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31 May, 2011

Seductive Beliefs

Thomas Sowell

One of the painfully revealing episodes in Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father" describes his early experience listening to a sermon by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Among the things said in that sermon was that "white folks' greed runs a world in need." Obama was literally moved to tears by that sermon.

This sermon may have been like a revelation to Barack Obama but its explanation of economic and other differences was among the oldest-- and most factually discredited-- explanations of such difference among all sorts of peoples in all sorts of places. Yet it is an explanation that has long been politically seductive, in countries around the world.

What could be more emotionally satisfying than seeing others who have done better in the world as the villains responsible for your not having done as well? It is the ideal political explanation, from the standpoint of mass appeal, whether or not it makes any sense otherwise.

That has been the politically preferred explanation for economic differences between the Malay majority and the more prosperous Chinese minority in Malaysia, or between the Gentile majority and the Jewish minority in various countries in Europe between the two World Wars.

At various other times and places, it has been the preferred explanation for the economic differences between the Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, the Africans and the Lebanese in Sierra Leone, the Czechs and the Germans in Bohemia and numerous other groups in countries around the world.

The idea that the rich have gotten rich by making the poor poor has been an ideological theme that has played well in Third World countries, to explain why they lag so far behind the West.

None of this was original with Jeremiah Wright. All he added was his own colorful gutter style of expressing it, which so captivated the man who is now President of the United States.

There is obviously something there with very deep emotional appeal. Moreover, because nothing is easier to find than sins among human beings, there will never be a lack of evil deeds to make that explanation seem plausible.

Because the Western culture has been ascendant in the world in recent centuries, the image of rich white people and poor non-white people has made a deep impression, whether in theories of racial superiority-- which were big among "progressives" in the early 20th century-- or in theories of exploitation among "progressives" later on.

In a wider view of history, however, it becomes clear that, for centuries before the European ascendancy, Europe lagged far behind China in many achievements. Since neither of them changed much genetically between those times and the later rise of Europe, it is hard to reconcile this role reversal with racial theories.

More important, the Chinese were not to blame for Europe's problems-- which would not be solved until the Europeans themselves finally got their own act together, instead of blaming others. If they had listened to people like Jeremiah Wright, Europe might still be in the Dark Ages.

It is hard to reconcile "exploitation" theories with the facts. While there have been conquered peoples made poorer by their conquerors, especially by Spanish conquerors in the Western Hemisphere, in general most poor countries were poor for reasons that existed before the conquerors arrived. Some Third World countries are poorer today than they were when they were ruled by Western countries, generations ago.

False theories are not just an intellectual problem to be discussed around a seminar table in some ivy-covered building. When millions of people believe those theories, including people in high places, with the fate of nations in their hands, that is a serious and potentially disastrous fact of life.

Despite a carefully choreographed image of affability and cool, Barack Obama's decisions and appointments as President betray an alienation from the values and the people of this country that are too disturbing to be answered by showing his birth certificate.

Too many of his appointees exhibit a similar alienation, including Attorney General Eric Holder, under whom the Dept. of Justice could more accurately be described as the Dept. of Payback.



Mediscare: The Surprising Truth

Republicans are being portrayed as Medicare Grinches, but ObamaCare already has seniors' health care slated for draconian cuts

The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that the health-reform bill it passed last year improved Medicare's finances. Although you'd never know it from the current state of the Medicare debate—with the Republicans being portrayed as the Medicare Grinches—the claim is true only because ObamaCare explicitly commits to cutting health-care spending for the elderly and the disabled in future years.

Yet almost no one familiar with the numbers thinks that the planned brute-force cuts in Medicare spending are politically feasible. Last August, the Office of the Medicare Actuary predicted that Medicare will be paying doctors less than what Medicaid pays by the end of this decade and, by then, one in seven hospitals will have to leave the Medicare system.

But suppose the law is implemented just as it's written. In that case, according to the Medicare Trustees, Medicare's long-term unfunded liability fell by $53 trillion on the day ObamaCare was signed.

But at what cost to the elderly? Consider people reaching the age of 65 this year. Under the new law, the average amount spent on these enrollees over the remainder of their lives will fall by about $36,000 at today's prices. That sum of money is equivalent to about three years of benefits. For 55-year-olds, the spending decrease is about $62,000—or the equivalent of six years of benefits. For 45-year-olds, the loss is more than $105,000, or nine years of benefits.

In terms of the sheer dollars involved, the law's reduction in future Medicare payments is the equivalent of raising the eligibility age for Medicare to age 68 for today's 65-year-olds, to age 71 for 55-year-olds and to age 74 for 45-year-olds. But rather than keep the system as is and raise the age of eligibility, the reform law instead tries to achieve equivalent savings by paying less to the providers of care.

What does this mean in terms of access to health care? No one knows for sure, but it almost certainly means that seniors will have difficulty finding doctors who will see them and hospitals who will admit them. Once admitted, they will enjoy fewer amenities such as private rooms and probably a lower quality of care as well.

Seniors attend a "Medicare Monday" seminar in Centennial, Co., to learn how federal health care reform will affect Medicare and their personal health insurance plans.

Are there better ways of solving the problem? The graph nearby shows three proposals, including the new law, and compares them to the current system. For the past 40 years, real Medicare spending per capita has been growing about two percentage points faster than real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Since real GDP per capita grows at just about 2%, that means Medicare is growing at twice the rate of our economy—and is clearly unsustainable. If nothing is done, we'll see a doubling of the Medicare tax burden in less than 20 years.

There are currently an array of proposals to slow Medicare spending to a rate of GDP growth plus 1%. These include a proposal by President Obama's debt commission, chaired by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, and former Sen. Alan Simpson; one by former Clinton budget director Alice Rivlin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.); and another by former Sen. Pete Domenici and Ms. Rivlin. Unlike the Medicare Trustees, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also scores ObamaCare at GDP plus 1%.

Of greater political interest is the House Republican budget proposal, sponsored by Mr. Ryan. This proposal largely matches the new law's Medicare cuts for the next 10 years and then provides new enrollees with a sum of money to apply to private insurance (premium support). Even though the CBO assumed premium support would increase with consumer prices (price indexing), the resolution that House Republicans actually voted for contains no specific escalation formula. A natural alternative is letting premium support payments grow at the annual rate of increase in per-capita GDP (GDP indexing).

In light of the heated rhetoric of recent days, it is worth noting that for everyone over the age of 55, there is no difference between the amount of money the House Republicans voted to spend on Medicare and the amount that the Democrats who support the health-reform law voted to spend. Even for younger people, the amounts are virtually identical with GDP indexing.

The law's spending path depends on making providers pay for all the future Medicare shortfalls. But since no one can force health-care providers to show up for work, short of a health-care provider draft this reform ultimately cannot succeed. The House Republican path, on the other hand, would make a sum of money available to each senior to choose among competing private plans—much the way Medicare Advantage provides insurance today for about one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries.

That's a good starting point. But we believe that a truly successful overhaul of Medicare will require at least three additional elements.

First, there must be general system reform. You cannot credibly hold senior health-care spending way below everyone else's spending, nor can we make taxpayers pay for all the future elderly's health care. We must create a reform that reduces the rate of growth of health-care costs for everyone—young and old.

The best reform proposal for the non-elderly, interestingly, is a health plan Mr. Ryan has cosponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.). It would give all Americans the same tax relief for health insurance and encourage market forces to constrain costs.

Second, if federal spending is to be contained, young people need to be able to save in tax-free accounts during their working years in order to replace the dollars they will not be getting from Medicare.

Finally, providers need to be able to repackage and reprice their services under Medicare in ways that lower costs and improve quality. Anyone who saves Medicare a dollar should be able to keep 25 cents (or some other significant amount). Once that happens, private-sector innovations will spring up overnight.



A Time for Truth

My hope for a GOP Presidential candidate next year is of course Sarah Palin but the media appear to have put her offside with centrist voters by misrepresenting her enthusiasm as naivety so we may have to look at other candidates -- JR

"This is a brilliant and passionate book by a brilliant and passionate man. It is a profound analysis of the suicidal course on which our beloved country is proceeding – so clearly and so simply written, with such eloquence, such obvious sincerity, such a broad base in recorded fact and personal experience, that it is hard to see how any reasonable man who wishes his fellow citizens well can fail to be persuaded by it."

The book, about which Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman felt so passionately, was written in 1977. At the time, we were told gas prices would never come down, the American dream was on the decline, unemployment in America would perpetually be at high levels, and big government was the only answer.

The parallels to our current time are striking. The book was William E. Simon's A Time for Truth. In the course of a presidential campaign, getting the message right is one challenge. It's easier than following through with policies that match the rhetoric. But give former Governor Tim Pawlenty credit for having picked a campaign theme that rises to the level of our nation’s challenges: A Time for Truth.

Simon detailed how “irrational edicts” from the federal government "paralyzed and partially destroyed our energy industries, leading to shortages, [and] danger to the welfare of the citizens."

Three decades later, these words still hold true. The election of President Barack Obama saw a rapid increase in regulations and irrational edicts. His overhauls of the financial, energy and health care industries shifted the balance of power toward government and away from the entrepreneurial spirit that Simon advocated and our nation’s founders envisioned.

If any Republican nominee is to succeed, he or she must adopt Simon’s vision. America needs a staunch defender of what our nation’s founders proposed who will continuously speak out against President Obama’s takeover of our country. The need for clarity and conviction cannot be understated either, because there is one profound and frightening difference between Simon’s era and now.

As Simon notes, despite the politics of his era, there was "a substantial awareness in our political leadership that our fiscal and economic policies have gone awry and that the multiple promises of cradle-to-grave security for our citizens can no longer be responsibly expanded."

Now, of course, the Washington Establishment is intent on creating new entitlements (see Obamacare) and centralizing power. The Establishment leads the charge in vilifying any serious attempt to reform the very programs that threaten to bankrupt our country. With government-dependency in America at record levels, the country is at a crossroads.

Simon, reflecting upon his interaction with Soviet officials, explained there was a "deep, unnamable difference between…men who have never known freedom and men who were born free." It was then that Simon "understood down to my very roots how important my liberty was to me." If the government successfully lays the "groundwork for an economic dictatorship," our children and grandchildren will never know the freedoms previous generations took for granted.

Simon concludes “the overriding principle to be revived in American political life is that which sets individual liberty as the highest political value – that value to which all other values are subordinate and that which, at all times, is to be given the highest 'priority' in policy discussions.”

From Simon's book to Pawlenty's campaign, it is indeed a time for truth. And kudos to Tim Pawlenty for taking on some of presidential politics most sacred cows. He deserves credit for his recent speeches in Iowa, Florida, and at the Cato Institute. In Iowa, Pawlenty discussed the need to end ethanol subsidies.

Considering the biofuel industry accounts for nearly one-tenth of Iowa’s economy, this was the opposite of political pandering. Pawlenty spoke in Florida about the need to reform entitlements. In a state with the largest population of senior citizens in the country, and one that plays a significant role in both the Republican primary and general elections, Pawlenty's proclamation defies conventional political wisdom, but rises to the challenges we face.

Last week, at the libertarian Cato Institute, Pawlenty was asked about our nation's defense budget. "I’m not one who is going to stand before you and tell you we should cut the defense budget," Pawlenty said. Good for him. As our military's responsibilities are increasing, it is simultaneously being hollowed out. This is the truth we need to hear.

Pawlenty is coming out of the woodwork as a mild-mannered conservative with clear solutions. He will have to fully develop those solutions and demonstrate his conviction, but at a time where demagoguery and political grandstanding are rampant, a candidate who speaks the blunt-honest truth about the crisis we're in and the tough decisions ahead might be what the country needs. He has plenty of blemishes on his record that will need to be explained, but that is what the next year will be about.

For now, after years of Washington giving easy answers and passing on difficult decisions, it is indeed a time for truth. Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign is off to a great start.


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

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


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


30 May, 2011

The Great Disappointment

Dr. Jack Wheeler

Mr. and Mrs. Zero visited Westminster Abbey on their trip to London this week (5/24), and signed the guestbook. Mrs. Zero just signed her name. Mr. Zero wrote a message - "It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage, and common sacrifice" - then signed and dated it: 24 May 2008.

Yes, 2008. You can see for yourself. There's no way around it. This is a teachable moment that goes far beyond pointing out what massive ridicule would have befallen George Bush or Sarah Palin had they made such a stupid mistake, yet is ignored and brushed aside by the OPM - Obama Propaganda Media - and the worshippers of the Cult of Zero..

There are two lessons to be taught and learned, one about Zero himself, the other about his followers.

Regarding the first, it is now no longer deniable that the current occupant of the White House is not very bright. There have been too many boneheaded stupidities - "57 states," "Austrian" is a language, on and on. Not knowing what year it is - 2008??? - clinches it.

Yet dumb gaffes only hint at the problem. The stunning ignorance he displayed in demanding Israel return to its 1967 "borders" - he didn't even know they weren't borders but cease-fire lines - is far scarier.

There is simply no evidence that this man is really smart or has any real grasp of history, geography, and the world as it is. It's a myth carefully constructed and maintained by the lib media that he's oh-so-brilliant - which is why he won't permit his college transcripts to be released (Occidental, Harvard, Columbia) because they'd show such mediocre grades.

What the Westminster Abbey guestbook gaffe provides is a marvelous opportunity for any Pub pres-aspirant with the moxie to exploit it.

It is a fabulous visual which anyone can instantly see and laugh at. The aspirant could hold up the photo of it in a campaign television ad, point the goof out and note, "We have a president who does not know what year it is," then ask the viewer:

"Mr. Obama is very skilled at reading a carefully scripted speech off a teleprompter. But his reputation for intelligence may be a myth. Is, for example, the reason he will not allow his college transcripts from Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard because they show him to be a C student with poor grades? My grades from college are available for all to see. I challenge Mr. Obama to do the same." Such an ad by, say, Herman Cain, would go YouTube viral in a New York second.

Thus the first lesson of "24 May 2008" - we need a Republican presidential candidate willing to ridicule Zero.

Every day since January 20, 2009 has brought fresh evidence of Zero's malfeasance, mendacity, and mediocrity. The evidence is by now as massive as Mount Everest, and keeps mounting. The Chicago thug corruption is blatant for all to see - the ZeroCare Waivergate scandal being just one example. There are dozens of others.

As the economy continues to go south, as tens of millions of people remain unemployed, with all of us facing record inflation - especially with food and energy prices - while enduring ever more rules and government intrusion into our lives, the numbers of true believers in the Cult of Zero will steadily dwindle.

And thus we can predict the exact date of The Great Disappointment to be experienced by members of the cult: November 6, 2012.

The prediction is conditional. It is entirely possible that the Republican candidate will be a nebbish afraid to go for Zero's jugular, or allow the Dems to get away with the gigantic nation-wide voter fraud they are planning.

Much more HERE


Israel: Obama shows once again how little he understands

Where he has failed so dramatically is in the arena he himself has so frequently identified as vital: the search for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. His record of grotesque, humiliating and total diplomatic failure in his dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has few parallels in American history. Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed. This last defeat — Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties — may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla — or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.

The Prime Minister mopped the floor with our guy. Obama made his ’67 speech; Bibi ripped him to shreds. Obama goes to AIPAC, nervous, off-balance, backing and filling. Then Bibi drops the C-Bomb ["City on the Hill", I assume -- JR] demonstrating to the whole world that the Prime Minister of Israel has substantially more support in both the House and the Senate than the President of the United States.

President Obama’s new Middle East policy, intended to liquidate the wreckage resulting from his old policy and get the President somehow onto firmer ground, lies in ruins even before it could be launched. He had dropped the George Mitchell approach, refused to lay out his own set of parameters for settling the conflict, and accepted some important Israeli red lines — but for some reason he chose not to follow through with the logic of these decisions and offer Netanyahu a reset button.

As so often in the past, but catastrophically this time, he found the “sour spot”: the position that angers everyone and pleases none. He moved close enough to the Israelis to infuriate the Palestinians while keeping the Israelis at too great a distance to earn their trust. One can argue (correctly in my view) that US policy must at some level distance itself from the agendas of both parties to help bring peace. But that has to be done carefully, and to make it work one first needs to win their trust. Obama lost the trust of the Israelis early in the administration and never earned it back; he lost the Palestinians when he was unable to deliver Israeli concessions he led them to expect.

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more. The President has significantly less capacity to act than he did a week ago. The Bin Laden dividend, already cruelly diminished by what The Daily Caller said was the administration’s “victory lap in a clown car”, is now history. The GOP, in trouble recently as voters recoil from what many see as Republican extremism on issues like Medicare and public unions, will be able to use the national security card in new and potent ways.

As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.

It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God. Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value. Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: “I think it’s clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace.”

President Obama probably understands this intellectually; he understands many things intellectually. But what he can’t seem to do is to incorporate that knowledge into a politically sustainable line of policy. The deep American sense of connection to and, yes, love of Israel limits the flexibility of any administration. Again, the President seems to know that with his head. But he clearly had no idea what he was up against when Bibi Netanyahu came to town.

As a result, he’s taking another ride in the clown car, and this time it isn’t a victory lap.



Obama's Regulatory Reform Sham Continues

President Obama's much-praised efforts at regulatory reform remain a sham. This past week, while the President traveled overseas, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in conjunction with rolled out its review of proposed changes to government regulations.

The reform will affect at least 30 federal agencies and is designed to "always consider costs and ways to reduce burdens for American businesses when developing rules; expand opportunities for public participation and public comment; and ensure that regulations are driven by real science." An elegant White House web page, accompanied by an online, explanatory video, supported by an in-person appearances from OMB Director Jacob Lew and Cass Sunstein, and countless, premature victory laps around Washington cannot disguise the emptiness of many of the proposed reforms. For, what has been released is just the plan for the plan.

According to the hype, after 120 days of effort, federal agencies have come forward with "groundbreaking" ideas--not for ways to cut costs to taxpayers by reducing regulations--but with ideas on how to generate ideas on how to implement potential regulatory review and reform.

What a lot of hullabaloo about something that hasn't happened, and which, if the timelines identified in the 30 agency plans are anything to go by, will not happen until 2012--long after the current debt ceiling has exploded and too late to provide significant contributions to the federal budget and deficit debate.

Any talk from Sunstein about billions in savings is premature at best and possibly constitutes a deliberate attempt at fraud since changes will be proposed to be implemented in 2012 or later--so that it will be difficult to measure accountability and results until long after the November 2012 presidential election.

Reading some of the agency plans housed on the White House website shows that much of what the White House is calling an "unprecedented, government-wide review" is little more than a rehash of policies, planning and strategies proposed during the Clinton and Bush Administrations. Many of those actions, which were identified by Obama's predecessors, have been left languishing during the Obama Administration because they called for tough actions.

Every time it seems is if the Obama Administration cannot sink any lower in its efforts to deceive the American taxpayer, the limbo stick comes out, and Americans get to see, once again, just how low the Obama Administration can go. Team Obama's Regulations Review seems to be a colossal fraud, during the course of which, agencies are actually increasing the regulations affecting individuals and businesses.

The Regulations Review process is adding to the size of government by creating new review committees, adding to the cost of government because none of these review bodies operate free of cost, and Sunstein and his team seem to be banking on the fact that few will read the hollow reports, so that the Obama Administration can present their "savings" howsoever they choose.

Then there is the issue of transparency. For example, the Department of Education's report along with 29 others listed on the White House site can only be commented on by providing personal Facebook information, thus eliminating commenter anonymity, which will certainly affect the content of the feedback, and forcing non-Facebook users to search for alternative means to provide comments to the Obama Administration.

In another example, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) report of regulatory reform spends almost approximately 9 pages of its 12-page report discussing the plan for the plan and spends less than three pages listing recommended regulations considered for regulatory reform. Of the five reforms listed, three of the five comprise regulation reforms were begun and completed during the Bush Administration.

One of the recommendations (#4, p.10) a review of the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) pricing clause was an idea conceived, a Blue ribbon commission formed and funded and with findings completed during the previous Administration. These findings from the independent commission have been waiting for the current GSA Administrator to act upon for the past two years.

Instead, at no small expense to the American taxpayer, the current team at GSA seems to be saying: let's just kick that can down the road because confronting the challenges of this out-of-date, ineffective rule is just too scary. So, in this plan for the plan, the current team at GSA promises to look at the pricing clause problem with a date uncertain in 2012 for possible resolution. In the case of GSA's blatant misrepresentation, claiming credit for proposing new and "unprecedented" regulatory reform reviews based partly on a recommendation that the Obama Team will launch the Pricing Clause review is nothing other than a fraud, and an easily exposed one at that.

By contrast, the Department of Education report and the Department of Homeland Security report identify in their reports that much of the to-be-discussed regulatory reform was initiated during the Bush Administration.

For the Obama Administration to claim that the Regulatory Review chicanery comprises a "defining moment" is an insult to the American taxpayer who has to foot the bill, and the folks in government who have put their names on these reports should be ashamed.




Democrats afraid to propose a Budget: "Let's see it," a frustrated Sen. Jeff Sessions said on the Senate floor recently. "Let's bring it forward." By "it," Sessions meant a Democratic proposal for a 2012 federal budget. In recent days, Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, has been asking, pushing, pleading, cajoling and begging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to put forward a Democratic plan. So far, Reid has steadfastly refused. Passing a yearly budget for the federal government is a fundamental responsibility of Congress. Lawmakers do not have to spend their time naming post offices or passing healthcare reform. But they do have to pass a budget. In 2010, neither the House nor the Senate did so."

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

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

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


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


29 May, 2011

Much ado about Bibi and Barack

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN ALL WAS SAID AND DONE, much more was said than done during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's high-profile visit to Washington. But once all the words were spoken, what was left behind?

For the better part of a week, Netanyahu and President Barack Obama engaged in a fraught pas de deux, beginning with the president's speech on Middle East policy at the State Department the day before Netanyahu arrived and culminating in the prime minister's address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. It was indisputably a riveting encounter, but there was no consensus on what it meant.

By the time Netanyahu's visit ended, he was being variously blamed (by Eliot Spitzer in Slate) for having picked "a useless, counterproductive fight with the president" and hailed (by Edward Morrissey in The Week) for having established himself "as the real statesman in the conflict." No one could deny the rapturous enthusiasm with which Congress received Netanyahu -- senators and representatives gave him more than two dozen standing ovations -- but did such pro-Israel passion risk "undermining America's long-term interests in the region" (as Michael A. Cohen charged in Foreign Policy)? Or did it signal the creation of "a significant new political dynamic in the United States" (as former UN Ambassador John Bolton wrote for Fox News)?

But such analyses strain too hard to assign a consequence to Netanyahu's trip to Washington. The interplay among Obama, Netanyahu, and Congress made for an interesting show, but it changed nothing important on the ground. The US-Israeli relationship was and is strong. The Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" was and is fruitless. Those realities are no different today than they were last month.

If anything, Netanyahu's visit and its attendant fireworks served mostly as a reminder of two political axioms: (1) It takes more than Congress to change a president's foreign policy. But (2) it takes more than a president to change a fundamental US relationship.

For better or for worse, presidential attitudes shape US foreign policy, and it is clear that the current president, unlike his two predecessors, feels little instinctive warmth for Israel. In his address last week to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, Obama described America's commitment to Israel as "unwavering," "ironclad," "unbreakable," "profound," and several other synonyms for "strong" -- which it is. He also described himself as a friend of Israel, which is not so clear. Between picking fights over housing starts in Jerusalem or insinuating that Israeli policy in Gaza endangers US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president seems at times to go out of his way to telegraph an aloof coolness toward the Jewish state.

That was why Obama's talk of an Israeli retrenchment to the pre-1967 lines, even with "mutually agreed swaps," provoked such a strong reaction. It reinforced what many see as Obama's lack of empathy for Israel's security predicament, and suggested that he is more interested in getting Israel to change its shape than in getting the Palestinians to change their behavior. Obama later backtracked, and his apologists have been arguing that his words were misconstrued. But the president knew those words would spark a firestorm, and he insisted on saying them anyway. Clearly he intended to intensify the pressure on Israel.

Yet even the president of the United States is limited in the amount of pressure he can put on an ally with which the American people feel such a powerful affinity.

There are many illustrations of American exceptionalism, but surely one of the most striking is the solidarity with Israel that is such an abiding feature of US opinion. That solidarity is deep-rooted and durable; it cuts across age and sex and party line; and it is mirrored in the views of America's elected officials.

The thunderous reception Prime Minister Netanyahu received on Capitol Hill last week was as heartfelt as anything in American politics can be. It reflected the kinship of common values that links the greatest liberal democracy in the world with one of the smallest -- and that has done so since Harry Truman recognized the embattled state of Israel within minutes of its birth 63 years ago this month.

Israel is still embattled, and its enemies hate Americans as much as they hate Jews. That too helps explain the bond that Americans feel for Israel.

"Israel has no better friend than America," Netanyahu rightly told Congress, "and America has no better friend than Israel." The truth of those words is something most Americans know intuitively. No wonder Congress cheered.



The GOP's New York Spanking

Republicans need to go on offense against Mediscare

We hope Republicans don't believe their own spin that their candidate lost Tuesday's special House election mainly because of a third party candidate or because New York state is hostile territory. They lost because Democrats ran a Mediscare campaign, and the GOP candidate lacked an adequate response.

Democrat Kathy Hochul, the Erie County clerk, won 47% of the vote in a district that was one of only four in New York that John McCain won in 2008. She ran a one-issue campaign against Paul Ryan's Medicare reform, and she had the advantage of not having voted for ObamaCare's $500 billion in Medicare cuts. Ms. Hochul also caught a big, late assist from Newt Gingrich and his own-goal attack on Mr. Ryan's plan.

Republican Jane Corwin, a state legislator, won 43% after saying she would have voted for the Ryan plan but then devoted most of her time to deploring Mediscare tactics rather than fighting back. Ms. Corwin admitted Monday that she let the attacks go unanswered until the last minute, and the House GOP campaign committee was remarkably unprepared for what everyone knew was coming.

An imposter on the tea party line received 9%, but the most important political story is that Ms. Corwin lost the economically downscale voters who swung to the GOP in 2010. Those voters are susceptible to unrebutted claims that they might lose health-care coverage in retirement.

The GOP consultant class is already taking the media's lead and urging the GOP to flee Mr. Ryan's plan and abandon any serious entitlement reform. But a GOP panic will only compound the losses. All but four House Republicans have already voted for the plan, and they will see Mediscare ads from here to November 2012 no matter what they say. They need a better explanation for the Ryan plan, but more than that they need a strategy to go on offense.

One place to start is by attacking the Democratic plan to cut Medicare via political rationing. Mr. Ryan's budget had the virtue of embarrassing President Obama's spend-more initial budget, and the White House responded by proposing to increase the power of the new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to decide what, and how much, Medicare will pay for. The ObamaCare bill goes to great lengths to shelter this 15-member, unelected board from Congressional review, with the goal of letting these bureaucrats throw granny over the cliff if Medicare isn't reformed. Yet few Americans know anything about IPAB or its rationing intentions.

More broadly, reformers can't let Democrats separate Medicare from the larger issue of exploding debt and economic prosperity. Republicans will lose an entitlement debate every time if it's only about austerity. They need to link Medicare reform, and spending cuts generally, to faster growth and rising incomes. The greatest threat to Medicare and Social Security is a debt-laden, slow-growth economy like the current 1.8% recovery.

The biggest failing of House and Senate Republicans this year has been their emphasis on budget accounting more than growth economics. This is understandable given the tea party's 2010 electoral influence, the magnitude of the deficits, and Mr. Obama's fiscal abdication. But it has too often made the GOP come across as bookkeepers.

Assuming they get some spending cuts and budget reform as part of the debt-limit talks, Republicans would be wise to focus most of their legislative attention on raising growth to 4% or 5% of GDP. This is the least the U.S. should be growing after the deep recession of 2007-2009, and the failure to do so is Mr. Obama's biggest political vulnerability.

The tragedy of the modern entitlement state is that it has become too big to afford but also too entrenched to easily reform. (See Greece, riots in the streets.) Republicans can't give up the cause, but New York is a warning that they need to pursue it as part of a larger agenda that restores the American middle-class's economic hope.



Tax orgy planned -- by Guess Who?

A 62% Top Tax Rate? Democrats have said they only intend to restore the tax rates that existed during the Clinton years. In reality they're proposing rates like those under President Carter

Media reports in recent weeks say that Senate Democrats are considering a 3% surtax on income over $1 million to raise federal revenues. This would come on top of the higher income tax rates that President Obama has already proposed through the cancellation of the Bush era tax-rate reductions.

If the Democrats' millionaire surtax were to happen—and were added to other tax increases already enacted last year and other leading tax hike ideas on the table this year—this could leave the U.S. with a combined federal and state top tax rate on earnings of 62%. That's more than double the highest federal marginal rate of 28% when President Reagan left office in 1989. Welcome back to the 1970s....

Taxes on investment income are also headed way up. Suspending the Bush tax cuts, which is favored by nearly every congressional Democrat, plus a 3.8% investment tax in the ObamaCare bill (which starts in 2014) brings the capital gains tax rate to 23.8% from 15%. The dividend tax would potentially climb to 45% from the current rate of 15%.

Much more HERE


A strange picture of Broke Britain

See EYE ON BRITAIN for the true picture

Last week David Brooks, the faux-conservative columnist at the New York Times penned a column extolling the British national political system. The piece, written to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Europe, praised Britain for moving to social democracy in the early Twentieth Century. He concedes that overt socialism nearly wrecked the British system during the 1960s and 70s, but maintains, quite sensibly, that the estimable Margaret Thatcher tackled Britain’s problems (although the New York Times roundly chastised her) and that subsequent governments, both Conservative and Labor, consolidated those gains. Brooks waxes rhapsodic about the end result: A Britain that has moved "from a centralized, industrial era state to a networked, postindustrial one" whatever that means.

In praising the British system and the politicos who work the levers Brooks inadvertently reveals a number of biases of his own and reveals weaknesses as a theorist of reputedly conservative leanings. Brooks lavishes praise on the British system as "a picture of how politics should work." He doesn’t bother with the fact that many Britons do not work; he only claims that British politics function. In this broad claim he misses the point that political life is not synonymous with a national culture.

Britain today suffers from most of the same ills plaguing America, often to a greater extent. British illegitimacy rates have soared to 70%, their welfare dependency rate exceeds ours, and Britons seem to accept 15% unemployment rates as the new normal. Certainly, Britain suffers from unchecked third-world immigration, and the Islamic terror threat is a daily reality, as anyone who has passed through Heathrow Airport in the last six years can attest (your humble TH columnist was instructed to arrive at Heathrow at 3:15 AM for an 8:00 AM flight during the summer of 2006). Still David Brooks tells his readers that Britain works, and Mr. Brooks is an honorable man.

After singing the praises of the British system, David Brooks cannot help himself but to take potshots at the American scene. He mentions, "…Britain is also blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school." Are we so different? American national politics are dominated by people who live in Washington and have known each other since they were elected. Never mind that they are the same people who got us into this mess in the first place.

Mr. Brooks goes on to state, "…the big newspapers still set the agenda here, not cable TV, or talk radio." He clearly tips his hand here, showing his frustration that the public no longer pays attention to the NYT anymore and prefers Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. One wonders if Brooks and his fellow center-right Anglophiles favor the heavy-handed Britons efforts to squelch popular conservatism such as declaring the American radio personality Michael Savage a “purveyor of hate” and refusing him entry to Britain?

The next target on Brooks' little list is American politics and, of course, politicians. He claims, "…the quintessential American pol is standing in his sandbox screaming affirmations to members of his own tribe, the quintessential British pol is standing across a table arguing face-to-face with his opponents." Brooks apparently doesn't care for representative democracy, if one takes his comments seriously. He goes on to state, "…British leaders and pundits know their counterparts better. They are less likely to get away with distortions and factual howlers. They are less likely to believe the other Party is homogeneously evil." Oh, really? This would come as news to Dame Margaret Thatcher, who endured abuse, slander, libel, and relentless character assassination during her storied tenure as Prime Minister.

After establishing the superiority of the British chattering class, he briefly touches on a number of subthemes such as a British tendency to eschew moralism and dogmatism in politics and the overall superiority of British public life. He finishes with a flourish: "as President Barack Obama visits London, we will get a glimpse of the British political culture. We Americans have no reason to feel smug or superior." One gets the distinct impression that Mr. Brooks wishes that he could import some of the civilized nature of British conservatism to America and that he feels much more at home with the British Tories instead of the yahoos who populate conservative circles in America, people who write columns for Townhall, and even worse, the people who read those columns.

The reader might be grudgingly tempted to agree with David Brooks that a little bit of English virtue might be helpful today. The old British stiff upper lip in the face of personal adversity would constitute a definite improvement over the new American cultural ideal of pouring one's deepest troubles while sitting on a couch next to a tearful Oprah Winfrey. Likewise, a dollop of Edwardian-era certitude concerning culture, duty, honor and moral clarity would be welcome today. Unfortunately, David Brooks will have none of it. His writings have resonated with great admiration for the British cradle to grave welfare state and his "conservatism" exists primarily as a sort of altruistic Disraeli-Beaconsfield attitude of noblesse oblige, leading the masses where they need to be taken.

An alternate reading of British history should serve as a warning to Americans and jolt us out of an anglophile fog. Many British commentators like Paul Johnson and Auberon Waugh have noted that the building of a welfare state in Britain paralleled, almost precisely, the decline of Britain as a world power. This began in 1906 and picked up speed after World War I. The British governments appeased the working class with cheap beer and the dole. They financed these extravagances by cutting the defense budgets, leaving themselves dangerously vulnerable to German and Japanese aggression. Britain staved off defeat and disaster with Russian and American help. They then washed their hands of empire and international leadership. Today the Tory Party leader David Cameron is the Prime Minister of a third-rate power.


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

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


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


28 May, 2011

The Scots-Irish Voting Bloc

When national campaign strategists consider targeting an ethnic voting bloc to swing results in their direction, they typically consider blacks or Hispanics. Yet, an ethnic group they often overlook -- the Scots-Irish -- are the voters the Republican Party convinced in 2010 to swing back to GOP candidates, after they swung toward the Democratic Party in 2006, experts say.

As the 2012 election approaches and both parties eye the White House and U.S. House and Senate seats, strategists from both parties say the Scots-Irish again could be critical to winning.

"They could be the margins in a tight race," said Tom McMahon, a Washington strategist who was executive director of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 through 2009. The DNC, he said, wanted to ensure these voters "would be open-minded to voting for a Democrat,” because many are respected in their communities and could influence others.

"We found that when we talked about our core values as a party -- equality, fairness, social justice -- and how that applied to issues, we immediately made a connection to these voters,” he said. Democrats have not been effective with the Scots-Irish voting bloc during the past two years and might need to employ that approach again, McMahon believes.

The Scots-Irish apparently became voters to watch and court without knowing it.

“If they did know they were being focused on as part of a swing vote, they would probably vote in the exact opposite direction,” said Brad Todd, a Republican strategist in Washington.

Several hundred thousand Scots-Irish, primarily Presbyterians and other Protestants from the Irish province of Ulster, came to North America during the colonial era. Fiercely independent, clannish and skeptical of government, many settled in Pennsylvania and helped shape its industrial growth. They understood hardship and hard work.

"By the end of the 17th century, this became the largest migration from Europe to America,” said F. Thornton Miller, a professor of U.S. history at the University of Missouri.

These settlers preferred the hill country to coastal areas, building frontier communities across the ridges of the Allegheny Mountains, moving from Pennsylvania into Ohio, and then south into West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama. Often they became squatters, said Miller.

"They were known for fighting Indians, distilling and drinking whiskey. ... They became known as hillbillies," who didn't want to pay for land or to pay taxes, he said.

Today, political strategists might have some difficulty identifying these voters. Many don't identify with their ethnicity, and if they do, they are so distrustful of joining anything that they are hard to pin down, said McMahon and Todd.

“They have maintained their non-conformist nature all through the generations. ... This culture is the bellwether of change in this country, for either party,” said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Considered an authority on the Scots-Irish, Webb recently completed a documentary, “Born Fighting,” for the Smithsonian Channel and wrote several books on the subject.

Scots-Irish himself, Webb practices that non-conformist way of life: he was a Republican, and then ran as a Democrat for his Senate seat in 2006. He announced this year he would not seek reelection.

Todd determined the Scots-Irish were swing voters by poring over mapping data after the 2008 presidential election. He found a distinct voting pattern: people who rejected President Barack Obama, choosing Hillary Clinton in the primary election and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the general election.

“When I looked at that map, I realized I was looking at where the Scots-Irish had settled, starting with Pennsylvania and Ohio (and moving) diagonally south along the spine of Appalachia,” said Todd, who knows a little about these finicky voters because of his own Scottish and Irish bloodline.

He decided as a strategist that it made sense to target House seats Democrats held in areas settled by Scots-Irish families -- even if those congressional seats were considered to be "safe" Democratic incumbents.

His theory worked.

Republicans won eight of the 12 seats they targeted. Two GOP losses were in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Reps Jason Altmire of McCandless and Mark Critz of Johnstown held onto their seats by putting forth a message of maintaining independence from the Democratic Party and government regulation in Washington. That platform appealed to the populist nature of Scots-Irish voters in their districts.

“I campaigned on the same values that my constituents have," said Critz. "That independence from Washington resonates around here. We believe if government leaves us alone and doesn’t bother us, we will get the work done.”

Seventeen U.S. presidents are of Scots-Irish descent, including Obama, who visited with distant Gaelic relatives in Ireland this week -- perhaps because his strategists are beginning to realize he should not ignore these voters.



Mr. President, Put Less Pressure on Israel, More (Some) on Her Enemies

In recent months, Israel's struggles to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority have been marred by Palestinian decisions. Chief among these challenges is the decision by the Palestinian Authority to bring Hamas representatives into their leadership. If that did not present enough challenges, last week President Obama increased the pressure on Israel by unleashing new parameters for Israel-Palestinian negotiations based on pre-1967 borders. All supporters of Israel have to be alarmed and concerned at this new explicit position the U.S. has taken.

Following Obama’s expression that negotiations be based on pre-1967 borders, supporters of Israel from across the political spectrum have condemned the idea. Despite the caveats President Obama portends to place on these factors, this is no place to start a negotiation.

President Obama insists that the parameters of pre-1967 borders were always a starting point for prior U.S. administrations pointing to the Clinton administration. This is nonsense. Obama’s declaration last week was the first explicit statement by a U.S. President that pre-1967 borders would be the parameters of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu’s terse phone call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to Thursday’s speech should have tipped the President off that this indeed would be viewed as new ground.

Further, Israel would be foolish to accept these conditions and rightly rebuked Obama for his position. Israel would be foolish to give up the Golan Heights along the Syrian border, foolish to pull its military presence out of the West Bank, and foolish to walk into a negotiation under the unnecessary pressures and concessions President Obama chose to place on the only true democracy in the Middle East. As the Prime Minister aptly put it, the pre-1967 Israeli borders, “were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive from them.” Never again, will Israel return to these indefensible borders regardless of the unnecessary pressure President Obama chooses to place on Israel.

In early 2008, President Obama called for the U.S. to preside over a Muslim Summit including leaders of Syria and Iran, not understanding that elevating their criticism of Israel with a United States moderator would have been a dangerous development for Israel. Recently, Obama’s Secretary of State Clinton referred to Syrian President Assad as a “reformer”. In April 2011, Assad’s regime fired live ammunition on protesters. And Assad has repeatedly supported Hamas and Hezbollah in fomenting violence towards Israel. With reformers like Assad, who needs reform?

Mr. President, I would ask you to stop putting unnecessary pressure on Israel and start demanding more of these autocratic regimes that stifle democracy and threaten the only democracy in the Middle East—Israel. I would ask you to start resembling your recent predecessors who had both actions and words which carried an unwavering support for Israel. Each and every day, Israel remains on the frontline along with the United States in the War on Terror and is nothing but an unabashed ally of pro-democratic and pro-American policy. Mr. President, stop putting undue pressure on Israel and start providing more support.



The Great Liberator: Remembering Ronald Reagan at 100

Nile Gardiner

I had the privilege of attending the Ronald Reagan Centennial Gala in Washington earlier this week. Superbly organised by the Reagan Presidential Foundation, it was a truly magnificent event remembering the greatest American president of the last 100 years. Lech Walesa, the brave Polish freedom fighter who stood up to Communist tyranny, received the Reagan Centennial Freedom Award, and former First Lady Nancy Reagan delivered a moving message by video from her home in California.

Another highlight of the evening was the brilliant speech by British Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who paid tribute to the powerful partnership between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, an unbreakable alliance that defeated the Soviet Empire and won the Cold War. Dr. Fox, who has been the star performer of David Cameron’s cabinet and for decades a true friend of the United States, declared to much applause:
It is impossible to assess the contribution of Ronald Reagan to the history of the 20th century without considering another political giant of the era- Margaret Thatcher- his friend, ally and intellectual soul mate.

…. At a time when leadership was so needed they brought values, vision and valour. The Cold War did not end. It was won. It was not an accident. It came about because the leadership of the free world was committed politically, militarily, and morally to the defeat of totalitarian ideology and the triumph of liberty and freedom.

It was not an exercise in expediency but the application of conviction. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher understood that our strength lay in people not governments and that liberated from the dead hand of the state -of the self perpetuating bureaucracy- the innovation and drive of free people would triumph. They believed that competition is to be welcomed not feared- that it is the means by which we judge our talents, one against the other, without recourse to conflict.

They understood that there is a difference between tolerance and surrender and that the moral relativism that blurs the distinction between right and wrong needs to be confronted. They knew what they believed to be right and had the courage to say so- and they knew what they believed to be wrong and had the fortitude to confront it.

They knew that in a free society the market works – that the combined wisdom of millions of individuals, acting in their own interests, is always likely to trump the wisdom of the self selecting elites of government.

They were giants of history when history needed giants. We may never see their likes again in our lifetime. But living and nurturing their legacy is the greatest honour that any of us can do for their dreams, their endeavours and their hopes. Let us not let them down.

These are wise words that politicians on both sides of the Atlantic should heed, at a time of towering public debts, economic uncertainty, and mounting threats to the security of the free world. In her eulogy for President Reagan at his memorial service in Washington National Cathedral in June 2004, Lady Thatcher referred to her close friend as “the great liberator”, a leader who had freed hundreds of millions from tyranny in Europe, as well as offering renewed hope for the American people after a period of decline. In the words of the Iron Lady:
Ronald Reagan carried the American people with him in his great endeavours because there was perfect sympathy between them. He and they loved America and what it stands for: freedom and opportunity for ordinary people.

With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today, the world – in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw and Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev, and in Moscow itself, the world mourns the passing of the great liberator and echoes his prayer: God bless America.



