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30 November, 2011

Is Breivik a paranoid schizophrenic?

The report below says he is and the diagnosis is understandable in some ways. Paranoid schizophrenics do not normally present as "mad" and many hold down jobs, have families etc. So his calm and methodical behaviour does not contradict such a diagnosis. There is usually only one focus where paranoids go off the rails. But that focus really IS obviously mad: Hearing voices that are not there, for instance. Psychiatrists commonly cite St. Paul's vision on the road to Damascus and his subsequent obsessive behaviour promulgating a very new message to a skeptical Hellenistic world as indicating paranoid schizophrenia.

But Breivk's focus was not nearly as singular as that. It has often been said that his dislike of the Left-sponsored invasion of Norway by Muslim "refugees" is widely-shared in Norway. And many commenters on Scandiavian internet sites applauded his actions immediately afterwards. His actions could simply be seen as self-sacrificing or as a return of the old Viking spirit.

The thing that most strongly supports a diagnosios of paranoid schiz is his insistence that he is a member of an organization of Knights Templar -- an organization that appears not to exist. That does sound like a very typical paranoid delusion. It must be remembered however that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and any members of such an orgainization would be highly motivated to lie low immediately after Breivik's actions.

If I had to make a psychological diagnosis of his behaviour I would see some narcissism there but no more than is to be found in the average artist, for instance. Narcissism can have many outlets, not least in politics

So I am fairly sure that the Left-led authorities in Norway will succeed in declaring Breivik insane not because that is a good diagnosis but because they need to. They desperately need to keep him OUT of jail. He would make many converts there and that could lead to more atrocities. Further, it is comforting to think of him as a lone madman rather than someone who may have a point.

A PSYCHIATRIC report on Anders Behring Breivik found that the confessed gunman is insane, meaning he could avoid prison over July's twin attacks in which he killed 77 people, Norwegian prosecutors said today.

"In such instances that the person suffers from such a serious disorder that it would not be warranted to sentence him to prison ... he can be ordered to stay in mental health care institutions," prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh was quoted as saying by AFP.

The 243-page assessment was made after 13 interviews with Breivik, an interview with his mother and an examination of his medical history. The experts also reviewed police questioning and video from the reconstruction of the shooting rampage on Utoya island, the Dagbladet daily reported.

It found that the 32 year old over time developed "paranoid schizophrenia," according to another prosecutor, Svein Holden.

Holden said the report concluded that Breivik had "grandiose illusions whereby he believes he is to determine who is to live and who is to die." He "committed these executions out of love for his people, as he describes it," Holden said.

The report will be examined by a team of forensic experts to ensure it meets standards, and then a court will rule on whether Breivik can be held responsible, AFP reported.

Breivik, 32, has confessed to carrying out the July 22 twin attacks. First, he detonated a car bomb outside the government buildings in central Oslo that house the offices of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, killing eight people. Then he went on a shooting spree at a youth camp on Utoya island, killing 69 mostly young people.

But he refused to plead guilty, saying that the attacks were "atrocious but necessary" in his campaign against multiculturalism and Muslims in Europe.



Principles over ‘seizing the center'

Thomas Sowell

Candidates who try to be all things to all people are more likely to lose elections.

It used to be common for people to urge us to learn "the lessons of history." But history gets much less attention these days and, if there are any lessons that we are offered, they are more likely to be the lessons from current polls or the lessons of political correctness. Even among those who still invoke the lessons of history, some read those lessons very differently from others.

Talk show host Michael Medved, for example, apparently thinks the Republicans need a centrist presidential candidate in 2012. He said, "Most political battles are won by seizing the center." Moreover, he added: "Anyone who believes otherwise ignores the electoral experience of the last 50 years."

But just when did Ronald Reagan, with his two landslide election victories, "seize the center"? For that matter, when did Franklin D. Roosevelt, with a record four consecutive presidential election victories, "seize the center"?

There have been a long string of Republican presidential candidates who seized the center -- and lost elections. Thomas E. Dewey, for example, seized the center against Harry Truman in 1948. Even though Truman was so unpopular at the outset that the "New Republic" magazine urged him not to run, and polls consistently had Dewey ahead, Truman clearly stood for something -- and for months he battled for what he stood for. That turned out to be enough to beat Dewey, who simply stood in the center.

It is very doubtful that most of the people who voted for Harry Truman agreed with him on all the things he stood for. But they knew he stood for something, and they agreed with enough of it to put him back in the White House.

It is equally doubtful that most of the people who voted for Ronald Reagan in his two landslide victories agreed with all his positions. But they agreed with enough of them to put him in the White House to replace Jimmy Carter, who stood in the center, even if it was only a center of confusion.

President Gerald Ford, after narrowly beating off a rare challenge by Ronald Reagan to a sitting president of his own party, seized the center in the general election -- and lost to an initially almost totally unknown governor from Georgia.

President George H.W. Bush, after initially winning election by coming across as another Ronald Reagan, with his "Read my lips, no new taxes" speech, turned "kinder and gentler" -- to everyone except the taxpayers -- once he was in office. In other ways as well, he seized the center. And lost to another unknown governor.

More recently, we have seen two more Republican candidates who seized the center -- Senators Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2008 -- go down to defeat, McCain at the hands of a man that most people had never even heard of, just three years earlier.

Michael Medved, however, reads history differently. To him, Barry Goldwater got clobbered in the 1964 elections because of his strong conservatism. But did his opponent, Lyndon Johnson, seize the center? Johnson was at least as far to the left as Goldwater was to the right. And Goldwater scared the daylights out of people with the way he expressed himself, especially on foreign policy, where he came across as reckless.

Senator Goldwater was not crazy enough to start a nuclear war. But the way he talked sometimes made it seem as if he were. Ronald Reagan would later be elected and re-elected taking positions essentially the same as those on which Barry Goldwater lost big time. Reagan was simply a lot better at articulating his beliefs.

Michael Medved uses the 2008 defeat of Tea Party candidates for the Senate, in three states where Democrats were vulnerable, as another argument against those who do not court the center. But these were candidates whose political ineptness was the problem, not conservatism.

Candidates should certainly reach out to a broad electorate. But the question is whether they reach out by promoting their own principles to others or by trying to be all things to all people.



10 Of The Best Economics Quotes From Milton Friedman

John Hawkins

Milton Friedman was an extraordinary Nobel Prize-winning economist whose ideas helped underpin modern conservative economic theory. His contributions to economics and the conservative movement cannot be underestimated. Sadly, Milton Friedman passed away a little more than five years ago at the ripe old age of 94. Although Friedman is no longer with us, his words, his ideas, and his legacy live on. In honor of Friedman, here are some of his best quotations.

10) "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."

9) "I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible."

8) "The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit."

7) "When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. That is why buildings in the Soviet Union -- like public housing in the United States -- look decrepit within a year or two of their construction..."

6) "There is all the difference in the world, however, between two kinds of assistance through government that seem superficially similar: first, 90 percent of us agreeing to impose taxes on ourselves in order to help the bottom 10 percent, and second, 80 percent voting to impose taxes on the top 10 percent to help the bottom 10 percent -- William Graham Sumner's famous example of B and C decided what D shall do for A. The first may be wise or unwise, an effective or ineffective way to help the disadvantaged -- but it is consistent with belief in both equality of opportunity and liberty. The second seeks equality of outcome and is entirely antithetical to liberty."

5) "When the United States was formed in 1776, it took 19 people on the farm to produce enough food for 20 people. So most of the people had to spend their time and efforts on growing food. Today, it's down to 1% or 2% to produce that food. Now just consider the vast amount of supposed unemployment that was produced by that. But there wasn't really any unemployment produced. What happened was that people who had formerly been tied up working in agriculture were freed by technological developments and improvements to do something else. That enabled us to have a better standard of living and a more extensive range of products."

4) "Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else's resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property."

3) "Inflation is taxation without legislation."

2) "The great danger to the consumer is the monopoly -- whether private or governmental. His most effective protection is free competition at home and free trade throughout the world. The consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him. Alternative sources of supply protect the consumer far more effectively than all the Ralph Naders of the world."

1) "(T)he supporters of tariffs treat it as self-evident that the creation of jobs is a desirable end, in and of itself, regardless of what the persons employed do. That is clearly wrong. If all we want are jobs, we can create any number -- for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs -- jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume."




