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

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

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31 May, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

by Oliver North

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. -- This is the place that receives the most attention on Memorial Day, though it is but one of 141 national cemeteries in the United States and 24 others located on foreign soil. Many of our countrymen will observe this "last Monday in May" holiday with travel, shopping and picnics. But those who take the time to visit one of these hallowed grounds will have an unforgettable experience.

These are the final resting places for more than 3 million Americans who served in our armed forces -- as soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines -- including the nearly 5,500 who have perished in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A visit to one of these quiet memorials is a tribute to those who made history by wearing our nation's uniform and taking up arms to preserve our liberty and free tens of millions of others from tyranny. In words written on stone markers, these places tell the story of who we are as a people.

Regardless of when they served, all interred in these cemeteries sacrificed the comforts of home and absented themselves from the warmth and affection of loved ones. Since 1776, more than 1.5 million Americans have lost their lives while in uniform.

At countless funerals and memorial services for those who lost their lives in the service of our country, I hear the question, "Why is such a good young person taken from us in the prime of life?" Plato, the Greek philosopher, apparently sought to resolve the issue by observing, "Only the dead have seen the end of war." I prefer to take my solace in the words of Jesus to the Apostle John: "Father, I will that those you have given me, be with me where I am."

My sojourns to this "Sacred Ground," as Tom Ruck calls our national cemeteries in the title of his magnificent book, remind me that among those here are veterans who served with my father and all of my uncles in the conflagration of World War II. Only a handful of those 16.5 million from that "greatest generation" remain. Others resting in these consecrated places were tested just five years later in our first fight against despotic communism -- on the Korean Peninsula. They braved stifling heat, mind-numbing cold and an enemy that often outnumbered them 10 to one.

Here are headstones of those who served in the decade between Korea and Vietnam. More than 12 millions young Americans donned military uniforms in what was called "the cold war." It was only cold for those who didn't have to fight in it. They served on land, air and sea in lonely outposts, dusty camps, along barbed wire barriers in foreign lands, on guard against those who would have done us harm if they had the chance.

Between 1964 and 1975, more than 7 million young Americans were committed to the bloody contest in Southeast Asia. The names of 58,267 who died from that fight are on the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial -- some of them were my Marines and my brother's soldiers. Headstones in cemeteries all across this land testify to more of their selfless sacrifice -- and serve as a reminder that the victory denied in that war should never happen again.

In the three-and-a-half decades since Vietnam, not a single year has passed without Americans in uniform being committed to hostile action somewhere around the globe -- including Grenada, Beirut, Panama, the Balkans and Kuwait. We are not a warlike people. But for more than two centuries, ours has been the only nation on earth willing to consistently send its sons and daughters into harm's way -- not for gold or oil or colonial conquest, but to offer others the hope of liberty.

Since Sept. 11, that great legacy has been borne by volunteers serving in the shadows of the Hindu Kush, along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Persian Gulf and on anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean. These young Americans are engaged against a merciless enemy who has proven repeatedly that there is no atrocity beneath them -- and that they will do whatever it takes to kill as many of our countrymen as possible.

Those now in uniform deserve our thanks, for no nation has ever had a better military force than the one we have today. And no accolade to those presently in our country's service is greater than honoring the veterans who preceded them on Memorial Day.



Obama, ACORN and Stealth Socialism

by Anita MonCrief

As an ex-ACORN insider and ex-radical who used Democrat donor lists to raise money for ACORN alter-ego Project Vote and designed the ACORN 2005, 2006 and 2007 Political Operations Year End PowerPoint presentations, I know that President Obama (for whom I now regretfully admit I proudly voted) was an ACORN guy for many years and realize that he became the instrument for the implementation of its stealth socialism agenda.

National Journal rated Obama the most “liberal” United States Senator, even more “liberal” than avowed socialist Bernard Sanders of Vermont (for whom then Senator Obama campaigned), because he earned it.

In her sensational New York Times no. 1 bestseller, “Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies,” published in 2009, intrepid Michelle Malkin generously gave me “special thanks” for daring to expose ACORN corruption and wrote about it and the New York Times cover up of the Obama/ACORN relationship in detail at pages 244-49. (Since that material was added after the manuscript had been sent to the printer, I did not make the index.)

Stealth socialism in vogue

It’s not surprising that on May 3, 2010 Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliot released “The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists” and on May 15, 2010 former Speaker Newt Gingrich released a book titled “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine.” Of course they are right about Obama’s radical ties and “secular socialist machine.” (I’m looking forward to Laura Ingraham’s “The Obama Diaries,” out on or about July 13, 2010, but I bet President Obama isn’t.)

Even though on October 21, 2008 The New York Times killed the Obama/ACORN expose on which I been reporter Stephanie Strom’s source and I decided to blow the whistle myself and appeared on Laura Ingraham’s radio show before the end of the month, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News apparently did not learn about it until March of 2009 (the month in which attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, for whom I voluntarily became a witness in the Pennsylvania ACORN, testified before a Congressional committee about ACORN voter registration fraud and the New York Times cover up), it was inevitable that the truth about Obama, ACORN and “stealth socialism” finally would become generally known as the socialist agenda was implemented. After all, the idea was for Obama to deliver as President on that “fundamental change” that he promised as a presidential hopeful.

After an appealing generality becomes an examinable specific and the cost calculations are done, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t fool nearly as many people. For example, Obamacare is a massive wealth redistribution program and–no surprise–not long after it was enacted, an Obama Administration official acknowledged it and we learned that Obamacare would be much more expensive than it had been officially estimated before it was passed.

Defining stealth socialism

Graham L. Strachan explained the “stealth socialism” path this way:

“Why did the Western media persist in calling the social system in the Communist bloc ‘Communism’ instead of Socialism? They did it to manufacture a false reality: to protect the reputation of another form of Socialism which existed in the West….so-called ‘Democratic Socialism’, socialism by stealth, socialism achieved through the ‘permeation’ of existing political institutions by members of organisation such as the Fabian Society, in order to influence the policies adopted by those institutions towards socialism.

“Democratic Socialism itself was based on a lie: that Socialism could be implemented peacefully through the ballot box. The implication was that if the voters didn’t like it they could vote it out again. That was a hoax. Since Socialism does not permit private ownership of property, it cannot be ‘democratic’ in the sense of allowing a choice of political Parties. This is not a matter of ideology, but of logistics. It would be impossible to have a two Party system of genuine democracy, for example, under which the state nationalised all property including business when the Socialists were voted into power, then sold it all back to the people again when they were voted out. The intention of Democratic Socialism was (and still is) to be democratic just long enough to gain power. Then it will declare the ‘end of history’ and entrench itself forever, enforcing its politically correct speech and thought on everybody, and being just as tyrannical as its Marxist revolutionary counterparts.”

How to make a socialist the ACORN way

As an ACORN insider my indoctrination as a socialist was a slow but steady progression from radical liberalism to embracing the stealth socialist methods that had made ACORN a powerful force in American electoral politics. Two years ago, in the mist of a heated presidential election year, I noticed a Facebook page of Socialism 2008. The graffiti-like picture beckoned young Socialists to Chicago, Illinois on June 19th, 2008. I RSVPed for the event on Facebook without fully understanding what had just taken place. The line between radical, liberal Democrat and socialist was almost invisible at this point.

Working for ACORN/Project Vote facilitated my crossing the “socialist”threshold and I had become what insiders termed “one of the true believers.” True believers were instrumental in the survival of ACORN and the process of making an employee a true believer began on the very first day.

Inside ACORN offices across the country, young, idealistic liberals were being ingrained with the Saul Alinsky style of Organizing. Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals was never mentioned by name, but Alinsky’s tactics were used on employees and ACORN members.

ACORN’s strategy of stealth socialism was aimed at gaining power through duplicity and somewhat assimilating into society. Alinsky, the “father of community organizing,” taught that the path to power necessitated the use of people who would serve as pawns.

“Organizing for power was Alinsky’s political end, not political party influence. When he asked his new students why they wanted to organize, they would invariably respond with ’selfless bromides about wanting to help others,’ according to Ryan Lizza writing in The New Republic. Alinsky would then “scream back at them that there was a one-word answer: “You want to organize for power!’”

Saul Alinsky almost single-handedly invented the modern art of community organizing… He was a master teacher of others, and left a legion of trained disciples and organizations, including Obama and Clinton.”

Every ACORN employee was given a copy of the ACORN Organizing Model, bylaws and various information on running campaigns, but the real education was in how ACORN operated behind the scenes. Like Alinsky, ACORN openly organized to build power, but ACORN’s ace in the hole was the black community.

Community organizers became the “information police” for minorities in dozens of cities. As the official representative for its members, ACORN was able to frame the debate in ways that aligned with its People’s Platform. The platform is based on the socialist idea of sharing the wealth. Members were asked, even coerced, to attend rallies and protests for issues ACORN had decided would lead to power.

As students exited schools with a “liberal arts” education and a desire to help, ACORN stood ready with the social justice flag in one hand and a cigarette lighter and American flag in the other. Attending such events like Socialism 2008 was the culmination of two years of looking the other way and accepting a little bad in order to save the “movement.” Some leave ACORN at this point but the ones who stay are trusted just a little more.

The Road from radical terrorists to professors and community organizers

With greater access comes greater understanding of the true subversive nature of ACORN. As stated last summer in my article “Liberal Fallout Zones“:

“Poverty is big business and a predicate for class warfare intended to perpetuate political power in the masters of that big business. In the current climate special interest groups are writing bills and influencing votes amid a huge liberal spending binge.”

That spending binge is more like a bender now because ACORN, recognizing the past mistakes of other radical groups like Weather Underground and Students for a Democratic Society decided the best way to gain power as was to pass unnoticed in mainstream America. Radicals like Frances Fox Piven and her husband Richard A. Cloward retreated into the world of Academia where they penned papers on Socialism peppered with Alinsky tactics and a new name: The Cloward-Piven strategy

On May 2, 1966, Columbia’s Professor of Social Work Richard A. Cloward, and his then research associate Frances Fox Piven, wrote a pivotal article in The Nation, articulating “a strategy to end poverty.”

In what became known as the Cloward-Piven strategy, the article argued a revolutionary approach to mobilizing the poor in the form of class warfare against capitalist forces viewed as exploiting labor and oppressing the poor.

David Horowitz, a long-time student of leftist political movements in the United States, characterized the Cloward-Piven strategy as seeking “to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.”

Cloward and Piven argued a “guaranteed annual income” should be established as an entitlement for the poor, a right the poor could assert and demand to be paid.”

Other radicals like ACORN founder Wade Rathke and former Project Vote executive director, Zach Polett formed organizations and began implementing their socialist agenda while using the poor and minority communities as a defense if anyone dared question their actions. According to its website, ACORN planted its seed in American politics long ago and continues to play an “insider’s game” to maintain it.

“Finally, ACORN® began playing the insiders’ game in American politics. Congressional lobbying is practiced by ACORN® staff. Leaders and members became a central part of the insiders’ games, too. Members elected to office or serving on APACs acquired experience and skill applying power from the inside of the political process. Instead of confronting opponents in actions (something ACORN® will never stop doing), members could trade and negotiate from inside positions of power.

ACORN®’s work on the savings and loan bailout provided effective means of developing and applying power for low- and moderate- income people. ACORN® members won appointment to the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) to help determine the management of the billions of dollars of assets the government seized. The payoff to these activities came, and still comes, when substantial numbers of ACORN® members developed the ability to move inside the political sphere that has for so long been closed to low- and moderate-income people.”

Much more HERE

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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)


30 May, 2010

Barack Obama's credibility hits rock bottom after oil spill and Sestak scandal

The combination of Obama's passivity over the Gulf oil spill catastrophe and his cynical political manoeuvrings could spell disaster for him, argues Toby Harnden

The first thing Barack Obama probably should have done was to order the livestreaming Oil Spill Cam to be turned off. As the President insisted to Americans that he was "singularly focused" on staunching the flow, there was that mesmerising image on their television screens of plumes of hydrocarbons gushing relentlessly into the Gulf of Mexico.

When any political leader feels they have to declare that they are "fully engaged" in an issue, it is clear that they are in trouble. Talking about it undermines the very point you are trying to make - not to mention that pesky Oil Spill Cam showing that, 38 days into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, not a whole lot had been achieved.

Even judging Obama by his words, he has fallen woefully short over what has now eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez wreck as biggest oil spill catastrophe in American history. He may have described it as an "unprecedented disaster" in last Thursday's press conference but a week into the crisis he was blithely stating that "this incident is of national significance" and rest assured he was receiving "frequent briefings" about it.

George W Bush's unpopularity and perceived incompetence was encapsulated by the way he dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Candidate Obama branded it "unconscionable incompetence".

Central to Obama's appeal was his promise to be truly different. His failure to achieve that is now at the core of the deep disappointment Americans feel about him. At the press conference - the first full-scale affair he had deigned to give for 309 days - he appeared uncomfortable and petulant.

His approach to the issue was that of the law student suddenly fascinated by a science project. He displayed none of the visceral indignation Americans feel about pretty much everything these days - two-thirds now say they are "angry" about the way things are going - resorting instead to Spock-like technocratic language and legalese. "I'm not contradicting my prior point," he stated at one juncture. During those 63 minutes of soporific verbosity, about 800 barrels of oil poured into the Gulf.

Obama engaged in the obligatory populist bashing of Big Oil and, of course, demonstrated the Obama administration's version of Tourette's Syndrome, blaming the previous administration for the situation when, by my reckoning, it's a full 16 months since Bush left office.

By Friday, he was sticking his finger in the sand at Grand Isle, Louisiana as part of a photo op self-consciously designed to contrast with Bush's famous looking down on the Katrina devastation from Air Force One. It was Obama's second visit to Louisiana in the 39 days since disaster struck. According to NBC's Mark Knoller, in the same period Bush visited the post-Katrina region seven times.

But perhaps the most dangerous sign during the press conference for Democrats fearful of an unprecedented electoral disaster in November's mid-term elections was the evasion and opacity of the man who promised a new era of transparency and a different kind of politics.

When asked about the resignation of the director of the Minerals Management Service - an agency he had excoriated - he professed that "I don't know the circumstances in which this occurred". She had, of course, been fired.

Even worse was Obama's refusal to say anything about the growing furore over White House attempts to persuade Congressman Joe Sestak to pull out of the Democratic Senate primary contest in Pennsylvania. Obama's advisers had preferred the Republican turncoat Senator Arlen Specter - and Sestak inconveniently let slip that he'd been offered a government job to step aside.

That was potentially illegal and for weeks the White House stonewalled. When, even more inconveniently, Sestak beat Specter, the trust-us-nothing-untoward-happened approach would no longer wash. But still Obama declined to answer the question on Thursday, fobbing the reporter – and America – off with the promise that "there will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue".

This did indeed come the following day – conveniently timed for that Friday afternoon news void before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Lo and behold, it turns out that none other than former President Bill Clinton was asked by Obama's chief of staff and Chicago enforcer Rahm Emanuel to offer Sestak a place on a presidential board.

Whether or not the law was broken, the cynicism of this is breathtaking. Obama offered a break from the Clinton-Bush past and an end to the shoddy backroom deals of Washington. So what does he do? He tries to deny Pennsylvania voters a chance to decide for themselves by using his former foe Clinton to offer a grubby inducement.

It was perhaps a fitting end to one of the worst weeks of Obama presidency, in which a Rasmussen one poll pegged his popularity at a new low of 42 percent. In an environment in which Americans are disillusioned and cynical about Washington and all it stands for, the Clinton-Sestak manoeuvre could be a political calamity for Obama.

Perhaps he should be grateful after all that the Oil Spill Cam was still beaming up footage from the sea bed.



Poverty, Capital and Economic Freedom

When poor countries grow rich, it rarely has anything at all to do with how many mouths they have to feed or the abundance of natural resources. Instead, across the globe, poor countries of all sizes, climates, and endowments begin to grow rich as two key factors increase.

First, countries grow rich as their human capital improves. Human capital is the term economists use to describe the value that a country’s people possess through their accumulated experience and education. For example, there is little doubt that India’s recent growth explosion is due in large part to the education—including the knowledge of the English language—of its people.
Second, countries grow rich as they invest in and accumulate physical capital: the machines, tools, infrastructure, and other equipment that make the product of each hour of physical labor more valuable.

That which both human capital and physical capital share is that they both transform the result of an hour of a person’s hard work into something of even greater value. As the value of an hour of labor rises, employers gladly pay higher hourly rates, knowing that their bottom lines will be the better for it.

If we want to be effective agents in aiding the poor, we should focus our efforts in directions leading to the enhanced value of an hour of labor. That is, we should help poor countries wisely grow their stocks of human and physical capital, all the while bearing in mind that markets and their prices send the best available signals regarding where our efforts can have the greatest impact. The newfound success of innovative micro lending efforts such as Kiva can help show us ways to effectively invest in the accumulation of physical capital by the global poor. Compassion International is a marvelous organization that works to further the education—the human capital—of poor children worldwide, with a financial accountability record above reproach.

Further, markets work best when economic systems maintain the dignity of human beings. First, human beings grow and flourish—and accumulate human and physical capital—in systems that afford them considerable economic freedom. Economic freedom means that people are able to make personal choices, that their property is protected, and that they may voluntarily buy and sell in markets. Yet, economic freedom requires the protection of private property. When property rights are clearly defined and protected, people will work harder to create and to save. When they are confident that the fruits of their labors cannot be taken away arbitrarily or by force, people everywhere have greater assurance that their labors will lead to better lives for themselves and their families. Today’s rich collection of NGOs that work toward basic human rights play a critical role in this regard.

Finally, we should be outraged at the protectionist agricultural policies of already-rich nations such as the United States. When we allow the agricultural lobby to garner sweetheart deals from the U.S. House and Senate, the poor in other nations simply cannot compete with American growers of many crops because the trade rules are so utterly slanted against those in other nations.

For example, it is illegal for sugar buyers in the United States to purchase their sugar from sources outside the United States, even though the world price of sugar lies below the federally mandated price of sugar in the United States. This is wonderful, though, for U.S. sugar beet growers in the United States; it means they have a captive supply of buyers at a price that is being kept artificially high by federal decree. If the United States were to abandon such self-centered policies, sugar growers everywhere would have access to our markets, and the price of sugar would fall for all of us.

Moreover, confectioners and soft-drink makers in the United States would be able to produce their goods at lower costs, thereby adding to their job security. In one well publicized case in 2002, the Life-Savers candy factory in Holland, Michigan, was relocated to Canada, though the Michigan factory had been in operation for over thirty-five years and employed six hundred or so American workers. By moving to the northern side of the U.S.-Canada border, Life Savers slashed its input costs dramatically because, in Canada, Life-Savers was free to buy cane sugar at the world price: sugar grown by those who need the income most.

Sugar is not the only market we currently protect to keep out lower-priced commodities in an effort to help poor farmers in the United States. We have erected similar barriers that turn a blind eye to the plight of the global poor in markets for cotton, peanuts, and several other products that we can grow at home. In fact, by now you can probably see another reason why coffee prices are low. Because coffee cannot be grown in Ohio, or in France, rich northerners have not erected protectionist barriers to keep out the coffee that foreigners make.

If we really care about the global poor, we should work to make trade freer for everyone in our global community: a level playing field for all. That means tearing down all of the barriers we use to keep the global poor from working in the very jobs in which they are perfectly positioned to make the greatest lasting gains.



Obama official: Jihad Is Legitimate Tenet Of Islam

Some Muslims use "jihad" as a way to describe a personal religious struggle. Others use it to describe their desire to slaughter nonbelievers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which definition is most fitting for terrorists who want to murder United States citizens.

Why, then, would the United States counter-terrorism chief, John Brennan, go to great lengths to explain how jihad is a "holy" struggle? Here's Brennan's quote from Fox:
Nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or 'Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

It seems that Brennan is woefully unaware of the direct connection between Islam and violent acts of extremism. The fringe of any mainstream religion can certainly be capable of these kinds of acts, but the reality is that these acts are simply more prevalent among Muslim believers. Moreover, Brennan is involved in counterterrorism, not religious affairs. It's his place to deal with the realities of religious violence, not to serve as a public relations lapdog for our dangerously image-conscious Commander in Chief.



Democrats hope to entrench change that will outlast their time in office

Beginning last summer, Obama and the Democrats made sweeping health care legislation their top priority. This is when the tide in public opinion began to change. The more Obama talked about the need for health care "reform," the less people liked it and the more they voted against it every time they were given a chance -- culminating in the election earlier this year of Scott Brown, a little-known Republican, to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy. Brown turned his campaign into a crusade against Obamacare -- promising to use his vote as the 41st Republican senator to deny the Democrats the supermajority needed to overcome a GOP filibuster.

Then something remarkable happened. Though public opinion had clearly moved to the right, Obama and the Democrats decided to move left-hard left-in rejigging congressional rules to jam their health care bill through Congress via a simple majority vote. Revved up by this "victory" in securing the passage of a manifestly unpopular piece of legislation, the Democratic leadership now aims to replicate this success in passing other bills that have the enthusiastic support of the party's liberal base and are roundly opposed by most other Americans. This includes cap and trade and legislation granting new powers and privileges to the unions.

Under this first-things-last approach, Obama and the Democrats -- cheered on by the intellectual class that is dominant in the universities and within the news media -- are persuaded that they should seize the moment, while they are still in control of both houses of Congress, to pass "enlightened" if unpopular legislation, and then sell the virtues of such legislation to the people once it is already law. They are equally persuaded that good intentions trump any need for good economics -- or careful and honest analysis of weighing the supposed benefits against the likely costs. As a friend of mine put it, "The economic consequences be damned when one's sense of moral superiority is all that matters."

More here

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

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

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


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


29 May, 2010

Hot air about Israel

Once again Obama proves that he can talk the talk. We now know however that he often does not walk the walk. While the event below was full of nice symbolism and vague rhetoric, where is the mention of Iran and the nuclear threat overhanging Israel?

The athletes, the astronauts, the alternative music, the black rabbi, the white dress uniforms and, above all, the left-handed baseball giant: Welcome to Barack Obama's Jewish America.

The first-ever Jewish America Heritage Month celebration at the White House on Thursday underscored the Obama administration's determination not to be locked into Washington's conventional notions of Jewish leadership.

President Obama did not exactly snub the usual suspects who have peopled similar events for decades. There was Lee Rosenberg, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and there was Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Both also happen to have been major fund-raisers for Obama's campaign, as were several others among the 250 or so in attendance.

But the image that the White House sought to convey was one of Jewish America not necessarily bound to the alphabet soup of the Jewish organizational world and of pro-Israelism. Instead, Obama presented an array of Jewish heroes and celebrities who pronouncedly defied Jewish stereotypes. In addition to the major givers, the entrepreneurs and the communal leaders, there were also sports heroes -- including Sandy Koufax -- veterans, non-profit innovators, journalists, actors and organizers.

The reception was in the works for months, and planning predated the tensions between Israel and the United States precipitated in early March when Israel announced a major housing start in eastern Jerusalem during an official visit there by Vice President Joe Biden, who also was at Thursday's reception.

Still, the White House's message was timely: Obama would not be second-guessed by his pro-Israel critics on his friendship to the Jewish community and to Israel. The reception included a traditional reference to the "unbreakable" Israel-U.S. alliance dating back to within minutes of Israel's establishment.

Obama also made it clear, however, that he sees the alliance as part of a America's strategy of outreach to the world.

"My administration is renewing American leadership around the world -- strengthening old alliances and forging new ones, defending universal values while ensuring that we uphold our values here at home," he said. "In fact, it's our common values that leads us to stand with allies and friends, including the State of Israel."

The dual message -- closeness to Israel coupled with global outreach -- has characterized the recent "charm offensive" launched by the White House in the wake of the recent tensions with Israel. Obama is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next Tuesday, and the signs are that it will be a higher-profile reception than the thief-in-the-night encounter the two had when tensions were at their highest in March.



Fascist economics still alive and well

What is called "state capitalism" below is just Fascism reinvented

It's quite likely that the financial crisis that began in 2007 and is, just now, threatening to unravel the European Union represents the final period in a two decade era of the West's "end of history" hubris. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sullied the aura of Western military power, the financial crisis has surely cracked the other pillar of Western dominance, free market capitalism.

There is, in no other words, no better time for a challenger to rear its head and take on the "Washington consensus" that free markets and free politics are the true engines of growth, power and prosperity. And such a challenger has arisen in the form of what Ian Bremmer, in his engaging new book The End of the Free Market, dubs "state capitalism."

State capitalism, Bremmer writes, "is a system in which the state dominates markets primarily for political gain." From state-owned corporations operating in strategic industries like natural resources or defense, to enormous sovereign wealth funds in the hands of autocrats with opaque operating principles, state capitalism has enabled the world's autocratic states to reap the benefits of capitalist enterprise while maintaining a vice-grip on political freedom.

In Bremmer's telling, the world's autocratic states learned a valuable lesson from the implosion of the Soviet Union: command economies do not work and when they fail, they can bring down the over-arching political system with them. They also watched the post Soviet experiment in crash liberalization with horror. To protect their hides and preserve their privilege, autocratic rulers in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere have created a "hybrid" system that leverages many of the tools of capitalism to generate wealth while the heavy hand of the state ensures that wealth is put to the service of the elites and rulers of each country.

Most of Bremmer's slim, accessible volume (just 200 pages, excluding end notes) is devoted to a tour of the world's dominant and emerging state capitalist systems in places such as Malaysia, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Bremmer's picture of global state capitalism is nuanced - he acknowledges that even free market democracies interfere in markets for political purposes, as is the case with Europe and America's generous farm subsidies and tariffs. The signature difference is the degree and scope of state interference and the lack of democratic transparency in the countries that practice state capitalism.

According to Bremmer, this hybrid model has serious repercussions for the U.S. and other capitalist democracies. Since economic competition is global, companies with state ownership or state influence can distort markets and harm consumers. They can, for example, pay above market prices for natural resource contracts to lock up long term supplies. They can trade freely with the world's pariah states, offsetting the impact of sanctions. More than that, as China emerges from the world's worst recession with 10 percent GDP growth, these state capitalist systems can lure "fence sitting" states like Brazil and India to their brand of government, further tilting the global economic playing field. Goodbye Washington consensus, hello Beijing consensus.

Only not quite.

Despite the dramatic (indeed, misleading) title of the book, there's no indication that we've reached the end of the free market. In fact, Bremmer says so explicitly in his conclusion. Unlike competitors of yore, state capitalism is less an ideology than a methodology. What unites the state capitalist systems of the world is how parochial they are: the leaders are too focused on defending their own skins to worry about world domination or exporting a revolution. What's more, as Bremmer writes, none of the practioners of state capitalism believe in mercantilism - the notion that there is a finite allotment of wealth and that the only way to grow share is to take share from others. So while their state champions and sovereign wealth funds can distort global markets, the world can escape the beggar-thy-neighbor cycle of economic destruction that marked the Great Depression.

Indeed, it's clear from the book and from Bremmer's confidence in free market capitalism, that state capitalist systems contain the seeds of their own destruction. As Bremmer demonstrates, the primary goal of capitalist activity under a state capitalist system is to defend the political interests of the state. But those interests often align quite closely with the material prosperity of the state's own citizens. China wants to maintain its torrid growth rates not so its president can lounge around in opulence, but to provide the millions of jobs it needs to stave off social unrest. The implicit social contract of state capitalism - you can earn a good living if you don't care about political freedom - acknowledges the urgent need to provide improved standards of living to its citizens.

That's a difficult straddle. China has managed it for thirty years and may be able to for thirty more, but the inherent inefficiencies and corruption of state capitalism don't augur well for its future.

That's not to argue for complacency. While he mercifully avoids the doom-mongering that often attends discussion of the rise of China or the re-emergence of Russia, Bremmer does make some brief and modest suggestions for U.S. policy in the face of state capitalist competition. Stay verbally committed to free market capitalism, expand free trade agreements, particularly with countries that practice state capitalism, sustain a military lead over potential competitors like Russia and China, and selectively assert American rights and interests with unfair competitors like China. In short: stay calm, and stay true to the principles that made the "Washington consensus" so attractive in the first place.



Harvard study finds increased gov’t spending results in unemployment

Don’t color Veronique de Rugy shocked, shocked to find that government spending crowds out private investment, but the results of the new study by Harvard Business School will certainly shock some Keynesian academics — and high-ranking government officials. Instead of providing a stimulating effect to the economy, government spending creates pressures on private industry to reduce staff and investment. The study’s authors count themselves as among the shocked:
Recent research at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state’s congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.

It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman’s ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, “Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?”

“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending,” Coval reports.

This surprising result does not come from a misapprehension about pork and its relation to the chairmanships of the committees. Indeed, the study shows that pork dollars flow in mighty streams from those chairs to home districts and states. It’s not just earmarks, either, but also legislative expenditures that increase:
The average state experiences a 40 to 50 percent increase in earmark spending if its senator becomes chair of one of the top-three congressional committees. In the House, the average is around 20 percent.

For broader measures of spending, such as discretionary state-level federal transfers, the increase from being represented by a powerful senator is around 10 percent.

And yet:
In the year that follows a congressman’s ascendancy, the average firm in his state cuts back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent.

There is some evidence that firms scale back their employment and experience a decline in sales growth.

If this seems counterintuitive, it might be from marinating too long in Beltway conventional wisdom. When private entities (citizens or businesses) retain capital, it gets used in a more rational manner, mainly because the entity has competitive incentives to use capital wisely and efficiently. The private entity also has his own interests in mind, and can act quickly to use the capital to its best application. Private entities innovate and look to create and expand markets, creating more growth.

In comparison, government moves much slower with capital. It generally works to its own benefit and not that of private entities. Lacking competition, there is no incentive for efficiency. Most importantly, it rarely creates new markets or growth but instead creates a spoils system that ends up reorganizing the status quo to favor some and disfavor others.

All of that is certainly true in the long-term sense. It now appears true in the short-term sense as well, despite the immediate application of government funds to specific areas. If this study is true, it calls into question the entire concept of Keynesian stimulus, and it shows that the Obama administration has gone in an entirely wrong direction both in concept and in practical terms in attempting to create economic growth. The best way to achieve growth appears to be to eliminate government interventions and to keep capital in the hands of the private sector. And that’s no shock at all to anyone who pays attention to economics.




Two structural reasons why government fails: "The bottom line is that socialist planners attempting to abolish markets, but interested in efficiency, would have no way of knowing what people value, so they would be unable to determine what outputs to make from a given set of inputs or which inputs to use to make any particular output. They would not be ‘planning;’ they would be stumbling around in the dark and the result would be economic chaos and poverty. This critique holds not just for attempts to substitute planning for markets completely, but also for any government attempts to intervene in specific markets.”

Government: No costs, all benefits: "Government has no costs — only benefits — according to several professors in economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, which is well known for its heterodox (i.e., usually very anti-market) economics department, writing at The Huffington Post about deficit ‘myths.’ I hesitate to actually use the label ‘economist’ to describe any of these people, because they do not seem to accept the very basic economic concept of opportunity cost — at least not when it comes to government spending.”

Bursting the myths of the Great Depression: "Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal by Robert P. Murphy: “Government of all kind depends on elaborate mythologies to keep the people complacent in the face of constant attacks on their liberty, their property, and even their lives. Kings used to proclaim that they were divine or at least that they ruled with divine approval, so disobedience to them was actually disobedience to God or the gods. That worked to keep most of the citizenry in line for a very long time. As religion started losing its hold over people, rulers came up with new ideas. One was that the state was like a big, sheltering family where everyone had to cooperate for the common good — as directed by the government. Another idea was that the alternative to control by the government, anarchy, was so terrifying that it must be opposed at every turn.”

Obama admin. down in Zogby poll: "Positive opinion about the federal government's handling of a British Petroleum (BP) Gulf of Mexico oil spill is down 13 points from two weeks ago, dropping from 29% to 16%, a new Zogby Interactive survey finds. Currently, 16% rate the federal government's response to the spill as excellent or good. The same question in a May 7-10 Zogby Interactive survey found a total of 29% giving a positive rating. Opinion of British Petroleum's handling of the spill is also down from the previous poll, going from positive ratings of 25% then to just 15% now."

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

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


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


28 May, 2010

Whose Blowout Is It, Anyway?

by Charles Krauthammer

Heres my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama's tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, weve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep -- to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. Thats a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that theyve escaped any mention at all.

The other culprits are pretty obvious. It starts with BP, which seems not only to have had an amazing string of perfect-storm engineering lapses but no contingencies to deal with a catastrophic system failure.

However, the railing against BP for its performance since the accident is harder to understand. I attribute no virtue to BP, just self-interest. What possible interest can it have to do anything but cap the well as quickly as possible? Every day that oil is spilled means millions more in losses, cleanup and restitution.

Federal officials who rage against BP would like to deflect attention from their own role in this disaster. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose departments laxity in environmental permitting and safety oversight renders it among the many bearing responsibility, expresses outrage at BPs inability to stop the leak, and even threatens to "push them out of the way."

"To replace them with what? asked the estimable, admirably candid Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander. No one has the assets and expertise of BP. The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a one-mile-deep out-of-control oil well.

Obama didn't help much with his finger-pointing Rose Garden speech in which he denounced finger-pointing, then proceeded to blame everyone but himself. Even the grace note of admitting some federal responsibility turned sour when he reflexively added that these problems have been going on for a decade or more -- translation: Bush did it -- while, in contrast, his own interior secretary had worked diligently to solve the problem from the day he took office.

Really? Why hadn't we heard a thing about this? What about the September 2009 letter from Obama's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accusing Interior's Minerals Management Service of understating the "risk and impacts" of a major oil spill? When you get a blowout 15 months into your administration, and your own Interior Department had given BP a "categorical" environmental exemption in April 2009, the buck stops.

In the end, speeches will make no difference. If BP can cap the well in time to prevent an absolute calamity in the Gulf, the president will escape politically. If it doesn't -- if the gusher isn't stopped before the relief wells are completed in August -- it will become Obama's Katrina.

That will be unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when "our planet began to heal" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow."

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustnt be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.



Death of the Postmodernist Dream

As crises mount abroad and voters’ anger grows at home, Obama’s dream of a new world order has died a quiet death. In just a few months the brave new dream world as we knew it has died — but with a whimper, not a bang.

There will be no more lectures on soft power and a Baltic-to-Mediterranean postmodern culture. Suddenly European Union expansion is dead in its tracks. The question of Turkish membership, after a decade-long controversy, has been settled without so much as a demonstration. The Europeans don’t want another Greece in their midst; the Turks don’t want German bankers running their sagging finances. A soaring Euro was supposed to reflect the sobriety of socialism; instead, it hid its profligacy, but only for a while.

So the welfare state is discredited. In the past, we used to be warned that static population growth, vast public-sector employment, early and generous retirement benefits, and high taxes were not sustainable. In recent years, those lectures were caricatured as partisan or hypothetical. No longer. The Greek meltdown — with Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain on the brink — has shown that European socialism does not work. Bankruptcy, not politics, is the final arbiter: Individuals, firms, and nations either buy particular bonds or they don’t. And a nation like Greece, in turn, either pays what it has borrowed or it doesn’t. All the op-eds in the New York Times cannot change that fact.

Al Gore will continue to channel from his Montecito hilltop the latest green consensus of the international academic community. But fairly or not, neither he nor it will be listened to all that much: He has made one too many millions off his hysteria, and professors have fudged one too many publicly funded studies. The result is that almost at once both have lost the people’s trust. A volcano, not hot weather, shut down European air travel. The Sierra Nevada is still buried under snow in late May. At least this year, a wet, cold state of California is not going to blow away, as Energy Secretary Chu warned not long ago.

It is fine and good to invest in wind and solar power, and other alternative energy sources — if for no other reason than to drain the swamp of the oil-rich Middle East — but soon Americans will be paying a fortune for gasoline and electrical power. As gas hits $4 a gallon, they will want more oil drilling, more coal mining, and more nuclear, hydro, and natural-gas energy, not less. Green mongering is not what it was just a few months ago.

Then there is Arizona. Over 70 percent of the American people support the state’s efforts to stop illegal immigration, which amount to nothing more than enforcing currently unenforced federal laws. The hackneyed charges of racism and nativism are ignored. The Left can cite California’s Proposition 187 and warn the Republicans that they will lose the Hispanic vote, but 70 percent margins reflect angry citizens of all races and ethnicities, who are tired of seeing laws ignored, their state governments bankrupted, and Mexican presidents shaking fingers at them.

That Mexico treats illegal aliens far less humanely than does the United States, and that it deliberately encourages its own citizens to break U.S. immigration law (to the extent of publishing a comic book advising on how to illegally cross the border) reminds us that Barack Obama knows as little about Mexico as he does about Arizona’s law when he talks of an age to come without borders.

I do not think the word “reset” will be used much longer to characterize American foreign policy. Reset from what to what? After all, is Iran closer to getting a bomb or further away than it was a year and a half ago? Are terrorists more or less likely to attack and kill inside the United States? Is Syria now a more or a less helpful player in the Middle East? Is Israel safer or less safe, more or less a U.S. ally? Are Putin and Chávez now more helpful players on the world scene, in appreciation of Obama’s olive branches? Does a North Korea or an Iran feel more or less emboldened to run risks in testing the status quo? Is China more or less provocative in the Pacific?

The more provocation is ignored in one region, the more it is pursued in the other. The new audacity is predicated on the universal notion that the new United States either cannot or will not fulfill its retrograde function of deterrence — or might even privately sympathize with the assorted grievances that serve as pretexts for ignoring the sanctity of the border, selling missiles to terrorists, pursuing the bomb, or aiding in uranium enrichment.

The new world order as envisioned by Obama in January 2009 was, I think, supposed to look something like the following: A social-democratic America would come to emulate the successful welfare states in the European Union. These twin Western communitarian powers would together usher in a new world order in which no one nation was to be seen as preeminent. All the old nasty ideas of the 20th century — military alliances, sovereign borders, independent international finance, nuclear arms, religious and cultural chauvinism — would fall by the wayside, as the West was reinvented as part of the solution rather the problem it had been in its days of colonialism, imperialism, and exploitation. A new green transnationalism would assume the place of that bad old order, a transnationalism run by elite, highly educated, and socially conscious technocrats — albeit themselves Western — supported by a progressive press more interested in effecting social change than in merely reporting the tawdry news.

Obama can still push that story, but more and more Americans disagree with his 21st-century vision. Stuck in the past, they instead believe that capitalism, not socialism, brings prosperity; that to reach a green future we need to survive for now in a carbon and nuclear present; that all, not some, laws must be enforced; that our country is different from others and needs to maintain the integrity of its borders; and that there are always going to be a few bad actors abroad who must be deterred rather than appeased.

We will hear all sorts of angry charges as these dreams die, but that will not mean they are not dead — even if we are lucky and they go out with a whimper rather than a bang.




The European financial crisis very cogently explained here by two Australian comedians. The best comedy has a lot of truth in it

A nice story here about not underestimating people, particularly deaf and doddery old guys.

No End To Freddie And Fannie Red Ink: "Taxpayers will continue to shoulder losses by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac, (FRE) their regulator told a House panel Wednesday. Democratic lawmakers continued to show no interest in taking up their reform. The testimony by Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, elaborated on an FHFA report to Congress released late Tuesday. It stated that Fannie and Freddie would be "unable to serve the mortgage market in the absence of the ongoing financial support."

Line item veto: "President Obama wants Congress to give him the line-item veto — that is, the power to veto specific parts of Congressional bills, rather than the whole thing. That way, supposedly, the president can just cut out the waste. … On its face, it seems like a good idea. It may cut down on useless pork like bridges to nowhere. But the suggestion that it will help control spending is laughable. … It would be nice to eliminate pork, but it’s chump change compared to the big picture. Even now, Congress and the president are pushing for $200 Billion in new spending.”

Leaked: Admin plan would lock up 13 million acres: "A leaked partial document produced by the Bureau of Land Management and obtained by Fox News suggests the Obama administration is considering a plan to lock up 13 million acres of land — and the Department of Interior is refusing to answer questions. First, a little background: The federal government owns about one-third of the land in the United States — most of it in western states. For example, 84 percent of Nevada is owned by Uncle Sam. But the government leases large parcels of federal land for all sorts of things — grazing, mining, exploration, recreation. Those commercial activities create jobs and tax revenue for the states. Tax revenues from commercial activity on federal lands often pays for local schools. However, with the single stroke of his pen, President Obama can use the Antiquities of Act of 1906 to turn federal land into National Monuments.”

“Death panels” were an overblown claim — until now: "During the debate over ObamaCare, the bill’s opponents were excoriated for talk of rationing and ‘death panels.’ And in fairness, with a few minor exceptions governing Medicare reimbursements, the law does not directly ration care or allow the government to dictate how doctors practice medicine. But if President Obama wanted to keep a lid on that particular controversy, he just selected about the worst possible nominee for director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the office that oversees government health care programs. Obama’s pick, Dr. Donald Berwick, is an outspoken admirer of the British National Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE).”

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

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


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


27 May, 2010

More on the pontificate of Pius XII

The Cardinal in charge of Christian unity at the Vatican has promised that the Vatican archives for the entire period of the Second World War, when the Church has been accused of failing to do enough to help the Jewish people, will be opened soon for scholarly research...

Addressing one of the most sensitive and difficult aspects of Jewish-Christian relations, the papacy of Pius XII, described as "Hitler's Pope" by the influential British author and academic John Cornwell, Cardinal Kasper promised that the full archives for the period covered by the Second World War would soon be opened to schoars at the Holy See in Rome. "We have nothing to hide," he said. "We do not need to fear the truth."

Describing the state-sponsored organised murder of six million European Jews as "the absolute low point" in the history of anti-Semitism he nevertheless said that the Holocaust could not be attributed to Christianity as such, since it also had clear anti-Christian features...

Defending the record of Pius XII, a candidate for canonisation who was Pope from 1938 to 1958, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany, he said that the contemporary assessment of his Pontificate was rather positive.

"The New York Times, which is not known as a Church–oriented newspaper, had already in 1941 published an editorial where it spoke of the Pope as the only voice in the silence and in the dark with the courage to raise his voice," the Cardinal said. "After the deportation of more than 1,000 Jews from Rome — only 15 survived — in October 1943 he ordered a general Church asylum in all convents and ecclesiastical houses, including the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo. According to authoritative estimates, about 4,500 Jews were hidden." ...

He promised that the archives for Pius XII's papacy would be online within six years. Since 2003 access has been available up until the end of the Pontificate of Pius XI in 1939, a period in which the future Pius XII was Secretary of State.

"The material which is already accessible now proves that Pius XII was at no time Hitler’s Pope. On the contrary, he was the closest co-operator of Pope Pius XI in the publication of the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (With burning anxiety, 1937), which was a fervent condemnation of Nazi race ideology...