Pay Freedom Forward, Properly Arm Our Armed Forces

As Americans begin the Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who have given their lives to defend the freedoms and way of life that we enjoy. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano writes in The Sacramento Bee that as we honor them, we must also “do our utmost not to add to their ranks”:
Cold gray monuments, brassy parades, majestic flyovers – they are all remembrances of those who died in the service of the nation. They are all part of our Memorial Day.

No day speaks more about American patriotism than the day we thank those who gave their lives in the fight for freedom. Yet, no ceremony, no solemnity can ever replace those we have lost . . .

So while on this day we honor sacrifice, we have a job the rest of the year as well: reminding our leaders in Washington to ensure that the troops who defend us have what they need to do the job – and come back to us. There is no better way to recognize the valor of those who serve, and demonstrate care and respect for their families, than to pay it forward – to properly arm our armed forces for the next fight.

Carafano writes that adequately funding defense is among America’s greatest challenges, and it is one that must be addressed:
After 10 years, we have put a lot of wear and tear on the armed forces. The danger that our military preparedness could plummet has never been greater.

Today, America has the smallest Navy since before World War I, and the force is aging. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the popular movie “Top Gun.” The ship featured in the film was the USS Enterprise. It is still at sea. In fact, it was commissioned in the 1960s, and is the second oldest ship in the U.S. fleet. Ships in the Navy’s sister fleet, the U.S. Coast Guard, are even older . . .

America’s Air Force has the oldest average fleet of planes and the fewest number of planes in its inventory at any time since World War II . . .

The Army and Marine Corps both have aging fleets of vehicles – and have just seen the plans to replace them pushed further down the road.

Annual spending to buy new equipment is already under-funded by about $50 billion a year. Still, there are calls to slash military spending.


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

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


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


27 May, 2011

Can A Test Really Tell Who's A Psychopath?

There's a story on NPR under the above heading. It discusses the accuracy of Hare's checklist for deciding who is a psychopath. The test is now widely used in the criminal justice system to decide who can safely be released on parole. NPR opposes that, of course.

But on what grounds? Their principal ground seems to be the case of one man: A man with a long record of violent crime who scores highly on the Hare test. Rather than seeing that long record of violent crime as excellent validation of the test (proof that the test measures what it purports to measure) they say: "Aha! But that is the man of yesteryear. After many years in prison he has now reformed."

Yet what they report of his behaviour they evaluate very naively. They report that the man realized he would have to adopt different behaviour to get out of jail and worked systematically on doing that. And he has really charmed lots of people by the new and caring man that he is.

What a laugh! That's exactly what psychopaths do. They are great actors when they need to be and charming people is their stock in trade. If the NPR writers knew anything about psychopaths, they would be embarrassed to write what they did. They have actually disproved their own case.


Lone blogger calls a bureaucracy to account

Bob McCarty is a campaigning blogger. He takes on a cause and hammers it repeatedly. And there is a lot to hammer in the good ol' goldurned US of A these days.

His latest foray is to tackle some oppression emanating from the USDA. Like all bureaucracies, its first priority is to hurt people rather than help them and their latest caper is to fine a couple $90,000 for the heinous offence of selling more than $500 worth of rabbits in one year. After a lot of effort, the USDA seem to be caving. See here.


Stop the Bad Guys?

I rarely disagree with Prof. Boudreaux but I have to say that his clever little libertarian formulation below is grossly at variance with the facts. He seems to think that conservatives heart foreign wars. He is wrong. Traditionally, American conservatives have been isolationists and that strain of thought is still well represented by Pat Buchanan and his American Conservative. And Ron Paul is, after all, a Texas Republican.

It has long been Democrat administrations that have involved America in foreign wars, from Wilson, to Roosevelt, to Truman to Kennedy. And note that America's latest war abroad -- Libya -- is also the work of a Democrat President.

Conservatives will only respond to attack, which is why Roosevelt had to provoke and facilitate the attack on Pearl Harbour. And despite many previous Muslim provocations, it was only when America was genuinely attacked on 9/11/2001 that George Bush swung into action which resulted in taking down two of the three most hostile Muslim regimes. It is only a pity that he left the Iranian madmen to continue their crazy and very dangerous course

It’s not too much of a simplification to say that modern American conservatives believe the national government to be ignorant, bumbling, and corrupt when it meddles in the U.S. economy, but sagacious, sure-footed, and righteous when it meddles in foreign-government affairs.

Nor are the boundaries of acceptable simplification breached by saying that modern American “liberals” believe the national government to be sagacious, sure-footed, and righteous when it meddles in the U.S. economy, but ignorant, bumbling, and corrupt when it meddles in foreign-government affairs.

This striking contradiction in political viewpoints has not, of course, gone unnoticed.

I was prompted to ponder this contradiction not long ago after I read an op-ed in the Washington Post by the neoconservative William Kristol calling on Uncle Sam to attempt to influence the outcomes of the recent popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. My ponderings produced a hypothesis: Modern conservatives and “liberals” are obsessively fixated on bad guys (just different ones).

For both conservatives and “liberals” the world is full of problems caused by bad actors—greedy, heartless, power-hungry autocrats who deploy illegitimately acquired power to trample the rights and livelihoods of the masses. Ordinary men and women seek liberation from these tyrants, but—being ordinary and oppressed—the typical person cannot escape the overlords’ predation without help. Their liberation requires forceful intervention by well-meaning and courageous outsiders.

For “liberals” the oppressed masses consist of workers and the poor, and the oligarchs who do the oppressing are business people and private corporations. What encourages this oppression are free markets and their accompanying doctrine of nonintervention by government into the economy.

However, contrary to the “liberals,” nonintervention rests on at least three truths: First, the complexities of modern economies are so great, and hard to discern, that it is absurdly fanciful to suppose that government officials can intervene without causing more harm than good. Even the most well-meaning government is akin to a bull in a china shop: Out of its natural element, even government’s most careful actions will be so sweeping and awkward that the net result will be unintentionally destructive.

Second, even if economic intervention begins with the best of motives, it degenerates into a process of transferring wealth from the politically powerless to the politically powerful. The interventions continue to sport noble names (such as the “Great Society programs” and the “Fair Labor Standards Act”) and to be marketed as heroic efforts to defend the weak against the strong. But these, however, are nothing more than cynical and disingenuous political marketing efforts aimed at hiding from the general public the actual, unsavory consequences of these interventions.

Third, many situations that appear to well-meaning outsiders to be so undesirable that someone simply must intervene to correct them are understood by many of the people most closely affected by these situations to be superior to likely alternatives.

“Unequal income distribution” is perhaps the foremost such situation. While most “liberals” are obsessed with the “distribution” of income and believe that people of modest means must be especially disturbed by the fact that some other people earn more than they earn, in fact the typical American of modest means is far less bothered by “unequal” income “distribution” than are members of the “liberal” academy and punditry. This latter fact only further confirms to the “liberal” mind that ordinary Americans need third-party intervention to save them from their own naiveté; ordinary Americans just don’t know what glories they are denying themselves by acquiescing in the prevailing economic power structure.

Modern “liberals” dismiss these three objections to economic intervention as being fanciful excuses used by the economically powerful—and, even worse, also by the economically naive free-market faithful—to provide (flimsy) intellectual cover for predations by capitalist bad guys. The realistic assessments by modern “liberals” indicate to them that economic intervention is necessary and righteous.

A nearly identical debate plays out on the foreign-policy front, but with the sides switched.

For modern American conservatives the oppressed masses consist of foreign peoples yearning for American-style freedom and political franchise. But these unfortunate foreigners are oppressed by oligarchs who happen to control their governments. “Liberals” (and liberals) who adhere to a doctrine of U.S. government nonintervention in foreign affairs raise the same three objections that conservatives (and liberals) raise against government intervention in the economy.

First, the complexities of foreign governments’ relationships with their citizens are so great and hard to discern that it is absurdly fanciful to suppose that Uncle Sam can intervene without causing more harm than good. Even the most well-meaning intervention is akin to a bull in a china shop: Out of its natural element, even Uncle Sam’s most careful actions will be so sweeping and awkward that the net result will be unintentionally destructive.

Second, even if foreign intervention begins with the best of motives, it degenerates into a process of transferring wealth from the politically powerless to the politically powerful. The interventions continue to enjoy noble names (such as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”) and to be marketed as heroic efforts to defend the weak against the strong. But these, however, are nothing more than cynical and disingenuous political marketing efforts aimed at hiding from the general public the actual, unsavory consequences of these interventions in which corporations such as Halliburton and Blackwater rake in huge, undeserved profits at the expense of the American taxpayer and the foreign populations ostensibly being helped.

Third, many situations that appear to well-meaning outsiders to be so undesirable that someone simply must intervene are understood by many of the people most closely affected by these situations to be superior to likely alternatives. As oppressive as Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime genuinely was, it’s not at all clear that merely disposing of this particular bad guy has liberated Iraqis from oppression. Saddam’s rule was very much a result—and certainly not the principal cause—of Iraq’s anti-liberal culture and dysfunctional social institutions, not to mention earlier U.S. intervention.

Foreign countries’ political, economic, and social institutions are too complex and too deeply rooted in unique histories to be adequately grasped by American politicians and military leaders. Therefore American intervention—which is inevitably ham-fisted—adds to this mix only confusion and turmoil.

The two kinds of intervention situations aren’t analogous in all details; differences exist. But these differences are small when compared to the similarities. “Liberals’” confidence that domestic markets can be improved by battalions of bureaucrats charged with keeping bad guys in line is surprisingly similar to conservatives’ confidence that the welfare of foreigners can be improved by battalions of U.S. military troops charged with keeping bad guys in line.




Drug war futility: "Like the war on booze of yesteryear, today’s decades long war on drugs is claiming more lives and liberty casualties than the banned substances themselves could ever accomplish unchecked. The harder authorities crack down on traffic in recreational drugs, the more demand for them is created. Banning substances merely gives rise to more of them, including new substances yet to be banned."

Egypt to reopen Gaza border crossing: "Egypt will permanently open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip this weekend, the government announced yesterday, suggesting that military leaders are being swayed by growing sentiment here in favor of distancing the country from Israel. Opening the Rafah crossing, the only official entry point outside Israel into the Palestinian territory, would ease the blockade imposed after the militant group Hamas took control of the strip in 2007."

Edwards likely to face criminal charges: "The Justice Department plans to move ahead with criminal charges against former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, contending that he misused campaign funds to cover up an affair with his mistress, a person close to Edwards said yesterday. 'DOJ has made its decision to move forward with charges,’ the person told The New York Times in an e-mail. 'This phase of the case is moving rapidly toward conclusion,’ the person added, but did not clarify whether that meant an indictment or a plea bargain."

AZ: Judge rules Loughner unfit for trial: "A federal judge ruled Jared Lee Loughner mentally incompetent to stand trial in the Jan. 8 shooting spree that gravely wounded an Arizona congresswoman after two medical experts agreed he suffered from schizophrenia and for several years has been troubled by delusions and hallucinations. ... The ruling came after U.S. marshals removed Loughner from the courtroom Wednesday when he suddenly started screaming."

Sunstein and Obama, deregulators? "The Bush and Obama administrations have tried fiscal stimulus to speed up economic recovery. It didn’t work. The Federal Reserve tried increasing the money supply, which they called 'quantitative easing' because it sounds much more pleasant than 'printing money.' That didn’t work. Then they tried it again. That didn’t work, either. What to do? We at CEI have been pushing a deregulatory stimulus for years. Now that all other possibilities are exhausted, the administration appears to be taking small steps in that direction."

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

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


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


26 May, 2011

For Democrats, It's All About Tax Hikes

If nothing else, last week made it abundantly clear where Democrats stand on today's most pressing issues, and the picture isn't pretty.

In case you missed it, the Democrats floated a plan for a millionaire surtax in an attempt to, as the Hill put it, "force Republicans to accept other tax increases." They tried to hike taxes on oil companies by more than $2 billion a year, because the industry is currently making big profits; and mounted a nationwide campaign to scare seniors away from Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reform — including a new ad that depicts Ryan tossing a senior citizen off a cliff.

Detect a theme there? On issue after issue, Republicans are putting forward serious, sober and often politically risky solutions to the nation's most pressing problems, while Democrats play class-warfare games and stoke the public's fear.

To cope with the nation's gargantuan debt, for example, the GOP issued a budget plan that focuses — correctly — on reining in the government's runaway spending. The only thing Democrats want to talk about is how all our problems can be solved if we just raise taxes on the "the rich."

President Obama wants to boost them by at least $1 trillion, and Senate Democrats promise their long-delayed budget will include $2 trillion in new taxes. That's ill-advised even if the economy were humming along, but reckless given the current state of things.

When it comes to sky-high gas prices, Republicans at least understand that the root of the problem is too little oil supply, and in the Senate this week they tried to pass a bill to boost domestic oil production, only to be blocked by Democrats.

What do Democrats do instead? Demonize oil companies for making a profit and try to squeeze them for extra tax dollars. As President Obama said, "They are making tens of billions of dollars each — huge profits — while you're struggling to fill up your gas tank."

Never mind that less oil production and more oil industry taxes are the exact opposite of what's needed to bring gasoline prices down.

And while House Republicans advocate a serious Medicare reform plan that harnesses market forces to rein in the program's costs and protect it for the future, Democrats offer only fear.

Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius said Ryan's Medicare plan would cause some seniors to "die sooner," and the Democratic National Committee proclaimed in an ad that Republicans are "now for killing" Medicare. The topper came in the Ryan-pushing-grandma-over-the-cliff ad, produced by a group headed by the DNC's former deputy national finance director. What's their Medicare solution? Nothing.

Democrats might think stoking envy and fear is politically sufficient, but we give the public more credit than that.

The country faces serious problems and voters deserve political leaders willing to step up and propose serious, credible solutions. As the last week made clear, they aren't getting anything like that from the party of FDR.



If Obamacare is so great, why do so many people want to get out from under it?

Question: What do the following have in common? Eckert Cold Storage Co., Kerly Homes of Yuma, Classic Party Rentals, West Coast Turf Inc., Ellenbecker Investment Group Inc., Only in San Francisco, Hotel Nikko, International Pacific Halibut Commission, City of Puyallup, Local 485 Health and Welfare Fund, Chicago Plastering Institute Health & Welfare Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Teamsters Local 522 Fund Welfare Fund Roofers Division, StayWell Saipan Basic Plan, CIGNA, Caribbean Workers' Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Health and Welfare Plan.

Answer: They are all among the 1,372 businesses, state and local governments, labor unions and insurers, covering 3,095,593 individuals or families, that have been granted a waiver from Obamacare by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

All of which raises another question: If Obamacare is so great, why do so many people want to get out from under it?

More specifically, why are more than half of those 3,095,593 in plans run by labor unions, which were among Obamacare's biggest political supporters? Union members are only 12 percent of all employees but have gotten 50.3 percent of Obamacare waivers.

Just in April, Sebelius granted 38 waivers to restaurants, nightclubs, spas and hotels in former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco congressional district. Pelosi's office said she had nothing to do with it.

On its website, HHS pledges that the waiver process will be transparent. But it doesn't list those whose requests for waivers have been denied.

It does say that requests are "reviewed on a case by case basis by Department officials who look at a series of factors including" -- and then listing two factors. And it refers you to another website that says that "several factors ... may be considered" -- and then lists six factors.

What other factors may be considered? Political contributions or connections? (Unions contributed $400 million to Democrats in the 2008 campaign cycle.) The websites don't say.

In his new book, "The Origins of Political Order," Francis Fukuyama identifies the chief building blocks of liberal democracy as a strong central state, a society strong enough to hold the state accountable and -- equally crucial -- the rule of law.

One basic principle of the rule of law is that laws apply to everybody. If the sign says "No Parking," you're not supposed to park there even if you're a pal of the alderman.



How to Go to Congress and Become a Millionaire

Ever wonder how people go to Congress and become millionaires? A new academic report clears it up for us.

A report from four scholars, Alan J Ziobrowski; James W Boyd, Ping Cheng; and Brigitte J. Ziobrowski, titled Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, shows that between 1985 and 2001 members of Congress enjoyed a considerable advantage over members of the public in their investment returns.

The article was published by Berkeley Electronic Press and is a follow up to a similar study done on investments by US Senators.

“A previous study suggests that U.S. Senators trade common stock with a substantial informational advantage compared to ordinary investors and even corporate insiders,” says the introduction to the report. “We apply precisely the same methods to test for abnormal returns from the common stock investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. We measure abnormal returns for more than 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House delegates from 1985 to 2001. Consistent with the study of Senatorial trading activity, we find stocks purchased by Representatives also earn significant positive abnormal returns (albeit considerably smaller returns). A portfolio that mimics the purchases of House Members beats the market by 55 basis points per month (approximately 6% annually).”

Actually 12 times .55 percent comes out to 6.6 percent annually. That .6 percent return accounts for an additional $130,000 over a 17 year period.

So how lucrative can the 6.6 percent advantage be for Senators and Representatives? A portfolio of $100,000 getting average stock market returns of 11 percent over a 17 year period would have grown to $589,000. If you were a member of the United States House of Representatives, though, enjoying the advantage that inside government information can bring you, your portfolio would have reached $1,573,000, according to an investment calculation I did using the finding from the study.

Assuming only average market returns for the next 20 years, a Representative would grow their portfolio to close to $13 million. Under the same circumstances US Senator would have grown the portfolio to $18 million.

The conclusion of the study favors some sort of reporting mechanism similar to those imposed upon corporate insiders. “We find strong evidence that Members of the House have some type of nonpublic information which they use for personal gain. That having been said, abnormal returns earned by Members of the House are substantially smaller than those earned by Senators during approximately the same time period. These smaller returns are due presumably to less influence and power held by the individual Members.”

While the sky wouldn’t fall if reporting requirements were imposed on members of Congress, the report misses the most obvious point.

Why do we have a federal government that can so substantially ensure winners and losers in investments and our economy? Isn't a system like that prone to corruption? Don't we witness the effects of that corruption in legislation like Obamacare, or the cadillac benefits offered public employees?

The report points out the even corporate insiders don’t enjoy the return advantages that members of Congress enjoy. It’s one of the most damning indications yet that the scope of government has gotten wildly out of control. It’s also another example of laws that Congress passes for the rest of us but won’t consider following. That’s a practice that must end if we want to restore confidence in government.

We can only do that by making sure that government can no longer pick winners and losers in the stock market.



Memorial Day Thanks and Devotion

Flip through the local paper, and you'll see that Memorial Day notices appear as sales headlines and attention-grabbers. Memorial Day Sale and Pre-Memorial Day. Pretty soon we'll see post-Memorial Day sale advertisements.
Similarly, television and radio are full of Memorial Day advertisements. I've even received a few Memorial Day Sale notices by e-mail during the time I've spent writing this column.

Sales and BBQ are the two things that many people think about when Memorial Day is mentioned. What else? Well, for many Americans, it's the weekend that the pool opens and summer begins.

But it means more than that. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day soon after the Civil War. Each year on this day, the graves of the fallen soldiers were decorated to honor the memory of their sacrifice to keep our country united. They gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The holiday can be traced back to John Logan, who served as an Illinois congressman prior to the Civil War, then volunteered as a Union soldier and was promoted during the war to general. He issued an order in 1868 to honor those who died in the war. At that time, he was serving as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of former Union soldiers.

"The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country," stated the order. "We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance," it said, adding that their deaths were "the cost of free and undivided republic."

It was a high cost indeed. More than 600,000 American soldiers died during the Civil War, the most deadly war for Americans.

That first year, approximately 5,000 people gathered at Arlington Cemetery to decorate the graves with American flags. Since then, the custom has grown and spread.

Arlington Cemetery, located in Virginia across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, is today the military graveyard of hundreds of thousands of United States soldiers. On a recent visit to our nation's capital, I had the opportunity to walk through the cemetery and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Walking through the cemetery, surrounded by thousands of small, white gravestones, perfectly aligned, row after row, it is easy to remember the sacrifice that has been made on our account. Soldiers have died. Families have lost sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends. There are miles and miles of trails through the cemetery.

At home, at the beach or at the pool, taking time to reflect on the importance of Memorial Day may prove difficult to do amid the sales and BBQs, the day off from work. But we should all pause and remember -- to honor those who have given their lives for our country and to dedicate ourselves to living in a way that ensures their sacrifices were not in vain.

One of the most fitting tributes to American soldiers is one that was given before Memorial Day was recognized -- President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln delivered his address at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., in November 1863, while the Civil War was still raging. He was not the main speaker for the day, but had been invited as an afterthought. His speech was so short (less than two minutes) that the photographer did not have time to get a picture of him delivering it.

The speech, one of my favorites, is engraved in the Lincoln Memorial, across the river from Arlington National Cemetery.

Its 278 words don't include "I" or "me," but they do take the audience from our start as a nation and the American Revolution to Lincoln's wishes for the future of our nation.

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. ... It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

This Memorial Day, let's give thanks, and increase our devotion, so that our soldiers will not have died in vain.


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

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


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


25 May, 2011

The tumor on America that Washington D.C. has become

Martin Hutchinson below:

I have moved from Vienna, VA., a suburb of Washington DC to Poughkeepsie NY, a semi-suburb (it’s 73 miles away) of New York. Many have clearly regarded this as an eccentric choice, and much of the motivation stems from things like hating the Washington summer more than the Poughkeepsie winter that are personal to each of us. Nevertheless, there is also a philosophical background for the move, in that I believe the rapid growth of the Washington area to be profoundly unhealthy.

Washington’s unhealthiness has been highlighted during the Great Recession, for example by the housing market. Other regions of the country suffered a severe real estate price decline in 2006-09, except for a few places such as Houston that had not previously enjoyed a boom. The Washington area enjoyed an extraordinary 150% price gain in 2000-06 according to the S&P Case-Shiller data, third after the Miami and Los Angeles areas and more than Phoenix, San Francisco or Las Vegas. Unlike those other regions, however, its price decline in 2006-09 was considerably less, 33% compared to 47% in Miami, 56% in Las Vegas and 42% in Los Angeles. Then after 2009, the recovery in Washington was considerably stronger than in other areas, with prices now up 10% from the bottom and still continuing to rise while house prices in most other areas decline.

The explanation, of course, is that Washington is not on the same economic cycle as the rest of the country. There was some pretence in the late 1990s that northern Virginia had developed a substantial tech sector, but the reality was that most of the sector was either evanescent (like AOL) or highly dependent upon government contracting or, like MicroStrategy, both. The reality is that when government expands, Washington does well, and vice versa.

You can see this in its local real estate market also. There is very little housing dating from the 1920s, a major real estate boom era around most East Coast cities, but a period of well-run, economical government. Conversely, there is a vast amount of housing, generally rather small and unattractive with very mean rooms, dating from the New Deal and wartime 1930s and 1940s. The 1960s, genesis of the two houses we lived in around Vienna, produced the Great Society and another housing boom of rather larger houses, most of them shoddily built. Then the 1980s was another period of recession, when Washington house prices were far below those around New York and little building took place. Finally the Bush years, stretching into the Obama years, saw a massive building boom and the apotheosis of the Washington area McMansion – huge, shoddily built and packed tightly together on the suddenly expensive land.

Whereas the modest and unattractive 1940s housing was inhabited mostly by government bureaucrats when first built, as were the larger 1960s offerings and some of the more reasonable sized modern housing stock, the true market for McMansions was not those working in government, let alone private sector entrepreneurs but the parasites, the swarm of lobbyists (whose numbers doubled under the supposedly limited-government Bush) and lawyers who have come to dominate the big money around Washington. Like Detroit in 1900-1915, Washington in recent years has been a boomtown, and the creaking infrastructure and monstrous traffic delays are the result of this.

The other special feature of Washington life is the nature of its inhabitants. They have far higher academic qualifications than the rest of mankind, even those lucky residents of the up-market suburbs around New York and San Francisco. Fairfax County, Virginia has 55% college graduates, compared with 41% in Westchester County, New York and 51% in Marin County, California. Fairfax residents would argue that this factor justifies them in having the nation’s highest average household income -- $107,000, compared with a mere $79,000 in Westchester and $90,000 in Marin.

Washington area residents will argue that their greater qualifications justify their higher earnings, but from inspection the percentage of college graduates is not sufficiently higher in Fairfax than in the very affluent Marin County for any such premium to be justified. Furthermore, there is no living cost differential that would justify the income differential; indeed rather the opposite as the average owner-occupied residence in Marin is valued at $514,600 compared to $233,000 in Fairfax. Fairfax County real estate is overpriced – this was another reason for leaving the place – but is nothing like as lunatic economically as the fancier bits of California – or indeed south-east England.

As I have remarked before in these columns the Washington area is a kind of anti-Hollywood. Whereas Hollywood is full of people with room-temperature IQs but attractive looks and winsome personalities, the Washington area is full of PhD-credentialed trolls. Thus not only are the academic qualifications of Fairfax County not sufficiently superior to those of Marin County to justify their higher earnings, but Washington-area people are often seriously lacking in other qualifications that make for a commercially successful existence, such as looks, charm, salesmanship and workaholism. Plenty of insurance, real estate and used car salesmen lack substantial academic qualifications, but are nevertheless sufficiently well endowed in other respects to make very large amounts of money indeed, whatever their defects would be as GS-15s.

Washington is thus a region whose inhabitants are paid more than their qualifications are worth, do particularly well in recessions, and often lack the qualities that make them attractive to others. It is thus not surprising that they have little empathy with the travails of those outside Washington whose lives are entangled in the maelstrom of this very serious and damaging recession.

Far from maintaining sound monetary and fiscal policies, which would enable ordinary businesses to recover their footing and begin to grow again, they pursue a chimera of negative real interest rates and gigantic budget deficits that produces high bureaucrat employment, a surface health in financial markets, and long-term unemployment for everyone else.
Far from realizing that in a globalized world market, less skilled and older workers are especially vulnerable, they persistently refuse to enforce immigration laws, producing a large illegal immigrant population that can satisfy Fairfax County’s insatiable demand for maids and gardeners, while driving down wages and job opportunities for low-skill labor to Third World levels.
Far from attempting to relieve burdens on small business and allow them to produce the jobs that are needed, they produce a series of health, environmental and labor regulation schemes that impose massive additional costs on the businesses that produce the country’s wealth.

These impositions are not particularly generated by one or other political faction; they are the result of Washington’s cocooning from the rest of its countrymen. Washington insiders like Newt Gingrich, who has lived within the Beltway for thirty years, cross party lines to support these economically damaging schemes. Conversely a few “blue dog” Democrats whose ties remain outside Washington oppose them, like Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) who while campaigning for his West Virginia Senate seat took a shotgun to a copy of his own party’s cockamamie environmental legislation.

It is not surprising that outsiders find U.S. politics dysfunctional; it is dominated by a pampered super-class of lobbyists, lawyers, most politicians and senior bureaucrats, all of which are not only protected from the economic forces that afflict the rest of the economy but actually benefit, both relatively and in absolute terms, from hard times in the U.S. economy as a whole and the “stimulus” schemes for which they provide an excuse. The same effect can be seen in Brussels, when I knew it in the 1970s a very pleasant modestly wealthy capital of a small country with good restaurants, a fine banking system and legendarily affluent “Belgian dentists” who were the major investing force behind the early Eurobond market. Needless to say, Brussels is today richer per capita, but its wealthy now are not dentists but bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists, sleek, pampered and utterly cut off from the people for whom they invent damaging regulations.

The idea, pioneered by the Founding Fathers, of a capital city inhabited only by statesmen and bureaucrats, without any other significant economic base, is a very dangerous one. While government is small, it produces the quirky charm of nineteenth century Washington or 1949-99 Bonn – lacking as they did most big-city amenities, they were universally detested by their inhabitants, who left them at weekends whenever possible. However as government grows, it becomes itself a sufficiently large employer to finance a major city – with amenities like the Kennedy Center and the Washington Metro that can easily be paid for by beyond-Beltway taxpayers who gain no benefit from them. Eventually they become bureaucrat Xanadus, like Brasilia, Napyidaw (Burma) or Astana (Kazakhstan) in which government, freed from significant outside pressure, can indulge its fantasies at the expense of a people kept safely remote.

My new abode, New York’s Dutchess County, is only half as rich as Fairfax County, with commensurately lower house prices (yippee!) and only half the proportion of university graduates. While it has a couple of large businesses and several colleges, most of its richest inhabitants are successful used car dealers and realtors, whose depredations extend only to their customers. I look forward eagerly to its modest amenities.



Major Israeli firm helping Iran?

You'd have to be a Clinton to think so

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday slapped sanctions on seven companies that allegedly do business with Iran – two of them companies with strong Israeli ties.

Among those singled out by Clinton for alleged business ties with Iran were the Ofer Brothers Group, controlled by Yuli Ofer, and the largest stockholder in Mizrachi-Tefachot Bank, and the Tanker Pacific group, located in Singapore and owned by Yuli's brother Sami Ofer, who also has a controlling interest in the Israel Corporation, Zim, Israel Chemicals, Dead Sea Industries, and Royal Carribean Cruise Lines.

The sanctions were imposed on shipping and utility companies suspected of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, which forbid selling ships or energy exploration equipment to Tehran. A State Department official said that the sanctions on the Ofers' companies date back to September 2010, when the companies allegedly transferred to Iran an oil tanker in a deal worth $8.65 million.

It would have been easy enough for the companies to investigate whether the people they sold the ship to were legal entities, but the fact that they did not indicates that they intended for the deal to go through, the State Department said.

In a statement, the Ofer brothers categorically denied the charges. “We have never sold ships to Iran, and well-respected Israeli officials will certify this,” the statement said.



Iceland the inspiration

In April, the people of Iceland went to the polls, decisively rejecting a bailout of British and Dutch investors who lost billions in the Icesave bank in 2008. Iceland is the rare example of a nation that allowed its banks to fail in the wake of the financial crisis.

Now it appears to be an example for the whole world, and has inspired protests in Spain and Italy, a movement called M15. Some of the movement’s slogans include, “When we grow up we want to be Icelanders,” “don’t rescue the banks,” “let the culprits pay the crisis,” “banks rob us,” and “bipartisanship is dictatorship”.

While some in the media have characterized the movement as left-wing, it appears to be appealing to individuals across the political spectrum, young and old. One video promoting the movement spoke out against both of the major parties in Spain, the center-right Popular Party, and the leftist PSOE.

And dispelling the notion entirely, the group’s founding website, “Real Democracy Now,” articulates a broad message for folks of all political stripes: “Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.”

This all sounds quite familiar. In this narrow sense, M15 appears to at least in part resemble America’s tea party movement. It’s a revolutionary sentiment that surpasses party factions.

These protesters, like the tea party, oppose efforts to bail out international banks that bet poorly on housing and sovereign debt. They also recognize — and oppose — the tyranny of the few that has emerged in the wake of the sovereign debt crisis where financial institutions refuse to take any losses on their bad investments.



The Left are still bashing GWB

Their "principles" are always changing but their hate is permanent

Last week I was called by Peter Stone of iWatch, the online ezine of the generally far left Center for Public Integrity. Mr. Stone asked for my opinion on the refusal of George W. Bush to attend the Obama festivities at Ground Zero after the killing of bin Laden. Mr. Stone suggested that Bush's excuse, 'other commitments,' was somehow dishonest given that he was in New York City a few days later giving several speeches at more $100,000.00 per. Stone did note as an aside that Clinton had also declined the Obama invitation citing the same excuse, and that he too was in the City shortly after giving equally lucrative speeches.

I responded that I thought it was inappropriate for Obama to be at Ground Zero considering that he had tried to get the Guantanamo prisoners, who have already admitted guilt, removed to civilian trials in Lower Manhattan. Also that Obama's self glorification was hypocritical since harsh interrogation had led to bin Ladin and Obama was still pursuing prosecutions against the very same CIA agents whose methods obtained that information.

I also emphasized to Stone that I would not want my comments to be part of a one sided denunciation of Bush, since, as he himself pointed out, Clinton was exploiting his ex-presidency in exactly the same way as Bush. Mr. Stone assured me that his piece was to be unbiased, critical of both.

Knowing the generally far left bias of Center of Public Integrity I of course had very low expectations, and I was not disappointed on reading Stone's column. His May 20 column was entitled: After Skipping Ground Zero Event With Obama, Bush Made Three Paid Speeches .

Microsoft Word informs me that Stone's article is 1051 words in length. All but three sentences of it are devoted to attacking G.W. Bush. As an additional example of 'lack of bias,' next to the column is a sidebar called "Top 10 Failures of the Bush Administration" with a live link to an article on that subject.




NY: Power company charges “flag fee” to town honoring war hero: "A New York community that displayed American flags on utility poles to honor a fallen hero is outraged after the Long Island Power Authority sent them a bill -- for using their poles. 'I was pretty shocked,' said Peter Reich, a councilman in the Long Island community of Shelter Island. 'It’s the most ludicrous thing.' The flags were hung last year for the funeral of Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert. The Shelter Island native was killed while on active duty in Afghanistan"

Will comparative effectiveness research kill more people than it helps?: "Better health care at lower cost. That's what comparative effectiveness research promises, but can it deliver? A new study argues that federal comparative effectiveness research won't generate cheaper, better medical care to the American public. Instead, it will force cuts in pharmaceutical and medical device research and development, resulting in 32 million lost years of life and economic losses totaling $1.7 trillion."

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

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


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


24 May, 2011

A small thought on automobiles

It's slightly mad but people generally seem to be saying something about themselves when they buy a partcular car. I drive a very humble 2004 Toyota Echo and I believe that says something about me -- or my Presbyterian upbringing: "Waste not, want not". I actually feel proud of my good sense in making my journeys at minimal cost in quite acceptable comfort. And the Echo is very zippy and I like zipping.

So why do people buy cars more expensive than mine that certainly get them there no faster than mine? I think ONE motive is to seek praise and admiration. An expensive car shows how rich the person is and he thinks that should be admired.

Problem. That doesn't seem to work:
Car envy is causing bad behaviour on Queensland roads, researchers have found. A University of Queensland study revealed that nothing gets drivers' blood boiling more than the sight of someone in a fancy car trying to push into the queue.

PhD student Redzo Mujcic and economics professor Paul Frijters analysed the behaviour of 1000 Brisbane commuters at selected intersections and roundabouts. Commuters had the option to let someone from a side road enter the main road.

"People compare themselves to others and the perception of status has an impact on how commuters behave," Mr Mujcic said. "The study showed that drivers in cheaper cars were quite unlikely to stop for drivers of luxury cars."

The study found drivers of the cheapest cars were least likely to let another driver merge ahead of them, with the drivers of prestige cars only slightly more courteous. The most thoughtful drivers were those who owned vehicles of average value.


So what should an admiration-seeker do? I discovered the answer to that quite by accident. As a conservative I rather like old things so some years ago I bought myself a 1963 Humber Super Snipe -- a grand old English car. It is a bit unreliable so I take it out only once a week for a longish drive but whenever I do I get heaps of praise and admiration! I get what the Ferrari driver wants! And the Humber cost way less than a Ferrari does. It just goes to show what all conservatives know: Life is complicated.


Dependency and Votes

Thomas Sowell

Those who regard government "entitlement" programs as sacrosanct, and regard those who want to cut them back as calloused or cruel, picture a world very different from the world of reality.

To listen to some of the defenders of entitlement programs, which are at the heart of the present financial crisis, you might think that anything the government fails to provide is something that people will be deprived of. In other words, if you cut spending on school lunches, children will go hungry. If you fail to subsidize housing, people will be homeless. If you fail to subsidize prescription drugs, old people will have to eat dog food in order to be able to afford their meds.

This is the vision promoted by many politicians and much of the media. But, in the world of reality, it is not even true for most people who are living below the official poverty line.

Most Americans living below the official poverty line own a car or truck-- and government entitlement programs seldom provide cars and trucks. Most people living below the official poverty line also have air conditioning, color television and a microwave oven--and these too are not usually handed out by government entitlement programs.

Cell phones and other electronic devices are by no means unheard of in low-income neighborhoods, where children would supposedly go hungry if there were no school lunch programs. In reality, low-income people are overweight even more often than other Americans.

As for housing and homelessness, housing prices are higher and homelessness a bigger problem in places where there has been massive government intervention, such as liberal bastions like New York City and San Francisco. As for the elderly, 80 percent are homeowners whose monthly housing costs are less than $400, including property taxes, utilities, and maintenance.

The desperately poor elderly conjured up in political and media rhetoric are-- in the world of reality-- the wealthiest segment of the American population. The average wealth of older households is nearly three times the wealth of households headed by people in the 35 to 44-year-old bracket, and more than 15 times the wealth of households headed by someone under 35 years of age.

If the wealthiest segment of the population cannot pay their own medical bills, who can? The country as a whole is not any richer because the government pays our medical bills-- with money that it takes from us.

What about the truly poor, in whatever age brackets? First of all, even in low-income and high-crime neighborhoods, people are not stealing bread to feed their children. The fraction of the people in such neighborhoods who commit most of the crimes are far more likely to steal luxury products that they can either use or sell to get money to support their parasitic lifestyle.

As for the rest of the poor, Professor Walter Williams of George Mason University long ago showed that you could give the poor enough money to lift them all above the official poverty line for a fraction of what it costs to support a massive welfare state bureaucracy.

We don't need to send the country into bankruptcy, in the name of the poor, by spending trillions of dollars on people who are not poor, and who could take care of themselves. The poor have been used as human shields behind which the expanding welfare state can advance.

The goal is not to keep the poor from starving but to create dependency, because dependency translates into votes for politicians who play Santa Claus.

We have all heard the old saying about how giving a man a fish feeds him for a day, while teaching him to fish feeds him for a lifetime. Independence makes for a healthier society, but dependency is what gets votes for politicians.

For politicians, giving a man a fish every day of his life is the way to keep getting his vote. "Entitlement" is just a fancy word for dependency. As for the scary stories politicians tell, in order to keep the entitlement programs going, as long as we keep buying it, they will keep selling it.



When It Comes to Doomsdays, the Left Shouldn't Laugh at the Religious

Dennis Prager

It appears that the Rapture leading to the end of the world predicted by a Christian radio broadcaster for this past Saturday, May 21, 2011 did not take place. And the failure was covered worldwide. A Google search on Saturday evening, Pacific Time, yielded more than 32,000 articles -- in English alone -- in the world media.

The secular, especially the anti-religious, left, enjoy these spectacles of religious foolishness. They seem to confirm for them not only how absurd these end-of-days predictions are, but how absurd religion is in general.

But the left should not laugh too loudly. The religious world has far fewer doomsday predictions than the left does. At least every few years, the secular-left frightens itself -- and tries to frighten everyone else -- about another doomsday scenario.

The most obvious current example is, of course, global warming. For years now, we have been told by the world's left-wing media that scientists are united in predicting that there will be worldwide catastrophe as a result of global warming caused by manmade carbon dioxide emissions. Oceans will rise so high that they will drown many of the world's great coastal cities; entire island-countries will disappear; vast areas of the world will dry up; and countries will fight one another for the little remaining fresh water.

Compared to the global warming scenario, I'll face the Rapture -- and I'm not even Christian.

Of course, none of these global warming predictions has materialized. For example, in April of this year, Der Spiegel reported:

"Six years ago, the United Nations issued a dramatic warning that the world would have to cope with 50 million climate refugees by 2010. But now that those migration flows have failed to materialize, the UN has distanced itself from the forecasts. On the contrary, populations are growing in the regions that had been identified as environmental danger zones."

As a result of so many such false alarms, and because so many places have experienced record cold temperatures, global warming has been renamed "climate change."

But global warming is only the most recent doomsday scenario offered by the left. Here is a small sample of some others:

Recall the Time and Newsweek cover stories about how heterosexual AIDS would become a national plague -- since "AIDS doesn't discriminate." Skeptics who said at the time that heterosexual AIDS in America was largely a scare were called "anti-science." But Michael Fumento, the science writer who wrote "The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS," first in Commentary Magazine and then as a book, turned out to be right. In America, it was a myth.

At the Democrat National Convention in 2000, the Democrats featured five children ages about 5 to 11 who recited lyrics about the doomsdays they could look forward to growing up in America. The first child, for example, said this:

"When I grow up ... Will I be able to see a rainbow in a smog-filled sky? Will there be any trees alive?"

In his 1968 book, "The Population Bomb," Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich wrote: "In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate."

Another doomsday prophecy from the left: Two prominent feminist writers, Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf wrote in their bestselling books, "Revolution from Within" and "The Beauty Myth" -- and the news media reported -- that 150,000 girls and women per year die of anorexia nervosa. The number is actually fewer than 100.

There is one major difference between leftist and religious doomsday scenarios. The religious readily acknowledge that their doomsday scenario is built entirely on faith. The left, on the other hand, claims that its doomsday scenarios are entirely built on science.

That there is little truth to the left-wing claim is not as important as the fact that these doomsday scenarios have undermined the status of science. How many scientists have been compromised by their joining the research-money and fame bandwagons of left-wing apocalyptic predictions? And how has this affected the public's perceptions of science and scientists when it comes to contentious issues?



Israel has much more in common with Christian civilization than with the Muslim horror or with the impossible dreams of the Left

Israel was always one of us: a constituent member, that is to say, of the community of civilized nations. Losing Israel as a member of that community would be like losing Nebraska or Pennsylvania or Georgia. It would be far worse, indeed, than losing "people's paradises" like San Francisco or Cambridge, Mass.

This isn't at all the way that President Obama sees things. To the president, Israel is a trouble spot -- a running sore on the international carcass. Heal the sore and you've got peace. The idea is, have Israel offer to retreat, by and large, behind its pre-Six Day War lines, making room thereby for a Palestinian state.

The improbability of that vision -- or delusion -- is to be glimpsed by looking around the neighborhood. Who is rioting or repressing? The Egyptians. The Syrians. The Libyans. This is to speak only of the currently noisier nations.

When was the last time we saw throngs of Israelis filling public squares to call for their leaders' ouster or demise? When was the last time we saw Israeli security forces shooting down unarmed demonstrators? The answer to both questions is the same: We haven't ever seen it. It hasn't happened. Massacres in the Middle East are a phenomenon we see outside Israel, not within.

"Why" isn't a question that needs to be asked or answered right now. The fact of Israel's unique standing in the Middle East is the matter in need of underscoring. Israel's and the United States' long-standing cordiality -- a condition the president is not precisely promoting by leaning on Benjamin Netanyahu instead of the terrorist gang Hamas -- is based only partly on the solidarity of American Jew with Israeli Jew. It is based only partly on the perception of particular evangelical Christians that the convergence of the Jews in Judea and Samaria somehow betokens fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

A bigger reason for the cordiality of which I speak concerns basic values. Israel's civic values are recognizable as Western values -- love of freedom, dislike of tyranny; willingness to lay lives on the line in defense of both values.

