack down on companies ‘that ship jobs overseas’ and duck U.S. taxes with offshore havens. It won’t be easy. Democrats have been fighting — and losing — this battle since John F. Kennedy made a similar proposal in 1961. Obama’s proposal to close tax loopholes was a reliable applause line during the presidential campaign, but it got a lukewarm response Monday from Capitol Hill.” [Any guesses about how much money Congressmen have got offshore? You've got to put bribes SOMEWHERE! Only William Jefferson was silly enough to put it in his freezer]

Obama’s empathetic judicial poison: “Barack Obama’s statement that ‘empathy’ would be a key qualification he’d look for in a nominee to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court is not simply soft liberal thinking, it’s a direct attack on the rule of law, an abrogation of Obama’s oath of office — and entirely consistent with Obama’s prior statements.”

White House Council on Men and Boys: The right thing to do: “One of the greatest failings of the Great Society programs of the 1960s was the devastating blow they dealt to low-income African-American families. And it’s no secret how all this happened. Thanks to President Johnson’s signature legislation, newly-minted social welfare programs provided an array of services and benefits that were designed to help single moms. But these programs proved to afford powerful incentives for women to become pregnant, and then make sure the dad didn’t hang around too long. The effects were devastating as they were dramatic.”

High-speed rail is no solution: “The facts do not bear out several aspects of President Barack Obama’s desire to push high-speed rail projects with federal resources ($8 billion in the economic stimulus package, another $5 billion in his 2010 budget) — chiefly, that the rail projects are more efficient and more environmentally friendly than modes of travel now widely in use. Saving energy and reducing pollution are worthy goals, and if high-speed trains could achieve these goals, the president’s plan might be a good one. But since they cannot, it isn’t.”


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


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)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Civil Rights Commission Members Urge “NO” Vote on Federal Hate Crimes Bill

There is little doubt that this bill will soon become law. As the article below points out, however, the implications are alarming

Four members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission urged Congress not to pass the federal hate crimes bill (H.R. 1913). In an April 29 letter to Congressional leaders, they point out that it would circumvent Constitutional protections against double jeopardy, giving the federal government the power to reprosecute people in federal court even after they have been found innocent of rape and other “hate crimes” in state court:

“We believe that LLEHCPA will do little good and a great deal of harm. Its most important effect will be to allow federal authorities to re-prosecute a broad category of defendants who have already been acquitted by state juries–as in the Rodney King and Crown Heights cases more than a decade ago.”

“We regard the broad federalization of crime as a menace to civil liberties. There is no better place to draw the line on that process than with a bill that purports to protect civil rights.”

“While the title of LLEHCPA suggests that it will apply only to “hate crimes,” the actual criminal prohibitions contained in it do not require that the defendant be inspired by hatred or ill will in order to convict. It is sufficient if he acts “because of” someone’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Consider:

*Rapists are seldom indifferent to the gender of their victims. They are virtually always chosen “because of” their gender.

*A robber might well steal only from women or the disabled because, in general, they are less able to defend themselves. Literally, they are chosen “because of” their gender or disability.”

“If all rape and many other crimes that do not rise to the level of a “hate crime” in the minds of ordinary Americans are covered by LLEHCPA, then prosecutors will have “two bites at the apple” for a very large number of crimes.”

We wrote earlier about how backers of the federal hate-crimes bill want to use it to reprosecute people who have already been found innocent, and to prosecute people whom state prosecutors decline to charge because the evidence against them is so weak. Supporters of the bill have given only lame rationalizations for why state not-guilty verdicts should not be respected. (Some have even made the strange claim that the defendants in the Duke Lacrosse case, whom the North Carolina attorney general later admitted were actually innocent, should have been reprosecuted in federal court).

Such reprosecutions fall within a loophole in Constitutional protections against double jeopardy known as the “dual sovereignty” doctrine. But ironically, they violate Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — a treaty that many of the bill’s backers harp on to push liberal causes, such as restrictions on the death penalty and antiterrorism measures. Article 14’s ban on double jeopardy has no “dual sovereignty” loophole, unlike the U.S. Constitution. That is an additional reason to be skeptical of the hate-crimes bill, which is known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (LLEHCPA).



The Next Housing Bust

Everyone knows how loose mortgage underwriting led to the go-go days of multitrillion-dollar subprime lending. What isn't well known is that a parallel subprime market has emerged over the past year -- all made possible by the Federal Housing Administration. This also won't end happily for taxpayers or the housing market.

Last year banks issued $180 billion of new mortgages insured by the FHA, which means they carry a 100% taxpayer guarantee. Many of these have the same characteristics as subprime loans: low downpayment requirements, high-risk borrowers, and in many cases shady mortgage originators. FHA now insures nearly one of every three new mortgages, up from 2% in 2006.

The financial results so far are not as dire as those created by the subprime frenzy of 2004-2007, but taxpayer losses are mounting on its $562 billion portfolio. According to Mortgage Bankers Association data, more than one in eight FHA loans is now delinquent -- nearly triple the rate on conventional, nonsubprime loan portfolios. Another 7.5% of recent FHA loans are in "serious delinquency," which means at least three months overdue.

The FHA is almost certainly going to need a taxpayer bailout in the months ahead. The only debate is how much it will cost. By law FHA must carry a 2% reserve (or a 50 to 1 leverage rate), and it is now 3% and falling. Some experts see bailout costs from $50 billion to $100 billion or more, depending on how long the recession lasts.

How did this happen? The FHA was created during the Depression to help moderate-income and first time homebuyers obtain a mortgage. However, as subprime lending took off, banks fled from the FHA and its business fell by almost 80%. Under the Bush Administration, the FHA then began a bizarre initiative to "regain its market share." And beginning in 2007, the Bush FHA, Congress, the homebuilders and Realtors teamed up to expand the agency's role.

The bill that passed last summer more than doubled the maximum loan amount that FHA can insure -- to $719,000 from $362,500 in high-priced markets. Congress evidently believes that a moderate-income buyer can afford a $700,000 house. This increase in the loan amount was supposed to boost the housing market as subprime crashed and demand for homes plummeted. But FHA's expansion has hardly arrested the housing market decline. The higher FHA loan ceiling was also supposed to be temporary, but this year Congress made it permanent.