The Cardinal said: "Pius XII was not a man of prophetic gestures; he was a diplomat and decided not to be silent but to be moderated in his public statements because he knew that stronger words would improve absolutely nothing; on the contrary, they would provoke brutal revenge and worsen the situation. Therefore he decided not so much to act through words but to help practically as much he could. In this way alone in Rome he saved thousands of Jewish lives."



Obama's cunning new plan to cut Medicare fraud

One of the reasons ObamaCare received a 10-year “deficit-neutral” rating from the Congressional Budget Office was because it promised to cut waste, fraud, and abuse from Medicare on average by about $50 billion a year, or $500 billion over ten years. That’s an amazing claim, because as noted by a 60 Minutes segment that aired last year, Medicare fraud is estimated to total about $60 billion a year....

So, with the solvency of the Treasury on the line, Obama must have a really good plan to eliminate nearly all Medicare fraud, right? Well, a recent flier sent to Medicare recipients by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) revealed yesterday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promises that “The new law contains important new tools to help crack down on criminals seeking to scam seniors and steal taxpayer dollars.”

Like what? Seniors are alerted that “You are an important resource in the fight against fraud. Be vigilant and rely only on your trusted sources of information about your Medicare benefits… Call 1-800-MEDICARE if you… want to report something that seems like fraud.”

That’s the big plan. Grandma and Grandpa will succeed where the CMS and Justice Department have failed to bring down a $60 billion-a-year criminal syndicate (as pervasive as the U.S. narcotics trade) leeching off of American taxpayers — and those savings are just a phone call away. All they have to do is dial 1-800-MEDICARE.

Don’t believe that this is the government’s basic plan to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse? CMS does. On Medicare.gov, the official site of Medicare, it states, “You, as the Medicare beneficiary, are the most important link in finding Medicare fraud. You know better than anyone what healthcare services you have received. Review your Medicare Summary Notice when you receive it, and make sure you understand all of the items listed.”

One hopes that those summary notices are written in really big letters — and in terms somebody besides a doctor might understand. Even if they were, depending on 65- to 90-year-olds to spot overcharging or outright fraud after Medicare benefits have already paid out appears in the least to be a very flimsy approach to saving $50 billion a year.

More here



By Frances Rice

Regardless of the issue - from immigration to ObamaCare - Democrats, with the complicity of the liberal media, demonize as racist average Americans who oppose their socialist agenda and are unhappy about how President Barack Obama and the Democrats in control of Congress are ruining our economy with massive deficit spending.

Incredibly, Democrats even stoop to condemning as racist anyone who dares to engage in philosophical discussions about the constitutional limitations on federal powers - just ask Rand Paul who dared to voice the fact that a few aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act lacked constitutional authority.

Lost in the media-generated firestorm designed to falsely paint Paul as a racist and derail his bid for a US Senate seat is any discussion about the reason why civil rights laws were necessary in the first place - Democratic Party racism.

In his new book, "Whites Blacks & Racist Democrats", Wayne Perryman provides startling details about racism in the Democratic Party from 1792 to 2009. Perryman describes how the Democratic Party became known as the "Party of White Supremacy" that fought to preserve slavery and enacted discriminatory laws to deny civil rights to blacks.

Included in Perryman's book are facts about how the Republican Party that was founded in 1854 as the anti-slavery party became the party of freedom and equality for blacks. Republicans fought to end slavery; amended the U.S. Constitution to grant blacks freedom, citizenship and the right to vote; and pushed to enact every piece of civil rights legislation from the 1860's to the 1960's over the objection of the Democrats.

Perryman brought to light the 1875 Civil Rights Act, the first law that dealt with accommodations and equality and was passed by a Republican-dominated Congress. To their eternal shame, Democrats in 1883 convinced the United States Supreme Court to declare the 1875 Civil Rights Act as "unconstitutional." Eleven years later in 1894, Democrats passed the 1894 Repeal Act to overturn the previous civil rights legislation passed during Reconstruction by Republicans.

Perryman also revealed that in 1964 while debating the accommodations portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Democrat Senator Olin Johnson of South Carolina argued: "Mr. President, this is the blackest day in the U.S. Senate since 1875, when the Congress passed a Civil Rights bill similar to this one. It was 89 years ago that the [Republican] Congress passed the nefarious Reconstruction era Civil Right laws, identical with what we are now discussing, which were later declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate, if it passes this measure before us, will be compounding that unconstitutional error made back in 1875. I predict that this bill will never be enforced without turning our nation into a police state and without the cost of bloodshed and violence..."

Ignored by the media today, as they attempt to paint all Republicans as racist, is the fact that Jim Crow laws were enacted by Democrats to force private businesses to refuse services to blacks. Those Jim Crow laws were in violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states, in part: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The entire text of section 1 of the 14th Amendment is below.

It is rank hypocrisy for the liberal press to give Democrats, including former Klansman Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a pass for their real racism, while attacking Rand Paul, labeling him as a racist for his theoretical musings about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In essence, Paul, who said he detested racism in any form, wondered whether other means, such as boycotts, may have been effective in forcing an end to non-governmental racial discrimination. Paul focused on the fact that the 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution provides the federal government only with the power to stop racial discrimination by state and local governments.

Our nation will continue to be divided along racial lines until we bring an end to the Democrats' despicable race-baiting by holding Democrats accountable for their racism - past and present.



BrookesNews Update

The US economy really is in trouble : The US economy is in serious trouble. Manufacturing is signalling bad news and monetary policy is erratic and destabilising. Obama's solution is more of the same by appointing Keynesians to the board of the Fed. He might as well give every American a printing press
The Eurozone stimulus package and economic fundamentals : The $1-trillion stimulus plan to prevent the eurozone economies falling into an economic black hole is heading for failure. The plan involves the European Central Bank (ECB) stepping on the monetary accelerator to give the financial markets a quick fix. Such policies only make things worse — it is not possible to create something by printing money and redistributing real wealth. All that such policies produce is a further economic impoverishment
Inflation: The Reserve Bank's bogeyman : Right now, it's not inflation we need to worry about but a collapse in the China's boom. Yet the Reserve — along with politicians — carries on as if the Chinese economy is a perpetual motion machine. It sees inflation as the real enemy even though the monetary indicators are saying otherwise
The mining industry and the rent resource tax: The Institute of Public Affairs gets it wrong : By taking accepting the orthodox view of economic rent mining industry executives have intellectually disarmed themselves. Once they conceded that the rent doctrine is a sound one they could not logically argue against its implications. The advice offered by the Institute of Public Affairs, orthodox as it was, only made matters worse
Fidel Castro: a typical media double standard at play : Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Julia Sweig praises Castro psychopaths who tried to plant a massive bomb in the New York's Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal. Meantime, Castro's media pals are still spiking the story while promoting Swieg, a truly nauseating Castro toady. This attempted massacre by Castro is another communist horror story that Sean Penn and his Hollywood buddies will never film
Carbon capture and burial — the carbon cemeteries are already full : Billions of dollars are being wasted on sacrifices to the global warming god — endless bureaucracy, politicised research, piddling wind and solar schemes, roof insulation disasters, ethanol subsidies, carbon credit forests, carbon trading frauds and huge compliance costs
Is Kagan a lesbian? Why it matters : At a time of war, in the face of the grand civilizational challenge that radical Islam poses, Kagan treated military recruiters worse than she treated the high-powered law firms that were donating their expensive legal services to anti-American terrorists
Doing Washington D.C. : Washington D.C. has been taken over by those who seek power and influence. It has a very clear social hierarchy, as do most cities. Unless you're rich, famous, powerful or an insider, you're no-one. Just the poor sucker whose taxes pay for it

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

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


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


26 May, 2010

New British Prime Minister sets out a libertarian/conservative agenda

Far from perfect but an impressive start. Britain is once again in the hands of people who love their country and respect the individual

Opening ceremonies above. The Brits still do pomp best of all

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron tilted the coalition away from the Liberal Democrats with a Queen's Speech that defined tax, immigration and police reform on Tory terms. The Prime Minister promised a "new start for Britain" with smaller, better government as he unveiled 23 Bills to transfer powers to voters and transform politics.

The fine print of the 18-month legislative programme revealed that he had won a series of behind the scenes victories over his coalition partners. They included:

A commitment to lower taxation, the first time since the coalition was formed that such a pledge has been made. Nick Clegg told The Times last week that the Government's priority was to rebalance the tax burden, not to reduce it. Last week's coalition programme promised "more competitive, simpler, greener and fairer" tax, but no mention of lower taxation;

Scope for George Osborne [Chancellor of the Exchequer] to keep rises in capital gains tax to a minimum. The Lib Dem policy - to increase CGT from 18per cent to 40per cent for top earners, in line with income tax rates - was trimmed in coalition talks. Last week the Government said rates would be "similar or close to" income tax rates. The Queen's Speech documents water that down, saying that CGT will be taxed at rates "closer" to income tax;

A reinstatement of the Tory election pledge to cut non-EU immigration to tens of thousands a year. The aim disappeared from the coalition programme as the Lib Dems accepted an undefined annual limit. The level is now back;

Tory aides also made clear that a referendum on the alternative-voting system - the big Lib Dem win from the coalition negotiations - would not take place for up to three years and possibly longer. Although a Bill enabling a referendum to take place was included in the Queen's Speech, there was no commitment to a date. Tory aides said such a vote should coincide with a boundary review, intended to cut the number of MPs. This is likely to take at least two years, and possibly longer. Lib Dems would like a vote as quickly as possible - at least before public enthusiasm for "new politics" has ebbed.

After the monarch delivered her 56th Queen's Speech - the first on behalf of a coalition - Mr Cameron ignored the niceties of the State Opening, and tore into Labour.

The choreography of the occasion requires the Leader of the Opposition to open hostilities. Harriet Harman, the acting Labour leader, delivered a measured speech that promised her party would not pull its punches.

Mr Cameron, however, started throwing his even before reciting the names of British troops who had died in Afghanistan since the Commons last met - a roll call with which, by recent custom, party leaders open.

He said Ms Harman's speech was missing something: "Not one word of apology for the appalling mess that has been left in this country." Mr Cameron, who has come under pressure from Tories to put his - and their party's - stamp on the coalition, used the occasion as an extension of the election campaign in terms of his rhetoric.

He said of Labour: "They gave us big spending. We will bring good housekeeping. They trusted in bureaucracy. We will trust in community. They governed in the party interest. We will govern in the national interest."

He said the Queen's Speech signalled the end of "years of recklessness and big government and the beginning of the years of responsibility and good government". He seized on the letter left by Liam Byrne for his successor as Treasury Chief Secretary, David Laws, that there was "no money" left. "They lectured us about their golden rules, but in the end the only golden rule was never trust Labour with the economy of this country."

The programme of Bills includes plans to set up the office for budget responsibility - a panel of independent economic experts to prevent forecasts from becoming politicised. Other measures are intended to give parents and other providers more scope to set up "free schools" within the state sector; repeal ID cards and a host of other Labour measures that allowed the state to hold personal details; point the way to an elected House of Lords, establish a new voting system for the Commons, and new powers for voters to recall their MPs.

Yesterday marked the first business day for Tories and Lib Dems to share the government benches - last week's get-together was for the ceremony of electing the Speaker - and it did not take long for potential faultlines to show. Simon Hughes, the former Lib Dem frontbencher who was not given a job in Government, rose to challenge Mr Cameron, asking for a commitment from "his Government" towards council housing....

Mr Cameron also said it was time to "ratchet up" pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions, and that the Government would pursue stronger UN and EU sanctions against Tehran.

On the issue of elected police commissioners, the Queen's Speech documents refer only to elected individuals. Asked to clarify the position, MrCameron told MPs that the plan "to elect individuals as commissioners" would go ahead. His spokesman said the coalition had "refined" its position on police commissioners to increase their accountability.

Police chiefs have opposed the plan. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Scotland Yard commissioner, warned last night (Tuesday) that the operational independence of police chiefs must be the Government's starting point.

More here


Socialism: The New Feudalism

Leftism is old and failed, not "new"

Exactly which side of the political spectrum is dragging us toward the past? Recently Bill Maher said on his show, "Democrats in America were put on earth to do one thing: drag the ignorant hillbilly half of this country into the next century, which in their case is the 19th..."

This is the type of rhetoric we hear from liberals all the time, ‘the old ways of capitalism and individual responsibility are over and it is time to move into a more collective and social era.' Hence the name MoveOn.org or the term progressive, coined to signify progression into a new era and away from individual responsibility and greed.

The left should study history and the rhetoric of a distance political system called Feudalism. Many people have a misconception that the early socialist thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels were original thinkers, writing ideas about collectivism and equal sharing of property. But one only has to look back a few centuries to see they were simply recycling old failed ideas with some new jive attached.

After the era of Viking, Magyar, and Muslim raids gradually subsided, Europe began to reorganize itself into a Feudal society. The old ways of the Germanic tribes were ending, which meant less freedom and more central power.

The Feudal system was nothing more than creating a ruling class who owned all the land and wealth and provided security and safety to all the serfs; in turn the serfs provided work and servitude to their master. But many people do not realize the collective aspect of how serfs lived together.

After the ruling class reaped the finest of the crops and livestock for themselves, the serfs were to distribute all the yield of their labor amongst everyone equally. They had no rights to any crops or land for themselves, all belonged to the community, which was bestowed upon them by their feudal lords. They also shared in utilities. Most peasant societies had a communal oven that was also shared to save on resources. (1)

The ruling class, which consisted of the clergy and lords, did everything they could to spread feudalist propaganda in order to keep the serfs in line. John of Salisbury wrote a short piece in the twelfth century called ‘The Body Social.' In it he describes the proper role of each peasant and how they should all work together as a collective body for the better of the community.

"Then and then only will the health of the commonwealth be sound and flourishing, when the higher members shield the lower, and the lower respond faithfully and fully in like measure to the just demands of their superiors, so that each and all are as it were members one of another by a sort of reciprocity, and each regards his own interests as best served by that which he knows to be the most advantageous for the others." (2)

In 1274 AD Thomas Aquinas wrote something similar in his book, the 'Summa Theologica.' "For since every individual is a part of the community, so does each man, all that he is and all that he possesses, belong to the community as well." (3)

Now let's compare that thought to a quote to an early progressive icon, Teddy Roosevelt. "Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it." See a parallel of ideologies? (4)

The Feudal propagandists were not above painting tales of evil freedom fighters murdering a good, virtuous, feudal lord. Galbert of Bruges wrote a piece in 1127 AD titled, ‘The Murder of a Feudal Lord.' In it he writes about a family of freedom fighters struggling against a Feudal lord who wishes to bring them into serfdom. The family fights to keep their lands and freedom and ends up murdering the Feudal lord. Of course, Galbert painted the family as ignorant for not understanding that the Feudal Lord only wished to provide them with security and a proper place in society. All he wanted to do was establish order throughout his realm, which was so desperately needed for the betterment of the community. (5)

This is exactly the type of rhetoric we hear from the left all the time. With their ideas of the redistribution of wealth, and a central controlling nanny state, we're told things such as: ‘You should listen to those who know better. You should care more about the community over your own desires; conservatives are just a bunch of ignorant hillbillies clinging to old ideas and must be forced into a better and more ordered society.'

In actuality, the left is leading us right back into feudalism, where men are enslaved to lords, knowledge is left to the ruling class, and freedom and ingenuity are hindered to prevent man from reaching his full potential. This is exactly why our founders pulled us away from the ideas of Europe and gave us every right and freedom the feudalists said were wrong to have.

If Bill Maher and other liberals want to lead us into the next century they should first study history, because they are actually dragging us back a millennium.




Natural selection at work? "Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of ultra-potent heroin that sells for as little as $10 a bag and is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly, sometimes before they even remove the syringe from their veins. An Associated Press review of drug overdose data shows that so-called ‘black tar’ heroin — named for its dark, gooey consistency — and other forms of the drug are contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation and attracting a new generation of users who are caught off guard by its potency. ‘We found people who snorted it lying face-down with the straw lying next to them,’ said Patrick O’Neil, coroner in suburban Chicago’s Will County, where annual heroin deaths have nearly tripled — from 10 to 29 — since 2006. ‘It’s so potent that we occasionally find the needle in the arm at the death scene.’”

Baby boom for the over-forties but overall British birth rate is down: "The number of children born to mothers in their forties has almost trebled in the past two decades and continues to rise, latest figures show. Nearly 27,000 babies were born to women aged 40 and over in 2009 — compared with the 9,336 live births in 1989. In 2009 women had an average of 1.95 children each, down from 1.97 children in 2008.The figures also showed that theproportion of births to mothers born outside Britain continued to rise, from 24.1 per cent in 2008 to 24.7 per cent in 2009. The proportion of births to overseas mothers has increased every year since 1990, when it was just under 12 per cent. [The over 40s birthrate reflects gradual improvements in IVF]

Somali pirates go on trial in the Netherlands: "The first trial of Somali pirates to be held in Europe opened yesterday morning when five suspects entered the dock smiling at their lawyers and watched by a heavy police presence. The alleged pirates were charged under a law against “sea robbery” dating back to the 17th century after being accused of trying to hijack a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. They were allegedly armed with automatic weapons and rockets when they were arrested in January last year. They face up to 12 years in jail afer a five-day hearing at Rotterdam district court. The Netherlands is staging the trial because the men are accused of targeting a ship flagged in the Dutch Antilles"

How to create the illusion of low taxes (Don't count everything): "To the surprise of opponents of big government, the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that taxes at all levels of government take only 9.2 percent of our income, the lowest rate since Harry Truman was president. USA Today and various news-media personalities, like Chris Matthews of MSNBC, have used this statistic to hammer those who complain about President Obama’s profligate fiscal policies. If this all seems too amazing to be true, you are on the right track.”

Corrupt mortgage giants escape reform: "There won’t be any reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the corrupt, government-sponsored mortgage giants that even Obama administration officials admit were at the ‘core’ of ‘what went wrong’ in the financial crisis. The ‘Obama Administration says Fannie, Freddie reform’ is ‘too hard,’ reports the Washington Examiner.”

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

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


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


25 May, 2010

Obama and his Chicago cronies are working hard at making America into one big Chicago

It's all they know

If you want to get a good glimpse of what America will look like if President Obama continues to push his “change” agenda, take a close look at Chicago. But brace yourself: it is not a pretty picture.

Chicago, as we all know, is Mr. Obama’s home and the place where he served as a community organizer, a state legislator, and a US Senator. Obama championed a variety of jobs creation programs, advanced ideas to reduce crime, and sought earmarks totaling some $800 million dollars to boost the Chicago economy. By all accounts, he was energetic, determined, and successful pushing these programs.

But while many, including Obama, have focused almost exclusively on Mr. Obama’s noble intentions, few have focused on the results. Which of Obama’s efforts in Chicago delivered the promised benefits? None.

Chicago is a city in crisis. Crime rates have surged despite the many, Obama-led, community-building efforts. The number of Americans murdered in Chicago this year is about the same number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year. Two State Senators have argued that Chicago’s crime problem is too big for locals to solve and have called for deployment of the National Guard.

Nor is crime the only problem in the windy city. Unemployment is at 11.2%, 1.3 points above the national average. Worse yet, minorities are particularly hit by a failing Chicago economy that continues to shed jobs as the unemployment rates among minorities top 20%.

Alas, the index of misery in Chicago earned the city the distinction as the third most miserable city in America, as high taxes cripple job growth, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.

None of Mr. Obama’s efforts as a community organizer, state legislator or U.S. Senator did anything to reduce Chicago’s misery index. It’s possible that the opposite may be true. Remember: as a U.S. Senator, Mr. Obama averaged nearly $286.9 million per year in earmark requests, which he justified as ways to promote job growth, reduce crime, and improve schools. Yet, Chicago’s misery worsened.

Is it possible that Mr. Obama made Chicago’s problems worse by championing a philosophy of greater federal support, avoidance of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility? Was the nearly $1 billion of Obama earmarks spent, not on investments that might have helped spark economic activity, but instead directed to dubious causes aimed at rewarding key supporters such as the Unions? Did Obama help choke off economic vitality and entrepreneurialism by acquiescing to high taxes and growing regulatory burdens?

I think so. Mr. Obama did not set Chicago on a path of ruin single-handedly. He had lots of help. Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat Party Whip, White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Valerie Jarrett and other Chicagoans occupy key positions in the Which House. Like Obama, Durbin and Emanuel have, for years, directed funding, both directly and indirectly to Illinois and to Chicago for assistance, entitlement programs, pork projects and perks. And yet, the problems in Chicago only grew.

Here is the scary part: now they are in Washington, working hard to duplicate on a national scale the failures they achieved in Chicago.

None of the powerful Chicago politicians now in Washington have practical experience creating jobs. All of them have a mistaken belief that the federal government can generate job growth by turning the spigot of taxpayer money in the intended direction. They also believe that ever larger and more intrusive government and regulatory regimes added to every level of American life are a prescription for economic growth. This same, failed philosophy that guided their actions in Chicago now guides their efforts in Washington.

Obama’s Chicago experiment has been a dismal failure. Why should Americans trust Obama and allow him to experiment with the future of the country and our children? Obama’s vision is wrong. His favored solutions do not work, and Obama’s path only leads to greater misery. Americans deserve better, and so does Chicago.

If Team Obama wanted to find out why their earlier programs failed and led to an exodus of jobs, they could talk to companies that have relocated to more business friendly states such as Texas. In Texas, Team Obama would find a lower tax rate, a healthy climate for entrepreneurial growth, and pro-growth policies that encourage innovation and new investment.

Team Obama might even want to take a trip and talk to the guy that first put Texas on the path of long-term growth, fiscal solvency, and enhanced competitiveness. The roads to Crawford are well marked, so he should not be hard to find.



Caring Enough to Cut Spending Responsibly

This week, our debt will pass $13 trillion. Nouriel Roubini, former Clinton White House economist, said on Fox News, "What has happened in Greece could happen in the U.S. We could have serious problems. We have the debt of the federal government. Many state and local governments are bankrupt. There are unfunded liabilities for social security. There are unfunded liabilities for state pensions." Trillion dollar deficits are not sustainable.

Politicians and government administrators talk about the pain involved in cutting government spending, and there are consequences that impact employees and those served. But, too often, they forget the pain citizens are experiencing in having to pay more fees and a variety of higher taxes. Governments don’t bear the cost of anything; their citizens do.

The late Peter Drucker was a leadership truth teller: “I think you could probably merge agriculture and commerce and have one department of the economy. Instead, my prediction is coming true. I predicted in 1960 that, by the year 2000, there would be more employees of the Department of Agriculture than American farmers…. Cutting back on any government service is still anathema to liberals…. So if you are a Democratic Party dependent on labor votes, cutting government services is not exactly popular.”

Unfortunately, too many politicians in power are more interested in being popular than responsible. They’re spending more, expanding entitlements and printing money rather than cutting budgets.

Tackling the Deficit is controversial, and it isn’t easy. Leadership never is. Ross Perot captured it best: “The deficit is like the guy that finds a rattlesnake in his pants. He knows he's got to shoot it, but he doesn't want to hit anything important.”

Both leaders and citizens would like more money to spend, but the stark economic realities are forcing all to decide where to cut? There is a sign in the CA State Finance Department that should have been put up long ago: “Nothing inspires genius like a tight budget.”

The most common mistake is organizational egalitarianism. Leaders take 10% away from everybody, instead of separating out what's core. We need leaders to embrace a scrounger mentality—you do what you have to do with what you have. Be tight where you can and spend only where it’s critical. Don’t just think more with less; do the RIGHT less with less! Mission centric services should receive priority funding. Some expenses are nice only if you can afford them, and other costs could have been cut years ago. Keep all the stakeholders focused on being responsive and working smart on real priorities that are worth doing.

Waiting for the perfect decision isn’t the answer. It’s important to get things done, and some are. Jeff Baarstad, PhD, Deputy Superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District and chair of their budget committee, has embraced the challenge: “It’s incumbent upon the leaders of public agencies to focus on providing the highest quality services possible with the tax dollars we’re provided. We must be crystal clear about the core services we’ve been commissioned to provide and place the lion’s share of our resources behind those services. That boils down to a qualified and caring teacher, in a clean, comfortable and safe classroom, with a reasonable class size, and access to the materials and supplies necessary to give students the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and careers. That happens in a classroom on a school campus.”

Working non-stop since the spring of 2009 with parents, teachers, classified support workers, counselors and psychologists, school board members and administrators, they’ve reduced their expenses nearly 15%. Their priorities are clear—classroom instruction first, the student’s campus experience second, district support services third and central administrative office last. Dr. Barrstad warns, “We recognize the core reason we exist as a public school district. Focusing on our classroom priorities is the right way to proceed, but no one should minimize the impact that reducing non-school support services may have on classroom instruction.”

America is also attracting a new breed of candidate dissatisfied with the direction our country is going. John Davidson, running in the Republican primary for the 23rd Congressional District, brings his 25 years of business experience to his campaign priorities. He’s got his focus on smaller, not bigger government: “This out of control government spending is the first thing that must be addressed in Congress. In the business world, when you spend money you don’t have, you don’t have a business anymore. I’m running for Congress to stop the deficit spending and balance this budget, without new taxes, by cutting wasteful spending and focusing on our priorities.”

Support administrators taking on the challenge, and when you vote, send a message to Washington that we want leaders to care enough to cut budgets responsibly. We need smaller more efficient government, not more government.




Obama and Attention Deficit Democracy: "In his commencement address at the University of Michigan on May 1, President Obama warned that public ignorance subverts self-government. Obama declared: ‘When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day … that’s when democracy breaks down. That’s when power is abused.’ Unfortunately, most Americans have little or no idea how government works or who is holding the reins on their lives.”

In praise of profit: "Profit is proper. Profit deserves praise. Profit is a beautiful concept — as it is only possible when individuals or groups produce a product or service that other people want, need and like, and are willing to voluntarily put their money where their mouth is and buy the thing! This is wonderful in my humble opinion. Someone, somewhere is doing something right and getting rewarded for their efforts!”

Western China: Internet restored, but repression continues: "On May 14, residents of East Turkestan rediscovered the Internet — not the Internet of unfettered access that is enjoyed the world over. But a lifting of the most draconian Internet restrictions ever seen so that people could finally access China’s censored version. For 10 months, starting from the July 2009 unrest in Urumchi, the Chinese government kept the people of East Turkestan isolated from the rest of the world with a comprehensive communications lockdown that not only blocked the Internet, but also affected telecommunications. The communications lockdown was an illustration of the chilling ideology of power that guides the decisions of power brokers in the Chinese Communist Party. In those 10 months, the Chinese government conducted a brutal crackdown on Uighurs largely unseen by the outside world.”

The subversive vending machine: "For nearly a century before the Internet put the anonymous consumption of vices literally at the world’s fingertips, vending machines dispensed taboo wares, experiences, and entertainment free from the gaze of prying eyes. Salyers argues that the first vending machines in wide use were the snuff and tobacco boxes in 17th century English taverns, appropriate forerunners to the ubiquitous, plastic-handled cigarette dispensers that populated bars, bowling allies, and restaurants in the second half of the 20th century. Be it the condom machine in the gas station bathroom, the coin-operated peep show, the pinball craze that prompted a moral panic in the 1940s, truant hoods spending afternoons in smoke-blanketed video game arcades in the 1980s, or the rebellious rock ’n’ roll dispensing jukebox, there has always been a subversive element to coin-operated commerce. Even the Norman Rockwell–celebrated Coca-Cola machine has gone rogue, as public health activists now fault soda and candy — and, in particular, the widespread availability of both through vending machines — for the fattening of American children.”

Era of unlimited government arrives: "‘Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business,’ President Calvin Coolidge told journalists in March 1929. If Coolidge suddenly sprang to life today, he would look around and drop dead. Washington Democrats are minding their own business — and everyone else’s. In this era of unlimited government, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats stick their snouts anywhere they will fit, without the guidance of common sense, frugality, nor any sense of priorities. For today’s federal government, it’s everything, all the time.”

Huge new paperwork load for all Americans: "The massive expansion of requirements for businesses to file 1099 tax forms that was hidden in the 2,409-page health reform bill took many by surprise when it came to light last month. But it’s just one piece of a years-long legislative stealth campaign to create ways for the federal government to track down unreported income. The result: A blizzard of new tax forms that the Internal Revenue Service will begin rolling out next year. … All business payments or purchases that exceed $600 in a calendar year will need to be accompanied by a 1099 filing. That means obtaining the taxpayer ID number of the individual or corporation you’re making the payment to — even if it’s a giant retailer like Staples or Best Buy — at the time of the transaction, or else facing IRS penalties.”

US said to order an expanded use of secret action: “The top U.S. commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David Petraeus, authorizes the sending of U.S. special operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.”

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

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


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


24 May, 2010


by Barry Rubin (This article is over a month old but is still very much to the point)

The story of the U.S. engagement with Syria and the sanctions issue regarding Iran's nuclear program are fascinating. Each day there's some new development showing how the Obama Administration is acting like a deer standing in the middle of a busy highway admiring the pretty automobile headlights.

Or to put it a different way, it is like watching the monster sneak up behind someone. Even though you know he's not going to turn around, you can't help but watch in fascinated horror and yelling out: "Look out!" But he pays no attention.

So I'm not just writing about these two issues in isolation but as very appropriate symbols of everything wrong with Western perceptions of the Middle East (and everywhere else) and the debates over foreign policy (and everything else) nowadays.

On Syria, for the most recent episodes of the story see here [1] and here[2] but, briefly, the Syrian government keeps punching the United States in the face as Washington ignores it.

But now, on March 1, a new record is set. The place: State Department daily press conference; the main character, departmental spokesman Philip J. Crowley. A reporter wants to know how the administration views the fact that the moment the U.S. delegation left after urging Syrian President Bashar al-Asad to move away from Iran and stop supporting Hizballah, Syria's dictator invited in Iran's dictator along with Hizballah's leader and Damascus moved closer to Iran and Hizballah. Indeed, Asad said regarding Hizballah, "To support the resistance is a moral, patriotic and legal duty."

In other words, the exact opposite of what the United States requested. Is the government annoyed, does it want to express some anger or threat? Let's listen:[3]

Well, I would point it in a slightly different direction. It came several days after an important visit to Damascus by Under Secretary Bill Burns....We want to see Syria play a more constructive role in the region. We also want - to the extent that it has the ability to talk to Iran directly, we want to make sure that Syria's communicating to Iran its concerns about its role in the region and the direction, the nature of its nuclear ambitions...."

In other words, I'm going to ignore the fact that the first thing that Asad did after Burns' visit was a love fest with Iran and Hizballah. But even more amazing, what Crowley said is that the U.S. government thinks Syria, Iran's partner and ally, is upset that Iran is being aggressive and expansionist. And it actually expects the Syrians to urge Iran not to build nuclear weapons!

One Lebanese observer called this approach, "Living in an alternate universe."

Meanwhile, as the administration congratulates itself on explaining to Syria that it should reduce support for Hizballah, Israeli military intelligence releases an assessment[4] that Syria is giving Hizballah more and better arms than ever before.

Oh wait! Now it's March 3 so time for something new. The ófficial Syrian press agency reports[5] that Syria's government opposed an Arab League proposal to support indirect Palestinian Authority-Israel negotiations. Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem asserted that Syria is "no way part" of the consensus supporting the plan.

But guess what? First, Senator John Kerry opened a meeting of his Senate Foreign Relations Committee by erroneously praising Syria as supporting the plan, giving this as an example of Damascus's moderation. The New York Times quoted[6] from the Syrian report, making it sound like Moallem is praising the United States, but left out the paragraphs attacking the U.S.-backed plan! And the State Department circulated the Times article as proof of its success in winning over Syria when in fact Syrian behavior proved the exact opposite!

Oh, and that's not all! Not only did Syria oppose the plan but it attacked[7] the Arab states that supported the U.S. effort and blasted the Palestinian Authority for not following the path of resistance, that is urged it to carry out terrorist violence against Israel.

Hey, that's not all either. Syria also issued a statement[8] accusing Israel of "framing" it by dropping uranium particles from the air to make it seem that Syria had been building a nuclear reactor for making nuclear weapons. Not exactly evidence of rational moderation I'd say.

Meanwhile, on the Iran front, it is now March 2010 and still-six months after the first administration deadline and three months after the second deadline-there are no additional sanctions on Iran yet. In fact, the process has barely started.

Even former Democratic presidential candidate and head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry has taken a stronger stance[9] than the administration.

He supports the congressional call for tough sanctions to block Iran's energy industry which easily passed both houses. "I believe that the most biting and important sanctions would be those on the energy side." But the Obama administration wants far more limited sanctions focused on a small group in the regime elite.

Yet sanctions are getting further away rather than closer. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted at this by pulling back from her early prediction of sanctions by April, now saying[10] it might be "some time in the next several months."

At the same time, we have endless evidence that the claim the Russians (and Chinese and others) are coming, to support sanctions, is nonsense. Just before meeting with Clinton to discuss the issue, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (or Lula for short) explained, "Peace in the world does not mean isolating someone." (Quick, invite him to explain this to the anti-Israel forces in Europe and elsewhere).

But it's outright amusing to see the efforts to spin the Russian and Chinese position. In this regard, the prize for this week should be won by an AP dispatch.[11] The headline is: "Russia moves closer to Iran sanctions over nukes."

And what is the basis for this claim that there has just been "the strongest sign to date that the Kremlin was prepared to drop traditional opposition to such penalties if Tehran remain obstinate?" This statement from President Dmitry Medvedev:
"We believe that [engagement with Iran is] not over yet, that we can still reach an agreement," he said. "But if we don't succeed, Russia is ready - along with our partners...to consider the question of adopting sanctions."

Get it? When Russia decides that talking with Iran won't work, then at that point-how long from now would that be?-it will "consider" sanctions. Actually, he said the same thing last August, a statement trumpeted in September by the New York Times as proving Obama's policy was working.

There is more clarity with the Chinese, sort of, though the pretense is also made that they might do something. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang put it this way: "We believe there is still room for diplomatic efforts and the parties concerned should intensify those efforts." At most, the optimists suggest, in the words of this Reuters dispatch:[12]
"China will resist any proposed sanctions that threaten flows of oil and Chinese investments, but most believe it will accept a more narrowly cast resolution that has more symbolic than practical impact."

Yes, that's the kind of thing that already existed four years ago. Some progress. Is it too much to ask policymakers to pay attention to what's going on occasionally?

So let's leave it to Ahmadinejad to sum up[13] how things seem to Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and lots of Arabs both pro- and anti-American:

The Americans, Ahmadinejad said, "not only have failed to gain any power, but also are forced to leave the region. They are leaving their reputation, image, and power behind in order to escape....The [American] government has no influence [to stop]....the expansion of Iran-Syria ties, Syria-Turkey ties, and Iran-Turkey ties--God willing, Iraq too will join the circle...."

In other words, Obama Administration policy isn't making the radicals more moderate but rather--by feeding their arrogance and belief in American weakness--making them more aggressive.



Rand Paul roundup

Everybody loves Rand: "Even if he doesn’t presage a major change in how electoral party politics works, [Rand] Paul’s appeal goes beyond even state-shrinkers of any inclination. He inspired lefty journalist Robert Scheer to cheer Paul — in language that ought to appeal to principled progressives of all sorts — as a ‘principled libertarian in the mold of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and we need more of that impulse in the Congress. What’s wrong with cutting back big government that mostly exists to serve the interests of big corporations? Surely it would be better if that challenge came from populist progressives of the left, in the Bernie Sanders mold, but this is Kentucky we’re talking about.’ At the same time, and equally encouraging for Paul’s bonafides as a political good guy, he earned the obloquy of staunch defenders of the Radical Middle: From the right side, David Frum found Paul’s victory ‘depressing’ and ‘ominous,’ while on the left, Matthew Yglesias dubbed Paul, without explanation, a ‘lunatic.’”

The media’s new villain: Rand Paul: "Want to know what media outlets journalists follow? Watch as they copy from one another. That truism has seldom been more obvious than the liberal feeding frenzy we’ve seen this week over Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul. Paul is something rarely seen now. He’s a principled candidate that will say things the liberal media don’t want to hear. So they are working hand-in-hand with the left to destroy him. His appearance on ‘Rachel Maddow’ Wednesday led to an on-air interrogation about Paul’s views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Paul made it clear he emphatically opposes discrimination, but also dislikes the far-reaching implications of the Civil Rights Act. Even then, he doesn’t support getting rid of the act. He was merely making a principled stand about the size and influence of government.”

Rand Paul, civil rights, and more liberal hypocrisy on race: "This week, thanks to Rand Paul’s win in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, we are treated to another grand spectacle of liberal hypocrisy when it comes to race. The liberal community has gone into emotional hyper-drive over Paul’s opposition to the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination by private businesses. The liberals are just shocked and outraged that anyone would honestly suggest that private businesses should be free to discriminate"

On private discrimination: "It’s true that a strict libertarian or free-market perspective might prevent the government from interfering when individuals choose to act in a discriminatory fashion. This may make people uncomfortable. But, as Mr. Paul pointed out, the very idea of freedom requires us to tolerate certain decisions that we might find distasteful, in order to ensure that we have the liberty to make decisions that others might find distasteful. For example: Our nation prizes freedom of expression so much that our constitutions deny governments the authority to restrict or punish speech, even if the ideas expressed are almost universally regarded as offensive. Respect for this form of freedom is so ingrained in our culture that its wisdom is only rarely challenged. Mr. Paul was trying to help Ms. Maddow understand that, similarly, if one believes in individual liberty then one must necessarily be prepared to tolerate the fact that some individuals will use that liberty in ways that others might find offensive.”

A problem like Paul: "How do you solve a problem like Rand Paul? The Kentucky Republican and son of libertarian icon Ron had hardly won his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate before getting embroiled in a controversy over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, apparently in the belief that it’s never too late to re-litigate 40-year-old historic milestones. Paul doesn’t like that the law forced private businesses to serve blacks, a violation of his libertarian principles. Paul said that he supported the parts of the law that ended state discrimination and he abhors racism. None of which prevented him from getting smeared as a mild-mannered George Wallace. It turns out that a Senate campaign does not offer the same friendly confines for the discussion of libertarian doctrine as a seminar at the Ayn Rand Institute.”



HI: Republican wins US House seat in Obama’s home district: "Republicans won a Democratic-held congressional seat in Hawaii in the district where President Barack Obama grew up — the latest triumph for the party as it looks to take back control of Congress in the November national election. But Democrats believe the success in Hawaii will be short-lived. The Republican winner will only serve through the remainder of 2010, and another election will be held in November for the next term. Democrats are confident they can win the seat back in November because their vote won’t be split among several candidates, as it was in the special election.”

Dodd’s do-nothing financial “reform”: "Wall Street is heaving a quiet sigh of relief: All Washington is going to give us for ‘financial reform’ in the wake of the collapse of 2008 is a law based on Sen. Chris Dodd’s bill. That thin semblance of reform will let Congress and the Obama administration claim they brought Wall Street to heel. But by dodging all the hard issues, this ‘reform’ makes it likely that the next crisis will put the last one to shame.”

What’s big, risky … and losing billions?: "This week, the Senate rejected a $400 billion cap on the taxpayer bailout of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association, better known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The decision may ensure that the two firms’ collapse will be the most costly event of the economic downturn. Their old model — private companies with an implicit public guarantee — created behemoths that gambled trillions of dollars and lost billions in taxpayers’ money. This old system was unacceptable, but what shall we put in its place? Let’s start with the basic question: Why should Fannie and Freddie exist at all?”

Enough money: "One of the many shallow statements that sound good — if you don’t stop and think about it — is that ‘at some point, you have made enough money.’ The key word in this statement, made by President Barack Obama recently, is ‘you.’ There is nothing wrong with my deciding how much money is enough for me or your deciding how much money is enough for you, but when politicians think that they should be deciding how much money is enough for other people, that is starting down a very slippery slope.”

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

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

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


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


23 May, 2010

The "Nazi" Pope

I am not going to say one thing below that is original. But it always appalls me when people believe the opposite of the truth and I have to speak up about it.

Eugenio Pacelli was a small but determined man of great intelligence and high principle. He became Pope Pius XII in 1939 and was Pope throughout WWII. He had been papal nuncio in Germany for many years prior to that and came to speak perfect German -- a remarkable achievement for an Italian who had all his education in Italy. During his time in Germany he saw of course the rise of Nazism and regularly condemnned it in no uncertain terms.

In 1937 he wrote on behalf of Pius XI the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With burning sorrow") -- a condemnation of Nazi persecution of non-Nazis. Encyclicals are usually written in Latin so writing this encyclical in German showed how determined the church was to speak up on behalf of all those being oppressed by the Nazis.

The tiny minority of Pacelli's critics who have some knowledge of history sometimes point to the fact that in his role as nuncio, Pacelli was responsible for a Konkordat with the German Federal government that was signed in 1933. Pacelli's job was to arrange concordats (agreements) with various governments that would safeguard the independence of church schools, allow the preaching of Catholic doctrine etc. And he did in fact achieve many such agreements, an agreement with the Southern German (and very Catholic) State of Bayern (Bavaria) being one of the earliest. German Laender, were, like American States today, substantially independent and had their own legal and school systems etc.

Pacelli had been trying for some time to get such an agreement with the Federal German government but had always been knocked back. When Hitler came to power, however, he was keen to legitimate himself so he changed the prior Federal stance and signed up. At that stage Hitler was simply the newly-elected German Kanzler (Prime Minister) and there was of course no knowledge of his future deeds. So how was Pacelli at fault about that? It may be noted that when Mit brennender Sorge was issued Hitler broke his agreements in the Konkordat and persecuted Catholic clergy. So the arrangement of a Konkordat was a wise precaution, even if it was a precaution that ultimately failed.

Pacelli did however learn from what happened when when Mit brennender Sorge was issued. When war broke out, Pacelli fell largely silent. He saw that he would probably bring down further persecution of the church by adding to his existing criticisms of Nazism. Instead he concentrated on deeds rather than words. The Vatican became a lifeline for endangered Jews. It supplied money to get them out of Germany and false ID documents saying that they were Christians. And note that this was at a time when the church regarded the Jews as enemies. In the theology of the time, the Jews had killed the Catholics' God and that was one hell of a bad way to start a friendship.

And when the Germans came to Italy itself, Pacelli rose to even greater efforts. He exempted monasteries and nunneries from their normal rules so that they could take in and hide Jews that the Nazis were pursuing. Even his own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo was said at one time to be hiding 3,000 Jews, though nobody knows the exact number.

And this is the man whom many Leftists refer to as "Hitler's Pope"! So why the lie? Why is this exceptionally fine man "controversial"?

Easy: Soviet disinformation. As we all know, the church utterly opposed "Godless" Communism and the Soviets rightly perceived the Vatican as an important enemy. So the Soviets and their fellow travellers in the West put about this abominable lie that Pacelli was antisemitic and sympathetic to the Nazis. And it suits the anti-Christian stance of modern-day Leftists to believe it too.