Americans who favor the Palestinian side in Middle Eastern controversies over Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the like generally belong to the political left. They don't themselves particularly like the traditional America. They less prefer the American "exceptionalism" that so much resembles Israeli "exceptionalism."

It's Israel's enemies and critics on whom we ought to keep our gaze as we evaluate the president's proposals. Not many of these critics are of the old, irrational anti-Semitic right.

More noticeable are the kind -- you see them in left-wing religious circles and in hard-core secular environments -- who rarely have a good word to say for Western history or Western values; who tend to view the United States as a sinister presence abroad, doing more harm than good.




McDonald's Chief Exec Comes To Ronald's Defense: "During last week's annual shareholders' meeting, McDonald's chief exec Jim Skinner dismissed a letter from a group of 550 healthcare workers asking the fast food chain to stop marketing to children using methods such as toys and the clown. "Ronald McDonald is going nowhere," Skinner told the assembly. Shareholders also rejected a proposal for the company to issue a report outlining its role in childhood obesity. The board of directors opposed the motion, saying it offered a variety of food to its customers, provided nutrition information about the food, and communicated with children "in a responsible manner through age appropriate marketing and promotional activities" Skinner said, "This is about choice and we believe in the democratic process." Regarding demands that the company's clown icon be retired, Skinner added: "As the face of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald is an ambassador for good and delivers important messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles"

A bigger cutter: "Republican 2012 presidential hopeful Gary Johnson believes the GOP's unpopular blueprint to replace Medicare with a subsidies system should cut even deeper, and he isn’t shy about saying so. 'As president I would sign the plan into law, because it does move forward on the issue,' the former governor of New Mexico told Raw Story in a wide-ranging interview. 'But I think it doesn’t go far enough.' So, what would Johnson do? He would do to Medicare what the House-passed plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) does to Medicaid: turn the program into block grants for states"

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

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


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


23 May, 2011

The big ego at AIPAC

Striding to the podium inside the Washington Convention Centre, President Barack Obama did his very best to avoid any sense that he felt intimidated by entering what was, in political terms, the lion's den. There was tepid applause and a couple of isolated boos from the crowd of almost 10,000 members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as Aipac, the premier and most hardline mainstream group in the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

Rather than even acknowledge the artlessness of his 1967 comments, or the fact that he had not prepared the Israeli Government for what he was about to say, his tone was of the "I'm sorry you feel that way" variety of non-apology.

In the Oval Office on Friday, Mr Obama did little to disguise his irritation with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, for turning to him to deliver an impassioned tutorial on Israel's history in the full glare of the cameras.

"It's the ancient nation of Israel," the Likud leader told Mr Obama. "We've been around for almost 4,000 years. We have experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions."

It was an unprecedented rebuke of an American president by an Israeli premier. Menachem Begin is said to have delivered similar monologues to President Jimmy Carter, but never in public.

Even 48 hours later, it was clear at the Aipac conference that Mr Obama, who is remarkably thin-skinned for a top-flight American politician and has never been lacking in self-regard, was still smarting. When loud applause greeted Mr Obama's mention of Mr Netanyahu's name, the president's eyes narrowed and he chewed his lip. He was distinctly unamused.

He did, however, spell out what he had failed to do in his Foggy Bottom speech. He said that a settlement would result in "a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967", the eve of the Six-Day War in which Israel pushed back the forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan and occupied the West Bank and Gaza.

But it was notable that Mr Obama neglected to reject, just as he had at Foggy Bottom, the Palestinian demand for a "right of return".

In this environment, the prospect of serious peace negotiations is as dim as ever, but Mr Obama appeared to feel that his own personality, political skills and success against the al-Qaeda leader would be enough to resolve what President Harry Truman once described as "the 100-year headache".

Most Americans view Israel as an ally that should be backed to the hilt. If the perception sticks that Mr Obama is prepared to undermine Israeli security, it could be very damaging.

In 2008, 78 per cent of Jewish voters chose Mr Obama over Senator John McCain. That level of support could well ebb between now and 2012. More seriously, there are signs that donations from wealthy Jews, which played a key role in Mr Obama's stratospheric fundraising totals in 2008, will fall off.

Ed Koch, the former New York mayor and a prominent Democrat and Obama donor in 2008, condemned the President for having "sought to reduce Israel's negotiation power", echoing what many other prominent Jewish Democrats have said.



Spain's ruling Socialist party reeling from the outcome of local elections

The Socialists spent all the people's money on "renewable" energy and "Green jobs" -- with the inevitable economic calamity following. Spain was relatively well-managed under Aznar's conservatives

SPAIN'S ruling Socialists reeled from spectacular local election losses yesterday as protesters vented outrage over the highest jobless rate in the industrialised world.

Support for the government collapsed in the face of the beleaguered economy, soaring unemployment and massive street protests, a grim omen for 2012 general elections.

With 98.21 per cent of the municipal ballots counted, the Socialists had just 27.81 per cent of the total vote compared to 37.58 per cent for their conservative Popular Party opponents.

"The results of the vote show that the Socialist Party has clearly lost today's elections. We have suffered a broad setback compared to four years ago," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.

Grinding in the humiliation, Socialists lost historic bastions Seville and Barcelona, a city they had run since the first municipal vote in 1979, four years after the death of General Francisco Franco.

About 65 per cent of the 34 million eligible voters cast a ballot to choose 8,116 mayors, 68,400 town councillors and 824 members of regional parliaments for 13 of the 17 semi-autonomous regions.

The big winner of the night was the opposition leader Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party, widely forecast to sweep into government next year for the first time in eight years. Crowds of cheering supporters waving blue Popular Party flags rallied outside the party headquarters in central Madrid to celebrate the victory, built on widespread anger over the economy.

Even as the economy grew gingerly this year, the unemployment rate shot to 21.19 percent in the first quarter, the highest in the industrialised world. For under-25s, the rate in February was 44.6 percent.

Despite Mr Zapatero's promise not to stand in the next general elections due next year, partial ballot counts suggested other big losses. In regional elections, the Popular Party was poised to snatch the central region of Castilla-La Mancha, another Socialist stronghold.



Liberal patriotism


Mob of Black Thieves "Swarms" Las Vegas Convenience Store

High speed attacks by black gangs also occur amid crowds in Britain -- where it is referred to as "steaming"

Caught on camera, a mob of young people bombarded the City Stop convenience store on Sunset Road and Pecos Road and stole $600 in merchandise.

"It became a feeding frenzy," said City Stop owner Jon Athey. "They were in the store for three minutes and 30 seconds. It's a pretty scary thing."

Athey says the crowd darted in and snatched numerous items from the store. "Beer to jerky to candy bars to soda, whatever hit their fancy. potato chips," he said. Athey says this tactic is known as a "swarm". After 42 years in the convenience store business, Athey says this crime stands out. "This is the biggest one I've ever seen," he said.

If you walk into a convenience store, you expect every move to be recorded on camera. Surveillance cameras in every direction, however, didn't stop this crew.

"Now, you're seeing droves swarming in the front doors - right here - as fast as they can come in," Athey said as he watched the surveillance video. "You can see them milling around by the beer doors. Now, you're going to see them start selecting products they're putting in their coat pockets. They're putting it down their pants."

The crowd started walking out without paying, only to return. "Here it is, two minutes into the deal. They're all coming back for seconds," Athey said.

Seconds later, they grabbed more beer and the clerk's cell phone. They then rushed back out the door.

"We were blessed nobody was hurt," Athey said. Athey says the clerk followed his training. He hopes this crowd doesn't try to swarm another store. "You can't allow this to happen, because it's going to break out into violence. Some cashier is going to decide that he's got to defend the property, and he'll get hurt," he said.

Metro says this crime is being investigated as a burglary and grand larceny. Investigators are taking a close look at the surveillance video. Some customers may have also recorded the thieves' license plate numbers.

SOURCE. (Video at link)


Gingrich and 'the party of food stamps'

by Jeff Jacoby

RACIAL MCCARTHYISM is alive and well in Barack Obama's America, where reckless liberals hurl baseless charges of racism at critics of the nation's first black president. Remember ex-president Jimmy Carter attributing "an overwhelming portion" of the fervent opposition to Obama's health-care bill to "the fact that he is a black man"? Or actress/activist

Janeane Garofalo smearing the Tea Party phenomenon as being "about hating a black man in the White House . . . racism straight up"? Or for that matter Obama himself, predicting that Republicans would demonize him because "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills"?

Last week it was David Gregory's turn to play the race card. The host of NBC's "Meet the Press" accused Newt Gingrich of having used "coded, racially-tinged language" when he described Obama as a "food-stamp president" a few days earlier.

Actually Gingrich hadn't made anything like a racially-tinged remark, coded or otherwise. He had simply given his stump speech to a Republican audience in Georgia, during which he criticized Obama's limp economic record in these words:

"Do you want to be a country that creates food stamps -- in which case, frankly, Obama is an enormous success, the most successful food stamp president in American history? Or do you want to be a country that creates paychecks?"

Gregory played a video clip of that passage from Gingrich's speech, then demanded that the former speaker explain its supposed racial subtext. Gingrich couldn't believe Gregory was serious -- "Oh, come on, David! That's bizarre, this kind of automatic reference to racism." He pointed out that what he had said "is factually true: 47 million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism!?"

You have to be tuned to a remarkably subtle frequency to detect any hint of racial animus in Gingrich's comment -- the same frequency, perhaps, at which adjectives like "skinny," "arrogant," and "articulate" turn into racist epithets. To be sure, Gingrich himself has sometimes played fast and loose with racial pejoratives; when Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court, for example, he took to Twitter to tag her a racist. But he's innocent this time.

The more-food-stamps-vs.-more-paychecks theme is one that Gingrich has been pushing for nearly a year. In memos last summer and fall, he urged Republican congressional candidates to point out that the use of food stamps -- "a key metric in gauging the health of the American economy" -- was going through the roof. When Congress was controlled by Republicans in the 1990s, he wrote, unemployment and food stamp usage plummeted. By contrast, "the Pelosi-Reid Democratic Congress" had led to rising joblessness and food-stamp rolls. The statistics he laid out had nothing to do with the president's color -- he hardly mentioned Obama -- and everything to do with drawing a contrast between "the Democratic Party of food stamps" and "the Republican Party of paychecks."

Now Gingrich is running for president, so he has adapted his food-stamp argument accordingly. His target is the Democrat in White House, not Nancy Pelosi's House Democrats. But the underlying message is no more racial today than it was last August. It's the Democratic and Republican attitudes toward welfare vs. work that Gingrich is spotlighting. Not Obama's race.

There is no getting around the fact that food-stamp use is at an all-time high. In February, the most recent month for which federal data is available, 44.2 million people -- one American in seven -- were on food stamps. (Gingrich slightly misstated the numbers on "Meet the Press.") On Obama's watch, the number of recipients has soared by more than 12 million, setting a new high every month.

But they soared on George W. Bush's watch as well. The number of food-stamp users went up in seven of the eight Bush years, climbing from 17.3 million in 2001 to 28.2 million in 2008 -- a 63 percent leap. Indeed, the Bush administration led a campaign to dramatically expand and destigmatize the use of food stamps, a campaign that began before the recession did. If Obama has been "the most successful food stamp president in American history," it is only by continuing what his predecessor began.

The Bush record, in other words, dramatically contradicts Gingrich's message about Democrats being the party of food stamps. "Meet the Press" would have been a great venue to ask about that contradiction. Why did David Gregory opt instead to pursue a bogus racial "gotcha?"




Stimulus wiped out a million private sector jobs: "The economy may be slowly recovering, but that's in spite of - not because of - the recent orgy of federal spending. Two economics professors, Tim Conley and Bill Dupor, concluded this month that the $800 billion stimulus package wiped out a million private-sector jobs, destroying a net 550,000 jobs"

The dangers and opportunities of social proof: "The mechanics of social proof, while somewhat complex, are pretty easy to understand. Simplistically, we humans have a strong tendency to glance over at other members of the herd in an attempt to gauge the correct action or reaction to take in any given circumstance. While this tendency can be useful in identifying the right bread plate to use at a fancy dinner party, it can also have devastating consequences."

Actually, we're not all in this together: "Having attended UC-Berkeley in the sixties, I have a certain nostalgia for the wacko hippie leftist crowd. I agreed with them on the Vietnam War back then, and not much else. So I'm always curious as to what today's equivalent, MoveOn.org, is up to. A recent fundraising letter they sent to their members (trust me, I'm not one) included this statement: 'As progressives, we share a core belief that we're all in this together.' It is a small victory, I suppose, that leftists feel compelled to refer to themselves as progressives these days. But MoveOn is certainly correct that the collectivist notion of 'all in this together' is central to the leftist worldview."

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

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

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


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


22 May, 2011

Rebel Youth Scream, “USA!” at UBL’s Demise

Doug Giles is in good form below:

Can you imagine the consternation the ubiquitous uberliberal profs of our nation’s radical Left-leaning universities must have felt as they watched the students they’ve worked their butts off to brainwash dispense with said profs’ anti-American blather and instead shout for joy that the SOB UBL is now officially ODPF (one dead porn freak)?

I can still hear the tens of thousands of college students from sea to shining sea screaming, “USA! USA! USA!” as they praised our wickedly lethal SEAL Team Six for putting the death axe to this tool.

Ah, yes, ladies and gents, the young ones still get that good and evil do exist, that some bad guys have got to die, and that on the grand scale of things America, well … rocks. Sa-lute!

This month’s ginormous and spontaneous youth-driven celebration of American exceptionalism in cities nationwide caused hope to spring once again in my gloomy, gloomy chest. It was precious, folks … I’m talkin’ precious with a capital P. I’m getting all verklempt just thinking about it. Hold on for a sec. I can’t breathe. I think I’ll light a cigar to regain my composure and celebrate a wee little bit. Okay, I’m now officially back. Whew.

Allow me to digress a bit and yap about the porn cache found in Usama bin Spankin’s dank million-dollar mansion: What is up with all these Muslim holy men and their penchant for slapping their salami? Isn’t it interesting how the revelations have been pouring in lately that these “holy warriors” against western decadence were actually hooked on western decadence? Oh, the irony. I thought we were the “Great Satan”; I thought they hated cleavage and blamed all the current earthquakes on Lady Gaga’s ya-ya and Shakira’s truth-telling hips …

Sure enough, their defenders will prance out and say they had porn collections to stay afoot of America’s foul milieu. It’s “research.” Yes, that’s it! Bin Laden and his boys were “researching” us—or as Mark Sanford would say, they were “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Research? Please, player. Go sell crazy somewhere else because that excuse sounds just like the same scat my friend Dewey used to sell his mother right up until he went blind and grew hair on his carpel tunnel palms.

Yes, no doubt the apologists for Usama and his ilk are going to say that their Yoda “encoded microscopic intel on Miss April’s belly ring” or “they were only viewing Holly Madison’s hooters to keep abreast (no pun intended) of the United States’ degradation in order to stir afresh the embers of enmity for all things American.”

Call me weird, but from a prima facie standpoint, at least to me, it appears as if Usama’s bin Naughty and these spankmeisters are giving post pubescent teenage boys a run for their money when it comes to … uh … well… uh, you know. Now I’ll return to our righteously rebellious twentysomethings.

Yep, when bin Laden got a bin bullet to the bin noggin’, most of our youth from coast to coast did not lament “American imperialism” but instead starting singing about America’s exceptionalism. Matter of fact, I saw about 1,500 college kids during one report singing The Heavy’s hit, “How You Like Me Now?” And you know what? Me likey.

And lastly, I’ll return to the America-adverse professors at our liberal madrasah, the college campus: You dudes have got to be soiling your pants now, eh? Seems as if all your “America sucks” rhetoric didn’t stick as much as you thought it would. Yep, after years of your anti-American blah, blah, blah you’ve shoveled down the kids’ throats that our kids bounced back with a defiant, patriotic rebel yell when Usama fell, shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” To which I say, keep it up, patriotic young people— and don’t let these bastards grind you down.



Leftist mythology poisoning the minds of American Jews -- and undermining support for Israel

Austin Hill

“..Are you offended when people pray out loud in public places?” I asked my interview guest.

It was 2006 and U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, was on his way to losing with his own party. I suspected at the time that Mr. Lieberman was in trouble with fellow Democrats because – at least in part – he was “too religious” (after all, he has been known to “give thanks to Yahweh” in public from time to time). So I asked prominent conservative Jewish commentator and columnist Rich Galen to offer his insights on my daily talk show.

“Absolutely not” Galen responded when I asked about public prayer being offensive. “And if I’m with Christian friends and they pray before a meal” he continued in his usual good-natured wit, “when they get to the part where they say ‘in Jesus’ name,’ I always shout ‘Amen!,’ because, you know, I need all the help I can get – and what the heck, you Christian folks might be right about the Messiah thing!”

I wish more Americans – Jews and Gentiles alike – had Rich Galen’s respectful, “live and let live” outlook on the expression of Judeo-Christian traditions (I wish more of us had his sense of humor, too). Unfortunately many Jews in America seem quite indifferent about their own cultural and faith heritage (whether or not they take the religion of “Judaism” seriously), while far too many Democrats have moved from being indifferent to being hostile towards traditional religious beliefs. These factors, combined with a U.S. foreign policy that is now decidedly anti-Israel, could mean serious trouble for both our own nation and our historic Middle Eastern ally.

The plight of Senator Joe Lieberman over the past decade is an important chapter in America’s “indifference- to-hostility” story. Lieberman, who is not only Jewish but an “Observant Orthodox Jew,” lost favor with his own Connecticut Democrat Party back in 2006 because he was supposedly too supportive of “Bush’s war” in Iraq. Thus, Democrats in The Constitution State ran a challenger candidate that year who was more genuinely “anti-Bush,” and who went on to win the state-wide Democrat primary race.

Of course after his primary election loss, Senator Lieberman ran as an Independent against the Democrat nominee and easily won re-election to another Senate term. Yet it was nonetheless amazing to watch Joe Lieberman – the man who Democrats celebrated in 2000 as the “first Jewish candidate for Vice President on a major party ticket” – get politically crucified by Democrats only six years later.

I sensed at the time that the “anti-Lieberman” sentiment was not just about him being “pro-Bush.” I suspected that Lieberman’s religiosity was problematic as well, given that the Senator has always spoken eloquently about the importance of “traditional religious values” in public life. This kind of “God talk,” even when it comes from Joe Lieberman, has no place in what has become an obsessively secular Democrat Party. And now, with the remaining vestiges of Judeo-Christian tradition having been swept away, and with Barack Obama as the party’s leader, American Democrats are enabling evil and undermining virtue in the Middle East.

President Obama’s “demand” that Israel rein-in its territorial borders and make way for a new Palestinian State has sent U.S.-Israeli relations to a new low point, and could potentially endanger the entire world. While the President’s proposal is being described as a “brilliant new strategy” in the never-ending quest for Middle East peace, it is born out of a very flawed, very humanistic, very secular set of assumptions.

In short, the "secular assumption process" goes something like this: A) Religious traditions, cultures, world views, and moral systems are all relative to one another; none of them are any better than the others (thus Judaism is no better than Islam, Israel is no better than the Muslim nations, etc…); B) The only reason that an adherent to a particular religion or world view, or a member of any particular culture would do harm to anybody else is because of an unjust power struggle –those who do harm to others do so simply because they haven’t been given adequate material provision and economic opportunity; and C) If government can be used to “level the playing field” – that is, if the “strong” can be made a bit weaker, and the “weak” can be made stronger -then some arbitrary definition of “fairness” will ensue and everyone will begin to peacefully coexist

These three simplistic assumptions are believed to be true among many American Democrats, including many Jews. But if these assumptions were objectively true, then Muslim nations like Iran, Syria, Libya and Pakistan would produce a track record of universal human rights that compared to that of Israel and the United States.

Yet as much as President Obama reiterates that we are “all on the same page,” the fact is that we are not. The nations that comprise the “Muslim world” have some of the worst track records on basic human rights, including concerns over the treatment of women, homosexuals, and the poor.

The "indifference-to-hostility" shift among American Democrats, including many American Jews, is politically enabling a very destructive shift in American foreign policy. Will Jewish Americans change course, before it’s "too late" for Israel?



Moralizing Against McDonald's

Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, we can turn our attention to another remorseless enemy who for years has sown death and destruction among blameless innocents. I refer, of course, to Ronald McDonald.

The McDonald's mascot may qualify as one of the more annoying characters on the planet. But to his credit, he doesn't compound his unappealing personality by bossing you around. In that respect, he is far less objectionable than the people who make a fetish of finding him objectionable.

Last week, they took out ads in several newspapers blaming the clown for childhood obesity and demanding that McDonald's "stop marketing junk food to kids." The signers range from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an anti-meat group that the American Medical Association has accused of "perverting medical science," to alternative-healing huckster Andrew Weil.

The general rule of critics is that McDonald's can do nothing right. Some years ago, they insisted that the company get rid of the beef tallow in which it cooked French fries. It did so, in favor of a supposedly healthier oil containing trans fats. A few years later, the activists demanded that it abandon trans fats, which it soon did.

How much credit did it get for those changes? Not much. The class of people who detested McDonald's went right on detesting it.

These ads are part of a larger campaign against everything McDonald's represents. Were the company to retire Ronald McDonald, its enemies would step up their calls for an end to Happy Meals. Get rid of Happy Meals, and they would demand that McDonald's thoroughly revamp its menu to incorporate their superior notions of nutrition.

Ultimately, the only way to please the critics is to become something unrecognizable. Or, better yet, disappear from the planet. New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, who is to sanctimony what Saudi Arabia is to oil, believes "anything that discourages people from eating at McDonald's could be seen as wonderful."

Wonderful, that is, to enlightened souls who avoid it at all costs. But it's clear that McDonald's comes much closer to what paying consumers actually want than what its detractors prefer. It has 32,000 restaurants, serving 64 million people a day. Last year, it had revenues of $24 billion, more than the gross domestic product of some countries.

The food moralists imagine that McDonald's marketing magic renders its targets helpless to resist. Ronald McDonald might as well be rounding up kids at gunpoint and forcing them to choke down burgers and fries.

But children young enough to be seduced by Ronald McDonald or Happy Meals rarely visit restaurants without parents. These adults are free agents experienced at saying "no" to protect the interests of their sometimes ungrateful offspring.

Parents who dislike McDonald's sales tactics have a wealth of dining alternatives. And anyone who wants a low-fat, low-calorie meal can easily find it underneath the Golden Arches: Health magazine ranks McDonald's among the 10 healthiest fast-food restaurants.

It may be argued that many parents are too weak or ignorant to make sound decisions about the food their kids eat. If so, McDonald's and its unstoppable brainwashing machine could vanish tomorrow without making the slightest difference in obesity or other diet-related ailments.

People don't like cheap, tasty, high-calorie fare because McDonald's offers it. McDonald's offers it because people like it. In McDonald's absence, patrons would seek it out at other fast-food places, sit-down establishments or grocery stores.

We live in an age of inexpensive, abundant food carefully designed to please the mass palate. Most of us, recalling the scarcity, dietary monotony and starvation that afflicted our ancestors for hundreds of millennia, count that as progress. But those determined to save human beings from their own alleged folly see it as catastrophic.

What is apparent is that the militant enemies of fast food would like it treated as a public health menace along the lines of tobacco. They want broad measures to restrict, discourage and punish the companies that sell it.

Ronald McDonald is merely a convenient symbol. Their true target is a capitalist economy that gives companies far too much latitude in appealing to customers and allows government far too little control over our food choices.

The idea of using government power to dictate what we eat will strike many Americans as a gross intrusion on personal freedom. But McDonald's enemies? They're lovin' it.




Laws protecting the stupid are bad for the gene pool: "I know it sounds harsh, but if the human species is going evolve in a healthy, meaningful and productive way, nature has to be able to clear out the genetic chaff and underbrush so that the fittest prevail and the weakest links are deleted. For instance, if you are stupid enough talk on a cell phone while crossing a roadway on which 3,000 pound heavy metal machines powered by internal combustion engines zoom by, then we don’t really need you contributing your chromosomes to future generations. You have failed the genetic survival test." [Note: Opposing dysgenics is not the same as favoring eugenics]

Internet gambling: "The argument for the legalization of online gambling has very little to do with the fact that a subset of poker players are 'professionals' who are able to make money consistently through gambling. The argument in support of online gambling (aside from the whole we live in a free society thing, which he casually tosses aside) is that its an activity that a large number of Americans clearly want to participate in. Gambling is a form of entertainment. I haven’t heard of many moviegoers who consistently turn a profit after a night at the cinema, yet we seem to still allow Americans to watch movies (these days you can even watch them online, which is again, something you lose money doing)."

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

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


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


21 May, 2011

German soldiers to be investigated for defending themselves from Afghan attackers

What a crock!

Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, has released new and explosive details about a violent altercation between demonstrators and German soldiers in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday that left 12 dead and dozens wounded, including two German soldiers. In a statement posted on its website Friday morning, the military contradicted its earlier claims and admitted that German soldier had deliberately fired upon the demonstrators. The Bundeswehr also said it was possible that the shots had been responsible for at least one death.

The incident occurred Wednesday morning in front of a German military camp in the northern Afghan city of Taloqan, in Takhar province, as a funeral march was being held for four people, including two women, who had been killed by US troops in a nighttime operation against suspected terrorists. The Bundeswehr had previously claimed that German soldiers had only fired warning shots to protect their camp from further attacks by enraged demonstrators taking part in the funeral procession.
The Bundeswehr claims that members of the funeral procession threw numerous hand grenades and Molotov cocktails toward the roughly 40 German soldiers in the small camp. The perimeter of the camp was being protected by Afghan guards belonging to a so-called "provisional advisory team" (PAT). After reportedly coming under heavy attacks, both the Afghan guards and Germans soldiers allegedly fired on the crowd in an effort to disperse it.

Until now, the Bundeswehr had denied any responsibility for the deaths of at least four demonstrators outside the camp's gates. On Wednesday evening, the Bundeswehr's website still said that the military had "no evidence" that attackers had been shot and killed by German soldiers. In several interviews, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière had previously only said that he wanted to wait for the results of an investigation before making any concrete statements on the events.

Locals questioned about the incident have provided crucial new details about the sequence of events. They say that, after being fiercely attacked by the crowd, the soldiers were in a "self-defense situation." The soldiers then reportedly made "warnings, including ones with hand signals" and fired "warning shots into the air." However, they also say that, at a later point, the soldiers also fired "targeted shots aimed at the leg area of violent protesters," in the words of the Bundeswehr. "In three or perhaps four cases," the report states, there were "shots at violent attackers" targeting the "torso or the arms and hands." One attacker was apparently hit "in the neck-head region."

The new Bundeswehr statement suggests that German soldiers might have also been responsible for killing some of the protesters. According to experts, shots fired from modern firearms are almost always fatal when they hit the head, neck or chest. Doctors in the city claim that the protests, which raged in the central part of the city over the course of the entire day, left at least 12 dead and more than 80 wounded.

It seems unlikely that it will be possible to conduct forensic examinations to determine whether the Germans were responsible for any of the deaths. Islamic custom dictates that the bodies of the dead must be buried within 24 hours of death. Since the burials have already taken place, it is no longer possible to conduct an autopsy or other examination.

The emergence of these new details will have serious consequences for the soldiers involved in the clashes, who can expect to face an investigation. The Bundeswehr has already contacted federal German prosecutors and provided them with details about the incident.



'Obama-Netanyahu meeting very useful and productive'

Talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama went better than planned on Friday, but certain differences remained between the two leaders and their visions for Palestinian-Israeli peace.

The two met just a day after Obama delivered a speech on the United States' Middle East policy in which he called for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians based on 1967 borders. Netanyahu rejected this, saying that such borders are "indefensible".

After a closed door meeting in the Oval Office that last more than an hour and a half, Obama and Netanyahu delivered comments to the press, and while both cited certain points of contention, it was made clear that these were "differences between friends".

Netanyahu was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, said one of his aides, adding the talk went better than he had anticipated. He reiterated his rejection of 1967 borders, saying it was important that he make this clear to Obama in their talks. He added that the international expectation that Israel return to 1967 borders is an obstacle to peace.

The prime minister's aide said talks with Obama were open, honest and friendly. He clarified that the differences between Netanyahu and the U.S. president were a matter of policy, were not personal, saying Israel cannot absorb Palestinian refugees, and will not negotiate with Hamas.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also was cautiously optimistic about Netanyahu and Obama's meeting, issuing a statement shortly after the Israeli and American leaders spoke with the press.

The press secretary said that the length of the one-on-one talk between Obama and Netanyahu, more than twice the time expected, was a positive sign, and "an indication of just how productive and constructive this meeting was".

Carney said that Obama recognizes the security issue for Israel, and that the United States recognizes Israel's right to self defense. He added that the U.S. will work to ensure security provisions that are "robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security".

Carney reiterated that while the United States will continue to push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it will keep in mind "Israel's security, which the United States remains committed to profoundly."



Media still covering for Obama

One feature that marks a totalitarian regime is media that serve as the government's information service. TASS, Radio Berlin, Voice of Hanoi -- these were all government entities that conveyed what the dictatorship wanted. The handout comes, the handout is published. The real danger point arrives when propaganda no longer rankles, but flows naturally. That's when authority carries more weight than evidence, and peer pressure suppresses independent thinking. It's also when captives become subjects.

Watching our free, First-Amendment-protected media react to the surprising release of President Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate, I have to wonder: What exactly is the difference? I exaggerate, but not much. It's been three weeks since Obama first made his long-form birth certificate public on April 27, 2011. Why, suddenly, did he do this, and not in 2008, 2009 or 2010 when this first of the missing bona fides became a focal point of deep national consternation? Why did Obama send lawyers to courtroom after courtroom to keep this simple document hidden -- and now mass-produce it on Obama 2012 campaign t-shirts? Why did Obama prefer to see Army Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin throw away his military career and go to prison for five months rather than, presto, authorize the document's release? The answers have something to do with political inroads Donald Trump was quite unexpectedly making simply by asking natural, obvious questions about Obama that neither Big Media nor someone of un-ignorable celebrity had ever asked before. But that's not the whole story.

We have the long-form birth certificate now -- or at least another highly questionable PDF of a scan of a copy of a document to stare at online (and, almost ghoulishly, on those Obama 2012 campaign T-shirts) -- but we don't have all the answers. Certainly we didn't get them from the "off camera and only pen and pad, not for audio" White House briefing on the document's release. That's because the media don't think, can't think to ask for them. Having spent years fending off the rare query about the long-form birth certificate like angry cats snarling that the president had already released his birth certificate, they didn't even seem to notice what chumps the new Obama document -- the one they said had already been released -- showed them all to be.

Either that, or they channeled their anger at ... Donald Trump. At that moment the non-declared GOP presidential front-runner, Trump got off his helicopter in New Hampshire also on April 27 to discuss his big coup, which is how he viewed the release of this first document in Obama's hidden paper trail. To say the media didn't share Trump's positive views on transparency is the understatement of the year.

First question to Trump: You're taking "credit" but a lot of people say what you caused was a distraction.

The president plays games for three years and Trump caused the "distraction"? And "distraction" from what -- White House talking points? Remember, this is supposed to be a professional journalist talking.

Second question to Trump, who said he still wanted to know what took Obama so long: Why is it relevant?

Again, this isn't supposed to be a member of Obama's re-election team, at least not officially. Another question: What are your qualifications to assess it (the birth certificate)?

Another question: Who cares (whether Obama releases his academic records)?

Who cares? These aren't questions from reporters who follow facts where they lead. These are people who have circled the wagons, and woe to anyone outside. Meanwhile, back at the simultaneous White House briefing, the transcript shows what happened when one journalist haltingly attempted to do his job:

"Q. And this is going to sound -- I mean, you can just anticipate what people are going to -- remain unconvinced. They're going to say that this is just a photocopy of a piece of paper, you could have typed anything in there. Will the actual certificate be on display or viewable at any -- (laughter.)"

Laughter. That was the answer.

Evidence is a joke to media in thrall to authority, those whose incuriosity about the many mundane documents Obama has mysteriously withheld from us leads to copy fit only for a palace pamphlet. From the transcript: "Q. Dan, was there a debate about whether or not this deserved being discussed by the White House .... was there debate about whether or not this was worthy of the White House?"

Let them eat birth certificates.



Leftists are now the establishment

All of our ruling-class institutions - academia, courts, government, media and entertainment industries - are teeming with closed-minded, hard-left ideologues who seek to “fundamentally transform America.”

Consider that, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, self-identified liberals outweigh their conservative counterparts in the mainstream media by a 5-1 margin.

Likewise, a 1999 North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS) of students, faculty and administrators in colleges and universities throughout the United States determined that five times as many college faculty members vote Democratic as Republican. In fact, 72 percent described themselves as “to the left of center,” while a mere 15 percent identified themselves as “right of center.”

One can only imagine that in the ensuing decade, the ideological disparity has increased. Ask any kid in the halls of academia, and he’ll tell you, with few exceptions, that professor so-and-so is a liberal so-and-so.

Still, liberals - or “progressives,” as they prefer to be called - persist in laboring under an embarrassing misconception: They honestly believe they remain the nonconformists. It’s precious.

In fact, today’s liberals are nothing of the sort. They compliantly conform - like little windup, patchouli-daubed lemmings - to a carnival-prize caricature of what they imagine nonconformity to look like. You know, the usual stuff: neo-Marxism, environmentalist activism, sexual relativism, big-government nanny statism, an actions-without-consequences rendering of reproductive rights, and other such populist nonsense. Simply put, today’s progressive nonconformist conforms.

Indeed, the “Stepford Wives” have become the “Stepford Lesbians.” The prudish, judgmental church lady has swapped spots with the easy - yet somehow self-righteous - birth-bashing feminist.

So what is a young person - brimming over with that instinctive, defiant impulse to rebel against “the man” - to do?

Well, in this up-is-down, spend-money-to-save-money world, conservatives have become the contemporary nonconformists. Today’s rebellious youth are telling the progressive establishment to put its moral-relativist, redistributionist party-line pig swill in its well-used chamber pipe and smoke it.

Kids: Really want to get under your obnoxiously “tolerant,” Volvo-driving, MSNBC-watching folks’ skin? Try this: Go to church, abstain from premarital sex, join the Young America’s Foundation, attend a Tea Party rally, enroll at Liberty University, listen to Rush Limbaugh and vote Republican. You’ll have them writhing in their Birkenstocks.

I’ve often said that President Obama could either be the best thing to happen to America or the worst. The best insofar as this man’s policies are so radical, so extreme that, in keeping with Newton’s third law of motion, the “opposite reaction” might well trigger Republican rule in perpetuity.

First, the bad news: So far, Mr. Obama is the worst. Now, the good news: I believe he has awakened a sleeping giant in the millennial generation (ages 18 to 29). Today’s counterculture is rejecting the tired progressive policies pushed by this president and his secular-socialist sycophants.

For instance, a 2010 Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll determined that nearly 60 percent of millennials believe abortion is “morally wrong,” a nearly 10-point increase over the more progressive baby-boomer generation. The tide is turning.

Similarly, a recent survey from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that millennials are worried sick about their futures. Yet President Hopey Changey and Democrats in Congress continue to play back-alley dice with their lives via incomprehensible deficit spending and a national debt that swells annually by the trillions.

Do you think these kids won’t rebel as the clouds quickly darken?

Winston Churchill [actually Clemenceau] once observed, “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.” Liberalism is emotion-based and rooted in soaring, knee-jerk notions of “social justice.” Conservatism is logic-based and rooted in reality.

Today’s rebellious youth have the heart part down. I’m glad to see they’re developing some brains.


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

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


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


20 May, 2011

Old emptyhead finally get a few things right about the Middle East

Barry's reference to Israel's 1967 borders is of course toxic and lots of people have been jumping up and down about it but note that he mentioned it in the context of land swaps and agreement between the parties. And his insistence on recognition for Israel will be poison to the Arabs. He also seems to feel powerless in the matter, which is rare wisdom for him

In his address Thursday afternoon on U.S. policy in the Middle East, Obama told an audience at the State Department that the borders of a "sovereign, nonmilitarized" Palestinian state "should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

Negotiations should focus first on territory and security, and then the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem and what to do about the rights of Palestinian refugees can be broached, Obama said.

"Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table," Obama said, noting the new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, a group foresworn to Israel's destruction.

"How can one negotiate with a party that shows itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?" Obama said. "In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question."

The U.S. president did not announce a specific initiative to resume talks between the two sides.

Obama also said that the Palestinians’ plan to declare statehood at the U.N. General Assembly this September will not result in a state. “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure,” Obama said. “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”

Ultimately, the president said, making peace is up to the parties.

"No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away," he said. "But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace."



The minimum wage disaster

The latest weekly new jobless claims was lower than expected, but still about 150,000 higher than economists say is necessary to indicate we're on the road to a recovery. The unemployment rate increased to 9.0 percent last month. More than 14 million people are still out of work; another 6 million have given up even trying to find a job and have left the workforce.

Transfer payments from various social welfare programs now account for a record high 35 percent of total salary and wage income in America. Food stamps are used by 1-in-7 people nationally.

The only thing that is working well in America seems to be Obama's plan to "spread the wealth," but he's borrowing 40 cents of every dollar to do it.

While the numbers are staggering, Washington seems paralyzed to do much to help. In fact, evidence mounts that many of the woes facing Americans trace to failed public policy put in place by misguided politicians. The latest wreck on the growing list is the government mandated minimum wage.

In 2006, Democrats campaigned on an increase in the minimum wage, and early in 2007 the new Democrat majority delivered, unfortunately with significant Republican congressional support. And, George W. Bush signed it into law as part of a bigger appropriations package.

At that time, the minimum wage was $5.15 per hour and the unemployment rate was less than half (4.4%) of what it is today. Congress hiked the minimum wage more than 40% to $7.25 on a three step schedule with the last hike taking effect in July, 2009.

In March, 2010 A Line of Sight contributing editor, Chris Jaarda, examined the history of the minimum wage and found that unemployment spiked following four of the last five increases in the federal minimum wage. Jaarda also discovered that 79% of economists agree with the following: “a minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers.” Somebody should have told Congress.

A newly released study by two labor economists, William Even (Miami University) and David Macpherson (Trinity University) confirmed, yet again, what Jaarda and many others already knew; increasing the minimum wage punishes most the young, unskilled workers, and worse, has a significant racial component.

Even and Macpherson's study, "Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities in the Employment Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases" analyzed the employment status of 16-24 year-old male high school dropouts, by definition the most unskilled, inexperienced group in the labor pool.

Among the white males, the authors determined that "each 10% increase in a state or federal minimum wage has decreased employment by 2.5%; for Hispanic males, the figure is 1.2%."

"But among black males in this group, each 10% increase in the minimum wage decreased employment by 6.5%."

Just a reminder, that 2007 increase was 40%. Guess what happened?

During the peak of what has been dubbed the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for young adults (16 to 24 years of age) as a whole rose to above 27%, according to syndicated columnist, Walter Williams. However, the unemployment rate for black young adults was almost 50%, but for young black males, it was 55%.

Many factors including the financial crisis contributed more to the recession than the minimum wage increase. In trying to parcel out the right numbers, Even and Macpherson compared the job loss caused by higher minimum wages with that caused by the recession and found between 2007 and 2010, employment for 16-to-24-year-old black males fell by approximately 34,300 as a result of the recession; over the same time period, approximately 26,400 lost their jobs as a result of increases in the minimum wage across the 50 states and at the federal level.

Even and Macpherson explain that young black men are more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs in bars and restaurants, exactly the kind of businesses with narrow profit margins that are more adversely affected by increases in minimum wage. Indeed, the National Restaurant Association lobbied against the 2007 legislation, pointing out that the last increase led to 146,000 lost jobs.

Walter Williams – himself a black male – unloaded blistering satire at the political establishment; "The best way to sabotage chances for upward mobility of a youngster from a single-parent household, who resides in a violent slum and has attended poor-quality schools is to make it unprofitable for any employer to hire him."

When the 2007 minimum wage increase was passed, the New York Times hailed it as a "major victory for low income workers." That's the standard liberal – oops, progressive – line. But, I doubt the 50% of black young adults that are out of work feel all that victorious.



End Game: My Job is to...

As we march, seemingly inexorably, toward a socialist society we bemoan the bureaucrats sitting in Washington making decisions about every aspect of our daily lives on matters both big and small. The vision of a blathering bureaucrat deciding what health options are available to us sends shudders down our spines.

Whereas the buck used to stop at the top, along with the falling dollar the buck now stops at the bottom. The bureaucratic chain of command issues highly refined “rules and regulations” down the organizational stream. Where it ends up, like effluent through a sieve, is with the little guy at the bottom.

This bottom dweller has zero accountability and zero authority except to perform his assigned job, which is spelled out in great detail. By the time the control gets to this level, the underlying "logic" (that term is used loosely) has all but evaporated. Whatever justification or good intentions or intended outcome of the rules when issued from the top, they have distilled to a simply defined task now devoid of any rational relationship to the real world.

The most obvious examples in the public arena today are at the airport screening sites. TSA screeners go lemming-like through the motions dictated from the upper level geniuses. Recall the nine year old girl recently patted down by a screener, an incident which caught national attention. This screener was just “doing his job” regardless of the fact that if anyone outside of the TSA touched the girl like that it would have been a criminal offense requiring registration as a sex offender. The “don’t touch my junk” guy had it right. It would have been a crime if it weren’t the government.

And there is no recourse here. The little men are “just doing their job”. The functioning of our society has been reduced to the conduct of little jobs being performed by little men in a virtual vacuum with no ability to relate to the rationality of the action.

To see where we in America are headed we merely have to look to Europe. A personal example. A few weeks ago I was traveling in Paris with my wife. I had purchased a fistful of single ride Métro tickets. In theory, you use the ticket at the turnstile to enter the Métro and also use the same ticket to exit – simple enough. Turns out that most exits don’t require use of the ticket to exit, so I started just putting the tickets back in my pocket with the other unused tickets. Unexpectedly, at one station we were greeted by a trio of Métro enforcement bureaucrats wielding handheld electronic gizmos asking for everyone’s tickets. Sorting through all those used and unused tickets in my pocket I pulled one out. It was the wrong one, and was rejected. The machine's conclusion: I was trying to cheat the system.

Showing my pile of tickets I tried to explain that the right ticket was amongst them. 'Sorry. The machine says you showed an incorrect ticket. My job is to make sure everyone has a ticket.' My unfamiliarity with the system was irrelevant as was the fact that the proper ticket was available if only they'd let me run it through their machine. Too bad. His job was to run a ticket through his machine. If the machine issued a verdict of "guilty" the result is a 25€ fine.