Gingrich: "Newt Gingrich is a bad bet because he will embarrass the Republican Party. He will do so through things he has already said and done and in ways we cannot predict except to be sure -- because character will win out -- that they will happen. No sooner had Republicans, with a huge boost from Gingrich, achieved the long-denied prize of control of the House of Representatives than Gingrich embarrassed the party by signing a $4.5 million book deal. Though an effective, even inspired, backbencher in Congress, Gingrich proved an incompetent and sometimes petulant leader. Gingrich was the only speaker of the House in U.S. history to be removed by his own party. It wasn't a cabal of liberals who forced him out, but Dick Armey, Bill Paxon, Tom DeLay and John Boehner.

The broccoli test: "We should give it to the GOP presidential candidates. Call it the broccoli test. During oral arguments before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the constitutionality of Obamacare's health-insurance mandate, the Obama administration's lawyer, Beth Brinkmann, was asked whether a federal law requiring all Americans to eat broccoli would be constitutional. 'It depends,' she replied."

Secret Fed loans gave banks $13 billion undisclosed to Congress: "The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. ... The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required emergency loans of a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn't mention that they took tens of billions of dollars at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed's below-market interest rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue"

Explosion rocks Iranian city of Isfahan, home to key nuclear facility: "An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city. According to reports, frightened residents called the fire department after the blast, forcing the city authorities to admit there had been an explosion.Residents reported that their windows shook from the explosion's force.

The government is expropriating wealth at a rapid rate: "This expropriation of private wealth is not accidental. It is the joint product of the Fed’s near-zero interest-rate policies, the Fed’s money supply increases that underlie the current rate of inflation, and the tax rates established by Congress and administered by the IRS, including the taxation of nominal interest earnings even when they amount to real losses of capital, rather than genuine earnings."

Social networking beyond surveillance: "Diaspora* is no Facebook. It’s not even a web site, really. It is a group of software packages. Essentially, Diaspora* turns your computer into your own personal web server. The added data security comes from being able to send data directly from one PC to another without going through a central node. The guys running Diaspora* aren’t 'promising' to keep your data private. They never have it to begin with."

Review: Slackernomics: "Slackernomics is a primer on basic economic theory that, as the title suggests, is written for people who think economics is boring. It’s written in a convivial tone, and the illustrative examples that Dale [Franks] uses reminds one more of Freakonomics than of Adam Smith. Don’t let that fool you, though -- the book is not a 'sideshow' like Freakonomics -- it gets to the heart of the matter."

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

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


29 November, 2011


With breathless anticipation the crowd awaits the unveiling of the Obama Statue


Obama’s culture of corruption’s unwitting victims

The Obama Administration’s Solyndra scandal that cost U.S. taxpayers $535 million is just the tip of the iceberg of the scandal enveloping Obama’s use of taxpayer dollars to help his top donors. In the Solyndra case, Obama campaign cash machine George Kaiser personally spoke with the White House about the taxpayer loan, using his clout as a major donor to get the access needed to boost his fortune at the expense of the taxpayer.

Now, we are learning that this practice of using tax dollars to pay off contributors and enrich political allies was not unusual, but in fact was common place.

To show the gravity of the scandal, even Newsweek, in its November 13, 2011, issue writes, “Nevertheless, a large proportion of the winners were companies with Obama-campaign connections. Indeed, at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting your money.”

The Newsweek piece continues, “At the same time, several politicians who supported Obama managed to strike gold by launching alternative-energy companies and obtaining grants. How much did they get? According to the Department of Energy’s own numbers, a lot. In the 1705 government-backed-loan program, for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers — individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.”

Unless someone just fell off the turnip truck, it is hard to believe that more than 80 percent of the green grant funding requests worthy of receiving taxpayer dollars just happened to be submitted by those with strong ties to Obama or his campaign.

The shock is not that the graft occurred but that it occurred on a scale that no one has ever imagined before.

Obama has nationalized the Chicago patronage system of providing garbage, snow removal and road construction contracts to contributors and relatives, raising the stakes from relatively penny ante corruption to a revolving door pay to play system where contributors get contracts. It would certainly not be surprising to learn that these same lucky grantees are again making major contributions to Obama-controlled political committees. After all, whoever walks away from a slot machine that is a guaranteed jackpot.

This modernized system would make the infamous Boss Tweed proud.

The one bright spot from the scale of the graft is that many of the vanguards of the far left have been outed once and for all as nothing more than Democrat shills.

The silence from left wing “watchdog” groups has been deafening. Could it be that they are recipients of some of the well-washed public loot to provide funding for their efforts to “expose” any group receiving Koch Industries funding?

Environmental guru Al Gore has also been strangely silent. One would think that with the entire world eco-system in the balance, Mr. “Green” would be outraged that public funds are being misspent on politically favored companies which have no hope of saving the planet. But no, Al Gore is now a green venture capitalist who opens the doors for chosen green companies to the very government monies that are in question.

Fred Wertheimer and groups like Common Cause have been deafeningly silent on this massive public corruption. In fact a search of the Common Cause website finds that the word Solyndra doesn’t even appear once, let alone the name of the Obama bundler who profited from the guaranteed taxpayer loan. This startling lack of even a passing acknowledgement of the scandal leaves Common Cause with the same tattered independent watchdog credentials that the National Organization for Women earned following their acquiescence during the Monica Lewinski affair.

And the Washington Post, which brought down a presidency by exposing a White House cover up of the actions of bit players in the Nixon Administration, has failed to headline the Solyndra scandal on their front page even once. This failure to cover the biggest pay for play scandal in U.S. history has been used by one political scientist with a good publicist to give Obama the designation as “scandal free.”

The truth is that on a scale of one to 10, the Nixon scandals were about a three compared to Obama green payoff being a 10. Compare the attempt to cover up the activities of underlings who broke the law, with the funneling of billions of dollars to donors and political friends through objective eyes, and anyone can see that on sheer scale, Obama has out-Nixoned Nixon. Yet, the Post proceeds with the “nothing to see here, move right along” attitude that has effectively reduced its legitimacy to the level of the uber-left Talking Points Memo blog.

As Obama’s “green investment scheme” continues to unravel, his presidency may avoid political fall-out due to the concerted effort of those with “good government” sheen. But, for anyone paying attention, the Post and Common Cause have forever sacrificed whatever moral high ground they might have claimed in the past on the Obama altar.

After all, a reputation is something that you work a lifetime to achieve, and it can be lost in the blink of an eye. I wonder if in 2013, they will still believe that trading their last shreds of integrity to protect Obama was worth it.



157 Air Force Majors terminated without retirement benefits

This is unlikely to be Obama's direct doing but it is a consequence of his cutbacks. A possibility unmentioned below is that many of those who have been retired may be able to join reserve forces and thus qualify for their 20-year benefits -- or so I am told -- JR

One of the best ways to destroy American military capabilities would be to convince career military personnel -- both officers and enlisted -- that their commitment to service will not be rewarded with the retirement benefits they have earned by their faithful obedience to orders, no matter the personal cost or risks they endure. The Obama administration seems to be ready to destroy the belief that service will be rewarded as faithfully as duty was performed, one step at a time.

The latest step in that direction is the announcement that 157 Air Force majors will be terminated prior to retirement, without the opportunity to complete the 20 full years of service necessary to qualify for retirement pay. Caroline May of the Daily Caller writes:
The Chapman University of Military Law and its associated AMVETS Legal Clinic are blowing the whistle on what they say is an injustice set to be perpetrated on 157 Air Force majors on the last day of November.

"The Obama administration has ordered massive reductions in forces, resulting in many officers who are near retirement being involuntarily separated without retirement or medical benefits," explained institute director Maj. Kyndra Rotunda.

The Department of Defense specifies that service members within six years of retirement normally would be retained and allowed to retire on time with benefits, unless extenuating circumstances exist such as disciplinary issues.
According to lawyers at Chapman and the AMVETS Legal Clinic, the Air Force has deviated from the six-year protection "without any legal authority."

The bond of trust between service members and the nation they serve, once broken, is difficult to rebuild. A nation unable to convince its young men and women to devote their careers to military service is left vulnerable to foreign military threat. Is that what we really want for America?



The crusher

"We'll run against their tax increase, and we'll crush them."