So it grieves me greatly that this true man of God is taken for the opposite of what he was. The world needs more men like Eugenio Pacelli -- perhaps now more than ever. Even I as an atheist salute him.

There is an interesting story here about how one man finally broke through the lies and found out the truth about Pacelli.


Obama Has Enraged the "Citizen Class"

An anti-American President is piling up votes against his party

The “citizen class” is horrified. We’re speaking here of those Americans who, while they may disagree on a variety of social and public policy issues, nonetheless agree on a few, crucial matters.

Those of us among the citizen class generally agree that the United States is a good country. While far from perfect, we see our nation as being a place of tremendous opportunity, and a force for goodness around the world.

We also agree that being a U.S. citizen is a significant and distinct thing. While we respect the notion that all human beings are worthy of their “basic human rights,” we see the rights imparted to citizens of the United States as being something different, something “over and above” the category of “basic human rights.”

This is not to say that we are superior people, because we are U.S. citizens. This is, however, the greatest blessing of being a U.S. citizen. It is why so many of us in the citizen class think of our status as a “naturally born citizen” as being a God-given gift, and we celebrate those who legally earn American citizenship as well.

But along with the distinctiveness of being an American citizen, those of us among the citizen class also regard our nation’s sovereignty as something that must be safeguarded as well. Political philosophies, governmental structures, and economic systems are not morally neutral – some work far better than others. And the structures and institutions and governing philosophies of the United States have produced a far higher level of human flourishing and freedom than any others. For this reason, if for no other, our nation must always be regarded as separate and distinct.

Our nation is good, U.S. citizenship is distinct, and national sovereignty is non-negotiable. In a nutshell, this is the mindset, the worldview, of the citizen class. It has nothing to do with one’s ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, or sexual orientation, or gender. It has everything to do with one’s most deeply held beliefs.

Not every U.S. citizen possesses the “citizen class” view (clearly some Americans don’t understand the blessing of their status), yet a majority of us still do. And no matter how much we may disagree on other matters, those of us in the citizen class won’t budge on these three items.

And this why President Obama has enraged the citizen class. He has planted the seeds of doubt regarding our nation’s goodness, and has implied that U.S. citizenship, and national sovereignty, are irrelevant.

While an overwhelming majority of the citizen class supports Arizona’s effort to uphold the significance of citizenship and sovereignty, President Barack Hussein Obama has sided with the United Nations, Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, China, and the President of Mexico in opposing the state of Arizona. One would hope that the President of the United States – any President of the United States – would seek to protect all fifty of the states that he governs from international criticism, even if he didn’t happen to like the behavior of one of his states. But our current President stands united with some of the most thuggish regimes in the world, in opposing his fellow Americans of Arizona.

Worse yet, our President not only allowed, but enabled Mexican President Felipe Calderon to publicly humiliate our fellow Americans of Arizona, while standing on the sacred grounds of the White House. And President Obama’s party – the ruling party in Congress – couldn’t rise to their feet quickly enough and offer thunderous applause, when Mr. Calderon publicly humiliated Arizona during an address to both the Senate and House last week.

It’s nothing short of disgraceful to see the President of the United States undermine us, while the entire world is watching. His behavior has, in no small part, called in to question just how “united” the United States of America is right now.

Yet in the midst of the disgrace, there are hopeful signs. The citizen class has whole-heartedly rejected the agenda (such that it is) of Barack Obama. It began last November with statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia, where gubernatorial candidates endorsed by Barack Obama both lost. It moved on to Massachusetts where Obama’s choice for U.S. Senate lost to Republican Scott Brown.

And now, evidence of the rejection of Obama’s agenda has radiated from Utah, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. And we haven’t even seen yet how the President’s trashing of Arizona will impact elections yet to occur.

The louder President Obama and his party cheer, the greater the rage of the citizen class. And the citizen class won’t be ignored much longer.



Forked-Tongue-In-Chief at West Point

The most accurate definition of one who is "forked tongue" is not someone who directly disputes himself, but rather one who says something with such cloud that two completely different things could be intended or received, said vs. heard, meant while misleading. Liberals have generally been forced to practice such a verbal dance because no one would elect them outright if they said what they intended, and did what they believed.

In modern history when it comes to forked-tongue-ness President Barack Obama excels well beyond anyone's imagination. Like most of his foreign policy speeches on American national security, his commencement address to the cadets at West Point on Saturday proves my point.

In a disturbing trend he chose to place absolute belief in certain global institutions in the speech, but he has consistently believed less than he should about America, her fighting men and women, and the just causes they are sent in to. Somehow international leaders who are not vested in America's well being are to be believed as gospel, yet America is to be viewed with suspicion and contempt. It is an odd paradox that he lives with within himself. Even keeping it to himself would be fine. Letting it spill into the mainstream is another matter entirely, and taking it to the West Point graduates is simply uncalled for.

On Saturday President Fork-Tongue spoke of his intent to shape a new "international order" as it pertained to a strategy to keep America secure. Implying in his speech that America should not claim the mantle, nor the right of self-protection or self-responsibility. He also referred to America's minimal role in "promoting democratic values around the world."

Sayeth The One, "The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times. Countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials, combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; preventing conflict and healing its wounds."

Yet close scrutiny at Obama's minimalist involvement in world affairs demonstrates the exact opposite.

Instead of countering violent terrorists, he's permitted them to commit attacks against U.S. citizens on American soil six times since his inauguration. The fact that panty-boy and the Times' Square bomber got nothing more than smoke from their ignitions doesn't mean that both attacks were not a severe danger to thousands of American lives.

Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons he's made every overture to Iran that he will do nothing to prevent them from gaining them. He's even gone so far as attempting to muzzle other nations who will suffer an even greater direct threat from a nuclear Iran.

Instead of combating the false claims of the global warming propagandists who got caught by their own admissions in the lies, the cover ups, and the inaccuracies they had promoted, Obama went before the American people and mocked any who did not hold the lies to be truth.

Instead of sustaining global growth, his policies of propping up companies that should've been allowed to correct on their own or fizzle out all together have actually worsened the outlook for the average American, the American markets, and by extension the global economy.

And instead of helping other nations become self sufficient, and responsible for their own laws, welfare, and futures, he's taken punitive action against allies like Israel and Honduras, and played footsies with nations that we have in recent years considered dangerous. These include Syria, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea.

Later in his address to the West Point class of 2010 Obama said, "America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation... but by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice."

The President is either woefully ignorant of America's contribution to history, or he is being purposefully misrepresentative in such a statement.

To be clear, America has more often than not primarily succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation, leading the charge to form new coalitions, and when necessary going it alone out of a resolve to do so because of the moral demands placed upon us as the greatest nation on this planet.

From the American Revolution to the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq there were moments before us at every point that would tell us to "not get involved" to "let the rest of the world deal with it." There have been constant calls requesting us to let the world manage itself because America could not be the world's police force.

Yet when those same nations fell at the hands of tyranny, despotism, and economic and religious enslavement - it was to the United States that they turned.

Because President Obama is a liberal he cannot simply come out and say what he wishes he could, for if he did, he would be impeached. But behind the mask of attempting to sound moderate, reasonable, clean and articulate (Biden's favorite qualities) lies a shadow of his meaning that may sound like something on the surface and to most ears who hear, but mean something completely different to the President himself.

He is misguided at best, or a deceptive traitor at worst... Unfortunately, neither option brings "We The People" much, if any, consolation.


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

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


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


22 May, 2010

The Fruits of Weakness on display

by Charles Krauthammer

It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program.

It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further.

But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.

They've watched America acquiesce to Russia's re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama "reset" policy).

They've watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran's agent in the Arab Levant -- sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds, and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the U.S. and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. "engagement."

They've observed the administration's gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez organizes his anti-American "Bolivarian" coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chavez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.

This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.

More here


It'a a Limbaugh Victory -- says the NYT!

Leftists need to have a scheming villain to explain anything they dislike. While there is actually some truth in the article below, the possibility that it is Obama's obnoxious policies and failure to live up to his promises that are driving people rightward is not considered

THERE are many theories for why very conservative Republicans seem to be doing so well lately, taking their party’s Senate nominations in Florida, Kentucky and Utah, and beating Democrats head-to-head in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. Some attribute this to a generalized anti-incumbent mood. Others say it reflects the tendency of parties in power to falter in midterm elections. Recently it has been fashionable to ascribe right-wing success to the Tea Party movement.

But the most obvious explanation is the one that’s been conspicuously absent from the gusher of analysis. Republican success in 2010 can be boiled down to two words: Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Limbaugh has played an important role in elections going back to 1994, when he commanded the air war in the Republican Congressional victory. This time, however, he is more than simply the mouthpiece of the party. He is the brains and the spirit behind its resurgence.

How did this happen? The Obama victory in 2008 left Republicans dazed, demoralized and leaderless. Less than six weeks after the inauguration, in a nationally televised keynote address to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Limbaugh stepped into the void with a raucous denunciation of the new president’s agenda and a strategic plan based on his belief that real conservatism wins every time. He reiterated his famous call for Mr. Obama to fail and urged the party faithful to ignore the siren song of bipartisanship and moderation and stay true to the principles of Ronald Reagan.

Democrats responded by branding Mr. Limbaugh — whom they considered self-evidently unattractive — as the leader of the opposition. The day after the conservative conference, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, went on “Face the Nation” and described Mr. Limbaugh as the “voice and the intellectual force and energy” of the G.O.P.

Mr. Limbaugh loved being tossed into this briar patch. He mocked the notion that he was the titular leader of the Republicans even as he was becoming the party’s top strategist and de facto boss.

His strategy was simple. With Democrats controlling Congress, Mr. Limbaugh saw that there was no way to stop the president’s agenda. He dismissed the moderates’ notion that compromising with the president would make Republicans look good to independents. Instead he decreed that the Republicans must become the party of no, and force Democratic candidates — especially centrists — to go into 2010 with sole responsibility for the Obama program and the state of the economy. And that is what has happened.

Mr. Limbaugh was not just the architect of this plan, he was (and continues to be) its enforcer. Dissenters like Arlen Specter, whom Mr. Limbaugh disparaged as a “Republican in Name Only,” found themselves unelectable in the party primaries. Moderates like Michael Steele, the party chairman, were slapped down for suggesting cooperation with the administration. When Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia had the temerity to suggest that Mr. Limbaugh was too uncompromising, he was met with public outrage and forced into an humiliating apology.

When the Tea Party movement emerged, Mr. Limbaugh welcomed it. The movement’s causes — fighting against health care reform, reducing the size and cost of government, opposing the Democrats’ putative desire to remake America in the image of European social democracies — were straight Limbaughism. A very high proportion of the Tea Partiers listen to Mr. Limbaugh. Sarah Palin’s biggest current applause line — Republicans are not just the party of no, but the party of hell no — came courtesy of Mr. Limbaugh. (Ms. Palin gave the keynote address at the first national Tea Party convention.) Glenn Beck, who is especially popular among Tea Partiers, calls Mr. Limbaugh his hero.

So why the lack of attention? Mr. Limbaugh has studiously refrained from claiming credit for the movement. His only intervention thus far has been to quash talk about the Tea Party becoming a third party. He wants a unified, right-wing G.O.P. in 2010, and by all appearances he is going to get it.

Rush Limbaugh came along after the age of Ronald Reagan. He has never really had a Republican presidential candidate to his ideological satisfaction. But if the party sweeps this November under the banner of Real Conservatism, Mr. Obama will find himself facing two years of “no” in Washington and, very likely, a Limbaugh-approved opponent in 2012.



Over the Rainbows

by Jonah Goldberg

"Falling Down" (1993) was one of the worst political films of the last 20 years, but it had one memorable line. A stunned Michael Douglas asks, "I'm the bad guy? ... How did that happen?"

Barack Obama should be asking himself something similar these days. He came into office promising rainbows and puppies for everyone and has, like Pizza Hut during a blizzard, failed to deliver.

Now, before some intern at a left-wing media watchdog outfit spits Diet Snapple out his nose in outrage over my "fabrications" and "distortions," and fires off some canned protest e-mail, I do not literally mean to suggest that Obama promised voters rainbows and puppies. Rather, I mean it figuratively. He did literally promise to change the way Washington works, unify the country, govern from the center, work with Republicans and operate the government in a fiscally responsible way. That hasn't happened. You could look it up.

I was on Fox News recently and was asked to debate the proposition that Obama's candidate endorsements are the "kiss of death." My response: No, they aren't the kiss of death, but they certainly aren't the kiss of life either. They're more like a kiss from your sister. They add little to no excitement while inviting many unwanted questions.

Some of those questions might include: Do you agree with the president's health-care plan? His stimulus package? His spending record? Cap-and-trade? The bailouts? Terror trials in New York? Etc.?

Over the past year, President Obama hasn't been much help to anyone trying to get elected. He endorsed and campaigned for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and she lost in her bid to keep "Ted Kennedy's seat" in the hands of Democrats. In political terms, it was a bit like holding a papal election and having the pontiff's seat (or cathedra, for you sticklers) go to the head counselor of the Unitarian Church (or whatever they call their Pope-equivalent).

Obama endorsed then-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, only to see him beaten by Republican Chris Christie. He endorsed Creigh Deeds in Virginia, only to see Republican Bob McDonnell win that governorship handily. He hugged Florida Gov. Charlie Crist so hard he squeezed him right out of the Republican Party.

The elections this week continued the trend. Obama endorsed Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary, but it wasn't enough for her to avoid a runoff. He endorsed snarlin' Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for the Pennsylvania Senate race, only to see Specter's opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, use that endorsement against Specter as proof of Specter's inside-the-Beltway phoniness.

The much-ballyhooed silver lining for Obama came from the Pennsylvania special election to replace the recently deceased Rep. Jack Murtha. Democrats not only outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the 12th district, but Murtha remains a hero for getting the entire district strung-out on high-grade pork (not the oink-oink kind).

Obama's preferred candidate won there. How did former Murtha aide Mark Critz do it? By promising to be Obama's point man on Capitol Hill? Nope. He ran as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-ObamaCare right-wing Democrat who (dishonestly) denounced his GOP opponent as a tax hiker.

The White House desperately wants the story to be "Voters Mad at Washington," not "Voters Mad at Democrats" or, heaven forbid, "Voters Mad at Obama." But the simple truth is that all three things are true, and Obama deserves much of the blame.

Jay Cost, an indispensable election analyst at RealClearPolitics.com, has it exactly right: " 'Change that you can believe in' has gone from an over-worked campaign slogan to an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Vote for a Dem, you support the President's agenda for change. Vote for a GOPer, you support the President's agenda for change."

This spin has been a long time in coming. After the Scott Brown victory, the White House claimed that the Republican's win was a manifestation of the same political forces that brought Obama to power, even though Brown opposed Obama's agenda, and despite the fact that Obama lustily endorsed Brown's opponent, Martha Coakley. Who, by the way, wasn't an incumbent. She promised to advance Obama's "change" agenda, and she lost. But Obama's just so awesome that what would be political losses for lesser mortals must be more winning proof of his supercalifragilisticexpialidociousness. Because as far as this White House is concerned, nothing is ever Obama's fault and everything is proof of how much we need him.

It's an odd position given how the people who need him least are candidates from his own party.



The Left's Hollow Pleas for "Centrism"

Its the GOP who have been the centrists, rather regrettably

Recent liberal laments about the increasing "polarization" of American political life are as predictable as the seasons. But pleas for centrism ring pretty hollow in light of recent history.

The Washington Post editorial board, after noting Sen. Robert Bennett's loss in Utah and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's primary challenge, asked: "Is there a way to push back against the movement toward partisanship and paralysis -- to carve out some space for those who strive to work across party lines in the national interest? We can think of no more important question ... "

Really? How about the question as to whether the trajectory of government spending will drag the United States into insolvency? How about the problem of a governing class unmoored from the Constitution?

Following up on the Post's invitation to fret, William Galston and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution propound that "Washington's schism" is mostly a Republican problem. "What The Post's editorial missed is that these developments have not produced two mirror-image political parties. We have, instead, asymmetrical polarization."

Sounds contagious. What is it? "Put simply: More than 70 percent of Republicans in the electorate describe themselves as conservative or very conservative, while only 40 percent of rank-and-file Democrats call themselves liberal or very liberal."

Two possible reasons for this spring to mind. 1) Many liberals, like some of those at the Washington Post, don't think of themselves as liberals. They imagine that they occupy the sensible center whereas you, well, you are an extremist. 2) Even acknowledging that self-labeling can be problematic, there are nearly twice as many self-identified conservatives (40 percent according to a 2009 Gallup survey) as liberals (21 percent) in the U.S.

The Post regrets that this polarized electorate prevents "anything from getting done," which is an odd complaint in a year that has witnessed an $800 billion stimulus bill, the federal acquisition of General Motors and AIG, a more than $1 trillion health bill, the multibillion-dollar mortgage bailout, and the nation's deliverance from the curse of salty food.

This call to a high-minded spirit of compromise was utterly absent in the winter of 2009, when it seemed that the Democrats would carry all before them. When newly inaugurated Barack Obama airily spurned Republicans who objected to aspects of the stimulus bill with the reply "I won," the Post did not pull its chin about the problem of polarization. Nor did the great stewards of bipartisanship turn a hair when Speaker Pelosi declared, during the health care debate, that "a bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes."

The Post is expressing a slightly more refined version of the broader liberal assault on conservative activism. In this construct, massive rallies for Obama are a sign of hope and human progress, but massive rallies against Obama's health care plan are evidence of "fringe sentiments" (Gov. Jennifer Granholm) or "fear" (Rep. Steve Driehaus), or are "un-American" (Rep. Steny Hoyer). When Michael Moore asked, during the Bush administration, "Dude, Where's My Country?" that was social commentary. When tea partiers say similar things, they are proto-fascists.

But the greater weakness in the liberal cant about meeting somewhere in the middle is this: The great domestic question of our time is whether we can restrain and even reverse the catastrophic expansion of government debt before it is too late. And until just yesterday, Republicans were AWOL. Or, to put it another way, they were just where the great conciliators of the Washington Post claim they should be. They had abandoned limited government and were reconciled to tinkering with huge federal entitlements to make them slightly less bankrupting than they otherwise would be.

The advent of the Obama administration, with its pell mell rush to transform us into Greece, is transforming the Republican Party as well. Grassroots activists are reasserting the virtues of limited government, personal responsibility, and public accountability. Our best hope is that tea party principles will prevail. Those are the very principles that can save us from Europe's fate.

We've done what the Post recommends. We met in the "middle." It didn't work out very well for Republicans or for America.


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

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


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


21 May, 2010

Obama: The man without a shadow

I am inclined to think that Obama is simply a naif with a gift for the gab who has no real clue about anything much but there are other possibilities.... JR

So much has been said and written about Barack Obama that, barring some shattering revelation, very little remains to be rehearsed. As columnist Barry Rubin bemoaned, “I don’t want to keep writing every day about the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy. There are many other topics I’d prefer, but the problem is that they keep doing things.” I could not agree more, and not concerning the Middle East alone. Yet the issues continuing to swirl about the president need to be revisited, not only because Obama is arguably the most polarizing figure of our times, but because he is also the most potentially catastrophic.

This statement will be regarded by many as rhetorical overkill, but I would contend that the election of Obama to the most powerful office in the world is quite possibly the most significant political—and dangerous—event of recent times. By being proactive and making informed decisions, he has the ability to create a slightly safer world. By misreading the historical text, making bad choices, engaging half-heartedly in certain conflicts (Afghanistan, Iraq), coming down on the wrong side of another (Israeli/Palestinian), and flinching before yet another challenge of far greater urgency (Iran), he invites retribution. This latter direction is plainly the one he has taken. As such I believe that intense concentration on the man and his compliant administration, and its public reiteration, is both warranted and necessary.

Indeed, the presidential dilemma we are facing is complex and far-ranging. Leaving aside the ongoing “birther” controversy focusing on the vexed issue of the president’s legitimacy, the “Obama problem” really has to do with the conundrum of his political identity. Is he a bone-stock socialist or a far-left radical determined to impose a neo-Marxist regime upon republican America, or merely a “person of advanced views and reactionary feeling,” as Theodore Dalrymple says of Virginia Woolf?

Perhaps, as Jonah Goldberg suggests, coining a phrase, he is a “neo-socialist” who believes “in the power of government to extend its scope and grasp far deeper into society”? Is Obama a closet Islamist, as some have alleged? Is he a media artifact, the digital remastering of an epic hero enacting an ancient fantasy of salvation? Is he a volatile prevaricator, saying one thing, then saying another, making solemn promises and regularly breaking them, whose erratic behavior must leave us bewildered before an ever-widening credibility gap?

Or is he a university-educated postmodernist for whom the concept of truth has been relativized beyond recognition? Is he just a political rookie whose lack of executive experience shows up alarmingly in a capricious and anemic foreign policy? An old KGB hand like Vladimir Putin must look at him and think, “What a patsy.” Ditto Hugo Chavez, King Abdullah, Bashir Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Castros and a host of other shrewd manipulators and world-wise autocrats.

Who really knows? Perhaps, as Pajamas Media founder Roger Simon proposes, he is frankly deranged, meriting the title of President Weirdo? Children’s author Sarah Durand concurs, diagnosing Obama as suffering from liberalomania, archly defined as a “degenerative form of dementia” evidenced in his highly skilled capacity as a blame gamer, his extreme narcissism and his delusions of grandeur. Or is he merely an updated version of tall-tale artist and windy opportunist Christy Mahon in John Millington Synge’s comic drama The Playboy of the Western World, “the laughing joke of every woman [read: person] where four baronies meet”—the man who flies Air Force One to dinner, practices his golf swing while a national crisis is unfolding, and throws Budweiser-like parties in the White house, as if to “keep the good times going”? Or is he none of these but, quite the opposite, the “sort of god” whom Newsweek’s Evan Thomas worships, “The One” venerated by Oprah, Louis Farrakhan’s “Messiah”? Who? What? Searching for Obama is like mining for unobtanium.

Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri is troubled by Obama’s lack of identifiable character. Commenting on Obama’s casting himself as a bridge between America and the Islamic world (Al- Arabiya TV, January 27, 2009), Taheri notes that “Obama appeared unsure of his own identity and confused about the role that America should play in global politics. And that is bad news for those who believe that the United States should use its moral, economic and political clout in support of democratic forces throughout the world.” Obama himself admitted in The Audacity of Hope, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Pretty damaging, this confession. And when it comes to Obama’s famous “hope,” among the most antiquated of imaginable pieties whether audacious or sentimental, American poet C.J. Sage has it about right: “Solve for this: where x is hope/and y is your future, what is surely finite?” Something worth keeping in mind when listening to a political mesmerist.

The question remains open. Who is this guy? And what does so enigmatic a figure augur for the United States and, indeed, for the future of us all? No matter what hypothesis or conviction one espouses concerning his definitive DNA, it seems fair to say that a shadow of the clandestine—or if one prefers, the inscrutable—envelops this president.

Even Obama’s most avid supporters, if they are honest, must allow that, compared to his POTUS predecessors, unambiguously little is known about his antecedents or, for example, the salient facts of his academic career—many of his records are still under seal, his college and university transcripts have not been released and, broadly speaking, his significant documentation is rather flimsy. There is not much of a paper trail here; for that matter, there is scarcely a Hansel-and-Gretel bread crumb trail. How such a man could be elected to the presidency boasting a curriculum vitae with more blank pages in it than a Danielewski novel remains a riddle for the sphinx. Nor should it surprise us that it is precisely a blank page, like the blank screen Obama mentions, that solicits conjecture or projection, much of it skeptical or unfavorable.

In any event, there can be no doubt that the dossier is scanty and that this is a truly amazing deficiency. We simply do not have a clear portrait or a crisply factual biography of the president. But what we do know about his close affiliates—America-and-Jew bashing Reverend Jeremiah Wright, former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, hysterical and racially divisive Cornel West, unrepentant Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, unscrupulous entrepreneur Tony Rezko—is profoundly unsettling. To adapt Obama’s ringing slogan, borrowed or plagiarized from African-American poet June Jordan, are they the ones we’ve been waiting for? But on the whole, the asymmetric relation between what we know and what we don’t know must distress any rational person curious about so influential an actor on the current political scene.

That Louis Farrakhan, like millions of others, feels that Obama was “selected” for our times should give us further pause. On the contrary, it may not be out of place to suggest that we are now afflicted with the worst possible president at the worst possible time, with Iran darting toward the nuclear finish line, the Palestinians as intransigent as ever, the Russians moving back into the Caucasus region, negotiating with Venezuela and solidifying ties with Iran, Syria and Turkey, terrorism (oops—“man-made disasters”) on the rise and U.S. citizens increasingly at the mercy of the jihadists, China holding massive quantities of American Treasury notes, Obama considering ruinous cap-and-trade legislation at a time when the AGW consensus is collapsing, the American debt estimated to hit 100% of GDP in 2011 and its unfunded entitlement liabilities totaling over $US 100 trillion, leading to the prospect of monetary collapse. None of these critical issues have been substantially addressed by the president, except insofar as his actions in some cases, lack of action in others, have only exacerbated them. The collateral fact that we really have no valid and comprehensive notion of who exactly is leading us at this crucial historical juncture boggles the mind.

It should be added, however, that we do know something about the ideas which govern his policies: the redistribution of wealth, the expansion of state control at the expense of the private sector, extensive regulation of more and more aspects of quotidian life, bureaucratic bloat, a paternal administration accompanied by the leveling of individual initiative to a lowest common denominator—all very old doctrines gussied up with a defensive terminology like “social justice,” “progressivism,” “equality of outcome,” “only the people will save the people”—which have been tried before and failed spectacularly. The best that can be said of Obama is that, in the realm of political theory, he does not believe in granny dumping, though the dogmas and paradigms he embraces should long ago have been put out of their misery.

We might have twigged by now. Each new measure he introduces or intends to introduce is a camel’s nose presaging future debilities. But the president’s youthful vigor, toggle-switch charm and exotic presence seem to apply a veneer of novelty to ideological obsolescence. He is like the word “proverbial” which we insert into a tired simile in order to avoid the skank of platitude, as in “smart as the proverbial whip” or “dumb as the proverbial ox.” America is saddled with a proverbial president, a man whose principal function is to renovate clichès and make them palatable.

This appears to be as far as we can go for now, with more to come to a political theater near us. One thing, however, seems undeniable: so far, not so good.



Free Market Health Care and the Poor

One of the disastrous consequences of having adopted the welfare-state way of life is what it has done to the concept of voluntary charity. Let’s look at Medicare and Medicaid, socialist programs that go to the heart of the economic problems facing our nation.

I grew up in Laredo, Texas, in the 1950s, when the U.S. Census Bureau labeled our city as the poorest in the United States on a per-capita income basis. Every day, the office of every doctor in town would be filled with patients, most of whom were extremely poor. While some of them may have been Mexican citizens from Nuevo Laredo, as a practical matter it didn’t really matter because the doctor knew that most of the people in his office couldn’t pay anyway, at least not right away.

Yet, I never knew of one single doctor who turned people away. They treated everyone who came into their office. I never heard of a doctor complaining about having to provide free services for the poor.

How did doctors in Laredo do financially? They were among the wealthiest people in town. The money they made from the middle class and the wealthy and the poor who could subsidized the patients who couldn’t pay.

There was never a sense of entitlement among the poor who couldn’t pay the doctor. They were always extremely grateful and would express that gratitude with gifts of tamales or other things in kind that they could give the doctor.

It was a nice interrelationship. Doctors felt good about what they were doing, and patients were appreciative. That’s what life is supposed to be all about.

Enter Medicare and Medicaid, socialist programs that were enacted as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs in the 1960s. Those two programs totally changed the dynamics of health care in America. All of sudden, helping the poor and elderly was no long voluntary. Now it was mandated. The federal government got involved in the health-care process, interfering with what had been natural, harmonious relationships.

Over time, doctors became dependent on the government to pay their bills. They also learned that what government subsidizes, government controls and regulates. Compliance with government health-care regulations became a major industry. Doctors who failed to comply with the ever-growing regulations faced the prospect of criminal prosecution. Ultimately, many physicians began retiring early, disgusted with a profession that they their predecessors had absolutely loved. Government involvement in health care destroyed their love of medicine.

Patients ended up with a sense of entitlement to “free” health care. They didn’t feel any sense of gratitude toward doctors. It was their “right” to receive free health care. If thanks were owed to anyone, it was to the government, which was responsible for this “free” service.

When libertarians point out to people that the only real moral and practical solution to America’s health-are woes lies in the repeal, not reform, of all government involvement in health care, some people ask, “But what about the poor? How would they get health care in a free-market environment?”

The fact that they even ask the question shows what America’s welfare state has done to people’s faith in themselves, in others, and in a free society.




Protesters floundering without Bush to bash: "Protesters crashed a Karl Rove book-signing event at the Borders in Cool Springs. Rove, senior advisor to former president George W. Bush, was signing copies of his new book Courage and Consequence when a woman in a flowered blouse who stood in line for an autograph pulled handcuffs out of a bag, laid them on a podium and told Rove he was under arrest for ‘war crimes.’ Another woman popped up from behind a bookshelf holding a pink sign that read ‘Jail Karl Rove’ and a pair of men unrolled a banner that said ‘Jail Karl Rove for war crimes.’”

CT: GOP outsider surges in polls: "Just months ago, Republican Linda McMahon’s quest for the US Senate seat here seemed quixotic at best: a former world wrestling executive, with no political experience or network, spending millions of her own fortune on an election in a heavily Democratic state. But with a strong anti-establishment mood sweeping the country, McMahon’s candidacy has gone from a curiosity to a genuine threat to the experienced GOP opponent she faces in a party nominating contest tomorrow — and to Democrats who are newly worried about revelations that their party’s front-runner, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, incorrectly said that he served in Vietnam"

Israel launches overnight air raids on Gaza: "The Israeli military launched aerial raids overnight in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, but no one was injured or killed in the sorties, witnesses and officials said Friday. Israeli officials said the three raids, targeting a residential area in the north of the Palestinian enclave and two in the south, were in response to an earlier missile attack by Palestinian militants. "Our planes attacked terrorist installations in the north of the region and two tunnels located in the south which could serve for attacks against Israel," an Israeli defence spokesman said, confirming the raids."

Confiscating your property: "In America, we’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Life, liberty and property can’t be taken from you unless you’re convicted of a crime.Your life and liberty may still be safe, but have you ever gone to a government surplus auction? Consumer reporters like me tell people, correctly, that they are great places to find bargains. People can buy bikes for $10, cars for $500. But where did the government get that stuff? Some is abandoned property. But some I would just call loot. The cops grabbed it.”

Two cheers for the British coalition: "I have been asked, as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, to make a response to the forming of a coalition government last week in Britain by the Conservative and Liberal Parties. In making this response, I do not claim to speak in every detail for the other members of the Executive Committee. But what I will say is broadly the opinion of the majority. Briefly put, we welcome the new Government. However dishonest the individual Ministers may be, however bad may be their ideological motivations, we believe that, in its overall effects, this Government may, by its own compound nature, be compelled to move the country in a more libertarian direction.”

Very little hope and very little change in Russia: "In April, Russia’s biggest political story was a sex scandal dubbed ‘Mumugate,’ involving secretly filmed videos of several opposition activists in compromising positions with one Katya ‘Mumu’ Gerasimova, a sometime fashion model who had approached them while posing as a journalist. (The nickname refers to a classic Russian short story about a peasant named Gerasim and his dog Mumu.) While the videos were posted on the Internet by a shadowy group claiming to champion public morality, most independent Russian commentators believe the incident was linked to semi-official pro-Kremlin organizations — such as the ‘Nashi’ youth group — that specialize in harassing the opposition with tacit official blessing. This sordid affair neatly encapsulates the farcical nature of Russian political life today: the marginality and pointlessness of the opposition, the petty nastiness and sleaziness of the power structure, the authoritarian state as a grotesque parody of a once formidable dictatorship.”

Jobless claims rise by largest amount in 3 months: "The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months. The surge is evidence of how volatile the job market remains, even as the economy grows. Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 471,000 last week, up by 25,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first increase in five weeks and the biggest jump since a gain of 40,000 in February. The total was the highest since new claims reached 480,000 on April 10. It also pushed the average for the last four weeks to 453,500."

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

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


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


20 May, 2010

Left, Right and Wrong

Leftists don't WANT to open their closed minds. The real world is too complex and unfamiliar to them. Everything must fit into a simple and pre-ordained pattern that makes them feel good

by Jonah Goldberg

We are taught to believe that ideology is the enemy of free thought. But that's not right. Ideology is a mere checklist of principles and priorities. The real enemy of clear thinking is the script. We think the world is supposed to go by a familiar plot. And when the facts conflict with the script, we edit the facts.

So, for instance, David Horowitz is a stock villain on U.S. campuses because he deviates from the standard formula of coddling the usual victims and lionizing the usual heroes. Once a committed left-wing radical, Horowitz now resides on the right. Two of his favorite targets are academia and radical Islam. He leads an extensive network of websites, books, lecture series, pamphlets and conferences aimed at exposing the folly and dangers of both. Horowitz's detractors, and even some of his friends, sometimes roll their eyes at his confrontational tactics and rhetoric.

But that doesn't mean he's wrong. Horowitz recently spoke at the University of California, San Diego. You can find an excerpt from his appearance on YouTube. In it, a young Muslim student from UCSD, Jumanah Imad Albahri, asks Horowitz to back up his attacks on the Muslim Students Association. Horowitz turned the tables on her. In less than two minutes, she revealed herself as a supporter of the terrorist group Hamas. Horowitz then noted that Hezbollah, another terrorist organization, wants all Jews to return to Israel so they can be more conveniently liquidated in one place. Horowitz asks Albahri whether she's for or against that proposition. She is "for it."

I asked UCSD, via e-mail, whether the woman in question was censured in any way for endorsing bigotry and genocide, or if the video was somehow misleading. In response, I received boilerplate about how, in the tradition of Aristotle, UCSD treasures "discourse and debate" and how "the very foundations of every great university are set upon the rock-solid principles of freedom of thought and freedom of speech."

I wrote back, in part: "Thank you for your response. I must say I find it fairly non-responsive. Out of curiosity, if a UCSD student publicly called for the extermination of gays and blacks, would this be your only response as well?"

I then received an even less responsive primer on how student groups are funded on campus.

Now, I could write at length about UCSD's hypocrisy. After all, the school recently launched a "Battle Hate" campaign in response to some idiotic stunt called the "Compton Cookout" at which a fraternity held a racially offensive event off campus during Black History Month. Administrators went into overdrive, the Black Student Union issued 32 demands, the vice chancellor righteously explained to students that although the event may have been beyond the school's "legal jurisdiction," it was not beyond UCSD's "moral jurisdiction."

"We have the moral high ground!" the vice chancellor shouted before trying to start a chant of "Not in our community!"

Well, Albahri's statements were not only within the UCSD community, they were well inside the school's legal and moral jurisdiction. And yet in response, we don't get the familiar Kabuki of official outrage. Instead we get: This endorsement of genocide is brought to you by Aristotle.

The important point here isn't the school's double standard. It's that on campuses, and in the wider intellectual culture, people can't let go of their dog-eared script. It's not that conventional racism is no longer a problem, nor is it that the civil rights era no longer resonates. But freaking out over the vestiges of familiar racism is firmly within the comfort zone of contemporary liberalism. Indeed, it's an industry. Yet when it comes to students like Albahri -- and there are many like her -- administrators become brainless and lost. Lacking an adequate script, they resort to bromides about Aristotle.

Off campus, liberals crave a comfortable plot in which bigoted "homegrown" white men are the villains while Muslims are scapegoats. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was willing to bet that the Times Square bomber might turn out to be an opponent of health-care reform.

What's the right script? Honestly, I don't know. But those perched atop the moral high ground will have to climb down to find the facts before they can write it.



Violating privacy one bank account at a time

Democrats want to pay the feds to watch every penny you spend. And who knows how the info will one day be used? Identifiably anti-government people could be in grave danger of shallowly-based prosecutions based on some bureaucrat's interpretation of your financial history

Sen. Christopher Dodd's "regulatory reform" bill, S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, has many contentious proposals that have members from both political parties on edge.

The bill cauterizes "too big to fail" by establishing a Financial Stability Oversight Council that would indentify politically important institutions, sending the signal that some companies are indeed too big to fail.

It creates a permanent bailout authority by authorizing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to "make available ... funds for the orderly liquidation of covered financial institutions."

This bill does nothing to address the problems created by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rather it makes permanent the failed risky lending policies of the past by paying banks to advertise and seek out low-income people who would otherwise not qualify for loans. The bank, backed by the government, issues risky loans and either the loan is paid back on time, in which case the bank keeps all the profits, or the loan defaults and the government uses taxpayer money to cover the bank's loss. Win-win for government-backed banks, total failure for taxpayers.

Additionally, this bill promotes activist- and union-shareholder proxy terrorism by requiring firms to allow shareholders to nominate directors in the proxy statement, ensuring political popularity and influential power trump knowledge and experience.

And the list goes on and on.

However, one specific component that would make George Orwell say, "I told you so," is the establishment of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). If the name of the agency is not enough to conjure up images of black helicopters, the description will certainly do the trick.

Established in Title 10, this new autonomous agency will be sheltered within the Federal Reserve, but will function independent of the currently established, traditional regulatory framework. Congress or any other agency will have no veto power over the BCFP.

This new agency's budget will be 12 percent of the 2009 Federal Reserve System operating budget, or approximately $646 million. In 2008, the Federal Reserve's operating budget was $2.5 billion but it increased $600 million to $3.1 billion for 2009. The 2009 budget baseline was used because it was the most inflated baseline in recent history. Rather than trimming the fat like many state budgets are forced to do in the current economic crisis, Mr. Dodd used the most inflated budget baseline he could find to fund this agency.

This bureau is given the unprecedented authority to monitor personal bank transactions and uses personal financial data to regulate consumer choice.

Established in Section 1022 on Page 1028, the BCFP is given the authority to monitor consumer financial patterns and, "implement and, where applicable, enforce Federal consumer financial law." Specifically, Subsection C gives this agency authority to "gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets."

Further, Section 1071 allows the BCFP to "use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts" and "shall assess the distribution of residential and commercial accounts at such financial institution across income and minority level of census tracts; and may use the data for any other purpose as permitted by law." Never before has the federal government actively sought to aggregate data on every single personal and business financial transaction in the U.S. until now.

It is vitally important to understand exactly what this provision mandates. At every single branch automated teller machine where deposits are accepted, and other deposit-taking service facility for any financial institution, that institution shall maintain a record of the number and dollar amounts of the deposit accounts of customers.

The bill goes on to mandate that customer addresses be geocoded for the collection of data on the census tracts of the residences or business locations of customers. The government is mandating that every cent any individual deposits will be linked to the census-based personal address of each customer and to their deposit at the corresponding financial institution. The bureau is permitted to share this data with whomever they wish.

If passed, the government will posses the data and tools to map on a national level all financial deposit and consumer purchasing behavior. This bill provides that this data and information can be shared with Wall Street and big business to discern individual purchasing patterns down to a county or neighborhood level.

Imagine the ability for merchants to target consumers based on patterns they did not cognitively realize they were engaging in.



Bank loophole for Wall Street remains in financial regulation bill

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other big Wall Street firms have been able for years to set up commercial banking businesses while avoiding the strict regulation this activity typically entails.

The law that made this practice possible has been preserved -- despite opposition from the Obama administration -- in the bill sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) remaking financial regulations and closing loopholes in oversight.

Critics say it survived because the law has helped create jobs in a few states -- those with influential senators such as Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), the second-highest-ranking Republican on the banking committee.

Retaining the law is among the concessions administration officials accepted as they pressed lawmakers to approve the far-reaching legislation. The White House and leading Democrats in the Senate have vowed to quash carve-outs for special interests.

The law, which provides for what's called an "industrial loan company" (ILC) charter, was initially designed so that commercial companies such as Target could help their customers make purchases by offering them credit. The companies set up what were effectively in-house banks but were spared the stiff conditions typically applied to banks, such as requirements that they set aside enough capital to cover potential losses and limits on how much they can borrow. Utah and Nevada attracted nearly all of the financing divisions by writing rules favorable to the companies.

Before long, big investment firms realized that they, too, could establish commercial banking subsidiaries in those states and gain the advantages banks have, such as deposit guarantees from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., without submitting to tougher regulation.

The opportunity was enormously profitable for big investment companies because it allowed them to raise funds cheaply. Bank customers typically accept very low interest rates if they can hold their money in FDIC-insured accounts. Banks then use that pool of deposits to make investments.

Between 1998 and 2008, Wall Street ILC subsidiaries saw their businesses grow exponentially. Merrill Lynch's ILC reached nearly $60 billion in assets, more than all traditional ILCs combined. Four other investment banks established large ILC divisions, including Morgan Stanley with $38.5 billion and Goldman Sachs with $25.7 billion.

During the financial crisis, many parent companies, virtually all of those associated with the largest ILCs, ran into trouble.

Some, such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, collapsed or were taken over. Others, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, still operate ILCs but no longer benefit as much because they submitted their entire business to stricter federal regulation to weather the financial storm.

"The ILC charter was disproportionately valuable precisely to the parent companies that were the most reckless," said Raj Date, chief executive of the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy, a nonprofit research group. "If you want a system with fewer crazily reckless participants, then you should eliminate all the special treats that you give to them. . . . The ILC charter for Wall Street firms was unambiguously one of those special loopholes."



Obama admin. apologizes to CHINA for human rights abuses????

Today, Obama Democrats have now mastered the treacherous art of the pre-emptive global apology. Foggy Bottom is crammed with so many "human rights" zealots embarrassed by the country they serve that the State Department mission statement should be replaced with a condolence card.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner is probably not the first Obama State Department official to badmouth America in front of foreign delegations. He was just dumb enough to get caught.

Last week, the former head agitator at the transnationalist outfit Human Rights First trashed our country's human rights record to Chinese government officials.

Posner is an unrepentant open-borders radical who has long fought immigration enforcement and vociferously opposed post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism measures to detain enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. He was active in supporting the establishment of the International Criminal Court, an American sovereignty-undermining tribunal that would trump U.S. judicial authority over war crimes and "crimes of humanity."

And New Yorkers may recall that he joined with Human Rights First board member Tom Goldstein, far-left billionaire George Soros and other American self-loathers in the failed effort to turn the Sept. 11 Ground Zero Memorial into a national guilt complex to showcase how George W. Bush-era counterterrorism policies were curtailing civil liberties.

In short, Posner views our homeland security policies as unforgivable sins of discrimination. And he couldn't wait to let China know it.

More here


Economic illiterates in Leftist "science" feeding an equally illiterate media

Here’s a letter sent yesterday by economist Donald J. Boudreaux to the producers of the radio program “Marketplace”:

You report that the Union of Concerned Scientists worries about the fact that “11 states each spend more than a billion dollars a year importing coal from other states” (“States spend big on importing coal,” May 18). These scientists conclude that states whose residents import a good deal of energy from outside of their respective states are not getting energy efficiently – that these energy imports are evidence of a serious problem that policymakers should correct.