This is the holy grail of socialism. Reduce enforcement to a little man with a singular “job” to be performed faithfully and blindly and you have nirvana.

Judgment, logic and rational action have no place in that enlightened world. And there is no recourse to higher authority because the little man was doing his job in compliance with his training.

In America we're on the same course and again our airport regulations show us our future. The first leg of our Paris journey was via commercial mini-jet to New York. Entering the security zone with our full sized luggage a "pre-screener" told us that if our bags were too large for the carryon bag test cage, we' have to check them. We tried to explain that since our flight was on a small regional jet, all luggage would be checked as we entered the plane.

His response: “My job is to tell you the bag must fit in the test cage”. There you have it. "My job is..." It didn’t matter if my luggage was to be checked plane side or not or pitched into the Atlantic Ocean, his job was …

"My job is..." Next time you hear someone say that watch out: you are seeing the heart of the socialist beast.




Dems get filibustered for a change: "Democrats needed 60 votes to move the nomination forward to final passage. Senate Republicans on Thursday toppled the nomination, 52-43, of controversial University of California-Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a first in President Barack Obama's presidency. GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said the nominee's writings "reveal a left-wing ideologue who views the role of a judge not as that of an impartial arbiter, but as someone who views the bench as a position of power." And though the Kentucky senator said he has "nothing against (Liu) personally, "Earning a lifetime appointment isn't a right, nor is it a popularity contest." [By blocking Miguel Estrada's nomination, it was the Dems who started this ball rolling. Their chickens have come home to roost]

NM: Warrants let Feds enter home without owner’s knowing: "A special type of government search warrant that allows authorities to search homes without informing the owner for months is becoming more common. ... These search warrants don’t involve knocking on doors or any type of warning at all. Delayed-notice search warrants, or 'sneak-and-peek' warrants, allow federal agents to enter your home without telling you they’ve been there until months later."

CA: Male genital mutilation ban to appear on San Francisco ballot: "A proposal to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has been cleared to appear on the November ballot, setting the stage for the nation's first public vote on what has long been considered a private family matter. But even in a city with a long-held reputation for pushing boundaries, the measure is drawing heavy fire. Opponents are lining up against it, saying a ban on a religious rite considered sacred by Jews and Muslims is a blatant violation of constitutional rights."

Google: We’re not creepy enough to recognize your face: "We're kind of creepy, but not that creepy — the gist of Google guru Eric Schmidt's public scorn-pouring on technology that'd allow a company to recognize and identify your face, or my face, or anyone's face. How? By storing pictures of said faces in a massive photographically encyclopedic database. That Google would create such a database was 'unlikely,' said Schmidt, adding that for anyone to create such a repository was 'crossing the creepy line.'"

An expensive Gov. Moonbeam: "Pausing in his struggle to solve (or to get others to solve) today's iteration of California's recurring fiscal crisis, Jerry Brown, the recurring governor, recently approved a new contract for the prison guards union. Henceforth, guards can cash out at retirement an unlimited number of unused vacation days. Most California employees can monetize only 80 accrued days. Many guards will receive lump sums exceeding $100,000. The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that guards possess time worth $600 million. The union contributed almost $2 million to Brown's 2010 campaign."

Rep. Duncan Hunter criticizes Navy's decision to name ship for Cesar Chavez: "U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) disagrees with the Navy's decision to name a cargo ship under construction in San Diego for California farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. The decision, announced Tuesday, "appear[s] to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy's history and tradition," Hunter said in press release. Hunter, who served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that if the Navy wanted to recognize "the Hispanic contribution to our nation, many other names come to mind." Hunter mentioned Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, killed in combat in Iraq and nominated for the Medal of Honor. "Peralta is one of many Hispanic war heroes -- some of whom are worthy of the same recognition," Hunter said."

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

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


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


19 May, 2011

More on Obama's birthplace

I recently postulated that it was Obama's mother who set up the fraud that Obama was U.S.-born. I said that maybe Obama popped out a bit early in Mombasa so his mother took him to Hawaii ASAP and got his birth registered there -- possibly by corrupting some official in some way. I have however received the following objection to that:
First, it should be obvious that a child born outside of the USA requires either a US visa on a foreign passport or to be entered on the mother’s US passport to get to the USA. This is true today, and it was also true in 1961--and, since there were a lot fewer travelers, officials checked the documents more carefully.

Those documents or the applications for them would still exist and would have been found easily IF Obama was born outside of the USA. But no such document has been found.

I can accept that that might be true for an older child but would it be true for a newborn babe in arms? If the mother said, "I haven't had time for that yet", would not the official most likely have waved the mother through? Any ideas?


Are the Jews the Chosen People?

If I were religious, I would agree with this wholeheartedly. The Bible says it, after all

Dennis Prager

I assume that the type of person who reads columns such as this one has wondered at one time or another why, for thousands of years, there has been so much attention paid to Jews and why, today, to Israel, the one Jewish state.

But how do most people explain this preoccupation? There is no fully rational explanation for the amount of attention paid to the Jews and the Jewish state. And there is no fully rational explanation for the amount of hatred directed at Jews and the Jewish state.

A lifetime of study of this issue, including writing (with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin) a book on anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism") has convinced me that, along with all the rational explanations, there is one explanation that transcends reason alone.

It is that the Jews are God's chosen people.

Now, believe me, dear reader, I am well aware of the hazards of making such a claim. It sounds chauvinistic. It sounds racist. And it sounds irrational, if not bizarre. But it is none of these.

As regards chauvinism, there is not a hint of inherent superiority in the claim of Jewish chosen-ness. In fact, the Jewish Bible, the book that states the Jews are chosen, constantly berates the Jews for their flawed moral behavior. No bible of any other religion is so critical of the religious group affiliated with that bible as the Hebrew Scriptures are of the Jews.

As for racism, Jewish chosen-ness cannot be racist by definition. Here is why: a) The Jews are not a race; there are Jews of every race. And b) any person of any race, ethnicity or nationality can become a member of the Jewish people and thereby be as chosen as Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah or the chief rabbi of Israel.

And with regard to chosen-ness being an irrational or even bizarre claim, it must be so only to atheists. They don't believe in a Chooser, so they cannot believe in a Chosen. But for most believing Jews and Christians (most particularly the Founders who saw America as a Second Israel, a second Chosen People), Jewish Chosen-ness has been a given. And even the atheist must look at the evidence and conclude that the Jews play a role in history that defies reason.

Can reason alone explain how a hodgepodge of ex-slaves was able to change history -- to introduce the moral God-Creator we know as God; to write the world's most influential book, the Bible; to devise ethical monotheism; to be the only civilization to deny the cyclical worldview and give humanity belief in a linear (i.e., purposeful) history; to provide morality-driven prophets and so much more -- without God playing the decisive role in this people's history?

Without the Jews, there would be no Christianity (a fact acknowledged by the great majority of Christians) and no Islam (a fact acknowledged by almost no Muslims). Read Thomas Cahill's "The Gifts of the Jews" or Paul Johnson's "A History of the Jews" to get an idea about how much this people changed history.

What further renders the claim for Jewish chosen-ness worthy of rational consideration is that virtually every other nation has perceived itself as chosen or otherwise divinely special. For example, China means "Middle Kingdom" in Chinese -- meaning that China is at the center of the world; and Japan considers itself the land where the sun originates ("Land of the Rising Sun"). The difference between Jewish chosen-ness and other nations' similar claims is that no one cares about any other group considering itself Chosen, while vast numbers of non-Jews have either believed the Jews' claim or have hated the Jews for it.

Perhaps the greatest evidence for the Jews' chosen-ness has been provided in modern times, during which time evil has consistently targeted the Jews:

-- Nazi Germany was more concerned with exterminating the Jews than with winning World War II.

-- Throughout its 70-year history, the Soviet Union persecuted its Jews and tried to extinguish Judaism. Hatred of Jews was one thing communists and Nazis shared.

-- The United Nations has spent more time discussing and condemning the Jewish state than any other country in the world. Yet, this state is smaller than every Central American country, including El Salvador, Panama and even Belize. Imagine if the amount of attention paid to Israel were paid to Belize -- who would not think there was something extraordinary about that country?

-- Much of the contemporary Muslim world -- and nearly all the Arab world -- is obsessed with annihilating the one Jewish state.

In the words of Catholic scholar Father Edward Flannery, the Jews carry the burden of God in history. Most Jews, being secular, do not believe this. And many Jews dislike talk of chosen-ness because they fear it will increase anti-Semitism; they may be right.

But it doesn't alter the fact that the obsession with one of the smallest countries and smallest peoples on earth, and the unique hatred of the Jews and the Jewish state by the world's most vicious ideologies, can be best explained only in transcendent terms. Namely that God, for whatever reason, chose the Jews.



Unemployment up again

The Obama economy continues to drift downward as our nation’s jobless rate is back at 9 percent with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that the number of unemployed persons increased by 205,000 in April.

Yet, incredibly the BLS writes in their May 6, 2011 release that, “The number of unemployed persons, at 13.7 million, changed little in April.” 205,000 more people unemployed is not a small change by anyone’s standards. To put it into perspective, 205,000 newly unemployed is the equivalent of slightly fewer than two-thirds of everyone who currently holds a job in the entire state of Alaska being laid off.

Ironically, the same report from BLS shows that there are almost three million more people “not in the labor force” in April 2011, than in April 2010 with the number of drop outs increasing by 131,000 last month alone.

All this bad news in the employment report was overshadowed by the contradictory claim in the report that 244,000 new private sector jobs were created by the economy in April.

While I wish the economy had grown by almost a quarter of a million jobs, it is hard to reconcile this number with the reality of the rest of this and other U.S. Labor Department reports. For instance, the number of people that BLS reports as being employed in April 2011 dropped by 190,000, a number that is irreconcilable with the claimed 244,000 new jobs created claim.

Also, the weekly U.S. Labor Department report on new Unemployment Insurance Claims that closed out the month of April showed that unemployment was accelerating through the month.



Study: Obama's Stimulus Cost 595,000 Jobs

New economics research suggests that President Obama's stimulus plan may have destroyed or forestalled employment, including more than 1 million private-sector jobs.

Economists Timothy Conley, University of Western Ontario, and Bill Dupor of Ohio State University found that the stimulus resulted in a net loss of 595,000 jobs from April 2009 to September 2010.

That counters research by the Congressional Budget Office, the Council of Economic Advisors, and many other economists. But Conley and Dupor's research differs in that instead of looking at the stimulus' effects on total employment, it breaks jobs into four different sectors: Goods-producing industries, including manufacturing; Health and education, leisure, and business and professional (HELP) services; Other service industries; State and local government.

The authors divided employment this way "because of the large differences in trends across the sectors over the past decade."

Their paper shows the stimulus created or saved 443,000 government jobs and 92,000 non-HELP service jobs. But it destroyed or forestalled 772,000 HELP jobs and 362,000 goods-producing positions. That's a net loss of 1.042 million private jobs.

"I don't find that very compelling," said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. "Since 2008 the economy went through a wringer and trends in these sectors were broken ... furthermore, their results were only marginally significant."

While acknowledging that Conley and Dupor's result were not very statistically robust, James Sherk argues that the lack of job growth is a significant finding.

"If the other studies which are programmed to show that the stimulus has a positive effect on jobs were right, then you'd expect Conley-Dupor to show 2 to 3 million jobs created," said Sherk, senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "That it was a negative figure ... tells you at best the stimulus was a wash."

Much other research, such as that conducted by the CBO, CEA, Federal Reserve economist Daniel Wilson, and economists Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder, assume a "Keynesian" multiplier effect for government spending.

Zandi and Blinder assume that government infrastructure spending has a multiplier of 1.57 — every dollar government spends on infrastructure yields $1.57 in economic growth.

These studies yield an array of estimates of jobs created or saved, from 800,000 to 4.2 million.

"Those papers aren't really an independent test of whether the stimulus was effective," said Sherk. "They show that the models they use are pre-programmed to show job creation. One of the problems with the multiplier effect is that it assumes that government spending is just as good as private sector spending."




A couple of times a year I gather together what I think are the most amusing or most interesting pictures off my various blogs and put them together as a "gallery". I have just put up the gallery for the second half of last year. You can access it here or here



Stance lands Brown in Medicare debate: "Senator Scott Brown’s support for a GOP budget plan that would transform Medicare into a voucher system promises to become a potent issue in his reelection campaign, say political analysts and advocates for senior citizens. Brown, in a speech Friday in Newburyport, revealed that he would vote for the House-passed budget plan when it comes up in the Senate. In doing so, the freshman Republican brushed up against the supercharged issue of overhauling Medicare."

Netherlands: War crimes prosecutors seek Gaddafi’s arrest: "The International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges Monday to issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and two other senior members of his regime, accusing them of committing crimes against humanity by targeting civilians in a crackdown against rebels. Luis Moreno-Ocampo says Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi ordered, planned and participated in illegal attacks." [These morons will just cause Gaddafi to dig his heels in]

Individualism isn’t ridiculous: "Some critics of individualism propose an alternative social philosophy and defend it so it is then possible to compare their case to the individualist position. But more often than not what critics do is caricature individualism, suggesting that individualists believe that people are autonomous, meaning, exist all on their own with no need for anyone else. Or they claim individualism means that no one has any moral responsibilities toward anyone else. Or that everyone is basically self-sufficient or should be."

Abolish corporate income taxes: "Many people hate corporations. Progressives and populists blame them for a host of sins, and several libertarians assert they couldn't exist in their present form without the State. We at DownsizeDC.org oppose the crony capitalism of the Corporatist State, and we cringe whenever people assume our pro-free market philosophy is a 'defense' of corporations. That is why our new campaign is a 'heresy.' What we propose may shock you, but we have good reasons. Our position is that even if you hate corporations ... Abolishing corporate income taxes is in your self-interest."

Iran building rocket bases in Venezuela: "The Iranian government is moving forward with the construction of rocket launch bases in Venezuela, the German daily Die Welt wrote in its Thursday edition. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is Teheran’s most important South American ally.Iran is building intermediate-range missile launch pads on the Paraguaná Peninsula, and engineers from a construction firm – Khatam al-Anbia – owned by the Revolutionary Guards visited Paraguaná in February. Amir al-Hadschisadeh, the head of the Guard’s Air Force, approved the visit, according to the report. Die Welt cited information from “Western security insiders.”"

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

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


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


18 May, 2011

Is this the intellectual level of those who protect America?

A 13-year-old boy in Washington state faced federal interrogation by a Secret Service agent over a Facebook posting that warned President Obama of suicide bombers.

Vito LaPinta of Tacoma, Wash., said he posted a message on Facebook after Usama bin Laden’s death, saying Obama should be careful of possible retaliatory acts against him by other terror members, according to the station. “I was saying how Usama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers,” the boy told the station.

A week later, the boy said a man walked into Truman Middle School “with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service.” “He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the president,” he said.

The Tacoma school district acknowledged a Secret Service agent questioned Vito and that it was a security guard who called Vito’s mom because the principal was on another call. The school district said they didn’t wait for Vito’s mother to get there because they thought she didn’t take the phone call seriously.

“That’s a blatant lie,” Robertson said. The teen’s mom says she rushed to Truman Middle School immediately and arrived to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour.



Keith Burgess-Jackson on happiness

I have never understood why people study happiness or set their sights on it. Have these people never heard of the paradox of happiness? If you aim for happiness, you're less likely to attain it than if you aim for something other than happiness. I think progressives are far more likely than conservatives to obsess about happiness. Conservatives find happiness in intermediate institutions, such as family, community, friendships, and church. They don't seek happiness; they never even think about it. Happiness finds them.

Progressives, many of whom are atheists, seek to destroy these intermediate institutions so as to bring everyone under the control of the managerial state. Since the state can't make people happy, progressives end up making everyone miserable and bitter. It's hard to believe that progressives think of themselves as the smart ones.

Addendum: Justice consists in proportioning happiness to merit. Vicious people deserve to be unhappy. It's not a good thing that a vicious person is happy; it's a bad thing. Nor is it a bad thing that a vicious person is unhappy; it's a good thing. The only happiness that matters, in other words, is the happiness of virtuous people.



Obama's $250,000 Question

Left and right agree: His agenda requires him to break his tax pledge

Back in 2008, candidate Barack Obama turned even Joe the Plumber to his political advantage by playing percentages and pitting the majority of the country against the super-rich. Such was the simplicity of his message that even those attending an American university could grasp it. As one college student told this newspaper at the time, "Everyone knows Obama's only going to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000, and Joe the Plumber does not make more than $250,000."

Politically that was a winner. Now, however, the numbers are not adding up—or at least, not in a way that will pay for President Obama's ambitions for the federal government. And at least some of his allies on the progressive left are pointing it out.

In the New Republic, the Brookings Institution's William Galston zeroes in on the fuzzy math. "Unless Obama is prepared to tolerate huge deficits indefinitely," he writes, "or to emulate arch-conservatives and curb the budget deficit with spending cuts only, he will have to break his unsustainable tax pledge at some point. The only question is when."

"The President's political advisers are keenly aware of the fact that Democrats need to improve their performance with these voters or face defeat in 2012," Mr. Salam writes. "This helps explain the profound irrationality of the Obama administration's approach to key public-policy questions." By irrationality, he means what Mr. Galston means: the split between what the president needs to do economically to fund his programs and what he did politically to get himself elected.

Mr. Galston, of course, is no Art Laffer, though his original piece was full of interesting figures illustrating that the U.S. tax regime is more progressive than the most popular clichés would have it. Mr. Galston cheerfully supports raising taxes on those with incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 to support progressive policies and help tame the deficit. He is simply honest enough to know that Mr. Obama cannot get the top 2% of income earners to pay for everything he has promised to do.

Inside the Beltway, one of the most hallowed chestnuts is that so polarized have our politics become, we can no longer agree on basic facts. Mr. Galston and Mr. Salam and their respective allies disprove that. Both agree on the revenue problem, though their policy conclusions veer off in sharply opposite ways.

Both would probably also agree that in the last two elections, the American people have zeroed in on one part of the message without perhaps accepting the full consequences of their position. In 2008, Americans went resoundingly for Mr. Obama, who promised that no one but the super-rich would have to worry about paying more for anything. Then in 2010, a tea party backlash helped elect Republicans who promised to reduce the size and reach of government.

So here's the question for 2012: If we the people don't want the higher taxes that are needed to support not only ObamaCare but a growing federal government, are we willing to support the real cuts that go along with that choice? And if we decide we don't want these programs touched, will we accept the higher taxes that go along with keeping them, including for people making a lot less than $250,000?

This is the heart of the argument shaping up between Mr. Obama and Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Manifestly Mr. Obama believes that as much as Americans say they want smaller government, the moment they find one of their favorite programs (e.g., Medicare) up for consideration, they balk.

Mr. Ryan and Republicans make the opposite bet: The president's spending has made Americans more willing to face up to these choices, especially if the alternative is higher taxes on more people.

The argument over taxes and spending, of course, is never fully won. The good news here is Messrs. Galston and Salam have met across the ideological spectrum to offer a good starting point. For those of us who believe that America is best served by a debate that forces citizens to make a clear choice—and that Mr. Ryan has the better part of the argument—we say, "Bring it on."


Retired tax accountant Dick McDonald comments:

Tax experts were not fooled into thinking that Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to raise taxes only the 2% of taxpayers making more than $250,000 was a fiscal possibility. Taxing 100% of their income wouldn’t even make a dent in Obama’s bloated budget or even a ripple in his generational-killing deficits.

The fact is he rode into the White House on a lie and to date the Republicans have not called him on it. In fact that is part of what is wrong with Republicans – they don’t have daily talking points to beat Democrats repeatedly over the head.

So the article above warns us that Obama is coming after those making between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. He plans to raise their taxes. He has no other choice. They have all the money.

In addition to what you learn above be aware that the IRS is going after the same income group. They have been prohibited from auditing taxpayers based on the probability of larger assessments since the late 90’s. Lately statistics show that auditing this group also generates more tax dollars.

Apparently the rich have legions of tax accountants and attorneys that present difficult auditing barriers whereas your $100,000 to $200,000 taxpayers can’t afford such high-priced talent and just lie down when faced by the IRS.

So much for campaign promises. They are coming after us.


Democrat corruption

20% of new Obamacare waivers are restaurants etc. in Pelosi's district‏

Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.

That’s in addition to the 27 new waivers for health care or drug companies and the 31 new union waivers Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services approved.

Pelosi’s district secured almost 20 percent of the latest issuance of waivers nationwide, and the companies that won them didn’t have much in common with companies throughout the rest of the country that have received Obamacare waivers.

Other common waiver recipients were labor union chapters, large corporations, financial firms and local governments. But Pelosi’s district’s waivers are the first major examples of luxurious, gourmet restaurants and hotels getting a year-long pass from Obamacare.

For instance, Boboquivari’s restaurant in Pelosi’s district in San Francisco got a waiver from Obamacare. Boboquivari’s advertises $59 porterhouse steaks, $39 filet mignons and $35 crab dinners.

The reason the Obama administration says it has given out waivers is to exempt certain companies or policyholders from “annual limit requirements.” The applications for the waivers are “reviewed on a case by case basis by department officials who look at a series of factors including whether or not a premium increase is large or if a significant number of enrollees would lose access to their current plan because the coverage would not be offered in the absence of a waiver.”



A total departure from reality on America's Left

Comment by Dick McDonald

Senate Democrats are voting today to end tax breaks for Big Oil which should save $21 billion over the next ten years. Granted, if it passes both Houses and is signed into law, it will generate $21 billion more for Democrats in Congress to spend to buy votes from their “dependents” in the next ten years. It will definitely increase the cost of gasoline to the consumer by $21 billion in the next ten years as these new taxes the politicians are confiscating will just be passed on to the consumer.

Harry Reid on the floor today just proved how ignorant (or “insane”) he is by saying “We have to do something about the exorbitant gas prices and the best way to start with that is to do something about the five big oil companies getting subsidies they don’t need.”

WHAT IS THIS MORON SMOKING? Oil companies are not going to reduce gas prices because Congress taxes them an additional $21 billion.


Understanding Liberals

Walter E. Williams

The liberal vision of government is easily understood and makes perfect sense if one acknowledges their misunderstanding and implied assumptions about the sources of income. Their vision helps explain the language they use and policies they support, such as income redistribution and calls for the rich to give something back.

Suppose the true source of income was a gigantic pile of money meant to be shared equally amongst Americans. The reason some people have more money than others is because they got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. That being the case, justice requires that the rich give something back, and if they won't do so voluntarily, Congress should confiscate their ill-gotten gains and return them to their rightful owners.

A competing liberal implied assumption about the sources of income is that income is distributed, as in distribution of income. There might be a dealer of dollars. The reason why some people have more dollars than others is because the dollar dealer is a racist, a sexist, a multinationalist or a conservative. The only right thing to do, for those to whom the dollar dealer unfairly dealt too many dollars, is to give back their ill-gotten gains. If they refuse to do so, then it's the job of Congress to use their agents at the IRS to confiscate their ill-gotten gains and return them to their rightful owners. In a word, there must be a re-dealing of the dollars or what some people call income redistribution.

The sane among us recognize that in a free society, income is neither taken nor distributed; for the most part, it is earned. Income is earned by pleasing one's fellow man. The greater one's ability to please his fellow man, the greater is his claim on what his fellow man produces. Those claims are represented by the number of dollars received from his fellow man.

Say I mow your lawn. For doing so, you pay me $20. I go to my grocer and demand, "Give me 2 pounds of steak and a six-pack of beer that my fellow man produced." In effect, the grocer asks, "Williams, you're asking your fellow man to serve you. Did you serve him?" I reply, "Yes." The grocer says, "Prove it."

That's when I pull out the $20 I earned from serving my fellow man. We can think of that $20 as "certificates of performance." They stand as proof that I served my fellow man.

Contrast the morality of having to serve one's fellow man in order to have a claim on what he produces with congressional handouts. In effect, Congress says, "You don't have to serve your fellow man in order to have a claim on what he produces. We'll take what he produces and give it to you. Just vote for me."

Who should give back? Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, Bill Gates founded Microsoft, Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer. Which one of these billionaires acquired their wealth by coercing us to purchase their product? Which has taken the property of anyone?

Each of these examples, and thousands more, is a person who served his fellow men by producing products and services that made life easier. What else do they owe? They've already given.

If anyone is obliged to give something back, they are the thieves and recipients of legalized theft, namely people who've used Congress, including America's corporate welfare queens, to live at the expense of others. When a nation vilifies the productive and makes mascots of the unproductive, it doesn't bode well for its 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, 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, 2011

Obama's birth certificate

Joseph Farah has got a spate of articles up at the moment in which he presents evidence against the authenticity of the "photocopy" of Obama's original birth certificate. He is also dropping heavy hints of big developments to come shortly.

From the beginning I have been one of the skeptics about Barry's nativity so I think I should say what I think of the present state of the controversy. Opinions are all you can get about the matter at the moment and I do think that there is something that most of the skeptics have overlooked. So let me start at the beginning.

Obama's mother (above) was clearly a sexy chick with a liking for dark skin and all that went with it. But she would certainly be well aware of the advantages of American citizenship and would have wanted it for her son. So when Barry popped out a bit early in Mombasa, an enterprising lady like her with little respect for the rules of the day would have hopped onto a plane as soon as possible and done what needed to be done to get Barry registered as American-born -- and inserted an appropriate birth-notice in the local paper. And Barry has profited from that deception more than she could ever have dreamed of. So it is possible that we are looking at a deception that was initially devised by Obama's mother.

Now I want to say something about government bureaucracies. I worked in two of them in my younger days so have a good feel for how they work. They can be enormously inefficient but they are also set up in a way that is hard to circumvent. And I think that whatever Barry's mother did to achieve her deception was not perfectly done. There would be signs in the documentation that it was a deception and Barry has been covering that up ever since. His refusal to release ANY documentation from his past is certainly inexplicable otherwise. Do all his documents list him as Kenyan-born?

And the YEARS it took for him to release an alleged copy of his original birth certificate suggests that he had offers from early on to do a forgery but in his typical indecisive way it took him a long time to take up that offer. Only the Trump megaphone pushed him over the edge. Whatever else The Donald is good at, getting lots of publicity in the popular press is something he seems to do effortlessly.

So we come to the indications that the recently released document is a forgery. The premier indication, according to all the skeptics, is that the serial number on the certificate is out of sequence. Unfortunately, from my experience of bureaucracies, I see that as no smoking gun at all. Certificates are issued according to the order that the clerk finds then in his in-tray. They may not at all reflect the exact order in which the events that they certify happened. I would therefore suggest that skeptics greatly downgrade their emphasis on that point.

So I think that there are many indications that both his birth certificate and Obama himself are one big fraud but proving it decisively is at the moment impossible. We will just have to wait and see what Farah's bombshell is. Or maybe Mossad will release a real copy of the original certificate if Obama gets too dangerous to Israel. I imagine that Mossad went to Kenya fairly early on -- long before the Kenyans started to wipe their records


I received from a reader the following comment on the above:

You are right to question the Obama “Certificate of Live Birth”. It contains a forged signature. The mom’s signature has been tampered with. You can see this for yourself, simply by zooming in on the certificate on the government web site. You will see that the “Ann D” part is handwritten and the “unham Obama” part has been drawn in by someone else on the computer. Here is a reference to this.

“Additionally, if you zoom in using Acrobat with your browser on a lot of the text, you’ll notice that it appears jagged and a single color. That’s not original. A pen doesn’t write in a single color; as you write lighter, the color is lighter; as you press harder, it’s darker than everything else. So writing in pen is not a single solid color, and when it scanned, anti-aliased, which means that the square pixels on the edges fade to make it appear smooth. Most of the text in the document including a large portion of the signatures is just a single blotch of color. The likely explanation is that someone just drew them in using a tool similar to “pencil” in Adobe Photoshop.”

I don't necessarily agree about the signature of Ann Dunham. The break between the A and the n is certainly unusual but could just be style. So I offer the above as a sample of the many criticisms that have been made -- often by very expert people -- JR


Destructive tax rhetoric

Thomas Sowell

We could definitely use another Abraham Lincoln to emancipate us all from being slaves to words. In the midst of a historic financial crisis of unprecedented government spending, and a national debt that outstrips even the debt accumulated by the reckless government spending of previous administration, we are still enthralled by words and ignoring realities.

President Barack Obama's constant talk about "millionaires and billionaires" needing to pay higher taxes would be a bad joke, if the consequences were not so serious. Even if the income tax rate were raised to 100 percent on millionaires and billionaires, it would still not cover the trillions of dollars the government is spending.

More fundamentally, tax rates-- whatever they are-- are just words on paper. Only the hard cash that comes in can cover government spending. History has shown repeatedly, under administrations of both political parties, that there is no automatic correlation between tax rates and tax revenues.

When the tax rate on the highest incomes was 73 percent in 1921, that brought in less tax revenue than after the tax rate was cut to 24 percent in 1925. Why? Because high tax rates that people don't actually pay do not bring in as much hard cash as lower tax rates that they do pay. That's not rocket science.

Then and now, people with the highest incomes have had the greatest flexibility as to where they will put their money. Buying tax-exempt bonds is just one of the many ways that "millionaires and billionaires" avoid paying hard cash to the government, no matter how high the tax rates go.

Most working people don't have the same options. Their taxes have been taken out of their paychecks before they get them.

Even more so today than in the 1920s, billions of dollars can be sent overseas electronically, almost instantaneously, to be invested in other countries-- creating jobs there, while millions of American are unemployed. That is a very high price to pay for class warfare rhetoric about taxing "millionaires and billionaires."

Make no mistake about it, that kind of rhetoric wins votes for political demagogues-- and votes are their bottom line. But that is totally different from saying that it will bring in more tax revenue to the government.

Time and again, at both state and federal levels, in the country and in other countries, tax rates and tax revenue have moved in opposite directions many times. After Maryland raised its tax rates on people making a million dollars a year, there were fewer such people living in Maryland-- and less tax revenue was collected from them.

In 2009, many people specializing in high finance in Britain relocated to Switzerland after the British government announced plans to take 51 percent of high incomes in taxes.

Conversely, reductions in tax rates can lead to more tax revenue being collected. After the capital gains tax rate was cut in the United States in 1997, the government collected nearly twice as much revenue from capital gains taxes in the next four years as in the previous four years.

Similar things have happened in India and in Iceland.

There is no automatic correlation between the direction in which tax rates move and the direction in which tax revenues move. Nor is this a new discovery.

Back in the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that people with high incomes were simply not paying the high tax rates that existed on paper, because they were putting their money into tax shelters.

After the tax rates were cut, as Mellon advocated, investments flowed back into the private economy, producing higher output, rising incomes, more tax revenue and more jobs. The annual unemployment rate in the next four years never exceeded 4.2 percent, and in one year was as low as 1.8 percent.

Despite political demagoguery about "tax cuts for the rich," in human terms the rich have less at stake than working people. Precisely because the rich have so many ways of avoiding taxes, a high tax rate is likely to do them far less harm than it does to the economy, on which millions of people depend for jobs.



Obamacare Based on Fraudulent Premise

Regardless of whose numbers you accept, Obama insisted that his plan would make sure everyone was covered. And what's the relevance of increasing insurance coverage if not to increase people's access to health care? So, it was just accepted as an essentially unchallenged premise that Obamacare, whatever else you wanted to say about it, would increase Americans' access to health care.

But as many of us knew all along and warned, Obamacare will not increase access to care. It will inevitably lead to rationing, and rationing, by definition, means reducing care. The major difference is that under Obamacare the state will decide who gets what care -- a bureaucratic, emotion-free board of "experts" called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Let's put aside for a moment the inflammatory implications of calling this board a "death panel," which I think is justified. Let's temporarily remove it from the equation so that Obamacare proponents can't use it to marginalize its opponents as hyperbolic extremists.

We don't have to go that far to blow Obama's case for Obamacare out of the water, so for the sake of argument, let's concede that Obamacare won't empower any board to kill people, even though it will empower a board to determine treatment that could prolong or shorten our lives.

Let's just zero in on the reality that IPAB will make top-down decisions directly affecting access to care, which will be enforceable by law and not reviewable or even subject to repeal except by a two-thirds vote of Congress. Obamacare has no other way to bring medical costs down except to ration care, through IPAB and other provisions in the law. IPAB will ration by limiting reimbursements to health care providers according to its designated schedule.

Another provision of this noxious socialist law imposes a penalty on primary care physicians who refer patients to specialists most frequently, as noted by Obama's distant cousin Dr. Milton R. Wolf, who I cite in my book. Here again, Obamacare will in many cases discourage and ultimately deny access to the most appropriate medical care according to the physicians closest to the patients.

There are other access-limiting provisions in the law. The premise of increasing accessibility is just the excuse to confer on Big Brother control over health care and many other aspects of our lives, like so many other ostensibly well-intentioned liberal programs.

We needn't prove the imminence of a death panel to demonstrate that the foundational premise of Obamacare -- increased access -- is based on a lie and thus the case for it falls. What remains standing are all the negative aspects of a socialized medical system: loss of freedom, reduction of quality and choice of care, waiting lines, and a severe compromise of the personal relationship between physician and patient.




Gingrich the has-been: "White House hopeful Newt Gingrich called the House Republican plan for Medicare 'right-wing social engineering,' injecting a discordant GOP voice into the party's efforts to reshape both entitlements and the broader budget debate. In the same interview Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press, Mr. Gingrich backed a requirement that all Americans buy health insurance, complicating a Republican line of attack on President Barack Obama's health law."

US outlines global plan for cyberspace: "The Obama administration laid out plans Monday to work aggressively with other nations to make the Internet more secure, enable law enforcement to work closely on cybercrime and ensure that citizens everywhere have the freedom to express themselves online. And in the strongest terms to date, the White House made it clear the U.S. will use its military might to strike back if it comes under a cyberattack that threatens national security." [Note: If you believe the Obama regime is in any way serious about Internet freedom, I've got this bridge ...]

Israel not allowed to defend its borders: "The United Nations condemned on Monday Israel's 'disproportionate, deadly force' against demonstrators mourning the anniversary of the founding of Israel. Israeli soldiers fired at a demonstration at the Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras on Sunday, killing 10 Palestinians, security sources and the Lebanese army said. The protest in Lebanon coincided with similar ones at Israel's frontiers with Gaza and Syria, where Israeli troops shot at demonstrators to prevent crowds from crossing frontier lines."

Indiana: Full frontal fascism: "If there are any Indiana cops who still respect the Constitution, please do your state a huge favor, and go barge into the home of 'Justice' Steven David -- during supper would probably be a good time. Barge in, without a warrant, and without any legal justification, guns drawn, and start ordering people around. See if 'Justice' David does anything to resist. If he does, lock his fascist ass up for violating his own idiotic legal ruling. In fact, since he just declared it to be illegal for him to resist your illegal invasion of his home, if he lifts a finger to stop you, shoot the bastard, or at least give him a good tasering. (That's exactly what happened in the case where 'Justice' David sided with the law-breaking cop.)"

Free market misconceptions in the blogosphere: "The first and biggest misconception about free markets, in my humble opinion, is that we’ve ever had one. At least we haven’t had one in recent history. I don’t know whether this misconception has been spread deliberately or not, but I believe that at least in some cases it has been purposely proffered in order to obfuscate and shift blame so that a more collectivist agenda could be carried out. Yet people still blame the free market for the current situation."

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

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


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


16 May, 2011

Roosevelt’s “four freedoms” fraud

President Obama has succeeded in seizing new power over health care and other swaths of American lives in part because previous presidents muddied Americans' understanding of freedom.

Most of the past century's debates over the meaning of liberty have featured one politician after another who promised people true freedom, if only they would submit to increased government power. In the process, politicians have been generously shrinking people's individual liberty.

The clearest political turning point in the American understanding of freedom came during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. He often invoked freedom, but almost always as a pretext for increasing government power. He proclaimed in 1933, "We have all suffered in the past from individualism run wild." Naturally, the corrective was to allow government to run wild.

Roosevelt declared in a 1934 fireside chat, "I am not for a return of that definition of liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few." Politicians such as Roosevelt began by telling people that control of their own lives was a mirage; thus, they lost nothing when government took over.

In his renomination acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic Party convention, Roosevelt declared that "the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties ... created a new despotism.... The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor -- these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship."

But if wages were completely dictated by the "industrial dictatorship" -- why were pay rates higher in the United States than anywhere else in the world, and why had pay rates increased rapidly in the decades before 1929? Roosevelt never considered limiting government intervention to safeguarding individual choice; instead, he favored multiplying power to impose "government-knows-best" dictates on work hours, wages, and contracts.

New improved freedom

On January 6, 1941, he gave his famous "Four Freedoms" speech, promising citizens freedom of speech, freedom of worship -- and then he got creative: "The third [freedom] is freedom from want ... everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear ... anywhere in the world." Proclaiming a goal of freedom from fear meant that the government henceforth must fill the role in daily life previously filled by God and religion. His list was clearly intended as a "replacement set" of freedoms, since otherwise there would have been no reason to mention freedom of speech and worship, already protected by the First Amendment.

Roosevelt's list of new freedoms liberated government while making a pretense of liberating the citizen. It offered citizens no security from the state, since it completely ignored the rights protected by the Second Amendment (the right to keep and bear firearms), the Fourth Amendment (freedom from unreasonable search and seizure), the Fifth Amendment (due process, property rights, the right against self-incrimination), the Sixth Amendment (the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury), and the Eighth Amendment (protection against excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments).

Roosevelt's revised freedoms also ignored the Ninth Amendment, which specifies that the listing of "certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," as well as the Tenth Amendment, which specified that "powers not delegated" to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

And, even though Roosevelt included freedom of speech in his new, improved list of progressive freedoms, he added: "A free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups.... ... We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.... The best way of dealing with the few slackers or troublemakers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of government to save government."

Thus, the "new freedom" required that government have power to suppress any group not actively supporting the government's goals. (The United States was still at peace at the time of Roosevelt's speech.) The expansions of freedoms in the list were promised to the whole world -- primarily people who did not vote in U.S. elections -- while the implicit contractions of previously sanctified freedoms would affect only Americans.

Roosevelt elaborated on his concept of freedom in his 1944 State of the Union address. He declared that the original Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." He called for a "Second Bill of Rights," and asserted, "True individual freedom can't exist without economic security." And security, according to Roosevelt, included "the right to a useful and remunerative job," "decent home," "good health," and "good education." Thus, if a government school did not teach all fifth-graders to read, the nonreaders would be considered oppressed. Or, if someone was in bad health, then that person would be considered as having been deprived of his freedom, and somehow it would be seen as the government's fault.

Roosevelt also declared that liberty requires "the right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living" -- a nonsensical concept that would require setting food prices high enough to keep the nation's least efficient farmer behind his mule and plow.

Roosevelt clarified the necessary underpinnings of his new freedom when, in the same speech, he called for Congress to enact a "national service law -- which for the duration of the war ... will make available for war production or for any other essential services every able-bodied adult in this Nation." He promised that this proposal, described in his official papers as a Universal Conscription Act, would be a "unifying moral force" and "a means by which every man and woman can find that inner satisfaction which comes from making the fullest possible contribution to victory." Presumably, the less freedom people had, the more satisfaction they would enjoy.

Commenting on foreign policy, Roosevelt praised Soviet Russia as one of the "freedom-loving Nations" and stressed that Marshal Stalin was "thoroughly conversant with the provisions of our Constitution." Roosevelt's concept of freedom required people to blindly trust their leaders -- a trust he greatly abused. He also denounced those Americans with "suspicious souls" who feared that he had "made ‘commitments' for the future which might pledge this Nation to secret treaties" at the summit of Allied leaders in Tehran the previous month. But at that summit, he had secretly agreed to allow Stalin to move the Soviet border far to the West -- thus consigning millions of Poles to life under direct Soviet rule. (Roosevelt and Stalin used roughly the same dividing line that Hitler and Stalin had used in 1939 to divide Poland into Nazi and Soviet spheres.)



The relative decline in manufacturing -- the British case and the world

Woes is us, we don't make anything any more. We get this all too frequently, that manufacturing in the UK has declined so much, that we're over reliant upon services, that simply we've too few northerners making things that can be dropped on feet, that, in short, we're all stuffed.

That we all know that the value of manufacturing production has been rising, even as it shrinks as a portion of the economy, doesn't seem to clinch the matter. For we're still told that the decline of manufacturing as a portion of the economy is some dreadful fate.

OK, so it has indeed been falling as a percentage of GDP. Is this a bad thing?

Hmm, well, it doesn't really seem so, does it? Or at least if it is, then we're in good company. For as you can see (and don't worry too much about the absolute numbers, they might not be calculated in quite the same way, just look at the trends), manufacturing is falling as a percentage of the global economy all over. And we know very well that global manufacturing output isn't falling: so it must be just that other parts of the economy, services obviously, are growing faster than manufacturing.

At which point it becomes terribly difficult to worry about what percentage of the UK economy manufacturing is or isn't. For as we know, GDP is the "value of goods and services". The total amount of value produced that we can share out in some or another manner. It matters not whether that value is created by building jet engines or painting women's nails: it's still value created, an increase in wealth and that is rather the point of this whole thing, isn't it?



Capital is the key to wealth

A Travel Channel episode of No Reservations, a cooking-focused show narrated by Anthony Bourdain, took viewers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.... In a scene early in the show set in this giant city after the earthquake, Bourdain and his crew stop to eat some local food from a vendor. He discusses its ingredients and samples some items. Crowds of hungry people begin to gather. They are doing more than gawking at the camera crews. They are waiting in the hope of getting something to eat.

Bourdain thinks of a way to do something nice for everyone. Realizing that in this one sitting, he is eating a quantity of food that would last most Haitians three days, he buys out the remaining food from the vendor and gives it away to locals.

Nice gesture! Except that something goes wrong. Once the word spreads about the free food — word-of-mouth in Haiti is faster than Facebook chat — people start pouring in. Lines form and get long. Disorder ensues. Some people step forward to keep order. They bring belts and start hitting. The entire scene becomes very unpleasant for everyone — and the viewer gets the sense that it is worse than we are shown.

Bourdain correctly draws the lesson that the solutions to the problem of poverty here are more complex than it would appear at first glance. Good intentions go awry.

The people of Haiti in the documentary conform to what every visitor says about them. They are wonderfully friendly, talented, enterprising, happy, and full of hope. Like most people, they hate their government. Actually, they hate their government more than most Americans hate theirs. Truly, this is a precondition of liberty. There is a real sense of us-versus-them alive in Haiti, so much so that when the presidential palace collapsed in the recent earthquake, crowds gathered outside to cheer and cheer! It was the one saving grace of an otherwise terrible storm.