Even more foolish has been the campaign to lower FHA downpayment requirements. When FHA opened in the 1930s, the downpayment minimum was 20%; it fell to 10% in the 1960s, and then 3% in 1978. Last year the Senate wisely insisted on raising the downpayment to 3.5%, but that is still far too low to reduce delinquencies in a falling market.

Because FHA also allows borrowers to finance closing costs and other fees as part of the mortgage, the purchaser's equity can be very close to zero. With even a small drop in prices, many homeowners soon have mortgages larger than their home's value -- which is one reason FHA's defaults are rising. Every study shows that by far the best way to reduce defaults and foreclosures is to increase downpayments. Banks know this and have returned to a 10% minimum downpayment on their non-FHA loans.

In a rational world, Congress and the White House would tighten FHA underwriting standards, in particular by eliminating the 100% guarantee. That guarantee means banks and mortgage lenders have no skin in the game; lenders collect the 2% to 3% origination fees on as many FHA loans as they can push out the door regardless of whether the borrower has a likelihood of repaying the mortgage. The Washington Post reported in March a near-tripling in the past year in the number of loans in which a borrower failed to make more than a single payment. One Florida bank, Great Country Mortgage of Coral Gables, had a 64% default rate on its FHA properties.

The Veterans Affairs housing program has a default rate about half that of FHA loans, mainly because the VA provides only a 50% maximum guarantee. If banks won't take half the risk of nonpayment, this is a market test that the loan shouldn't be made.

These reforms have long been blocked by the powerful housing lobby -- Realtors, homebuilders and mortgage bankers, backed by their friends in Congress. They claim FHA makes money for taxpayers through the premiums it collects from homebuyers. But keep in mind these are the same folks who said taxpayers weren't at risk with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

A major lesson of Fan and Fred and the subprime fiasco is that no one benefits when we push families into homes they can't afford. Yet that's what Congress is doing once again as it relentlessly expands FHA lending with minimal oversight or taxpayer safeguards.



All the News Not Fit to Print

It's no wonder that newspapers are going out of business when it's become obvious for anyone with a scintilla of honesty that, too often, their "reporting" -- intentionally or not -- is entirely informed by liberal group think. Columnist Andrew Smith, writing in the Nova Scotia News, lists the most dramatic examples of Barack Obama's failures in his first 100 days that you're not likely to hear about anywhere except Fox News. Here's a sample:

•Obama’s first two major bills alone, the "stimulus" and "omnibus," cost nearly twice as much as was spent on Iraq over six years – $1.2 trillion vs. $650 billion.

•Obama abandoned his campaign promise of "a net spending cut," his first annual deficit – not counting bailouts – being three times the worst deficit under President George W. Bush.

•Obama’s objective in his first G20 summit – commitments to spend our way to prosperity with massive stimulus boondoggles across the G20 – was rejected out of hand.

•Obama’s objective in his first NATO summit – commitments to combat troops for Afghanistan from "our European allies," which Obama and his party imagined were ready and willing to fight if only someone "enlightened" like him were running things – was predictably refused, with some more European non-combat contingents offered as a token.

•Obama’s Defence Department announced cuts of $1.4 billion to missile defence, the day after North Korea test-fired its long-range, multi-stage ballistic missile.

•Obama’s economics were criticized by Warren Buffet, whose endorsement had been candidate Obama’s highest economic credential.

•Obama reversed the free trade Bush policy that had allowed about 100 Mexican tractor-trailers into the United States, which the Mexican government immediately used as an excuse to levy tariffs on 90 American goods amounting to $2.4 billion in U.S. exports.

•Obama’s "tax cuts for 95 per cent" turned out to mean $13 a week from June to December, to be clawed back to $8 a week in January – as compared with President Bush’s 2008 tax rebates of $600 to $1,200 plus $300 per child, which were notably scoffed at during the election campaign by Michelle Obama.

This piece is a must-read. And its contents should be memorized by every Republican in Washington and repeated ad nauseam.




The authoritarian mindset: “When encountering those who have a desire to tell others what to do, to dictate to them, one can try to classify them into different categories. C. S. Lewis did so by discussing the difference between the dictator who dictates out of greed and the one who dictates out of a desire to help others. The former, he said, was preferable because his greed could sometimes be sated.”

Alternative voting methods needed?: “The reasons to change the way we vote are numerous. A fundamental reason to change it is that Americans tend to vote AGAINST candidates rather than FOR them. We have shaped the idea of democracy into an expression of our personal fears. We seem to feel stronger about candidate’s who we DON’T want in an office than we do about those we support. Usually this is perfectly understandable, as the candidates we have to choose from are often not that good, so it is often easier to identify candidates who are LEAST in line with what we want than it is to identity ones whom we can wholeheartedly support. One obvious problem with this method is that when people are primarily voting AGAINST a candidate, they are afraid to ‘waste’ their vote by casting it for someone who they might approve of but who has no actual chance of winning.”

Nudging revisited: “Ideas do have consequences and this is quite evident with the current administration’s adoption of what has been labeled — or mislabeled — ‘libertarian paternalism.’ It was two political economists, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, who proposed the notion that what government should do is not intervene in the market forcefully, the way champions of the New Deal would advocate, but by establishing numerous incentives that would nudge people to do the right thing. … The approach favored by Thaler and Sunstein is one that is gaining much respect from center-left liberals because it avoids the failed and not too popular policies of aggressive interventionism, the sort that in fact had a lot to do with America’s current economic mess.”

FDR’s Social Security paradox: “If Social Security is so wonderful, why were people forced to participate, why was it set up as a monopoly, and why did it dump ever-larger costs onto the backs of future generations? There never was a popular demand for Social Security, even during the Great Depression. Few Americans were interested in the kind of government-run program that the German politician Otto von Bismarck had introduced in Europe.”


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


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)


Monday, May 4, 2009

The big tent

Although, as a libertarian conservative, I have some fairly extreme views on the importance of free speech and minimum government, I extend great tolerance towards people whom I partly disagree with. I doubt that I have ever written anything critical of a fellow conservative or libertarian. Many conservatives, for instance, regard Christianity as central to conservatism and I certainly do not. I nonetheless always write supportively of Christians.