These scientists jump to an unscientific conclusion. Nothing in economics (or any other science) suggests that energy purchases and sales are efficient and appropriate only, or even chiefly, when buyers reside in the same jurisdiction as sellers.

I’ll bet, for example, that each member of the Union of Concerned Scientists imports nearly 100 percent of his or her household’s energy from suppliers located outside of that household’s county. Should this fact cause us concern? Would energy be supplied and used more efficiently or appropriately if each American used only energy produced within the county where he or she resides? Or – even more in keeping with the spirit of the Union’s notion – if each American household used only energy produced by that household? Of course not.

It’s wholly unscientific to treat political borders as defining any relevant or meaningful boundaries for economic transactions.


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

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


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


19 May, 2010

Hopeful news from Britain

Centre/Left leader: "Tell us the laws that you want scrapped". The liberals (centre/Left) and Conservatives (centre/Right) seem to be agreed on reducing the authoritarianism put in place by the previous far-Left Labour government. The fact that the Liberals are making the running with Conservative support should ensure easy passage of the new measures. The end of the politically correct madhouse that has been Britain in recent years may be in sight

The most radical redistribution of power from the state to the people for 200 years is to be made by the new coalition Government, Nick Clegg is to claim. The public will be asked what laws they want ripped up, in far-reaching reforms designed to put back “faith in politics”, the Deputy Prime Minister will say.

The reordering of power will sweep away Labour legislation and new criminal offences deemed to have eroded personal freedom.

It will involve the end of the controversial ID cards scheme, the scrapping of universal DNA databases – in which the records of thousands of innocent people have been stored – and restrictions placed on internet records. The use of CCTV cameras will also be reviewed.

Dubbed the “Great Reform Act”, the measures will close down the ContactPoint children’s database. Set up by Labour last year, it includes detailed information on all 11 million youngsters under 18. In addition, schools will not be able to take a child’s fingerprint without parental permission.

In an attempt to protect freedom of speech, ministers will review libel laws, while limits on peaceful protest will be removed.

Mr Clegg said the Government wanted to establish “a fundamental resettlement of the relationship between state and citizen that puts you in charge”.

In a speech in London he will say: “This Government is going to transform our politics so the state has far less control over you, and you have far more control over the state. This Government is going to break up concentrations of power and hand power back to people, because that is how we build a society that is fair.”

He will describe the plans as “the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832, when the Great Reform Act redrew the boundaries of British democracy, for the first time extending the franchise beyond the landed classes”.

Mr Clegg has been the most vocal of the three main party leaders arguing for political reform since The Daily Telegraph exposed the expenses scandal a year ago. Today, he can put in train the measures which, he claims, will deliver “a power revolution”.

He will say that reform will not simply mean “a few new rules for MPs [or] the odd gesture or gimmick to make you feel a bit more involved”.

Mr Clegg will announce that he wants to hear about which laws should be scrapped to roll back the state encroachment into people’s lives. “As we tear through the statute book, we’ll do something no government ever has: We will ask you which laws you think should go. “Because thousands of criminal offences were created under the previous government. Taking people’s freedom away didn’t make our streets safe.

“Obsessive law-making simply makes criminals out of ordinary people. So, we’ll get rid of the unnecessary laws – and once they’re gone, they won’t come back. “We will introduce a mechanism to block pointless new criminal offences.”

The measures to repeal so-called surveillance state laws will be included in next week’s Queen’s Speech.

Under the coalition agreement, Mr Clegg and David Cameron said they would end “the storage of internet and email regulations and email records without good reason”. This is likely to mean the end of plans for the Government and the security services to intercept and keep emails and text messages.

The £224 million ContactPoint database can be accessed by 300,000 people working in health, education, social care and youth justice – leading to fears it could be exploited or fall into the wrong hands.

Mr Clegg will add: “It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop “This will be a government that is proud when British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state. That values debate, that is unafraid of dissent.”



The Restoration

by Paul Greenberg

"When you come back to England from any foreign country," George Orwell wrote at the height of the Blitz in 1940, "you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air."

He knew that feeling well. Not long before, he'd come back to England from Spain one step ahead of the comrades he'd joined to fight Franco. And who had turned on him when he held on to some flinty idea of English freedom. It was not just the relief of escape George Orwell was expressing, but the exhilaration of coming home. Not just to a country but a whole way of life and web of unspoken custom. Now that it was menaced, he appreciated it. As you do when you look back and see your family from the perspective of time -- as if you were seeing them all for the first time, and are enveloped by cascades of feeling.

Any Southerner who's been away for any length of time will know that feeling -- the wave of warmth on hearing that familiar accent, driving down those same country roads, having that sensation of breathing a different air. It is the air of your country, your childhood. ("Hey porter! Hey porter!/ Would you tell me the time?/ How much longer will it be till we cross/ that Mason Dixon Line? ... Tell that engineer I said thanks a lot,/ and I didn't mind the fare./ I'm gonna set my feet on Southern soil/ and breathe that Southern air." --Johnny Cash, "Hey Porter")

Some countries are more than countries, some places more than places but a whole world, some people more than people but your people. As we inquire of someone we've just met in these Southern latitudes, who are your people? Or ask after a family we know: "How're your people?"

When those people, this place, this hearth and home, are suddenly threatened, we will rally to save it. Fiercely. But when the old ways are only slowly, gradually eroded, we may scarcely notice, let alone miss them. Till one day we awaken with a start and realize what has happened, as voters in Britain may have done last week:

"That England, that was wont to conquer others,/ Hath made a shameful conquest of itself." (Shakespeare's "Richard II" tends to prove ever more relevant as history proceeds from decadence to decadence.) And at that moment of realization, people vow: Enough. No more. And begin the work of Restoration .

Orwell's senses had been heightened by his country's moment of truth that would become its Finest Hour. "Yes," he wrote in "England Your England," "there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavor of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person."

Much the same realization seemed to strike the British electorate in last week's general election. After long years of murky, mediocre politics, it had had enough. It looked about at what decades of slow sink into the glamorous "new" England had wrought. It saw what Tony Blair's fashionable Third Way and Gordon Brown's muddling through to nowhere, and all the rest of that Twiggy rot had really amounted to, and awoke with a spasm.

The election results were more a defeat for Labor -- its worst in maybe 80 years -- than a victory for the Conservatives and their new limited partner, the Lib Dems. At last the Tories are back, but whether they are Tories or just a mild imitation thereof remains to be seen. (Some of us will always miss Lady Thatcher.) The voters themselves may not have known what they wanted instead of this continued entropy, but they knew bloody well what they didn't want: more of the same.

To quote one observer, Gerard Baker in the Wall Street Journal: "You don't have to be a political scientist to realize that this historic election result marked something much more than the usual seductive appeal of the Time for a Change message. In fact it has been known for a while now that what is going on in the old country is not just some spasm of reaction to bad economic data, but the flowering of a deep-rooted popular disgust with the entire political class." Sound familiar?

Britain's voters seemed to realize that the bankrupt fiscal policies they were reacting against are but the superficial symptom of a deeper, moral profligacy. They were sick of Labor, the Inland Revenue, and all the rest of that bosh. It's hard to avoid the impression that what the voters in this turning point of an election really wanted was their country back. And its way of life. The way it once stood on its own "against the envy of less happier lands--/ This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England." --"Richard II," again.

If there is any simple way to sum up what that older England stood for, it may have been nothing more (and nothing less) than a sense of limits. The understanding, without its needing to be said, that a modest self-reliance, not just in finances but in simple unadvertised moral strength, is preferable to all the self-promotion and self-gratification in the world. And that it cannot be achieved by forever borrowing from a future continuously diminished by the present's insatiable wants.

It's as if a small but cherished realm, one far greater than its island boundaries in its influence and example, language and law and literature, had awakened one morning and vowed: Enough. No more. And realized it was time to begin the slow, hard work of Restoration.

Yes, it does sound familiar.




Elena Kagan's Supreme Court Nomination is Stalling: "By now the White House must realize that its selection of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next associate justice of the United States Supreme Court could be going better. Kagan, the former dean of the prestigious Harvard Law School, has spent the past week introducing herself to members of the U.S. Senate, but has yet to see the American people embrace her nomination--which may be an early indication that her hopes for confirmation may be headed to the rocks."

Turncoat routed: "One year after switching parties, Democrat Arlen Specter was defeated Tuesday in the Pennsylvania primary, ending his 30-year Senate career in a resounding blow to the political status quo. … Specter lost a narrow race to Rep. Joe Sestak. Despite having the backing of President Obama, Specter was laboring under perhaps the heaviest burden of any candidate running Tuesday, having to defend not just his long tenure in Washington but his admittedly self-interested switch last year from the Republican to the Democratic Party.” [Good riddance!]

If you like the healthcare you have, you can’t keep it: "That is because the new law places caps on how much insurance companies can spend on expenses. Beginning next year, insurers will be allowed to spend no more than 20 percent of what they take in in premiums on running plans sold to small employers and individuals; and, they will be allowed to spend no more than 15 percent of what they take in on plans sold to large employers. These new regulations will have the greatest impact on those who purchase their insurance directly rather than receiving through an employer.”

Cash for doctors: "On a wall inside Dr. Brian Forrest’s medical office in a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina, is something you won’t find in most doctors’ offices, a price list: Office visit $49 … Wrist splint $41 … Pap-smear $51. Those are the prices patients pay for the services, and they pay on the spot. Forrest doesn’t take insurance. If he did, the prices would be far higher and not nearly as transparent. He says listing prices up front is about trying to do business in a straightforward way, ‘like a Jiffy Lube.’ Forrest’s practice, Access Healthcare, was born out of his frustration with the bureaucratic system run by major health care providers and insurance companies"

The Clean Water Act vs. clean water: "Under anything resembling principles of justice, people ought to be held responsible for the damage they cause, not for the problems that remain after they try to repair damage caused by somebody else, now long gone. But the basic problem with the Clean Water Act, like all statist environmental regulations, is that it isn’t about standards of justice; it’s about compliance with regulatory standards, and from the standpoint of an environmental regulator the important thing is (1) that government has to be able to single out somebody or some group to pigeonhole as the People In Charge of the site; and (2) whoever gets tagged as ‘taking charge’ of the site, therefore, gets put on the hook for meeting the predetermined standards, or for facing the predetermined penalties, no matter what the facts of the particular case and no matter the fact that they didn’t do anything to cause the existing damage.”

Oh, you mean THOSE quotas: "Officers were instructed to arrest people for ‘blocking the sidewalk,’ for not possessing ID (even while just feet from their homes), even for no reason at all (cops were told to ‘articulate’ a charge at a later time). The cops were told to make arrests even if they knew they’d be voiding the charge at the end of their shifts. As a sergeant implores in one recording, ‘Again, it’s all about the numbers.’ About those numbers: While only about one tenth of 1 percent of the stops yielded a gun (at present it’s nearly impossible to legally carry a gun in New York), the practice has helped drive up the city’s marijuana arrests from 4,000 in 1997 to 40,000 in 2007. Marijuana for personal use was actually decriminalized in New York during that period. But you still can’t display your pot in public. So the police simply stop people, trick them into emptying their pockets, and then arrest them for displaying marijuana in public.”

Homosexuality still a huge health risk: "We need to re-ring the alarm about HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing significant disparities between rates of HIV and syphilis infection among men who have sex with men and the rest of the US population. Men who have sex with men are 44 times more likely to contract HIV than other men and 40 times more likely to contract HIV than women. They are 46 times more likely to contract syphilis than other men and 71 times more likely than women."

Racing to save Shorebank, spawn of CRA: "ShoreBank has, since the 1970s, been exhibit A in the U.S. version of a new economic project based in the belief that a bank can serve what would be termed a ‘double bottom line’ — operate profitably while self-consciously pursuing a social goal of serving lower-income households in so-called ‘underserved neighborhoods.’ Yet until Goldman, along with Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, came forward as white knights potentially carrying a $125 million capital infusion, this noble institution was, after years of struggle, about to fail, according to the FDIC. In a world of common sense about how a business actually operates and what’s actually best for the poor, that would put an end to an illusion. Instead, a ShoreBank rescue makes clear just how strong are the forces emanating from government to continue the failed experiment that has come to influence the financial system broadly.”

Yes, there is a Hollywood blacklist — and I’m on it: "Why does any of this matter, almost two decades later? Why is a story of a free-lance TV writer with only one produced script even worth bothering about? It matters to me, because I haven’t sold a script to television or to a movie production company since 1985, and I know it has nothing to do with my not being a good enough writer. It matters still more to me because I’m still trying to get my movie scripts produced and my already-produced movie distributed, and I’m still running into brick walls. It matters to writers and producers who, like me, are out of the business because the people doing the hiring don’t like our politics. It matters to you because you don’t know what you’re missing, and if you don’t like the political spin of the stories you see in network TV and studio movies, testimony like mine gives you the reason.”

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

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


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


18 May, 2010

Supreme Court blocks life sentences without parole for violent teens, citing 'international opinion'

Regardless of whether one likes the verdict or not, the fact that it is based on "international opinion" makes it a mockery of constitutional interpretation -- which is what the court is supposed to be doing. They have simply made themselves a super-legislature

The Supreme Court has just held that violent juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without a chance for parole, unless they succeed in killing their victim. Even torturers and rapists who attempt to commit murder cannot be denied the opportunity for release under the Court’s decision today in Graham v. Florida.

Most states have long authorized life sentences without parole for vicious 17-year-olds who commit rape and attempted murder. But the Court looked instead to “international opinion” to declare such sentences “cruel and unusual,” writing that “the United States adheres to a sentencing practice rejected the world over,” illustrating “the climate of international opinion” against life without parole.

The Court’s opinion was joined in by all the liberal Supreme Court justices–including Obama’s appointee, Sonia Sotomayor–and authored by swing vote Anthony Kennedy. Conservative justices Alito, Thomas, and Scalia dissented.

Chief Justice Roberts agreed with the liberal majority only that the defendant in this particular case deserved a chance for parole. But he disagreed with its sweeping ruling that all violent juveniles must be given a chance for parole unless they succeeded in killing their victim. He cited the examples of nightmarishly evil people who will now be given an opportunity for parole thanks to the Supreme Court:

“But what about Milagro Cunningham, a 17-year-old who beat and raped an 8-year-old girl before leaving her to die under 197 pounds of rock in a recycling bin in a remote landfill?” asked the Chief Justice. “Or Nathan Walker and Jakaris Taylor, the Florida juveniles who together with their friends gang-raped a woman and forced her to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son?” These vicious predators will now be free to seek parole.

The Court’s decision today illustrates that the Supreme Court is a liberal court, not a moderate or conservative court. The great majority of states–even “Blue States” like California–permit life without parole for violent juvenile torturers and rapists. The Court ignored the wisdom of the sages, such as the ancient maxim that “he who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind.”

In relying on “international opinion” to decide the case, the Supreme Court ignored the pleas of civil libertarians and libertarian think tanks like the Cato Institute not to smuggle international standards into the interpretation of the American Constitution, since doing so is a dangerous precedent: international law and opinion are often hostile to important American civil liberties like free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion; the right to self-defense against home intruders; and laws designed to secure those protections.

The libertarian Cato Institute, which frequently files amicus briefs in the Supreme Court seeking to promote civil liberties and privacy rights, filed an amicus brief in today’s case asking the court not to rely on “international norms,” since doing so would “undermine the democratic process and rule of law, casting considerable uncertainty over many U.S. laws.” Sadly, the Court ignored that brief. (My employer, Competitive Enterprise Institute, joined Cato's amicus brief).

Courts should not rely on “international opinion” to decide cases, since it is vague and manipulable. So-called international law is applied selectively by lawyers and judges, who cite real or imagined ”international law” to push the ideological goals they support, while ignoring actual international court rulings they don’t like.

Left-wing lawyers take vague international treaties and interpret them as mandating liberals’ ideological wishlists, like restricting criticism of Islam and minority religions as “hate speech,” banning Mother’s Day as sexist, and mandating quota-based affirmative action. For example, the CEDAW equal-rights treaty has been construed by an international committee as requiring “redistribution of wealth,” “affirmative action,” “gender studies” classes, government-sponsored “access to rapid and easy abortion,” and “the application of quotas and numerical goals.” Never mind that most countries don’t even have affirmative action.

But left-wing lawyers ignore foreign law and world opinion when it calls into question liberal policies in the United States. One classic example is the horror that most countries’ courts have for the American practice of letting virtually unguided juries award punitive damages. In most of the world, punitive damages are forbidden. But you will never see a liberal Supreme Court justice talk about “international law” or “international opinion” when it comes to punitive damages, which are sacrosanct in the eyes of many liberal judges.

Ultimately, even liberals may come to regret the reliance on “international opinion” by today’s Supreme Court decision, which sets a dangerous precedent for civil liberties.

In USA Today, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley earlier criticized the Obama administration for foolishly endorsing a “blasphemy” exception to free speech at the UN, in an effort to curry favor with Muslim countries: “Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.”

Turley says Western blasphemy cases have included the arrest of a Dutch cartoonist for depicting Christian and Muslim fundamentalists as zombies; the investigation of an Italian comedian for joking that in 20 years, the Pope will be in hell; the exclusion of a Dutch politician from Britain because he made a movie describing Islam’s holy book as “fascist”; and the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9).

Earlier, conservatives and civil libertarians criticized the Obama administration for endorsing restrictions on so-called “hate speech” at the United Nations in an effort to ingratiate itself with other countries. The Administration is backing proposals to classify hate speech as a violation of international human rights law. Some left-wing lawyers are now likely to argue that these proposals constitute “customary international law” binding on the U.S., as a consensus interpretation of treaties the U.S. has already signed, like the CEDAW equal rights treaty. The U.S. courts are unlikely to accept such arguments in the near future, although if Obama manages to appoint enough left-wing judges, the chances of such arguments prevailing will increase.

In Canada, hate speech laws have been used to punish ministers for anti-gay sermons. In the U.S., college hate-speech codes have been used to discipline students for criticizing affirmative action or homosexuality, or writing about the racial implications of the death penalty.

Ironically, hate speech laws have often been used against minorities in the Third World, with prosecutors arguing that advocating the rights of minorities is an inflammatory form of racial separatism.



Supreme Court Rules Sex Offenders Can Be Imprisoned After Sentences Expire

Such laws are increasingly common worldwide so they no doubt pass the "international opinion" test. They do undoubtedly help block the release of violent criminals who are very likely to reoffend. Any decisions made in pursuance of such laws should of course be subject to judicial review, however

The Supreme Court ruled today that convicted sex offenders can be imprisoned even after their sentences expire if they are determined to be mentally ill and sexually dangerous.

In a decision by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court upheld a federal law that allows dangerous sex offenders to remain in prison if the federal government proves by clear and convincing evidence they would have "serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation" if released.

The case came about when the government sought to detain five men who had been convicted or charged with federal sex offenses. Three had pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing child pornography and a fourth had pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor. The fifth man was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, but was found incompetent to stand trial.

The five men argued that continuing to detain them violated their constitutional rights. A federal appeals court agreed that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law.

In overturning the appeals court decision, the Court emphasized that the constitutional clause at issue "grants Congress broad authority to enact federal legislation."

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, said the Court was granting Congress broad powers that should be left to the states.



Public option is alive and well, but hidden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t kidding when she famously said Congress had to pass Obamacare “so you can see what’s in it.” And now as more people find out what’s in the 2,700-plus pages of the law, a steadily lengthening list of President Barack Obama’s promises are being exposed as empty.

Obamacare was going to reduce federal health care spending. Now, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the president’s own Department of Health and Human Services estimates federal health spending will increase at least $311 billion. Obamacare was going to let everybody keep their private health insurance if they chose to. Now Fortune magazine reports that companies across the country are looking at dropping health coverage for their employees because Obamacare makes it profitable to do so. Obamacare was not going to raise insurance premiums. Now another CMMS report says premiums are going up because of Obamacare’s provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

Here’s another Obamacare myth biting the dust. Remember when Obama and congressional Democrats made a big show of dropping the public option government insurance program that was supposedly going to give private insurers competition and drive rates down? The truth is the public option is alive and well, residing in Section 1334, pages 97-100, of the new health care law. That section gives the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — which presently manages the federal civil service — new responsibilities: establishing and running two entirely new government health insurance programs to compete directly with private insurance companies in every state with coverage for people outside of government.

Quoting the new law, former OPM director Donald Devine notes that it makes the OPM boss a health care czar, with power to set “‘profit margin premiums and other such terms and conditions of coverage as are in the interest of enrollees in such plans.’ That’s open-ended. You can do anything.” Dan Blair, another former OPM director, calls the new program “nothing but a placeholder for the public option.” Indeed, the OPM head is also given the authority to “appoint as many employees” as needed to run the program, and to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to establish and administer it.

As with so much else, Obama and the Democrats did this behind closed doors. They held no public hearings on it and invited no public testimony to estimate its costs or explain its effect on OPM in its traditional role of managing the civil service. The reasons are steadily piling up to repeal this destructive law and replace it and the congressmen who voted for it as soon as possible.



Obama administration helps ACORN defend socialism – in India!

The Obama administration is using U.S. government resources to help the embattled radical advocacy organization spread the gospel of left-wing community organizing in India.

President Obama’s ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, recently lent his name and the prestige of the U.S. government to ACORN India’s efforts to organize rag-pickers in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay). Roemer is a former Democratic congressman who represented an Indiana district.

The website of the U.S. embassy in India displays a photograph from May 11 in which Ambassador Roemer is shown meeting with rag pickers in Dharavi, a slum in the suburbs of Mumbai. The official caption accompanying the picture indicates Roemer was discussing “ACORN India’s local waste management and recycling program.”

The Indo-Asian News Service confirmed in a report that day that Roemer spent time at the ACORN facility and met with ACORN India representative Vikram Adige.

The U.S. consulate in Mumbai, headed by Consul General Paul A. Flombsee, also co-sponsored a water conservation event on March 22 with ACORN India. Flomsbee is listed as the expected guest of honor at the event on ACORN India’s website....




TSA gets new boss: "President Barack Obama said Monday he will nominate FBI Deputy Director John Pistole to become the new head of the Transportation Security Administration. The position has been vacant since Obama became president in January 2009, with an acting head in place. Two previous Obama nominees have withdrawn from consideration due to Republican opposition and controversial issues.”

Crooked NYC cop jailed : "Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who was dubbed ‘America’s Cop’ for his leadership after Sept. 11, reported to a minimum-security federal prison camp in Cumberland, MD Monday to begin serving a four year sentence for tax fraud and lying to the White House. … Kerik pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax fraud and obstruction, including making false statements when he was vetted to be Secretary of Homeland Security in the Bush Administration. The crimes called for a sentence of two to three years but Judge Stephen C. Robinson in White Plains, NY sentenced Kerik to more than that because of ‘the almost operatic proportions of this case.’”

Bye bye, CalWORKs: "In the early 1990s, Bill Clinton campaigned on a promise to ‘end welfare as we know it.’ Republicans in Congress called his bluff, and the result — the landmark 1996 welfare-reform bill — ushered in a decade of plummeting welfare rolls and declining poverty. Now California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, no one’s idea of a staunch conservative, has done Clinton one better: He has called for the end of cash welfare in California, period.”

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

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


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


17 May, 2010

Another reason to withdraw from the United Nations

More bureaucratic nest feathering for negligible benefit to anyone other than the corrupt bureaucrats themselves

The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations' public health arm, is moving full speed ahead with a controversial plan to impose global consumer taxes on such things as Internet activity and everyday financial transactions like paying bills online — while its spending soars and its own financial house is in disarray.

The aim of its taxing plans is to raise "tens of billions" of dollars for WHO that would be used to radically reorganize the research, development, production and distribution of medicines around the world, with greater emphasis on drugs for communicable diseases in poor countries.

The irony is that the WHO push to take a huge bite out of global consumers comes as the organization is having a management crisis of its own, juggling finances, failing to use its current resources efficiently, or keep its costs under control — and it doesn't expect to show positive results in managing those challenges until a year from now, at the earliest.

Fox News initially reported last January on the "suite of proposals" for "new and innovative sources of funding," prepared by a 25-member panel of medical experts, academics and health care bureaucrats, when it was presented of a meeting of WHO's 34-member Executive Board in Geneva.

Now the proposals are headed for the four-day annual meeting of the 193-member World Health Assembly, WHO's chief legislative organ, which begins in Geneva on May 17.

The Health Assembly, a medical version of the United Nations General Assembly, will be invited to "take note" of the experts' report. It will then head back with that passive endorsement to another Executive Board meeting, which begins May 22, for further action. It is the Executive Board that will "give effect" to the Assembly's decisions.

What it all means is that a major lobbying effort could soon be underway to convince rich governments in particular to begin taxing citizens or industries to finance a drastic restructuring of medical research and development on behalf of poorer ones....

The rationale for the drastic restructuring of medical R and D, as outlined in the group of experts' report, is the skewed nature of medical research in the developed world, which concentrates largely on non-communicable diseases, notably cancer, and scants research on malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable scourges of poor countries. It cites a 1986 study that claimed that only 5 percent of global health research and development was applied to the health problems of developing countries.

(In dissecting contemporary medical R and D, however, the expert report glosses over the historical fact that many drugs for fighting communicable diseases in developing countries are already discovered; the issue in many cases is the abysmal living and hygienic conditions that make them easily transmitted killers.) ....



Obama's invisible Islam

Democrats refuse to admit who the jihadist enemy is

During questioning before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a visibly nervous Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. tried valiantly not to utter the expression "radical Islam." The twisting began when Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, asked whether the men behind three recent terrorist incidents - the Fort Hood massacre, the Christmas Day bombing attempt and the Time Square bombing attempt - "might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam."

Mr. Holder said there are a "variety of reasons" why people commit terror attacks. That can be true, but in these cases there was one reason: radical Islam. The attorney general said you have to look at each case individually. That's fine, but when that is done, one comes face to face with radical Islam every time. He said that of the variety of reasons people might commit terror, "some of them are potentially religious." Yes, like radical Islam. When pressed, what Mr. Holder would finally allow is, "I certainly think that it's possible that people who espouse a radical version of Islam have had an ability to have an impact on people like [Times Square bomber Faisal] Shahzad."

Mr. Holder mentioned Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric now holed up in Yemen who has been mentioned in connection with all three attacks. Mr. Holder said that Mr. al-Awlaki "has a version of Islam that is not consistent with the teachings of [the faith]." Mr. Holder did not go into details to back up his assertion that Mr. al-Awlaki, an Islamic scholar, is somehow at odds with his own faith, nor did he pinpoint exactly what Muslim teachings he was referring to.

The Obama administration seems to have issued an internal gag order that forbids any official statements that might cast even the most extreme interpretations of the Islamic religion in a negative light. The "force protection review" of the Fort Hood massacre omitted any mention of shooter Nidal Malik Hasan's openly radical Islamic worldview or the fact that he made the jihadist war cry "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire. Initially, the Obama administration refused to even call the massacre an act of terrorism, much less radical Islamic terrorism.

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Extremist Lexicon, which was pulled out of circulation in the wake of controversy with other department publications, listed Jewish extremism and various forms of Christian extremism as threats but made no mention of any form of Muslim extremism. The Feb. 1, 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review discusses terrorism and violent extremism but does not mention radical Islam as a motivator, or in any context. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review likewise avoids any terminology related to Islam.

The Obama administration may not like to think of being at war with radical Islam, but the jihadists are definitely at war with the United States. Rather than running from the expression "radical Islam," the administration should be openly discussing the ideological motives of the terrorists and finding ways to delegitimize them. Instead of hedging, obfuscating and ignoring, these Democrats should confront the challenge frankly, openly and honestly. Pretending that a radical, violent strain of Islam does not exist will not make it go away. To the contrary, it will make the situation much worse.

President Obama's continuing solicitude toward the faith of Muhammad is inexplicable, and as these acts of denial continue, it is becoming dangerous. The United States will not defeat an enemy it is afraid to identify.



Bailing out foreign banks

U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing bad business overseas

House Republicans introduced legislation last week to prohibit U.S. taxpayer funds from being used to bail out a teetering European economy, especially upside-down Greece. "If the Obama administration has its way, the U.S. will contribute to a nearly trillion-dollar bailout of European countries with economic crises that are a direct result of wasteful government spending," said Rep. Mike Pence, the House Republican Conference chairman from Indiana. The congressman is right. President Obama should focus on U.S. economic troubles instead of throwing our cash down a European rathole.

As things stand, the U.S. government is giving $30 billion in subsidized loans to Canadian banks, and the Obama administration has begun bailing out banks from Japan to Europe. The administration won't say how much money is being doled out and who is getting it. Given American anger about bailing out our own banks, there's sure to be a strong political backlash when taxpayers learn their money is being shipped off to foreign banks.

The new policy mirrors what the Federal Reserve did last year when it gave loans to U.S. banks at nearly zero percent interest. The banks turned around and used these government loans to lend money back to the federal government through the purchase of U.S. Treasury bonds, on which the banks received higher interest rates. Extending this practice to foreign banks is an outright gift to foreign shareholders.

Why the United States should subsidize foreign banks and their shareholders is a mystery. Compared to the U.S. economic crisis, many of these economies have done fairly well. Since Mr. Obama became president, U.S. unemployment has risen from 7.7 percent to 9.9 percent. Canada's unemployment rate has only gone from 7.3 to 8.1 percent. Our own unemployment rate has soared relative to the rates in the European Union and Japan as well.

A second smaller part of the bailout comes from a $54 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Greece and other European countries. Again, it's a mystery exactly how much of this loan will be the responsibility of the United States, but the number is likely to be at least $10 billion, since America typically contributes 17 percent of the IMF budget.

Subsidizing Greece doesn't make any more sense. The Greek government possesses valuable assets such as land and corporate stock it can sell off to pay its debts. Instead, Athens is sitting on odd investments such as casinos, banks, jumbo jets and even a lucrative sports-betting organization. Greeks may not want to let go of those assets, but there's no reason American taxpayers should fork over dollars to subsidize Greek nationalistic pride. This is particularly the case given that the Greek government spends 44 percent of gross domestic product, which is too much. American taxpayers shouldn't feel sorry for a country that holds out a tin cup while refusing to cut government spending.

In September 2008, 400 top U.S. economists came out to oppose a bailout of U.S. financial institutions, and the American public overwhelmingly opposed the bailout bill. Even at the beginning of last year, when claims of a crisis still gripped Washington, a Rasmussen survey showed wide American opposition by a margin of 56 percent to 20 percent.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lost her majority in Germany's upper-house of parliament as a result of her support for an unpopular Greek bailout. If Washington politicians don't start listening to their voters, many of them will suffer the same fate as Mrs. Merkel's minions.



Bills Bills Bills: Extenders and Supplementals

(The "doc fix" raises reimbursements to doctors who take Medicare patients. Without it most Medicare patients would not be able to find a doctor)

Next week, House Democrats intend to introduce a package of aid to states, extended unemployement benefits, and tax break extensions. This "must-pass" bill is also seen as a possible vehicle for other difficult pieces of legislation -- namely a five-year doc fix and/or a solution to the currently expired estate tax (the Bush tax cuts called for the estate tax to sunset in 2010 before returning in 2010 at pre-2001 levels, which have fairly widespread bipartisan opposition).

The statutory PAYGO law passed in February 2010 technically would exempt this doc fix for five years or about $88.5 billion, even as PAYGO rules do not. CRFB, of course, strongly opposes these exemptions, and believes we'll pay a price of them in the bond markets. As CRFB President Maya MacGuineas said, “Considering that we face untenable levels of borrowing, an obvious first step would be to stop adding to the debt by paying for any and all policies. Many of these priorities are critical—but no more critical than the need to pay for them.”

The House, last year, did pass a permanent extension of the doc fix. And though that specific vote is now not possible thanks to the PAYGO law enacted in February, some Congressmen are stating that this fix should be a generous one. Others, particularly some Blue Dogs, are growing increasingly uneasy about an expensive and un-offset doc fix.

The estate tax is also affected by statutory PAYGO law as well, which only allows a two year fix to be deficit-financed. According to the JCT, the 10-year cost of extending the estate tax at 2009 levels is just over $250 billion; and the estate tax reform currently being considered is even more generous than that.

While we have yet to see whether the extenders bill will include a five year doc fix or a change to the estate tax, we do know that it will include a number of other provisions, including between $30-35 billion of tax relief, as well as an extension of unemployment benefits, COBRA health subsidies, Medicaid reimbursements to states, and other provisions. Below is a chart of some of the provisions that could potentially be included in this extenders bill. Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has expressed interest in a number of revenue-raiser options to offset the costs of the bill. These include changes to the biofuel tax credit and changes to the way we tax the “carried interest” earned by private equity managers and venture capitalists and real estate investors.

According the reports, Senators Kyl and Lincoln are working on finding offsets to cover the costs of estate tax reform.




The religion of peace at work again: "Police have arrested two suspects after an attempted fire-bomb attack on the home of a Swedish cartoonist, controversial for drawing the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog. The attack, overnight Friday to Saturday when Lars Vilks was not at home, blackened part of the exterior, but the fire went out by itself although police found glass bottles containing petrol inside. Both suspects, aged 21 and 19, are Swedish nationals of Kosovar origin who reside in the southern city of Landskrona and who were arrested after personal items were found near the scene, police said."

Another botched government computer system in Britain: "A new computer system designed to deliver major financial savings for the country’s biggest police force is running six months late and £10 million over budget, The Times has learnt. The Metropolitan Police had planned to spend £38 million to overhaul its human resources department and save £15 million per year in office costs. But the latest estimate for the project is £48 million and no date has been set for when it will be ready."

More bureaucracy is "success"? "A little more than a month after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s trillion-dollar overhaul of the nation’s health care system, the administration has already begun to tout its successes. On his weekly radio address, the president argued that it was already providing Americans with ‘real benefits,’ while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a four-page memo laying out the ’significant progress’ she claims her department has already made in implementing the law. ‘Over the coming weeks, our team across government will continue to work diligently to produce the regulations and guidance necessary to implement this landmark new law,’ she concludes. The prospect of adding new regulations to the books may be what passes for excitement in Washington these days, but it’s hardly a ringing endorsement. So while ObamaCare might qualify as victory for Washington’s army of bureaucrats and rulemakers, for the rest of us, there isn’t much to cheer.”

Stamped for failure: "In recent years, things have changed. California has become a place where thousands upon thousands of people have simply made the decision to not bother to work. Instead, they spend their days lounging on the streets, playing music, smoking pot, and harassing passersbys. And they are able to sustain this lifestyle, thanks to California’s generous public assistance policies. In 1976, future president Ronald Reagan, himself a former governor of California, took to the airwaves to assail what he called ‘welfare queens’ — those people who refused to work, instead living comfortably off government handouts. In those decades, it was unlimited cash benefits, or welfare, that created that entire class of indigent people. In 2010, things have changed — at least somewhat. Today, it is food stamp policies that are helping people to refuse to work.”

The poet versus the prophet: "I live in Manhattan, three blocks from Times Square. As near as I can determine, I was walking with a friend about thirty feet from the car bomb on May 1st right around the time it was supposed to detonate. Except for the technical incompetence of a Muslim dirtbag named Faisal Shahzad, I and my friend would likely be dead now. Note the phrase: ‘Muslim dirtbag.’ Neither term by itself accounts for the terrorist act he attempted to perpetrate; both terms, however, are equally complicit in it. It might have been a crapshoot of nature and nurture that wrought a specimen like Shahzad, but it was Islam that inspired him, that gave his fecal stain of a life its depth and its justification. Why is that so difficult to admit? Let me ask the question another way: Where’s the rage? Why won’t anyone say in public what Ginsberg said in the back seat of that cab? If Islam justifies, or is understood by millions of Muslims to justify, setting off a bomb in Times Square, then I shit on Islam. There are times for interfaith dialogue, for mutual respect and compassion. This isn’t one of them.”

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

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

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


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


16 May, 2010

"Tomorrow belongs to me"

The film "Cabaret" is set in Berlin in the early days of the Nazi party. In it, a Hitler Youth member sings the song "Tomorrow belongs to me" and it inspires his audience. It is actually a pre-Nazi song that was altered for the purposes of the film but it certainly expresses Nazi thinking. The singers of the Horst Wessel Lied (the song of the brownshirts) certainly thought that the future belonged to them. And some genuine lines from the actual song of the Hitler youth are:

Uns're Fahne ist die neue Zeit. (Our flag is the new time)
Und die Fahne führt uns in die Ewigkeit! (And the flag leads us into eternity)

And we also had, of course Hitler's claimed "Tausend Jahr Reich" (Thousand year empire).

So it is interesting to put the following NYT article into historical context.
Is “Left” becoming a four-letter word? You’d think so lately with each day bringing more news of unconscionable conservative tilts in the electorate, while the drumbeat of the Democrats’ supposed death march to November gets ever louder.

For example, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey released this week found that a majority of Americans supported Arizona’s hostile new immigration law, even as most allowed that the law is likely to lead to more discrimination against legal immigrants. Apparently, for some, there is an acceptable level of collateral damage.

A May 7 Gallup poll found that 42 percent of people wanted a Supreme Court nominee who would make the court more conservative, as opposed to only 27 percent who wanted a nominee who would make it more liberal. That was before Elena Kagan was nominated. Afterward, 40 percent rated her as a good or excellent choice, but that was the lowest such rating in recent history, even 4 percentage points lower than Harriet Miers’s.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released this week found that a plurality of people still favor increasing drilling for oil and gas off the coasts even as an unprecedented natural disaster unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico. Environment be damned.

And Gallup released a poll on Friday entitled “The New Normal on Abortion: Americans More ‘Pro-Life.’ ” It buttressed the finding from last summer when, for the first time since the question began being asked in 1995, more people self-identified as “pro-life” than as “pro-choice.”

This string of bad news has only compounded an already palpable sense of loss and longing on the left, an enveloping fear of the inevitable: rejection. The right, and most importantly, the middle, unnerved by spending in a recession and unhinged by Obama in the White House, have not bought into the liberal vision of a new America. In fact, they’re increasingly weary of it, if not hostile to it.

So by most accounts, Nov. 2 is going to be a blue day in blue America. That is in part because of a sizable enthusiasm gap that favors Republicans.

Liberals may want to crouch in a corner, wait for the storm to pass, then resurface and survey the damage, but that would be avoidance rather than acknowledgement and acceptance.

Better to acknowledge that the anger and frustration felt across the country, however fanatical and freighted, must find release, and it will do so in November. Then you can accept it for what it is: not a failure of philosophy, but a fear of the future. That future can be deferred, but it will not be denied.

I am convinced that the right may win the day, but the left will win the age. That’s because the right is running an intellectually bereft campaign of desperation and disenchantment, amplified by a recession.

Great Recessions don’t last. Great ideas do.

So are his closing sentiments right? You may be surprised to hear that I think that he is indeed right. Whether redistributing the wealth and bringing everything under government control are "great" ideas is a laughable proposition but they are certainly ideas that seem inbred into human DNA. Even conservatives accept a watered-down version of such ideas. Actual libertarians are a tiny, though sometimes influential, minority.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan held back the tide for a while but it has all gradually crept back. Who would have thought that America would one day have a Government Motors instead of a General Motors?

Mussolini was right. In the 1920s he said that the 20th century would be the century of Fascism -- and so it turned out to be. In Mussolini's Italy, the government did not OWN all industry (that is the Communist folly) but the government CONTROLLED all industry. And, by way of laws and regulations, that is the case in all developed countries today. Freedom for businessmen to do as they please is roughly as restricted in the USA today as it was in Fascist Italy.

So, Yes. In the hands of both the GOP and the Donks, government control of all we do will continue its relentless advance. The Communist idea of the party directing the economic activities of the nation is dead. But the Nazi/Fascist idea of leaving businessmen to run business under tight government controls is triumphant. Both 20th and 21st century history is clear about that.


A tale of two cities

For some years now a set of pictures have been circulating via email which purport to compare Hiroshima today with Detroit today. The pictures of the Japanese city are actually of Yokohama, so saying that they are of Hiroshima is gilding the lily a bit. Yokohama is the port city of Tokyo so was also devastatingly bombed, albeit not with nuclear weapons. I guess pictures of devastated Hiroshima were more readily available than pictures of devastated Yokohama.

But the contrast between the terrible deterioration of a black-run city and the great progress of a Japanese city is certainly instructive. See here or here for the pictures. Race has nothing to do with it, of course.


Leftists AIM for chaos -- as a prelude to asserting their own control

And the incoherent assertions of postmodernism suit that just fine

One of the most chilling scenes in the Dark Knight is when the Joker philosophizes at Harvey Dent’s bedside in the hospital. The Joker is explaining the how and why of everything he’s done, and sums up his worldview thusly:

“Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!”

The postmodernism that fuels Obama’s policies does in fact seek to “upset the established order.” The existing hegemony is undesirable simply because it has the power, and must be replaced. That’s why America is no more “exceptional” than Greece or Britain. That’s why his stance on Iran and nuclear policy in general is so soft. That’s why we’re giving such a cold shoulder to Israel.

That’s also why the relationship between the American government and her citizens has been turned on its head. We’re getting our first taste of European statism and we’re not digging it. Obama is doing everything in his power to bring the American hegemon to her knees – from foreign policy and the “war on terror” to distributive-wealth practices, including, but not limited to, health care reform.

Leftists use one word to justify their wealth-distributive policies: “fairness”. Free-market capitalism has been pegged as the hegemonic demon to end all hegemonic demons. Thus, it’s appropriate to “upset the established order” of economics in order to ensure a “fair” society. Chaos is fair. Postmodernists and statists are always about “fairness,” and fairness stems from the chaos of a deconstructed system.

Obama is an agent of chaos, a pursuer of “fairness”. And he revels in it, just like the Joker.

So what are we to do? Rally at Tea Parties? Run for office? Start PACs?

How about none of the above? We conservatives need to get it through our skulls that politics – in general – is downstream of culture. There is something in our underlying cultural milieu that has allowed Obama to ascend to the Oval Office. We can’t win the long-term battle against statism and secularism on the grounds of “repeal.” Fighting in D.C. alone will get us nowhere.

We must be at work in our communities, amongst our friends and family, teaching and debating and explaining what postmodernism is and why it’s a dangerous worldview.

Postmodernism rests, essentially, on one basic “principle”: Everything is relative. Everything except, of course, the statement that everything is relative. Postmodernism undercuts itself right out of the gate. Right vs. wrong, good vs. evil are outdated paradigms that “we” have set up to further our power and oppression. That’s why the entire academic world (which is where Obama originated) convulsed when George W. Bush coined the “axis of evil” line.