With all these enterprising, hard-working, and creative people, millions of them, what could possibly be wrong with the place?

Where is the wealth? There is plenty of trade, plenty of doing, plenty of exchange and money changing hands. Why does the place remain desperately poor? If the market economists are correct that trade and commerce are the key to wealth, and there is plenty of both here, why is wealth not happening?

One can easily see how people can get confused, because the answer is not obvious until you have some economic understanding. A random visitor might easily conclude that Haiti is poor because somehow the wealth is being hogged by its northern neighbor, the United States. If we weren't devouring so much of the world's stock of wealth, it could be distributed more evenly and encompass Haiti too. Or another theory might be that the handful of international companies, or even aid workers, are somehow stealing all the money and denying it to the people.

These are not stupid theories. They are just theories — neither confirmed nor refuted by facts alone. They are only shown to be wrong once you realize a central insight of economics. It is this: trade and commerce are necessary conditions for the accumulation of wealth, but they are not sufficient conditions. Also necessary is that precious institution of capital.

What is capital? Capital is a thing (or service) that is produced not for consumption but for further production. The existence of capital industries implies several stages of production, or up to thousands upon thousands of steps in a long structure of production. Capital is the institution that gives rise to business-to-business trading, an extended workforce, firms, factories, ever more specialization, and generally the production of all kinds of things that by themselves cannot be useful in final consumption but rather are useful for the production of other things.

In a developed economy, the vast majority of productive activities consist in participation in these capital-goods sectors and not in final-consumption-goods sectors.

But there is a sense in which capitalism is the perfect term for a developed economy: the development, accumulation, and sophistication of the capital-goods sector is the characteristic feature that makes it different from an undeveloped economy. The thriving of the capital-goods sector was the great contribution of the Industrial Revolution to the world.

Now, this is interesting to me because anyone can easily miss this point just by looking around Haiti where you see people working and producing like crazy, and yet the people never seem to get their footing. Without an understanding of economics, it is nearly impossible to see the unseen: the capital that is absent that would otherwise permit economic growth.

Now to the question of why the absence of capital. The answer has to do with the regime. It is a well-known fact that any accumulation of wealth in Haiti makes you a target, if not of the population in general (which has grown suspicious of wealth, and probably for good reason), then certainly of the government. The regime, no matter who is in charge, is like a voracious dog on the loose, seeking to devour any private wealth that happens to emerge.

This creates something even worse than the Higgsian problem of "regime uncertainty." The regime is certain: it is certain to steal anything it can, whenever it can, always and forever.

This is an interesting case of a peculiar way in which government is keeping prosperity at bay. It is not wrecking the country through an intense enforcement of taxation and regulation or nationalization. One gets the sense that most people never have any face time with a government official and never deal with paperwork or bureaucracy really. The state strikes only when there is something to loot. And loot it does: predictably and consistently. And that alone is enough to guarantee a permanent state of poverty.




Bank overhaul battle pays off for GOP pols: "Republicans fought a hard but ultimately losing battle to block the Wall Street regulatory overhaul that Barney Frank and his fellow Democrats guided through Congress last year. But now they are turning the legislation known as the Dodd-Frank law to fullest advantage. The GOP is winning a larger share of campaign money contributed by banks and other Wall Street interests who want to roll back elements of the stricter rules."

Rules for thee, not for me: "It seems that many of the same organizations that supported the passage of Obamacare are also the organizations that have been granted waivers to not be subjected to that legislation. It seems rather ironic, because if the people involved in those organizations really believed in the program then they would have no reason to ask for a waiver. On the other hand, those groups that were not favorable to Obamacare are not being granted any waivers."

Government, Fed to blame for high gas prices: "I do a lot of driving. I probably fill my gas tank up three or four times a week. So, needless to say, I feel the pain when gas prices soar. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress want to make things worse, as they are wont to do when it comes to all things economic. Obama has decided, wrongheadedly of course, that the evil oil companies are the problem."

GM’s profits: Nothing to gloat about: "While bailout enthusiasts hail GM's first-quarter earnings as proof that the administration saved the auto industry, President Obama should know better than to gloat. No such feat was accomplished and the imperative of extricating the government from GM's operations has yet to be achieved."

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

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

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


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


15 May, 2011

Why the Left doesn't understand (or want) American exceptionalism

Washington Post opinion giver and scribe Richard Cohen writes about The Myth of American Exceptionalism. There may be no better example of why the liberal view of America is wrong.

Cohen calls it “smugness” that, as we sing in America the Beautiful, we believe ‘God shed His grace on thee.’ We Americans, after all, have no genetic or inborn moral superiority compared to Cohen’s citizens of the world. Certainly, God doesn’t pick winners and losers. Cohen sees conservatives as naïve, like so many sports fans who pray that God will grant victory for their team.

He cites as one of the failures of American exceptionalism “a dysfunctional education system.” Then he goes on to say: "Some of those most inclined to exalt American exceptionalism are simply using the imaginary past to defend their cultural tics — conventional marriage or school prayer or, for some odd reason, a furious antipathy to the notion that mankind has contributed (just a bit) to global warming"

Marriage, you see, is just a cultural tic to the Left.

What Cohen will never understand is that it is our system of freedom that makes us exceptional. It is freedom that allows us to maximize our potential, be peaceful yet respond quickly with strength to threats, to learn from failure, and succeed through personal responsibility, not because of the State. It is through freedom that individuals may reach their greatest potential, and that best benefits others. It is because of freedom that we are a prosperous and charitable people.

This also explains the difference between how conservatives and liberals view the Constitution. To conservatives, the Constitution is the law that protects freedom by governing government. Liberals see our system of government more as a way to control the People.

Conservatives believe freedom comes from God. We are therefore blessed by that freedom, not because, as Cohen would have you believe, we have deceived ourselves. We are blessed because we have a Constitution designed to protect that freedom. Exceptionalism is not handed out or taken from others; it is a result of individuals maximizing their potential.

The statist-liberal mindset is threatened by American exceptionalism. Statist liberals like Cohen, therefore, are willing to reduce freedom. That levels the playing field with others.

Rather than accepting American exceptionalism, Mr. Cohen and his friends would rather we share a global participation award like our “dysfunctional education system” -- run mostly by liberals, by the bye -- gives to children.



How Ted Rall hates America

The further Left you go, the less the Leftist pretends to any kind of patriotism. And syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall lets it all hang out. He believes in violent revolution and despises even fellow Leftists who are not as extreme as he is. A cartoon above and some quotes below from him. Quotes courtesy of a reader. Quotes starting with what he wrote about the SEAL raid on OBL:

President Obama's Sunday evening announcement, timed to fill Monday's papers with a sickening orgy of gleeful triumph but little information, prompted bipartisan high-fives and hoots all around. "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chanted a mob of drunken oafs in front of the White House. Blending the low satire of two Bush-era classic send-ups of a nation allergic to self-reflection, "Team America: WorldPolice" and "Idiocracy," they set the tone for a week or a month or whatever of troop-praising, God-blessing-America, frat-boy self-backslapping. "So that's what success looks like," wrote New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley in the paper's special ten-page "The Death of Bin Laden" pull-out section.

More quotes from Rall's book "Anti-American Manifesto"

We must rid ourselves of our shitty,worthless, incompetent, evil-doing, planet murdering government and itscorporate and media allies. (Page 271)

Of course, nonviolent protest can effect change. But not by itself. We must understand that, in these cases, neither the demonstrations themselves nor their nonviolent nature is what prompts leaders to modify their policies or behavior. It is only the credible threat of violence,the possibility that opposition could escalate to the next level, that makes "nonviolent" protest effective. You don't have to hit someone if they believe you will hit them. Therefore, after a revolution runs its course and "normalcy" returns to the streets, it will be possible for people to demand and obtain changes. (Pages260-261)

The United States is the most efficient fascist state ever created - even more ruthless and effective than Nazi Germany. Think that is an exaggeration? Consider the most obvious point: It has no internal opposition. (Page 227)

America's form of government, masquerading as liberal democracy is actually more formidable a political adversary than a totalitarian state. We can see this clearly in post-Soviet Russia, where the authoritarian pseudo-democracy of Vladimir Putin cracks down with greater ferocity and efficiency on political dissidents than the Soviet State did. (Page 228)

"The illegal wars andoccupations, the largest transference of wealth upward in American history and the egregious assault on civil liberties, all begun under George W. Bush, raise only a flicker of tepid protest from liberals when propagated by the Democrats," the journalist Chris Hedges complained in early 2010. "The timidity of the Left exposes its cowardice, lack of a moral compass and mounting political impotence. The Left stands for nothing."

Therein lies the opportunity. Hedge's solution - supporting the Green Party and other third parties - is bullshit. No one thinks that will work. Revolution will. What matters is that Obama has exposed the two-party system for what it has always been: ineffective, disconnected, and removed from the people. Populist rhetoric aside, both parties serve the rich. Now everyone can see that. The next step is to convince people that the answer isn't new parties, but a different political system. (Page 129)


Creating Poverty Through 'Social Justice'

If it were justice, it would not need the "social" in front of it. In Christian and post-Christian societies, there will always be official charity: A degree of support by the taxpayer for low-income people. But calling charity justice just encourages abuses

We have been hearing a lot about “social justice,” during the tenure of the Obama Administration. From Eric Holder to John Holdren, Lisa Jackson to Van Jones to President Obama himself, the goal of social justice appears to be at the forefront of Mr. Obama’s agenda for the country. But while the term sounds innocuous enough, the goal itself is quite sinister and the road to getting there creates havoc and waste but for the chosen few.

A recent San Francisco Chronicle article proves this point beyond doubt:
“San Francisco’s much-heralded ‘social justice’ requirements for city contracts are costing local taxpayers millions of dollars a year in overcharges, according to workers in departments ranging from the Municipal Transportation Agency to the Department of Emergency Management.’

“In one case, a Muni worker said the city paid $3,000 for a vehicle battery tray. Such parts can be found online for $12 to $300, depending on the type of vehicle...’

“Other city purchasing policies, if followed, would mean paying about $240 for getting a copy of a key that actually cost a worker $1.35 to get done at a hardware store on his break, the employee said. Another city worker called the use of catalog pricing for supplies ‘Pentagon-style purchasing.’

“Markups from approved vendors range from 10 to 150 percent, employees said, with one calling the city’s requirement that contractors provide health care benefits for domestic partners ‘the expensive white elephant standing in the middle of the room (that) no one wants to mention.’

“Some vendors are suspected of being little more than middlemen who comply with San Francisco’s very specific requirements for contractors - like disclosing historic ties to slavery and providing domestic partner benefits, a provision known as 12B because of its chapter in the Administrative Code - then turn around and buy the products from companies that don't meet the restrictions, city officials acknowledge.

“An analysis by the General Services Agency found that in the last complete fiscal year, 2009-10, the city paid $9.8 million to ‘possible third-party brokers’ - vendors that may be pass-through companies.”

Imagine that, a city with a $306 million budget deficit, from a state with a $15.4 billion deficit, justifying the over-payment of taxpayer dollars to what is essentially special interest affirmative action groups in the private sector by claiming it satisfies the quest for “social justice.”

If this is the path to social justice, then we have to conclude that social justice and free market Capitalism are not compatible. But, then, this should be no surprise seeing as social justice is a product of the Progressive Movement; a movement founded in the ideology of socialism derived from Marxism.

One of the Four Pillars of the Green Party, an ideologically Progressive group, social justice is defined as:
“...based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution. These policies aim to achieve what developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity than may currently exist in some societies, and to manufacture equality of outcome in cases where incidental inequalities appear in a procedurally just system.”

The key words here are “progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution” and “more equality of opportunity than may currently exist.”

We are all familiar with the evils of the Progressive Tax. It unfairly and inequitably taxes the citizenry based on “classes”; that understood, it is fitting that it is named the “Progressive” tax system. One of the effective tactics of the Progressive ideology is the divide and conquer tactic, or at Saul Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

By creating a tax system that divides the citizenry into classes, it is easier for the Progressives to demonize “the rich.” Once that is accomplished, the rationale is that “the rich” can afford to pay more in taxes. It becomes irrelevant that “the rich” are also “the productive” and “the job creators.” So, too, it becomes irrelevant that “the rich” are expected to pay a much greater percentage of their income so as to subsidize the class that is not productive; that contributes little to society.

So, we see that the Progressives have “picked” the class they identify as “rich” (by the way, who decides what “rich” is?), “frozen” it in the public eye, “personalized” it through demonization and effectively “polarized” the country using an “us against them” narrative that literally depletes the pool of job creators and the productive.

Where income and property redistribution is concerned, we need only look at the above scenario to understand why these two goals stand as intrinsic threats to a nation whose economy is based of free market Capitalism. By the government – through the Progressive Tax System – literally taking from “the rich” (by their definition) to subsidize “the poor,” our government is essentially redistributing wealth. As wealth – or earnings, or the property of earnings – is essentially property, we see that through this redistribution of wealth also comes redistribution of personal property. Remember, property doesn’t have to be presented as an object; it can be financial, intellectual, etc.

In the story about social justice not working in San Francisco, we witness the creation of special interest groups, via legislation and regulation, which are literally inserted into the free market process to create wealth for entities that would otherwise not be needed in the free market Capitalist economic system. By virtue of San Francisco’s social justice legislation and regulation, wealth has been extracted from the taxpayers, unnecessarily, via the process of government procurement, to reward the unproductive.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Progressive, Socialist, Marxist, wealth redistribution fashioned for the Capitalist economic system. It’s here and it is happening...right now.

But perhaps the most egregious perversion of our system of government at the hands of “social justice” comes in these words, “more equality of opportunity than may currently exist.”

“More equality of opportunity than may currently exist”? Doesn’t that equate to one group receiving “more opportunity” than another? Doesn’t this equate to providing more resources – resources derived from the taxpayers – to one group over another? How is this equal treatment under any definition but the perverted rational of moral relativism and the wealth redistribution ideology of Marxist Progressivism?

In the Declaration of Independence, one of the country’s founding documents, included in the Charters of Freedom and just as important to Americanism as the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we are guaranteed:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...”

What we are guaranteed by birthright, as Americans, are three things: Life, Liberty and the pursuit Happiness. Life and Liberty are self-explanatory, although the issue of Liberty, in the scheme of things today, is under siege. But Happiness, the pursuit of Happiness, means we are all born with an “opportunity” in life to pursue Happiness, to pursue our dreams, as human beings. We are not guaranteed “equality” in anything but those God-given unalienable rights; unalienable rights granted by the Creator to every man, woman and child on the face of the planet, not just to Americans.

Regardless of the rationale used, the government’s providing of anything but a level playing field for all, regardless of skin color, regardless of gender, regardless of any variable that allows Progressives to successfully Balkanize the nation into classes for use in their divide and conquer class warfare agenda, is for government to enter into the realm of social activism and that literally destroys the guarantee of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness for everyone and to no one’s exclusion.

Quite frankly, what stands in the way of everyone’s “opportunity” to be “equal” are Progressives, their elected toadies, their labels and their intrusive anti-American, anti-Capitalist agenda. Social justice...you can keep the change.



Islamic Hospital

No charity and certainly no bothering about social justice among the Left's Islamic friends

Reality in Islam is often more shocking than any horror story. The newspaper Asr-e Iran reported that passersby spotted two patients in a field outside of Tehran. The two patients were hospitalized in the state funded Khomeini Hospital. Despite being public and allegedly free, they were loaded in an ambulance and dropped in a field for not having the money to pay the bills.

Prior to the revolution, Muslims were very generous in Iran. They made free delivery of groceries to the poor families. The objective of Islamic charity is to win the hearts of the people and recruit them as their soldiers. Once the objective is achieved they are no longer needed. Unless they can continue supporting the regime, they become a burden.

Millions of Iranians live below poverty line with no hope for their future. Protests will be met with bullets. It is not possible to overthrow a regime that has no qualm butchering any number of people. These pictures only reveal the tip of the iceberg. Most of the atrocities are not reported.


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

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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)


14 May, 2011

The rights of Americans are withering away rapidly

Apparently the 4th Amendment no longer means what it says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated"

Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes. In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.

The court's decision stems from a Vanderburgh County case in which police were called to investigate a husband and wife arguing outside their apartment.

When the couple went back inside their apartment, the husband told police they were not needed and blocked the doorway so they could not enter. When an officer entered anyway, the husband shoved the officer against a wall. A second officer then used a stun gun on the husband and arrested him.

Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, of Valparaiso University School of Law, said the court's decision is consistent with the idea of preventing violence.

"It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Bodensteiner said. "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court's decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker said. "I disagree."

Rucker and Dickson suggested if the court had limited its permission for police entry to domestic violence situations they would have supported the ruling.

But Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

This is the second major Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week involving police entry into a home.

On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Prior to that ruling, police serving a warrant would have to obtain a judge's permission to enter without knocking.



More creeping Totalitarianism

Here’s Jay Carney at a White House press briefing today, essentially signaling the linguistic shift I and others have been warning about for several months:
The President sees, as a means of holding everyone’s feet to the fire to ensure that we take the action necessary to reduce both spending and — reduce spending in all ways, including through the tax code, in order to reduce our deficit, but allow us to continue to invest in those areas that will make American — the American economy the dominant economy in the 21st century as it was in the 20th.

Analysis of the word “invest” — to the progressive, that means government spending on programs that they deem important, and which tend to benefit their constituencies and corporate cronies — has been widespread, so I’m not going to focus on that particular euphemistic turn.

Instead, let’s take a look at this idea that in order to cut deficits, the government wants to reduce “spending” “through the tax code” — a clear indication that, from the perspective of the government, money that they don’t yet collect in taxes from you and your labor is the equivalent of government spending; meaning that all money belongs first to the government, and then is meted out to you in ways that the government sees fit, based on what they believe is “fair,” and based on who they believe “deserves” it.

In other words, it is entirely alien to the founding ideals.

This is the “transformation” Obama promised — the Hope and Change on offer from a Good Man who, by force of executive order and imperial overreach, is working to turn each and every one of us into clients of a massive centralized government managed by endless bureaucratic rules and regulations whose reach covers everything from puddles to dust to human exhalation to light bulbs to toilets to mandating what we purchase (and, as a result, mandating all sort of other things in the future, from what we need eat to maintain our “free” health care to where unions demand we open our businesses to the “social justice” agenda of the left that requires banks to “lend” money to those who can’t pay that money back as a condition of doing business).

We live in a soft tyranny. And the current governmental tack is, in a very strict sense, anti-American: property and liberty aren’t natural rights, but rather proceed from government, with Obama its current King.



Another move to hobble dissent

I.R.S. Moves to Tax Gifts to Groups Active in Politics -- Koch Bros., anyone?

Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics.

Invoking a provision that had rarely, if ever, been enforced, the Internal Revenue Service said it had sent letters to five donors, who were not identified, informing them that their contributions may be subject to gift taxes depending on whether the donations exceeded limits under the tax laws.

These advocacy groups have been drawing more scrutiny, from President Obama as well as others, as they have proliferated and funneled vast sums of money in support of campaigns and causes, without having to publicly disclose their donors.

During the midterm cycle, for example, groups like Crossroads GPS, which has ties to the Republican strategist Karl Rove, and Americans for Prosperity, backed by Mr. Koch and his brother Charles, were heavily involved in politicking, spurring campaign finance watchdogs to complain that they were flouting election and nonprofit laws.

Spokesmen for the Koch brothers and for Mr. Soros would not comment as to whether they had paid gift taxes on these types of donations, or whether they had received letters from the I.R.S.

These organizations were established as nonprofit corporations under a section of the tax law, 501(c)(4), and the rules governing them say their primary purpose cannot be political.

The timing of the agency’s moves, as the 2012 election cycle gets under way, is prompting some tax law and campaign finance experts to question whether the I.R.S. could be sending a signal in an effort to curtail big donations.

“There are a whole heck of a lot of people misusing (c)(4) groups as a means of getting around campaign finance regulations, and we lack a coherent system of laws to deal with that,” said Donald B. Tobin, a legal expert on campaign finance and tax laws at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. “Now here’s a stick, frankly, that says there are consequences for doing that.”

In a statement released Thursday, Michelle L. Eldridge, a spokeswoman for the I.R.S., said that the inquiries were initiated by agency employees, not White House or other Obama administration officials, “as part of their increased efforts in the area of no filing of gift and estate tax returns.”

The letters informed donors that investigations had been opened to determine why a gift tax form had not been filed, and requested that donors submit records of all donations in the year 2008, according to a redacted copy obtained by The New York Times.

While tax lawyers who learned of the investigations have been issuing warnings to clients of potential trouble on a broader scale, the I.R.S. statement denied casting a wider net, “These examinations are not part of a broader effort looking at donations to 501(c)(4)’s.”

The White House would not comment. Some members of Congress have been asking the I.R.S. to investigate the tax-exempt status of these groups, too, although lawmakers have also cautioned that since the Nixon years, the agency has been strictly prohibited from what could be considered politically motivated inquiries.

Still, experts are sensing that the message being sent may deter large donations to these groups, at a time when big corporate, union and like-minded political contributions are expected to flood the election cycle through the barriers lifted by last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case.

Both major political parties and candidates have benefited from these types of organizations, but the Republican groups grew in force and size after the 2008 election, partly in recognition of Mr. Obama’s proficiency at fund-raising. For example, Mr. Rove’s group, one of the best known from the 2010 midterm cycle, raised $70 million. Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian group that is opposed to many of President Obama’s policies, has been generously financed by David Koch....

In the meantime, Marcus S. Owens, a lawyer who represents nonprofits and who formerly headed the I.R.S. division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, predicted that the tax agency’s moves would be watched warily by contributors. “The lack of clarity and the potential for not-insignificant taxation on these gifts will cause many of the biggest donors to think twice,” he warned.



Democrats' Spending and Power Addictions Prevent Debt Solutions

The Washington Examiner reports that it's been 768 days since the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a budget. What's the big deal? It's not like the nation is facing financial difficulties or anything.

I realize it's convenient for President Obama to pretend he's a bystander on fiscal matters when it suits him and to pass the buck that never stops with him back to Congress, but how about a little leadership on the issue for a change?

The Republican-controlled House has done its part, but Obama and Senate Democrats continue to dither. The only time you see much activity out of them is when Republicans force the issue, such as with Congressman Paul Ryan's plan to balance the budget through a combination of discretionary spending controls, structural entitlement reforms and a major tax overhaul. Otherwise, it's as if they're either oblivious to the nation's looming bankruptcy or cynically unconcerned.

The Examiner reveals that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad spent a full day explaining a proposal to the Democratic caucus but nothing emerged because too many of Conrad's comrades "hate it." Guess why.

Wrong. It's not because it doesn't go far enough with spending cuts and doesn't include serious entitlement reform. It's because it cuts too much spending and doesn't raise taxes enough.

So let me get this straight. Due to reckless entitlement promises, profligate non-defense discretionary spending, and repressive government taxes and regulations, we are headed toward Grecian-style bankruptcy, European-style socialism and a permanently growth-stunted economy with soaring unemployment, and the Democrats' solution is to give us more of the same?

Aren't you tired of these career politicians on the left side of the aisle moralizing about the greed of the "wealthy" when these same politicians habitually buy votes with borrowed dollars? Who are they to lecture those who actually produce and contribute to the economy?

As Milton Friedman once asked, why aren't these politicians considered greedy? At least the wealthy spend their own money -- and add to the general revenues through the substantial taxes imposed on them. These finger-wagging liberal politicians, on the other hand, spend way more money than most so-called wealthy people do, directly benefit from these expenditures of other peoples' money and, worst of all, are bankrupting the country.

Then, instead of coming to the table to work on solving the indescribable mess they've created for our children, our grandchildren and us, they fire back even harder -- with more class-warfare ammunition. But this time it's in the form of scaring seniors about losing their Medicare, even though existing seniors won't lose their benefits under the Ryan plan and even though without reform no one will receive benefits anyway, because the programs will be insolvent, as will the nation.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial opined that the "odds of resolving this (budget) debate are undercut by the fact that the two parties can't even agree on what's causing deficit woes in the first place." Republicans blame it on non-discretionary and entitlement spending. Obama blames it on two wars, the prescription drug benefit program and "tax cuts for the wealthy."

But Democrats know better than to blame our impending national bankruptcy on wars that Obama has continued, prescription drugs that actually came in under budget (and in any event would have been much worse under any of the alternative Democratic proposals) and tax cuts that have not significantly reduced revenues.

On the tax issue, Obama fraudulently claims that continuation of the Bush cuts for the "wealthy" will cost $500 billion in lost revenues per year. In fact, they would cost only $70 billion per year -- and that's assuming a static economy. Perhaps in a static economy, continuation of the Bush cuts for all tax brackets would cost $500 billion in revenues per year. But wait. Obama favors continuing the cuts for all but the top bracket, which means the disputed cuts -- worst-case scenario -- would only cost $70 billion per year. Once again, Obama is distorting the numbers to demonize his opponents, confuse the issue and camouflage his own position.

Spending is the problem, not the solution. The solution is to rein in non-defense discretionary and entitlement spending and to reform the tax code. But there happens to be a nearly insuperable obstacle that is interfering with this: the Democrats' ideological addiction to spending and their corrupt dependency on spending as a ticket to remaining in power.

Until Democrats lose control of the Senate and the presidency, reform is but a fantasy. Our work is cut out for us.


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

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


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


13 May, 2011

Evangelicals are not a part of the Republican coalition—they ARE the coalition

This aligns with some research I did in Australia in the early '80s. I found that stance on religious/moral questions was a very strong predictors of other conservative attitudes

Since the Reagan era, Republicans have described their political coalition as a “three-legged stool.” Fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, and social conservatives together hold up the fortunes of the party. This rhetorical stool is often used like a prop in pro-wrestling: to bludgeon recalcitrant office-seekers into submission.

But the metaphor is also supposed to signify a division of labor: Fiscal conservatism is the purview of the Republican business class or libertarians, national security is handled by neoconservatives, and somewhere out in the hinterlands the religious right will hand out pamphlets about abortion and knock on doors come election time.

This picture is a lie. In their activist fervor, their enthusiasm for the ideas, and their electoral clout, religious conservatives are the base of all three legs. White evangelical Protestants make up almost third of the total electorate, and four out of five of them vote Republican. The religious right is more convinced of American righteousness in the exercise of its military might than the neoconservatives are, and more invested than Wall Street in lower taxes.

The Tea Party, confusedly hailed by the media as a grassroots libertarian spasm, turns out on inspection to be the religious right wearing a tricorn hat and talking about Obamacare. Neoconservatives who call for confrontation with Iran, a closer relationship with Israel, and pressing the War on Terror are not echoed by religious conservatives—they’re drowned out by them. In economics and military matters, no less than in social issues, conservative evangelicals are more Republican than Republicans.

“I’m all three,” says Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “I’ve always believed in low taxes and a strong national defense.” Similarly, Jordan Sekulow, deputy director of governmental affairs at the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group, notes that for the evangelical right conservatism is a seamless garment.

“I grew up in this movement,” says Sekulow, “you can go through the old tapes of the Moral Majority. You’re not going to find anyone calling for higher taxes and a bigger federal government.” .....

The media story of Republican triumph in 2004 was the story of the Values Voter, who turned out to reject same-sex marriage in 11 states and along the way re-elected President Bush. White evangelicals were the largest demographic group in Bush’s camp, delivering over a third of his votes. The media story of the GOP’s 2010 midterm victory was the story of the Tea Partier, who took to the ballot box against government expansion into healthcare, bank bailouts, and reckless spending. The Tea Party was heralded as a new, transformative force. Yet these two columns of voters hail from the same evangelical regiment.

While Tea Party organizations do appeal to a certain kind of independent, The American Prospect’s Michelle Goldberg notes some unmistakable similarities between the religious right and the new revolutionaries: “Both have their strongholds in the white South, and both arise out of a sense of furious dispossession, a conviction that the country that is rightfully theirs has been usurped by sinister cosmopolitan elites. They have the same favorite politicians—particularly [Sarah] Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann.” Bachmann and Sen. Jim DeMint, long favorites of Christian conservatives, now lead the Tea Party Caucus in Congress.....

Evangelicals bolted the Democratic Party in the ’70s and joined the Reagan coalition in the ’80s. By 1992, when Pat Robertson gave his speech to the Republican convention in Houston, GOP opposition to abortion and the mainstreaming of homosexuality was so solid he dedicated just 160 words to those subjects. He devoted 660 words—40 percent of his speech—to taxes, government spending, and the welfare state. He opened with a thunderous encomium to the GOP: “It was Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Republican policies which brought communism to its knees.”

Evangelicals’ disgust with the counterculture of the ’70s, their confrontational stance toward communism, and their eventual adoption of the GOP parallel exactly the ideological odyssey of the neoconservatives. And the religious right today outpaces those intellectuals in their commitment to seeing American power employed abroad in spreading democracy and human rights.

Evangelical leaders were as outspoken as anyone in their defense of the Iraq War. In 2004, Jerry Falwell deemed the military invasion and occupation sound for reasons biblical and humanitarian, quoting St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Robertson told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network, “We’re on solid ground [in Iraq], not only in terms of Christian, biblical concepts, but also in terms of public relations.” Even after the public had soured on the conflict, former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed, asked to recant, said, “I supported the war then, I support it now.” ....

Conservative Christians don’t need to be told by anyone that America ought to stand by Israel. Evangelicals with a Dispensational theology already “speak out for Zion’s sake” (Isaiah 62:1). Hagee’s group, Christians United For Israel, is more passionately Zionist than any American neoconservative because its mandate, so its members believe, comes from Scripture, not an interpretation of political necessity or cultural affinity. Every year, CUFI draws one of the largest conservative Christian crowds to Washington, D.C. Hagee can pack a convention center when neoconservative foreign-policy confabs barely fill a presentation room at the American Enterprise Institute.....

The overwhelming fact of evangelical engagement remains their unbridled enthusiasm for Republican policies. In 2006, at the absolute depths of Republican mismanagement of foreign policy and just two years after Bush had ditched social issues for Social Security reform, 59 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning evangelicals told the Pew Forum that the GOP was “doing either an excellent or good job” at standing up for its traditional positions. In the November 2010 elections, when social issues had supposedly taken a backseat to Obamacare, 78 percent of white evangelicals pulled the lever for Republicans, according to a post-election survey Public Opinion Strategies conducted for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

For all the ideological examination that neoconservatives and the Tea Party have received, neither would have the clout to add a jot or tittle to America’s policy debates without the manpower, enthusiasm, and the leadership of the religious right. Christian conservatives haven’t abandoned their social issues—they’ve enfolded foreign and fiscal policy into their ongoing culture war. Their worldview has as much to say about war, healthcare reform, and tax rates as it does about unborn children and homeschooling. And everyone is listening now.



That good ol' Leftist civility again

Fact-Challenged Ed Schultz

As much as liberals complain about conservative "misinformation" and incivility, they never seem to find it on channels like MSNBC, and we know there are small bands of liberals that wander over there.

While many were watching the first GOP presidential debate on May 5, Ed Schultz invited on left-wing bomb-thrower (and 2010 congressional-seat loser) Alan Grayson to heap mud on George W. Bush. Schultz asked if Bush failed to accept Obama's invitation to ground zero out of personal pique. Grayson replied through a smirk, "I suspect that President Bush might've been passed-out drunk the last three or four days, so I'm not sure he made any conscious decision at all."

Schultz found that acceptable. "Great to have you with us tonight," he said to Grayson at interview's end. "Thank you for your take." That wasn't a "take." It was a typical smear.

That same shameless disregard for the truth really shook the crowd at the 2011 Media Research Center Gala on May 7. Special Ed -- as radio talker Chris Plante calls him -- overwhelmingly won on the applause meter for the (worst) "Quote of the Year," which actually covered two years. On Sept. 23, 2009, Schultz yelled this ridiculous, foam-flecked rant on MSNBC about critics of ObamaCare.

"The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They'd rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don't have anything for her." He wasn't joking. He was serious.

Poor Special Ed. It fell on Ann Coulter to point out -- with glee -- the redundancy of Schultz saying "dead corpse." But where on the spectrum of "fact" and "misinformation" do you place the idea that conservatives want Americans dead and deeply enjoy denying health care to cancer patients?

And who, exactly, is Schultz to pose as the one who most definitely does NOT take glee in others' medical misfortune? This is the same hack who said on Feb. 24, 2010 that "You're damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football! We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him! I'm glad he didn't tip over. He is the new poster child for health care in this country."

On June 16, 2009, Joe Scarborough asked Schultz if he felt Cheney hoped Americans would die in a terrorist attack so it would benefit Republicans. "Absolutely, absolutely," said Schultz. "I think Dick Cheney is all about seeing this country go conservative on a hard-right wing and I think he'll do anything to get it there." A month earlier, he begged for Cheney to die. "Lord, take him to the promised land."

Lack of civility is one thing. Lack of honesty is another.

Schultz routinely uncorks sentences that seem to have recklessly rocketed off the planet of Fact. Here's a funny one from days ago, on April 27: "I see that Sean Hannity is now on a regular basis losing to Rachel Maddow. Hmm, interesting. Must be that liberal media that just doesn't connect with people." In reality, Hannity routinely doubles Maddow's audience, just as Greta Van Susteren has double the viewers of Ed Schultz now that he's at 10 p.m. That Schultz, he "connects with people."

Here's another jaw-dropper from Special Ed. On his radio show on Oct. 22, 2010, he announced, "I call NPR National Pentagon Radio. They're no more left wing than Fox News as far as I'm concerned. Look at the commentators they have on there, right? They're all right-wing commentators. I couldn't get in the door of NPR."

NPR is "no more left-wing than Fox News"? Once the laughter subsides, we could ask Schultz if that were within two time zones of the truth, would we really see Barbara Boxer and Ed Markey desperately campaigning with Arthur the Aardvark to keep NPR and PBS funding alive?

Schultz mangles facts like McDonald's grinds hamburger. Within a few days in April, Schultz bizarrely insisted that the Bush tax cuts depressed federal revenues so severely that "Even seven years later, revenues were lower than before the Bush tax cuts went into effect." (Wrong: They were 27 percent higher.)

Then he also claimed the congressional Democrats held spending in check during the Clinton presidency (wrong again: Republicans were in charge). Then he argued it's not illegal for teachers to strike in Michigan (wrong yet again).

MSNBC flacks try to sell Rachel Maddow as the straight-A student who spends hours before each show during her homework. (That fits, if the class for all that effort was 20th Century Socialist Philosophers.) Nobody could sell Ed Schultz as a man who's factually fastidious. "Going on air" for Schultz isn't a phrase about broadcasting. It's about the solidity of his evidence.



Romneycare proves a failure

By Michael Graham

Which wait time will be longer: The wait to finally see a doctor under Romneycare or waiting for Mitt Romney to admit his plan is a failure? As governor, Romney sold his big-government health care scheme as a way to clear the crowds jamming our emergency rooms while increasing access to health care for all.

Instead, as Christine McConville reported in the Herald yesterday, a new report by the Massachusetts Medical Society finds that “more than half of the state’s primary care practices are closed to new patients, while the practices that are still accepting patients have increasingly longer wait times.”

I’m one of those statistics. Earlier this year I had to find a new doctor in the Boston suburbs. The first three offices were taking no new patients. The fourth would take me, but I had to wait two months to actually see the doctor. Fortunately I’m healthy and hate going to the doctor, anyway. An extra eight weeks without a prostate exam was absolutely fine with me.

In the end (no pun intended) it all worked out, because I’ve got great insurance and she’s a great doctor. And my wait wasn’t much longer than the average reported wait time in Massachusetts of 48 days.

Generally speaking — and it varies based on the kind of doctor — our wait times are about twice as high as the rest of the U.S., and the problem has gotten worse under Romneycare. “Massachusetts is learning a basic lesson in economics,” Peter Suderman of Reason magazine told me yesterday. “More coverage does not equal more care.” Suderman, who has been covering Romneycare for years, says nobody familiar with simple economics should be surprised at the results.

Take the new survey of emergency room physicians finding more ER patients than last year — part of an ongoing trend here of higher emergency room use. In theory all these newly-covered patients would be sitting in their primary-care doctor’s office, getting less expensive treatment.

But Romneycare drastically expanded the number of patients on Medicaid and subsidized plans. “These patients go to emergency rooms more than any others, including people with private insurance and even no insurance,” Suderman said. And even if they wanted to go to a doctor’s office — they can’t. The wait times are too long. “It’s a pricing problem,” Suderman says. “If you guarantee everyone coverage and you don’t let the market differentiate between patients, then you end up paying for care with your time.”

Actually we’re paying with our time and money. Why did we do all this again? To get more people insured. Here where we already had one of the smallest uninsured populations in the country.

In politics there are missteps, mistakes, and unmitigated disasters. Romneycare falls solidly in the latter category. Longer lines, higher premiums, more state spending and fewer seats in the local emergency room — is there any upside?

A true leader would admit his mistake, build on what he learned from it and move forward. Romney, with more flip flops on his record than a beachfront sandal shop, can’t afford another one.



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

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


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


12 May, 2011

Was it Obama who ordered the bin Laden raid?

One thing that is generally admitted about the bin Laden raid is that bin Laden's whereabouts were known for several months beforehand. So what led to the delay in acting? Clearly there was indecision about whether to act and how to act and much discussion of the various options.

What went on in those discussions and who was arguing against action? We may never know for certain but a "White House insider" says that Obama was so indecisive that the order to act was eventually given by CIA director Panetta without Obama's prior knowledge. Obama was brought in only after the operation was underway. I reproduce below the opening paragraphs of the story concerned. They are in the form of an interview with the "source" -- JR

Q: You stated that President Obama was “overruled” by military/intelligence officials regarding the decision to send in military specialists into the Osama Bin Laden compound. Was that accurate?

A: I was told – in these exact terms, “we overruled him.” (Obama) I have since followed up and received further details on exactly what that meant, as well as the specifics of how Leon Panetta worked around the president’s “persistent hesitation to act.” There appears NOT to have been an outright overruling of any specific position by President Obama, simply because there was no specific position from the president to do so. President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president.

I was correct in stating there had been a push to invade the compound for several weeks if not months, primarily led by Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, David Petraeus, and Jim Clapper. The primary opposition to this plan originated from Valerie Jarrett, and it was her opposition that was enough to create uncertainty within President Obama. Obama would meet with various components of the pro-invasion faction, almost always with Jarrett present, and then often fail to indicate his position.

This situation continued for some time, though the division between Jarrett/Obama and the rest intensified more recently, most notably from Hillary Clinton. She was livid over the president’s failure to act, and her office began a campaign of anonymous leaks to the media indicating such. As for Jarrett, her concern rested on two primary fronts. One, that the military action could fail and harm the president’s already weakened standing with both the American public and the world. Second, that the attack would be viewed as an act of aggression against Muslims, and further destabilize conditions in the Middle East.


It rings true to me. Note that in the famous picture from the operations room, Obama looks very much an outsider -- JR


Liberal "Patriotism" in their own words

It has been heartwarming to see a few liberals actually thumping their chests about America in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death via old age and a bullet to the face (but mostly a bullet to the face.) It's just so nice to see our liberal brethren feeling, for a few brief moments at least, the sort of patriotism that conservatives feel all the time.

….Not that there aren't patriotic liberals. They certainly exist, much in the same manner that albino alligators exist. You see one every once in awhile in captivity, but if you ever run across one in the wild, you'll be genuinely surprised. Instead of patriotism, what we usually hear from liberals sounds a lot more like this.

1) When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke. -- Robert Altman

2) As you probably know, some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, DC as the “capital of the free world.” But it seems to me that this great city (Brussels), which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title. — Joe Biden

3) As to those in the World Trade Center… Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. …If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it. — Ward Churchill

4) A friend of ours said if the same laws were applied to U.S. Presidents as were applied to the Nazis after WWII, that every single one of them, every last rich white one of them, from Truman on would be hung to death and shot. And this current administration is no exception. They should be hung and tried and shot as war criminals. -- Zack de la Rocha, Rage Against The Machine

5) I don't know if a country (America) where the people are so ignorant of reality and of history, if you can call that a free world. -- Jane Fonda

6) Let's get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win! -- Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

7) Patriotism threatens free speech with death. It is infuriated by thoughtful hesitation, constructive criticism of our leaders and pleas for peace. It despises people of foreign birth. It has specifically blamed homosexuals, feminists and the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder. Whom are we calling terrorists here? -- Barbara Kingsolver, novelist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

8) America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself. Has there ever been a big, powerful country that is as patriotic as America? And patriotic in the tinniest way, with so much flag waving? You'd really think we were some poor little republic, and that if one person lost his religion for one hour, the whole thing would crumble. America is the real religion in this country. -- Norman Mailer

9) The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country? I don't see why people care about patriotism. -- Natalie Maines

10) Of course, Mr. Hannity was outraged that any American would not cross her hand over her heart and repeat the hypocritical words, one nation. Whenever we come up on the Fourth of You Lie, I think of Frederick Douglas and his masterful oration, The meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro. Pledge the flag? I think not! -- Julianne Malveaux

11) (T)he dumbest Brit here is smarter than the smartest American. -- Michael Moore At London's Roundhouse Theater

12) You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a (flag) pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest... -- Barack Obama

13) For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction. -- Michelle Obama

14) My daughter, who goes to Stuyvesant High School only blocks from the World Trade Center, thinks we should fly an American flag out our window. Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war. -- Katha Pollitt, The Nation

15) The President wants to talk about a terrorist named bin Laden. I don’t want to talk about bin Laden. I want to talk about a terrorist called Christopher Columbus. I want to talk about a terrorist called George Washington. I want to talk about a terrorist called Rudy Giuliani. The real terrorists have always been the United Snakes of America. — Malik Zulu Shabazz

16) While the rest of the country waves the flag of Americana, we understand we are not part of that. We don't owe America anything - America owes us. -- Al Sharpton at the "State of the Black World Conference" in Atlanta

17) America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for... -- Cindy Sheehan

18) The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now. — David Westin, ABC News President

19) The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America.” No, no, no, God d*mn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God d*mn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God d*mn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme. -- Jeremiah Wright

20) In practice, US officials seem to know better than to indulge in the patriotic myth that our constitution is the greatest system of government ever devised. — Matthew Yglesias

SOURCE (See the original for links)


The new boogeymen of the American Left

Is the New York Times Reporting on Events or Participating in Them? A Letter to the Public Editor about the Koch brothers

Dear Mr. Brisbane:

I regret that I have to write you yet again. I am writing this time because the New York Times appears to have once again taken a gratuitous shot at Koch Industries and the Kochs, and I wanted to bring it to your attention.