With those bracing words, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and the nation's leading opponent of excessive taxation, framed what is becoming the great issue of the 2012 presidential campaign.

With the demise of the super committee, and on top of years of excessive, extravagant over-spending, the matter of the repeal of the Bush tax cuts is now front and center in the public arena.

Democrats do not assess the state of play, or the upcoming elections, the same as Mr. Norquist. They quote polls supposedly justifying their plans to limit tax increases "only" to "wealthy" taxpayers making over $250,000 per year. In other words, they appear to be fine with the Bush tax cuts expiring, across the board, unless the "rich" are taxed at a higher rate. And, yes, entitlements are untouchable.

Unfortunately for the Democrats rescinding or even threatening to rescind the Bush tax cuts for taxpayers at all income levels, not just whomever they deem to be inordinately or inappropriately prosperous and successful, may be a Pyrrhic victory at best. More likely, it will be the political equivalent of Chernobyl.

The Bush tax cuts expire after the election. If the Republicans hang tough and campaign as Grover Norquist envisions, just how do you think independent swing voters will break? Will they vote based on class resentment, holding out for a Bush-Lite tax cut for those the Democrats deem worthy? Or recalling the last four years of spending, taxing and over-regulating, and seeing the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as a seamless web, vote Republican, or more accurately, anti-Democratic, out of concern for four more years of the same? The question answers itself.

Maybe liberals and Democrats simply can't comprehend the toxic nature of taxing and spending to the American middle class, which is what most independent voters are. Ezra Klein, one of the Washington Post's "progressive" columnists on economic and domestic policy, believes that the Republicans in Congress are in a double bind, facing "two triggers" which, presumably, are a kind of "nightmare" for them. He is referring to the automatic sequestration of $1.2 trillion, set to go off on January 1, 2013, bleeding both defense and domestic spending in equal measure, and, number two, the "extremely progressive trigger worth $3.8 trillion that goes off" on the very same date -- the automatic expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

The Democrats have to do nothing to achieve substantial increases in revenue and deficit reduction, claims Klein.

Klein says "the Democrats are in the driver's seat." Yet, he is mystified that the "Republicans don't seem particularly worried about the triggers, and Democrats don't seem particularly interested in pressing their advantage. At least for now."

In truth, Klein hedges his claim that the White House and the Democrats in Congress are sitting pretty. He admits, in a masterpiece of understatement, that "Letting the Bush tax cuts expire is not a popular policy. Nor do crowds cheer for automatic sequestration." Still, if a deal is impossible, and the tax cuts in their entirety are rescinded, does the White House "really think that would be a bad outcome? Or is it a better one than they could have imagined?"

Republicans might find themselves asking, "Is this a trick or what? How could we be so lucky?"

Klein's political tin ear or cluelessness characterizes, not just liberals and Democrats, but also many inside the Beltway at least as it relates to anything as massive as a $3.8 billion tax increase which will result from letting the Bush tax cuts evaporate into a mist of spending and entitlement growth.

Grover Norquist and Ezra Klein are reading the electoral tealeaves in very different ways. Norquist seems to be relishing the thought of crucifying the President and the Democrats on a cross of tax increases. Klein seems to think the repeal of the tax increases, in toto, especially those for the "wealthy" or productive Americans, redounds upon the GOP and benefits of the White House and its congressional allies. Or something.

I'm putting my money on Grover.

The Wall Street Journal recently opined in an editorial entitled, "Thank You, Grover Norquist," expressing their gratitude to him for "reminding Republicans of their antitax promises" and "helping to expose the real reason for the super committee's failure: the two parties disagree profoundly on a vision of government."



The cost of regulation

The Golden Gate Bridge is an ironic American structure. It was finished in just four years and came in $1.3 million under budget. Earlier this month, California Senator Dianne Feinstein acknowledged that could not happen today: “…it would take a hundred years to do it with all the permits we need.” It was a rare moment of candor from a California Democrat, acknowledging environmental and labor regulations make it hard to build things in America.

She actually sounded a lot like Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels – a Republican – who made a similar point at The Heritage Foundation in September. According to Mr. Daniels, Indiana “can build [infrastructure projects] in at least a third less time and sometimes half the money when we do it ourselves.” He also noted that Indiana could build its own bike trails for just $250,000 per mile, whereas it costs $1,000,000 per mile when federal money is involved because of all the accompanying red tape.

If lawmakers are looking for bipartisanship, they should start right here, where there is an actual agreement. Unfortunately, far too many in Washington are part of the Establishment and have no desire to tackle the regulatory hurdles and labor rules that increase costs, delay timelines and destroy jobs.



Aggressive British tax collection agency driving firms abroad

As if aggressive Greenie regulation and high tax rates are not enough!

The crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion is bad for UK business, a leading accountancy firm has said.

UHY Hacker Young said the extra investigations and more aggressive stance by the HM Revenue and Customs risks making the UK a less attractive jurisdiction for businesses.

“The Government and HMRC now seem to believe that they found the secret of alchemy,” said Roy Maugham, tax partner at the firm.
“All they need to do is invest more money in tax investigations and compliance work and the extra tax income will keep flooding in.

“The reality is that much of the money that HMRC collects from compliance work is from businesses that feel intimidated into settling or where HMRC is able to outspend a less well-resourced small or medium sized company.”

Mr Maugham said many UK companies have moved their domicile overseas to Ireland, Switzerland and Malta not just because of the UK’s high business taxes but because of the increasingly aggressive attitude of HMRC to tax collection.

“There is a downside to their tough approach,” he said. The lost tax revenues from businesses that have avoided setting up their headquarters in the UK could be far more costly to HM Treasury than the short-term boost from the increased compliance take, he said.


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

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


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


28 November, 2011

Alice in Liberal Land

By Thomas Sowell

"Alice in Wonderland" was written by a professor who also wrote a book on symbolic logic. So it is not surprising that Alice encountered not only strange behavior in Wonderland, but also strange and illogical reasoning -- of a sort too often found in the real world, and which a logician would be very much aware of.

If Alice could visit the world of liberal rhetoric and assumptions today, she might find similarly illogical and bizarre thinking. But people suffering in the current economy might not find it nearly as entertaining as "Alice in Wonderland."

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the world envisioned by today's liberals is that it is a world where other people just passively accept whatever "change" liberals impose.

In the world of Liberal Land, you can just take for granted all the benefits of the existing society, and then simply tack on your new, wonderful ideas that will make things better.

For example, if the economy is going along well and you happen to take a notion that there ought to be more homeownership, especially among the poor and minorities, then you simply have the government decree that lenders have to lend to more low-income people and minorities who want mortgages, ending finicky mortgage standards about down payments, income and credit histories.

That sounds like a fine idea in the world of Liberal Land. Unfortunately, in the ugly world of reality, it turned out to be a financial disaster, from which the economy has still not yet recovered. Nor have the poor and minorities.

Apparently you cannot just tack on your pet notions to whatever already exists, without repercussions spreading throughout the whole economy. That's what happens in the ugly world of reality, as distinguished from the beautiful world of Liberal Land.

The strange and bizarre characters found in "Alice in Wonderland" have counterparts in the political vision of Liberal Land today. Among the most interesting of these characters are those elites who are convinced that they are so much smarter than the rest of us that they feel both a right and a duty to take all sorts of decisions out of our incompetent hands -- for our own good.

In San Francisco, which is Liberal Land personified, there have been attempts to ban the circumcision of newborn baby boys. Fortunately, that was nipped in the bud. But it shows how widely the self-anointed saviors of Liberal Land feel entitled to take decisions out of the hands of mere ordinary citizens.

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner says, "We're facing a very consequential debate about some fundamental choices as a country." People talk that way in Liberal Land. Moreover, such statements pass muster with those who simply take in the words, decide whether they sound nice to them, and then move on.

But, if you take words seriously, the more fundamental question is whether individuals are to remain free to make their own choices, as distinguished from having collectivized choices, "as a country" -- which is to say, having choices made by government officials and imposed on the rest of us.

The history of the 20th century is a painful lesson on what happens when collective choices replace individual choices. Even leaving aside the chilling history of totalitarianism in the 20th century, the history of economic central planning shows it to have been such a widely recognized disaster that even communist and socialist governments were abandoning it as the century ended.