Winning the long-term war for the soul of America and the stability of the world is no easy task when going up against a non-linear, illogical proposition like postmodernism. But if we put all of our eggs into the political basket and don’t seeking to redeem the culture, we might as well give up and enjoy our entitlement checks and free healthcare while we can.



Russian comeback in the Middle East

As I've predicted Russia is coming back into the region and it is going to play a very bad role. Moscow is linking up with the emerging Islamist alliance of Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah...

The Obama Administration says it is going to pull away Syria from Iran, but the two countries are coming closer together. Syria's open goal is to pull the United States away from Israel, but meanwhile Syria is finding still another ally to back its ambitions.

The recent visit of Russia's President Medvedev with a huge entourage was a major step toward reestablishing the old Soviet-Syria relationship. There were broad economic talks, including the possibility of Russia building a nuclear reactor for the Syrian dictatorship.

Acording to Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian parliamentary foreign liaison committee, quoted in the Syrian newspaper Tishrin, May 12, the visit, "Is a clear indication to everyone in the Middle East region and on the regional and international level that Syria was and will remain a strategic partner to Russia...." This includes a new round of arms' sales to Syria, which presumably will be paid for largely by Iran.

Even if the alliance remains limited, it will further encourage Iran and Syria to be covertly aggressive and hard line while sending still another signal to moderate Arabs that America is on its way down. Clearly, Russia's refusal to support more sanctions on Iran in any serious manner is part of this calculation.

Is it a problem for Russia that it faces internal Islamist terrorism but is aligning with Islamist forces? No, not at all. Iran has been careful not to back these revolutionaries in the north Caucasus. Iran even joins Russia in following a policy of supporting Christian Armenia against Muslim-majority Azerbaijan. By working with the Iranians Russia is reducing the possibility that they will support Islamist rebels against Moscow.

As in so many cases, this strategic factor appears nowhere on the administration's horizon.

Then there's Medvedev's visit to the newest member of the anti-American Islamist alliance: Turkey. In a joint statement the two countries' leaders said that Hamas should be part of any regional negotiations. Turkish President Abdullah Gul, a hardline Islamist who was so feared that he had to promise before the last parliamentary election not to be a candidate for president. His AKP party won and within a few hours Gul was stepping into that office.

Gul explained in his joint press conference with Medvedev, who said the same exact thing: "Unfortunately Palestinians have been split into two... In order to reunite them, you have to speak to both sides. Hamas won elections in Gaza and cannot be ignored."

What Gul wants--and Medvedev?--is that Hamas dominate the Palestinian unity arrangement. Consider that two sides are competing for leadership of a people. One of them is fanatical, extremist, terrorist, committed to permanent warfare and genocide. The other isn't exactly wonderful but is, at least at present, somewhere in the ballpark of being peaceable and reasonable.

So the ideal solution is to put them together and let them reach a common program? Not exactly. As for the "elected" argument, it is a matter of public record that Hamas won the election, made a deal for a coalition government, and then staged a violent coup to seize full power in the Gaza Strip.

Oh, did I mention that Russia is talking about building nuclear reactors for both Turkey and Syria?

Russia's bid for renewed power in the Middle East as a rival to U.S. goals and interests is one more thing that U.S. policy is simply not prepared to cope with, or even recognize. Will Russia align itself to a large extent with Iran and Syria to counter U.S. influence in the region and give itself special access to key trading partners? For if Moscow teams up with the radical Islamist alliance, especially after Tehran has nuclear weapons, this is going to worsen considerably an already gloomy strategic picture for the West.

But on top of all that, Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov made an incredible statement that should send shock waves through U.S. policymaking circles. In calling on the United States not to take "any unilateral step against Iran," Lavrov is trying to restrict American pressures to what Moscow is willing to accept. In other words, he is acting as Iran's lawyer to tie America's hands.

Then he added that there were some people in Washington who do not believe international legislation takes precedence over legislation passed by the United States. In other words, he is asserting a new doctrine in which, in effect, the UN is a world government and the United States has no right to act on its own without approval.
The Obama Administration should act quickly to reject this doctrine. This is a trap which the administration's own policy has helped to lay by saying it doesn't believe in strong U.S. leadership. The proposed precedent would institutionalize that limitation in a way that is going to be very harmful in future.


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

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


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


15 May, 2010

Leftists and the armed forces

I have long argued that the difference between Left and Right can only be understood psychologically rather than ideologically. Leftists run on pure emotion. Conservatives have emotions too but they are governed by reason as well.

Leftists will use ANY argument that suits their emotional needs of the moment. They have certain recurrent themes in their arguments -- such as "poverty" being the cause of all ills -- but such themes are little more than verbal tics. They are not a serious attempt to explain anything.

A rather hilarious proof of that is that Leftists for quite a while after 9/11/2001 explained Muslim antagonism to America as being caused by poverty -- even though Osama bin Laden is a billionaire! The Leftist mouths uttering such nonsense were clearly not engaged in any serious way with thought or any sincere effort to understand.

And one of the things that Leftist emotions will never engage with is the army. Leftists just can't understand why anybody would LIKE being in the army and Leftist governments will always cut back military funding if they can plausibly do so. Australia's Leftist government has done so this week, even though there are frequent calls on the Australian army for overseas deployments to various theatres of conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan included.

Yet lots of people DO like being in the army, including women. In my far-off military days the corps with the longest waiting list was the WRAACS (Women's Royal Australian Army Corps). Each corps has a certain "establishment" -- meaning that the corps can only enlist as many people as they are allocated by the defence bureaucrats. So a popular corps will often have a waiting list of people waiting for a vacancy in the establishment. And LOTS of women wanted to get into the WRAACS.

And that continues to this day. Even exceptionally attractive women often love the army. G.I. Jill won a beauty contest as Miss Utah but still was keen to get back to military duties. And Miss England (aka "Combat Barbie") at the moment is keen to get back into army uniform too. And my most recent bride spent 9 years in the army and you can see what she looks like here (scroll down).

And who could be more privileged than a member of the British Royal family? But it IS a military family and Prince Harry in particular is well known for his devotion to the army and his keenness for active service. He even once said of his very attractive girlfriend, Chelsy, that he loves Chelsy but the army comes first! I doubt that any Leftist mind could comprehend that! I can, though.

Left to right above: Prince Charles, Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry. Photo from earlier this month

And in the most minor of ways, my own totally undistinguished military career shows a little of that spirit too. In the Vietnam era I was at a university in Brisbane where there were vast anti-Vietnam rallies. So I joined a local army reserve unit. While most of my fellow students were marching around with placards, I was trying my best to acquire some military skills. And I enjoyed it immensely.

After completing my first degree, however, I moved down to Sydney and naturally assumed that I would join the Sydney reserve unit of my corps. But they were "up to establishment"! They had no vacancy for me. So did I just say "too bad!". No way! I went on full-time duties with the regular army instead! The regular unit of my corps had vacancies even if the reserve unit did not!

I can't imagine that any Leftist would understand that. Personally, I think they are inadequate people who are simply too cowardly for the army. They will of course think that I am simply stupid but as I have a Ph.D. and 200+ academic publications that explanation would be as silly as their "poverty" explanation.


Obama is going Greek

In Greece the bill has come due for a life of fairness at the expense of growth -- and the rest of Europe is not far behind

One of the constant criticisms of Barack Obama's first year is that he's making us "more like Europe." But that's hard to define and lacks broad political appeal. Until now.

Any U.S. politician purporting to run the presidency of the United States should be asked why the economic policies he or she is proposing won't take us where Europe arrived this week.

In an astounding moment, to avoid the failure of little, indulgent, profligate Greece, the European Union this week pledged nearly $1 trillion to inject green blood into Europe's economic vampires.

For Americans, this has been a two-week cram course in what not to be if you hope to have a vibrant future. What was once an unfocused criticism of Mr. Obama and the Democrats, that they are nudging America toward a European-style social-market economy, came to awful life in the panicked, stricken faces of Europe's leadership: Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown, Papandreou. They look like that because Europe has just seen the bond-market devil.

Daniel Henninger discusses Europe's economic stagnation, noting that President Obama's health-care and energy policies will surely make us more like Europe.
Podcast: Listen to the audio of Wonder Land here.

The bond market is a good bargain—if you live more or less within your means. The Europeans, however, pushed a good bargain into a Faustian bargain, which the world calls a sovereign debt crisis.

In the German legend, Faust was a scholar who sold his soul to the devil many years hence in return for a life now of intellectual brilliance and physical comfort. In our version of the legend, Europe's governments told the devil that, more than anything, they wanted a life of social protection and income fairness no matter the cost. Life was good. A fortnight ago, the bond devil arrived and asked for his money.

In the U.S., the Obama White House and the Democrats have decided to wage politics into November by positioning the Republicans as the party of obstruction, which won't vote for things the nation "needs," such as ObamaCare. Some Republicans voting against these proposals seem to understand, as do their most ardent supporters, that they are opposing such ideas and policies because the Democrats have pushed far beyond the traditional centrist comfort zone of most Americans. A Democratic Party whose current budget takes U.S. spending from a recent average of about 21% of GDP up to 25% is outside that comfort zone. It's headed toward the euro zone.

After Europe's abject humiliation, the chance is at hand for the Republicans to do some useful self-definition. They should make clear to the American people that the GOP is "The We're Not Europe Party." Their Democratic opposition could not attempt such a claim because they do not wish to.

The state of Europe can be summed up in one word: stagnation. Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president who just agreed to monetize the debt that Europeans can't or won't pay, noted in a 2006 speech that "over the period from 1996 to 2005, euro area output grew on average 1.3 percentage points less than in the U.S., and the gap appears to be persistent."

Angus Maddison, the eminent European historian of world economic development who died days before Europe's debt crisis, wrote in 2001: "The most disturbing aspect of West European performance since 1973 has been the staggering rise in unemployment. In 1994-8 the average level was nearly 11% of the labor force. This is higher than the depressed years of the 1930s."

Stagnation isn't death. Economies don't die. Greece proves that. They slow down. Europe's low growth rates allow its populations to pretend that real, productive work is being done somewhere by someone. But new jobs are created slowly, if at all. Younger workers lose heart.

Economic stagnation is a kind of purgatory. Once there, it's not clear how you get out. The economist Douglass North, in his 1993 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, said that one of the vexing problems of his discipline is, "Why do economies once on a path of growth or stagnation tend to persist?" Japan also seems unable to free itself from stagnation.

The antidote to stagnation is economic growth. Not just growth, but strong growth. A 4% growth rate, which Europe will never see again, pays social dividends innumerably greater than 2.5% growth. Which path are we on?

Barack Obama would never say it is his intention to make the U.S. go stagnant by suppressing wealth creation in return for a Faustian deal on social equity. But his health system required an astonishing array of new taxes on growth industries. He is raising taxes on incomes, dividends, capital gains and interest. His energy reform requires massive taxes. His government revels in "keeping a boot on the neck" of a struggling private firm. Wall Street's business is being criminalized.

Economic stagnation arrives like a slow poison. Look at the floundering United Kingdom, whose failed prime minister, Gordon Brown, said on leaving, "I tried to make the country fairer." Maybe there's a more important goal.

A We're-Not-Europe Party would promise the American people to avoid and oppose any policy that makes us more like them and less like us.



Barack Obama vows $180bn to overhaul nuclear weapons stockpile

The mid-terms have REALLY got him spooked. A desperate last-minute dash to the center is now well in evidence

President Obama has committed the US to spending more than $180 billion (£122 billion) over the next ten years to overhaul its nuclear warheads and to modernise some of the bombers and submarines that carry them.

With the announcement of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) with Russia, and the downgrading of America’s “nuclear posture”, Mr Obama said that no money would be spent on a new generation of long-range ballistic missiles. Republicans warned that they would not support the Start agreement unless the existing stockpile was upgraded.

Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defence, and Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, are due to give evidence in support of the treaty to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week. In anticipation of tough questioning the Obama Administration sent Congress a classified report on plans for the nuclear stockpile.

An unclassified summary of the report on plans for the nuclear stockpile released by the White House reveals that the Government is to spend more than $100 billion over the next decade to sustain existing “nuclear delivery systems” — intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers and submarines. Research is also under way on a new strategic bomber and ballistic missile-carrying submarines.

The declassified summary also discloses that Mr Obama intends to spend $80 billion in the next decade on sustaining the arsenal of nuclear warheads.

A report on plans for the nuclear stockpile shows that the United States has 450 intercontinental ballistic missile silos and will keep 420, all with a single warhead. It also has 94 strategic bombers, with 60 being kept under Start; and 14 strategic nuclear submarines. Under the new treaty the US will keep all 14 submarines but the number of missile tubes will be cut from 24 to 20, and no more than 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles will be deployed at any time.




Crock Tock is a new site that is well worth a look. He keeps VERY up to date with current news and commentary -- from a distinct conservative perspective.

Elena Kagan 'outed' as lesbian: "The Wall Street Journal was attacked for using a 1993 image of Miss Kagan, who was nominated for the top court by President Barack Obama this week, holding a bat during her time as a teacher at the University of Chicago. Critics have claimed the sport is regarded as a "lesbian" pastime in the minds of many Americans and the picture was used to allude to rumours about her sexuality. John Wright, of gay newspaper Dallas Voice, told Politico: "Personally I think the newspaper, which happens to have the largest circulation of any in the US, might as well have gone with a headline that said, 'Lesbian or switch-hitter?'." In an attempt to lay the issue to rest, friends of the former dean of Harvard Law School have publicly said she is not gay"

Obama’s natural choice of Kagan : "It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.”

Obama’s rationing man : "While much of Washington is focused on President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Republicans are gearing up for a confirmation battle over another Obama nominee who promises to put health care back in the spotlight. At issue is Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor with a self-professed love affair with Britain’s socialized health care system. In his writings and speeches, Berwick has defended government rationing and advocated centralized budget caps on health care spending.”

Resolve and repeal: "On Tuesday, West Virginia Democratic primary voters ousted an incumbent who has been in the House since 1983 — partly because of his vote for Obamacare. That legislation is also at issue in a special election this month for a Pennsylvania House seat the Democrats have held since 1974. In that race, both candidates say they opposed the passage of Obamacare, but the Republican is running to the Democrat’s right by saying that he will vote to repeal it. The message from these campaigns: Opposition to Obamacare is a winning cause. But House Republicans are not yet doing enough to capitalize on the discontent in order to elect Republicans to office and, more important, raise the likelihood of an eventual repeal. The House Republican leadership ought to get behind a simple, one-sentence bill to repeal Obamacare — now.”

Some economic realism at long last in Spain: "Mr. Zapatero is taking action to address the root cause of his nation's fiscal dilemma: excess spending. For years, Spain had doled money out of the public purse with such abandon that its deficit reached 11.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2009. Mr. Zapatero will now impose a 5-percent across-the-board reduction in government salaries. Ministers will take a more substantial, but mostly symbolic, 15-percent cut. More importantly, the government will freeze pension benefits and eliminate a number of non-essential benefits. A total of 13,000 unnecessary government employees will be cut loose." [With 20% unemployment even a Leftist government gets desperate, it would seem]

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

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


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


14 May, 2010

Obama recognizes that he must mend ties with Israel

Anybody would think that there was an election coming up in less than 6 months time!

BARACK Obama has asked Congress to approve $US205 million to help Israel deploy an anti-missile defence system. “The President recognises the threat missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis, and has therefore decided to seek funding from Congress to support the production of Israel's short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Israel completed tests in January on its Iron Dome anti-missile system, designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.

The next phase in its development is to integrate it into the army. Israel hopes the system will provide it with a means to deal with rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and from Lebanon.

The news of Mr Obama's move came as Israeli settlers shot dead a 14-year-old Palestinian youth in the West Bank after their car was stoned, Palestinian security sources said.

An Israeli army source confirmed that shots had been fired in that neighbourhood after stones were thrown at the cars of Israeli civilians, but was not able to say if there had been any victims.

Palestinian militants have fired thousands of home-made rockets into southern Israel, prompting Israel's devastating assault on the Islamist Hamas in Gaza on December 27, 2008.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah also fired some 4000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war with Israel, which now believes Hezbollah has an arsenal of some 40,000 rockets.

“As the President has repeatedly said, our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable and our defense relationship is stronger than ever,” said Mr Vietor. “The United States and our ally Israel share many of the same security challenges, from combating terrorism to confronting the threat posed by Iran's nuclear-weapons program.”

The move comes after ties between Israel and its key ally the US were strained by an announcement of new Israeli settler homes in east Jerusalem made during a visit to the Jewish state by Vice-President Joe Biden.

Israel's President Shimon Peres also sparked controversy in April when he accused Syria of supplying the Shiite Hezbollah movement with long-range Scud missiles, a charge Damascus has staunchly denied.

Washington, which has sought rapprochement with Damascus, further fed the controversy when Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran and Syria of arming Hezbollah with sophisticated weaponry, without naming Scuds.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about the risks of triggering a regional war if he supplied the Shiite group with the missiles.

Fragile indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmoud Abbas opened on Sunday with US envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two sides in Jerusalem and Ramallah.



Neither Evil Nor Incompetent

What's the problem with government?

Classical liberals spend a great deal of time pointing out the failures of government. When we enter into public discourse over politics, we are often challenged to explain the nature and frequency of those failings. There are three kinds of explanations we might offer, but only one really explains not only why governments fail in specific cases, but also why government in general is likely to fail at pretty much everything.

One type of explanation classical liberals might offer, and that some among us do with distressing frequency, is to argue that politicians and bureaucrats have evil designs to undermine the economy or the social order to forward their own careers or other goals. No doubt, political history gives us plenty of reason to think that, in Hayek’s words, the “worst rise to the top” in the political world.

However, the weakness of this approach is that there’s a convenient response available to the defenders of government: Okay, then we just have to elect or appoint better, more morally upright people to political office. The “evil people” theory does not actually explain the failures of government at a fundamental level. Rather it suggests that with a better captain, the “ship of state” might be steered clear of the icebergs and actually reach its destination. The classical-liberal response to this counterargument must somehow maintain that it’s endemic in politics that “bad” people rise to the top. If that’s the case, then we need to get beyond the “evil people” argument and go straight to whatever causes that endemic problem.

The other problem with the “evil people” argument, and I will explore this point in more depth next week, is that it concedes that people can manipulate the economy for their ends. It’s not clear this is a concession that classical liberals want to make.


Rather than invoking malevolence, we could instead invoke incompetence. The “worst” who get on top simply refers to those with the least ability. Invoking incompetence has the advantage of avoiding the implication that people can manipulate the economy. However, that argument is open to a similar response: So elect/appoint more competent people. If Michael Brown, head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina, simply was incompetent, then there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with FEMA that someone better trained in disaster response couldn’t fix, right?

Here, too, if there’s some reason to expect that government will attract incompetents, or at least have no way to weed them out, then we need to get to those arguments, rather than getting hung up on incompetence in itself.

The third alternative is superior to both the “evil” and “incompetence” arguments: focusing on what makes government agencies structurally unable to accomplish the tasks assigned them. For example, the failures of the Federal Reserve are not the result of the Fed’s being run by a cabal of global bankers intending to undermine the U.S. economy; nor are the failures the fault of the incompetence of the Board of Governors or Federal Open Market Committee.

Even with the kindest, most public-spirited, and most brilliant economists at the helm, the task facing the Fed is simply impossible. No one can control the money supply and manipulate the macroeconomy the way the Fed is expected to. It cannot obtain the knowledge it needs to undertake that task, unlike firms in the market, which can rely on the prices to inform their decisions.

Think of the analogous debate over the public schools. We classical liberals sound silly, in my view, if we argue that public school teachers are all either evil or incompetent. I know a lot of public school teachers, and most of them are dedicated and reasonably competent. Public schools fail because of their structural features, not because of the morality or intelligence of the people they employ. And if we demonize our neighbors who teach there, people are likely to tune us out.

If we classical liberals assume that those in office are the best and the brightest yet still have a solid explanation for why they cannot get the job done, the case for freedom is much stronger and less alienating than if we focus on the morality or competence of government employees. Never assume evil or incompetence. Explanations of systemic, structural failure are available and more effective.



Obama's typically Leftist disrespect for the facts

The "big lie" technique did not die with Hitler

Someone isn’t telling the truth and if that someone turns out to be an occupant of the White House it’s time for private industry to worry.

In his weekly radio address, President Obama accused an insurance company of “systematically dropping the coverage of women with breast cancer.” Even as he declined to name the alleged culprit, a forceful response was forthcoming from WellPoint Inc., the nation’s largest insurer.

There are no gray areas here. Either the White House has seized upon inaccurate information, or the company in question is engaged in slick, misleading public relations.

In a letter addressed to President Obama, WellPoint CEO Angela Braley calls out the White House for circulating and repeating “false information” about so-called rescission practices.

“If we are going to make this law work on behalf of all Americans, the attacks on the health insurance industry, an industry that provides valued coverage for more than 200 million Americans must end,” she wrote. “We believe that our recent action to adopt many of the insurance reforms earlier than required by law is an indication of our willingness to work with your Administration to achieve this objective.”

In his Saturday radio talk, Obama laced into what he described as the “perverse practice of dropping people’s coverage when they get sick.” He also said Americans have been “held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please.”

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, asks thoughtful Americans to entertain a larger historical view that shows that the industry’s profit margin has been relatively low, ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent.

“For every dollar spent on health care in America, less than one penny goes toward health plan profits,” he said. “Health plan profits are well below other industries within the health care sector.”

But the facts may not matter for small business and private citizens who lack the resources of a FOX News Channel to fight back after the White House famously declared war on them last October.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court was subjected to a highly irregular, and wholly inaccurate Obama attack during the State of the Union speech when he said, “…the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama declared in his address. “Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that's why I'm urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

Justice Samuel Alito’s barely audible response of “not true” should be seized upon by activists who are in a stronger position to go on offense and absorb the arrows.

If President Obama is not going to shy away from making snide and inaccurate comments about no less than the U.S. Supreme Court, then there is very little standing in the way between concerned Americans who care about limited government and an unhinged White House operation.

What is particularly distressing is that Obama must have known that his comments against the Supreme Court in the Citizens United ruling were blatantly false, as they weren’t offered off the cuff, but in the most vetted speech he gives each year.

The left’s organized mistreatment of Tea Party activists who oppose Obama’s extreme expansion of government is also highly instructive as they stooped to new lows by using bogus allegations of racism to short-circuit a legitimate grassroots movement aimed at restoring constitutional government. Despite the reward money that has been offered by Andrew Breitbart, the publisher of BigGovernment.com, no one has come forward with any tangible evidence pointing to legitimate instances of racism in the Tea Party movement.

Average citizens who have invoked the proudest traditions of the American Revolution have been tied with a long list of unsavory groups and individuals who operate at the fringes of American politics compliments of compliant news media that does the bidding of Team Obama.

Most recently, the White House has turned its ire against the Arizona State Legislature for passing a law that allows local police officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Obama attacked the new law stating, “If you are a Hispanic-American in Arizona, your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state, Obama said. “But now suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re gonna be harassed. That’s something that could potentially happen. That’s not the right way to go.”

Unfortunately, none of the above was true as the Arizona law specifically requires that another crime be committed before a request for citizenship information could be made.

It is now evident that this White House will not let any set of facts get in the way of the big government agenda that is now being rolled out at the expense of the private sector and constitutional provisos.

Average Americans who enter the fray should know that they will be up against a White House that has exhibited more hostility toward the First Amendment and principled dissent than at any time since the Alien and Sedition Act.

Anyone who wishes to remain beyond the sphere of government influence should take note.



The Latest Obama Scam: Cash for Mortgages

In four U.S. States the unemployed or underwater may soon be seeing cash for mortgages that they cannot afford. The bailout cash comes courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

In Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, state lawmakers are considering using Obama handouts to help stop foreclosures in their respective states according to a CNNMoney.com article.

It appears that no one in government has learned from the continuing fiscal crisis. At a time when people should be truly understanding their responsibilities, the government believes that the only way to solve the problem is through redistribution of capital from producers to those that squander. What will happen when the money from this welfare program runs out? Who will then foot the bill for these mortgages?

While the program will not bail everyone out of their mortgage trouble, who will draw the line? Do lesser Americans exist who will be denied taxpayer bailouts for homes they cannot afford, while others reap the benefits of looting their neighbors? Who will make these tough decisions?

The fact that the nation is nearly two years deep into an economic crisis and the politicians have yet to learn a single lesson on fiscal responsibility should be the most troubling lesson that Americans take away from the drama that has unfolded since the Fall of 2008. Politicians in D.C. have time and again neglected fiscal responsibility and chosen what has become a routine route of bandaid fixes that have further sank the nation in debt.

Like the age old question of who watches the watchmen, who will provide bailouts for the bailouteers when the time will surely come?


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

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


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


13 May, 2010

A Nation of Profilers

What is affirmative action if it is not racial profiling?

by Victor Davis Hanson

Profiling is considered among the worst of American sins. Not long ago, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested by the Cambridge, Mass., police for trying to enter his own locked home after misplacing his key. Almost immediately, President Obama rushed to condemn what he thought was racial profiling. The police were acting "stupidly," Obama concluded. He added: "There's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

Here is where the argument about an individual and the group turns nasty: Is using statistics on collective behavior a reasonable tool of law enforcement to anticipate the greater likelihood of a crime, or is it gratuitously stereotyping the innocent? Or sometimes both, depending on how it's done?

Take the Arizona anti-illegal-immigration law. It gives police the right to ask for identification papers if they have reasonable cause to suspect that those questioned on a separate matter may be in the country illegally. In heated reaction to this new state law, we now hear everything from calls for a boycott of Arizona to allegations of Gestapo-like tactics.

But is Arizona doing anything that much different from what most Americans do all the time -- namely, using all sorts of generalized criteria to make what they think are play-by-the-odds judgments that may or may not be proven wrong by exceptions? The president himself did just that when he said his own grandmother sometimes acted as a "typical white person." And he once stereotyped rural Pennsylvania voters as xenophobes clinging to their guns and religion.

More than 60 percent of voters nationwide either support the Arizona law or find it still too lax, according to polls. They apparently believe that a police officer can, in fact, make reasonable requests for identification. For example, if a trooper near the border pulls over a car for a missing tail light, finds that there are younger Hispanic males in the car and that none can understand English, can he then conjecture that there is a greater likelihood some might be Mexican nationals? The trooper, after all, is working within a landscape in which one in 10 Arizonans is an illegal alien from Latin America, and the state shares a 300-mile-long border with nearby Mexico.

Otherwise, would it be presently OK for the border patrol to try to detain suspicious Hispanic males for possible immigration violations at or near the border, but not OK for police to ask for ID from the same person should he make it a few miles past the border?

Or imagine the reaction if nearly a million mostly poor, white French-Canadians were trying to cross into Vermont and New York from Canada each year. If those states felt such an influx were both contrary to federal statutes and a burden on their social service industries, could police rightly ask for ID from any French-speaking white males pulled over for traffic infractions -- or do so only at or near the northern border? Would these French-speaking suspects likelier be illegal aliens than, say, Hispanic, English-speaking American citizens of Albany or Burlington?

On a recent international flight, I noticed the cabin crew was far more attentive to a group of Arabic-speaking, Middle Eastern males than it was to a group of Chinese nationals. Had the attendants collated the number of terrorist incidents since 9/11, concluded that the vast majority of them were attempted by Middle Eastern males, and so tried to give more attention to politely watching one group than another? And should they have, given that the vast majority of Middle Eastern males reject terrorism?

When Justice Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court, the media unabashedly wrote that President Obama was focusing on naming the court's first Hispanic justice. Sotomayor herself had often used the term "wise Latina" to suggest that her gender and ethnic profile in some cases made her a better judge than stereotypical white males.

When we weigh racial and gender stereotypes for what we deem are noble purposes, we call it "diversity," but when considering criteria other than one's individuality for matters of public safety, it devolves into "profiling"?

So what are we to make of the Arizona law? First, rightly or wrongly, most Americans have long accepted some forms of both private and government profiling that draws on greater statistical likelihood. Second, should Arizona police start gratuitously pulling over U.S. citizens statewide and questioning them without cause, the law should -- and will -- be overturned. Third, far more illegal aliens will be detained than before the law was passed. And fourth, the third likelihood accounts for much of the angry reaction to the Arizona law.



The Great Devaluation

Is America catching the British disease? That America is a much more religious country may be its salvation. In Britain, more people go to the mosque on Friday than go to the Church of England on Sunday

There'll always be an England, people used to say. Now the emphasis is on used to say. Because one report after another from that once sceptered isle is less than encouraging. For years the talented Anthony Daniels, who also writes, prolifically, under the name Theodore Dalrymple, has been chronicling Britain's social disintegration. His reports from once jolly old England make it sound like something out of "Clockwork Orange."

Maybe it was his day job as a prison doctor that gave Dr. Daniels so sour a perspective. Let's hope his is a skewed vision. Because in this Age of Obama, Americans are being told to adopt policies that seem strikingly similar to the just rejected Labor Party's nostrums -- in everything from health care to taxation, political correctness to economic regulation, labor law to foreign policy.

If that's going to be the shape of our progressive, Social Democratic, oh-so-advanced future, let's get off this roundabout now and head straight back to the past.

Skimming a choice selection of headlines from the Daily Mail's website is not exactly a cheery way to start the day:

"A-level student, 17, stabbed to death at home in front of parents 'was victim of mistaken identity' "

"Soap actress left blind in one eye after being attacked with wine glass in bar row"

"50,000 British women warned their breast implants could explode"

"Council to ban the word 'obesity' -- so fat children don't get offended"

"Teenager who blinded man with her stiletto heel in drunken brawl is jailed for 18 months"

"Man suffocates to death after falling into clothes recycling bin"

"Nurse who told heart patient to mop up his own urine is free to continue working"

"Woman, 86, threatened by M&S security staff for eating biscuit in wrong part of the store"

And so depressingly on. Britannia, where have you gone?

Mark Steyn, who writes the back-of-the-book essay for National Review, picked out these headlines to illustrate Britain's social disintegration. His conclusion: "What strikes you about the peculiar combination of drunken depravity, random violence, petty officiousness and political correctness is the sheer bloody pointlessness of it all."

You may suspect, as, as I did, that the game is fixed, that these news items can't be representative of British society. Or there wouldn't be much of a society left. Surely the quotes were selected for their scare value. In order to paint the dreariest picture possible of what has happened to the mother country. (Remember when Americans were allowed to refer to Britain as the mother country -- before the phrase was deemed too Anglocentric to be acceptable in the public prints? Now even the bust of Winston Churchill has been exiled from the White House.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Steyn has some statistics to back up the impression left by the headlines he chose. He notes that that the UK now has "the highest drug use in Europe, highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, highest number of single mothers," and that "marriage is all but defunct, except for toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims." The whole country seems to have become downwardly mobile. Britain now has become an example to beware, not emulate.

If the news from Britain is a preview of the American future, it's time for an immediate U-turn. Before it's too late. For, despite the emphasis on political and economic issues in recent presidential campaigns ("It's the economy, stupid!"), it's the culture that counts.

A country can rebound from economic difficulties and even political demoralization -- see the New Deal, or the Reagan Years -- but how restore the social fabric, the very culture of a country, once it's been allowed to deteriorate? The collapse of educational standards may be only the most pervasive and influential symptom of what ails us.

How turn it all around? It can be done, but not easily. And the longer the challenge is ignored, the greater it grows. Until a tipping point is reached, and then it may be too late. Which is what's so worrisome about Great Britain, where more than the pound is being devalued. A whole, distinctive culture is being lost. And if England is lost, as every English speaker in the world must know in his heart, the world is.

It is such visions of the American future that may explain the rise of the latest political phenomenon on this side of the pond--the Tea Party, a variegated collection of Americans who have only this much in common: Like Howard Beale in Network, they're mad as hell and they're not going to take this anymore! They're opening the nearest window and shouting their rage. Yes, they're reactionaries -- but they have much to react against. What intelligent observer wouldn't?

No, the Tea Partiers may not know what to do about the problem, but at least they know we've got one. And they're not going to be all nice and quiet about it.



The old America may not be dead yet

In Search of Self-Governance is not the sort of book you would expect the head of a major polling firm to write. Scott Rasmussen, the president and founder of Rasmussen Reports, has written a slim volume that is admittedly "not filled with polling data," and that's putting it too mildly. The first percentage the reader comes across is half way through the book, where we learn that "only about 3% of Americans watch those Sunday morning shows."

Rasmussen has written a heart-felt pamphlet calling for a reordering of American politics, from bottom to top. The only special pleading he does on behalf of his day job is to assure us that that the "ideas and attitudes presented are shared by a solid majority of Americans." He takes up the popular complaint that our political system is "broken" and that political "dialogue" is really aimed at dividing and conquering the public. He says that "all" Americans (once you round up, I suppose) "believe we can do better."

According to Rasmussen, American politics is broken because politicians of both parties have lost sight of something important. After the last presidential election, he explains, Democrats argued over how far left they could govern the country. Republicans and some pundits tried to counter that they would fail because this is really a "center-right nation," and needs to be governed from that perspective. "Both perspectives are wrong," he avers. "The American people don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or the center. The American people want to govern themselves."

He invokes the Declaration of Independence and Alexis de Tocqueville, as all would-be civic reformers must. The French observer marveled at the ability of "Americans of all ages, conditions, and dispositions" in the 1830s to form seemingly spontaneous associations "of a thousand kinds" to deal with collective problems. Explains Rasmussen, "this American trait was radically different from the world [de Tocqueville] knew. In France or England, he observed, when something needed to be done, the government or a person of noble rank would be asked to do it."

But 1776 or the 1830s were a long time ago. Has that American instinct toward self government persisted? Rasmussen argues that it has. In this present century, Americans do not often dwell on "the virtues of self-governance. Instead, we live them. Our society and daily life is still based upon those concepts so eloquently articulated long ago." In his telling, Americans are not anarchists but they think that the government should form only a small part of our larger society. Americans would far prefer to govern ourselves, for the most part, through volunteerism and the normal back-and-forth of commerce.

Is he right about that? Is Rasmussen expressing his own preference or is he speaking up for "ideas and attitudes" that are "shared by a solid majority of Americans" in his call for a return to self-government from our current big government policies? One test case would be Social Security. Rasmussen writes that while the political class has so far "failed to come up with a solution" to the looming entitlement crisis, "the American people have been dealing with the reality before them for years rather than waiting for somebody else." They have set up 401(k) accounts, started second businesses as fall-back options, delayed retirement, and in hundreds of other ways factored in the real possibility that they won't be able to rely upon government largesse in the future.

These prudent actions now, Rasmussen hopes, "will make Social Security less essential in the future." Of course, this will come at a steep and unfair price. The current generation of younger workers "will be the sandwich generation and pay for two generations worth of retirement -- our own and our parents."

A huge problem that Rasmussen is up against in arguing for greater self-governance is that the political trends have been running the other way. President George W. Bush expanded Medicare and had his proposed free market Social Security reform was quashed by a Republican Congress. President Barack Obama rammed an expansion of government controlled healthcare through, over the tepid objections of moderates in his own party. Both men embraced bailouts and stimulus in what Rasmussen decries as "an unholy alliance" of big business and big government.

Rasmussen's only real hope, politically, is in the mother of all backlashes. He wants a temporary era of renewed civic participation in politics by people who usually hate politics. Though he doesn't call out the tea parties by name, it's reasonably clear that's what he has in mind. He cautions would-be reformers about the need to work with established pols to prune back the state. He even drags in the Star Wars trilogy to help make the pitch. Like Darth Vader, he argues, "Career politicians may have gone over to the dark side, but it's not too late for all of them."




The Greek bailout will be inflationary: "First, and most important, the European Central Bank is not buying bonds with real money, just the printed stuff that will filter throughout Europe and elsewhere and devalue the accounts of anyone who is holding Euros. Like the United States, Europe is broke, and will be even more so once this ‘bailout’ goes through. Second, for all of the talk of ‘rescuing’ Greece, Spain and Portugal, one asks: Rescued from what?”

Security cameras’ slippery slope: "Times Square has 82 police surveillance cameras, but when jihadist Faisal Shahazad tried to set off a car bomb there May 1, they were no help in catching him. (Though they did provide some lefty bloggers with a momentary thrill when a false lead led to speculation about ‘Tea Party terrorism.’) That failure hasn’t cooled public officials’ camera craze, however.”

Leave the gamblers alone!: "Some of us like to gamble. Americans bet a hundred million dollars every day, and that’s just at legal places like Las Vegas and Indian reservations. Much more is bet illegally. So authorities crack down. They raided a VFW branch that ran a poker game for charity. They ban lotteries, political futures markets and sports betting. They raid truck stops to confiscate video poker machines. Why?”

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

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


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


12 May, 2010

It's All Part of the Plan

After reading Victor Davis Hanson’s piece “A Postmodern Presidency” last week, I was furious for two reasons. One, it was one of those columns that I wish I had written. Two, it made me realize exactly who Obama is and how we conservatives have been battling him on all the wrong fronts.

The heart of Hanson’s piece is this: Barack Obama is the first truly “postmodern” President. Having been raised and educated on the deconstructed principles of “relativism and the primacy of language over reality,” Obama is a walking, talking and bowing (more on this later) ambassador of postmodernism.

A brief primer on this “after modernity” ism, quoting Hanson:
“Genres, rules, and protocols in art, music, or in much of anything vanish as the unnecessary obstructions they are deemed to be — constructed by those with privilege to perpetuate their own entrenched received authority and power. . . .

“. . . What we signify and brand as ‘real,’ in essence, is no more valid than another’s “truth,” even if we retreat to specious claims of “evidence”— especially if our aim is to perpetuate the nation state, or the primacy of the white male capitalist Westerner who long ago manufactured norms in his own interests.”

In Hanson’s mind (and I completely agree), everything Obama has done – from “stimulus,” to healthcare reform, to alienating our “allies,” etc. – is for the purpose of removing the centuries-old hegemony enjoyed, namely, by white, Christian men. Postmodernism exhibits progressive liberal “victimhood” ideology in the sense that everything, literally, is a struggle between class, race and gender. Societal norms and “absolute truth” are outdated modes lacking contextualization. Obama believes all of this. And this is what “hope and change” has always been about.

We can’t expect to win the battle for the soul of our nation (and the stability of the entire world) by battling Obama the way we have. When we question Obama’s numbers on healthcare reform, when that lady at the town hall asked if it’s wise to up the tax burden, when we howl at his narcissism, when we call him naive, we’ve already lost.

To us, all evidence points to the fact that Obama is naive, that he really doesn’t understand how the world works. But as Hanson wrote, “[Obama] is offering us another — a postmodern — way of looking at the world.”

Obama’s remarks about “Greek exceptionalism” last spring make a little more sense now, don’t they?

He’s like the Joker in the Dark Knight. No matter how insane or random Obama’s policies look to us, they are, as the Joker would say, “all part of the plan.”

Hamstringing our nuclear capabilities? Can’t get more hegemonic than hoarding nuclear warheads. Peace through strength is so modernity.

Bowing to foreign heads of state? America has had more than its fair share of time in the limelight.

Redistribution of wealth? Your capitalistic wealth is homophobic, sexist and probably Islamophobic.

So we cry “Socialist!” And like the Joker when accused of being insane, Obama simply quips, “No, I’m not.”

Being a “socialist” isn’t deep enough, isn’t narrative-changing enough. Attacking health care, foreign policy, cap-and-trade or anything else is fine, but it doesn’t get at the embedded philosophy and life system. We have to realize we’re not even battling against Obama. We’re up against an entire zeitgeist, a paradoxical and chaotic worldview that needs to be dug up by the roots.

As Batman and Joker struggled physically and philosophically over Gotham, the Joker turned to his nemesis and said, “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”

So it is with Obama. There are no rules – just language, that fluid gift of reality construction that eliminates all “traditional” obstacles and norms. It’s no surprise, then, that he loves to speechify, because in postmodernity, if you don’t have language, you don’t have anything.



The welfare state's death spiral now visible in Greece

By Robert J. Samuelson

What we're seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn't Greece's problem alone, and that's why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven't fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.

Americans dislike the term "welfare state" and substitute the bland word "entitlements." Vocabulary doesn't alter the reality. Countries cannot overspend and overborrow forever. By delaying hard decisions about spending and taxes, governments maneuver themselves into a cul-de-sac. To be sure, Greece's plight is usually described as a European crisis -- especially for the euro, the common money used by 16 countries -- and this is true. But only to a point.

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn't lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel "European." Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

None of this has happened. Economic growth in the countries using the currency averaged 2.1 percent annually from 1992 to 2001 and 1.7 percent from 2002 to 2008. Multiple currencies were never a big obstacle to growth; high taxes, pervasive regulations and generous subsidies were. As for political unity, the euro is now dividing Europeans. The Greeks are rioting. The countries making $145 billion in loans to Greece -- particularly Germany -- resent the costs of the rescue. A single currency could no more subsume national identities than drinking Coke could make people American. If other euro countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) suffer Greece's fate -- lose market confidence and can't borrow at plausible rates -- there would be a wider crisis.

But the central cause is not the euro, even if it has meant Greece can't depreciate its own currency to ease the economic pain. Budget deficits and debt are the real problems; they stem from all the welfare benefits (unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, health insurance) provided by modern governments.

Countries everywhere already have high budget deficits, aggravated by the recession. Greece is exceptional only by degree. In 2009, its budget deficit was 13.6 percent of its gross domestic product (a measure of its economy); its debt, the accumulation of past deficits, was 115 percent of GDP. Spain's deficit was 11.2 percent of GDP, its debt 53.2 percent; Portugal's figures were 9.4 percent and 76.8 percent. Comparable figures for the United States -- calculated slightly differently -- were 9.9 percent and 53 percent.

There are no hard rules as to what's excessive, but financial markets -- the banks and investors that buy government bonds -- are obviously worried. Aging populations make the outlook worse. In Greece, the 65-and-over population is projected to go from 18 percent of the total in 2005 to 25 percent in 2030. For Spain, the increase is from 17 percent to 25 percent.

The welfare state's death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day -- no one knows when -- doubt governments' ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

Greece illustrates the bind. To gain loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, it embraced budget austerity. Average pension benefits will be cut 11 percent; wages for government workers will be cut 14 percent; the basic rate for the value-added tax will rise from 21 percent to 23 percent. These measures will plunge Greece into a deep recession. In 2009, unemployment was about 9 percent; some economists expect it to peak near 19 percent.

If only a few countries faced these problems, the solution would be easy. Unlucky countries would trim budgets and resume growth by exporting to healthier nations. But developed countries represent about half the world economy; most have overcommitted welfare states. They might defuse the dangers by gradually trimming future benefits in a way that reassures financial markets. In practice, they haven't done that; indeed, President Obama's health program expands benefits. What happens if all these countries are thrust into Greece's situation? One answer -- another worldwide economic collapse -- explains why dawdling is so risky.



Kagan: A judge who despises the law?