A piece published on May 4, 2011, by Jim
Rutenberg, “Liberal Group’s Video Assails Koch Brothers,” raises the question again of whether the Times is observing and reporting on events or is it taking part in a concerted campaign? What follows are some specific concerns:

* The story is about the launch of a “video campaign” – yet at the time of its publication yesterday, the video had not even been made public, except by the Times itself.

* The “video” has no formal distribution platform other than its own obscure online site. In other words, it seems to be no different than countless other partisan advocacy clips that are posted on sites like YouTube every day. This leads me to ask how is this particular video newsworthy and why is the Times giving it a such a public forum?

* Mr. Rutenberg writes up top that “the [video] campaign marks another step toward conspicuousness for a family whose political activity was largely in the shadows until last year.” That is a puzzling claim. David Koch ran for Vice President on a national ticket more than 30 years ago, and both he and his brother have made public contributions to candidates and public affairs groups for years, all of which has been widely reported. In addition, the Kochs and the business they have built have been the subject of many media stories and profiles over the past decades.

I would be grateful if you could query editors on this and give some consideration to why the Times has been focusing this extreme level of attention to the Kochs and with such disregard for the paper’s own standards of accuracy and objectivity.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Mark V. Holden
Koch Industries, Inc.
Senior Vice President and General Counsel




The Presbyterian Church (USA) abandons the Bible: "The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to approve the ordination of openly gay church leaders, becoming the fourth mainline denomination to do so. After a vote late yesterday, the protestant church decided to remove the requirement of its leaders to live "either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman" or in "chastity in singleness". The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US with more than 2.3 million members, is separate from the more theologically conservative denomination known as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), with nearly 350,000 members." [One guess that the PCA will be getting some new congregations]

Hayek on morality: "One way to discredit defenders of political and economic liberty is to allege that they do not take ethics or morality seriously, that they are indeed subjectivists or relativists. Most people are pretty sure that some human conduct is ethically wrong or right. They teach this to their children and hold to this idea as they judge their fellows, including politicians and international movers and shakers. So to suggest that someone like Hayek, who defends freedom of choice in the market place, is a moral relativist pretty much serves to dismiss his or her views. But it is a mistake."

Scofflaw gets life sentence: "A 35-year-old man from New Orleans was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison after he was convicted of possessing two pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute, according to a report in The New Orleans Times-Picayune. It was the fourth marijuana conviction for Cornell Hood II, and likely his last as a free man. Louisiana allows life sentences to be handed down in cases where the accused has three prior convictions. In this case, the prosecutor used that provision to argue that Hood is a hardened, career criminal worthy of severe punishment."

The good funding the evil: "The feeling of obligation to pay 'taxes' seems to be little hampered by the fact that 'government' is notoriously wasteful and inefficient. While millions of 'taxpayers' struggle to make ends meet while paying their 'fair share' of 'taxes,' politicians waste millions on laughably silly projects — everything from studying cow farts, to building bridges to nowhere, to paying farmers to not grow certain crops, and so on, ad infinitum — and billions more are simply 'lost,' with no accounting of where they went. But much of what people make possible through payment of 'taxes' is not just wasted but is quite destructive to society."

Revisiting selfishness: "Because I am always eager to do well for myself -- have done this for as long as I can recall, starting with wanting to succeed in school, on the athletic field, in trying to be healthy and fit, and wanting to escape the brutal Soviets when I was only 14 -- I always pay attention to people who denigrate selfishness. After all, I and most people I know well or even just a bit seem to me to be like me, are concerned to do well for themselves. ... So then why are so many who speak up about how we ought to act make a special effort to denigrate self-interested conduct?"

Ron Paul: Less lonely these days: "The man who likely has done more than anyone to put the libertarian philosophy of freedom and small government on the political agenda probably will make another run for the presidency: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. Paul is always upbeat, but lately he's had more reason to be, as he sees libertarian ideas bubbling up from the grass roots"

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

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


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


11 May, 2011

Obama's race to gloat

For a week people have been asking, "Why won't the president release Osama bin Laden's photo?" That's the wrong question. We should be asking, "Why was Barack Obama in such a hurry to tell us bin Laden was dead?"

The White House says the information in bin Laden's compound is the equivalent of a "small college library," potentially containing incalculably valuable and unique data on al-Qaeda operations, personnel and methods.

"It's going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable," a government official told Politico's Mike Allen.

I'm no expert on such matters -- though I've talked to several about this -- but even a casual World War II buff can understand that the shelf life of actionable intelligence would be extended if we hadn't told the whole world, and al-Qaeda in particular, that we had it.

It's a bit like racing to the microphones to announce you've stolen the other team's playbook even before you've had a chance to use the information in the big game.

But that's exactly what President Obama did. He raced to spill the beans. The man couldn't even wait until morning. At just after 9:45 p.m., the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, informed the media: "POTUS to address the nation tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time."

The announcement came less than three hours after Obama had been informed that there was a "high probability" bin Laden was dead and that the Navy SEAL helicopters had returned to Afghanistan.

In other words, it seems that the White House planned to crow as soon as possible. Why? Nobody I've talked to can think of a reason that doesn't have to do with politics or hubris.

Yes, killing Osama bin Laden is a big secret that would be hard to keep for long. Certainly Pakistan would grow agitated if we simply said nothing about the incursion, though sweating the Janus-faced Pakistanis with silence for a couple of days might yield its own intelligence rewards. In other words, even waiting 24 hours might generate some interesting "chatter." The Pakistanis working with al-Qaeda certainly would have been the first to spread the news that bin Laden was dead or captured.

But the real treasure trove is that "college library" of intelligence.

And while reports are pouring out from a gloating White House that's leaking like the Titanic in its final hours, one can only assume our analysts have barely begun to exploit the data.

Couldn't they have at least tried to give the CIA a week, a day, even a few more hours to look at it all before letting Ayman al-Zawahiri and the rest of al-Qaeda know about it? Why give him the slightest head start to go even further underground?



How Leftism Poisoned a Psychiatrist's Mind

If your sister were among the nearly 3,000 people murdered in the World Trade Center on 9/11, how would you react to Osama Bin Laden's death? More specifically, if you were to write an opinion piece on the subject for a major newspaper, what would you most want to communicate?

One would think that anyone who had lost a loved one on 9/11 would write about bin Laden's guilt, about evil and about experiencing some degree of moral and emotional satisfaction that the loved one's murderer had been killed by American forces. But not Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. He had other, more pressing, things to say.

Two days after bin Laden was killed, Klitzman wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times reflecting on his sister Karen's death on 9/11. While acknowledging that bin Laden "more than anyone else had caused my sister's death" and noting that he is "glad" that bin Laden "was now at the bottom of the sea," Klitzman directed his rage and blame elsewhere.

The main focus of his passion was to blame the United States for arousing the hatred of Muslims (including those who murdered his sister) and for arousing the hatred of "the rest of the world" as well. Klitzman writes: "When the members of Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11, Americans wondered, 'Why do they hate us so much?' Many here believe they dislike us for our 'freedom,' but I think otherwise.

"There are lessons we have not yet learned. I feel Karen would share my concerns that underlying forces of greed and hate persevere. American imperialism, corporate avarice, abuses of our power abroad and our historical support of corrupt dictators like Hosni Mubarak have created an abhorrence of us that, unfortunately, persists. We need to recognize how the rest of the world sees us, and figure out how to change that. Until we do that, more Osama bin Ladens will arise, and more innocent people like my sister will die."

In the course of my lifetime, I have read surely many thousands of columns. And as I read those with which I differ as often as I do those with which I agree, many have annoyed, some even angered me.

But I do not recall reading a column that I considered as reprehensible as Klitzman's. What other word can describe a brother using the killing of his sister's murderer to badmouth America and hold it ultimately responsible for her death?

Asking what America did to elicit the hatred of Muslim terrorists is morally equivalent to asking what Jews did to arouse Nazi hatred, what blacks did to cause whites to lynch them, what Ukrainians did to arouse Stalin's hatred or what Tibetans did to incite China's hateful treatment of them.

We would dismiss such questions out of hand. Why, then, do we not similarly regard "What did America do to arouse Islamist mass-murdering hatred leading to 9/11?"

The answer is Leftist ideology. I suspect that Klitzman is a morally better man than his thesis suggests. But at some point, perhaps in college, he assimilated the leftist worldview with the dogmatic but meaningless phrases that appeared in his column: "underlying forces of greed and hate," "American imperialism," "corporate avarice" and "abuses of our power abroad."

Most people who hold left-wing views when they are young abandon those views as they get older and wiser. But for those who never abandon leftism, the dogma is so powerful, it functions as a fundamentalist -- secular -- religion. Just as the Orthodox Jew, the evangelical Christian and the traditionalist Catholic views the world through his respective religion's eyes, so the leftist views the world and everything in it through leftist eyes.

That is how a man whose profession is dedicated to the elimination of psychological pain through the study of the infinitely complex human mind and psyche can have such a simplistic and morally convoluted view of America that he uses his sister's murder as an occasion to reflect on the evil -- of America. One more example of how leftism makes decent people do indecent things.



Bin Laden killing echoes Israeli style

President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the East Room of the White House on the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Israel may have been forged 63 years ago this week in a crucible of conventional war, but it has faced a slew of enemies in the decades since who have tried to weaken, destroy or demoralize it by unconventional means. Hijackings, suicide bombers—before they played in Iraq or Europe , they opened in Israel.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that American killing of Osama bin Laden feels so… Israeli?

Think of the similarities: A daring commando raid on a terrorist stronghold (Entebbe 1976). An incursion in self-defense on foreign soil (Osirak 1986). A targeted killing, aka assasination, of a threatening militant leader (Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, 2004). Post-operational international condemnation (Gaza Flotilla, 2010; Jenin “Massacre,” et al). Long overdue payback for a national tragedy (see the movie “Munich”). The bold, daring and risky American operation had all the hallmarks of bold, daring Israeli operations—I half-expected President Obama to go on TV to announce its success in Hebrew.

The similarities are not a coincidence. After years of fighting conventional wars against conventional armies, the United States has adapted to the kind of enemies Israelis have long grown accustomed to: non-state actors driven by fanatical rage to kill as many innocents as possible.

In a word, terrorists. So the lessons Israel has learned in its struggle are the lessons Obama applied last week:

You don’t fight terrorists with armies: You don’t even fight them, as Obama wisely realized, with big, big bombs. You go in and take them down, one by one. You do this because the terrorists would prefer you use bombs and artillery against innocent populations to weed them out—the collateral damage only helps their cause. Bin Laden, like the leaders of Hamas, hid in the midst of a civilian population, effectively using women and children as human shields. By choosing a commando raid over a bombing run, Obama denied bin Laden a final act of terrorism.

You fight terrorists where they live, not where you live: Immediately after 9/11, the late Wlliam Safire wrote that the United States’ duty, at that dark hour, was to take the battle to them. Israel, a small country, long ago made that tactic a centerpiece of its defense strategy. Sometimes the tactic fails, as when Israel botched the assassination of a Hamas terrorist leader in Jordan and caused a diplomatic firestorm. And sometimes even success has a cost—remember the scandal that erupted after Israeli operatives forged foreign passports in order to snuff out Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room in January 2010. But the scandal faded, and al-Mabhouh is still dead. Obama can take heart from the Israelis that despite the post-action outrage, it’s worth it.

You fight terrorists in ways they least expect: After they learned that Gaza-based terrorists shooting rockets into Southern Israel were hiding behind booby-trapped doors, the Israelis developed an urban warfare technique that involved entering rooms by blasting through adjoining walls. Surprise! After six years in his villa, Osama probably began to feel that the 10-foot walls and windowless rooms of his compound were impregnable, and the fact that he lived under the umbrella of Pakistani airspace made him untouchable. The last thing he expected to see was an American soldier in his bedroom. As it turns out, that was the last thing he saw.

You don’t capture terrorist leaders, you kill them: Israel started this policy in earnest following the Second Intifada in 2000, when Israel faced terror from non-state actors on an unprecedented scale. Terrorists groups don’t use conventional targets, but they do have leaders who provide either inspiration or operational knowhow, or both.

“Those who say that these operations don’t have an impact are mistaken,” Major General Yoav Galant, the former head of the IDF’s Southern Command, told The Jerusalem Post. “The liquidation of terror leaders prevents terror attacks and influences the organizations.”

While Israel’s human rights groups have raised some objections, ancient Jewish sources provide some common-sense justification: “He who comes to kill you, arise earlier and kill him,” the Talmud teaches. America doesn’t need to apologize for shooting an unarmed Osama. He shot first.

It’s not surprising, then, that two countries engaged in a fight against religious fanatics would use the same methods with the same justifications. In the final analysis, the greatest struggles humanity faces are not among nations, peoples or religions, but between the fanatic and the tolerant. Those two types cross all borders and religions.

The struggle to contain and thwart fanaticism must be a shared burden, as victory against it benefits not just one country, but all mankind. For 63 years, Israel has been at the front lines of that battle.




Gingrich gears up for pointless campaign: "With strong name recognition from his stint as Speaker of the House in the ‘90s, news organizations tend to group Gingrich among the leading contenders. But polls consistently show him trailing other top-tier candidates (Donald Trump averages more than twice Gingrich’s support) and only outperforms newcomers like Michele Bachmann or Mitch Daniels by a few percentage points. Voters may recognize Gingrich's face, but they generally don't like what they see."

American Flight 1561: Man shouted “Allah Akbar” as he rammed cockpit door: "A Yemeni man arrested on a San Francisco-bound plane repeatedly shouted 'Allah Akbar' as he tried to break into the cockpit, a court heard yesterday, as he made an initial appearance. Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi appeared sullen as a federal judge told the California resident he was charged with interfering with a flight crew, a felony that can carry up to 20 years in prison."

Baby receives pat-down at Kansas City airport: "A photo posted on Twitter of a baby receiving a pat-down at Kansas City International Airport is the latest in a number of recent highly publicized incidents of airport security screenings involving young children. The photo taken by Kansas City pastor Jacob Jester on Saturday and posted on Twitter has been viewed nearly 300,000 times."

US population center shifts southwesterly: "The Census Bureau announced yesterday that, based on the 2010 Census, the mean center of population for the country is 2.9 miles east [of] Plato, Mo., an Ozarks village with a population of 109. The center of population is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat and weightless map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308,745,538 counted residents were of identical weight. Since 1790, the center has moved west, with a more pronounced southerly pattern in the past few decades."

FBI vehicle tracker gets teardown treatment: "Hardware teardown site iFixit recently got its hands on an FBI vehicle location tracker and managed to break it into pieces before the G-Men turned up to take it back. The iFixit teardown, published Monday in conjunction with Wired's Threat Level blog, reveals a simple GPS and transponder signaling unit that the U.S. government is now legally [sic] allowed to use to track citizens — without a warrant."

Wasting time on oil company taxes: "The precise point at which a tax deduction becomes a 'loophole’ or a tax incentive becomes a 'subsidy for special interests’ is one of the great mysteries of politics. Perhaps it is best defined in terms Justice Potter Stewart reserved for pornography, 'I know it when I see it.' Judging by some of the rhetoric, any provision related to the oil industry crossed the line long, long ago. The only problem is that on careful inspection, some of these 'special interest' tax breaks just don’t look very special."

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

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


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


10 May, 2011

Nihilist Left brings progressives into disrepute

Comment from an Australian Leftist who still believes in something

LAST week the world learned of the death of a misogynistic, homophobic, racist mass murderer who supported a theocratic, neo-fascist ideology posing as a liberation movement. In Washington and at New York's September 11 Ground Zero, spontaneous crowds cheered in the streets upon the announcement of Osama bin Laden's long-overdue demise.

Most of the world's population, Muslim and non-Muslim, greeted the news in a more sober fashion. But the overwhelming majority must surely have agreed with the man who authorised bin Laden's death, US President Barack Obama: justice had been done.

To be sure, bin Laden was opposed to every tenet of modern progressive politics; secular democracy, representative government, a hatred of feudal or class-based inequity, equality of the sexes, anti-racism and the core values of the Enlightenment itself.

No self-respecting social democrat mourned his death. And yet, had one's daily reading habits been confined to sections of so-called "progressive" opinion, bin Laden's death was a matter of profound regret. The extra-judicial killing was a denial of due process, celebrity lawyer Geoffrey Robertson protested, oblivious to the impossibility of capturing or trying bin Laden. "[It's] hard to celebrate one more corpse," opined Jeff Sparrow, a devotee of the violent Bolshevik thug, Leon Trotsky, on ABC's The Drum. Not to be outdone, Crikey's Hunter S Thompson-wannabe, Guy Rundle, downplayed bin Laden's crimes claiming that: "Morally speaking, 9/11 was no worse than a B-52 run over Vietnam."

You don't have to believe that American engagement in Indochina during the 1960s and 70s was foolhardy or that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was likewise ill-judged, as the present writer does, to find Rundle's commentary nonsensical. Then again this is a man who has penned such thoughtful treatises as "Zionists and Nazis Connected. Discuss."

Perhaps the most disturbing local contribution came from another Drum regular, anti-Israel activist Antony Loewenstein, who announced that "the West has much to learn". Bin Laden's "[terrorist] tactics were abhorrent and failed to attract huge numbers of followers" Loewenstein surmised, nonetheless the West's subjugation of Muslims meant that the "arguments for his organisation's force have only strengthened since 9/11".

In other words, Osama was a nasty piece of work but fighting the good fight against imperialist crusaders. (Never mind that the majority of al-Qa'ida's victims have been Muslim.) Loewenstein concluded by offering a paean of praise: "Bin Laden died a man who profoundly changed the landscape of the world."

Well, yes, he certainly changed Lower Manhattan's landscape.

If any further evidence were required to show that a segment of the 21st century Western Left has completely lost the plot and plumbed the deepest, darkest depths of moral nihilism and cultural relativism, the contributions of these so-called "progressive" thinkers is conclusive proof. As British academic-cum-blogger Norman Geras put it this week: "In the demise of a reactionary murdering theocrat they are unable to see and plainly articulate the sense of anything good".

As has been well-documented, social democratic parties are in serious decline across the West.

In part, their woes are the perverse result, as the late Tony Judt put it, of their success in conquering mass poverty and material deprivation, and other epic 20th century struggles against inequality and discrimination.

Indeed, the survival of liberal democracy in the face of the twin totalitarian threats of fascism and communism owed much to the efforts of social democrats.

Today, however, noisy elements on the far Left - think Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and our local scribblers - seem to believe that Western-style democracy is in fact the real enemy.

With monotonous regularity they excuse bin Laden and his fellow Jihadis' death-cult or rationalise Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vile anti-Semitism, instead preferring to blame the US and Israel for all the woes of the world, including partial responsibility for the September 11 atrocities.

There are of course brave souls on the Left who have challenged the ostensible status quo. One thinks here of Geras and his fellow Euston Manifesto signatories. Recently a local player emerged to put a similar case.

In his maiden speech to NSW parliament last year Labor MLC Luke Foley, from the party's Left, argued that social democrats must confront the newest "totalitarian movement of the far Right" just as they successfully opposed fascism. "This global Islamist movement is misogynist, racist and homophobic [and] based on an utter perversion of the Islamic faith.

"Too many progressives are silent about this," Foley insisted, "or worse, deny this."

It is hard to disagree with the crux of Foley's argument. And yet if I must quibble with his analysis and that of Geras et al, it is their designation of the apologists for radical Islam, as "Left", an association that is arguably harming the electoral viability of centre-left parties across the globe. For they are no such thing.

It is high time these values-free misfits received a new appellation.

Practically speaking, they oppose mainstream Left thinking on virtually every subject. Amazingly they can see no tangible difference between a theocracy and a democracy nor denounce Islamic fundamentalism in unequivocal terms. To my mind, they should be known for what they are: nihilists.

So let them rail against liberal democracy and chant: "We are all Hezbollah" from the rooftops but do not besmirch the good name of others by deeming themselves Left. No, let them stand with like-minded nihilists, Jew-haters and other enemies of social democracy, including a recently deceased jihadist unlikely to be enjoying a judenrein paradise of virgins. On behalf of the sane Left, good riddance to the lot of them.



Only nationalism can justify a welfare state

The standard consequentialist argument in favour of the welfare state essentially says that the harm caused to rich people by taxation is outweighed by the benefit to poor people from government services. That’s probably wrong, but for the sake of argument let’s say it’s not and concede the idea that governments should redistribute resources. The question that redistributionists have failed to answer satisfyingly is, to whom should the resources be distributed?

The redistributionist argument may seem defensible if we look at one country alone – taking from the rich in Britain to give to the poor in Britain sounds good to a lot of people. But why do we only look at the poor in Britain? Compared to, say, the poor in Peru, they don’t seem to be so badly-off. The redistributionist logic would imply that money should be given to the worst-off, wherever they are. So, why give money to the poor in Britain rather than the very poor in Peru?

A redistributionist might say that a government’s job is to look after its own citizens. That argument, frequently made, has no real ethical basis. Unless the redistributionist believes that the value of, say, a Mancunian’s welfare is of greater importance than a Peruvian’s welfare, there is no outcomes-based argument for favouring the Mancunian over the Peruvian. Taking the redistributionist premise that governments can improve outcomes by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the only moral argument for spending tax money in Manchester rather than relatively-poorer Peru is based on implicit nationalism. How many redistributionists would admit to that? Yet it is the only logical justification for preferring a big welfare state in Britain to a lot of money being spent around the world.

Some would say that it would be politically impossible to implement this kind of redistributionism. Yes, it would, but that isn’t a convincing argument. Even the argument that overseas spending delivers less bang for the buck than domestic spending is highly dubious, and returns to the question of why redistribution supposedly works inside a country’s borders and not outside them.

This is a fundamental flaw in the redistributionist manifesto. The only intellectual justification for favouring people in Britain over people in Peru for government spending would be that British people are more deserving. This is implied by arguments for a welfare state. The libertarian alternative, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from this implicit nationalism. The outcomes we argue for treat people as equals: Free markets benefit everybody, wherever they are. I’ll choose that kind of egalitarianism over the narrowly nationalistic redistributionist egalitarianism any day.



Funny money on the loose worldwide now

We humans are a slow-learning species. In the 1980s we blew up what was then the world's second-biggest economy, Japan, with loose money. In the 2000s, we blew up the biggest economy, the US, with loose money.

Not content with that, in 2008 we went on to blow up the economy of most of the world. How? With loose money. Any intelligent species would learn from this experience. But look around.

The economies that account for 96 per cent of the world economy are today running loose money policies. Most are happily handing out free money. Some are supplying money at rates so low that it's actually cheaper than free.

It's done for good cause. When money is cheap, people are more inclined to invest or spend. So it aids economic recovery. The former chief of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, was named as Time magazine's person of the year in 1999 for his ready resort to loose money.

But if there is too much for too long, it ends badly. Exactly a decade later, Time named Greenspan as No. 3 on its list of "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis". And I think they let him off lightly.

The evidence of the past three decades should be enough, but you can go back further. In fact, every major financial crisis in the four centuries of capitalism has had its origins in loose money.

How does it work? It's simple commonsense. The basis for value is scarcity. If scarcity is destroyed, so is value. And when money loses its value, it is abused.

Human societies have always abused commodities when they're provided too cheaply or free - free fresh water, for example - and money is no different. The loose money creates a "bubble" in asset prices, which ultimately collapses, dragging the economy into a recession, or worse.

The lyrics change from one episode to the next, but the song remains the same.

This time, it's happening in so many countries that it's much easier to list the countries where it's not happening. Brazil and Australia are the only economies of any reasonable size where money is not loose.

The standout champion of loose money in the world today is the US. For 2½ years now, the US Federal Reserve has been supplying money to America's banks at an official interest rate of 0-0.25 per cent a year.

Inflation in America is running at 2 to 3 per cent. So, in real terms, the American central bank is lending at an interest rate of minus 2-3 per cent. It is, in effect, subsidising the banks to borrow money.

The US is debasing its currency so effectively that the US dollar has fallen by 14 per cent in the past year, as measured by the Fed's major currencies index. But China doesn't want to lose export competitiveness to the US, so it has maintained its peg to the dollar. This means that China's renminbi is also depreciating in real terms against its other trading partners. So the US and Chinese currencies are debasing in tandem.

In the meantime, the central banks of the EU and Japan are handing out money cheaper than free. In sum, almost the entire world has gone monetarily mad. And the cheap money is forming a bubble in the price of commodities.

Central bankers in many countries are quietly worried about this. Each thinks that his bank alone cannot make any difference. So they leave their interest rates low. Yet their collective inaction guarantees that they are all facing a problem of growing inflation and a dangerous bubble in commodity prices. This is the same problem, the "prisoner's dilemma", that we see in the case of carbon emissions.




Iran: A-jad allies charged with black magic, summoning genies: "Iran's powerful clerics have accused associates of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of witchcraft, including summoning genies, amid an increasingly bitter rift between Ahmadinejad and the country's supreme religious leader. In recent days, some 25 confidants of Ahmadinejad and his controversial but loyal chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei have been arrested and charged with being 'magicians.' ... The arrests are the latest window into the growing rift between Ahmadinejad, Iran's elected secular president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, the country's appointed religious supreme leader."

Navy plan for homosexual marriages on bases draws opposition: "A preliminary U.S. Navy plan to allow its chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in military chapels after the end of 'don't ask, don't tell' has fired up congressional opposition. All services are moving forward with the transition from the present ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform. Top Pentagon officials are expected to sign off on the new rules and the progress of training in coming weeks"

US Senate blocks Obama DoJ appointee: "Senate Republicans on Monday blocked President Barack Obama's choice for the No. 2 job in the Justice Department and dampened talk that Osama bin Laden's death might usher in bipartisan cooperation on terrorism matters. The 50-40 vote, short of the Senate's required 60-vote threshold, sidelined Obama's monthslong drive to make official James M. Cole's position as deputy attorney general."

Democrats trying to increase gasoline prices: "Senate Democrats said they will move forward this week with a plan that would eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies and divert the savings to offset the deficit. Senior Democrats believe that tying the two together will put pressure on Senate Republicans to support the measure or face a difficult time explaining their opposition to voters whose family budgets are being strained by fuel prices."

Egypt: Mobs set fire to two churches in capital: "Egypt's prime minister called an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday after 12 people died in bloody clashes in a Cairo suburb over the conversion of a Christian woman to Islam. About 500 conservative Islamists known as Salafists massed outside the Saint Mina Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba on Saturday demanding Christians there hand over a woman they said had converted to Islam and was being held against her will."

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

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


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


9 May, 2011

Misunderstandings about the military

Led by the United States, the English-speaking countries seem to be almost continuously at war -- fighting for their own long-term safety and trying to rescue others from tyranny. In the USA, the wars are mostly initiated by Democrat administrations -- WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Serbia and now Libya -- but usually start out with widespread support among Americans generally.

There has however been no mass mobilization since WWII. The wars these days tend to be fought as just another budget item with only the professional military involved. The population generally have no experience of war and little acquaintance with military men. The countries concerned just live on in peace and prosperity. This has produced something of a paradox. The people at large of the world's most "warlike" countries know little of war or of military matters.

In the circumstances, there seems to have developed -- particularly on the political Left -- a quite warped view of the military and often a real contempt for the military. In a patriotic country like America, that contempt has to be mostly veiled but observers of the Left will be familiar with such attitudes anyway. Because of the British tradition of emotional restraint, however, overt expressions of patriotism are rare in Britain and Australia so the Left there are more vocal in making known their attitude to the military.

So the combination of no experience with the military and Leftist contempt for military men does seem to have led to a fairly widespread lack of understanding of what military men are like and how the military functions. And as a former army psychologist, I think I might be in a position to make a few points that may dispel some of those misunderstandings.

* A very common misunderstanding is that military men are dumb. That is far from the case. The military handle some very dangerous gear so a dummy would be more of a danger to his buddies than to the enemy. For that reason all Western armies select on intellectual grounds: You have to have an above average IQ to be a soldier. And in the more specialist jobs (officers generally, special forces, etc.), the intellectual requirement is quite high. So it is quite right to refer to the "profession" of arms. It needs training, knowledge, dedication and ability comparable to many other professions.

* Another incomprehension that seems particularly common on the left is why on earth would anybody take a job where he might get shot at? That seems like a very bad deal to most Leftists and may be part of the reason why military men are overwhelmingly conservative. Guerilla war where they can shoot others from cover (as in various "revolutions" -- such as Castro's) seems OK to Leftists but they generally haven't got the stomach for regular military service.

So why DO military men put themselves in harm's way? The answer quite simply is that they are real men. They have inherited a strong dose of the characteristics that enabled men to survive in "caveman" times. Life was a very risky business for us for most of our evolutionary past and men who did not enjoy risks and challenges just did not survive. Military men actually ENJOY putting themselves to the test. They LIKE doing difficult and dangerous things. Sadly, the army often disappoints them. Even if there is a war on, most of your time is spent waiting around. But the army does a lot of training and sport and there is always the prospect of action. So in every army, the men are always keen to get to "the front" -- where the action is and where they might get shot at! I was one of them many years ago. The Vietnam war was on at the time and I volunteered for a posting there.

A little story might help illustrate all that. During the Vietnam war, Australia had conscription and it was largely conscripts who were sent to the front. What is not generally known however is that conscripts were not usually sent to the front unwillingly. Anybody who did not want to go was discharged as "medically" unfit or was given the chance of volunteering for work in (say) a BOD (Base Ordnance Depot -- a military warehouse). But given the option of spending two boring years in a BOD back in Australia and going to Vietnam, close to 100% of the conscripts chose Vietnam. Men like excitement and Vietnam offered that, even if it was dangerous.

* Another myth much beloved of Leftist psychologists is that army men are some sort of "robot". They are all the same and just obey orders like machines. The old Prussian expression that a soldier should be "Kadaver gehorsam" (show corpselike obedience) helped establish that myth. And it does have a germ of truth. Take a look at the picture below. It is easy to see a march of robots there, is it not?

It is in fact a parade of cadets at Sandhurst, Britain's equivalent of West Point. So all the men there are in fact highly skilled soldiers with the equivalent of a university degree who will go on to positions of leadershiop throughout the British army and later on lead in British life generally. Far from being robots they are an elite.

So learning to work together and take orders is certainly a part of military life but it says nothing about the character of the men involved. The fact that the army has to train its men very heavily in order to get them to that state of readiness should speak for itself. It does not come naturally. Military men are very much individuals. And when you are in the army, you get to know what individuals your fellow unit members are and come to value them accordingly. For that reason, military men feel great grief at the loss of anyone in their unit -- as you will hear any time you ask them about their wartime experiences -- and in later life you never walk past a member of your old army unit in the street without stopping to chat. Fellow members of your unit become very special friends. You don't of course get on equally well with them all but you usually respect them all.

So I hope that goes a little way towards showing how wrong are simplistic judgments of the military and of military men.

Perhaps I should close on a rather provocative note: You could think that women would not be attracted to military men. The men are often away on deployment and may come home in a body bag. What sort of a deal is that for a woman? Yet as you always see, when the men come home from deployment, most have wives and girlfriends waiting eagerly to see their men again. How come? Easy: As I have pointed out above, military men are real men and real women like real men.

Take as an example the Australian soldier below. He is clearly a family man and may look undistinguished to some. But Ben Roberts-Smith is a man of exceptional intelligence, daring and courage. For his actions in Afghanistan he was recently awarded the Victoria Cross, which is as high an award for valour as there is. It is very rarely awarded. You can read his story here and here. He could join the officer corps any time he applied but he chooses to serve as a corporal leading a small detachment of Special Forces. Why? Because that is where the action is. We can be proud that the English-speaking nations still produce men like him -- JR


What the GOP Can Learn From Canada's Conservatives

Some years ago, the columnist and editor Michael Kinsley sponsored a contest to come up with the most boring headline. The winner was, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative."

Well, Canada held an election last Monday, and the result was anything but boring. It amounts to something like a revolution in Canadian politics and has lessons, I think, for those of us south of the border.

The headline story is that the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has headed minority governments since 2006, won an absolute majority of seats, 167 of 308, in the House of Commons. It was a result practically no Canadian pundit or psephologist predicted.

Going into this election, center-right parties in the four major Anglosphere democracies were at the brink of but not quite fully in power. The British Conservatives formed a government with the leftish Liberal Democrats in May 2010, the Australian Liberals are in opposition by virtue of the votes of a couple of Outback independents, and American Republicans won the House of Representatives in November 2010 and are now forcing significant cuts in public spending.

In Canada, Harper's Conservatives have already cut taxes and modified spending programs, but always with the tacit consent of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, or the left-wing New Democrats, or the long-dominant Liberal Party. Now they're on their own, and we'll see the results.

But the installation of a majority government by itself is not a political revolution. The biggest changes in Canada were indicated by the devastating defeats of two of the opposition parties.

The Bloc Quebecois was reduced from 50 seats to only four. Formerly it represented most of Canada's second largest province. Now it represents a tiny rump.

French Canadian separatism has been a major force in Canada since Charles de Gaulle came to Montreal in 1967 and spoke the deliberately provocative words, "Vive le Quebec libre!" There have been two referenda in which the voters of Quebec rejected separatism by only narrow majorities.

Now it looks like separatism is as dead as de Gaulle. The vast majority of Quebec's ridings (the Canadian word for districts) elected New Democrats, some of whom didn't campaign and don't speak much French.

Quebec's Francophone voters seem to have decided to vote for a party that favors a European-style welfare state rather than one that favors a separate Quebec. The New Democrats won 58 seats in Quebec, enough to give them 102 seats in Parliament, enough to make them the official opposition party.

The third huge development is the humiliating third-place finish of the Liberal Party, the pre-eminent party in Canada since its first election in 1867. Liberals headed governments for 70 years in the 20th century and have provided most of Canada's well known prime ministers -- Wilfrid Laurier, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Lester Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

They have been more of a nationalist, opportunistic party than a left-wing one. Public spending ballooned during Trudeau's nearly 20 years in power, but the Liberals cut back spending sharply in the 1990s, when Canada faced a fiscal crisis very much like the one the United States faces today.

Liberals long boasted that they were the only party with backing in both English- and French-speaking Canada. Now they have little backing in either one.

They elected only 34 members of Parliament, and their leader, Michael Ignatieff, lost his own seat. Liberals hold sway now only in central Toronto, where Canadian media are concentrated, in Anglophone Montreal and in the economically lagging Atlantic provinces.

The Conservatives' triumph offers a couple of lessons that may be relevant to U.S. Republicans. One is that smaller government policies, far from being political poison, are actually vote-winners.

The second is that a center-right party can win immigrant votes. Conservatives won 35 of 54 seats in metro Toronto, many heavy with immigrants. One tactic that seems to have worked was to circulate videos of Indian- and Chinese-Canadian Conservative candidates appealing for votes in their native tongues.

The simple message is that this is a party that likes and respects you. Republicans could do something similar, with Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, and Reps. Allen West, Tim Scott and Quico Canseco, all elected in 2010.

So Canada has moved from a four-party politics rooted in its own special history to a two-party politics more similar to ours. Nothing boring about that.



$200,000 Lifeguards to Receive Millions in Retirement

Public outrage over lavish government employee compensation and pensions is becoming more heated as new revelations about excesses seem to crop up every week. The latest: Newport Beach, California, where some lifeguards have compensation packages that exceed $200,000 and where these "civil servants" can retire with lucrative government pensions at age 50.

Newport Beach has two groups of lifeguards. Seasonal tower lifeguards cover Newport’s seven miles of beach during the busy summer months. Part-time seasonal guards make $16 to $22 per hour with no benefits. They are the young people who man the towers and do the lion’s share of the rescues. Another group of highly compensated full-time staff work year-round and seldom, if ever, climb into a tower. According to the City Manager, the typical Daily Deployment Model in the winter for these lifeguards is 10 hours per day for four days each week, mainly spent driving trucks around, painting towers, ordering uniforms and doing basic office work—none are actually manning lifeguard towers.

Like many communities across California, the city of Newport Beach is facing the harsh realities of budgeting with less revenue after housing values and the stock market plummeted. Now the city’s full-time lifeguard force has finally come under scrutiny. Next week the city council will decide if cuts are needed to the full-time lifeguard force where last year the top earner received $211,000 in pay and benefits, including a $400 sun protection allowance. In 2010 all but one of the city’s full-time lifeguard staff had annual compensation packages worth over $120,000.

Not bad pay for a lifeguard - but what makes these jobs most attractive is the generous retirements. These lifeguards can retire at age 50 with full medical benefits for life. One recently retired lifeguard, age 51, receives a government retirement of over $108,000 per year—for the rest of his life. He will make well over $3 million in retirement if he lives to age 80. According to the City Manager, a new full-time guard costs less to hire than what is spent on this one retiree. The city now spends more taxpayer dollars on retired lifeguards than it does on those who are working.

Reports of excessive pay and generous pensions have fueled a debate across the nation over union influence on government spending. Government unions were able to take full advantage of the good old days when surpluses were plentiful and the economic future was bright. They effectively demanded politicians agree to contracts for higher union wages and benefits. Creating a situation that was simply not sustainable over the long-term.




Libya: Bombing of Gaddafi won’t let up, Clinton warns: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meeting with allies, kept up pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi Thursday, demanding that he 'cease attacks and the threat of attacks' against rebels who oppose his rule. Gadhafi must withdraw all forces from rebel cities they have entered, restore services to those cities, and allow humanitarian aid in, Clinton insisted."

Pakistan’s complicity: "That Osama bin Laden chose as a refuge a scenic summer resort in Pakistan, a country where he knew the United States had pretty much a free hand against al-Qaeda, says it all. We need not question the Pentagon or any other Western military establishment when they tell us that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is in cahoots with terrorism: All we need to do is understand that the most wanted man in the world trusted Pakistan enough to stay there in a highly visible compound, near a military academy, 35 miles from Islamabad."

Schumer proposes “no-ride list” for Amtrak trains: "A senator on Sunday called for a 'no-ride list' for Amtrak trains after intelligence gleaned from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound pointed to potential attacks on the nation's train system. Sen. Charles Schumer said he would push as well for added funding for rail security and commuter and passenger train track inspections and more monitoring of stations nationwide." [Will you soon need to get groped to get on a train?]

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

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

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


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


8 May, 2011

U.S. Tipping Point: 51% of Households Now Pay No Income Taxes

The portion of U.S. households paying zero federal income taxes has been steadily climbing, and has reached the 51% tipping point.
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.”

Let’s see… Promises of ever-increasing benefits from the public treasury, loose fiscal policy, increasingly dictatorial central government... Beginning to sound familiar?

The preceding wisdom has been variously attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville and Alexander Tytler through the years, but debate and uncertainty continue. Regardless of its source, however, the observation gained even greater immediacy this week, some 35 years since America’s own two-hundred-year milestone.

Namely, the portion of U.S. households paying zero federal income taxes has been steadily climbing, and has reached the 51% tipping point.

That alarming number formed the centerpiece of this week’s U.S. Senate Finance Committee official “Is the Distribution of Tax Burdens and Tax Benefits Equitable?” hearing. Although the news of Navy SEALs heroically raiding Osama bin Laden’s lair naturally dominated the news cycle, our increasingly lopsided tax burden will likely prove the more consequential civic dilemma for 2012 and onward.

Senate Finance Committee member Orrin Hatch (R – Utah) wisely noted, “Most taxpayers are skeptical that the answer to our fiscal problems is for them to sacrifice more, when more than half of all households are not paying any income taxes and an increasingly smaller group of Americans is shouldering the burden for an increasingly larger group of Americans.”

Yet that is the answer that liberals continue to offer. As the federal government once again approaches its debt limit and the presidential campaign begins, Barack Obama hypocritically maintains his soak-the-rich prescription of higher taxes for “millionaires and billionaires.” We say “hypocritically” because Obama himself paid taxes under the existing 35% top rate, rather than the 39.6% rate he claims to support. That decreased his overall tax payment by $74,000. Obama also opted to itemize rather than take the standard deduction, further reducing his tax liability by $127,000.

If Obama and other liberals believe that “the rich” don’t pay enough taxes, why don’t their actions ever seem to match their words?

Moreover, Obama’s talking point is glaringly dishonest, since the “millionaires and billionaires” population he claims to target actually includes families earning $250,000 or individuals earning $200,000. Shouldn’t the man who raised deficits into the trillion-dollar stratosphere possess a clearer concept of numerical definitions?

Additionally, many of “the rich” Obama and liberals continue to scapegoat are actually small businesses that create most new jobs in America. As the nation’s economy continues to struggle, if small businesses are forced to pay even more to the federal government they’ll by definition have less to invest or hire.

Another metric to consider: In 1980, the top income tax rate was 70%. The top rate is now half that, at 35%, yet the portion of the nation’s income taxes paid by the top 1% has more than doubled from 19% to 38%.

In fact, that 38% portion of income taxes paid by the top 1% is nearly double its 20% share of the nation’s income. Similarly, the top 5% earned 35% of the nation’s income for the most recent year available, but paid 59% of the nation’s total income taxes (up from 37% in 1980). That means the top 5% pay more in taxes than the entire remaining 95% of taxpayers combined. For its part, the top 10% earned 46% of the nation’s income but paid 70% of income taxes (up from 49% in 1980), while the top 25% earned 67% of the nation’s income but shouldered 86% of the nation’s income taxes (up from 73% in 1980).

Simply put, the rich pay a higher portion of the nation’s income taxes today than ever. And now that 51% of American households pay no income tax at all, we face the ominous tipping point decline envisioned above.

“Soak the rich” may sound appealing as a short-term electoral slogan, but it’s a path to national decay. Fortunately, Congressman Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin) and other conservatives offer greater long-term prosperity via lower tax rates and a broader base. The time for choosing is nearly upon us, America.



Truth vs. Ideology

Frustrating! That's the appropriate word for what is happening in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid. Besides the precision of the Navy SEALs, the big story to emerge from the action is that coerced interrogation gave the CIA vital information used to track bin Laden to his lair. Current CIA Chief Leon Panetta has confirmed that.

Of course, that exposition is embarrassing to the left, including President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton, who are all on record as saying coerced interrogation does not work. Apparently, they were wrong in a big way.

The nails-on-the-blackboard part of this story is that some liberal pundits are trying to deny the undeniable. The spin they are using is that a "mosaic" of intelligence led the CIA to bin Laden. It was not just waterboarding or whatever. To paraphrase Panetta: We'll never know if we could have gotten the same intel without the water.

That's true, but who cares? It is the duty of the federal government to protect Americans from harm. And that's what the Bush administration did when it signed off on coercive questioning.