Factionalism is however very common on the Left -- witness the icepick in the head that Trotsky got courtesy of Stalin. Very few of the old Bolsheviks lived for long after the revolution, in fact. And Lenin was just as bad as Stalin. In a 1920 pamphlet you find a contempt for some of his fellow Leftists that is probably greater than anything he ever wrote about the Tsar. It is in describing his fellow revolutionaries (Kautsky and others) that Lenin spoke swingeingly of "the full depth of their stupidity, pedantry, baseness and betrayal of working-class interests".

But Leftism is founded on hate and I think we conservatives should be able to rise above that. And I think we mostly do. The concept of the big tent has long been basic to GOP strategy. I actually think the tent could be broader than it is, even. I myself am certainly outside the tent because I sometimes mention certain psychometric facts about race. Given the Leftist dominance of public discourse, however, I can well understand why I am outside the tent under those circumstances. Conservatives do have to bow down to the Left in many ways if they are to get any hearing at all.

Currying favour with the Left is however in my view contemptible and that seems to me to be the motivation of many RINOs. Though whether Arlen Specter ever had any convictions about anything at all is in my view questionable. I was appalled when GWB endorsed him.

But currying favour with the Left now seems to have seeped into the blogosphere. Charles Johnson of LGF seems to think that he can win favour if he balances his criticisms of Islam with condemnations of other critics of Islam -- such as the heroic Geert Wilders -- as "Fascist". He is particularly critical of the small and desperate band of Europeans who criticize Islam and he regularly quotes unbalanced European Leftist attacks on them. He is really quite pathetic and one conservative of European origin has recently told him that at length.

Being my big-tent self, however, I wonder if CJ's problem may be more benign than at first appears. Maybe he just doesn't understand European conservatism. I barely understand it myself. It is certainly different from conservatism as we know it in the Anglosphere. From what I have seen of the European Right, it is much more in favour of a powerful State, largely Catholic and and more antisemitic. Jacques Chirac was after all a conservative in French terms. What the European Right seems to have in common with Anglo-Saxon conservatism seems mainly to be a high degree of realism, which leads in turn to a rejection of revolutionary change and a respect for private property and what has worked in the past.

And if a failure to comprehend that difference is CJ's problem he is not alone. It confuses other American bloggers too. "Rusty" of The Jawa Report also finds Fascist tendencies in Geert Wilders. Jewish Odysseus however has replied to Rusty and supplied some of the necessary perspective and Rusty has updated his post in what largely amounts to a backdown.

The problem for Americans is that Wilders believes in free speech in general but opposes free speech for Muslims. He rightly says that the Koran is worse than Mein Kampf in what it says and wants it banned. Jewish Odysseus rightly points out however that if you had suffered the immense harm and suffering that Nazism inflicted on Europe (including Germany itself), you would want Nazism banned too -- and it is therefore consistent to want a ban on a present-day ideology that is just as dangerous as Nazism.

And the essence of conservatism is that it is not rigid and doctinaire. It is always ready to make compromises with the realities of its day. In that it differs from libertarianism, which has rules that libertarians believe to be universal and immutable. And I am a conservative rather than a libertarian in this matter even though I am pretty fanatical about free speech. I even believe that a man who shouts "Fire!" in a crowded theatre is to be commended (any libertarian can tell you why). But I nonetheless recognize that all rules have exceptions and it gives me little heartburn (though I disagree with it) that Europeans want to ban all expressions of Nazism and related ideologies. The big problem is getting them to acknowledge that Islam and Nazism are related ideologies.

So I hope that CJ is not just pandering to the Left for the sake of popularity and approval but is in fact genuinely caught in a misunderstanding of European conservatism. Tolerance of difference would become him.


BrookesNews Update

Will a tidal wave of red ink sink the American economy?: Obama and his economics advisors — all of whom are Keynesians — are concocting a witches' brew that will wreak havoc with the economy if not countered. Unfortunately there is no way of stopping it. At the moment America is basically one-party state under the Democrats and they are enthusiastically supported by a viciously corrupt media
The Australian economy tanks while our 'free marketeers' flounder: The Australian economy is in recession and manufacturing continues to contract. And all that our so-called free marketeers can do is throw bricks at Rudd. These are the same people who failed to predict the recession, failed to grasp its cause and failed dismally to defend free market principles against its critics
Obama's historical illiteracy is a grave danger to national security: Decades years of 'progressive' ideology has left in its wake the insidious belief that capitalist societies do not deserve to survive — especially the America, the greatest capitalist nation of all. This odious belief is shared by the Democrats' leftwing and America’s treasonous media whose outrageous political bigotry and ingrained mendacity is becoming more and more self-evident by the day
Legally non-binding resolutions and Israel's existence : People's political views are based predominantly on their emotional attachments to their personal upbringing and life experiences and have almost nothing to do with the facts of history, be it ancient or modern, and legality of the issues. And this is certainly the case with Israel
'I told you so!' Obama's a card carrying Muslim! You will see!: We are. As promised, having a great change. We are no longer Judeo-Christian country; our leader is now chasing and pandering to our greatest foe — Islam. It was lovely how he became the first president to criticize America on foreign soil. But worse of all, our 'brother is in the White House is apologizing to the world for who we are because he wants us to change — but to what?
Dems using 'hate crimes' legislation to abolish the Fourteenth Amendment: The Democrats' attacks on the Constitution are relentless. They are now targeting the 14th amendment as well as the 1st amendment. The entire push for federal 'hate crimes' legislation is rooted in fraud
America's Red Sea: a flood of debt and taxes : Obama is driving America into a Marianas Trench of red ink. Cap-and-tax will also clobber manufacturing and heavy-industry jobs. Twenty states get 60-98 per cent of their electricity from coal. They form our manufacturing heartland, and every increase in energy prices will result in more businesses laying off workers. This destructive policy would utterly devastate American industry. And our corrupt mainstream media call this guy smart
The President's Audacity of Hope is that labor unions control the workplace: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right of association. The Democratic Administration is working to destroy this protection in order to strengthen unionocracy and ensure an even greater flow of funds to the Democrats
Obama's Blame America First mindset: The 62 million Americans who didn't vote for Obama believe, based on history, that kowtowing to dictators is interpreted as a sign of weakness. They believe, based on reality, that all the carrots in the world will not change the minds of enemies dedicated to America's downfall



British government "charity" fraud: "Staff at a government-backed fund supposed to help some of the poorest people in the world have been awarded £65m in bonuses – equivalent to an annual £350,000 per employee. The bonuses have largely come from investments intended to tackle poverty in the developing world. The fund was part of the Department for International Development (DFID) until it was part-privatised in 2004. Charity workers say the government has allowed the fund, Actis, to skew Britain’s priorities overseas in its pursuit of high returns by depriving poor rural communities of investment. Actis manages funds for DFID’s investment body, CDC, tasked with reducing poverty, and has been praised for its success. But it has been awarding staff bonuses of up to £3m out of investments built up over years in developing countries. Average pay for employees in 2007 was on a par with those at Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank. “This is a travesty of CDC’s original mandate,” said John Hilary, head of the charity War on Want. “The bonuses at Actis simply do not square with the job of poverty reduction.”