Harvard Law School is a breeding ground for the sort of anti-rule-of-law, progressive-activist judges most feared and despised by those who bemoan a runaway court trampling over the democratic process.

Ms. Kagan seems to have been preparing for a modern-day nomination hearing since elementary school. She has spoken nothing of consequence or controversy during her career, was granted tenure over objections that she had not sufficiently published, and can take cover for objectionable stances as solicitor general by remarking that she merely advocated on behalf of the president. She has no paper trail, no legacy of judicial opinions and no record of note by which to form a precise opinion of her judicial temperament.

She is a "stealth" candidate - a nominee with so little evidence of character, one way or the other, as to prove unimpeachable.

Every crumb will thus be scrutinized for clues as to the "real" Elena Kagan. And the most scrumptious crumbs certainly will involve her "hostility" to the military while governing Harvard Law. Ms. Kagan was at the forefront of the crusade to banish military recruiters from universities as a protest of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. She frequently expressed her moral "abhorrence" of the "military's policy," refused to enforce a federal law requiring schools that receive federal grants to allow recruiters access to campus and eventually joined a legal brief to have the law overturned.

Never mind that "don't ask, don't tell" is a federal law (the military does not make laws) passed by the Clinton administration and a Democratic Congress (Ms. Kagan worked in the Clinton White House) and that Ms. Kagan continues to esteem highly many of the authors of that policy (reserving her "abhorrence" for young recruiters simply following orders). Rather, focus on her unlawful disobedience of a federal statute, her resort to the courts only as an afterthought and her ultimate decision to relent her tempest-in-a-teapot rebellion only when the Supreme Court (which she hopes to join) unanimously rejected her legal objection to the law in an 8-0 opinion.

Of course, at that time, she was a dean and not a judge. But she was the ultimate role model to her students, leading by example as the dean of a prestigious law school. Her blatant disregard for laws that she found personally displeasing and intellectual satisfaction with legal arguments dismissed by even the most sympathetic judges reflect poorly on the adequacy of her judicial temperament and capacity for unbiased rulings.



ACORN lobbying efforts continue in Washington, D.C., under Communities United name‏

For a supposedly dead organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now sure has been busy.

Despite ACORN’s reported demise, the radical group’s flagship Washington, D.C., office continues to go about its business below the radar as state chapters across the nation form breakaway groups.

On May 5 ACORN’s new D.C. spinoff group, Communities United, held a founding meeting in ACORN’s office on 8th Street Southeast in the nation’s capital. “Communities United is just ACORN’s way of thumbing their nose in the face of everyone,” sources close to ACORN say.

The D.C. office is important to ACORN because the embattled advocacy organization runs its congressional lobbying efforts out of it. The same office is also home to Project Vote, ACORN’s voter registration arm, which continues to operate. In the 1990s President Obama trained ACORN activists and worked for Project Vote....

Meanwhile, lobbyists for ACORN’s largest and best-funded affiliate, ACORN Housing, which recently changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America, disclosed in a lobbying reporting form that they have been lobbying a federal agency that is reportedly investigating ACORN Housing.

According to the form ACORN Housing paid the lobbying firm $40,000 in the first quarter of this year to lobby both houses of Congress, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

ACORN Housing is under investigation by HUD.

More here


The big picture: "In Britain, all eyes might be focused on election bargaining and in the US on issues such as Obamacare and the Value Added Tax, and of course we all have the financial sector and government borrowing problems to think about. But look more widely, and you see that the world is actually going in the right direction. Indeed, the Right direction. I’m not just referring to how India and China, by adopting market principles at long last, have managed to raise around 2 billion of the world’s population out of poverty in just the last fifteen years. I’m looking at the future too.”

Do-gooders object to genetic tests: "Coming soon to a drugstore near you, alongside the aspirin and greeting cards, will be the promise of answers to some of life’s most personal mysteries: Am I at risk for Alzheimer’s disease? Or breast cancer? Or obesity? Starting Friday, Walgreens will begin selling Insight personal genetic testing kits, becoming the first major retail chain in the U.S. to offer home tests that say they assess the risk of developing one of dozens of different health conditions. CVS plans to have it in stores by August. The product’s introduction raises immediate concerns among scientists, bio-ethicists and genetic counselors.”

Too many rules: "Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the government will force one of my neighbors to demolish the top floor of his building: A Manhattan townhouse owner is being forced to do something few, if any, New York homeowners have ever done before: tear down a top-floor addition to a building to comply with city landmark regulations … We called the Landmark Commission to see if that was true. Spokeswoman Elizabeth de Bourbon said it was not. The Commission didn’t ‘order’ the owner to remove the floor. They just threatened a $5,000 dollar fine, plus up to $250 per day ($91,000/year) as long as the building remained in violation. What did the building owner do wrong? She got approvals to build from the NYC Buildings Department — but forgot to ask permission from the City Landmark Commission.”

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

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


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


11 May, 2010

Obama: Stuck on Begrudge

Off the teleprompter for a few seconds while stumping for financial reform recently in Illinois, President Obama had this to say about money, incomes and success: "Now, what we're doing, I want to be clear, we're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

No begrudging of success? That's what the left does -- begrudge, envy and resent, robotically. That's what makes them leftists -- and bitter. Sufficiently empowered, they've been more than willing more than once to kill millions of their fellow citizens who refused to admit to the guilt of individualism and independence, refused to obediently transfer their assets to a regime of organized looters.

Why would Obama even have the words "begrudge success" right there in front of his mind, ready for a quick ad-lib, if the begrudging of achievement wasn't an integral part of his mindset, a key motivator in his desire to grab wallets and redistribute wealth and income.

Obama did add a qualifier. There's no begrudging of success if it's "fairly earned." And who decides what's fair? Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got a $25 million signing bonus while the median annual salary last year for physicians practicing family medicine in the U.S. was $160,000? So 156 family doctors worked all year and their combined paychecks were slightly lower than Ben's signing bonus. Is the White House okay with that?

Should the central committee of White House czars decide how much of Ben's $25 million was due to the lucky inheritance of a good throwing arm and how much was "fairly earned" due to hard work?

And what'll they do about Lady Gaga earning more than General Motors?

More troubling than the "fairly earned" dilemma is the bloated cockiness of the "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money" remark, especially coming from a president who is explicitly on record as being in favor of redistributing America's incomes in a downward direction.

It was in October 2008 that candidate Obama, in another unscripted moment away from a teleprompter, told Joe the Plumber why he wanted to raise taxes on upper income households: "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everyone," explained Obama. "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everyone."

So who decides when we've "made enough money"? Should we tell Julia Roberts not to make another movie, tell her she's "made enough"? And what about the stage hands and popcorn sellers who lose their jobs as a result?

Should the czars tell Tiger that he's way past that "certain point" when he's earned "enough," unless he wants to play for free or donate 100 percent of the winnings to the needs of the collective?

Should the government have told the owners of Pittsburgh-based 84 Lumber to stop at 83? At last count, the company had about 4,000 employees in 289 stores in 34 states. Some 200 stores ago, what if an overreaching government had decided that the owners of the lumber company already had "enough" cars, houses, jewelry and investments? What good would have come from putting a lid on the company's expansion, a lid on the owners' success, a lid on the hiring of thousands of new employees?

Rather than worrying about who has too much, President Obama should be thinking about what made the United States the most successful nation in human history, both in terms of economic prosperity and individual freedom. Hint: They're directly linked.

Instead of giving greater power to the central government, the power to decree, for instance, what we should drive, what we should eat, what we'll be permitted to hear and see, what income has been "fairly earned," and when at "a certain point" we've "made enough money," the founding philosophy of the United States called for a society based on an exactly opposite set of principles.

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread," warned Thomas Jefferson. It's a lesson that was tragically learned firsthand by millions of starving farmers in both China and the Soviet Union.



Crony Capitalism Is NOT Capitalism

It’s all the current fashion to dump on “capitalism.” It was the greedy free market, supposedly, that created both the housing bubble and the housing bust and led, inevitably, to the “great recession.” Capitalism, according to most liberal pundits (and even Alan Greenspan in a bad mood), is an inherently risky and unstable system that requires government regulation to correct its flaws and moderate its excesses.

Let me dissent sharply from that conventional wisdom and argue that what talking heads are calling “capitalism” is actually “crony capitalism” and that it is crony capitalism that is responsible for most of our current economic difficulties.

A genuine capitalist economy assumes that each adult individual and business is free to buy and sell anything that they own and then keep the rewards (or suffer the losses) of enterprise. The only legitimate role for government (the political system) is to protect property rights, that is, to enforce contracts and prohibit theft and fraud.

So under capitalism, there would be no price controls on milk or mandates to purchase health insurance; BUT polluters who spill crude oil or corporate bandits like Bernie Madoff who commit blatant frauds would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Crony capitalism, by contrast, assumes a far, far larger role for government in the economy. In this system, government employs various regulations, taxes, and subsidies to encourage or discourage specific economic activity that the political system considers desirable. For example, in crony capitalism, farm prices and outputs could be regulated; selected companies could get TARP money for commercial research projects; states could regulate liability and health insurance companies; and Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae could both exist to subsidize the real estate market.

And most importantly, in crony capitalism private firms that are considered “too big to fail” could be bailed out by government; and a central bank (the Federal Reserve) would exist to “print money” (unrelated to any gold reserve) and regulate the supply of credit in the economy.

It is hard to argue that the current economic malaise was in any way produced by anything resembling pure capitalism. But it is fairly easy to conclude that interventionism, i.e., private markets that were propped up with fraud and funny money was, in fact, the culprit.

First, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates too low for too long (2001–2006) and pumped excess money and credit into the economy. Second, numerous quasi-governmental agencies (Freddie and Fanny) encouraged excessive mortgage lending and home ownership out of all relationship to sound financial practices.

Third, much of the under-capitalized and over-leveraged banking industry collapsed when (federal) credit dried up and housing prices turned downward. And fourth, the federal government taxpayer and international lenders (mostly China) funded the trillion-dollar government “stimulus” plan and the bailout of inefficient business organizations (Chrysler, GM, AIG, etc.) that should have been allowed to go belly-up.

This is free market capitalism? Hardly.

Yet the political class, always absolving itself of all blame, would have you believe that capitalist greed caused the recession and that political regulators need more power. Not so. What we actually require are constraints on monetary growth, more competitive markets, balanced budgets and less output-restricting regulation. But first and foremost, before we spend and regulate further, we require an informed media and an enlightened public that can distinguish real capitalism from phony, crony capitalism.



BrookesNews Update

Is the US economy recovering or isn't it? : Obama's regulatory zeal will have the effect of making the US economy increasingly sclerotic, slowly squeezing out of it the entrepreneurial spirit that once made it the economic envy of the world. But one should think of Obama's regulatory straitjacket as the anvil and his spending and borrowing programs as the hammer with America as the work in progress according to Obama's dream of a New America, one that has been transformed by his socialist vision
Kevin Rudd and the mining industry's super profits myth: The tax on so-called super profits is first cousin to the rent resource tax and is equally fallacious. We have reached this sorry situation because the mining industry overlooked the fact that ideas — particularly bad ideas — really do matter. Judging by the comments from industry leaders they still haven't absorbed the lesson
The monetary system is beyond reform : The question of whether the global monetary system is beyond help is a vitally important one for economic progress and political stability
George Soros' currency dealings: No speculator, no matter how rich, ruthless or bold can break any sound currency. So how did Soros make a fortune from a sinking British pound. And what did German officials have to do with it?
Jimmy Stewart's Thunder Bay — Hollywood Prophecy : The greens and their media stooges are calling the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a disaster. And it is — for the families of the 11 oil men who lost their lives. These are the forgotten people. What the media and the greens refuse to tell the public is that drilling in the Gulf has been an environmental bonanza for marine life
Illegal immigrants are useful tools Of the left : Illegal immigrants are now just pawns serving the far left, something that. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and wire services like the Associated Press and Reuters know but refuse to report. So who are the leftist groups organizing these rallies and why do they want open border? Because a country with open border will eventually cease to be a country
America's growing vulnerability to an economic catastrophe : If Obama refuses to change course the USA will face a debt-to-GDP ratio of 104 percent and an annual budget deficit of 9.7 percent of GDP by 2019. This nation will become the next Greece. The United States, unlike Greece, will not have the European Union or the IMF to turn to. Where, then, will the monies come from if the worst occurs?



An anti-military justice?: "For me, the key obstacle to Elena Kagan’s confirmation is pt. 5 in Ed Whelan’s NRO post, which is also the question raised by Peter Berkowitz in these pages several years ago and by Peter Beinart just recently: Her hostility to the U.S. military. Hostility? Isn’t that harsh? Kagan has professed at times her admiration for those who serve in the military, even as she tried to bar military recruiters from Harvard Law School. But how does one square her professed admiration with her actions — embracing an attempt to overturn the Solomon Amendment that was rejected 8-0 by the Supreme Court — and her words?”

A vote for Kagan is a vote for homosexual marriage: "A vote for Elena Kagan is a vote for ‘marriage equality,’ which features in two key cases that will shortly be before the Supreme Court: Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which arises out of California’s Prop 8 but will apply to all 50 states, since it seeks to establish a federal constitutional right to gay marriage; and Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, which seeks ‘only’ to overturn the federal laws defining marriage as one man and one woman.”

Kagan’s inexperience is troubling: "Kagan is being characterized as a ‘brilliant’ legal scholar, but there is scant evidence for this claim. She certainly was a smart law student, graduating summa cum laude from Harvard Law School. But her legal scholarship since then is scant and undistinguished. It is also limited to two narrow topics — First Amendment law and administrative law, specifically presidential powers. Given the breadth of issues the Supreme Court considers — securities law, complicated constitutional law, environmental law, to name just a few — her narrow scholarly experience is troubling.”

Kagan a lightweight: "Observers say Kagan is meant to be an 'intellectual counterweight' to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia. Intellectual counterweight? She'd be better described as marginal and outside the mainstream. In the signature case she led as dean of Harvard's law school — preventing military recruiters on her campus — she not only lost, but she lost big. Not one justice took her side. Is Kagan truly the best candidate Obama could find, or the one most palatable to his far-left base?"

Kagan’s Pragmatism? No, Cheap Moral Posturing: "An article in today’s New York Times—“Potential Court Pick Faced Dilemma at Harvard”—tries to paint former Harvard law school dean Elena Kagan as a “pragmatist” for railing vehemently against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law while being careful not to jeopardize the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds to Harvard. I think that it’s far clearer that she was just engaging in cheap and contemptible moral posturing. If Kagan genuinely believed that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law was “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order,” why would she make herself complicit in implementing the grave evil? Yes, of course, it’s true, as the article points out, that “barring the recruiters would [have] come with a price.” But, as George Bernard Shaw would have said to Kagan for selling out her supposedly deeply held principles, “We’ve already established what you are, ma’am. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”



USA comes to the rescue of Europe again: "After months of quietly watching from the sidelines, the United States finally intervened in the European debt crisis on Sunday night. The Federal Reserve announced that it would open currency swap lines with the European Central Bank — in essence, printing dollars and exchanging them for euros to provide some liquidity for European money markets and banks. The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy-making arm, approved the swap lines in a vote taken by videoconference on Sunday morning. The European Central Bank’s president, Jean-Claude Trichet, asked for the Fed’s help in a telephone call on Saturday with the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke."

The choice haters’ error: "The plain fact of the matter is that most of us don’t go shopping expecting to peruse everything that’s on display from which we could make our selections. No. Even when one goes to a grocery store — one of these huge ones that used to amaze European, especially Eastern European visitors to North America — one usually knows the places where what one is after can be found. Yes, there are a lot of cereals available to choose from but people don’t explore all of them but a few — say, the several varieties of granola or oatmeal. Or one goes straight to the seafood or cheese sections. In other words, not everything is on display for everyone who enters. Thousands of people come to these markets and most of them know where their kind and range of merchandise is to be found. No psychological trauma will afflict them — as suggested by the choice-haters who write these books, aiming therewith to undermine the merits of the market place where all these things may be found — because of some kind of mental overload.”

A businessman defends free markets: "In this climate, most businessmen hide, or worse, embrace regulation that may give them an advantage over smaller competitors. It’s interesting that both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan support more regulation. That’s why its refreshing to hear from Cliff Asness, who runs the AQR hedge fund, a rare businessman publicly making the case for freedom. In an open letter to Congress titled ‘Keep the Casinos Open,’ he argues against banning ‘derivatives’ and other financial assets. He points out that market activity is good for society, and that there should be a high burden of proof before government acts …”

Health bill floods business in paper: "The health care bill that the Democrats rammed through Congress at the end of March seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Unfortunately, most of what it is giving is about as welcome as those little treats your cat drags in. Almost every day we discover some new little gem hidden in the 2,500-page, 400,000-word redesign of the American health care system. Regulations we hadn’t heard about, new costs, new taxes, new mandates; it’s a bad bill that just keeps getting worse.”

Regulations, regulations everywhere: "Federal regulations cover everything from the size of holes in Swiss cheese to the label text on over-the-counter flatulence medication. There are so many rules, it takes 157,000 pages to list them all. And they cost us $1.187 trillion, according to ‘Ten Thousand Commandments,’ a new study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That entire trillion-plus is off-budget, too. This year’s $3.8 trillion federal budget understates government’s true cost by nearly a third.”

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

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


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


10 May, 2010

Obama chooses Kagan for Supreme Court

She is predictably Leftist but her nomination would leave 3 Jews and 6 Catholics making the rules for a predominantly Protestant nation. How is that "fair"? Disproportionate representation like that is normally claimed by Leftists to signify "racism" and to be grounds for "affirmative action".

And how does an unmarried Jewish academic "give voice to average people" (as Obama claims it would)?

President Barack Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the president's thinking said, positioning the court to have three female justices for the first time.

The source spoke Sunday night on condition of anonymity because Obama's decision on who should replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens had not been made public. The president was expected to announce his choice at 10 a.m. local time Monday in the East Room of the White House.

Kagan must be confirmed by the Senate, which is dominated by Obama's Democrats. With 59 votes, they have more than enough to confirm her, but are one shy of being able to halt any Republican stalling effort.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are often highly partisan exercises, and although Republicans have shown no signs in advance they would try to prevent a vote on Kagan, they are certain to grill her in confirmation hearings over her experience, her thin record of legal writings and her objections to the military's policy about gays.

At 50 years old, Kagan would be the youngest justice on the court, an important factor before Obama because her appointment is unlikely to immediately affect the court's balance of power. There was a conservative shift in the court's composition when President George W. Bush chose appeals court judge Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate whose vote often made the difference in ideologically charged cases.

A source close to the selection process said a central element in Obama's choice was Kagan's reputation for bringing together people of competing views and earning their respect.

Kagan came to the fore as a candidate who had worked closely with all three branches of government, a legal mind with both a sense of modesty and sense of humor. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss factors that led to Kagan's impending nomination.

Yet Kagan would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. All of the three other finalists she beat out for the job are federal appeals court judges, and all nine of the current justices served on the federal bench before being elevated.

This year, Obama particularly wanted someone who could provide leadership and help sway fellow justices toward a majority opinion. The president has grown vocal in his concern that the conservative-tilting court is giving too little voice to average people.

Kagan is known for having won over liberal and conservative faculty at the difficult-to-unite Harvard Law School, where she served as dean for nearly six years.

Kagan, who is unmarried, was born in New York City. She holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton, a master's degree from Oxford and a law degree from Harvard...

As the Harvard Law School dean, Kagan openly railed against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay service members. She called it discriminatory and barred military recruiters over the matter until the move threatened to cost the university federal money.

Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, following current Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

She would be the third Jewish justice along with six Catholics. With Stevens' retirement, the court will have no Protestants, the most prevalent denomination in the U.S.



Report details depravity of SEALs' accuser

The just-concluded military trials of three exonerated Navy SEALs showed the terrorism suspect at the center of the case to be one of the most dangerous men in Iraq.

Ahmed Hashim Abed initially was described as the insurgent who planned the killings of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004, with two of their charred bodies infamously hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

But the three SEALs who captured Abed — and were court-martialed afterward — nabbed a far more notorious figure, according to trial testimony and an intelligence report.

Abed is thought to have committed a series of killings, including beheadings, in western Anbar province as a leading al Qaeda operative. He remains in an Iraqi prison awaiting trial in that country's criminal court system.

The report also said he was responsible for recruiting insurgents, trafficking weapons and staging ambushes and attacks with improvised explosive devices.

Abed's status as a most-wanted killer is one reason many Americans rallied around the three SEALs, who were accused of hitting him after capture. They celebrated after the last defendant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, was found not guilty Thursday of assaulting Abed by a seven-member military jury in Norfolk, Va.



Economic suicide by debt and taxes

"There he goes again, folks," Ronald Reagan might say, shaking his head ruefully, as Barack Obama goes charging off on that same spavined old big-spending government horse, riding straight into a box canyon where certain disaster awaits America.

The president's planned fiscal excesses beyond 2010 cannot plausibly be attributed to the recession, blamed on George W. Bush or justified by economic principles, Keynesian or otherwise. They are simply irresponsible to the point of willful endangerment. The public debt will be at least an astronomical 91 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 - and the gross debt will be at least 123 percent of GDP (compared with 125 percent in Greece) and greatly in excess of the fatal "tipping point" identified by recent academic research.

Right now, about 42 cents out of every dollar being spent by President Obama is borrowed - mostly from foreigners - and if he continues to stoke the crisis, America's Triple A bond rating will be downgraded within a few years, the Treasury's borrowing costs will skyrocket, and Washington will try to inflate its way out of debt by printing lots of cheap new dollars, thereby destroying people's savings and impairing lives and livelihoods for generations to come. None of this is necessary; it's Mr. Obama's choice.



Barack Obama Chamberlain

In the words of Dr. Phil, “How's that working out for you?” Someone in President Obama's inner circle of advisors needs to ask the president that question and soon. In the wake of a new immigration policy debacle, and yet another homeland security collapse, how's that policy of appeasement of Islam working out for you? In Barack Obama, we are witnessing the second coming, not of Christ, but of Neville Chamberlain himself, the embodiment of appeasement.

In the 1930's, Neville Chamberlain earned great praise from his own party and from large numbers of the British people for his earnest willingness to avoid war by believing Adolf Hitler. Each time Hitler proclaimed like a child before a plate of Oreo cookies that one more piece of land would sate his appetite, Chamberlain accepted Hitler at his word and patted himself on the back for avoiding armed conflict. As Hitler moved in to seize Austria, Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England, acquiesced. As Hitler set his sights on the Sudetenland, Chamberlain negotiated a worthless settlement that he presented as a basis for “peace in our time.”

Unfortunately, Chamberlain's appeasement policy left England weak and unprepared for war, thereby making Churchill's task of waging war against Hitler all the more difficult. Crafting foreign policy, combating tyranny, and staring down evil are not for the faint-hearted. Wishing away a problem rarely works; ask any addict. Relying solely on one's supernatural powers of persuasion usually leads to delusion, failure, or worse, collapse. In fact, this tall task of confronting evil requires a strategy of strength rather than a policy of appeasement. Regrettably, the latter seems to be the bailiwick of Mr. Obama.

We have now witnessed a supposed “re-booting of America's image” in the Muslim world as inaugurated by President Obama's much ballyhooed Cairo speech. He and the First Lady have treated us to Muslim celebrations and declarations in the White House for Ramadan. The president has hosted an “Entrepreneur Summit” for Muslim leaders. He has issued paeans on the inspiring splendors of Islam, “one of the world's great religions.” Mr. Obama has even gone to great lengths to praise an Islamic cartoonist for creating pretend superheroes skilled in the art of collaboration and peace, skills supposedly rooted in the Koran. Meanwhile, American cartoonists at South Park live in fear of actual violence and censorship as Comedy Central quivers at the mere threat of terrorist loons like RevolutionMuslim.com and Faisal Shahzad. Perhaps Mr. Obama could help inspire cartoonists in his own country not to fear telling the truth about Islam rather than encouraging a Kuwaiti cartoonist.

Thus far, it looks very much like Barack Obama is channeling his inner Neville Chamberlain. Appease and wish the problem away. So far, not so good. In the past six months, to name just a few examples, America has experienced:

• A full-frontal terrorist assault on one of our own military bases by Major Nidal Hasan. This attack occurred in spite of the numerous red flags over the past decade as Mr. Hasan made his way through American government-provided education and military training.

• A near disastrous airline terror attack by Umar the Underwear Bomber on Christmas as his plane prepared to land in Detroit. The savior from that attack was a Dutchman who dove across the aisle of the plane to smother Umar and his flaming underwear. Never mind that Umar had purchased a one-way ticket with cash, carried no luggage, and had spent time in terrorist training. Secretary Napolitano's team somehow had allowed him on a plane and never given it a second thought.

• The planting of a car bomb in Times Square by a man who had been on our watch list for ten years, had received citizenship from our immigration bureaucracy, had recently spent five months in Pakistan, and had trained with terrorist groups. Somehow, Napolitano's excellent leadership allowed the team at JFK airport to screen thousands of passengers on a day while failing to detain Faisal Shahzad, a wanted terrorist who walked right through security and onto a plane to head home to the Middle East.

So what Mr. Obama and his team bring to national security and the struggle against Islamic terror is a combination that spells danger. First, an executive leader who naively thinks the problem of terror can be wished away by summits and speeches. Second, a government bureaucracy that is always modifying its policies AFTER each security failure. A deadly cocktail.

What an odd nation we are as we pursue our mindless quest for PCness when what we need is an education and a dose of critical thinking. We can thank God that the Islamists thus far have sent Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle to attack us. Ineptitude has been our primary savior: bombers who do not know what they are doing – only matched by our own ineptitude at naming the problem (radical Islam's inability to adapt to Western mores) and dealing with it (with real immigration policies and strong security strategies).




As long term readers of this blog will know, I did for a while run a recipe blog to share all my favourite recipes with anybody who cared to try them. I very rarely update it now but a family member has now started a fairly regular recipe blog which you can find here. She even has up a recipe for egg-rolled pork, an obscure Korean dish that has been one of my great favourites for many years. No matter how much of it you make, there is never any left over. People just keep eating it until it is all gone. Try it if you don't believe me.

Unemployment still hovering around 10%: "U.S. employers added an unexpectedly large 290,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday, the strongest hiring burst in four years and a signal that companies are becoming more confident that the economy will continue to strengthen. The government also reported an uptick in the unemployment rate, to 9.9 percent from 9.7 percent. That surprised many analysts, but they for the most part didn’t view the increase as a sign of worsening conditions. Rather, they said it was because many more out-of-work people, seeing better employment prospects, are rejoining the labor market in search of jobs.”

My pitch for some solid selfishness: "Hardly anyone will dispute that most folks who chime in about ethics consider selfishness wrong. There have been exceptions in history and some of the most prominent ethical philosophers, such as Socrates and Aristotle, can even be said to have been ethical egoists or at least ones who championed the moral virtue of prudence as a vital one for living a good human life. But after some significant changes in how human nature began to be understood, being selfish or self-interested — or even prudent — started to be scoffed at, treated as a moral liability, not worthy of praise but of blame. Of course, even after this, using one’s common sense showed that being selfish is what most of us are, normally, routinely, and quite benignly.”

Obama to emulate Britain's despised NICE: “With health costs spiraling, one of the core ideas of the White House’s health takeover is the creation of an independent body of experts to steer clinical decisions. IPAB, the Independent Payments Advisory Board, is founded on the belief that Washington bureaucrats can help manage health care decisions, adjusting Medicare payments to reward excellence and punish waste. The idea doesn’t sound unreasonable. As the president has noted, there often is a red pill and a blue pill, with the red one costing twice as much, yet no more effective. If the logic is seductive, it’s easy to understand why Britain’s prime minister embraced the idea in 1999. Faced with rapid inflation in the socialized National Health Service, Tony Blair created NICE, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.”

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

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


9 May, 2010

A huge "whites only" event

Below is a photo of a crowd of White people. Clearly the exclusion of blacks indicates these folks are hate-filled White racists. Can you identify this White racist event?

a. Tea Party rally

b. NASCAR race

c. Republican National Convention

d. Barbra Streisand concert

e. SPLC contributors convention

f. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards

The answer is "f". This White racist event is the 2008 Academy Awards.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Leftism.

(Via Daily Kenn)


The Progressives’ Favorite Pastime: Pin the Blame on the White Guy

by Doug Giles

The progressive America-haters were so let down this past week when authorities revealed that the bomber in the failed NYC bomb plot was yet another unibrowed Muslim male between the ages of 18-35. That revelation absolutely ruined their Tuesday and constituted massive movie and cable news re-writes nationwide.

Matter of fact, after the disclosure that Felicia Shazaam was the culprit (or whatever the heck his name is), TMZ.com reported that the ever-fattening Bob Beckel was heard cussin’ all the way over in Phoenix, but no one understood what he was whining about because nobody speaks English in Phoenix anymore. (Cinco de Mayo, Julio? How’s about Cinco de Do-Si-Do back to Meh-hee-co if you are ill-legal-lo? Comprende?)

Yep, the America-loathing lefties were so disappointed that the person who tried to kill thousands of folks in Times Square last week wasn’t their hard-worked, new fangled—although fictitious—boogey man (i.e. the forty-year-old white dude) but was rather another adherent to the “religion of peace”—or is that pieces? The NYPD knew all along that it wasn’t a white dude because when they got into the SUV they immediately noticed that the bass settings were set higher than the treble.

Ah, wah wah, lame stream wusses. Did reality once again spoil your eternal blame game of Pin the Tail on Steve Carell? That’s gotta hurt because you didn’t get to BBQ a dirty white boy … again. What a shame.

What’s weird with the progressive honkyphobes is that instead of being glad that a stack of New Yorkers and tourists didn’t have twisted metal and mortar blown through their vital organs at 1,800 feet per second, they’re ticked that a typical Tea Partier didn’t light the fuse and thereby fulfill their prophecies.

You’d think that the progressives would be happy that our citizens narrowly escaped death and that our minds were once again yanked out of the BS ditch of PC drivel and riveted to the reality that those who regularly attack us don’t hail from Kentucky but Karachi, but then again you would be attributing to the left something that they’re incapable of—namely an admission that they are wrong and that they have once again missed it. No, they’re in a hissy because life ain’t lining up with their liner notes. Darn reality.

Indeed, rather than being honest and saying, “okay, we’ve got to cut this ‘Mr. Rogers is automatically suspect in terror attacks,’ or somebody is going to get killed,” they instead get back on their white hobby horse and try to excuse the psycho Muslim by blaming his attempted mass murderous actions on the threat of being foreclosed on by Milburn Drysdale.

Oh well, this column is just pointing out what everyone who can still think freely already knows to be true: Progressives hate America and will always side against those who love this nation and that for which it stands. Personally, I’d like to thank them for their antipathy toward the USA because it’s sure making me a great living as they present an unending supply of stupid crap to talk about on my show and plenty of fodder for my weekly column.

In the meantime I’m going to go celebrate my 40-year-old whiteness. Yes, I am unashamed of the fact that I like Waylon & Willie’s music, think Jesus trumps Mohammed, have a job, say “okie dokey,” salute our flag, think Rosie is repulsive, and like hunting and fishing. And should I ever fall on hard times, I swear here and now that I won’t plot the bombing of a major city because I can’t pay my rent. But that’s just me … I’m a 40-year-old white guy.



Today is Mothers Day in both the USA and Australia

Below is a celebration of her mother by Janice Shaw Crouse. My mother is deceased but Jenny, the mother of my son Joe, is certainly not. All four of her children wanted to visit her today and with partners etc., there were about 10 of us in all. So Jenny put on a BBQ lunch for us all at her place and we had a good and harmonious time with lots of laughs and recollections of times past -- JR

Mother’s Day is often associated with the Biblical verse that is called the “first commandment with a promise.” The Fifth Commandment requires Christians to honor their father and mother “so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” [Exodus 20:12]. Florists tell us that more flowers are sent on Mother’s Day than at any time during the year. Most people love their mother, even those whose mother is undeserving of that love. And, most mothers love their children, though there are plenty of instances where mothers are hurtful and even abusive.

I am very fortunate to have a mother who devoted her life to all seven of her children. I am also fortunate that my mother and father loved each other dearly and modeled marriage and sacrifice for their faith and family. I admire my mother more than anyone I have ever met; she is a phenomenal person of accomplishment, faith, generosity and humility. She has created a heritage for her children that is worth far more than a fortune. She has given us a solid foundation of love and security, and at the same time provided us wings for sailing into the future with confidence and assurance of her belief in our ability and potential.

Mother is an amazing woman. She models authentic Christianity. Her favorite Bible verse is inscribed in many of her books and papers: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Her strength through the incredible pain of trigeminal neuralgia, cancer surgery, and heart stents could only come from deep faith and strong character. My sister, Joan, remembers: "When I was in 4th grade, Daddy responded to God’s call for him to become a minister of the gospel. They packed up our family — Mother, Daddy, and four children at the time — and moved to Kentucky, where Daddy started college. This was quite a step of faith. Both my parents came from small Southern towns and close-knit families; it took courage to sell their house, pack up their small family, and leave everything familiar to go to college.”

Indeed, we children saw the dedication and commitment that enabled Mother and Daddy to sacrifice for an education and to do the job that they felt God had called them to do. When we went to bed, Daddy would still be studying, and Mother would still be working to meet the needs of the family during those very demanding times. I graduated from high school the same year that Daddy graduated from seminary. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a feature article about our family because people recognized the major achievement that Daddy accomplished in working full-time, going to school full-time, and raising a family. He could not have done it without Mother’s help and sacrifice. People knew that their faith was real and that was contagious and influential on others....

More here


Freedom of Speech for Me, But Not for Thee

In response to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission--which reaffirmed the Constitution's freedom of speech clause for political contributions of corporations and unions--Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill pledged to work their way around the ruling.

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., have introduced legislation attempting to reimpose the restrictions the court overturned. This time, however, they have made an interesting exception...

According to the Center for Individual Freedom, the Schumer-Van Hollen bill would prohibit campaign contributions from all contractors with the government and recipients of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. The bill would also impose the same restrictions on businesses with as few as 20% of shares owned by foreign nations, or whose boards of directors have a majority of foreign nationals. But one group of big-spenders has been curiously left out of the Democrats' proposed monetary restrictions: labor unions.

The Hill, quoting Loyola Law School election law professor Richard L. Hasen, says Obama's Big Labor buddies may get a free pass in the bill:
...[S]ome of the biggest campaign spending restrictions in the summary would only affect corporations. For example, large federal contractors, recipients of government bailout funds who have not repaid the money and foreign-owned companies would be banned from election spending. ‘There are no foreign-owned unions, and unions are not government contractors,’ Hasen said. ‘The biggest limitations in this bill apply only to corporations because there are no parallels in the labor world.’

The CFIF also recalls how the supposedly "post-partisan" Obama also "omitted powerful labor unions from his vitriol toward the Citizens United decision:
“The Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for Big Oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington, while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.”

“Powerful interests” other than Big Labor, I guess...



Jobs: What South Carolina Knows that the Obama Administration Doesn't

Lessons in leadership are sometimes best learned when you listen to the people you lead. In advance of our recent Real Jobs Summit in Greenville, South Carolina, American Solutions conducted a poll of registered voters in South Carolina and found a very telling piece of information. When asked who was better equipped to grow the economy, 72 percent chose private businesses and companies and only 21 percent picked government.

What the people of South Carolina clearly understand is that reducing not expanding the size of government and lowering taxes are essential for private business and companies to accelerate economic expansion and help create jobs. Why, after more than a year in office, has the Obama Administration not learned this lesson?

Monthly data just released from the U.S. Department of Labor shows hiring temporary Census workers boosted what are already dismal job creation numbers. Approximately one-third of the 290,000 new jobs created in April were either permanent government jobs or temporary Census jobs. This means that taxpayers are footing the bill for nearly 1 in every 3 jobs created in April.

Beyond the boost in government workers, the economy saw a small increase in private sector job growth in April with just over 200,000 positions added to payrolls. Yet, the unemployment rate remains drastically high at 9.9 percent because more Americans are restarting job searches.

Job creation success should be measured by how quickly jobs are created and if they are sustainable. To date, Washington has failed every unemployed American. Bloated government and stimulus spending is a boon for politicians, government employee unions, and foreign debt holders, but in 14 months out of control federal spending has done nothing to lay the basis for enduring prosperity for the American people. More than half of the 15.3 million unemployed Americans have lost their jobs in the last two years. Moreover, the numbers who’ve given up looking has also increased from this time last year.

The U.S. economy must create 292,000 jobs each month to return to the pre-recession unemployment rate of five percent. This is no small task, nor is it possible by pursuing the current Obama administration economic policies of more borrowing, more taxes, more regulation, and more spending. Turmoil in Greece and the Obama Administration floating the idea of even higher taxes in the form of value added taxation to pay for record levels of spending darkens an already grim forecast.

In an effort to change this dismal course, U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan, who represents a swath of rural Ohio stretching from the I-75 corridor on the west to Mansfield in the east, has introduced in Congress an economic prosperity legislative package based on American Solutions “Jobs First” plan. We are urging people to contact their Representatives in the U.S. House and ask them to sign on to H.R. 5029, the Economic Freedom Act of 2010.

Let’s look at what the bill will do:

· Reduces payroll taxes by fifty percent in 2010 for both the employer and employee, allowing for greater take home pay for individuals and more money for companies to hire new employees and make new capital investments.

· Allows small firms to expense 100 percent of the cost of new purchases. Spurring equipment purchases will have a positive effect in other industries, especially manufacturing.

· Reduces the corporate income tax rate to 12.5 percent and completely eliminates the capital gains tax. These two bold tax reforms will be an enormous boost to productivity and stop jobs from going overseas by making the United States -- not India or China -- the best place in the world to start and run a business.

· Permanently eliminates the Death Tax and its perverse double taxation of family business generated wealth, which will be a tremendous incentive to continue the growth of small firms from one generation to the next.

Elected officials and those seeking office should pay close attention to the people they lead. In the case of his South Carolina constituents, President Obama should heed the message that lower taxes and allowing small firms to grow is the best way to create jobs and the grow the economy.




See here for a video of some KLM Advertising that puzzled everybody at Manchester Airport. Can you figure out how the guy is sitting down? I think I know.

Urgent need to cut defense bureaucracy: "Warring against waste, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday he is ordering a top-to-bottom paring of the military bureaucracy in search of at least $10 billion in annual savings needed to prevent an erosion of U.S. combat power. He took aim at what he called a bloated bureaucracy, wasteful business practices and too many generals and admirals, and outlined an ambitious plan for reform that's almost certain to stir opposition in the corridors of Congress and Pentagon."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. -- and this time he also adds his unique interpretation of the recent British elections.

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

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


8 May, 2010

Liberals Are from Mars, Conservatives Are from Earth

By a recovering liberal who is a psychotherapist in Berkeley

One of the things I like so much about writing for American Thinker is the comments page. Readers offer so much: tips for books to read, quotes to ponder, spiritual inspiration. And then there are times when the comments absolutely floor me.

I was shocked that readers were shocked about my previously viewing Marxism as sublime. I was astonished that readers were astonished about my young client's freak-out about Styrofoam.

I realized that liberals really do live on another planet. Sometimes I feel like I'm having a Close Encounter of the Political Kind.

Conservatives can mistakenly assume that liberals think like they do, in a learned and rational way. This is an exercise in futility since liberalism is not based on logic.

To become a conservative, I've had to learn a whole new language, one based on reason. If conservatives want to understand the liberal mind, they should consider becoming bilingual, too.

Liberals live in a stratosphere centered on emotions and magical thinking. If you've tried to reason with your daughter and she looks at you blankly; if your neighbor changes the subject during your compelling arguments; if your cousin says this about Obama: "I don't know why. I just like the guy"...that's why.

After I 'fessed up last week to once being besotted with socialism, a reader had an epiphany. He wrote that maybe liberals are just plain stupid. I'm not going to disagree with this. There are innumerable examples from both the famous and the anonymous:

-- The most illustrious of all leftists, Noam Chomsky, still maintains that the Khmer Rouge did not slaughter millions of Cambodians.

-- Liberal luminaries Annette Bening and Naomi Wolf defend radical Islam, including the dreaded burqa.

-- After journeying to Cuba, members of the Congressional Black Caucus bragged about the stellar conditions there.

-- Michael Moore thinks that the Cuban health system is to die for.

-- Anita Dunn, a former special assistant to Obama, stated that Mao is one of the people she admired the most.

If these are the more informed liberals, what about Jane and Joe in the street?

-- During the primary, I asked my friend Gail why she was voting for Obama. Did she know anything about his voting record or background? She responded, "No, I don't." When I asked her why she was voting for him, she said, "I just am."

-- Last week, I chatted with Shelley, a liberal pal who voted for Obama. I asked her what she thought of him now. She said that she thought he was doing fine, but she confessed that she wasn't following the news.

-- During the election, I told a friend, George, that I thought Obama was a socialist. George responded, "Well capitalism doesn't work. Why not try socialism?" Dr. George has a Ph.D.

Are these folks "stupid"? I looked up the word, and my dictionary reads, "lacking intelligence or common sense." Going by that definition, it would be hard to argue no.

Liberals are certainly capable of intelligence. They may be adept at their careers and hobbies. But the problem is that their naïveté and a delusional way of looking at the world impedes common sense and street smarts.

Further, when liberals take the time to tune in, they get their "information" from progressive propaganda. And they don't question the Left's authority. That's the biggest problem -- not questioning the party line even though there are obvious gaps and gaffes. A big reason for this is fear. I had a telling e-mail exchange with a liberal friend. When I wrote that I thought Obama was a Marxist, she responded, "Don't say that! You're scaring me!"

Aside from intellectual laziness, the Fear Factor makes otherwise intelligent liberals stupidly fall into line. Liberals can scare easily.

Unarmed with either weapons or the basic facts, they have no way to defend themselves. Imagine a liberal and a conservative being dropped off in separate wilderness areas. How many days before the liberal would be no more? Meanwhile, weeks later, the conservative would still be going strong.

Many liberals know how inadequate they are, whether at hunting their own meat or throwing a baseball. It's generally the conservative they'll call on to build a fence or rewire their house or protect their families. Without conservatives, they are rendered absolutely helpless.

This may be a hidden reason for liberals' contempt for conservatives: They know that you can do stuff they can't, that you can survive when they'd croak, and that you don't need the government -- and they do.

Many conservative women -- like the intrepid Sarah Palin -- are more capable, more powerful, and yes, more a "man" than some of the liberal XY specimens. And the utter shame of this makes them despise you -- and want to render you helpless, too.

That's the universe I grew up in, that I lived in my whole life, until the mysterious winds of Fate swept me up and turned my life upside-down. For most of my life, I was a secular ignoramus, living in and for the self. I navigated the world with the Braille of feelings, and I blindly followed the leaders.

I've now spent two years exploring a different planet entirely, the more formidable and logical and spiritual one where conservatives work and play. I've parked myself firmly in your world, while I write about the other one.