The record shows that just three men were waterboarded: Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Rahim al-Nashiri, all al-Qaida big shots. Under duress, KSM gave up vital information that crippled his terror group and ultimately led U.S. authorities to watch bin Laden's top Pakistani courier. Eventually, that man led the CIA to the compound outside Islamabad.

But still, the far left won't budge. No matter what the facts are about the effectiveness of coerced interrogation, they will deny them. Infuriating.

The sane policy going forward is this: The president and only the president should have the power to order coerced interrogation, including waterboarding, if national security is endangered or American lives are on the line. One man makes the decision, and his orders are carried out by an elite intelligence team answerable directly to him.

So if Obama doesn't want to order waterboarding, fine. That's on him. But the elected leader of the nation should have the power to make the decision.

It is ironic that many on the far left openly celebrated the death of bin Laden. So, guys, let me get this straight: It's OK for U.S. forces to shoot a terrorist in the head, but it's not OK to waterboard him if lives are in danger? Good grief.

It is long past time for Americans to reject ideology that endangers human beings. We live in a dangerous world chock full of doomsday weapons. Common sense should dictate how the federal government defines strategies to protect us. How many times have you heard ideologues say that coerced interrogation does not work?

Well, it does. Ask bin Laden. Wait, we can't.



Evidence at bin Laden’s home raises nuclear concerns

Pakistani government links suspected

Intelligence analysts are sifting through phone numbers and email addresses found at Osama bin Laden’s compound to determine potential links to Pakistani government and military officials while U.S. officials and analysts raise concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear materials.

According to three U.S. intelligence officials, the race is on to identify what President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, has called bin Laden’s “support system” inside Pakistan. These sources sought anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.

“My concern now is that we cannot exclude the possibility that officers in the Pakistani military and the intelligence service were helping to harbor or aware of the location of bin Laden,” said Olli Heinonen, who served as the deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 2005 to 2010.

“What is to say they would not help al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to gain access to sensitive nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium and plutonium?”

The U.S. has worried quietly about the infiltration of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and military for years. Those concerns heightened in recent months when the CIA learned that bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was a stone’s throw from Pakistan's military academy.

Politico first reported this week that CIA Director Leon E. Panetta told members of Congress that bin Laden’s clothing had two phone numbers sewn into it at the time of the raid. Those numbers and other contacts found at the compound are key clues in an effort to determine what elements of Pakistan’s national security establishment provided support to bin Laden and al Qaeda.



“No Nation Was Ever Ruined By Trade”

More trade means more jobs

The headline is a quotation from Benjamin Franklin, who added, “Even seemingly the most disadvantageous.” Franklin believed that free trade was good for everybody. In the 21st century lots of Americans and their politicians believe the opposite: Being open to trade allows rapacious corporations to “ship jobs overseas.”

In the 2010 mid-term elections, the Democratic National Committee rolled out a television ad campaign accusing various Republican candidates of favoring policies that shipped jobs overseas. More recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared, “I think we should do a lot more to stop shipping jobs overseas.” In the meantime, the Doha Round of international trade negotiations has been on the brink of collapse for a while, sparking fears the freer trade system painstakingly built over the last 50 years might begin to unravel.

A new study, Trade and Unemployment: What Do the Data Say?, by three European economists published in the journal, European Economic Review in March, forthrightly asks the question: Does exposure to international trade create or destroy jobs? Their answer strongly backs the observation made by Franklin more than 230 years ago. “A 10 percent increase in total trade openness reduces aggregate unemployment by about three quarters of one percentage point,” they conclude. To be a bit more precise, they find, “A 10 percentage point increase lowers the equilibrium rate of unemployment by about 0.76 percentage points.” Trade creates jobs.

In general, the higher a country’s volume of international trade, the higher is its degree of openness. Trade openness is generally measured by adding together the value of both exports and imports and dividing that sum by total gross domestic product (GDP). Crudely, let’s say an economy imports $10 billion annually and exports $10 billion annually and has a total GDP of $100 billion. That would yield a trade openness index figure of 20 percent. Another country with a GDP of $100 billion exports $15 billion and imports $15 billion, yielding a trade openness index of 30 percent.

Roughly speaking, U.S. GDP was $15 trillion in 2010, and exports and imports combined totaled just over $4 trillion, yielding a trade openness index figure of 27 percent. Without going into detail, the European economists derive a real trade openness index by taking differing price levels among countries into account.

The researchers then compare the relative trade openness of 20 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with their unemployment rates over time. They take into account other factors such as union membership, national employment protection policies, tax rates on wages, and the generosity of unemployment insurance.

The researchers report that generous unemployment benefits correlate slightly with higher unemployment, suggesting that workers have less incentive to look hard for work. Also, high unemployment correlates with the size of the tax wedge, that is, the difference between what employees take home in earnings and what it costs to employ them. Basically, this means the higher the income tax rate, the higher the level of unemployment.

The researchers go on to analyze the effect of freer trade on a selection of 62 developing countries. They take into account features like the size of the black market economy and whether a country is landlocked or not. Again, they find that openness to trade boosts employment, concluding that “the effect of a 10 percentage point increase in openness lowers unemployment by about 1 percentage point.”

So why does free trade create more jobs? The study suggests that freer trade boosts overall productivity, enabling companies to hire more workers. Trade enhances competition which weeds out inefficient firms and allows more productive ones to expand. As the average efficiency of firms in a country increases, they can earn more revenues by boosting production. And that leads to hiring additional workers.

To get some idea of how much opening international trade further would benefit people, economists at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., calculate that concluding the Doha Round of free trade negotiations could boost global GDP between $165 billion and $283 billion per year.

So why do people, especially politicians, believe the opposite? The 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat explained this sort of disheartening policy myopia his brilliant essay, “What is Seen and What is Not Seen.” People tend to focus on the seen consequences of a policy, in this case, competition from trade eliminating some jobs at relatively inefficient companies.

But they miss the unseen benefits, such as new jobs that result from increased average productivity. Naturally, the people who lose their jobs are worried and angry, so they call their member of Congress to complain about “unfair” trade. Fearing that they may lose their jobs, the denizens of Capitol Hill seek to enact legislation to block imports or mandate “Buy American” to protect their complaining constituents against “unfair” trade. In politics, as in much of life, the squeaky wheels get oiled.

The seen result of this political dynamic is that a few workers get to keep their jobs while the unseen outcome is that more people are out of work than would otherwise have been. In addition, protectionist legislation makes other Americans worse off by forcing them to spend more because they are denied access to cheaper and better exports. Our politicians get it backwards: Trade creates jobs for Americans and everyone else.


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

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


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


7 May, 2011

A very "incorrect" article

The article below says what many academic psychometricans have been saying for a long time -- that brain size is related to IQ and that IQ varies with climate, with people from Northern climes being smarter than people from the tropics.

Do the pinheads of East Africa and the markedly lower IQ of Africans generally spring to mind in that connection? They should, because that is the strongest evidence for the thesis concerned.

But nobody is supposed to mention that in respectable circles. So how come it got mentioned in a major scientific communication medium? It got a mention because of a quite absurd stratagem. The authors hung their story on the hook of global warming. Global warming will make us dumber, you see.

The fact that evolution moves at a pace that makes glaciers look fast means that any such effect of global warming would take maybe hundreds of thousands of years to manifest itself. But that was no bother, apparently.

The fact that people of European and British origin move to warmer climates without any known loss of intelligence is also overlooked. I come from a population of British origin that has lived in the tropics for generations (in N. Queensland, Australia) and I would back their intelligence against that of any other British-origin population

The study, to be published by Jessica Ash, a graduate student in psychology, and professor of evolutionary psychology Gordon G. Gallup Jr. in the spring edition of Human Nature (Vol. 18, Issue 2, 2007: Transaction Publishers), suggests that human cranial capacity as an indicator of brain size grew dramatically during our evolution, and that variations in global temperature as well as progressive shifts toward global cooling account for as much as 50 percent of the variation in cranial capacity. The research utilized several measures of paleotemperatures and a sample of 109 fossilized hominid skulls collected over the past 2 million years.

In addition to the impact of global cooling, "By paying close attention to the geographic origin of each of the fossilized skulls," said Gallup, "it became clear that seasonal variation in climate may also have been an important selective force behind the evolution of human cranial capacity. Specifically, we found that as the distance from the equator increased, north or south, so did brain size."

The authors suggest that a key environmental trigger to the evolution of larger brains was the need to devise ways to keep warm and manage the fluctuations in food availability that resulted from cold weather.

In species other than humans, problems posed by cooler climates were solved by adaptations such as hibernation and migration, and by metabolic adaptations including fur and the development of fat deposits. During human evolution, however, the authors surmise that solutions to the problems of cold weather and a scarce food supply featured detailed and progressively more refined cognitive and intellectual strategies, such as the development of cooperative hunting techniques and more sophisticated tools and weapons. Increased brain capacity also brought with it the use of fire as a means to keep warm and cook, adaptations in clothing and shelter, and the development of more refined social skills.

Gallup and Ash suggest that while our understanding of brain evolution remains incomplete, the study provides evidence of the role of climate and migration away from the equator as selective forces in promoting human intelligence, and that the recent trend toward global warming may be reversing a trend that led to brain expansion in humans.



More bumptious psychologizing from the Left

They JUST KNOW what the truth is so people who disagree with them must be "denialists". Lumping together different belief systems the way it is done below can only spring from arrogance. Scientific caution would treat each belief as "sui generis" (of its own kind) until it could be shown that each is false.

Given the rapid and substantial changes in the account coming from the White House about the bin Laden raid, skepticism about the whole thing is highly reasonable. And that Obama's birth certificate copy could be just another bit of photoshopping would occur to anybody with experience of photoshopping

And there are NO facts at all to support the prophecies of global climate doom. It's just scientists speculating.

So just an excerpt below from the latest Leftist pretence at science. It is just another version of Obama's "bitter clingy" remarks -- a persistent Leftist claim going back at least as far as 1950 to the effect that they are sane and everybody else is deranged

Climate change skeptics, 9/11 truthers and “birthers,” those who deny President Obama’s American citizenship, have provided us with an extensive record of denialism within American culture that is worth studying. Indeed, entire disciplines have been established to understand and explain these behaviors.

Chris Mooney and others have begun to put the pieces together in a way that allows us to formulate communications protocols that effectively counteract the drivers of “motivated reasoning.”

However, because the above mentioned examples of motivated cognition arose simultaneously with this field of study, we have lacked the benefit of observing the transmogrification of the denialist mentality as it happens.

We are currently witnessing the de novo formulation of a new denialism in regards to the death of Osama bin Laden. As I was listening to C-SPAN radio, just yesterday, two callers a Democrat and a Republican agreed that bin Laden was not dead and the entire hullabaloo was orchestrated for political gain.

Because we are now armed with at least a superficial understanding of the mechanisms behind this type of thinking, we can ask questions and test hypotheses while observing the development of this particular case of motivated thought.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll call them “deathers.” Of particular interest when studying the deathers is what exactly are the competing interests between which they must make a satisfactory choice and what are the ends or goals to which they strive.

One would expect that there are at least two competing interests in the minds of the deathers. The first could be a desire to believe that an existing threat, that of a terrorist mastermind, has been eliminated. The second interest appears to be a desire to find fault with President Obama, regardless of the benefits that might come from his service.

According to Dan Kahan, one of the thought leaders in this field, this all happens subconsciously. Therefore, the deather must undergo a series of mental operations that lead him to choose the latter in order to satisfy a desired endpoint.

So, how do we convince the deathers that Osama bin Laden is actually dead? I will venture to suggest that we must resolve the conflict between the deather’s two competing interests, the desire for the removal of a threat vs. finding fault with Obama, while allowing the deather to achieve his desired outcome (let’s say that he can still be a loyal Republican). This must be done without forcing him to accept that which causes him conflict (in this case that President Obama was responsible for a positive outcome).


‘Happiness gene’ in brain determines basic levels of contentment

This is quite a strong piece of research. The strong influence of genetics on happiness was known but to pick out one of the actual genes involved is a good advance. Sadly, the measure of happiness used was unsophisticated. A more comprehensive and reliable measure of happiness could well show the gene as even more influential than the researchers below calculate.

The political importance of the finding goes back to several findings in recent years that money doesn't make you happy. Leftists have reasoned from that that they are therefore doing you no harm by taking more of your money in tax.

But in a typically incurious Leftist way, they fail to ask WHY money doesn't generally make you happy. And a large part of the answer is the finding reiterated below: That happiness is a stable, inborn personality trait that varies little no matter WHAT happens to you. In fact, even people who have become paraplegic or quadriplegic through some unfortunate accident usually regain their previous level of happiness after a couple of years

So by Leftist reasoning, they would do us no harm by making us all paraplegics. In other words, the invariability of happiness makes it an inappropriate criterion by which to judge public policy. What people WANT is a far more justifiable and ascertainable criterion

And in any case we have to ask where Leftists get the right to make our decisions for us? It is far more justifiable and humane to say that each person should as far as possible make his own decisions for himself. But Leftist arrogance has no time for that of course. The individual hardly matters to them at all. They know better. They seem to think that their sh*t doesn't stink.

I examine the earlier research and writing in this field at more length here. The final version of the scientific journal article presently being disussed is supposed to be available here but does not yet appear to be online. I therefore follow the popular summary below with the abstract from a working version of the paper. An alternative summary of the paper can be found here

The study of more than 2,500 Americans revealed two variants of a gene that influenced how satisfied – or dissatisfied – people were with their lot. Those born with two long versions of the gene (one is passed down from each parent) were more likely to declare themselves "very satisfied" with life than those who inherited two short versions.

The study marks a tentative step towards explaining the mystery of why some people seem naturally happier than others. "This gives us more insight into the biological mechanisms that influence life satisfaction," said Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. "If you're feeling down, you can say it's your biology telling you life is less rosy that it is," he added.

A greater understanding of happiness genes might in future allow would-be parents to create a child who will be more satisfied with their life.

Happiness is only partly influenced by genetic makeup. Studies in twins suggest that genes account for roughly a third to a half of the variation in happiness between people. It is not yet known how many genes affect how cheerful we are.

De Neve looked at the genetic makeup of 2,574 people selected to be representative of the general population, whose medical histories were recorded for the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Among the records were answers to a question participants were asked in their early 20s about life satisfaction. In response to the question, "How satisfied are you with your life as a whole", they answered either "very satisfied", "satisfied", "neither satisfied or dissatisfied", "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied".

Writing in the Journal of Human Genetics, De Neve describes how roughly 40% said they were "very satisfied" with life, and among these, 35.4% had two long variants of the gene and only 19.1% had two short versions. Of those who were "dissatisfied" with life, 26.2% had two long variants of the gene, while 20% had two short versions. That indicates a slight over-representation of the long variants in happier people.

The gene, known as 5-HTT, is involved with the transport of serotonin, a feelgood chemical, in the brain. The longer variant leads to more efficient release and recycling of the neurotransmitter....

A 2009 study by Elaine Fox at the University of Essex suggested that people who carried long versions of the 5-HTT gene had a greater tendency to focus on the positives in life. The "bright side" version of the gene might bolster people's resilience to stressful events, and protect against anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

Ed Diener, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of the 2008 book, Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, said: "We are just beginning to understand the actual genetics of happiness, and how genes might influence brain hormones and other physiology that influence our well-being.

"This exciting work offers insights that one day may help us counter disorders such as depression. Parents one day might have the choice of whether to choose genes that will create a child who is more satisfied with his or her life."

Genes, Economics, and Happiness

By Jan-Emmanuel De Neve et al.


A major finding from research into the sources of subjective well-being is that individuals exhibit a "baseline" level of happiness. We explore the influence of genetic variation by employing a twin design and genetic association study.

We first show that about 33% of the variation in happiness is explained by genes. Next, using two independent data sources, we present evidence that individuals with a transcriptionally more efficient version of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction.

These results are the first to identify a specific gene that is associated with happiness and suggest that behavioral models benefit from integrating genetic variation.



Nationalism as a Political Religion

Since I am being all academic today, I will say just a few words about an article titled: "Nationalism as a Political Religion: Review-Essay on Emilio Gentile by Richard A. Koenigsberg.

What the reviewer says is all well and good but he fails to make what is generally held to be an important distinction: The distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is a normal human feeling which would appear to originate in part from our tribal past. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a creed rather than a feeling that may build on patriotism but goes far beyond it. The best known example of nationalism is of course Hitler's Nazi creed and Hitler's socialism gives us the clue we need to see what nationalism really is. It is a Leftist perversion of patriotism, created to further the usual Leftist search for power.

So the authors above are right to see nationalism as a religion, just as it is right to see Leftism generally as a religion. See Dennis Prager (among others) on that.


My comments above might seem a bit wrong-headed in view of the fact that Leftists these days tend to be ANTI-patriotic. That is a recent development however. We all know the famous quote from Pericles by JFK: "Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country". And JFK was a DEMOCRAT president. And the very popular patriotic song "This Land Is Your Land" was written by Woody Guthrie, a Communist.

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

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


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


6 May, 2011

Vindication: Three Controversial Bush Policies Help Take Down bin Laden

The mission was undeniably carried out on Obama’s watch, but evidence continues to mount that it could not have occurred without crucial intelligence gleaned through policies enacted by the Bush administration after September 11, 2001. Specifically, Osama bin Laden was found because the United States military exploited actionable intelligence extracted by subjecting terrorists to enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) in secret CIA prisons, by questioning enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, and by capturing a top al Qaeda source in Iraq.

As long as some liberals remain intent on keeping political score, it must be pointed out that all three sources of these indispensible data points were direct or indirect results of Bush policies – EITs, Gitmo, and the Iraq war – that much of the American Left, including Barack Obama, fought tooth and nail.

We now know the critical key to unlocking the frustrating secret of bin Laden’s whereabouts was identifying and tracking one of his must trusted couriers and confidants. US intelligence and military officials learned of his existence and pseudonym in the years after 9/11 from a terrorist detained at Guantanamo Bay, Muhammad Mani al-Qahtani. Equipped with this information, interrogators were able to wring supplemental information from two high-value prisoners being held at the time in black site CIA prisons: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 plot, and his radical colleague, Abu Faraj al-Libi. This single piece of information, after years of scrutiny and investigation, would be bin Laden’s undoing.

When the American media revealed that the CIA was operating secret prisons during the Bush administration, the Left professed shock and indignation. They spent years demonizing and persecuting American intelligence operatives for engaging in “torture,” insisting that harsh interrogation techniques were an affront to “our values,” and – besides – they didn’t even work. Multiple public opinion polls taken over the last decade have shown, despite the Left’s protestations, the American people aren’t scandalized. US voters overwhelmingly support the limited use of harsh questioning tactics to prevent terrorist attacks on US soil – even when the loaded term “torture” is included in the question.

One such technique is waterboarding, a process employed against exactly three terrorists, and halted altogether in 2003. Waterboarding is widely acknowledged to have broken KSM, who had shown himself to be a hardened and skilled resistor of traditional interrogation methods. Information extracted from KSM disrupted active terror plots, saved innocent lives, and led to the capture or killing of other al Qaeda leaders.

In other words, waterboarding KSM and others may or may not have produced direct information about the identity bin Laden’s courier, but the use of coercive interrogation methods were instrumental in gathering additional strands of intelligence from certain detainees. That waterboarding cracked KSM’s resistance cannot be ignored in this context.

But the mere knowledge that an unidentified bin Laden lackey was roaming the planet under an assumed name was not nearly enough to nail him down or monitor his communication. That imperative piece of the puzzle fell into place after 2004, when the US captured a terrorist operative named Hassan Ghul. Ghul was a key member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, an entity whose very existence many liberals were reluctant to even acknowledge, based on a zealous adherence to the faulty premise that the Iraq war was untethered to our fight against al Qaeda. Ghul was detained in Iraq and shipped off to Pakistan for intense CIA questioning; he eventually provided the true name of bin Laden’s elusive courier: Sheik Abu Ahmed, a.k.a. Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Officials have described this morsel of intelligence as the “linchpin” of the bin Laden mission. US spies monitored al-Kuwaiti for several years. A lone phone call in 2010 eventually led them to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad.

This web of intelligence – as sketchy, painstaking, and complex as it may be – is extraordinary: Al-Kuwaiti’s existence was flagged by at least one Guantanamo Bay detainee, his role and pseudonym were confirmed by KSM and al-Libi, and his true identity was spilled by an Al Qaeda terrorist operating in Iraq.



Obama's Scandalous War Against Domestic Oil

Do you remember the terrible things the left was saying about President George W. Bush when gas prices soared under his watch? Yet President Obama, whose policies and actions are actually contributing to rocketing gas prices today, gets the usual mainstream media pass.

Is it that the liberal media exempt Obama from accountability because they're on his team in general? Is it because they think he's blameless in the equation even though they sprang to the unfounded conclusion that Bush was culpable? Or could it be that they aren't critical because they share his bias against conventional energy and believe the pain caused by his policies is necessary to move us toward alternative energy sources?

During Bush's term, gas prices went down 9 percent, adjusted for inflation. Yet, preposterously, he was excoriated for allegedly colluding with "big oil" to drive up prices. When prices spiked later in his term, he took proactive steps to increase our supply and reduce prices, and they worked. But Obama has taken action to impede conventional energy sources and shove us into alternative ones. Even so, liberals ignore any possible causal links.

Obama told us he would bankrupt the coal industry. He's pushing high-speed rail down our throats despite the lack of public demand for it and our inability to finance it. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the administration intended to coerce us out of our cars. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

In view of exploding gas prices, why aren't these statements seen as scandalous? Where are the calls for investigations?

Obama demeans "big oil," pushes alternative energy every time he gets a chance and does everything in his power to suppress domestic oil production, then looks us in the face and tells us he's increasing domestic production -- kind of like how he says his budget won't add a penny to the national debt. The audacity is of Hollywood magnitude, and so is the lack of scrutiny that enables it.

Behind the smoke and mirrors of his rhetoric, it's hard not to conclude that Obama's on a mission to suppress or shut down the existing oil infrastructure in the United States in pursuit of his stated alternative priorities.

The Heritage Foundation's Rory Cooper reports that, as of February 2011, at least 103 permits were awaiting review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. And since February, the administration has issued on average only 1.3 permits a month, a 78 percent reduction in the monthly average according to the latest Gulf Permit Index.

Obama even reversed an earlier decision to open access to coastal waters for exploration, placing a seven-year ban on drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Oil production in the Gulf is expected to drop by 220 thousand barrels per day in 2011, which is going to cost the U.S. some $1.35 billion in revenues in 2011.

Not only are we losing oil production and revenues, the administration's actions are destroying jobs in the oil industry and elsewhere. Many companies are going out of business. The Heritage Foundation reports that Seahawk Drilling, of Houston, laid off 632 employees before recently filing for bankruptcy as a direct result of Obama's moratorium and subsequent "permitorium." Seahawk owned and operated 20 shallow-water rigs in the Gulf. Randall Stilley, president and CEO of Seahawk, said, "As an American, you never want to look at your own government and say they're hurting you personally, they're hurting your business and they're doing it in a way that's irresponsible. I'm not very proud of our government right now and the way they handled this."

Cooper explains that these crippling policies are having a negative rippling effect throughout the economy. Many vendors, suppliers, restaurants and retailers are losing revenues or going out of business. More than 30 deepwater rigs, which each employ around 200 people, have moved from the Gulf to other markets. While the industry is on "life support," Obama is at war with it, brazenly spending billions to support foreign oil and jobs in Brazil.

Making matters worse, the administration and congressional Democrats are considering legislation that would further damage energy businesses by significantly increasing taxes on domestic oil and gas concerns. And just in the past few days, we've been reading that the administration is floating a plan to tax cars by the mile.

Can you imagine the insanity and insensitivity of raising taxes on this ailing industry and its consumers (drivers) at a time when both need all the relief they can get?

Obama is no less determined to cram his preferred energy alternatives down Americans' throats than he was to force feed us socialized medicine. Again, where is the outrage?



Obama Economy Will Make You Poor

While Barack Obama spends his time running victory laps around the country over the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the American economy is careening toward a dangerous cliff. Royal Weddings, Obama's multiple birth certificates, and absurd arguments about the NFL lockout dominate the news while daily Americans get poorer.
Obamanomics is a disaster. A greater disaster hasn't been visited on the United States in our economic history because we are taking no substantial steps toward recovery. The real news, which should be screaming from every television and newspaper isn't pro Obama, therefore, it is ignored.

Here are the stories on which we should be focusing. The US dollar has slumped to a record low against major currencies. Since we have devastated our manufacturing base over the last two decades, this will result in Americans paying substantially more for goods on the store shelves in retailers from Walmart to Costco.

The outlook for the recovery has diminished to almost zero. If you subtract the impact of inflation, many economists believe we are actually still in a recession. When I talk to my friends and neighbors outside of Washington DC, we unanimously agree we are still in recession.

Here are some statistics which will help you understand the pain. More Americans are on food stamps today than at any other time in history. That's right-the most in history. The number of persons on food stamps is 44.2 million according a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Those not on food stamps feel a different pain when they buy groceries. We see unbelievably high prices at the grocery store. The cost of living in the U.S. rose at its fastest pace since December 2009 in the 12 months ended in March. Wheat, meat, vegetables and other grains are all surging in price. But if you don't have a job, it is hard to shop for groceries.

Bloomberg reported this week, "Applications for jobless benefits jumped by 43,000 to 474,000 in the week ended April 30, the most since August, Labor Department figures showed today." This is a serious darkening in the employment clouds just as the recovery was supposed to be broadening.

The unprecedented easy money policies from the Federal Reserve haven't helped the real economy. Sure, they did pump enough billions of dollars into Wall Street Banks and Government Agencies to make sure the leather loafer wearing crowds in New York City and Washington DC are still swimming in cash. But for the majority of Americans, they have felt only the pain of higher food and energy prices from the misallocation of dollars.

This week, as we fueled a rental car near the San Diego airport, we paid fifteen dollars for three gallons of gasoline. At these prices, Americans are spending as much as $100 a week just to fuel the car to commute to work. Why hasn't the president cleared the decks to deal with this energy crisis? It is a crisis when it costs as much to commute to work as you make in take home pay. Many Americans are already at this tipping point. Obama mutters on about windmills and electric cars. We need off shore drilling and increased production to ease this pain.

At least open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring down prices in the short term.

While the nation shudders under unmanageable regulatory and monetary burdens, Obama is oblivious. Obama is flying from city to city collecting cash for his re-election drive. And don't let us forget he is spending over a hundred thousand dollars to a teleprompter coach.

And we thought standing and delivering a prepared text in front of a teleprompter was a skill he had already mastered. How about a coach on how to manage the American economy? Obama's priorities are obvious, and they aren't on helping everyday Americans, but his buddies and himself.



Walmart Benefits Everyone

When a store opens, there is an immediate need for hundreds of jobs. There are also many more jobs created because of all the businesses that try to locate near the Walmart development. Simply put, it is easy to imagine over a thousand jobs being created in a community where Walmart locates itself. Even though mom-and-pop type shops might be forced to close because they couldn’t compete, everyone still wins. The people that lost their job at the mom-and-pop operation can simply try to work for Walmart or the plethora of businesses that open around it.

Progressives bemoan Walmart because they see it as a greedy capitalist industrialist that preys on the poor and exploits them. Quite the opposite is the truth. Indeed many people of lesser means are drawn to Walmart exactly because of the lower prices, and as I mentioned earlier, that can only benefit them. They are able to save their few precious dollars. Can anything be wrong with that?

I asked the group Respect D.C., an organization that opposes the development of Walmart in Washington D.C., why they thought Walmart was bad for a community where unemployment hangs around 9.5 percent. They tweeted back with five responses to that question, (which you can read by clicking 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). One response from them did stand out though, and it was their claim that Walmart pays a “slave” wage.

Such a silly argument has long been shouted at Walmart. Of course, it isn’t true. A slave’s wage is $0, and clearly the employees of Walmart make much more than that. As George Mason University economics professor Dr. Don Boudreaux puts it, “the plausibility of slaves producing manufactured goods for sale by Wal-Mart is just as implausible as the wackiest alien-abduction allegation.”

Walmart will always be under attack from progressives that worry that anything that makes a profit must somehow be up to no good at the expense of defenseless humans who know nothing of the con that is being pulled on them. But it appears that the con is completely created by the progressive worrywarts who conjure up notions of slavery when they have no evidence to back up such claims.

Fortunately for Walmart and consumers all over the world, we are able to enjoy low prices and dollars saved. This benefits each and every consumer, each and every community, and countless other businesses worldwide. It is because of businesses like Walmart that we enjoy the relatively high amount of wealth that we have in America. So you better not fall for the slick arguments from groups like Respect D.C. and other community organizers, because the benefits that we all reap from Walmart’s success could quickly disappear.


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

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


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


5 May, 2011

The War on WalMart—D.C. labor bosses and community organizers dislike the big jobs provider

No one needs to tell you how big an issue unemployment is in America, and especially in Washington, D.C. As of March 2011, the District of Columbia posted an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.

Knowing that the unemployment rate is that high might surprise you when you learn that D.C. politicians, labor unions, and community organizers are trying everything they can to block one of the largest job providers and retailers in the world from coming to Washington. These supposed "leaders" want to prevent Walmart from setting up shop, which would prevent the creation of hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs for D.C. residents.

The grocery industry is one of the few remaining industries where labor unions thrive. While most sectors are seeing a decline in unions, grocery stores have remained a powerhouse for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). A threat to this labor-organizing stronghold is Walmart, a company that is not unionized and has taken drastic measures to prevent their shops from falling under the labor union's heavy hand.

Because Walmart is able to price their products lower than their competitors, they are able to force their competitors to change business practices or close-up altogether, which has been a blow to the grocery store labor unions. The UFCW is not concerned about whether or not people have jobs in a city where unemployment is hovering around double digits, rather, they are concerned that they are able to corner the market on the grocery stores to keep their political power intact.



Public servants – more money, less accountability

Union arguments in favor of their members' lush pensions are falling by the wayside as the public examines the facts. For instance, union officials argue that the average public-sector pension benefit in California is "only" $30,000 a year, while neglecting to mention that the number, according to the state's watchdog Little Hoover Commission, rises to $66,000 a year for recent retirees – a reflection of the widespread pension boosting of the past decade.

Virtually no one in the workaday private sector gets that level of guaranteed benefit, and the number of retired government employees grabbing $100,000 a year is growing by at least 40 percent a year. No wonder the public is angry. But the public is angry at more than the unsustainable pension debt and the unfair imbalance between the amounts received in the public vs. the private sector. People are getting angry at the abuses by public employees and at the lack of accountability even when miscreants are caught red-handed.

The Sacramento Bee reported recently on state employees who walk away at retirement with as much as $800,000 in unused sick time – a clear violation of the rules. Now the newspaper is reporting that a "top NATO general who formerly led the California National Guard enhanced his salary during his state tenure by collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in dual pay." Maj. Gen. William Wade padded his pay by about $155,000 – "beyond the legal limits" as the Bee put it.

There are hasty legislative proposals to stop such greedy enrichments in the future, but there's no apparent push to put Wade – since promoted to a top NATO position in Italy – where he belongs, in the hoosegow. Somehow, when government officials commit offenses we get euphemisms about conduct being beyond legal limits and improper behavior.

Try to find any effort to deal with massive disability fraud that goes on at police and fire stations, as majorities of public safety union members discover a back injury or knee injury just in time to protect half their retirement pay from taxes.

Union officials such as the Orange County Employees Association's Nick Berardino argue that the public is demonizing public employees. In reality, the public is waking up to the scams perpetrated on us for years. A statewide union official, Art Pulaski, claims that the public is simply envious of public employees. There's some truth to that – and why not be envious when the people who are supposed to work for us live far better than most of us, courtesy of our tax dollars? – but what these union leaders miss is the brewing anger over the accountability issue.

The private sector doesn't work perfectly. No human endeavor does. But in my lifetime there, I have never seen managers cover up for and defend miscreants. If you don't produce enough to justify your salary, you are gone. If you commit crimes or do things "beyond the legal limits," corporate managers are all too happy to turn the case over to the authorities. There is too much downside in keeping around lazy, misbehaving and lawbreaking employees. It can put you out of business or can prompt prosecutors to look for fraud and other crimes.

In government, officials typically circle the wagons. The unions stand up to protect the worst of the worst. The disciplinary rules are so cumbersome that it's generally not worth trying to do anything about misbehavior. That's why the public schools have "rubber rooms" – places where allegedly bad teachers wile away the years receiving full pay and benefits as their cases are adjudicated at a glacial pace. That's why police officers accused of wrongdoing and misjudgment – even misjudgments that lead to unjustified killings and violations of individual rights – end up with months of paid leave (i.e., additional vacation time), before eventually being returned to the streets after a closed process that tilts heavily in the officers' favor.

Notice how only a handful of sleeping air traffic controllers – union members who endangered lives by neglecting their responsibilities – received suspensions and other minor punishments. There's rarely any accountability. The California Supreme Court ruled recently in a case involving two Orange County social workers who were found by a jury to have filed false reports and held back evidence so that they could unjustly take away a woman's two children. This is almost hard to fathom, but I've reported on Child Protective Services and find it easy to believe in the context of my research. Social workers have immense power and few checks and balances, and some of these workers are on power trips – "Obey or we take your kids!"

In this case, the state's highest court upheld a verdict of nearly $5 million plus millions more in legal fees and noted that this was no isolated incident. So what happens to these people who were admonished by the courts and who put a family through more than six years of living hell?

Marcie Vreeken and Helen Dwojak were not even disciplined. As the Register's Kimberly Edds reported, Dwojak retired in 2006, and Vreeken was promoted. Get this – Vreeken now trains other social workers. Let's hope it doesn't include the class, "Creative methods in snatching people's kids."

Orange County officials actually argued that social workers should be afforded immunity, even for wrongdoing. I recall a bill that would have done the same thing for firefighters after a D.A. had the audacity to try to prosecute a firefighter for alleged misbehavior that killed someone.

Do we really want to provide powerful government agents with full immunity even when they break the law and misuse their power? Isn't that situation the opposite of what our nation's founders had in mind? It's in totalitarian nations where officials are untouchable, and lowly citizens had better obey or else.

My prediction is that the public employee issue is not going away – not simply because the pension debts are depleting budgets, but because we are only scratching the surface of the accountability issue, which touches on the foundation of what we are as a society. It's about time that we bring on this necessary debate.



Where are the doctors going to come from?

The United States already faces a growing physician shortage. As our population ages, we require more and more intensive health care. At the same time, enrollment in medical schools has been essentially flat, meaning we are not producing new physicians at anywhere near the rate we need to. In fact, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, we face a shortfall of more than 150,000 doctors over the next 15 years.

And it could get a whole lot worse. The health reform bill signed into law last year is expected to significantly increase the number of Americans with health insurance or participating in the Medicaid program. Meanwhile, an aging population will increase participation in Medicare. This means a greater demand for physician services.

Promising universal health coverage is easy. But what does universal coverage mean if you can't actually see a doctor?
But at the same, the bill may drive physicians out of practice.

Existing government programs already reimburse physicians at rates that are often less than the actual cost of treating a patient. Estimates suggest that on average physicians are reimbursed at roughly 78% of costs under Medicare, and just 70% of costs under Medicaid. Physicians must either make up for this shortfall by shifting costs to those patients with insurance — meaning those of us with insurance pay more — or treat patients at a loss.

As a result, more and more physicians are choosing to opt-out of the system altogether. Roughly 13% of physicians will not accept Medicare patients today. Another 17% limit the number of Medicare patients they will see, a figure that rises to 31% among primary care physicians. The story is even worse in Medicaid, where as many as a third of doctors will not participate in the program.

Traditionally, most doctors have been willing to take some Medicare patients either out of altruism or as a "loss leader," to reach other family members outside the Medicare program. Others try to get around Medicare's low reimbursement rates by unbundling services or providing care not covered through the program. (Nearly 85% of seniors carry supplemental policies to cover these additional services). With many office and equipment costs fixed, even a low reimbursement patient may be better than no patient at all for some doctors. This is even more true for hospitals where Medicare patients may account for the majority of people they serve. And doctors can take some comfort in the fact that Medicare is pretty much guaranteed to pay and pay promptly. The same is not always true of private insurance.

But if reimbursements fall much more, the balance could be tipped. The government's own chief actuary says that reimbursement cuts could mean "reductions in access to care and/or the quality of care." Once the cuts hit hospitals, they too will be in trouble. Medicare's actuaries estimate that 15% of hospitals could close. Inner-city and rural hospitals would be hardest hit.

Nor is the pressure on reimbursement rates likely to be felt solely in government programs. The health care law contains a number of new regulations that are already driving up insurance premiums. The government is responding by cajoling and threatening insurers. If insurers find their ability to pass on cost increases limited, they too may begin to cut costs by cutting reimbursements.

For a lot of older physicians, retirement in Florida may begin to look like a very good option. Roughly 40% of doctors are age 55 or over. Are they really going to want to stick it out for a few more years if all they have to look forward to is more red tape (both government and insurance company) for less money? Those that remain are increasingly likely to join "concierge practices," limiting the number of patients they see and refusing both government and private insurance.

And, at the same time, fewer young people are likely to decide that medicine is a good career. Remember, the average medical school graduate begins their career with more than $295,000 in debt.

A 2010 IBD/TPP Poll found that 45% of doctors would at least consider leaving their practices or taking early retirement as a result of the new health care law. And, an online survey by Sermo.com, a sort of Facebook for physicians, found that 26% of physicians in solo practices were considering closing. Of course, not every doctor who told these polls that he or she would consider leaving the field will actually do so. But if even a small portion depart, our access to medical care will suffer.

In fact, we have already seen the start of this process in Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney's health care reforms were nearly identical to President Obama's. Romney's reforms increased the demand for health care but did nothing to expand the supply of physicians. In fact, by cracking down on insurance premiums, Massachusetts pushed insurers to reduce their payments to providers, making it less worthwhile for doctors to expand their practices. As a result, the average wait to get an appointment with a doctor grew from 33 days to over 55 days.

Promising universal health coverage is easy. But what does universal coverage mean if you can't actually see a doctor?




Leftist mourns the death of bin Laden: "And the killing of bin Laden, who has absolutely no operational role in al-Qaida—that’s clear—he’s kind of a spiritual mentor, a kind of guide … he functions in many of the ways that Hitler functioned for the Nazi Party. We were just talking with Warren [Beatty] about [Ian] Kershaw’s great biography of Hitler, which I read a few months ago, where you hold up a particular ideological ideal and strive for it. That was bin Laden’s role. But all actual acts of terror, which he may have signed off on, he no way planned."

Philosophy and politics: "Many political philosophers overestimate the importance of abstract principles for the design of institutions. Most issues of the day cannot be resolved by a sole appeal to basic principles. Whether we talk about healthcare, the economy, poverty alleviation, crime control, and even foreign policy, philosophical principles at best underdetermine results, and at worst are irrelevant. Yet many philosophers think that if they can just make the right conceptual distinctions and identify the right political principles they can select the best institutions, laws, and policies."

The NLRB overreaches — once again: "The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has gone lawsuit crazy. With the U.S. House of Representatives now under Republican control, the Board is now a key vehicle that the Obama administration is using to push policies favorable to its Big Labor allies. And it seems willing to stretch the law beyond recognition. Now the NLRB is trying to tell companies where to locate factories and dictate to states how they may amend their constitutions."

A tale of two situations: "Once upon a time selling a chicken was fraught with few if any legal implications. Remodeling a shed was equally simple from a regulatory standpoint. Today, however, we live in more enlightened times. Protected from our wayward desires by an empowered bureaucracy, we can rest easier knowing that decisions like what we eat and where we build is being carefully managed by authorities."

Free trade agreements don’t kill jobs: "Trade is going to be a hot issue this summer. Pending agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea might finally pass. Opponents of liberalization are already on the attack. My colleague Jacque Otto already covered the creative destruction defense of trade today. Over at the Daily Caller, I look at employment data and find out that the labor force has grown by 23 million people since NAFTA passed. Doesn’t sound like a job-killer, does 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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


4 May, 2011

The best way to deal with evil is to pulverise it, says law professor

A professor who believes that evil exists! Australian moralist, Professor Mirko Bagaric, comments below on the demise of bin Laden. Bagaric is responding in part to the carping legalism that we hear from the likes of prominent Leftist lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, also an Australian but best known in Britain

FROM Canberra to Washington and even some parts of the Middle East, the champagne corks are popping after the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Killing bin Laden at any cost has an important subtext - one which has the capacity to teach us lessons about the moral fog within, which we live and the rationality-free zone that occupies much of mainstream moral discourse.

The most illuminating aspect of the targeting of bin Laden is that it has near-universal support, despite it being an egregious breach of international law and dozens of human rights instruments. What about his right to life?

The presumption of innocence, and right to a fair trial, is also enshrined in international law and most domestic legal systems. Yet, even civil libertarian groups can't bring themselves to shed any concern for Bin Laden.

Civil libertarians are invariably quick to denounce any interferences with rights, especially those that imperil fundamental interests, such as the right to life and liberty.

The "end doesn't justify the means" is the catch-cry they trumpet most loudly in opposition to incursions of fundamental freedoms that are carried out for the common good. Truth is it does.

Failure to realise this is symptomatic of an unremitting deluded self-righteousness that freezes one's moral compass into an inward position, foreclosing consideration of the thing that matters most - the common good.

The reason civil libertarians are cheering with the rest of us, regarding the killing of bin Laden, has zero to do with the application of universal moral principles and everything to do with emotion - particularly their emotions. That their emotional response coincides with the morally correct stance is purely accidental.

The human misery caused by bin Laden has withered the compassion gland of civil libertarians towards him, to a point where they've fallen off their self-erected moral high horse. Hopefully that's where they will stay and join the rest of us in coming to understand that the end does justify the means. Always has. Always will.

No action is intrinsically bad or good. No principle is absolute. Matters are always context-sensitive. The best way to deal with evil is to pulverise it.

The moral and political debate in relation to important societal issues must move on from whether the end justifies the means to what end we, as a species, should be attempting to secure.

In this regard, there can only be one answer. The ultimate end is to maximise net flourishing, where each agent's interests counts equally - even those who do not excite our emotions.

The insurmountable conundrum that civil libertarians need to address is if the end does not justify the means, then what does?

Hopefully the reminder of the misery inflicted by bin Laden will encourage misguided libertarian groups to get out of their delusional comfort zone, and take a few steps up the moral mountain beyond the rights fog in which they are enveloped.

The world would be a better place, if we all applied our energies towards securing the right end instead of obsessing about their self-serving middle-class concerns.