Making choices "as a country" cannot be avoided in some cases, such as elections or referenda. But that is very different from saying that decisions in general should be made "as a country" -- which boils down to having people like Geithner taking more and more decisions out of our own hands and imposing their will on the rest of us.

That way lies madness exceeding anything done by the Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland." That way lie unfunded mandates, nanny-state interventions in people's lives, such as banning circumcision -- and the ultimate nanny-state monstrosity, Obamacare.

The world of reality has its problems, so it is understandable that some people want to escape to a different world, where you can talk lofty talk and forget about ugly realities like costs and repercussions.

The world of reality is not nearly as lovely as the world of Liberal Land. No wonder so many people want to go there.



America is the land of free speech, sometimes

By: John Stossel

We're proud that America is the land of free speech. That right is recognized in the First Amendment, and we usually take it seriously. It wasn't always the case.

In John Adams' administration, the Sedition Act made it a crime, punishable by fine and imprisonment, "to write, print, utter or publish ... any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government ... or to excite against (it) the hatred of the people ..."

Thankfully, Thomas Jefferson and other libertarians got rid of that law.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison for calling for draft resistance during World War I. His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court, led by that alleged civil libertarian Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Today, fortunately, no one goes to jail for criticizing the draft, or the U.S. government's wars. So we've made progress -- in some areas. But in others, we've regressed. I once interviewed someone who said words are like bullets because words can wound; this justified some censorship in his eyes.

Ugly words in a workplace can indeed make it hard for someone to succeed at work, and racism in school can make it hard to learn. But I say words are words and bullets are bullets. Speech is special. We should counter hateful speech with more words -- not government force.

I discussed this issue with lawyer Harvey Silverglate, who has devoted his career to defending speech. These days, he sees new threats.

"The old threats we managed to beat mostly in court and also in the court of public opinion," Silverglate said. "So the censors have simply come up with new terms for speech they don't like. They call it 'harassment' or ... 'bullying.'"

The "harassment" attack on speech came from feminists who said sex talk in the workplace must be forbidden because certain statements harass women.

"They tried to restrict speech on the theory that harassment may make it impossible for somebody in a historically disadvantaged group to get their work done, to study and get an education."

I pointed out that sexist speech might in fact do that -- if you have a bunch of guys making cracks constantly about women. "You've got a right to respond with horrible speech if you are attacked with horrible speech. As long as that's a two-way street, the First Amendment has worked," he said.

Silverglate was once hired by faculty members at the University of Wisconsin who objected to a speech code intended to protect minorities, women and gays from offensive expression.

"I didn't actually win that battle. You know who won it? A gay student got up and said, 'If you're looking to have a speech code to protect me, don't do it, because I actually like knowing who hates me. It's useful. It tells me when I should watch my back.'"

Silverglate started a group to protect speech on college campuses, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). His co-founder was Alan Charles Kors, with whom he wrote "The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on American Campuses."

FIRE lawyers defended students at Northern Arizona University who wanted to hand out small American flags to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. They planned to distribute the flags outdoors, but it rained. So they went inside the student union, where four different university officials told them to stop.

The students refused, and two were charged with violating the student code. FIRE helped the students get media coverage that pointed out that the First Amendment protects students at public institutions. The school dropped its case against the students.

Several colleges used to have rules requiring that all student protest be held in a small, out-of-the-way "free speech zone" on campus. FIRE mocked these as "censorship zones," and colleges have gotten rid of most of these restrictive rules.

FIRE often strikes blows for free speech simply by bringing unfavorable publicity to a heavy-handed school. As Justice Louis Brandeis said, "Sometimes, sunlight is the best disinfectant."



Chevron RICO suit highlights collusion between trial lawyers, green groups and Ecuadorian court

Trial lawyers typically have the upper hand in litigation built around environmental charges, but they are taking a beating at the hands of Chevron Corp. in U.S. federal courts. Through its discovery efforts, the company has acquired documents that belong to the lawyers for plaintiffs in Lago Agrio, Ecuador that includes evidence of potentially unlawful collusion. Consequently, Chevron has filed an amended RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) complaint that reinforces the case against attorneys and consultants who have orchestrated the anti-corporate campaign.

Chevron is defending itself against allegations that it is responsible for alleged environmental damage in the Amazon region of Ecuador. The litigation began in New York back in 1993, but the case was moved to Ecuador a decade later. Although Chevron has never operated in Ecuador, it purchased Texaco Petroleum in 2001, which was the subject of the initial suit. Plaintiffs accused Texaco of dumping oil-drilling waste in unlined pits they claim later contaminated the forest and caused illness to the local population. In response, Chevron pointed out that Texaco remediated environmental impacts that resulted from its operations. Moreover, this remediation was certified by government agencies in Ecuador.

“All legitimate scientific evidence submitted during the litigation in Ecuador proves that TexPet’s remediation was effective and that the sites it remediated pose no unreasonable risks for human health or the environment,” Chevron officials have pointed out. Moreover, Ecuador’s state-owned company, Petroecuador, was actually the majority owner of the consortium that included Texaco and bears responsibility, with the government of Ecuador, for any environmental damage that has occurred in the region, Chevron has argued.

Nevertheless, in February, an Ecuadorian court in Lago Agrio issued an $18 billion judgment against Chevron. Since then the company has fought back vigorously. It claims the ruling is illegitimate and unenforceable because of documented evidence of fraud on the part of the plaintiffs, the Ecuadorian government and that country’s judiciary. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York concurred after hearing the evidence and issued a preliminary injunction that barred any attempt to enforce Ecuadorian judgment outside of that country.

In late March, in a related matter, an international arbitration panel at The Hague ruled in favor of Chevron in a separate, $700 million Ecuadorean claim involving previous Texaco work. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the Ecuador's courts violated international law.

The amended RICO from Chevron strongly suggests that the plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants provided “clandestine assistance” to the Ecuadorian court in drafting the judgment against Chevron.

"There is no apparent explanation as to how the judgment would have incorporated these errors and irregularities without cooperation between the Ecuadorian court and the plaintiffs' representatives," stated R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel. "This is another instance of the fraud and corruption that have permeated the Ecuadorian judicial proceedings."



Curbing class-action suits that benefit lawyers, but not plaintiffs

Imagine that you get a congratulatory note in the mail because you won a multimillion-dollar settlement in a class-action lawsuit. Only problem is, you didn't even know you were involved in the case, so what does "your" victory mean for you? You get nothing, but the lawyers who brought the lawsuit will be paid handsomely, and some obscure charities also get big financial windfalls. This is precisely what happened not long ago to 66 million plaintiffs covered by a 2009 class-action lawsuit against America Online. The good news, however, is that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out this settlement and in the process placed some much-needed curbs on the use of class-action settlements as vehicles to create charitable slush funds.

This practice of giving undistributed settlement money to third parties (often charities) is known as "cy-pres" (pronounced "see-pray"), which alludes to a French expression for "next best" or "as close as possible." The idea is that in some cases, it is simply impossible or impractical to compensate members of a wronged class, usually because they either cannot be located or don't respond when informed of their status.

In this case, AOL had earned only $2 million on the actions that sparked the lawsuit, which was unilaterally placing ads in the email footers of its 66 million customers. Even a settlement worth 10 times that amount, at 30 cents per plaintiff, would cost more to distribute than it would be worth. In such cases, courts will often allow a cy-pres settlement in which proceeds go to a charity suggested by the plaintiffs or selected by the judge that will at least theoretically benefit the class.

Unfortunately, judges in our system sometimes take liberties with cy-pres awards. In the AOL case, the district court judge approved sending money to a number of local Los Angeles charities whose purposes were completely unrelated to any issues involved in the case, such as cyber-privacy. The district court judge's husband just happened to sit on the board of one of the charities receiving the cy-pres funds.

But then Ted Frank, who heads the justly lauded Center for Class Action Fairness, challenged the settlement and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him, over the objections of both AOL and the plaintiffs' attorneys. The court noted that the "proposed awards fail to (1) address the objectives of the underlying statutes, (2) target the plaintiff class or (3) provide reasonable certainty that any member will be benefitted."

This ruling is important for two main reasons: First, it establishes that the doctrine of cy-pres does not create a slush fund for lawyers and judges to help the charities of their choice. Second, if the ruling discourages this abuse in the future, it will prevent lawyers taking cases they know won't ever benefit their clients, in the mere hope of generating large cy-pres awards that inflate their own fees. And curbing this sort of lawsuit abuse helps everybody who cares about preserving the credibility of our courts.