Britain urged to slash 20% off public spending: "Savage cuts in public spending of more than £130 billion will be needed to solve the growing budget crisis, Tony Blair’s former chief policy adviser claims today. Writing in The Sunday Times, David Halpern, a former senior aide at No 10, says that Britain needs to follow the example of 1990s Canada, which slashed expenditure by 20% to combat a similarly severe deficit. Halpern warns that modest “efficiency gains” being proposed by both Labour and the Conservatives “just don’t deliver what is needed”. In order to control Britain’s £175 billion budget deficit, he argues that government needs to be “reinvented” and some basic services may need to be axed altogether".

Britain ends tank production after 93 years - and future models will have GERMAN guns: "They have fought alongside British soldiers for generations, playing heroic roles on historic battlefields such as the Somme, Cambrai and El Alamein. They have carried famous names such as Centurion, Churchill, Cromwell and Crusader. But now, nearly a century after inventing the first armoured warhorse - to storm through German lines in the First World War - Britain is to stop building its own tanks. BAe Systems, which makes the Army's Challenger 2 tanks, revealed it was closing its tank-making operation at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It is also shutting its armour business at Telford in Shropshire and at other locations because it sees no prospect of new Government orders. The closures could result in 500 job losses and means the Army is likely to go into battle in future with tanks using German guns and Swedish chassis. The last squadron of British Challengers began returning to the UK from Iraq this weekend, with little chance of them being sent to Afghanistan because of the difficult terrain there. Defence Secretary John Hutton has declared 'a rebalancing of investment in technology, equipment and people to meet the challenge of irregular warfare'. He said he planned to strengthen and enlarge Special Forces but gave no hint of even a medium-weight tank in the Army's future." [A British Challenger tank above]

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


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


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)


Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Obama effect: Have blacks in general suddenly become smarter?

The NYT said so last January and the academic study upon which that claim is based has recently become available online. So I suppose I should say a few words about the absurdity. The first thing to notice is that everybody else seems to think it is an absurdity too. They don't put it as bluntly as I do, though. What they say is "This finding will have to be repeated by others before we take it seriously" -- or words to that effect. And the reason why they say that is that Left-leaning social scientists have been labouring mightily for many decades at the task of getting black intellectual achievement up to white levels. And nothing that they try works. So to say that the election of Obama has suddenly closed that pesky gap is improbable to say the least.

I don't have access to the full academic article but what I see in the abstract immediately reminds me of "the dog that didn't bark" in the delightful Sherlock Holmes story The Silver Blaze. The research involved giving the same group of people the same test four times. Now that immediately puts into the mind of any psychometrician "The practice effect" and so one would expect some mention of how that problem was dealt with. But there is no such mention. When you give the same test to the same people on two different occasions, you find, for various reasons, that they get higher scores the second time around. That is the practice effect. And to give the same test to the same people not twice but four times sets all the alarm bells about the practice effect ringing.

So there are two ways in which the final (post-Obama-election) results reported could simply be an artifact (product) of the practice effect: 1) Everybody had got so good at the test by then that hardly anybody got anything wrong -- thus equalizing the scores for blacks and whites; 2). Maybe blacks worked harder than whites at figuring out where they went wrong on the first couple of occasions and for that reason alone got their scores up to white levels eventually.

The only way those two possibilities could be precluded would have been for the authors to use not the same test four times but four parallel forms of the same test, and there is no mention of that. Parallel forms have to be very carefully constructed to ensure that they DO give the same scores for the same people and that is so onerous that I have never seen more than two forms of any test made available.

So the entire study would seem to be methodologically naive and incapable of supporting its conclusions.

I might mention that the entire study is the latest variation in the absurd "stereotype threat" literature. The stereotype threat theory says that blacks do badly at tests because they think blacks do badly at tests. The initial "proof" of the theory arose from a study wherein psychologists made some black test-takers especially aware of their blackness while others did not have their blackness mentioned. The more aware blacks got worse results. But the unaware blacks still scored the usual amount below whites. So it showed, rather clearly, that awareness of blackness was NOT the cause of the black/white gap -- as the unaware blacks still did badly. Awareness of blackness can WORSEN black performance but unawareness cannot IMPROVE black performance. But to this day the theory is believed by most academics who refer to it. They still assert that awareness of being black is why blacks do badly. There are many other absurdities in the theory, one of which is that it seems to apply only to blacks and not to all minorities, but anybody who wants to look at the matter in detail should read here, here, here, here, here and here.

REFERENCE: David M. Marx, Sei Jin Kob and Ray A. Friedman (2009) "The “Obama Effect”: How a salient role model reduces race-based performance differences". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Article in Press.


The Thatcher legacy 30 years later

Thirty years on from Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister, it is being suggested that we have come to the end of the Thatcher era. Don't believe it. Iron does not rust that easily.

There have been reversals of the direction that she set, with the partial nationalisation of banks and the increase in the higher rate of tax to 50 per cent. But the former is first aid to a tottering banking system rather than an ideologically motivated return to public ownership. The Government clearly wants out as soon as possible, recognising that it knows even less about banking than bankers, difficult as that is. We will not see Clause 4 exhumed.

The bonus classes largely have themselves to thank for the 50 per cent tax rate. Their excess made them an irresistible target. But the higher rate won't raise significant extra revenue. What it will do is deter effort, so Britain will lose out in tax competition with our market rivals, making it harder to restore the City's leading position in financial markets. The higher rate will have to be rolled back before long by whichever party is in government to avoid jeopardising economic recovery.