Frankly, I like your hemisphere better, and have settled in for good. I feel more safely ensconced with the earth beneath me and the heavens above me than I ever did in Outer Space.



Big Government Schemes Get Free Pass in Report on Greek Problems

Greece has passed its audition for a bailout from other European Union states after running up its debt. The New York Times would have readers believe that tax cheats are the central problem here. But extravagant government benefits and entrenched union interests drive spending programs beyond the point where they are sustainable, nevermind how much tax revenue is collected. This point goes missing in the coverage…

Greece is a socialist state bedeviled by unsustainable pensions, mounting debt and a lethargic population. In many respects, it serves as a metaphor for where the U.S. may be heading in light of how powerful public employee unions have become. This front page piece in The New York is instructive because it fixes the blame on insufficient tax revenue as opposed to government spending; there’s an agenda here.

The Tea Party movement suggests that America may yet find her way again, which is why big government failures must be explained away in the liberal news media where there are most prevalent. Throughout the European Union, wages and taxes are high, regulations burdensome and the unions firmly entrenched. Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has warned against “The Europeanization of the American economy” in the form interventionist government policies that converge with disconcerting economic trends.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, has released some unsettling numbers that point to severe public policy challenges: 52 percent of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments, a sharp increase from the 49 percent in 2008.A majority of American union members are now employed by the government; three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry. This means union workers have a vested interest in higher taxes and government expansion.

Although EU member states are required to keep their deficit constrained at 3 percent of GDP, Greece has already hit over 12 percent and will need to issue almost $80 million in government bonds to finance the debt, according to government figures. U.S. taxpayers who rightly balk at the bailout measures that have been floated since the end of 2008 ought to examine the rescue package that have been floated in the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to sell the public (with a little help from a compliant NYT) on a $30 billion bailout for Greece.

Meanwhile, The Times is trying to sell the American people on the perfidy of taxpayers. This most recent article goes into great detail about Greek citizens who decline to acknowledge that own pools on their tax forms. It is a clever, cheeky piece that deliberately sidesteps the public policy failures responsible for the country’s collapsing economy. Only 324 residents admitted to having pools in the northern suburb area in question when satellite photos show there was almost 17,000 pools.

“Such evasion has played a significant role in Greece’s debt crisis, and as the country struggles to get its financial house in order, it is going after tax cheats as never before,” The Times argues.

Various studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, have estimated that the government may be losing as much as $30 billion a year to tax evasion — a figure that would have gone a long way to solving its debt problems.”

But there is a big missing piece of the equation here. Even if the efforts are successful, the additional tax dollars will only be used to subsidize the very spending habits that have pushed Greece to brink.

The article concludes with a dig against the most industrious elements of society without any mention of the bloated welfare state that could cost neighboring countries in the EU a pretty penny.

“Some of the most aggressive tax evaders, experts say, are the self-employed, a huge pool of people in this country of small businesses,” according to The Times. “It includes not just taxi drivers, restaurant owners and electricians, but engineers, architects, lawyers and doctors.”



"Net Neutrality" Is Back

Exactly one month ago, I wrote in this spot about Net Neutrality being dealt a severe blow in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Court ruled unanimously against the FCC enforcing Net Neutrality regulations against Internet Service Providers.

In that same article from last month, I warned: "Don’t expect progressives to give up on Net Neutrality now because of a court ruling. At this time, more than ever before, we should be keeping a watchful eye on what they do next to sneak these Internet regulations through. Progressives never take no for answer."

And today, I write with an update exposing that the Progressives in the Obama Administration are doing exactly what I warned of. The FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, has decided to move forward with Net Neutrality regulations that would allow the FCC to regulate the internet.

How Did Genachowski Get Around the Court Ruling? Julius Genachowski has maneuvered around the Appeals Court ruling by using old phone regulations that were designed for traditional landlines–not internet broadband lines. Taking this route won’t give the FCC the full amount of power that it hoped to wield, but it is a start down a very slippery slope that will lead to more and more government regulation.

While the specifics of this are still being debated, it is troubling to see such regulations develop. It isn’t enough for our government central planners to regulate our health care, financial investments, and so on; these folks have proven that they will stop at nothing short of regulating every action you take–or think of taking.



Republicans Sound Alarm on Administration Plan to Seize 401(k)s

In February, the White House released its “Annual Report on the Middle Class” containing new regulations favored by Big Labor including a bailout of critically underfunded union pension plans through “retirement security” options.

The radical solution most favored by Big Labor is the seizure of private 401(k) plans for government disbursement -- which lets them off the hook for their collapsing retirement scheme. And, of course, the Obama administration is eager to accommodate their buddies.

Vice President Joe Biden floated the idea, called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs), in the February “Middle Class” report.

In conjunction with the report’s release, the Obama administration jointly issued through the Departments of Labor and Treasury a “Request for Information” regarding the “annuitization” of 401(k) plans through “Lifetime Income Options” in the form of a notice to the public of proposed issuance of rules and regulations. (pdf)

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and a group of House Republicans are mounting an effort to fight back.

The American people have become painfully aware over the past year that elections sometimes have calamitous consequences. Republicans lack the votes (for now) to reign in the Obama administration’s myriad nationalization plans for everything from health care to the automobile industry.

Now the backdoor bulls-eye is on your 401(k) plan and the trillions of dollars the government would control through seizure, regulation and federal disbursement of mandatory retirement accounts.

Boehner and the group are sounding the alarm, warning bureaucrats to keep their hands off of America’s private retirement plans.

Just when you thought it was safe to come up for air after the government takeover of health care.



Europe is irrelevant to China

By John Lee

The visits of Nicolas Sarkozy and the President of the European Union to China last week is the latest attempt to revive Europe’s relevance as a global power. But Europe is misreading how China views the strategic chessboard. Instead of seeking a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ with Beijing, European’s would be better off working with Washington to help manage the consequences of China’s rise.

Chinese strategists are obsessed with how best to deal with the United States. Despite speculation about a preference for a multi-polar future, Beijing ultimately seeks a bi-polar world, with China and America supreme above the ‘declining powers’ of France, the UK, Germany, Japan and Russia. European hopes that the G2 (America and China) can still be transformed into a G3 (America, China and Europe) will not receive Chinese support.

While genuine opportunities for European-Sino strategic cooperation are non-existent, there are real opportunities for a coordinated EU-US strategic partnership – a point, paradoxically, which is better appreciated in Beijing than in Brussels or Washington.

On a number of specific issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, global governance, and climate change, European and American interests are aligned. Both are concerned about Beijing’s willingness to support regimes in countries such as Myanmar, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Iran in return for access to energy and mineral resources. Both believe China’s rise as a ‘responsible stakeholder’ can lead to progress in domestic political reform and greater respect for human rights. Revealingly, Beijing has gone to great lengths to avoid discussing China’s poor human rights record in any multilateral forum that involves both the US and the EU.

Most importantly, Chinese diplomats fear international isolation above all else. Over 450 European delegations visited China in 2009. That Washington, London, Berlin, and Paris have focused on wooing China bilaterally, rather than developing a unified and coordinated diplomatic front, has been a source of much relief in Beijing.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated May 7. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

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

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


7 May, 2010

Obama's psychosis -- a lack of grip on reality

President clings to delusion that there is no war on terror

President Obama is at war with reality. This is the central problem of his presidency.

The arrest of suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is being celebrated in the liberal establishment media as a triumph for the Obama administration. A terrorist atrocity was averted; Mr. Shahzad was captured before his plane could take off for Dubai.

Yet the media's narrative overlooks one seminal fact: We got lucky. The only reason Mr. Shahzad's car bomb did not blow up in the heart of midtown Manhattan during a bustling Saturday evening was incompetence. His detonator failed to work properly. Otherwise, everything was in place - the Pathfinder parked in a strategic location, gas cans, propane tanks and fertilizer - for a deadly jihadist attack aimed at inflicting maximum casualties.

This is unacceptable. The attempted bombing reveals once again Mr. Obama's inability to protect America from Islamist terrorism. Under his watch, terrorist attacks and attempted attacks on U.S. soil have increased.

Muslim extremists have targeted synagogues in New York and federal buildings in Dallas. In September, a plot to bomb New York City's subway was disrupted. In November, the Fort Hood massacre resulted in the murder of 13 service members. On Christmas Eve, the so-called underwear bomber came within a whisker of blowing up a United Airlines flight approaching Detroit. Every single one of these acts - aborted or not - is a damning repudiation of Mr. Obama's policy of appeasement. Rather than ushering in a new era of peace and coexistence, multicultural detente is emboldening the forces of global jihad. The Shahzads of the world rightly sense American weakness.

The heart of the Obama doctrine is the illusion that there is no war on terror. According to Mr. Obama and the liberal elite, Islamic fascism is a figment of George W. Bush's fevered imagination - a wild scheme concocted by militaristic neoconservatives to justify invading Iraq and imposing an American empire in the Middle East.

Hence, Mr. Obama has sought to repeal much of Mr. Bush's legacy. U.S. troops are to begin pulling out of Afghanistan next summer. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is being abandoned. Israel is undermined. Democracy and human rights are no longer promoted in the Arab world. Washington seeks a rapprochement with Iran and Syria. Guantanamo is to be closed. Terrorists are to be tried in civilian court. Mr. Obama apologizes for U.S. "injustices" in the Middle East. Terms such as "Muslim," "Islam" or "Islamic extremism" are censored from national security documents.

In short, the president is conveying that America no longer views radical Islam as the enemy. Mr. Obama desperately wants everyone to get along. The Islamists, however, don't. They remain impervious to his calls for hope and change.

In fact, they are expressing increasing contempt for him - and America. Like all postmodern leftists, Mr. Obama refuses to accept the fundamental truth of human nature: the enduring existence of evil. Not everybody wants to get along; some peoples, cultures and ideologies are irredeemably wicked, bent on imperial expansion and genocide. Their lust for power and domination cannot be quenched. History is full of them - the Huns, the Aztecs, the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Soviet Russia, communist China. Eventually, the only solution is to crush them. Appeasement only invites aggression.

The Times Square bomber demonstrates the parochial narcissism of contemporary liberalism. Mr. Shahzad should have been a classic convert to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's utopian dream of a world based on consumerism and globalization. He was a Pakistani immigrant who became a U.S. citizen. The country he betrayed and loathed gave him immigration visas, a university education, a job at a prestigious marketing firm, a home in suburban Connecticut - the American dream.

Instead of being grateful, he became part of the global jihad in his native Pakistan. He preferred the Taliban training camps in Peshawar to McDonald's and Blockbuster. The sword and the crescent were too alluring for him.

Since the seventh century, radical Islam has been at war with the West. It purged the Arabian Peninsula of most Christians and Jews. During the Middle Ages, it conquered large swaths of Europe - from Spain and parts of France to Sicily and the Balkans. Today's Islamists seek to restore a medieval global caliphate. Their aims are not rational or limited, but totalitarian and universal.

There is something strangely perverse about a worldview that believes a greater threat comes from old ladies at Tea Party rallies holding anti-Obama signs than jihadist mass murderers. Mr. Obama refuses to denounce Mr. Shahzad - or anyone - as an Islamic terrorist. The most he could muster was that the Pakistani-American's capture was "another sobering reminder of the times in which we live." His statements were not exactly Churchillian.

But when it comes to excoriating the Tea Party movement, Mr. Obama is more than willing to pound the pulpit and sound the clarion calls to battle. He has called them "tea baggers" - a vicious slur. He hints that they are closet racists, who may repeat the violence of Timothy McVeigh. His Democratic media allies smear them as white supremacists and "domestic extremists." New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg even said before Mr. Shahzad's arrest that maybe the culprit wasan opponent of Obamacare. This is from the mayor of a city that lost 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

The desire to equate Tea Partiers - peaceful, law-abiding activists who have never committed any heinous crimes, never mind bombings or beheadings - with murderous fanatics is not simply delusional. It reflects an ideological psychosis, a death instinct that refuses to face up to the gathering threat of Islamic fascism.

Next time, we may not be so lucky. And Mr. Obama's dogmatic denial of a war on terror will mean nothing when American blood is spilled on our streets.



Dem Turnout Falls Off A Cliff

Turnout among Dem voters dropped precipitously in 3 statewide primaries on Tuesday, giving the party more evidence that their voters lack enthusiasm ahead of midterm elections.

In primaries in NC, IN and OH, Dems turned out at far lower rates than they have in previous comparable elections.

Just 663K OH voters cast ballots in the competitive primary between LG Lee Fisher (D) and Sec/State Jennifer Brunner (D). That number is lower than the 872K voters who turned out in '06, when neither Gov. Ted Strickland (D) nor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) faced serious primary opponents.

Only 425K voters turned out to pick a nominee against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The 14.4% turnout was smaller than the 444K voters -- or 18% of all registered Dem voters -- who turned out in '04, when Gov. Mike Easley (D) faced only a gadfly candidate in his bid to be renominated for a second term.

And in IN, just 204K Hoosiers voted for Dem House candidates, far fewer than the 357K who turned out in '02 and the 304K who turned out in '06.

By contrast, GOP turnout was up almost across the board. 373K people voted in Burr's uncompetitive primary, nearly 9% higher than the 343K who voted in the equally non-competitive primary in '04. Turnout in House races in IN rose 14.6% from '06, fueled by the competitive Senate primary, which attracted 550K voters. And 728K voters cast ballots for a GOP Sec/State nominee in Ohio, the highest-ranking statewide election with a primary; in '06, just 444K voters cast ballots in that race.

Top Dem strategists have promised to spend millions to get their voters to cast ballots, and polls show they will need to succeed in order to avoid an electoral beating. The latest weekly Gallup tracking survey shows 43% of GOPers are "very enthusiastic" about voting, while just 33% of Dems feel the same way.



Nashville Flood 2010: The Disaster You May Not Have Heard About

More media selectivity

A great American city is currently buried under a sea of water, but you may not know much about it given all the attention media have given to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the failed car bomb attempt in New York's Times Square.

The rain totals are almost unimaginable as is the flooding. Damage estimates at this point have already surpassed a billion dollars, and are likely to go higher.

Several of my readers have asked me to post the following video. I cried most of the time I watched. See if you can control your emotions better than I did

I'm currently trying to locate charitable organizations doing storm relief. One is the Middle Tennessee Red Cross.

Also, WSMV-TV is doing a telethon Thursday evening, May 6, featuring Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Naomi Judd, Darius Rucker, Phil Vassar, Steve Wariner, Buddy Jewell, Lonestar, Bo Bice and Lee Roy Parnell.

Another option just sent to me by a reader is the Tennessee Emergency Relief Fund at www.CFMT.org online or 888-540-5200.



The Go-Fly List for Terrorists

If America's homeland security policies were subject to truth-in-advertising laws, the "no-fly" list would be known around the world by its right and proper name: the "go-fly" list. As in: Go right ahead, jihadists, and fly our planes. All aboard, evil-doers.

While grandmas and grade-schoolers and war heroes patiently pass through a gauntlet of wands, checkpoints and screening obstacles, the nation's safety watchdogs are asleep at the wheel. They've mentally checked out at the check-in counter. And they're in over their heads at federal counterterrorism centers, where "watch list" means putting the names of dangerous operatives into massive databases -- then idly watching potential bombers waltz through our airports and onto our tarmacs.

The federal no-fly scheme was bypassed or breached easily by both the Christmas Day bomb plotter and the Times Square bomb plotter. In the former case, Nigerian terror operative Umar Abdulmutallab had been on the counterterrorism radar screen for his radical jihadi threats (which had been reported by his father to U.S. embassy officials in London). But the young, single, rootless Muslim extremist with suspicious travel patterns -- ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! -- did not meet the standards for watch-listing and didn't even make it onto the second-tier "selectee list" of potential threats who can fly only after additional screening.

By contrast, beleaguered 8-year-old Mikey Hicks of Clifton, N.J., still can't get off the selectee list after years of ridiculous harassment while traveling on family vacations....

The data are only as good as the people entrusted to collect, process and use the information to protect national security. And without the ability to share and access the information across numerous agencies, the data are useless. Nearly nine years after Sept. 11, there is still no functional interoperability among an alphabet soup of national security and criminal databases -- including NAILS, TECS, CLASS, VISAS VIPER, TUSCAN, TIPPIX, IBIS, CIS, APIS, SAVE, IDENT, DACS, AFIS, ENFORCE and the NCIC. The Senate raised questions about understaffed efforts to modernize some of these databases back in March. What are we waiting for? The next jihadi bombing attempt?

The warped priorities of the Obama White House imperil us all. A command-and-control government that squanders its time and our money taking over businesses it has no business running -- health insurance, auto manufacturing, banking, student loans -- is a government neglecting its most fundamental mandate: providing for the common defense.

More here



Prayers prevail despite court ruling: "Defiance tinged National Day of Prayer gatherings Thursday as participants decried a court ruling last month that the annual event is unconstitutional. At a breakfast here, committee chair Marj Mokry welcomed 250 people with a prayer of thanks ‘for the freedom to gather in prayer.’ Yolanda Fields, 29, director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, said the court ruling ‘feels pretty bad, because this country was founded on prayer.’”

Navy SEAL acquitted of assaulting Iraqi detainee: "Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe, who was accused of punching an Iraqi detainee, was found not guilty on all charges by a military jury Thursday. McCabe, a 24-year-old petty officer 2nd class, had been charged with assaulting Iraqi detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed, who was arrested in September in Iraq for allegedly orchestrating the 2004 murders of four U.S. contractors in Falluja. The contractors’ burned bodies were later hung from a bridge.”

AZ governor rejects call for delay to immigration action: "A prominent Senate Democrat asked Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to put off her state’s controversial immigration law to give Congress a chance to act. Scant time passed before Brewer’s answer came back: No. The request by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York was a long shot for getting a stalled Senate immigration initiative moving again. Even the White House thinks the Senate proposal is nearly dead. ‘There’s not enough support to move forward,’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday.”

The hypocrisy of Arizona bashing: "How is it that, in one breath, Democratic senators in the US Congress can denounce Arizona state’s new immigration law as racist and, in the next, submit proposals to introduce some of the most draconian immigration policies in the world? The Arizona state government has been lambasted for demanding anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant to ‘show us your papers,’ but the Democrats want to go even further, demanding that immigrants ‘show us your biometric data card.’”

Market will recover despite government: "Brian Wesbury’s new book is for investors, policy analysts, market forecasters, ordinary citizens, and government regulators and politicians, if they will only listen to the message. Wesbury lays out the causes of the current financial crisis, explains how the government turned a contraction in the housing market into a crisis, and outlines how the government’s actions are not helping the recovery. That is the bad news. The good news is that the market is adjusting and a recovery is taking place.”

“A day in the life of the regulatory state”: "In 1801, Thomas Jefferson expressed his view of good government during his first inaugural address. Our Founding Fathers believed that the best government governed the least since the people were then free to peacefully live in any manner that they choose. Unfortunately, 209 years later, government is involved in every single aspect of our lives. It is inescapable. We literally cannot eat, spend our own money or travel without government’s interference.”

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

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


6 May, 2010

A rather good essay on Karl Marx

From Daily Kos, of all places, The author rightly detects the miserable nature of Marx. Basically, he hated everyone

Born 192 years ago today in Trier, Germany, Karl Marx "grew up a brilliant and spoiled child" (Sowell, 165) then spent his college years driving his father to exasperation, poisoning his mind with Hegel, and writing of the day when he would obtain enough political power to "wander godlike and victorious...I will feel equal to the creator". (Sowell, 166) So even from his youth it’s safe to say the boy had issues. A man who knew him later in life commented "a most dangerous personal ambition has eaten away all the good in him" (Sowell, 183) so the wisdom of age slipped right through him, his monomania left every potential lesson unheeded and unlearned.

Like many born before and since, Karl Marx looked at humanity in our flawed state and decided God had done a rather shoddy job with us, His favorite creation. Granted, whether browsing a bookstore’s history section, watching prime time television, or reading a "letters to the editor" it’s hard to come to any conclusion but that in creating man God certainly came up short. The difference between Marx and most, though, was the former displayed the lunatic’s worth of hubris necessary to believe that he could improve on God’s design. A bad education will do that to someone.

Despite providing the intellectual framework for much of the modern world, during his lifetime he was little known outside the small circle of Europe’s oddball professional revolutionaries and his most influential work, The Communist Manifesto, was not even his best seller. (That distinction belongs to The Civil War in France, published in 1871.) Marx was the proto-type of the modern American "activist", those who Florence King nailed as "thin-skinned pseudo-intellectuals who make their living second-guessing people completely different from themselves". For an example of the type, pick a Congressman, any Congressman.

As his prose meandered and had only a passing acquaintance with logic, coupled with a fondness for giving words (such as "value") a different meaning from their common usage (and the fact that most of his followers (like those of any great thinker) rarely bothered to actually read what he’d written) his intellectual children ran off in so many directions that Marx once declared himself "not a Marxist". (Sowell, 189) The passage of time has not remedied this trait.

For example, one can cherry pick his quotes and make him out to have been either a Thomas Jefferson or...well, a Karl Marx. He wrote in Critique of the Gotha Programme "government and church should rather be equally excluded from any influence on the school" (Sowell, 45) and no true progressive can disagree with him there, but he also insisted that political control over education is fine as long as the communists get "to alter the character of that intervention". (Smelser, 63)

One of the chuckles earned from a study of Marx’s work comes from reading his self-righteous denunciations of the Filthy Lucre, yet all the while it’s hard to dismiss his belief that true freedom is freedom from want; so for all his salvos against crass materialism he himself was, at base, as pure a materialist as history can provide. Combining the tone of an angry prophet with the fact that the underlying pillar of his economic philosophy (the insistence that all value is derived from labor) was debunked by the marginal revolution of the late 1870s, in the end reading Karl Marx brings to mind The Great Gatsby’s Tom Buchanan who "flushed with his own gibberish, saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization". Sometimes you almost feel sorry for the man. Almost.

Marx’s hatred of capitalism was not because such a system fails to raise the standard of living of the working masses – he always conceded the point that it did – but the fact that some earned more than others, those others reduced to the drudgery of factory work and thus "alienated", making them somehow lesser men. To him, the tragedy of a free market was that it "thwarted human desires for more humane, just, and loving relationships". (Sowell, 123) He’d take the Cambodian killing fields over a shopping mall, every time.

But it was in his most famous political treatise, The Communist Manifesto, where he gave voice to the ultimate fear of every socialist – spontaneous change. That is the monster in the closet for every planner and much the reason for all the bloodshed they inflict to pursue their dream. Marx shuddered, "the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production...and with them the whole relation of society." (Marx & Engels, 83)

From this primal fear springs the planners’ desire to make the world stand still, then to only move in goosestep to the genius plan they’ve outlined in their heads. The end game of all their attempts is on display cruising the decayed streets of Havana, where the Cuban masses have been reduced to driving cast-off American cars from the 1950s, everyone imprisoned in a sad time warp.



No financial privacy if Democrats get their way

The Dodd financial reform bill does more than just “reform” financial institutions and Wall Street. When taking a closer look, all Americans are affected by this bill in a very personal way.

In Section 1071 of the bill, banks will now be required to keep and forward a log on all depository accounts, including checking, savings and credit union share accounts to the federal government, as previously reported by Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

Why does the government want to receive such diligent records of every citizen’s transactions?
According to the bill, it is so the government can make sure the financial institutions are meeting the credit needs of those in the community.

“It is difficult to trust our government as its regulations and laws caused the financial meltdown in the first place,” says Bill Wilson, President of ALG. “The very people writing and endorsing this bill had their hands in this mess from the beginning. The government does not need to know that a father gave his son a $25 check for his birthday. This will do nothing to prevent another financial disaster from happening.”

Taking to the streets, ALG received similar reactions to Big Brother keeping tabs on every person’s banking transactions. The most common response is people felt this type of government oversight is a complete breach of their privacy. Also, most don’t completely trust the government to keep all this new information private and secure.

Not only does this bill give the government more control over banking institutions, but also more control over American’s individual bank accounts.

“This should be of great concern to everyone who has a bank account,” says Wilson. “It is well beyond the realm of the government to control the individual pocketbooks of Americans.”



Top brass tell soldiers to risk their lives even more than they do already

NATO commanders are weighing a new way to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan: recognizing soldiers for "courageous restraint" if they avoid using force that could endanger innocent lives.

The concept comes as the coalition continues to struggle with the problem of civilian casualties despite repeated warnings from the top NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the war effort hinges on the ability to protect the population and win support away from the Taliban.

Those who back the idea hope it will provide soldiers with another incentive to think twice before calling in an airstrike or firing at an approaching vehicle if civilians could be at risk.

Most military awards in the past have been given for things like soldiers taking out a machine gun nest or saving their buddies in a firefight, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan. "We are now considering how we look at awards differently," he said.

British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the NATO commander of troops in southern Afghanistan, proposed the idea of awarding soldiers for "courageous restraint" during a visit by Hall to Kandahar Airfield in mid April. McChrystal is now reviewing the proposal to determine how it could be implemented, Hall said.



Hedge Funds Donate Big to Democrats; Get Exemption from Bank Bill

The top 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2009 have dished out campaign contributions almost only to Democrats.

Over their lifetimes, those managers have given almost $33 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, according to research by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and that is based on data maintained by the nonpartisan CQMoneyline.

The same managers gave roughly $600,000 to Republicans, according to the research. The contributions went 98 percent to Democrats and two percent to Republicans.

The money went to Democratic campaign committees, individual lawmaker’s election bids and other political action committees.

The data looks at the 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2009, as identified by AR: Absolute Return+Alpha magazine. The New York Times published a story in March identifying the hedge fund managers, including John Paulson and George Soros.

As the Senate prepares to debate possibly hundreds of amendments to a Wall Street overhaul bill, labor unions and others have criticized the bill for not having tough restrictions on hedge funds.

“It’s very disconcerting to see this legislation moving forward that gives them a complete pass,” said Heather Slavkin, of AFL-CIO. Cry me a river, Ms. Slavkin. By now you should know that ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’ Guess Labor doesn’t like that there is a new band in town.



Time for some oil spill perspective

As for the environmental damage caused by Deepwater Horizon, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar deserves commendation for reminding everybody over the weekend that off-shore drilling is remarkably safe considering its scope and importance to the nation. There are presently more than 4,000 active rigs employing an estimated 80,000 people on the U.S. outer continental shelf, with the large majority of those operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Salazar said Sunday on Fox News that more than 30,000 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in the Gulf, and one-third of the oil and natural gas consumed by the United States is produced there.

This means off-shore drilling is now and will remain for the foreseeable future a critically important national resource. The interior secretary also noted that the industry "has been conducted in a very safe manner. Blowouts occur but the safety mechanisms have been in place. Why this failed here is something we are investigating." Amazingly, there have been only 41 deaths and 302 injuries in off-shore platform accidents since 2001, according to federal data. Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the Daily Beast reveals that off-shore oil rig jobs aren't among the 10 most dangerous jobs, while fishing, sanitation work, and farming are.

From an environmental perspective, off-shore oil drilling is far safer than Mother Nature. As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, oil that seeps naturally from the ocean floor puts 47 million gallons of crude into U.S. waters annually.

Thus far, Deepwater Horizon has leaked about three million gallons. That sounds like a lot of oil, and it is. But the Exxon Valdez leaked 11 million gallons into Alaska's Prince William Sound. Even those figures are dwarfed, according to the Economist, by the amount of oil spilled in man-made disasters elsewhere around the world. Saddam Hussein's destruction of Kuwaiti oil facilities during the Gulf War dumped more than 500 million barrels of crude into the Arabian Gulf. The 1979 blowout of Mexico's Ixtoc 1 well resulted in 3.3 million barrels being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. In short, Deepwater Horizon is an environmental crisis, but not the apocalypse that alarmists claim.




Keynesian spending has zilch effect on recovery: "Stubbornness is a bad trait in politics and policy, one that will be punished at the polls this November. The Obama administration continues to argue that its massive federal-spending campaign is essential to economic recovery. Yet the latest GDP report from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that the 3.2 percent first-quarter economic growth rate got no help from government spending. In fact, combined federal, state, and local spending actually fell 1.8 percent. What’s more, over the last three quarters of a mild V-shaped recovery, with an average quarterly rebound of 3.7 percent, government spending actually exerted a small net drag (-0.03%) on growth.”

Newsweek pays the price for writing for Leftists only: "The Washington Post Company says it will try to sell Newsweek, adding the second-largest US news weekly magazine to the growing list of high-profile publishing properties that have been sold or closed recently as the industry grapples with the rise of the internet. With few exceptions, newspapers and magazines have yet to reverse their long slide in subscribers and advertising revenue that has accelerated over the last year after the global financial crisis sparked a deep economic recession. For 2009, the company reported an operating loss from its magazine division of $US29.3 million ($32.3m), compared with a loss of $US16m in 2008. [Murdoch is doing fine though -- with his more even-handed approach]

The abstentionist elephant in the [British] room: "There is feverish speculation about how many people will vote for each party in Thursday’s UK election. But it seems nobody wants to ask the other big question: how many will bother voting for anybody? Whatever the voter turnout finally turns out to be, the virtual silence on the problem of abstentionism beforehand is another sign of the yawning gap between the new political class and the electorate.”

Forgotten facts of American labor history: " Just about everything that people think they know about labor unions and wage rates is wrong. The standard tale that practically every student hears over the course of his education is that before the emergence of labor unions, American workers were terribly exploited and their wages were consistently falling. The improvement in labor's condition was due entirely or at least in large part to labor unionism and favorable federal legislation. In the absence of these, it is widely assumed, people would still be working 80-hour weeks and children would still be working in mines. This oft-heard tale is, however, almost entirely false, and those parts of it that are true (the low standard of living that people enjoyed in the nineteenth century, for example) are true for reasons other than those alleged by pro-union historians, who see in them only confirmation of their prejudices against the market economy."

Huge power grab underway in Washington: "The Democrat-controlled Congress and the White House are pulling out all the stops to offset the oncoming tidal wave that is threatening to throw them out of power this November. With their polls sagging badly, the liberal Democrats rammed through a Puerto Rican statehood resolution yesterday which many consider the first step towards making Puerto Rico the 51st state — a move that would give liberal progressives in the Congress six more Representatives and two new Senators.”

Race for Murtha's old seat: "Tim Burns is the next Scott Brown, poised to ride and fuel the national anti-Democratic wave to victory. Or so Republicans hope. Burns is vying in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District to fill out the term of old Democratic powerhouse John Murtha, who died in February. The race in that southwestern Pennsylvania district is in many ways similar to the special Senate election in Massachusetts in which Brown scored a major upset over the bumbling Democratic attorney general, Martha Coakley. Like Brown, Burns is hoping to succeed a long-term Democrat; Murtha held the seat for 36 years."

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

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


British election

With the British election to be decided in the next 24 hours or so, the polls are providing no clear guide to the outcome -- but my guess is that the Conservatives will squeak in. It would be a landslide but Britain's allegedly centrist party -- the Liberals -- has had something of a revival and may take a lot of votes that would otherwise have gone to the Tories.

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. -- and this time he also adds his unique perspective on British politics

5 May, 2010

The Jihadists' Deadly Path to Citizenship

America's homeland security amnesia never ceases to amaze. In the aftermath of the botched Times Square terror attack over the weekend, Pakistani-born bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad's U.S. citizenship status caused a bit of shock and awe. The Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg's response was typical: "I am struck by the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor." Well, wake up and smell the deadly deception.

Shahzad's path to American citizenship -- he reportedly married an American woman, Huma Mian, in 2008 after spending a decade in the country on foreign student and employment visas -- is a tried-and-true terror formula. Jihadists have been gaming the sham marriage racket with impunity for years. And immigration benefit fraud has provided invaluable cover and aid for U.S.-based Islamic plotters, including many other operatives planning attacks on New York City. As I've reported previously:

-- El Sayyid A. Nosair wed Karen Ann Mills Sweeney to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired U.S. citizenship, allowing him to remain in the country, and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.

-- Ali Mohamed became an American citizen after marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. Recently divorced, Linda Lee Sanchez wed Mohamed in Reno, Nev., after a six-week "courtship." Mohamed became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa that killed 12 Americans and more than 200 others.

-- Embassy bombing plotter Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women.

-- Embassy bombing plotter Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden's personal secretary, married April Ray in 1985 and became a naturalized citizen in 1989. Ray knew of her husband's employment with bin Laden, but like many of these women in bogus marriages, she pleaded ignorance about the nature of her husband's work. El Hage, she says, was a sweet man, and bin Laden "was a great boss."

-- Lebanon-born Chawki Youssef Hammoud, convicted in a Hezbollah cigarette-smuggling operation based out of Charlotte, N.C., married American citizen Jessica Fortune for a green card to remain in the country.

-- Hammoud's brother, Mohammed Hammoud, married three different American women. After arriving in the United States on a counterfeit visa, being ordered deported and filing an appeal, he wed Sabina Edwards to gain a green card. Federal immigration officials refused to award him legal status after this first marriage was deemed bogus in 1994. Undaunted, he married Jessica Wedel in May 1997 and, while still wed to her, paid Angela Tsioumas (already married to someone else, too) to marry him in Detroit. The Tsioumas union netted Mohammed Hammoud temporary legal residence to operate the terror cash scam. He was later convicted on 16 counts that included providing material support to Hezbollah.

-- A total of eight Middle Eastern men who plotted to bomb New York landmarks in 1993 -- Fadil Abdelgani, Amir Abdelgani, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, Tarig Elhassan, Abdo Mohammed Haggag, Fares Khallafalla, Mohammed Saleh, and Matarawy Mohammed Said Saleh -- all obtained legal permanent residence by marrying American citizens.

A year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, homeland security officials cracked a massive illegal alien Middle Eastern marriage fraud ring in a sting dubbed "Operation Broken Vows." Authorities were stunned by the scope of the operations, which stretched from Boston to South Carolina to California. But marriage fraud remains a treacherous path of least resistance. The waiting period for U.S. citizenship is cut by more than half for marriage visa beneficiaries. Sham marriage monitoring by backlogged homeland security investigators is practically nonexistent.

As former federal immigration official Michael Cutler warned years ago: "Immigration benefit fraud is certainly one of the major 'dots' that was not connected prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and remains a 'dot' that is not really being addressed the way it needs to be in order to secure our nation against criminals and terrorists who understand how important it is for them to 'game' the system as a part of the embedding process."

Jihadists have knowingly and deliberately exploited our lax immigration and entrance policies to secure the rights and benefits of American citizenship while they plot mass murder -- and we haven't done a thing to stop them.



An excellent summary from Ludwig von Mises

“The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!

Against all this frenzy of agitation there is but one weapon available: reason. Just common sense is needed to prevent man from falling prey to illusory fantasies and empty catchwords.”



What's wrong with price gouging?

by Jeff Jacoby

THERE WASN'T MUCH that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley could do about the massive pipe break that left dozens of Greater Boston towns without a reliable supply of clean drinking water over the weekend. So she kept herself busy instead lecturing vendors not to increase the price of the bottled water that tens of thousands of consumers were suddenly in a frenzy to buy.

"We have begun hearing anecdotal reports of the possible price gouging of store-bought water," Coakley announced on Sunday. "Businesses and individuals cannot and should not take advantage of this public emergency to unfairly charge consumers . . . for water." Inspectors were being dispatched, "spot-checks" were being conducted, and "if we discover that businesses are engaging in price gouging," she warned, "we will take appropriate legal action."

Governor Deval Patrick got into the act too. He ordered the state's Division of Standards to "closely monitor bottled water prices" in the area affected by the water emergency. "There is never an excuse for taking advantage of consumers," he intoned, "especially not during times like this."

It never fails. No sooner does some calamity trigger an urgent need for basic resources than self-righteous voices are raised to denounce the amazingly efficient system that stimulates suppliers to speed those resources to the people who need them. That system is the free market's price mechanism -- the fluctuation of prices because of changes in supply and demand.

When the demand for bottled water goes through the roof -- which is another way of saying that bottled water has become (relatively) scarce -- the price of that water quickly rises in response. That price spike may be annoying, but it's not nearly as annoying as being unable to find water for sale at any price. Rising prices help keep limited quantities from vanishing today, while increasing the odds of fresh supplies arriving tomorrow.

It is easy to demonize vendors who charge what the market will bear in the wake of a catastrophe. "After storm come the vultures" USA Today memorably headlined a story about the price hikes that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004. Coakley hasn't called anybody a vulture, at least not yet, but her office has dedicated a telephone hotline and is encouraging the public to drop a dime on "price gougers."

Before you drop that dime, though, consider who really serves the public interest -- the merchant who boosts his price at a time of crisis, or the merchant who refuses to?

A thought experiment: A massive pipe ruptures, tap water grows undrinkable, and consumers rush to buy bottled water from the only two vendors that sell it. Vendor A, not wanting to provoke the ire of the governor and attorney general, leaves the price of his water unchanged at 69 cents a bottle. Vendor B, who is more interested in doing business than truckling to politicians, more than quadruples his price to $2.99.

You don't need an economics textbook to know what happens next.

Customers flock to Vendor A, loading up on his 69-cent water. Within hours his entire stock has been cleaned out, and subsequent customers are turned away empty-handed. At Vendor B's, on the other hand, sales of water are slower and there is a lot of grumbling about the high price. But even late-arriving customers are able to buy the water they need -- and almost no one buys more than he really needs.

When demand intensifies, prices rise. And as prices rise, suppliers work harder to meet demand. The same Globe story that reported yesterday on Coakley's "price-gouging" remarks reported as well on the great lengths to which bottlers and retailers were going to get more water into customers' hands. "Suppliers worked overtime, pumping up production and regional bottling facilities and coordinating deliveries," reporter Erin Ailworth noted. Polar Beverages in Worcester, for example, "had emptied out its plant in the city last night and trucked in loads of water from its New York facility."

Letting prices rise freely isn't the only way to respond to a sudden shortage. Government rationing is an option, and so are price controls -- assuming you don't object to the inevitable corruption, long lines, and black market. But it's better by far to let prices rise and fall freely. That isn't "gouging" but plain good sense -- and the best method yet devised for allocating goods and services among free men and women.



BrookesNews Update

An ongoing Australian perspective on the world

Is it the Democrats' neo-fascist economics that is holding back recovery? : The economy's lacklustre response to Obama's economic policies can only cause Decmocrats consternation and fuel their desire to seek out scapegoats rather than re-examine their statist dogma. Sound economics — meaning free market economics — explains why government spending does not drive genuine economic growth but sound economics is something the Democrats resolutely refuse to accept
Ken Henry's fallacious resource rent tax and the mining industry's failed response : The theory of economic rent is pure fiction and there is nothing problematic about it. If the tax was fully implemented it would destroy not only the mining industry but also the offshore gas and oil industry. Furthermore, the logic of this fallacious tax also demands that it be levied on agriculture
Why economic policies inspired by the Great Depression fail : Obama's spending policies failed for the same reason that Roosevelt's failed. Both they and their economic advisors failed completely to understand the Great Depression and the role of withheld capacity. The result is that Obama is implementing policies that are seriously damaging the US economy
Modern Leftism and Magical Thinking : The unrealistic thought pattern of Magical Thinking now informs American public policy and statecraft at every level — on economics, foreign relations, rule of law, environmentalism, etc. It is a world-view based upon the notion the 'right' people will provide successful leadership for America, simply because they are 'good,' and not the old 'bad' leaders
Obama sends in the clowns: What these panicked "progressive" pixies fail to understand, is that the more they malign the ever-growing millions of red-blooded, God-fearing Americans who feel compelled to push back against Obama's weighty radicalism — the more they humiliate and embarrass themselves
The greens' $10 trillion climate fraud : The very rich and greedy green left are at it again, including Al Gore and Goldman Sachs. They never cease dreaming up schemes that will savage the standard of living of the masses while fattening their own bank accounts
The flood of illegals and the Arizona uproar : The American and international media are lying again. They don't send reporters out to Arizona get the story sit with beleaguered Americans at their kitchen tables and understand the torment their lives have become because of the flood of illegal immigrants that the Democrats are now openly encouraging. A country with open borders will not long be a country. If the Dems cannot get enough voters at home to keep them in power then they will import them and the country and living standards be damned. So who are the real patriots?



Laughable U.S. airline security again: "The no-fly list failed to keep the Times Square suspect off the plane. Faisal Shahzad had boarded a jetliner bound for the United Arab Emirates Monday night before federal authorities pulled him back. Although under surveillance since mid-afternoon, he had managed to elude investigators and head to the airport. As US federal agents closed in, Faisal Shahzad was aboard Emirates Flight 202. He reserved a ticket on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport, paid cash on arrival and walked through security without being stopped. By the time Customs and Border Protection officials, using a no-fly list updated earlier Tuesday, spotted Shahzad's name on the passenger list and recognised him as the bombing suspect they were looking for, he was in his seat and the plane was preparing to leave the gate. It didn't. At the last minute, the pilot was notified, the jetliner's door was opened and Shahzad was taken into custody."

The Census Bureau is violating the Privacy Act of 1974: “During the past few years, I have read numerous comments from individuals who have been threatened by Census workers concerning the American Community Survey, which masquerades as part of the constitutionally mandated enumeration commonly known as the Census. These Census workers, according to reports I read, are attempting to intimidate people with threats of fines and/or jail to get them to answer the survey form questions. Since we can expect the same tactics concerning the Census, a friend asked how I would respond if they phone or show-up at my doorstep. I said my response would be simple. Since the Census Bureau and its workers are citing federal law to intimidate us, I will use a strategy that responds in kind.”

The folly of fairness: "So Bill Gates sold me some software when he was still in that business. He was then immensely rich, certainly compared to me. I was not compared to him. How unfair, you say? But Bill took his gains from this trade and used it to feed starving African children, while I used the software I bought from him to do something utterly trivial on my computer, like writing a dull column. Now was this a fair trade? Impossible to tell. Trade is never fair — the entire notion of fairness is very difficult to apply to trade as would be the idea of blue or funny.”

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

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


4 May, 2010

Don’t expect real bank reform from the Wall Street Democrats

"Now, the Senate Republican leader, he paid a visit to Wall Street a week or two ago,” said President Obama at a California fundraiser for Barbara Boxer in mid-April, putting on a mocking, homespun voice. “He took along the chairman of their campaign committee. He met with some of the movers and shakers up there. I don’t know exactly what was discussed. All I can tell you is when he came back, he promptly announced he would oppose the financial regulatory reform.”

To judge from the guffawing that followed, few in attendance realized that Obama is more dependent on “movers and shakers” in the financial sector than any president of our time, although the files of the Federal Election Commission make this clear as day. The movers at Goldman Sachs, whose top employees were grilled before the Senate Banking Committe last week, gave Obama’s party three times as much money in the last cycle ($4.5 million) as they gave to Mitch McConnell’s ($1.5 million). The shakers at Citicorp gave Democrats almost twice as much ($3.1 million) as they gave Republicans ($1.8 million).
Click here to find out more!