Also read Bagaric on torture


Finally, Justice is Done

Jeff Jacoby

Good people rejoice when evil monsters are cut down, and by the tens of thousands good Americans from one end of the country to the other came pouring into the streets last night to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. From the White House to Ground Zero, from the Boston Common to Miami's Little Havana, the scenes of jubilation were spontaneous, heartfelt, and overflowing with American pride.

"We love death," bin Laden once told an interviewer. "The US loves life. That is the big difference between us."

He was right. But some deaths even an American can love, and the death of the al-Qaeda mastermind who murdered so many innocent victims is one of them. For the bloodbath of 9/11, for the hundreds slaughtered in the Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings, for those who died in the unprovoked attack on the USS Cole -- for all the violent and malignant savageries he committed against men, women, and children who had done nothing to deserve them, bin Laden's day of reckoning was long overdue. But it came at last. Now the archterrorist is in hell, and Americans are rightly overjoyed. "The son of a bitch is dead. Ding dong," exults the New York Post in an editorial. Not the most refined formulation, perhaps, but it certainly captures the nation's satisfaction.

Political life in this country so often plays out as a struggle between those who champion freedom and those who fight for equality. But at moments like this we are reminded that a virtue greater than either of them is justice. In his remarks to the nation last night, President Obama emphasized that the killing of bin Laden meant that the "pursuit of justice" had been rewarded -- that "justice has been done." Knowingly or not, he was echoing the words his predecessor addressed to a joint session of Congress just nine days after the 9/11 attacks. "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies," George W. Bush said on that occasion, "justice will be done." Ten years later, it finally was.

The political significance of bin Laden's death will give pundits, pollsters, and politicos something to chew over for months to come. The successful US operation in Abbottabad -- the Pakistani garrison town where bin Laden was apparently hiding in plain sight -- is a tremendous feather in the president's cap, and already some partisans have rushed to suggest that his re-election next year is now a foregone conclusion.

Much the same was said about George H. W. Bush after the swift American victory in the 1991 Gulf War. Bush's popularity zoomed into the 90-percent stratosphere, and the Democratic Party's strongest potential challengers -- Mario Cuomo, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt -- all decided that the 1992 nomination wasn't worth fighting for. But in the end Bush went down to a crushing defeat, and a little-known Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton became president of the United States. Obama's prospects are brighter today than they were yesterday, but between now and November 2012, anything can happen.

One of the great ironies of Barack Obama's presidency is the extent to which he has embraced and benefited from national security policies and priorities he sharply rejected as a candidate. The killing of bin Laden only deepens that irony. He was hunted down, we now know, with the help of intelligence acquired at Guantanamo -- the military prison Obama swore to shutter. He met his demise in a military operation undertaken by the United States on its own and in secret, with no multilateral consultation and no waiting for UN resolutions -- just the sort of "cowboy" unilateralism the Obama campaign opposed. What candidates say when they are seeking office is rarely a guarantee of what they will do after they have won it.


Why on earth would Obama get credit for an accomplishment of America's professional military? He was essentially just a bystander to processes set in motion by George Bush. Obama was in fact an obstruction to the strike. He took months to give it the go-ahead


Obama's ungracious and egotistical speech

Obama played subtle and wholly undignified games. He underlined that Osama had "avoided capture" under Bush and "continued to operate" during his tenure. But "I directed" CIA director Leon Panetta to make getting Osama the "top priority" (as opposed to?), and "I" gave the go-ahead to the final mission.

Obama also avoided Bush in a Medal of Honor ceremony on Monday afternoon. Even in a Monday night "bipartisan" event at the White House, Obama honored the "military and counterterrorism professionals" and "the members of Congress from both parties" who offered support to the mission ... but no credit for Bush.

What about our media? No one in the media wondered if Obama was being rude. No one seemed in any hurry to give Bush credit, either. In the media's mind's eye, Bush just doesn't deserve it. They didn't like him then; they don't like him now.



Obama's dislike of America shows in his prevention of American oil independence

Here’s a snippet of Obama’s April 20 remarks:

“I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing the things that have always made America great. The things that have made Americans prosper. I won’t sacrifice our investments in education. I will not sacrifice those. I won’t sacrifice our investments in science and basic research. I won’t sacrifice the safety of our highways or our airports.”

Read: Republicans want cars and planes to crash, scientists to hang up their lab coats and kids to get dumber.

In one of the most appalling displays of sheer gall, Obama actually decried America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is the president whose executive agencies have strangled new ventures to tap America’s enormous fossil fuel resources.

“I won’t sacrifice our investment in clean energy at a time when our dependence on foreign oil is causing Americans so much pain at the pump,” he told the DNC crowd.

And more pain is on the way. Obama’s EPA has denied a permit to Shell Oil Company to drill off Alaska’s coast. The company spent five years and nearly $4 billion preparing to give America a 27-billion-barrel shot in the arm of our domestic oil supply, which is down to 7 million barrels a day, 13 million short of what America uses.

Too bad, Shell. The extremist green lobby that dominates this administration is intent on destroying fossil fuel industries to prepare us for a mythical wind, solar and rickshaw-powered immediate future. You can’t say Obama did not warn us. He said explicitly in January 2008, for example, that his proposed cap and trade system would “bankrupt” anyone who wanted to build a new coal-fired plant.

On Tuesday, Obama was at it again, urging Congress to punish oil companies by ending “unwarranted” tax breaks. The man who has done more than anyone to jack up the price of gas said that high pump prices “provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production.” Yes, if you will stop flirting with Brazil and get your foot off the neck of U.S. energy companies.



Gasoline and Onions

The speculators are ripping us off!

"The skyrocketing price of gas and oil has nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand, and has everything to do with Wall Street firms that are artificially jacking up the price of oil in the energy futures markets. ... (T)he same Wall Street speculators that caused the worst financial crisis since the 1930s through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior are ripping off the American people again by gambling that the price of oil and gas will continue to go up."

Here we go again. That quote was Sen. Bernie Sanders doing what some always do when the price of oil spikes: complain about speculators. Now, President Obama says he'll investigate them: "We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain." I assume that his new Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group, like its predecessors, will uncover nothing untoward.

In America, we don't have a free market -- we have a government-saturated economy in which oil companies and other corporations have a cozy relationship with politicians and bureaucrats. That's wrong, but even that can't explain the recent run-up in prices. Oil companies today are no more greedy or clever than they have been all along.

We have to look for a better explanation -- and it isn't hard to find. Demand for oil rises with the growth of China, India and other developing countries. When poor people get a little richer, they buy cars, computers and refrigerators. They burn more fuel to make them and to run them. Rising demand, other things being equal, increases prices.

And other things have not been equal. Japan's nuclear plants are out of commission, and Libya, which accounts for about 2 percent of world oil production, is wracked by civil war. This is small compared to previous disruptions in the region, but it still affects the price.

The evil oil-speculator theory also runs up against the fact that the Federal Reserve's inflationary policies (QE2) and other factors have continued the dollar's slide against foreign currencies -- to a three-year low. As the dollar loses value, oil sellers demand more for their product. "Commodities, along with most traded goods globally, are priced in dollars," former Federal Reserve official Gerald P. O'Driscoll of the Cato Institute writes. "It is the old story of too much money chasing too few goods."

If Sanders and other economic illiterates get their way, we'll have new laws banning "speculation." That will raise prices further. Don't believe me? Think back to a previous time when a Senate committee said that "speculative activity causes severe and unwarranted fluctuations in the price. ..." That was in 1958, when people got upset about the price of onions. Fools in Congress addressed that problem by banning speculation on onion prices.

The result? A Financial Times analysis found that the ban made prices less stable. This year, the retail price of onions rose more than the price of gasoline -- 36 versus 24 percent. Most years, the price of onions fluctuates more than other goods. No mystery there. Speculators help keep prices stable. When they foresee a future oil shortage -- that is, when prices are lower than anticipated in the future -- speculators buy lots of it, store it and then sell it when the shortage hits. They know they can charge more when there's relatively little oil on the market. But their selling during the shortage brings prices down from what they would have been had speculators not acted.

Speculators are like the ants in Aesop's "Ants and the Grasshopper" fable: They save resources for lean times. Everyone benefits because everyone has a chance to buy from them in those lean times. Speculators don't "artificially jack up the price of oil" -- they take risks. Those who guess wrong lose a lot of money.

Historically, speculators have been convenient scapegoats, and they have suffered greatly for it. So have the rest of us.

While government should never create political opportunities for speculation, it should also stop interfering with its legitimate economic function. We all are harmed when central planners take charge.


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

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


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


3 May, 2011

Splendid: Canada's Conservatives win outright majority

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority government in elections Monday that also marked a shattering defeat for the opposition Liberals, preliminary results showed.

Harper, who took office in 2006, has won two elections but until now had never held a majority of Parliament's 308 seats, forcing him to rely on the opposition to pass legislation.

While Harper's hold on the 308-member Parliament has been tenuous during his five-year tenure, he has managed to nudge an instinctively center-left country to the right. He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, promoted Arctic sovereignty, upped military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

Elections Canada reported preliminary results on its website, giving the Conservatives 164 seats, which will give Harper four years of uninterrupted government. "It's stunning. We're elated," Conservative lawmaker Jason Kenney said in an interview with CBC. "We'll be a government for all Canadians."

The leftist New Democratic Party was projected to become the main opposition party for the first time in Canadian history with 106 seats, in a stunning setback for the Liberals who have always been either in power or leading the opposition.

Former colleagues of Harper say his long-term goals are to shatter the image of the Liberals - the party of former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau - as the natural party of government in Canada, and to redefine what it means to be Canadian.

Harper, who comes from the conservative western province of Alberta, took a major step toward that goal on Monday night as the Liberals dropped to 35 seats from 77, according to the preliminary results.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff congratulated Harper and New Democrat leader Jack Layton and accepted responsibility for the "historic defeat." "I will play any part that the party wishes me to play as we go forward to rebuild," said Ignatieff, who even lost his own seat in a Toronto suburb.

Stephen Clarkson, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said Harper will now be considered a transformative figure in Canadian history. "It's a sea change," Clarkson said.

The New Democrats' gains are being attributed to Layton's strong performance in the debates, a folksy, upbeat message, and a desire by the French-speakers in Quebec, the second most populous province, for a new face and a federalist option. Voters indicated they had grown weary with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which had a shocking drop to three seats from 47 in the last Parliament.

The NDP's gains marked a remarkable shift in a campaign that started out weeks ago looking like a straight battle between Harper and Ignatieff, with the 60-year-old Layton recovering from prostate cancer and a broken hip.

Harper campaigned on a message that the New Democrats stood for higher taxes, higher spending, higher prices and protectionism. He called the election a choice between "a Conservative majority" and "a ramshackle coalition led by the NDP that will not last but will do a lot of destruction."

Gerry Nicholls, who worked under Harper at a conservative think tank, has said that having the New Democrats' as the main opposition party would be ideal for Harper because it would define Canadian politics in clearer terms of left vs. right.

The Conservatives have built support in rural areas and with the "Tim Horton's crowd" - a reference to a chain of doughnut shops popular with working class Canadians. They also have blitzed the country with TV attack ads, running them even during telecasts of the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl.

Lawrence Martin, a political columnist for The Globe and Mail newspaper and author of "Harperland: The Politics of Control," calls Harper "the most autocratic and partisan prime minister Canada has ever had."

But to remain in office through the longest period of minority government in Canadian history, Harper has had to engage in a constant balancing act. He has deliberately avoided sweeping policy changes that could derail his government, but now has an opportunity to pass any legislation he wants with his new majority.



Lawsuits make us less safe

Imagine if an evil business routinely deprived us of products that would help us live longer with less pain and more comfort. We’d be outraged, and lawyers would line up to sue. Yet something similar happens today, thanks to lawsuit abuse. Makers of all kinds of products are afraid to sell them to us because one lawsuit could ruin them.

Personal-injury lawyers claim they make America safer, but that’s a myth. It’s easy to see who benefits from those big damage awards we read about. Less obvious — but just as real — are the things we’d all like to have but never will get because of this climate of fear. Here are a few examples.

Monsanto once developed a substitute for asbestos — a new fire-resistant form of insulation that might save thousands of lives. But Monsanto decided not to sell it for fear of liability. Richard F. Mahoney, the CEO at the time, said, “There may well have been a safe, effective asbestos replacement on the market, and now there isn’t.”

Why do we have to worry about shortages of flu vaccine? Because only a handful of companies still make it. And why is that? Because when you vaccinate millions of people, some get sick and sue. Between 1980 and 1986, personal-injury lawyers demanded billions of dollars from vaccine manufacturers. That scared many American drug companies out of the business.

In 1986, Congress stepped in. To help curb the lawsuits that discouraged vaccine production, the government established a fund called the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It would pay victims’ families directly so they wouldn’t have to hire lawyers and suffer the delays of litigation. This was supposed to entice vaccine makers back into production, but drug companies were still leery, fearing that plaintiffs’ lawyers would sue them anyway.

They were right to worry. Eli Lilly developed a mercury-based preservative called Thimerosal that was used in many children’s vaccines. Plaintiffs’ lawyers jumped on scaremongers’ claims that mercury causes autism in children. Although a government-issued review found no such link, more than 100 autism lawsuits have been filed against vaccine makers since the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passed. No wonder most drug manufacturers still steer clear of vaccine research.

Even when new vaccines are discovered, drug companies are sometimes afraid to sell them. The FDA has approved a vaccine against Lyme disease. Want some? Forget about it. No company wants to take the risk.

Fear of being sued reduced the number of American companies researching contraceptives from 13 to two.

After scientifically groundless lawsuits against breast-implant makers bankrupted Dow Corning, Japanese silicone makers stopped producing a pain-reducing silicone coating for hypodermic needles. A company director said, “We’re sure our product is safe, but we don’t want to risk a lawsuit.”

Union Carbide has invented a small portable kidney dialysis machine. It would make life much easier for people with kidney disease, but Union Carbide won’t sell it. With legal sharks circling, the risk of expensive lawsuits outweighs the possible profit.

Are you pregnant and nauseous? Bendectin would probably cure your morning sickness. For 27 years doctors prescribed the drug to 33 million women because it was so good at stopping nausea and vomiting. But you can’t buy Bendectin today because lawyers kept suing the manufacturer, Merrell Dow, claiming the drug caused birth defects.

Studies did not show that Bendectin caused birth defects, and Merrell Dow won most of the lawsuits. But after spending $100 million in legal fees and awards, the company gave up selling the drug. Bendectin has never been effectively replaced, and morning sickness is now a major contributor to dehydration during pregnancy.

Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says, “Within two years of discontinuing Bendectin, the incidence of hospitalization for dehydration during early pregnancy doubled; the incidence of birth defects was unchanged.”

Those are just some of the life-enhancing products we know we must do without because America’s peculiar legal system makes it profitable for trial lawyers to pursue extortion — like litigation. What wonderful products will we never even hear about because the lawyers have created a climate of fear?



The trajectory of the Democratic party from moderate and responsible Leftists to the hard Leftists of today

With big rusted-on groups of supporters -- blacks and Hispanics -- they feel less need to appeal to the moderate voter

One of the worrisome aspects of President Obama’s peculiar brand of leadership is to watch how radically he and most Democrats in Congress have broken with the wisdom of liberal, Democrat leaders of the past. Media wags, largely ignorant or mostly indifferent to history, will tell you that the growing alarm over Obama’s leadership is all about style over substance. Don’t believe it. Obama and most of the Democrat congressional leaders seem interested in pandering to special interest groups, with little care for the overall economic health of the nation. They have betrayed their history and are mere shadows of their Democrat predecessors. Americans know it too.

The Democrat leadership has strayed far from their once-rational roots. For example, when enacting the landmark social welfare programs in 1935, (Social Security Act) and again in 1965 enacting Title 18 (Medicare), Democrats were almost unanimously concerned about the potential costs for future generations.

A reading of the floor speeches at the time shows that while Democrats wanted to expand programs for the needy. None were willing to do that, if it would erode the economic vitality of the entire nation. These earlier Democrats were moored by their concern for the financial health of the nation, the well-being of small businesses and concern about the potential for undue burdens to the American taxpayer that might arise as a result of far reaching entitlement legislation.

In August 1935, President Roosevelt said: “We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family.”

Roosevelt’s endorsement of the payroll tax to create an earned right that would “act as a protection to future administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy” is a far cry from the current Democrat drumbeat that entitlements must cover all Americans (and illegals) regardless of the cost to the country.

In 1965, Democrats were clearly worried about the impact of the Medicare legislation. Medicare was viewed as an experiment that might not be sustainable, and therefore needed to be carefully reviewed. Democrat congressman, Wilbur Mills, then Chairman of Ways and Means argued: “when tax rates are as high as they are now, we must take into account the fact that any changes we make will inevitably have far reaching economic effects…It would be folly… To nationalize health care as some have proposed, and thus federalize medical personnel, institutions and procedures—eventually if not at the start—also would amount to a stunning new financial burden for every American taxpayer.”

It is also important to note that in 1965, Democrat supporters for expanded entitlement benefits realized they might be wrong. Reading though the debate in Congressional Register of 1965, one sees humility and open-mindedness. But, as Pelosi shows, the current Democrat leadership are rigid ideologues. To placate the ravening appetites of their left-wing extremists, special interest groups, they are willing to ruin the nation.

President Obama’s vision of America calls for an ever-expanding welfare state with ever-increasing government handouts and bailouts, even as the financial health of the nation teeters on the brink of insolvency. Then, to rub salt in the wounds of the fiscally conservative, Obama lectures on the need to address our “unsustainable” government spending, even as he continues to press for more spending aimed at supporting loyalists’ union causes, his own special interests, and dubious spending schemes.

Democrats from the 60s seemed determined to balance their desire for expansive entitlements with a respect the needs of those taxpayers--the businesses and workers-- whose taxes pay for it all. Above all, there was a cautious consciousness that huge, federally run government programs are rarely cost-effective and rarely operated efficiently.

In June 1966, discussing the implementation of the Medicare legislation, President Lyndon Johnson said “Washington is no place to patrol matters in 50 States. The farther you get away from the community, the less efficient you are and the more expensive you are.”

On the other hand, President Obama’s recent road tour (with stops at Facebook, Oprah’s couch and NYC) to promote the need for additional taxes to pay for spending schemes and to increase the debt ceiling without implementing dramatic spending cuts, reeked of demagoguery and implying that the federal government in Washington, is better suited to care for citizens than the citizens themselves. Or at least, that seemed to be his explanation, for the buzz-words adopted by the Left of “shared sacrifice” and “fair share” are deceptive. Just send your money to Washington and all will be taken care of and only the “rich” will pay; the middle class, citizen will be unaffected.

Is there any wonder why Americans are increasingly worried? Modern Democrats have lost their way and have become selfish, irresponsible and blind. They make intellectually dishonest pleas to protect unsustainable social welfare programs without the slightest interest in finding an honest way to pay for them.

Reading the speeches of Obama and other senior Democrat leaders gives one the distinct impression that they are far more interested in rewarding their core constituents than in protecting the nation’s financial health. Democrats would bankrupt the nation rather than make prudent and long-overdue changes to over-generous entitlement programs.

And that is why Americans are so worried.




Medical consumer or ward of the state?: "How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as 'consumers?' The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough. What has gone wrong with us?"

The economics of slushy drinks: "'That's quite a markup,' remarked my father as he paid for my six-year-old son's treat after a soccer game. 'Three dollars for a cup of ice.' It's true; the price tag did seem steep at first. But as we analyzed the situation more carefully — my father is also a fan of free markets — we realized that there was no reason to be outraged at the vendor's price."

Risky business: "UK transport minister Norman Baker this week refused to apologise for saying that cyclists may be safer not wearing helmets. Baker, whose role includes responsibilities for cycling, cited research that drivers tend to go closer to cyclists who are wearing helmets, but give a wider berth to those who are not. Indeed, the national cyclists' organisation itself argues that those who wear helmets are 14% more likely to have a collision than those who don't."

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

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


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


2 May, 2011

Islam rots your brain

Osama bin Laden was a hero to Muslims worldwide. Will his killing stop jihadism? It might have a temporary depressing effect but the adverse effect of Islam on the intelligence of its followers will remain. After Osama's little 9/11 caper, the U.S. government took out two hostile Islamic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan yet not even that convinced the jihadis that they were losers. Islam just deprives Muslims of any ability to make rational calculations, apparently. Any rational calculation would not lead to a conviction that a few bearded nobodies could impose Islam on the West.

The kindness of a civilizatin originating from Christian thinking indulges them for the moment but if ever they start to do serious harm they will be squashed, as bin Laden eventually was.

It's a pity he was not taken alive, though. Crushing his balls to squeeze information out of him could have been very productive. Just the threat would probably have made him very talkative.


America's Orwellian present

It might help getting our minds around what is so wrong in America today by thinking about the local police force.

It’s not hard to understand that the job of the police is to protect lives and property.

Suppose we decided to broaden their mandate. Suppose each municipality decided that the job of the police was not just protection but to make every community more fair and just and to improve the quality of life.

To do this, we’d have to let them decide what is fair and just and give them authority to implement their sense of these things.

They could force families they thought had too much money, or who earned their money in a way they thought not fair, to turn some of their resources over to others who the police concluded more deserving.

Or, if they happened to hear parents yelling at their child, they could enter the house and instruct them how they should be raising their children.

It seems pretty absurd. But it’s exactly what is going on in Washington and why things are such a mess. The very entity – our government - that is supposedly there to protect us now has incredibly wide latitude to invade our lives and property.

Even worse, not only is there considerable latitude to do this openly, but it can occur insidiously in ways where citizens don’t even realize it’s happening to them.

In the former instance, at least Congress openly votes to pay for expanded programs and spending by raising taxes.

But even with a license to steal, government power brokers know they can just take this so far. Spending may provide a path to political popularity for some, but paying for it all through taxes is a path to popularity for few.

Over the last couple years, we’ve had a vast expansion of government spending to bail out banks, automobile companies, those with mortgages they can’t afford, expand unemployment insurance, create all kinds of projects under the headline of “economic stimulus,” etc.

If government is spending a trillion and half dollars more than it is taking in through taxes, which is the case with a deficit of the size that we have now, where’s the money coming from?

We can turn to Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, who this past week held the very first press conference ever held by a Federal Reserve chief.

This reflects the fact the Federal Reserve has been transformed into a political entity. The Fed should, in principle, be a special kind of police force. Their job should be to protect one very unique aspect of our property – our money.

But instead, the Fed has, allegedly within the scope of the law, assumed a broader mandate to provide another way to finance government spending – printing money.

Like police with a responsibility for protecting property but also with a license to steal, the latter will eclipse the former. The Fed either is going to protect the value of our money or it is going to print it to pay for spending. Unfortunately, it has chosen the latter.

Like everything else in our country, money has become relative and politicized. When the dollar was tied to gold, the official price was $35 per ounce. Since we severed this link in 1971 and totally politicized our money, it now takes over $1500 to buy an ounce of gold.

Our taxes get raised indirectly through higher prices and the eroded value of our savings.

Politicization of the Federal Reserve and our money is a particularly dangerous development in a trend that is ruining America - the erosion of law and the distortion of the role of government.

There is no way around the fact that freedom and prosperity only exist when government protects property, and this includes our money.



And America's Orwellian State is still expanding

The crash of the financial and housing markets in 2007-08 brought cries for reform from many quarters. Still, there was bitter debate throughout 2009-10 on the approach and substance of any prospective reform. Ultimately, Congress passed – on a party-line vote – the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whose authors were Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank, two of the most questionable characters in recent Congressional history.

Many Americans are concerned that whenever Congress launches a crusade for “consumer protection,” somehow that’s not what we end up with. When the Dodd-Frank bill contained a Trojan Horse – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – a lot of people became alarmed. When President Obama wanted to nominate Elizabeth Warren to run the CFPB, flashing lights and sirens started going off.

Ms. Warren had never worked in financial services – in fact, she had never held a job in any financial industry – but as a Harvard law professor, she had written a variety of articles and books. To the Obama crowd, this made her the perfect candidate to set new rules to control our lives. While Ms. Warren’s particular expertise is the struggle of middle-class families in which both parents must work just to stay even, she hasn’t yet figured out that it’s the massive growth of regulation and taxes at all levels of government – principally promulgated by her elitist comrades – that is the core of the problem.

Ms. Warren is the embodiment of the Totalitarian Liberal. Her “we know better” viewpoint endeared her to Obama, who gleefully appointed her to an extra-governmental position after it became clear that there was no hope she would obtain Congressional approval to be Chair of CFPB. Obama give her a fancy title and she has been running the CFPB – without oversight – ever since. When she appeared before Congressional committees, she exercised her best lawyer skills, repeatedly making grossly misleading statements. When asked pointed questions by committee members, she sounded like a parakeet, squawking “We need a cop on the beat!” over and over again. And, of course, what better cop could exist than Ms. Warren?

What Ms. Warren does not want is a cop on her beat, which is why she designed the structure of the bureau as it was laid out in the Dodd-Frank bill – with virtually no oversight. Funding for the CFPB is taken from the earnings of the Federal Reserve System, which means that Congress has no voice in its operation. In fact, other than approving the director, Congress has essentially no control over the bureau. This is utterly unlike any other federal agency and will probably be tested in court. After all, if Congress doesn’t manage the purse strings, what effective control do they have over Ms. Warren?

This new entity has been assigned broad oversight of financial entities, much of which overlaps responsibilities of the existing agencies. It oversees all banks and credit unions with more than S10 billion in assets, and can write regulations for all payday lenders, debt collectors, and mortgage brokers. It also reviews all entities making mortgage loans, which means virtually every bank in the country. This is the reason for her recent charm offensive with community banks: to gain their support for her nomination as Director.

She has shrewdly been placing allies into key positions in the bureau. Though some appear to have industry background, you can rest assured that they’ve been hired either because of political leanings or as window dressing to enhance her continuing effort to be appointed Director.

Under Ms. Warren’s direction, the CFPB will be requiring “greater levels of disclosure” by all parties in its purview. But financial professionals point out that extensive disclosure has been required for years for mortgages and car loans, and none of it is worth a Confederate dollar if people don’t read or understand the documents. And if there’s one thing that all the professionals agree on, it’s that most American consumers have at best a minimal understanding of even the simplest financial matters.

As a totalitarian liberal, Ms. Warren won’t try to make the consumers more knowledgeable, but instead will employ her infinite wisdom and compassion to protect them from themselves. This is confirmed by her first real venture – joining some left-wing Attorneys General to threaten lenders over their foreclosure practices. In the best tradition of Tony Soprano, they are using extortion and other threats to extract $20 billon from the lenders, despite the fact that even with some improperly-processed paperwork, there have been virtually no homeowners evicted prematurely or improperly. Almost every one of these people has been living rent-free for nine to eighteen months, with the American people picking up the tab. Now Ms. Warren wants us to fork over even more money for these follies – in higher fees and fewer services at our banks – to compensate for the $20 billion. In addition, further delays in the foreclosure process just forestall the ability of the market to cleanse itself and recover.

Because Ms. Warren has virtually no experience or true understanding of the financial markets, she will do untold harm to the people she is trying to protect. In a previous column, I described how the Dodd-Frank bill set new rules for credit cards in order to “protect consumers,” only to find that the credit that they previously had access to is now unavailable. The regulations that Ms. Warren and her cronies will create will have exactly the same effect on mortgage loans, payday loans, and whatever else they touch.

Disclosure is a very good thing when it comes to financial matters, but if consumers don’t have the education or training to understand how they’re being protected, they will ultimately be penalized by fewer products, less competition, and higher government-mandated costs. The only winners will be people like Elizabeth Warren, who know better than we do and are on a crusade to protect us from ourselves. The loser is our freedom.



Diagnosing ObamaCare

Dr. Peter Weiss summarizes a new book by Dr. Milton Wolf: "First Do No Harm"

For the past two years I have publicly debated the pros and cons of our health care system. I have debated against the implementation of ObamaCare — to no avail.

I have been on too many health care panels to remember. I have met with senators, congressmen, governors, and more. The debates feel like the reenactment of the trench warfare of the First World War, with neither side making any headway in battle.

"First Do No Harm" reviews how government involved itself in health care from 1929 to 2003, with all well-meaning actions resulting in increasing costs. Dr. Wolf astutely points out how health care became very political in the 1980s. State mandates “re-routed health care dollars not to the most necessary and innovative treatments, but instead to whomever had the best lobbyists.” This was the start of our current health care downfall.

Remember HillaryCare? Dr. Wolf rightly has no kind words for President Bush either. Medicare prescription coverage of 2003 was a political move to garner senior votes.

The bottom line of First Do No Harm is this: “At the very core of ObamaCare is a flawed belief that government can spend your money more effectively than you can yourself.” There is an ideological divide between those in favor of the plan and those opposed.

I admire the Tea Party greatly. Health care should not be a political line-item agenda — just as I can not tell a patient of mine what he or she must do. I can only give advice and recommendations. I can not force my patients to stop smoking or drinking, or to lose weight. Nor can President Obama mandate health.

To be fair, First Do No Harm does state that ObamaCare promises some nice things, such as no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for “children” up to age 26, and no lifetime limit on benefits. These all sound great, and on paper they are.

I would also like the government to buy me a home, give me a car (nothing less than 6 cylinder), and put food on my table. In a Utopian world, we all live forever and will have world peace. One critical aspect of a good physician is being honest even when the news is bad. Dr. Wolf is a good physician. He gives a very strong argument against ObamaCare in a concise, easy-to-follow manner. He offers some solutions, but still a lot more are needed to address the current situation. Those he does offer are well worth entertaining and are well thought out. I, of course, like many other physicians, have solutions, too, some of which I have expressed in these pages before.

I equate Dr. Wolf with a good doctor who is able to explain to a patient and his or her family what is wrong. He then takes the time to listen and gives his opinion as to what you should do. This is a doctor you feel you can trust. Under the Obama system, that doctor will be a thing of the past. Your new physician will be spending half of his or her time doing data entry at point of service, checking off boxes on the state-mandated questionnaire before inputting the data to determine what medication the system will allow. Never mind you only want to talk about your headaches.

Most physicians take either the oath of Hippocrates or the oath of Maimonides. With these two time-honored oaths, we promise to be our individual patients’ champion and, above all, to do no harm. Under ObamaCare, the physician’s oath will be “to the health of the state” — and to the individual patient no longer.




Dallas TSA molests beauty queen: "Dallas has found itself in the eye of a storm of negative publicity thanks to a former beauty queen's accusation of TSA molestation in a YouTube video posted Wednesday that has already gone viral. Susie Castillo, actress and former Miss USA, accused a female TSA agent of sexually violating her at DFW airport when she opted for a pat down rather than going through the full body scanner because of the health risks of repeated radiation exposure."

The forgotten patriot: "As Rhode Island prepares to celebrate the 350th anniversary of an extraordinary American document, its author remains all but forgotten. In the summer of 1663, against seemingly insurmountable odds, an improbable patriot living in an unlikely place changed the course of world civilization. Through Rhode Island’s King Charles II Charter, Dr. John Clarke convinced the king to grant religious toleration and separation of church and state to a political entity, the diminutive Colony of Rhode Island. For the first time in world history, religious freedom became fundamental to democracy."

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

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

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


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


1 May, 2011

Poll reveals regular internet users are less likely to respect the law

But who are those "regular internet users"? Easy. Leftist blogs tend to have huge readerships compared to conservative ones. Leftists need a lot of propping up for their counterfactual beliefs so are more likely to go online and visit sites that tell them what they want to hear.

So it immediately becomes clear why frequent internet users are less likely to respect the law or do volunteer work. Leftists hate the society the live in and they are "all heart" in words only. So they "felt it was very important to help those worse off than themselves" but were not in fact more likely to do so. An interesting picture of contemporary Leftism

FREQUENT internet users are less likely to respect the law, serve on a jury or do volunteer work, a study has found.

An Australian National University poll discovered that while regular web surfers were more politically engaged, they also had less deference for traditional societal values.

Only 38 per cent of respondents who logged on at least once a day felt it was important to obey laws and regulations, compared with 51 per cent of less regular cyberspace visitors.

“Frequent internet users were less willing than infrequent internet users to accept that traditional norms of citizenship such as obeying laws and regulations, serving on a jury if called and being active in voluntary organisations are very important in order to be a good citizen,” the report said.

Still, report researcher Juliet Pietsch said the internet wasn't causing people to withdraw from society. “In fact our research shows the opposite,” she said at the report launch today.

She cited a finding showing 70 per cent of regular web surfers felt it was very important to help those worse off than themselves. However, people who seldom visited the internet were just as likely to help the needy.

The internet was also found to be sparking political engagement, with one in four respondents visiting the websites of political parties and candidates. “Those who use the internet more frequently actually know more about politics in general,” Dr Pietsch said.

Almost nine in 10 respondents had internet access at home, with 82 per cent of people having broadband access. Some 68 per cent of poll participants used the internet at least once a day.

The Internet and Civil Society report was compiled in December 2010.



Obama's Pain at the Pump

Once again, oil and gasoline prices are on the march upwards, and conveniently, Barack Obama is waving the "speculators" card, promising to investigate nefarious investors he alleges are behind it all.

With average gasoline per gallon prices nationally at over $3.80 and rising rapidly, American motorists are taking note of the increases - and are asking why they're paying more.

"[A] lot of what's driving oil prices up right now is not the lack of supply. There's enough supply. There's enough oil out there for world demand," Obama said.

Pretty much, that part is true. Since 2009, global oil consumption has increased from 84.133 million barrels a day to 86.7 million in 2010, a 3 percent increase, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). Furthermore, the EIA projects a further consumption increase of 1.5 million barrels a day in 2011, bringing the total consumption rise from 2009 to 2011 to a total 4.8 percent increase.

Yet, prices have increased far more dramatically. Brent oil in January 2009 was trading at a low of about $40 a barrel, and Light Sweet Crude was at low of about $35 a barrel, to now over $120 a barrel and $110 a barrel, respectively. That's 200 percent and 214 percent increases each in price.

Oil supply is not the problem, because production has been relatively stable, increasing as consumption has increased without significant disruption each year.

Obama explained his view that "The problem is . speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there's a 20 percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt oil supply, so we're going to bet that oil is going to go up real high. And that spikes up prices significantly."

Certainly oil prices, like other commodities, are extremely volatile, meaning they are extremely susceptible to supply shocks. Except, today, as Obama notes, and is confirmed by Saudi Arabia - which is now cutting back production because of a lack of buyers - there is no actual supply shortage.

Instead, Obama attests that there is fear of a supply shortage because of conflict in the Middle East. Let's test the claim.

The Libyan conflict began in late February. By then, Brent crude had already surpassed $101 barrel, a 152 percent off its 2009 low, and Light Sweet Crude was about $87 a barrel, 148 percent above its low.

Even if one wanted to consider the revolution in Egypt, which climaxed on February 11 when Hosni Mubarak stepped down, and go back in time to before the tensions erupted there in late January, Brent was at about $97 a barrel and Light Sweet Crude was $87 a barrel, still 142 percent and 148 percent each off their lows.

Therefore, since 2009, even without the new wars in the Middle East, prices have still more than doubled. So, with no actual supply disruption and only a modest increase in demand, what else could be weighing on investors' minds?

Probably, inflation. And the sinking dollar. You see, besides supply shocks, the other thing the prices of commodities like oil are extremely susceptible to are dramatic monetary expansions and contractions.

After all, gold too has spiked, from a low of about $820 an ounce at that time to over $1,500 now, an 83 percent increase. So, perhaps a broader range of commodity price spikes indicates another problem unrelated to the oil market.

Since the last price shock, the oil bubble in 2008, which found both Brent oil and Light Sweet Crude peaking at about $145 a barrel in July 2008, the nation's monetary policy has been out of control. The Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, has increased its balance sheet from about $947 billion to over $2.73 trillion.

That was mostly to bail out the banks by buying $1.25 trillion of mortgage-backed securities and prop up the U.S. Treasury with nearly $1 trillion in new loans to back up the gargantuan levels of government spending.

The Fed's net balance sheet expansion was a whopping 188 percent increase in the essential money supply since the last time oil prices spiked. Then, as now, politicians cried "speculators!" Of course, these same elected officials were nowhere to be found when the bubble popped and after prices crashed in a very short period of time.

As the financial crisis unfolded, and deleveraging ravaged institutional investors, money fled the markets - including the commodities markets - finally crashing at the end of 2008.

Since then, as noted above, both Brent and Light Sweet Crude have increased 200 and 214 percent off their lows. That's roughly the range of the Fed's 188 percent increase in the supply of dollars since July 2008. Importantly, since the dollar is the world's reserve currency, and global commodity markets trade in dollars, such a dramatic increase in the supply dollars will have a very predictable result.

In fact, it was predicted. In January 2009, I wrote, "the prediction is not for instant inflation, but that once market-based thawing does apparently begin to ensue, and all the excessive liquidity finds its way into the marketplace, demand will spike in one area or another and thus so will prices. There will be another asset bubble."

Can't say we didn't warn the politicians what would happen.

The late, great Milton Friedman once taught us that "[i]nflation is the result of too many dollars chasing too few goods." So, there is a supply problem. Just not with oil. There's too many dollars chasing the same amount of oil.

If there is to be any investigation, it should be into the government's inflationary spending and monetary policies. House Republicans ought to use their majority status to shed light on this growing inflation crisis.

So, when the American people head to pump in the coming months, with gasoline nearing $4 a gallon nationally, headed to $5, they ought to remember who to really thank for the pain at the pump. It's not the "speculators," whoever they may be. It is Fed head Ben Bernanke, and of course, the spender-in-chief, Barack Obama.



ObamaCare: When Patients Really Pay On The Back End

ObamaCare is supposed to force insurers and Medicare to provide preventive services at no charge to the patient. Colonoscopy is considered a preventive service, thus there should be no out-of-pocket costs for getting one. Turns out, though, that ObamaCare is having some unintended consequences:
(T)here’s a wrinkle in the highly touted benefit. If doctors find and remove a polyp, which can be cancerous, some private insurers and Medicare hit the patient with a surprise: charges that could run several hundred dollars. That’s because once the doctor takes action, the colonoscopy morphs from a preventive test into a treatment procedure.

Talk about paying on the back end. As IBD pointed out back in March:
This is what happens when insurance pays for a lot of the up-front costs that we should be paying for out-of-pocket, such as physician visits, and minor procedures and tests. Thanks to the employer-based tax exclusion for health insurance and benefit mandates imposed by most state governments, insurance has paid for more and more up-front costs. But to make revenues meet expenses, insurers cut costs somewhere. That somewhere is on the back end, when patients are often the sickest and where politicians are less likely to focus legislative protections.

ObamaCare makes this worse by preventing insurers and Medicare from requiring any out-of-pocket costs for preventive care. In the case of colonoscopies, the effect is the cost-sharing is now being required of those people with polyps — i.e., those people most in need of colonoscopy.

The March blog post examined how some Medicare Advantage plans were reacting to the new laws on preventive care by charging co-pays for people under-going cancer treatment. The conclusion of that post, though, is just as relevant to colonoscopies:
The truly insidious thing about it is that politicians will be able to blame others for the problems they have created. They will get on their high horse and excoriate the heartless and cruel insurers . .. Politicians excel at obfuscation, making it difficult, as Thomas Sowell says, to trace their fingerprints back to the murder weapon.

But as long as ObamaCare remains law, get used to less and poorer-quality care for the sickest. The number of people who get seriously ill each year represent a sliver of voters compared to those who have minor illnesses or no illness at all and would just like a checkup or other test. Which group do you think politicians will cater to when it comes to health care policy?



Intolerant Left Strikes Again

On April 25, gay-rights advocates -- led by the Human Rights Campaign -- scored a victory after the HRC applied pressure on a law firm hired to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman and denies federal benefits to same-sex partners. The firm fired its client. There are two reasons you should be outraged, no matter what your position is on DOMA.

One: Lawyers aren't supposed to dump cases -- it's called abandonment -- especially because of political pressure.

Attorney Paul Clement, who was solicitor general under President George W. Bush, resigned from King & Spalding over its decision so that he could continue to defend the 1996 law. In his resignation letter, Clement cited his "firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has been a harsh critic of DOMA -- and he doesn't like what happened. "The irony is, you wouldn't want a lawyer whom you could pressure to drop a client," Turley told me.

In a statement, K&S Chairman Robert Hays had explained the firm's decision to ditch the case as the result of "inadequate" vetting of the contract.

UC Berkeley School of Law professor Jesse Choper finds that troubling. "If they didn't like the case, they shouldn't have taken it," Choper observed. But having taken the case, the firm had "a lawyer's obligation" to stick with it.

Two: In this country, everyone -- accused murderers, terrorists, you name it -- is entitled to representation in court. Unless, it now appears, you don't agree with the Human Rights Campaign.

When the news of the K&S contract came out, HRC boasted that it would send "informational letters" to K&S clients and to "top law schools informing them of K&S's decision to promote discrimination." The group's communications director, Fred Sainz, described the effort as an "educational" campaign in response to K&S's "business decision."

He was especially outraged because K&S had solicited a rating from the HRC for its record on LGBT issues. It's 95 out of 100 -- and still up on the K&S website. Sainz added that his group never expressed a judgment on the legal ethics of dropping a client, held "no hope" that its efforts would alter the firm's judgment and when the firm dropped the case, "it was a complete and total surprise to us."

Choper faulted gay-rights advocates for saying that opponents "don't have a right to litigate properly."

Sainz denies that charge. Yet he effectively admitted as much when he told me, "At the end of the day, I am fairly positive that law firms in the future will think twice before taking on these kinds of engagements because they know that we'll be watching."

Case closed. This is intimidation. This is intolerance.

It is important to understand why a private law firm took the case. In February, after defending the law for two years, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder decided that the law was unconstitutional. In a blog, they explained that homosexuals are a "politically powerless" minority. Hence, the Department of Justice no longer would defend the law against legal challenges.

Now Holder doesn't want to defend it. It doesn't matter that, like a majority of senators and House members, Vice President Joe Biden voted for the bill. Or that Holder's old boss Bill Clinton signed it. Or that Holder himself defended DOMA for two years.

Congress then had the option of defending the law. Over the objections of some Democrats, Committee on House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren, R-Calif., signed a contract with Clement and his firm.

Thus began a campaign to discredit the deal as, in the words of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, a "legal boondoggle" that spends "half a million dollars of taxpayer money to defend discrimination." Now you know what Pelosi deems to be a waste of taxpayer money -- defending a law passed by the body she once represented as speaker.

Gay rights activists argue that DOMA is unconstitutional. If they're so sure, why are they trying to prevent good lawyers from defending the 1996 law?


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

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among people who should know better, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

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.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"