I don't see either of these measures - regrettable as they are - as a definitive rejection of Thatcherism. The real story is not that the Thatcher era is over but that it continues unabated. Nineteen years after she left office, no successor government has deliberately undone or reversed any of the main changes she brought about. Nor have they come up with anything better. The “Thatcher settlement” remains largely intact.

The best test of this is to imagine where Britain would be had her successors reverted to the political trajectory charted by both parties until 1979. It would be a case of hello there, Zimbabwe, can we join you? Serious as our present problems are, we would be in a very much worse state were it not for the strong foundations that Margaret Thatcher built.

She was asked some years ago what she had changed in Britain and replied “everything”. That is pretty well true, the exceptions being Parliament - to which she was too indulgent - the Armed Forces and the Post Office. Nationalised industries were privatised, tax rates dramatically lowered to encourage initiative and entrepreneurship, trade unions curbed, council housing sold to its tenants, the size of the Civil Service reduced and several of its functions hived off to executive agencies, the City opened up to competition, the professions compelled to adapt. I could go on and on, to quote a phrase. She also embarked on serious reform of education and the NHS but left them too late to complete in her term.

Her great and unusual strength as leader of the Conservative Party was natural empathy with the basic instincts of the electorate. The instincts may not necessarily be admired by Guardian readers or the politically correct, but they are none the worse for that. She understood that owning your own home, spending more of what you earn rather than have the Government spend it for you, dislike of the nanny state, support for our Armed Forces, independence from bossy Brussels and the aspiration to a middle-class lifestyle were not ambitions to sneer at but to be fulfilled. Platitudes about listening government are beside the point: she simply shared the instincts.

The only moment when this empathy deserted her was over the poll tax. Intellectually the case was strong, and benefited many of “her” people. But it loaded costs on an even greater number of “her” people, which they refused to accept.

She was and remains scornful of conventional wisdom. Just because something has always been so in the past does not mean that it has to be so in the future. It made her healthily sceptical of much of the expert advice with which all prime ministers are flooded in an attempt to drown their political instincts. The best known example was the 364 economists who opposed her early Budget. I suspect that John Maynard Keynes would be getting short shrift if she were Prime Minister today.

The other secrets of her success are clear thinking, careful preparation, extraordinary energy and, above all, willpower. The energy was truly remarkable. She viewed holidays with distaste, as an unwelcome interruption in the tempo of work. She punctuated them with eager telephone calls to No10 seeking an excuse for an early return as soon as the obligatory photograph on a beach with Denis and a borrowed dog had been snapped.

I was asked recently how she would cope with the test of being awakened by a 3am telephone call announcing some disaster - which Hillary Clinton implied President Obama would flunk - and was able to say with certainty that it would not be a problem. The chances are she would be up and about at 3am anyway.

Whether this perpetuum mobile was the best way to run a government is something for historians and psychiatrists to argue over. But it was embedded in her character from early on as illustrated by the passage in her memoirs recording schoolgirl holidays occupied with “PT exercises in the public gardens [of Skegness]... rather than sitting around day-dreaming”.

Her ability to focus remorselessly on the task in hand was another strength. She has never been inclined to see two sides to any question or work for consensus because that would imply doubt and indecision. She believed in backing her judgment and was reinforced in that when the electorate backed her three times. Yes, she knew how to be pragmatic and when to retreat, making smoke. But the ratio of pragmatism to steely resolve was lower than in any government before or since.

Not everything in the garden was lovely. There were victims, though far outnumbered by beneficiaries. And the egregious bonus culture has taken some of the moral shine off Thatcherism. But overall the changes she made to Britain have given us more than two decades of unprecedented prosperity. They saw Britain reinstalled as the world's fourth- largest economy, losing our reputation as the sick man of Europe and taken seriously again as a leading world power.

The new generation of Conservatives who will be called on to cart away the rubble from new Labour's implosion will inherit stronger fundamentals than Margaret Thatcher herself was bequeathed in 1979. They will need years of discipline and thrift in public spending to overcome the consequences of the Government's reckless expansion of borrowing and the untrammelled growth of the public sector.

They must also maintain Britain's defence strength. A defence review is certainly needed, and a radical one at that. But the ability to field forces in distant conflicts and deploy an effective nuclear deterrent is what makes the US take us seriously and leverages our influence globally. That will be more not less important as China and India play a greater world role and as more nuclear weapons states emerge. For conservatives, defence must surely be a sacred trust. Most of all they will need to acknowledge the continued relevance of Margaret Thatcher's agenda and achievements, and recapture the momentum of change that Thatcherism created.

The legacy of someone who killed off socialism in Britain, changed the face of the country and rescued us from being a nation in retreat is the best inheritance that an incoming Conservative government will have.




British police respond to capitalistic incentives too: "There was a big fall in the number of speed-camera penalties after police and local authorities lost the right to keep the proceeds. The drop came in the same year that road deaths fell to their lowest level since records began, undermining claims that an increase in cameras improves road safety. In 2007, 1.26 million fixed penalties were issued — down 370,000, or 23 per cent, on the previous year. Over the same period, road deaths fell below 3,000 for the first time, down 226 to 2,946. Until April 1, 2007, camera partnerships operated by police and local authorities were allowed to keep a proportion of fines to pay for more cameras. Since then, they have received a fixed amount for all aspects of road safety. The drop in fines suggests that police chiefs decided to put fewer resources into speed enforcement when they stopped being able to recover the costs of installing and operating cameras. Many camera housings are being left empty and some forces have reduced their use of camera vans".

Yuk! Britain gets an angry feminist as a poet laureate: "Duffy, 53, who has been an advocate of women’s rights ever since she was shocked by sexism on the poetry —circuit in the 1970s, told The Times that she felt deeply that the post should go to a woman. She favoured Jackie Kay, her former partner, or Alice Oswald. “I have a sense of humility because there are so many poets who should take this role. To have refused it would have been a bit cowardly. She said that she hoped to be a controversial figure, a role that she fulfilled last year when one of her poems, Education for Leisure, was pulled from the GCSE curriculum because examiners feared that it promoted knife crime. Duffy responded with a reply in verse that pointed out the quantity of knife usage in Shakespeare’s plays. Duffy was considered a frontrunner for the post ten years ago but lost out amid rumours that senior politicians had reservations about how the popular press would respond to the appointment of a lesbian."