So every time the president accuses Republicans of trying to “block progress” or of defying “common sense,” as he did that night, he is executing a dangerous tightrope walk. His party’s electoral fortunes depend on his making forceful calls for reform of our banking laws. His party’s fundraising fortunes depend on his ensuring that no serious reform—of the kind that endangers the big banks’ size and power—ever happens. That may be why the Democrats’ strategy of painting the Republicans as obstructionists on finance reform has gained little traction. By the same token, if Republicans ever did get serious about reforming the banks—and even about breaking up an industry that has turned into a Democratic war chest—they would put Democrats in mortal peril.


The rest of the article argues that the big banks SHOULD be compulsorily broken up -- a very dubious proposition from an economics viewpoint. Australia has far more banking concentration than the USA and sailed through the GFC virtually unscathed.

Note that the Australian banking system has been sweepingly DEREGULATED. It is deregulation U.S. banks need, not more crony-led government intervention


Reid and Pelosi bear brunt of blame for economic woes

It is a classic mistake to compare economic data solely within the context of Presidential terms. After all, in our current economic climate, the decline coincided directly with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s ascendancy to the leadership posts in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

In 2007, President George W. Bush was still our president, but Republicans no longer held the majority in Congress. In January of that year, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took on her new role as Speaker of the House and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) took his position as Senate Majority Leader.

As stated in the U.S. Constitution, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Meaning, Congress determines what gets done in the country, so who is in charge of Congress matters.

Therefore, when looking at the state of America and how it ended up where it is today, it is important to start at the beginning, in 2007, when the first changes to this current government took place. Changes like the first bailout, the minimum wage increase, changes in tax laws and new mandates on businesses all started in 2007.

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has put together a report showing a comparison of economic conditions since Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi took over Congress. The report reflects comparisons of unemployment numbers and the federal budget since the Democratic Party won control. For example, The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. currently has a 9.7 percent unemployment rate. In 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Comparatively, the number of people unemployed today is 14.8 million; in 2007 it was 7 million.

“It is devastating to look at these facts and figures and see the negative impact the Democrat tenure has had on our country,” said Bill Wilson, President of ALG. “It is important to look back at these numbers and make these comparisons so we know what changes need to be made in policy—before it is too late.”

America’s youth has also been affected by the democratic tenure in Congress. As previously reported by ALG News, it is clear that as the minimum wage level climbs, it is now federally mandated to be $7.25 an hour, unemployment rates among teenagers have skyrocketed — especially in those states where minimum wage requirements are even higher. As the labor force becomes more expensive, those with less experience and knowledge pay the price.

“The numbers do not lie,” Wilson said, concluding, “The American people need to know what has been happening the past four years. It is clear there needs to be a change in the leadership in America away from the command-and-control economy that disincentives business expansion and job creation to one that can lift government’s grip from the throat of working Americans.”

The current path of the nation didn’t start when the Obama Administration took office; it started with the Democrat takeover of Congress.



Strikingly Unpresidential

President Barack Obama doesn't deserve the reputation he's had for his style and temperament and for being gracious, civil, bipartisan and post-racial. He is often ungracious, uncivil, hyper-partisan, race-oriented and vindictive. He mocks and ridicules almost for sport. More than any president in my memory, he often does not comport himself presidentially.

Why does this matter? Well -- if I even have to answer that -- he is the face of America. The left constantly talked about George W. Bush's swagger and his cowboy diplomacy and how that damaged our "image" in the world and our relations with other nations.

But George W. Bush was nothing if not circumspect, discreet and respectful in his dealings with foreign leaders and his dealings with his political opponents. He was exceedingly presidential, demonstrating an extremely high respect for the office he held and what it represented.

How the president presents himself does matter for all the obvious reasons, but I believe Obama's behavior and the public's perception of it are relevant for other equally important reasons. He came into office with a reputation for being sophisticated, gentlemanly, above the political fray and open-minded. But it was a facade, facilitated by good looks, a seemingly pleasant demeanor and an extraordinarily fawning -- and forgiving -- media. He has been getting a pass on his unseemly conduct for way too long, which partially explains the disconnect between his personal likability and the unpopularity of his socialist agenda.

I believe that if the public were fully attuned to how unpresidentially he has consistently behaved, it wouldn't be as approving of him personally, and in turn, politicians wouldn't be so afraid to call him out on his Machiavellian and brutish behavior, the exposure of which would have an electoral impact. If more people understood what I believe to be this man's actual character, they wouldn't -- in the face of his consistently highhanded tactics in pushing each and every one of his destructive agenda items -- reflexively assume he's such a nice guy who means well. Then, they might be more vigilant, and heaven knows we need megadoses of vigilance these days.

I have theories about why Obama is consistently getting a pass, beyond the media's corrupt liberalism and the allies he's created through his racial and class warfare, but that's another column. The point for now is that he is getting a pass, and his behavior is increasingly indefensible.

We talk about Obama as a graduate of Saul Alinsky's school of thuggish street agitation, but it is more than just a casual charge. He is Alinsky personified with a disarming smile. It's not just a matter of his having embraced a political strategy that involves hitting below the belt and abusing power to help his friends and hurt his enemies. His behavior is not just a tactic; it's part of who he is. It is apparent that he has been coddled so long that he simply has zero tolerance for any opposition.

Indeed, he is exactly the opposite of who he billed himself to be: "I will bring a new type of politics to Washington." As a committed liberal ideologue, he is neither a uniter nor one willing to consider both sides of an issue. But it's not just his extremist views that are divisive. He is also often personally divisive, petty and mean-spirited.

From the time he cavalierly dismissed Hillary Clinton during a presidential debate with "You're likable enough, Hillary," I knew some cold blood ran through his veins. As president, he has been gratuitously nasty with people who have dared oppose him, and he has affirmatively targeted and demonized entire industries to advance his agenda.

Consider: his command that "the folks who created the mess" not "do a lot of talking"; his endless scapegoating of George Bush; his rude treatment of foreign leaders, from Britain's Gordon Brown to France's Nicolas Sarkozy; his abominable treatment of Israel and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his character assassination of inspector general Gerald Walpin for blowing the whistle on his friends; his demonization of surgeons and primary care physicians as dishonest mercenaries, Republicans as "liars," secured creditors as "speculators," tea partiers as "domestic terrorists," Arizonans as "irresponsible," rural Americans as bitter clingers and America itself as being "dismissive," "arrogant" and "derisive" and as having "a responsibility to act" because it is the only nation to have ever "used a nuclear weapon"; his vilification of Wall Street "fat cat" bankers, big pharma, big oil, insurance companies, big corporations, corporate executives, Cambridge policemen, conservative talk show hosts and Fox News; his snubbing even of the liberal press pool; his egomaniacal behavior at the health care summit; and his administration's flirtation with criminalizing Bush-era officials for their legal opinions.




Jews Turning Against Obama: "In a stunning turnaround, President Obama has lost roughly half of his support among Jewish voters. A poll by McLaughlin and Associates found that, while 78 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for Obama, only 42 percent of Jewish voters would vote to re-elect him. A plurality — 46 percent — would consider voting for anyone else. That compares with 21 percent who voted for John McCain. Ever since he learned of Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, has been warning fellow Jews that Obama would be antithetical to Jewish interests, not only as they relate to Israel but also to issues that affect all Americans."

Blowhard Democrats: "A federal law may limit how much BP has to pay for damages such as lost wages and economic suffering in the Gulf Coast oil spill, despite President Barack Obama’s assurances that taxpayers will not be on the hook. A law passed in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska makes BP responsible for cleanup costs. But the law sets a $75 million limit on other kinds of damages. Economic losses to the Gulf Coast are likely to exceed that. In response, several Democratic senators introduced legislation Monday to raise the liability limit to $10 billion, though it was not clear that it could be made to apply retroactively.” [Retroactive laws are specifically forbidden in the consitution: Article 1 Section 9, C.3 states: 'No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed,' and Section 10 says: 'No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law. . . .']

Egalitarian straitjackets: "In numerous areas of human life treating people in nearly exactly the same way may make sense. Thus, for example, when you go to your dentist, you are probably implored to floss — and so is everyone else who visits dentists. Other doctors, too, will prescribe practices one should adopt, such as eating nutritiously, exercising, getting regular sleep and so forth, which virtually all other patients are also told they will benefit from. … But once we got to such areas of human life as what kind of career suits us, what kind of significant other will promise greater happiness, where we will enjoy our vacations most, what sort of apparel is most attractive for us to wear, what it the kind of weather that suits us best — in these and innumerable other areas variety is the rule. No wonder they say it is the spice of life! So when one runs across those who have enormous faith in centralized planning and economic regulation, one is facing people who are, to borrow a term from the late Austrian economist and libertarian Murray N. Rothbard, in revolt against nature.”

“Fearmongers” were right about Obamacare: "The ink was barely dry on President Barack Obama’s signature before the RAND Corp. released a report concluding that, not only would the hard-won health care package fail to curb health insurance premium increases, but the bill itself would drive premiums for young people up as much as 17 percent. This should not have been a surprise: the Congressional Budget Office had already warned that the plan would do almost nothing to reduce premium hikes. And when New York implemented the same type of insurance reforms in the 1980s, it led to an increase of nearly $500 per year for young people. But somehow, the media didn’t pay much attention.”

Obamalaise: "An ocean of ink has been devoted to the surprising election results in Virginia, New Jersey, and especially Massachusetts. There is so much angst in the country that even the exceptionally obtuse Obama has become aware of it. To use a term rendered infamous by the feckless Jimmy Carter, we are experiencing a national malaise. But what Obama fails to comprehend is that at the root of the current national malaise is Obama himself. In this, as in many other ways, Obama uncannily resembles Carter, who projected his own defects of thought and action onto the nation, generating the anxiety and distrust he was purporting to heal. We can rightly call the national mood ‘Obamalaise,’ because it arises not just from Obama’s agenda but from his character.”

Free teenagers: Repeal the minimum wage: "In order to resolve the teen unemployment problem, all that would be needed would be a repeal of the minimum-wage law. Then, those teenagers whose labor is valued at less than the mandated minimum would be free to compete for jobs in the marketplace at less than the mandated minimum.”

The beauty of freedom: "As I was walking through Westminster earlier, I saw something really quite beautiful. A red Ferrari 599 was parked next to a silver Prius Hybrid (Pious Hybrid to those of you who watch South Park). Beautiful as the red car is, and no matter how great a demonstration it is of what a capitalist production system can achieve, this is nothing compared to what it represents next to the Prius. That is the fact that in a free, or free-ish society, Ferrari-owner and Prius-owner can happily coexist. This is something quite unique about liberty, which simply cannot be countered by those on the statist/socialist left wing.”

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

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


3 May, 2010

The Left Loses Its Way by Abandoning 'Third Way'

It's not mentioned below but there has been a crash in Labor party support in Australia also -- where a Leftist government has proved to be a lot less conservative than it promised

Left parties are in trouble in the Anglosphere. Here in America, Democrats are doing worse in the polls than at any time in the last 50 years. In Britain, the Labor Party is on the brink of finishing third, behind both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, in the election next Thursday.

All of which raises the question: What happened to the "third way" center-left movement that once seemed to sweep all before it? Only a dozen years ago, in 1998, President Bill Clinton enjoyed 70 percent job approval. Prime Minister Tony Blair was basking in adulation in his first full year in office.

Clinton "third way" New Democrats and Blair's "New Labor" party seemed to have a bright and long future ahead. Clinton's designated successor, Al Gore, despite some ham-handed campaigning, came out ahead in the popular vote in 2000 and lost the presidency by only some hundreds of votes in Florida. With Blair at its head, Labor won unprecedented re-election victories in 2001 and 2005.

Now, less than a generation later, both New Democrats and New Labour seem defunct. Both parties have moved well to the left. Barack Obama and Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, head governments that are running budget deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product. Both are promoting higher taxes and expansion of government programs.

The financial crisis is one reason for the large deficits. But it is undeniable that to varying extents both Obama and Brown have pursued more statist policies than their predecessors did a dozen years ago. And it is undeniable, too, that both are in trouble with the voters.

In these circumstances, it is surprising that the pundit class is not chiding Obama and Brown for abandoning the politically successful policies of Clinton and Blair. The same pundit class is always ready to chide American Republicans and British Conservatives for not pursuing the courses that Rockefeller Republicans and pre-Thatcher "wet" Conservatives pursued with some political success a much longer time ago.

Rocky and the wets supported a continuing expansion of government and maintaining the power of labor unions. But a British party last won an election on that platform in 1974, 36 years ago, and no American president has been elected on such a platform between 1964 and 2008. And with Democrats plunging in the polls, Obama's election is beginning to look like an exception that proves the rule.

Americans may have voted for "hope and change," but not in the form of the 2009 stimulus package and the 2010 health care bill.

Looking back in history, the Rockefeller Republicans chose their course because they believed their party could not beat New Deal Democrats except by moving some distance toward their philosophy. And in particular, they believed they could not beat Democrats in New York, which in the first half of the 20th century was both the nation's largest state and one of the politically most marginal.

But by the early 1960s, New York was no longer the nation's largest state and was safely Democratic. And by the early 1970s, Americans were no longer voting for big government. The Rockefeller strategy was rendered obsolete.

It's not clear that the Clinton New Democratic strategy is similarly obsolete. Clinton calculated that Democrats could not win except by making inroads in the South and by making big gains in the suburbs. That's how he won twice, and Obama improved on his leads in the suburbs and carried three Southern states with Northern-accented suburbs (Virginia, North Carolina and Florida).

But Obama ran well behind in eight Southern-accented and Mountain states that Clinton carried in 1992. And polling now shows Democrats weaker than Obama was in 2008 virtually everywhere except in university towns and the affluent precincts of metro New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Similarly, in Britain polling has shown Brown's Labor party holding its traditional redoubts in declining industrial towns but getting shellacked in the affluent suburbs where Tony Blair's New Labor thrived.

The left parties have reacted to their unpopularity by playing the race card. Democrats have tried to portray tea partiers as racist, and Brown called a lifelong Labor voter who questioned his policies a "bigoted woman."

Blaming the voters is the last resort of a party in trouble. Old Labor and the Obama Democrats may not yet be finished. But they're not doing as well as their "third way" predecessors.



States Reluctant to Swim in National High-Risk Pools

Obamacare aims to insure the uninsured. To do that, the law bars insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions—but not until 2014. In the meantime, the law calls for a national high-risk pool to offer coverage to the otherwise “uninsurable.”

Under the new law, an important deadline looms. By Friday, states must declare whether they will help implement the new risk-pools for their citizens, or if they’ll just let the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services do it for them.

Many states have taken one look at the financial outlook for these pools and run the other way—with good reason. Obamacare gives HHS $5 billion to administer the pools from now until 2014. However, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports:
“…the creation of a national high-risk insurance pool will result in roughly 375,000 people gaining coverage in 2010, increasing national health spending by $4 billion. By 2011 and 2012 the initial $5 billion in Federal funding for this program would be exhausted…”

So federal funding for the pools may run out two years early. That could leave states stuck with the entire bill a year or two down the line if they help create the pools today.

Politico reports that HHS promises that won’t happen. But states aren’t buying it. Georgia Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine says state legislators won’t implement a high-risk pool because it would “ultimately become the financial responsibility of Georgians in the form an unfunded mandate.” Officials in Kansas, Louisiana and elsewhere have similarly dug in their heels on the issue.

The risk pools are just one way in which the architects of Obamacare passed costs on to states to maintain a tenuous claim that the legislation was “deficit-neutral.” The expansion of Medicaid will cost states billions in the long run, since federal matching rates will decrease in future years.

Similarly, to increase access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries, Obamacare raises federal reimbursement rates for primary care physicians—but only for two years. After that, doctors will either receive the same low payments they do now, or the states will have to pick up the cost.

Of course, advocates of Obamacare can argue these really aren’t unfunded mandates on the states. After all, the states can refuse to pick up the tab when the feds leave the table. In that case, though, the financial shell game ends, and the whole Obamacare scheme falls apart.



Son of bin Laden has different views

It is after midnight when Osama bin Laden's fourth-born son, Omar, leads me into a nightclub called Les Caves de Boys in the center of Damascus. Marked only by a small neon sign on a side street in an upscale quarter of the city, the basement bar is dark and secluded, enveloped by an air of exclusivity.

Omar brushes past the two heavyset Syrian thugs at the door and picks a booth in the back. A dozen or so wealthy Arab men are drinking whiskey and watching Russian strippers put on a show. By Western standards, the performances are tame, a succession of scantily clad women in burlesque costumes — Little Bo Peep, pigtailed schoolgirl, pole-climbing gymnast. But as Omar sips a 7 Up, he follows their every move with boyish wonder. Russian women, he tells me, are the most beautiful in the world. "It is as if their bodies are shaped with plastic, like dolls," he says.

As a teenager in the mountains of Tora Bora, Omar had been his father's chosen successor, the favored son meant to lead Al Qaeda and carry on global jihad. Then, in 2001, a few months before Osama bin Laden was to become the world's most wanted man, Omar abandoned his father's compound in Afghanistan. He left behind almost certain death for this: the world, Les Caves de Boys, life.

Now, as a dancer joins a drunken man in the booth next to us, Omar reflects on his own connection to the strippers onstage. "I have talked to these women before," he says. "I tell them my name. Sometimes they don't believe I am a bin Laden. Sometimes they get mad. They have to dance like this because their country is poor. It was my father who made Russia poor, in the war in Afghanistan. He ruined their economy. He is doing the same thing to America right now."

Omar smiles. It's a knowing and ironic look, the age of terrorism turned into a cosmic joke: Can you believe how f*cked up things are?

Past two in the morning, a statuesque dancer emerges for the grand finale. Dressed in a red rhinestone bra and panties, with a black shimmy belt and an ostrich-feather crown, she gyrates her hips as Omar watches, mesmerized. "Thank God my father doesn't run the world," Omar says, grinning.

To Omar, Osama bin Laden is neither a jihadist nor a mass murderer – he is a lost man, a fanatical father who withheld his love, beat and betrayed his children, and destroyed his family chasing his fantasy of becoming a latter-day prophet.




Stalinist language from a Stalinist Obama official: "boot on the neck": "Administration officials pushed back Sunday against criticism that the White House isn't acting fast enough to battle the massive oil spill creeping toward Gulf shores. "We have to prepare for the worst-case scenario here," Salazar said. "We were stepping on the neck of BP to do everything we can do" since the explosion, Salazar said. "We've been on top of this every minute." Salazar's boots kept walking on CNN, where he said, "Our job is keep our boot on the neck of British Petroleum and make sure they live up to their responsibilities."

What are they afraid of?: "A brand-new chapter dawns in the birther controversy over President Obama's hidden birth certificate. The Hawaii legislature has now officially passed a measure that would allow state officials to legally ignore each month's dozens of repeated requests by persons or organizations seeking to see the infant Obama's actual birth certificate. For personal privacy reasons the certificate resides under government lock and key in Hawaii and, as is his right, Obama has never authorized its release. That's a refusal that has only inflamed conspiracy theorists who theorize that if it's really legit, what's Obama's problem with disclosing it?"

The British PM -- a classic Leftist liar: "Stop lying, prime minister. Those are the words I wanted to hear in the leaders debate on Thursday night, or indeed at any stage during this election campaign. It simply astounds me what Gordon Brown gets away with. Take his suggestion that the Tories would take child tax credits away from the ‘poorest families.’ In fact, the Conservative plan is to get rid of the credit for families earning more than £50,000, which is more than twice the average household income. Whether it’s a good policy or a bad one isn’t the issue — the fact is that Brown was deliberately misrepresenting it. Why does no one call him out?”

The race card and the Tea Party: "The agents of the Racial Industrial Complex are rightly being reminded by the Tea Partiers that their very livelihoods rest upon the fear that whites have had of being charged with ‘racism,’ a fear that, thanks to the courage of the Tea Partiers, could very well be fading away.”

Why they hate: "What is it about the Tea Parties that sends the left into paroxysms of rage? Lewis is hardly alone with such screeching verb-less statements. The entire left, from the scribes at the New Republic to the talking heads on MSNBC, have been driven mad by a handful of relatively peaceful demonstrators. Bill Clinton warned that the waving of Don’t Tread on Me flags could lead like night into day to another Oklahoma City bombing, Harry Reid defied my spellchecker by declaring Tea Partiers to be ‘evilmongers,’ Keith Olbermann dedicated two interminable Special Comments to his indignant rage at the protesters, and Frank Rich dutifully spent week after week drawing parallels between the Tea Parties and racists of days gone by. In fairness, there’s been plenty of derision from conservatives directed at, say, anti-war demonstrators during the Bush years. But never before has an entire ideological establishment whipped itself into such a frenzy over a group of protesters. What’s going on here?”

The audacity of deceit: "Hate speech? Go read the ‘comments’ beneath any moderately conservative or libertarian online blog or newspaper column. You will find any attempt to have a calm discussion of the topics raised by the columnist — including by those ready to marshal some contrary evidence — largely drowned out by a tiny handful of shrieking, post-every-10-minutes collectivist harridans, ridiculing the sanity of anyone who dares question the grow-the-government Obama agenda, let alone calmly cite chapter and verse from Founding Fathers who intended ours to be a government of sharply limited powers.”

Zoning laws destroy communities: "Zoning laws are a violation of property rights. They destroy the sense of community in neighborhoods, increase crime, increase traffic congestion, contribute to urban and suburban air pollution, contribute to poverty, contribute to reliance in government — and, thus, reduce self-reliance — and contribute to the ruin of our schools. Most of our urban and suburban problems arose with zoning and other antiproperty laws, to which welfare programs and public housing projects have contributed.”

ObamaCare vastly expands IRS red tape: "‘Billions of more documents’ will be have to be filled out by small businesses for the IRS so that a ’spendthrift Congress can shake a few extra bucks out of’ them to pay for ObamaCare. They will have to spend countless hours to ‘gather information,’ such as about the person they buy a used car from, and the mom-and-pop landlords who lease space to them, even if the small business has to spend more money gathering the information than the IRS will collect in taxes as a result.”

Guerilla public service: "After the Los Angeles artist Richard Ankrom missed his exit off California Highway 110 one too many times, he decided to indulge in a little ‘guerrilla public service.’ Ankrom crafted three reflective sign components—a number 5, the word ‘North,’ and an arrow — and artificially aged them. He also whipped up an authentic-looking California transit authority uniform. On August 1, 2001, he shimmied out over the freeway in broad daylight and used his unique artwork to tag the tricky left exit to Interstate 5 North. For nine months, no one noticed that the change was the work of a private citizen.”

Watery broth is a perfect metaphor for the state: "The goal of government regulation is uniformity, not quality. Statists tend to equate the two; without government regulation, they maintain, businesses would simply stoop to the lowest-common denominator on product quality. Yet that’s exactly what happens when the state establishes a regulatory patent over industry standards. There’s no incentive for manufacturers to exceed the government’s mandate.”

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

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


2 May, 2010

Change is the only constancy

That certainly applies to the internet. Sites and services that are there today may be gone tomorrow. And I have certainly had plenty of that. Sites that I have up suddenly vanish overnight or become no longer updatable.

That has recently happened to my personal blog. The blog was originally intended as an occasional online diary, where I could note details and times of the various small events in my personal life -- more as a crutch for my notoriously bad memory than anything else.

But a few people do read it occasionally and it is to them that the following may be of interest.

The site has been inaccessible for updating for a week now, which is pretty long for an internet service to be "down". I was not too perturbed, however, as, with my usual caution, I also had a backup site that repeated the same content as the primary site. If the primary site was down, people could always go to the backup site instead.

I found recently, however, that the backup site was sometimes "down" too so it seemed that the time for action had come. I have now given my personal blog a new home on the internet. You can find it here. The backup site is here.


The McCarthyism of the Left

The problem in America is not racism. Sure, there are cases of enmity driven by bigoted ignorance, but the greatest prejudice in this country is the now systemic painting of those who oppose policy as racists—ipso facto. We have a new McCarthyism in the nation —one that paints with a broad brush. “Are you now, or have you ever been, a card-carrying racist?”

We are witnessing the “borking” of America. Robert Bork, of course, was Ronald Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court in 1987. He found himself the victim of an insidious smear campaign—that worked—and his name became a verb: "To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media.”

If you’re a white person and you don’t support Obamacare—you must be a bigot. If you think global warming is an overheated issue—it’s surely racially motivated. The same goes with what is happening now in Arizona. It must be racism driving all the “hate.” The 7 out of 10 citizens of Arizona who support the recently signed immigration law must be motivated by “hate.” That whole property, safety and not wanting to overtax an already cash-strapped state with financial burdens—well, that’s just a cover.

To hear some describe it (newspapers, blogs or any hour on MSNBC), racism is all over the place and there is no defense allowed if you are accused. It’s a charge that sticks. It’s also a charge that, to an extent, works. This is why playing the race card tends these days to be the first from the deck. It has a way of stopping further discussion. It’s a tried and true intimidator.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said something about people not being judged by the “color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Amen! That statement rings so true. But what kind of character is represented when former ACORN president, Bertha Lewis, slanders the Tea Party movement as a “bowel movement” riddled with and motivated by “racism.” She was speaking, by the way to a group called the Young Democratic Socialists (the youth arm of the Democratic Socialists of America). Or for that matter, what kind of character was represented by the now discredited ACORN and their financial and moral bankruptcy?

It is disturbing to me that the historic election of the first black President of the United States has not led to a “post-racial” national experience, but rather it’s polarizing opposite. Are we moving toward a kind of country where speaking out and reasonable—even animated—opposition to policies and those who make them can be dismissed as merely racist and therefore irrelevant?

I do not support President Obama’s policies, but I am not a racist. I pray for the man (and other leaders) every day, by name, following the scriptural directive. I make sure to commend him when I can—for example, I thought his remarks at the memorial service for the West Virginia miners a week ago were excellent. He fulfilled one of his presidential duties—an extraordinarily difficult one (as any clergyman knows)—with grace and obvious compassion.

Mr. Obama loves his wife and children—they are truly a beautiful family. So, when I disagree with what he stands for politically I am not “hating” a man, or his “race,” I am simply exercising my rights as a citizen. But it is now clear that we have entered into a part of our national narrative, one that at first promised to be “post-racial,” that is becoming “most-racial.” The president has recently made a video for the Democratic National Committee appealing directly to (his words) "young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women,” in an effort to mobilize people to vote for his party in 2010.

How is that “post-racial?”

I implore all those on the other side of the political spectrum from today’s conservatives to resist the temptation to throw the racist flag when all that is happening is that some are voicing their disagreements to policies, the very way many of you did when George W. Bush was in office. It’s quintessentially American to disagree and speak out.

I recently heard a clergyman—someone I know and respect but strongly disagree with in this case—suggest that what Christians need to do these days is to “obey the powers that be.” This is, of course, Paul’s admonition from Romans 13 and it means that we are to be law-abiding citizens. However, the minister was using the text as a “proof text”—suggesting that speaking out or criticizing our current national leaders and their policies is a violation of scripture. Interestingly, I am not sure that text and argument were rolled out 5 years ago, but I digress.

What that clergyman—and some Americans—miss is that the “powers that be” in this nation are not merely governmental (though they are, in part), but reside ultimately in “We The People.” And we have a right to criticize and oppose and should be able to do so without heavy-handed “theologies” and broad-brush smears of racism.



Catholic Archbishop slanders Arizonans

The head of a nest of pedophiles faults the character of others? But he reveals his own moral faults most of all by his misrepresentations of Arizona immigration law. Go here to read a brief summary of what the law actually says. "His Grace" is both slime and a liar. No sign of Christian humility in his incendiary speech either. Quite a character

"Physician, heal yourself," said the founder of the church in which Roger Mahony is a cardinal. He is the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles and he should heed the founder's admonition before accusing Arizonans of intemperateness. He says Arizona's new law pertaining to illegal immigration involves "reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation."

"Our highest priority today," he says, "is to bring calm and reasoning to discussions about our immigrant brothers and sisters." His idea of calm reasoning is to call Arizona's new law for coping with illegal immigration "the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law." He also says it is "dreadful," "abhorrent" and a "tragedy," and its assumption is that "immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder and consume public resources."

The problem of illegal immigration is inflaming Mahony, who strongly implies, as advocates for illegal immigrants often do, that any law intended to reduce such illegality is "anti-immigrant." The implication is: Because most Americans believe such illegality should be reduced, most Americans are against immigrants. This slur is slain by abundant facts -- polling data that show Americans simultaneously committed to controlling the nation's southern border and to welcoming legal immigration.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, said, "And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Mahony uncharitably judges Arizona legislators and the constituents they represent to be "mean-spirited." His evident assumption, one quite common today, is that certain ideas cannot be held by any intelligent person of good will.

But what does -- what can -- Mahony mean by asserting that Arizona's law is "useless"? He must believe either it will have no effect on illegal immigration or that any effect must be without social value. He can know neither to be true.

Late night comedians, recalling World War II movies in which Gestapo officers demand "show me your papers," find echoes of fascism in Arizona's belief that there are occasions when police officers can reasonably ask for someone's documentation. On Tuesday, Barack Obama, showing contempt for the professionalism and character of police officers, said: "Now suddenly if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you're going to be harassed."

Time was, presidents were held to higher standards than comedians. Today's liberals favor indignation over information, but lawyer Obama must know that since 1952 federal law has said: "Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him."

In today's debate, the threshold question is: Should the nation have immigration laws? Until 1875, there were none. There are strict libertarians who believe there should be none. But the vast majority who do not favor completely open borders believe there should be some laws restricting who can become residents, and presumably they believe such laws should be enforced.

Once Americans are satisfied that the borders are secure, the immigration policies they will favor will reflect their -- and the law enforcement profession's -- healthy aversion to the measures that would be necessary to remove from the nation the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants, 60 percent of whom have been here for more than five years. It would take 200,000 buses in a bumper-to-bumper convoy 1,700 miles long to carry them back to the border. Americans are not going to seek and would not tolerate the police methods that would be needed to round up and deport the equivalent of the population of Ohio.

Meanwhile, hysteria about domestic fascism is unhelpful, even though it is a liberal tradition. In his 1944 State of the Union address, FDR identified opponents of his domestic agenda as fascists. Declaring that his "one supreme objective" was "security," including "economic security, social security, moral security," he issued a dire warning: Woodrow Wilson's progressive policies had been frustrated by "rightist reaction" and "if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."

Today's hysterics are unoriginal. But they learned their bad manners from a master.




The insurance mandate in peril: "A ‘tell’ in poker is a subtle but detectable change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that reveals clues about the player’s assessment of his hand. Something similar has happened with regard to the insurance mandate at the core of last month’s health reform legislation. Congress justified its authority to enact the mandate on the grounds that it is a regulation of commerce. But as this justification came under heavy constitutional fire, the mandate’s defenders changed the argument — now claiming constitutional authority under Congress’s power to tax. This switch in constitutional theories is a tell: Defenders of the bill lack confidence in their commerce power theory. The switch also comes too late.”

Expatriate to El Salvador?: "In the years since the end of its civil war in 1992, El Salvador has developed an amazingly vibrant economy. There is good reason for this and Peruvian economist Alvaro Vargas Llosa describes the situation perfectly. In El Salvador people are ‘desperate to own and trade goods and services.’ Salvadorans are hard working and friendly people and here individuals from all walks of life are busy trying to get ahead. Most seem weary of politics and wish to move beyond the troubled past. El Salvador really has two economies, especially in the capital, San Salvador. One economy features upscale shopping malls and exclusive beach hotels. The other exists on the streets of the city. Despite the pressures of a worldwide economic downturn, people in both sectors are making heroic efforts in the pursuit of free enterprise.”

The creepy corporatism of Obama’s America (very reminiscent of Mussolini's Fascist Italy): "Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit has written President Barack Obama endorsing ’strong regulatory reform’ for U.S. banks. What’s more, Pandit wrote, ‘You can count on me and the entire Citi organization to support’ Obama’s reform efforts. Of course, the U.S. government owns 27% of Citi, so one shouldn’t be surprised at this. And even without the direct ownership, Citi has no more interest than other big coprorations heavily dependent on government regulation and increasingly at the mercy of discretionary, not to say arbitrary, government action, in antagonizing the Obama administration or Democrats in Congress — especially since the administration and the congressional Democrats have shown a willingness to go after those standing in their way. But what’s particuarly creepy about the letter is the phrase, ‘and the entire Citi organization.’”

Reasoned discussion through slander, insults and ridicule?: "A couple of days ago I came across a rather odd attack on libertarians. I’m used to such attacks myself. After so many years actively involved in libertarian circles I’ve seen them all. But this one struck me as particularly bizarre, though typically inaccurate. Two things were odd to me. One was that the article, by Jim Taylor, was posted at the website for Psychology Today, and secondly, the author claimed his ‘intentions’ were ‘curiosity and understanding rather than judgment and criticism.’ That struck me as odd because his focus was not on libertarian thinking at all but entirely on attacking, or insulting libertarians.”

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

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


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


1 May, 2010


I would normally cover ACLU shenanigans on TONGUE-TIED but there are more than speech issues involved in the three matters below:

ACLU hatred never stops

One would have thought that the SCOTUS decision in favor of the Mojave cross was the end of a long saga but the ACLU is not giving up -- although their grounds for hope are now very slim. Below is their latest wisdom on the matter:

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in the case Salazar vs. Buono — concerning a cross in the Mojave National Preserve that has been designated as a national memorial — wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, but was also encouraging in some respects. The question of whether or not the government’s sale of the land on which the cross sits to a private veterans’ organization remedies a violation of the Establishment Clause has been sent back to district court. The Supreme Court found that the lower court used the wrong legal standard in deciding to invalidate a transfer of the land on which the cross stands to private ownership. But the opinion does leave the door open to reaching a favorable outcome in the case, and, more importantly, does not preclude private citizens from challenging the constitutionality of religious displays on government property in the future.

The case, Salazar v. Buono, stems from a complaint raised by veteran and former National Park Service employee Frank Buono, who claimed that the presence of an overtly religious symbol on federal land represented unconstitutional favoritism toward a specific religion.

In 2002, while the federal district court case was pending, Congress designated the cross as a national memorial. In an apparent attempt to circumvent the Establishment Clause violation, Congress also transferred one acre of land on which the cross stands to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, with the provision that the VFW continue to maintain it as a war memorial.

The ACLU, which represented Buono in the case, will continue to argue that the transfer does not remedy the government’s unconstitutional endorsement of one particular religion. “The cross is unquestionably a sectarian symbol,” said the ACLU of Southern California’s Peter Eliasberg, who argued the case before the Court, “and we respectfully but strongly disagree with the suggestion by some members of the Court that the cross does not favor one religion.”



ACLU versus Arizona

The announcement below:
Today, MALDEF, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arizona and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) held a news conference on the House of Representatives Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol Building in Phoenix, Arizona to announce their future legal challenge to Governor Jan Brewer's recently signed SB1070. In addition, the organizations sought to address misinformation and fears that have been spreading throughout the Latino community across Arizona. MALDEF, ACLU, ACLU of Arizona and NILC leaders were joined by civil rights leaders Dolores Huerta, Richard Chavez and multi-Grammy winning artist and human rights advocate, Linda Ronstadt.

"Today, the three most experienced immigrants' and civil rights legal organizations nationwide – MALDEF, ACLU and NILC – announce their partnership, together with local Arizona-based counsel, to challenge SB1070 in court," stated MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz. "The Arizona community can be assured that a vigorous and sophisticated legal challenge will be mounted, in advance of SB1070's implementation, seeking to prevent this unconstitutional and discriminatory law from ever taking effect."

"This law will only make the rampant racial profiling of Latinos that is already going on in Arizona much worse," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "If this law were implemented, citizens would effectively have to carry 'their papers' at all times to avoid arrest. It is a low point in modern America when a state law requires police to demand documents from people on the street."

Linton Joaquin, General Counsel of NILC, added, "This unconstitutional law sends a strong message to all immigrants to have no contact with any law enforcement officer. The inevitable result is not only to make immigrants more vulnerable to crime and exploitation, but also to make the entire community less safe, by aggressively discouraging witnesses and victims from reporting crimes."

There are a number of serious constitutional problems with the law, the groups say. It violates the supremacy clause by interfering with federal immigration power and authority. The law also unlawfully invites racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color.

"What we are witnessing today is the blatant targeting of an entire American population, Latinos," stated civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. "We must not give in one inch in Arizona's effort to blame our community for all the ills of the state or their efforts to run us out. We have worked this land, built and maintained these buildings and sacrificed as much as any other. We must put an end to SB1070."

"My family, of both German and Mexican heritage, has a long history in Arizona. It has been our diverse and shared history in this state that unites us and makes us stronger," stated Linda Ronstadt. "What Governor Brewer signed into law last week is a piece of legislation that threatens the very heart of this great state. We must come together and stop SB1070 from pitting neighbor against neighbor to the detriment of us all."


The nature of the Arizona law is very misleadingly stated, of course. Go here to read a brief summary of what the law actually says. Note particularly that "The law only allows police to ask about immigration status in the normal course of “lawful contact” with a person, such as a traffic stop or if they have committed a crime" so it is NOT racial profiling

The law was also very carefully drafted to avoid legal challenges that have succeeded in the past so it is only the ACLU's unwavering hate of America that gives this challenge legs. The legal grounds stated above have been fully taken into account.


Amusing: ACLU versus Obama

The latest ACLU emission below
The American Civil Liberties Union today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject his administration's reported authorization of a program under which suspects, including American citizens, can be targeted, hunted and killed far away from any battlefield.

According to the letter, signed by ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, the use of lethal force outside of armed conflict zones is strictly limited by international law, and at least in some circumstances, the Constitution, which permit lethal force to be used only as a last resort and only to prevent imminent attacks that are likely to cause death or serious physical injury. The program is reportedly based on "kill lists" to which the names of U.S. citizens and others are added after a secret internal process.

"A program of long-premeditated and bureaucratized killing is plainly not limited to targeting genuinely imminent threats. Any such program is far more sweeping than the law allows and raises grave constitutional and human rights concerns," wrote Romero.

In addition to spelling out the reasons the targeted killing program is illegal, the letter points out that such a program risks the death of innocent people: "Over the last eight years, we have seen the government over and over again detain men as 'terrorists,' only to discover later that the evidence was weak, wrong, or non-existent…This experience should lead you to reject out of hand a program that would invest the CIA or the U.S. military with the unchecked authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield."


What they are talking about is strikes via unmanned Predator drones on terrorists in Pakistan. But in his election campaign Obama specifically promised to strike at terrorists in Pakistan. So I think the ACLU is pissing into the wind on this one.


Democrat promises are not worth the paper they are written on

Conservatives really need to believe that Leftists mean it when they say, "There is no such thing as right and wrong". But the Left will gradually reap as they sowed when nothing they say will in future be trusted. They are steadily destroying basic standards of civility

It must be tough being a Senate Republican these days. There really is no deal that can be reached with Senate Democrats that can be trusted, no law passed that won't be broken, and no compromise reached that won't be betrayed. Nothing is sacred anymore, especially the word of a Senator.

On Wednesday, after being assured that by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) that provisions for an unlimited bailout-takeover fund would be removed from his legislation, Senate Republicans lifted their objections to bringing the financial takeover legislation to the floor of the Senate.

In a statement, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who had been engaged with deliberations with Dodd, said, "I appreciate Chairman Dodd's assurance that my concerns relating to ending bailouts will be included in his bill. I take him at his word."

Apparently convinced that a major breakthrough had been achieved, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-KY) issued a statement saying, "The time afforded by my Republican colleagues and Sen. Ben Nelson was instrumental in gaining assurances from the Chairman that changes will be made to end taxpayer bailouts and the dangerous notion that certain financial institutions are too big to fail."

Only there's a big problem with this approach. Dodd never removed the bailout provisions. They're still in there, on pages 277 through 284 of the substitute amendment offered by Senators Dodd and Blance Lincoln (D-AR), there is the unlimited bailout-takeover authority and fund administered by the FDIC.

At least Dodd had the courtesy to betray Shelby to his face, on the Senate floor. After Republicans lifted their objections to proceeding to debate, thinking they had a deal to remove the bailout provisions, Dodd promptly took to the floor to say, "We haven't sealed anything, but we've had great conversations as two people of good will can have that I think will allow us to get there."

And then, Dodd only promised to allow Republican amendments to be heard and debated. So much for his word!

Of course this is not the first time where the trust of Congressional Republicans has been betrayed when it comes to the never-ending bailout regime in Washington.

Don't forget the grand compromise that brought House and Senate Republicans on board to the 2008 bailout. That "compromise" included in the Troubled Asset Relief Program was some form of an insurance program for so-called toxic assets. That part of it was never even enforced by either the Bush or Obama Administrations even though it clearly was stated in the law.

The $700 billion program was supposed to purchase mortgage-backed securities, but as noted by the Washington Times, only $30 billion was ever devoted to the purchase of the securities. Instead, the money wound up being used as a bank recapitalization fund for which is was never intended. Most of that money was promptly paid back, as apparently the banks that were "bailed out" were well-capitalized after all.

Banks and financial institutions instead opted to use a Federal Reserve program, which was never authorized by Congress, and lacked the same level of disclosure and oversight as TARP. The Fed wound up purchasing some $1.25 trillion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's mortgage-backed securities.

Is that what Congressional Republicans intended? Probably not. But that wasn't the end of it. After the Senate explicitly defeated a bailout for GM and Chrysler using the TARP, then-President George Bush went ahead and extended the loans anyway to the bankrupt automakers from the Treasury program.

After that, Barack Obama abused the government ownership of the two companies to redistribute their ownership from the bondholders who kept them afloat to the labor unions that had put them in the red in the first place.

These experiences, by now, should be highly educational for the Senate Republican Caucus.



NASA has entered the era of nothing

At the end of this year a new era will dawn at NASA. It will mark a first-ever period for our civil space program – the era of nothing. Since its inception, even if it has only been through fantastical imagery, NASA always had, ‘the next thing.’ In the beginning there was the X-15, then Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Programs. Near the end of the Apollo Program it was announced that the shuttle program had been approved and would be moving forward.

With the loss of space shuttle Columbia in 2003 it was decided that the next thing would be a return to the old thing – manned space exploration. This was supposed to come in the form of the Constellation Program, a byproduct of the ‘Vision for Space Exploration’ with its moon, Mars and beyond philosophy. Then President Barack Obama came into office and changed all that....

So President Obama can talk vaguely of going on to Mars and the asteroids all he likes, his plan in its current state, leaves America with neither the hardware to do it nor, (after they are laid off) the workforce to build it. Even some of the most despised presidents in American history, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush left us with manned space programs, (the shuttle and Constellation Programs respectively). Obama, just a little over a year in office has not only given us nothing, he has taken away the little we had.


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

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


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


"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state - capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn't lived that life.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931-2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here