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

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

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


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


27 November, 2011

Are Progressives For the Little Guy?

Liberals aren't liberals anymore. These days they call themselves "progressives."

Writing in The New York Times, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs said there were two progressive eras: one in the early part of the last century and the other during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. He called on liberals to create a third progressive era, in part "to re-establish the supremacy of people votes over dollar votes in Washington."

To hear Sachs tell it, progressivism means being in favor of the little guy and against the special interests. Aligning himself with the motley crew that calls itself Occupy Wall Street, he writes:
The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. The movement, still in its first days, will have to expand in several strategic ways. Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account. Shareholders, for example, should pressure companies to get out of politics. Consumers should take their money and purchasing power away from companies that confuse business and political power.

Sachs doesn't know much about history. Nor do most other people. Given Teddy Roosevelt’s attacks on "the trusts" and the muckraking novels of Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell, you might suppose that 100 years ago progressives were antibusiness. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The fundamental economic vision of progressivism was to not to combat special interests, but to embrace and empower them. In a very real sense, "progressivism" means rule by special interests.

As the leftist historian Gabriel Kolko has documented, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) — our first progressive-era federal regulatory agency — was dominated by, and served the interest of, the railroads. The main accomplishments of regulation were to outlaw price cutting, establish minimum prices and make the railroads more profitable than they had ever been. The experience was far from unique.

The regulatory apparatus created by the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 served the interests of large meat packers. Safety standards were invariably already being met — or were easily accommodated — by large companies. But the regulations forced many small enterprises out of business and made it difficult for new ones to enter the industry.

This same pattern — of regulatory agencies serving the interests of the regulated — was repeated with the establishment of almost all subsequent regulatory agencies. For this reason, Kolko called the entire Progressive Era the "triumph of conservatism."

The practices Kolko described were elevated to a refined science by Woodrow Wilson’s War Industries Board (WIB) during World War I. Trade associations were allowed to organize along industry lines — controlling output, setting prices and effectively functioning as an industry-by-industry system of cartels. By the time Franklin Roosevelt established the National Recovery Administration (NRA) during the Depression years, planners could draw not only upon the experience of the Wilson-era WIB, but also on the far more extensive experience of Mussolini’s Italian economy — which was organized in the same way. In fact, Roosevelt’s economic vision for America was almost identical to the vision of Italian fascism.

As Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, there are more than a few transatlantic parallels. The symbol of the NRA was the Blue Eagle, which businesses were expected to hang on their doors to show compliance with NRA rules. Newspapers in both America and Germany compared the Blue Eagle to the swastika and the German Reich eagle. A quasi-official army of informants and goon squads helped monitor compliance. Nuremberg-style Blue Eagle rallies were held, including a gathering of 10,000 strong at Madison Square Garden. A New York City Blue Eagle parade was larger than the ticker-tape parade celebrating Charles Lindbergh’s crossing of the Atlantic.

Through the NRA, the federal government — backed by the full force of criminal law — intruded into virtually every economic transaction. An immigrant dry cleaner spent three months in jail for charging 35 cents to press a suit when the code required a minimum charge of 40 cents. Another case — one that went all the way to the Supreme Court — involved immigrant brothers who ran a small poultry business. Among the laws they were accused of violating was a requirement that buyers of chickens not select the chicken they were buying. Instead the buyer needed to reach into the coop and take the first chicken that came to hand. (Amity Shlaes explains the reason: buyers would be tempted to take the best chicken, leaving less desirable options for other buyers.)

In Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (the so-called "sick chicken" case), a unanimous Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional. Roosevelt responded by trying to intimidate the justices and by asking Congress to expand the number of justices so that he could pack the court with judges more to his liking. Although he lost the battle, Roosevelt eventually won the war.

The Supreme Court today places very few restrictions on government authority to regulate the marketplace, no matter how indefensible the interventions.

The use of the word "progressive" by modern liberals is appropriate — to the degree that it reminds us of the historical and intellectual roots of much of liberal thinking. But there is another sense in which the word is very misleading. In general, there is nothing truly progressive about modern progressives. That is, nothing in their thinking is forward looking. Invariably, the social model they have in mind is in the distant past. Many explicitly admit they would like to resurrect Roosevelt’s New Deal.

In this sense, most people on the left who use the word "progressive" are actually reactionaries. Many are explicit about their desire to preserve the current allocation of jobs and the incomes that derive from those jobs. Although they tend to focus on opposing globalization and international trade, consistency requires them to oppose virtually all of the "creative destruction" that the economist Joseph Shumpeter said was inevitable in any dynamic, capitalistic economy.



Small business: The latest Obama pretense

Today is Small Business Saturday, a new holiday supported by little firms such as American Express, Google, Verizon, Dun and Bradstreet, Occupy Wall Street and –[gush, breathless] Barack Hussein Obama!

Just by the sponsors alone you can tell this is a program designed to create millions of small business jobs in places like India, China, Thailand and Mexico.

Remember, there’s no U-S-A in small business. Ok, maybe there are the letters U-S-A in small business, but why let the facts get in the way of another of Obama's Potemkin jobs moments.

In the Orwellian world of Obama-speak, Small Business Saturday is a day when we should “reaffirm our support for America’s small business owners and their staff, and …celebrate the proud tradition of entrepreneurship they represent.”

Reaffirm and Celebrate. Gotcha. Words that will make the eyes of any small business owner red with gratitude when Obama sends them their very own personal Small Business Saturday greeting card made by Hallmark’s greeting card division instead of Hallmark’s retail store or broadcasting division.

Because what celebration of small business would be complete by the Obama administration without reaffirming the mounds of red-tape that Obama and his confederates have saddled small business with?

“Overall, the Obama Administration imposed 75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion,” reports Heritage.

In contrast, there were only six deregulatory actions by the Obama administration saving $1.5 billion says the Heritage report.

And those costs were just the cost by the government to implement the regulations, not the overall cost to industry- that is; not the costs to you and I.

In terms of the overall impact on the economic health of the country, the figure is much higher.

“More specifically, the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion,” writes the federal government’s own Small Business Administration.

Heritage reports that that’s nearly twice the amount that the government collects annually in individual income taxes. Ouch!

The costs are a hidden tax, not just on the rich, says Heritage, but on everyone equally.

But because regulations prevent the creation of new jobs, it hits the poor and middle class particularly hard, “while the updated cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is now $10,585 (a 36 percent difference between the costs incurred by small firms when compared with their larger counterparts),” says the SBA.

In other words, small employers take it on the chin at the rate of $3,810.60 per employee more than the big guys do.

No wonder the big corporate sponsors of Small Business Saturday wanted to invite Obama in on the deal.

Because while Obama’s rhetoric panders to the little guys, his actions seem geared to favor the big guys instead.

Maybe that’s what the president meant in his State of the Union message when he said his administration was only into doing “big” things: Big Labor, Big Business and Big Graft. There’s just so little opportunity to monetize political power with little people involved in small business- and monetization of political power is the first priority of Obama’s political machine.

It’s not hard to figure why the Obama administration is creating jobs at a post-war low. Jobs aren’t the goal. Fundraising is. That’s why dog and pony shows like Small Business Saturday loom so large for Obama and his corporate pals.

They serve as a reminder that Obama “cares” about little guys [cough, hack], while giving him an opportunity to put the squeeze on the Big Guys.

If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Obama is the Great Fabricator.

For Obama, every day is just another episode of the Beltway Unreality show, where acting is much more important than actually doing something; where pop-culture trumps substance.

But something’s different this election cycle.

The Chambers of Commerce, the Aspen Institute, American Express and the International Monetary Fund don’t own the media anymore.

You do- via the internet. While some may still be deceived, the rest of us are on to the scam.

And through you, Obama’s going to find out that reaffirming and celebrating small business one day a year, doesn’t make up for the 364 days a year that he screws them.



Moron speech from Hollywood

Mr Freeman

For an actor, the talented Morgan Freeman doesn't have the best sense of timing. At least when off-camera and talking politics. There's a lot of that going around. It figures. A presidential election approaches and folks are heating up.