Fawlty Towers not dead: "At a recent “excellence awards” ceremony organised to celebrate the very best in domestic hotels and visitor attractions by Enjoy England — the English tourist board — the great and the good of hospitality were in a hopeful mood. “Boom times” lay ahead for holidays in these isles. Tough economic conditions meant that fewer people would be flying abroad. Airport security queues and higher flight taxes would put off travellers heading for the skies, tourism board grandees predicted. It all seemed win-win. But then one official dared to strike a note of discord. “This is going to be the year of the complaint,” he whispered. “Hotels and attractions have been making staff cutbacks. And you’ve got the Poles going home of their own accord.” Many places are unlikely to cope in the busy summer, he said. The expected swarms of tourists from Europe taking advantage of the weak pound will only add to the bustle. John Cleese, playing the hapless hotel owner Basil Fawlty, once declared: “A satisfied customer — we should have him stuffed!” How many British hoteliers will be saying the same by the end of August? We’ll just have to wait and see".

Traffic lights a hindrance or a help?: "What would happen if traffic lights were suddenly switched off? Would there be gridlock or would the queues of frustrated drivers miraculously disappear? People in London are about to find out the answer in Britain’s first test of the theory that removing lights will cure congestion. For six months, lights at up to seven junctions in Ealing will be concealed by bags and drivers will be left to negotiate their way across by establishing eye contact with pedestrians and other motorists. Ealing Council believes that, far from improving the flow of traffic, lights cause delays and may even increase road danger. Drivers race towards green lights to make it across before they turn red. Confidence that they have right of way lulls them into a false sense of security, meaning that they fail to anticipate hazards coming from the side. The council hopes that drivers will learn to co-operate, crossing junctions on a first-come first-served basis rather than obeying robotic signals that have no sense of where people are waiting. Ealing found evidence to support its theory when the lights failed one day at a busy junction and traffic flowed better than before." [There have been similar reports from South Africa and Holland]

Swine flu hype fading: "Scientists are coming to the conclusion that the new strain of swine flu that has killed at least ten people around the world may actually be less dangerous than the average annual flu season. The World Health Organisation is expected to move quickly to designate a full pandemic - at level 6 of its 6-point scale - within days to reflect the continuing spread of swine flu among people who have not been to Mexico, including in Europe. But, though some people have died, the most common complaint from sufferers infected with the virus has been diarrhoea - and, despite the hype, the rate of infection appears to be more of a trickle than a deluge. This morning the World Health Organisation said on its website that as of 6am GMT, swine flu had infected 331 people in 11 countries, killing ten of them. Other estimates of the infections and deaths are higher - for instance Mexico says up to 176 people have died there and the authorities have confirmed 12 deaths. However, despite the variations, the numbers are still relatively small - and they don't seem to be multiplying"

Federal prosecution of pro-Israel Jews dropped: "The Justice Department Friday ended the high-profile prosecution of two former pro-Israel lobbyists suspected of having sought and distributed classified information involving Iran and Iraq — a decision that could strengthen the rights of reporters, lobbyists and social activists to obtain and publicize government secrets. The decision to drop the case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were dismissed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in 2005, was anticipated for several months. It came after the Justice Department lost a series of pretrial rulings on the classification of the evidence it wanted to bring to court and on the bar the prosecution would have to meet... The two purportedly talked to a reporter and an Israeli diplomat about policy options toward Iran then under review by the Bush administration and about threats to Israelis in Iraqi Kurdistan. While the counts fall under the 1917 Espionage Act, the prosecution explicitly stated that the two former AIPAC officials were not considered agents of a foreign power. The case aroused considerable controversy in Washington because of the Israel lobby's high profile and the fact that Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman were the first private citizens prosecuted under the Espionage Act for mishandling classified information obtained through conversation. The precedent, if upheld, could have made much national-security journalism and foreign-policy lobbying a federal crime".


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


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)


Saturday, May 2, 2009

People with higher IQs make wiser economic choices, study finds

Funnily enough. Nice to see yet another proof of some very old generalizations, though

People with higher measures of cognitive ability are more likely to make good choices in several different types of economic decisions, according to a new study with researchers from the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities and Morris campuses. The study, set to be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, was conducted with 1,000 trainee truck drivers at Schneider National, Inc., an American motor carrier employing 20,000. The researchers measured the trainees' cognitive skills and asked them to make choices in several economic experiments, and then followed them on the job.

People with better cognitive skills, in particular higher IQ, were more willing to take calculated risks and to save their money and made more consistent choices. They were also more likely to be cooperative in a strategic situation, and exhibited higher "social awareness" in that they more accurately forecasted others' behavior.

The researchers also tracked how trainees persevered on their new job. The company paid for the training of those who stayed a year, but those who left early owed thousands in training costs. The study found that those with the highest level of cognitive ability stayed at twice the rate of those with the lowest.

The finding that individual characteristics that improve economic success -- patience, risk taking and effective social behavior -- all cluster together and are linked through cognitive skill, which could have implications for policy making and education. [Psychometricians have been saying that for over 100 years]

"These results could shed light on the causes of differential economic success among individuals and among nations," said University of Minnesota-Twin Cities economist Aldo Rustichini, a co-author whose theoretical work on cognitive skills is used in the paper. [Charles Murray and Richard Lynn have been pointing that out for years]

"It also suggests that the benefit from early childhood education programs not only affects cognitive skills, but extends to more effective economic decision-making," said study co-author Stephen Burks, the University of Minnesota-Morris economist who organized the project that gathered the data. [Rubbish! Childhood education intervention programs have NO lasting effect on IQ. Burks should look at the data and stop "suggesting"]



Cramdown Slamdown

Three cheers for obstructionism

The power of a united minority was on beneficial display yesterday, as Senate Republicans defeated the budget bankruptcy "cramdown" bill. Credit goes to Arizona's Jon Kyl and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who kept their party together to beat destructive legislation that had easily passed the House and was one of President Obama's housing priorities.

The cramdown would have allowed bankruptcy judges to rewrite contracts to reduce the amount that people owe on their mortgages. But a bipartisan majority understood that relief for today's troubled borrowers would be paid with higher rates on the next generation of homeowners, as lenders priced the added risk into mortgage contracts.

A dozen Democrats joined Republicans in the 51-45 vote, and even Pennsylvania turncoat Arlen Specter gave his former GOP comrades an assist. Speaking for millions of renters and nondelinquent borrowers, Mr. McConnell said that the vote "ensures that homeowners who pay their bills and follow the rules won't see an interest-rate hike at the whim of a bankruptcy judge."

Prior to the vote, the Associated Press described the looming defeat as "the first major legislative setback for the popular president." Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and New York's Chuck Schumer also did their worst to pass the bill, including some arm-twisting of politically vulnerable bankers. Their defeat is a victory for healthy credit markets and, let us hope, a sign that Americans do not want to throw out all the rules of our market economy.

The victory is also an example of Republicans helping the economy and thus saving Democrats from their own worst instincts. Liberals were so intent on helping troubled homeowners that they were willing to punish the profits of the very banks they say they want to lend more to new mortgage borrowers. May we have more such virtuous "obstructionism."



Chrysler: Obama trying to rip off private lenders and hand their money to the UAW

As April 30 approached, the Treasury Department stepped in with a heavy jack-boot. The bondholders – people who have extended loans to Chrysler in good faith – were told to accept 33 cents on the dollar, and to be happy about it. A group of these bondholders refused. They rightly saw that to accept so little was tantamount to having their pockets picked. And, to rub salt in the wounds, the government that is supposed to uphold the law and protect citizens was on the side of the muggers, helping them steal nearly $5 billion.

Make no mistake about it, this is theft. $5 billion is being taken by force from the private sector and funneled into union pension funds and other leftist devices. Private citizens gave Chrysler loans. The government is now telling these citizens to take a huge loss. When they refuse, the President of the United States publicly rebukes, ridicules, and attacks them.

Why isn’t Obama attacking the thugs at the UAW who bear a large part of the responsibility for the company’s financial mess? The primary reason the government did not allow Chrysler to go into Bankruptcy Court was purely to keep those pension and health plans in force. A Bankruptcy Court would have put the claims of the bondholders first and made the UAW accept less. Now, with the force of the government dictating the terms, the exact opposite is about to occur. Yes, the Red Queen is on her head.

The entire financial crisis has more twists and turns than a romp along the Skyline Drive. And, the American people are justifiably angry at Wall Street for their excess and cavalier attitude. But that anger is not an excuse for allowing the government of the United States to become a thief, to imitate the worst actions of a Hugo Chavez and other Third World dictators. Unfortunately, that seems to be the course Obama has set out upon.

So, to that small band of bondholders who refused to buckle under the pressure of Obama’s threats, good for you. Stay strong and resist the demands to be patsies for a government regime that is moving ever closer to the corrupt, thuggish Third World model it seems to admire so much. Whether Americans know it or not, we all win if you win.




Rasmussen poll: Republicans Top Democrats on Generic Congressional Ballot: "For just the second time in more than five years of daily or weekly tracking, Republicans now lead Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 38% would choose the Democrat. Thirty-one percent (31%) of conservative Democrats said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate. Overall, the GOP gained two points this week, while the Democrats lost a point in support. Still, it’s important to note that the GOP’s improved position comes primarily from falling Democratic support. Democrats are currently at their lowest level of support in the past year while Republicans are at the high water mark".

Reign of Paranoia: "In case you missed the headline, we are all going to die. Swine Flu has engulfed Mexico and is spreading to ever corner of the globe. Egypt is slaughtering its entire pig population, the UK is dispensing information leaflets to every single home, and Barack Obama has recommended that some schools be shut down. And yet, only one victim has been claimed in the United States by the strain of influenza. Likewise, the World Health Organization says that seven—not the reported 152—is the total worldwide death toll thus far. What is replicating rapidly and claiming the psyches of millions, however, is paranoia. Simply put, the Swine Flu is the latest in a long line of over-hyped illnesses and so-called pandemics that have done little more than send the world into a paranoid frenzy."

Pact for children’s rights opposed: “A global children’s-rights treaty, ratified by every U.N. member except the United States and Somalia, has so alarmed its American critics that some are now pushing to add a parental-rights amendment to the Constitution as a buffer against it. The result is a feisty new twist to a long-running saga over the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The nearly 20-year-old treaty has ardent supporters and opponents in the United States, and both sides agree that its chances of ratification, while still uncertain, are better under the Obama administration than at any point in the past.”

Canada: Average family spends nearly half its income on taxes: “The average Canadian family spends nearly half its total income on taxes, more than it spends on food, clothing, and shelter, according to a new study from independent research organization the Fraser Institute. The Canadian Consumer Tax Index 2009 shows that even though the income of the average Canadian family has increased significantly since 1961, their total tax bill has increased at a much higher rate.”


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


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)


Friday, May 1, 2009

Obama's Liberal Arrogance Will Be His Undoing

by Jonah Goldberg

The most remarkable, or certainly the least remarked on, aspect of Barack Obama's first 100 days has been the infectious arrogance of his presidency. There's no denying that this is liberalism's greatest opportunity for wish fulfillment since at least 1964. But to listen to Democrats, the only check on their ambition is the limit of their imaginations. "The world has changed," Sen. Charles Schumer of New York proclaimed on MSNBC. "The old Reagan philosophy that served them well politically from 1980 to about 2004 and 2006 is over. But the hard right, which still believes ... (in) traditional-values kind of arguments and strong foreign policy, all that is over."

Right. "Family values" and "strong foreign policy" belong next to the "free silver" movement in the lexicon of dead political causes. No doubt Schumer was employing the kind of simplified shorthand one uses when everyone in the room already agrees with you. He can be forgiven for mistaking an MSNBC studio for such a milieu, but it seemed not to dawn on him that anybody watching might see it differently.

When George W. Bush was in office, we heard constantly about the poisonous nature of American polarization. For example, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg came out with a book arguing that "our nation's political landscape is now divided more deeply and more evenly than perhaps ever before." One can charitably say this was abject nonsense. Evenly divided? Maybe. But more deeply? Feh.

During the Civil War, the political landscape was so deeply divided that 600,000 Americans died. During the 1930s, labor strife and revolutionary ardor threatened the stability of the republic. In the 1960s, political assassinations, riots and bombings punctuated our political discourse.

It says something about the relationship of liberals to political power that they can overlook domestic dissent when they're at the wheel. When the GOP is in office, America is seen as hopelessly divided because dissent is the highest form of patriotism. When Democrats are in charge, the Frank Riches suddenly declare the culture war over and dismiss dissent as the scary work of the sort of cranks Obama's Department of Homeland Security needs to monitor.