For example, Mr. Freeman chose the eve of the GOP's straw poll in Florida to describe both the tea party and Republicans in general as racists. Mr. Freeman was particularly vociferous on the subject of those terrible Republicans who were always putting party above country. The only thing they're really interested in, he explained, was denying Barack Obama a second term in the White House. Or, as the talented Mr. Freeman put it, the Republicans' general attitude is: "Screw the country. We're going to do whatever we (need to do) to get this black man out of here."

Whereupon, the next day, the results of Florida's straw poll were announced, and, sure enough, which presidential candidate did those awful Republicans and tea party racists endorse, and by an overwhelming margin at that?

You guessed it: Herman Cain, who, as the current phraseology has it, happens to be black. (You can tell by the way he sings gospel.)

Stars of stage, screen and Democratic politics like Morgan Freeman and Alec Baldwin sound so much better when they let others write their lines. Rather than expose their prejudices. They can be so intelligent when following a well-written script. But left to their own clumsy devices off camera, they can say some fairly idiotic things. Sometimes that's not clear for a while. In this case, it was clear within 24 hours.

Just the other day, Mr. Baldwin was bashing Ronald Reagan as a "failed actor." If only the Republicans could find as great a failure to nominate as their next presidential candidate.



Unable to win fair and square, Big Labor pushes 'ambush elections'

Leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) last week officially endorsed President Obama for re-election in 2012. Endorsing a presidential candidate 11 months before the general election may seem a bit premature, but it's not even the record for the earliest endorsements so far in this cycle. The National Education Association (NEA) endorsed Obama in July, 14 months before the voting. While these early endorsements highlight the fact that Big Labor's leaders are little more than cheerleaders (and paymasters) for the Democratic Party, at least voters will have plenty of time between now and next November to weigh all the facts, policy positions and records of the parties' two eventual nominees.

But what if they didn't? What if unions not only got to endorse candidates, but also schedule election day at a time of their choosing? What if they could also control what the opposing party could say during that election? Would that be fair? Well, it's obviously a moot point in elections for public office, but President Obama thinks it would be just dandy in union votes. His appointees on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) promise to make a final decision November 30th on their proposed new regulations that would allow unions to force organizing elections in non-union workplaces in as little as 10 days.

Currently, there is about a five-week window between when union organizers petition the NLRB to conduct a secret-ballot election, and when the vote actually happens. That time between announcement and vote allows both sides abundant opportunities to make their case, so workers can cast informed ballots on whether to form a union. But the problem for Big Labor is that informed workers are increasingly choosing to keep their freedom to work without paying union dues. Union membership peaked at 26 percent of the work force in 1953. Today, only 9.6 percent of workers are union members. In the private sector, less than 7 percent of workers are unionized.

The NLRB regulation to be adopted next Wednesday is designed to reverse that trend. Union organizers would be empowered to force hurry-up, or "ambush," elections in less than two weeks. At best, this compressed schedule would significantly reduce the time business owners and managers have to make their case against unionization.


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

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


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


26 November, 2011

The definition of liberalism has changed greatly over time

By Adam Bitely

Many people—unfortunately—associate the term “liberalism” with the ideology commonly held by people who associate themselves with Barack Obama, progressivism, Occupy Wall Street, and the Democratic National Committee. But are supporters of the above causes, politicians, and parties really “liberals?”

In the modern sense of the term as it applied to American politics, the answer would be yes. But if we were to go back in time about 200 years or so, modern day American liberals would not agree with their “liberal” forefathers.

Think of the revolutionary period in American history. American patriots rallying around the cause of “No taxation without representation,” fear of centralized governments that ruled with great authority, and a great desire for the relationship that people have with their government to forever change to one of the people holding their government in check.

American liberals in 1776, the most famous of which are known as the Founding Fathers, supported limiting the power of government as much as possible. They believed that government powers needed checks at every turn, and that power would naturally corrupt.

Furthermore, these “liberals” did not subscribe to the view that empowering the government with more and more power would lead to a better society. They stood against such expansions as they already knew what happened when the government’s size and scope was beyond control. That is why the Constitution was designed the way it was, pitting each branch of government against the other, so that no one branch would grow powerful beyond control.

As George Mason University Professor of Economics Don Boudreaux recently wrote at CafeHayek.com, “Experience and reason recommended to liberalism’s founders the opposite view, namely, restraining the power of government might not be sufficient to ensure harmony and widespread wealth, but it is certainly necessary.”

But it in the modern day, the American liberal is associated with an ideology that supports ever-expanding government powers intended to correct the ills of society. To the modern American liberal, there is no problem that a politician should not be able to solve. The modern American liberal believes the government is needed to even the playing field, and redistribute from those who have to those who have not. The modern American liberal foresees the government making our lives pain-free and directing society towards prosperity.

Simply put, the modern American liberal has an ideology based in pure fantasy.

Ludwig von Mises once wrote when the definition of liberalism was much different, “Imagine a world order in which liberalism is supreme . . . there is private property in the means of production. The working of the market is not hampered by government interference. There are no trade barriers; men can live and work where they want.”

If Mises were alive today, he would have to use the word libertarianism in place of liberalism to describe the world where government stayed out of the market and no barriers to exchange existed. The liberals of 200 years ago are now referred to as classical liberals, and the modern day people who have a similar distrust of centralized government and the powers they have in the market place are now referred to as libertarians.

What a strange world it is when you consider just how much the definition of liberalism has changed. From the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to ObamaCare in 2010, the term “liberalism” has come to stand for entirely different meanings as the power of the government has expanded.



Should the Rich Be Condemned?

Walter E. Williams

Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, the phonograph, the DC motor and other items in everyday use and became wealthy by doing so. Thomas Watson founded IBM and became rich through his company's contribution to the computation revolution. Lloyd Conover, while in the employ of Pfizer, created the antibiotic tetracycline. Though Edison, Watson, Conover and Pfizer became wealthy, whatever wealth they received pales in comparison with the extraordinary benefits received by ordinary people. Billions of people benefited from safe and efficient lighting. Billions more were the ultimate beneficiaries of the computer, and untold billions benefited from healthier lives gained from access to tetracycline.

President Barack Obama, in stoking up class warfare, said, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." This is lunacy. Andrew Carnegie's steel empire produced the raw materials that built the physical infrastructure of the United States. Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft and produced software products that aided the computer revolution. But Carnegie had amassed quite a fortune long before he built Carnegie Steel Co., and Gates had quite a fortune by 1990. Had they the mind of our president, we would have lost much of their contributions, because they had already "made enough money."

Class warfare thrives on ignorance about the sources of income. Listening to some of the talk about income differences, one would think that there's a pile of money meant to be shared equally among Americans. Rich people got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. Justice requires that they "give back." Or, some people talk about unequal income distribution as if there were a dealer of dollars. The reason some people have millions or billions of dollars while others have very few is the dollar dealer is a racist, sexist, a multinationalist or just plain mean. Economic justice requires a re-dealing of the dollars, income redistribution or spreading the wealth, where the ill-gotten gains of the few are returned to their rightful owners.

In a free society, for the most part, people with high incomes have demonstrated extraordinary ability to produce valuable services for -- and therefore please -- their fellow man. People voluntarily took money out of their pockets to purchase the products of Gates, Pfizer or IBM. High incomes reflect the democracy of the marketplace. The reason Gates is very wealthy is millions upon millions of people voluntarily reached into their pockets and handed over $300 or $400 for a Microsoft product. Those who think he has too much money are really registering disagreement with decisions made by millions of their fellow men.

In a free society, in a significant way income inequality reflects differences in productive capacity, namely one's ability to please his fellow man. For example, I can play basketball and so can LeBron James, but would the Miami Heat pay me anything close to the $43 million they pay him? If not, why not? I think it has to do with the discriminating tastes of basketball fans who pay $100 or more to watch the game. If the Miami Heat hired me, they would have to pay fans to watch.

Stubborn ignorance sees capitalism as benefiting only the rich, but the evidence refutes that. The rich have always been able to afford entertainment; it was the development and marketing of radio and television that made entertainment accessible to the common man. The rich have never had the drudgery of washing and ironing clothing, beating out carpets or waxing floors. The mass production of washing machines, wash-and-wear clothing, vacuum cleaners and no-wax floors spared the common man this drudgery. At one time, only the rich could afford automobiles, telephones and computers. Now all but a small percentage of Americans enjoy these goods.

The prospects are dim for a society that makes mascots out of the unproductive and condemns the productive.



More bureaucratic tyranny

Man catches 881-pound tuna, seized by feds‏

A Massachusetts fisherman pulled in an 881-pound tuna this week only to have the federal authorities take it away. It sounds like a libertarian twist on the classic novella by Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, but for Carlos Rafael, the saga is completely true.

Rafael and his crew were using nets to catch bottom-dwellers when they inadvertently snagged the giant tuna. However, federal fishery enforcement agents took control of the behemoth when the boat returned to port. The reason for the seizure was procedural: While Rafael had the appropriate permits, fishermen are only allowed to catch tuna with a rod and reel.

It would seem that unlike the fictional New England shark hunters in Jaws, Rafael didn't need a bigger boat, just a better permit.

In an interview with the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Rafael disputes the claims from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) enforcement division that the humungous tuna was trawled from the bottom of the Atlantic. "They didn't catch that fish on the bottom," he said. "They probably got it in the mid-water when they were setting out and it just got corralled in the net. That only happens once in a blue moon."

And while Rafael is denied the mother of all fish stories, the federal impoundment of his catch also means he's probably losing out on a giant payday. A 754-pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000. NOAA regulators do not share any of the proceeds from the fish's eventual sale with a fisherman found in violation of federal rules.

"They said it had to be caught with rod and reel," a frustrated Rafael said. "We didn't try to hide anything. We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn't catch it with a net."

Rafael says he has meticulously prepared for a giant catch like this, purchasing 15 tuna permits over the past four years for his groundfish boats. He even immediately called a "bluefin tuna hot line" (yes, such things exist) to report his catch. "I wanted to sell the fish while it was fresh instead of letting it age on the boat," he said. "It was a beautiful fish."

Proceeds of the sale from the fish will be held in an account until the case is resolved, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement. "The matter is still under investigation," said Monica Allen, deputy director with NOAA Fisheries public affairs. "If it's determined that there has been a violation, the money will go into the asset forfeiture fund."



OWS has plenty of haters and agitators but stymied by lack of any leadership

Despite numerous anti-capitalist signs (e.g., "End Capitalism" and "Smash the Pillars of the Pig Empire") and an equally large number of signs advocating socialism and communism, the OWS movement insists that it doesn't want to destroy business; it just wants to make a few changes. Specifically, it wants American business to hire more people, increase salaries and benefits, provide free health care and education, reduce the prices of products and services, and eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The profits (if any, after all the wealth-sharing) should be returned to society. So the new system would be a hybrid in which capitalists could own businesses but control neither their property nor their profits. Let's call it Marxalism.

Nationwide demonstrations by rebellious youth may annoy and disrupt American business, but they are unlikely to cause an immediate, voluntary switch to Marxalism. Nor will they result in a swift enactment of anti-greed laws. The real leaders understand the futility of such languid tactics. They are professional radicals, hiding in the bowels of the movement — deep thinkers for whom class warfare is a full-time job. They are the friendly statists from ACORN-like orgs, whose anti-capitalist outrage calls for social revolution. And they want it before ADHD and cold weather drive demonstrators back to their jobs and classrooms.

In terms of the stated goals, two months of demonstrations have achieved nothing. As the OWS movement has grown and spread, so too has its proclivity for violence and revolution. Writing in the New York Post of a recent visit to Zuccotti Park, Charles Gasparino "found a unifying and increasingly coherent ideology emerging among the protesters, which at its core has less to do with the evils of the banking business and more about the evils of capitalism — and the need for a socialist revolution."

Unfortunately, the latest recruits to the cause — for the most part, criminals, drug users, panhandlers, and the homeless — have produced little more than a stench pervading the carnival-like encampments. Indeed, the increasing violence and decreasing sanitation of the movement has begun to wear out its welcome in many cities. And with the onslaught of winter, many protestors plan to retreat, vowing to return with the fair weather of spring. Self-respecting socialists cannot be expected to carry their clever anti-capitalist signs while shivering and holding their noses at their own fetor. Besides, it is an image more ridiculous than that of a Michael Moore T-shirt.

In the bowels of the OWS movement lie zealous agitators who see themselves as its true leaders. Privately they regard the mainstream media, vocal celebrities, and shrill professors of socioeconomic equality as useful idiots. When it comes to money and power, they are as greedy and exploitative as any of their oppressors. By offering false hope and fomenting hatred and unrest, they seek to extort capital and usurp power for themselves. And with thousands of eager demonstrators at their disposal, they believe their moment is now (or next spring).

But there is an obstruction, a chronic irritation — the lack of charismatic demagogues to articulate the ideology. Some would say the movement has been stricken with irritable bowel syndrome. Alas, for this strain, no medicine seems to be available.



Money slated for health law gets detoured

Lawmakers tap fund three times within a year

In cash-strapped Washington, President Obama’s $1 trillion health care law is presenting a tempting target for lawmakers seeking funds for other projects, as Congress last week raided the health care piggy bank for the third time in less than a year.

Congress last week axed a part of Democrats’ signature domestic achievement to find $11 billion to cover the cost of repealing a withholding tax that otherwise would have hit government contractors in 2013. Mr. Obama signed that bill into law on Monday.

The withholding bill follows two other efforts — one in December and another in April — that reworked the health care law to squeeze savings for other priorities. The December bill funded higher payments for doctors who treat Medicare patients, and the April legislation repealed a paperwork provision in the original health care law that businesses said would be onerous.

All told, Congress and the president have tapped some $50 billion earmarked to pay for benefits and programs in the health care overhaul in future years to fund more-immediate spending needs.

Both earlier efforts dealt with health care issues, but the bill Mr. Obama signed Monday marks the first time that the massive 2010 law has been tapped to fund something completely unrelated.

“They don’t want to open it up. They’re getting forced to open it up now and then, but to open it up for budgetary reasons, I think the pressures are pretty real,” said former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin, who said it’s easier to cut future benefits than it is to cut programs that are already paying out.

Most of the health care law’s benefits won’t begin paying out for several years, and Mr. Holtz-Eakin said he expects legislators to revisit the law again before then.

The failure of the bipartisan supercommittee this week to come up with a plan to shrink the federal deficit and find spending cuts and revenues is likely to increase the pressure to raid the health care program for funds.


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

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


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


25 November, 2011

European court says ISPs can't be forced to monitor illegal downloads

Since the American Left just ADORES European precedents, this verdict might cause both the FCC and legislators to lose momentum in their attempts to impose internet filtering and control on American ISPs

Internet service providers cannot be forced to block their users from downloading songs illegally, as such an order would breach EU rules, Europe's highest court said in a ruling welcomed by a consumer group.

The Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (ECJ) issued its verdict on Thursday in a case involving Belgian music royalty collecting society SABAM and Belgian telecom operator Belgacom unit Scarlet.

SABAM asked a Belgian court to order Scarlet to install a device to prevent its users from downloading copyrighted works. The court ruled in SABAM's favour and order Scarlet to install such a device. However, Scarlet then challenged the ruling, prompting the Belgian court to seek advice from the ECJ.

"EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files," the ECJ said.

"The filtering system would also be liable to infringe the fundamental rights of its [Scarlet's] customers, namely their right to protection of their personal data and their right to receive or impart information," the Luxembourg court said.

More here


I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday For a Tax Increase Today

By Ann Coulter

Bored with the Penn State scandal because it didn't implicate any prominent Republicans, the mainstream media have suddenly become obsessed with Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." They are monomaniacally fixated on luring Republicans into raising taxes.

If Democrats could balance the budget tomorrow and quadruple government spending, they'd refuse the deal unless they could also make Republicans break their tax pledge. That is their single-minded goal.

But the media are trying to turn it around and say that it's Republicans who are crazy for refusing to consider raising taxes no matter how much they get in spending cuts.

At Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate on foreign policy, for example, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates for the one-millionth time if they would agree to raise taxes in exchange for spending cuts 10 times larger than the tax hikes.

Terrorism can wait -- first, let me try to back you into a corner on raising taxes.

Amazingly, Blitzer cited Ronald Reagan's statement in his autobiography, "An American Life," that he would happily compromise with Democrats if he could get 75 or 80 percent of what he wanted -- implying that today's Republicans were nuttier than Reagan if they'd refuse a dollar in tax hikes for $10 in spending cuts.