If liberals thought so fondly of social peace and consensus, they would look more favorably on the 1920s and 1950s. Instead, their political idylls are the tumultuous '30s and '60s, when liberalism, if not necessarily liberals, rode high in the saddle.

Sure, America was divided under Bush. And it's still divided under Obama (just look at the recent Minnesota Senate race and the New York congressional special election). According to the polls, America is a bit less divided under Obama than it was at the end of Bush's first 100 days. But not as much less as you would expect, given Obama's victory margin and the rally-around-the-president effect of the financial crisis (not to mention the disarray of the GOP).

Meanwhile, circulation for the conservative National Review (where I work) is soaring. More people watch Fox News (where I am a contributor) in prime time than watch CNN and MSNBC combined. The "tea parties" may not have been as big as your typical union-organized "spontaneous" demonstration, but they were far more significant than any protests this early in Bush's tenure. And yet, according to Democrats and liberal pundits, America is enjoying unprecedented unity, and conservatives are going the way of the dodo.

Obama has surely helped set the tone for the unfolding riot of liberal hubris. In his effort to reprise the sort of expansion of liberal power we saw in the '30s and '60s, Obama has -- without a whiff of self-doubt -- committed America to $6.5 trillion in extra debt, $65 billion for each of his first 100 days, and that's based on an impossibly rosy forecast of the economy. No wonder congressional Democrats clamor to take over corporations, tax the air we breathe and set wages for everybody.

On social issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, Obama has proved to be, if anything, more of a left-wing culture warrior than Bush was a right-wing one. All the while, Obama transmogrifies his principled opponents into straw-man ideologues while preening about his own humble pragmatism. For him, bipartisanship is defined as shutting up and getting in line.

I'm not arguing that conservatives are poised to make some miraculous comeback. They're not. But American politics didn't come to an end with Obama's election, and nothing in politics breeds corrective antibodies more quickly than overreaching arrogance. And by that measure, Obama's first 100 days have been a huge down payment on the inevitable correction to come.



A Hundred Days of Media Love

There's something very curious -- even laughable -- about watching the media assemble to offer President Obama a grade after the first 100 days. They weren't exactly a team of dispassionate scientists in a lab. They continue to be what they've been all along -- a rolling gaggle of Obama cheerleaders -- only before it was a campaign, and now it's an administration. So now they're assessing whether their awe-inspiring historic candidate still glows with the luster of victory. Hmm ... let's see. They applied the luster, they boasted of the luster, and you can bet your bottom dollar they'll continue doing both.

Remember Chris Matthews, and apply his pre-inauguration pledge across the media: "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work."

Three months have made zero difference in the major media's ardor. They were head over heels in love on Jan. 20, and they're still head over heels in love on April 29. Just as before, Obama is automatically destined for historical greatness: "Obama's start has been the most impressive of any president since FDR," crowed Time magazine. One can also say, "Obama has been the most socialist since FDR."

Time ran a long column of puffery from Joe Klein, who adored Obama's radical change from government-asphyxiating Reaganism and his long view of the sweep of history, as opposed to our "quick-fix, sugar-rush, attention-deficit society of the postmodern age." Klein declared, "The legislative achievements have been stupendous -- the $789-stimulus bill, the budget plan that is still being hammered out (and may, ultimately, include the next landmark safety-net program, universal health insurance)."

"Stupendous." That's what socialists think. Conservatives call it horrendous. You can quickly see whose side the media favor -- the multiplication of "landmark safety nets" of socialism, from the government takeover of health care to the imposition of onerous global-warming taxes.




Pirates, armed guards and “civilized” popinjays: “Certainly there are non-lethal ways to fight pirates, but as Gen. Petraeus said the other day, and I’m paraphrasing, I wouldn’t want to be on a water cannon when the guy at the other end has an RPG. Fighting off pirates requires resistance, and resistance requires at least equality in firepower. The whole point is to make piracy less and less attractive. Right now the pirates pick a target, board it and name their ransom. The risk to reward ratio is so low they won’t consider returning to their former life. One way to help them make such a decision more readily is to raise that reward-to-risk ratio to a level that it is no longer attractive. Seems to me armed ships along with military intervention are certainly a good way to do that.”

Arlen Specter's betrayal: "Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party has implications on a personal and national scale. For Pennsylvanians, who must decide who will represent us in the U.S. Senate next year, the stakes are personal. A central question will be whether Mr. Specter can be trusted on anything. In recent weeks, Mr. Specter has made numerous statements about how important it is to deny Democrats the 60th seat in the U.S. Senate and how he intended to remain a Republican to prevent one-party dominance in Washington. What Pennsylvanians have to ask themselves now is whether Mr. Specter is, in fact, devoted to any principle other than his own re-election. On that question, there is much evidence. Mr. Specter began his political career as a Democrat, switched to the Republican side out of political convenience and has switched back for the same reason. On issue after issue, he has changed his position over the years to benefit his political calculations. The most recent example is card check, which denies workers a secret ballot in labor-union elections. First Mr. Specter supported it, then he opposed it when faced with Republican primary opposition, and now, who knows? That's something Pennsylvania Democrats will have to contend with. Do they really want to nominate someone who will switch his principles on a dime?"

How to send unionists bankrupt: Sell them a failed company: "To avoid a bankruptcy of Chrysler LLC at the end of the week, the Obama administration is trying to push through a deal that gives the automaker's unions majority ownership - a deal that could blow up if the company's lenders reject it. The pending proposal for Chrysler eventually would give the United Autoworkers Union a 55 percent stake in the company. That would exceed even the 35 percent share eventually given to Fiat, Chrysler's purported partner whose agreement to the deal will be critical if the company is to stay afloat. Chrysler's secured bank lenders would get no more than a 10 percent stake along with $2 billion in cash to expunge nearly $7 billion in debt. Mr. Welch said the auto companies would be better off getting out from under government control and going bankrupt. They would be able to get a fresh start as new companies that would be free of debt and free of union constraints that have hobbled the American car companies and made them uncompetitive with foreign manufacturers. Giving the union control of the company "seems fitting since the unions are one of the principal reasons why Chrysler went broke. They destroyed it and now they're getting the spoils," said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital."


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


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)