Wolf should have kept reading. As Reagan explains a little farther in his autobiography: He did accept tax hikes "in return for (the Democrats') agreement to cut spending by $280 billion," but, Reagan continues, "the Democrats reneged on their pledge and we never got those cuts."

Maybe that's why Republicans won't agree to raise taxes in exchange for Democratic promises to cut spending.

For Americans who are unaware of the Democrats' history of repeatedly reneging on their promises to cut spending in return for tax hikes, the Republicans' opposition to tax increases does seem crazy. That's why Republicans need to remind them.

From the moment President Reagan succeeded in pushing through his historic tax cuts in 1981 -- which passed by a vote of 323-107 in the House and 89-11 in the Senate, despite Democrats' subsequent caterwauling -- he came under fantastic pressure to raise taxes from the media and the Democrats.

You will notice it is the same culprits pushing for tax hikes today.

So in 1982, Reagan struck a deal with the Democrats to raise some business and excise taxes -- though not income taxes -- in exchange for $280 billion in spending cuts over the next six years. As Reagan wrote in his diary at the time: "The tax increase is the price we have to pay to get the budget cuts."

But, of course, the Democrats were lying. Instead of cutting $280 billion, they spent an additional $450 billion -- only $140 billion of which went to the Reagan defense buildup that ended the Evil Empire.

Meanwhile, Reagan's tax cuts brought in an extra $375 billion in government revenue in the next six years -- as that amiable, simple-minded dunce Reagan always said they would. His tax cuts funded the entire $140 billion defense buildup, with $235 billion left over.

If Democrats had lied only a little and merely held spending at the same level, Reagan could have smashed the Russkies, produced the largest peacetime expansion in U.S. history with his tax cuts and produced a $235 billion budget surplus. (Jobs created in September 1983: 1.1 million; jobs created in September 2011: 150,000.)

But the Democrats not only refused to implement any budget cuts, they hiked government spending. To the untrained eye, that appears to be the exact opposite of cutting the budget.

Even the gusher of revenue brought in by Reagan's tax cuts couldn't pay for all the additional spending piled up by double-crossing Democrats -- more than twice as much as Reagan's spending on defense.

Reagan's defense spending crushed the Soviet war machine. What did Tip O'Neill's domestic spending accomplish? (I mean, besides destroying the black family, increasing single motherhood and creating government bureaucracies that can never be eliminated.)

Unable to learn from the first kick of a mule, President George H.W. Bush made the exact same deal with Democrats just a few years later.

Pretending to care about the deficit -- created exclusively by their own profligate spending -- Democrats demanded that Bush agree to a "balanced budget" package with both spending cuts and tax increases.

In June 1990, Bush did so, agreeing to tax hikes in defiance of his "read-my-lips, no-new-taxes" campaign pledge.

Again, Democrats, being Democrats, produced no spending cuts, and within two years the increased federal spending had led to a doubling of the deficit.

The Democrats didn't care: All that mattered was that they had tricked Bush into breaking his tax pledge, which they celebrated all the way to Bush's defeat in the next election.

Democrats had effectively taken away the Republican Party's central defining issue -- low taxes -- and the Republicans got nothing in return.....

It's been 20 years since they pulled that scam, so Democrats figure it's time to make Republicans break a tax pledge again. As long as no one knows the history of these "deals," the media can carry on, blithely portraying Republicans as obstructionist nuts for refusing the third kick of a mule.

More here


President Obama Fails George Gilder's "Israel Test"

Hostility to Israel is a marker of hostility to freedom and civilization

In these days of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations across the U.S., it’s important to see what motivates Obama administration policies here and abroad. Mr. Obama, as a candidate, had to bat away accusations that he was close, too close, to Rashid Khalidi, a radical Palestinian Arab intellectual. Candidate Obama then soothed worried friends of Israel, by minimizing his intellectual fealty to Khalidi, saying merely that “[Khalidi provides] consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases” on matters related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. How humble. How becomingly modest.

Rashid Khalidi is a professor at Columbia University, Mr. Obama’s alma mater. Khalidi holds the Edward Said Chair in Modern Arab Studies at that distinguished Ivy League school. The late Edward Said (sigh-EED) gained respect among left-leaning intellectuals for his numerous writings on Orientalism, the notion that Western colonial powers viewed Arabs, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans as lesser peoples, as “others.” But Said was most famous—or infamous—for some direct action.

He was photographed throwing stones at Israeli forces as they departed South Lebanon in 2000. Harmless, Said claimed, he was only practicing with his son. But deadly stoning was the weapon of choice for the intifadas engineered by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas against Israeli soldiers. Arafat and Abbas knew that teenage boys throwing stones with lethal accuracy would play well in the Western media, including especially in the pro-PLO precincts of CNN.

At home, the Occupy Wall Street crowd quickly descended to anti-Semitism. They are protesting income inequality, they say, but their cry of 99% against the 1% is a veiled reference to American Jews, who constitute less than 2% of the U.S. population. More than a few anti-Semitic signs and demonstrators have been drawn to Zuccotti Park, in Lower Manhattan.

In Israel, author George Gilder points out, Arabs were wealthier on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip than any Arabs in the world. This, in territories administered by Jews that had no oil. From 1967, when Israel won the Six-Day War against four Arab enemies, until 1991, when Arafat instigated the first of his intifadas (stone-throwing riots by youths) and initiated suicide bombings as a terror tactic, Arabs working with the Israelis prospered and lived healthier longer lives.

Despite vast oil revenues in much of the Arab world, Gilder notes in his important book, The Israel Test, the Arab peoples who live in these countries are poor. We have only to contrast the vast wealth amassed by the late and unlamented Muammar Gaddafi (estimated at $200 billion) with the wretched state of the average Libyan to see this. This was equally true of Iraq. The Saudi people, while materially better off than many Arabs, nonetheless are denied religious and civil rights. Arab rulers keep their peoples at bay by blaming all their troubles on the Jews, on Israel.

Gilder sees a direct link from attitudes toward Israel, attitudes toward Jewish excellence, and attitudes toward free enterprise itself. Occupy Wall Street today is protesting against income inequality. They have been embraced by President Obama, whose stated goal is to “spread the wealth around.” Asked by an interviewer if he would seek tax increases on the wealthy even if that meant lower tax revenues for the government, Mr. Obama said he would, for the sake of “fairness.”

From each according to his abilities to each according to his need: that’s the standard Marxist formulation. Left unsaid is that it is Mr. Obama and his administration that decide whose needs are met and how much to take from those with abilities.

Gilder challenges us to ask ourselves what we think about excellence—that of Jewish achievers and all those others who excel. Do we resent their achievement? Do we attribute it to some evil conspiracy? Do we want to drag them down? Or do we want to emulate them, study, work hard, invent, create, and share our own ideas?

Gilder writes: “With wealth seen as stolen from the exploited poor, the poor in turn [are given] a license to dispossess and kill their oppressors and to disrupt capitalist economies. This is the foul message of Franz Fanon, Hamas, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, and the academic coteries of Chomsky, Zinn, and a thousand Marxist myrmidons across the campuses of the world. But no capitalist system can sustain prosperity amid constant violence. The idea that suicide bombing is a tolerable policy that can be extenuated by alleged grievances is preposterous. It is the violence that makes necessary the police measures that render economic progress impossible, particularly for the groups associated with the attacks. By justifying violent attacks on a civilized democracy -- and then condemning the necessary retaliatory defense -- leftists would allow no solution but tyranny.”

Gilder’s “Israel Test” is not one our Ivy Leaguer president can pass. Of course, Mr. Obama does not support terrorism. But he is giving $500 million this year to the PLO—which has simply deconstructed and re-defined its support for suicide bombers and stone throwers. The president simply shares the worldview of the academy—in which Israel is much to blame for “Mideast turmoil” as her attackers are. He believes that fairness requires redistribution of what he terms “the nation’s wealth.” He sees our Judeo-Christian heritage not as the bedrock of American Exceptionalism, but as merely one part of the broad tapestry of American life.

Barack Obama’s intellectual world is one in which Fanon, Chomsky, Zinn, and those neo-Marxist thinkers hold sway. Only free societies can create enough surplus wealth to support such dissident scholars and their “myrmidons” in the Occupy Wall Street Movement in their midst. But such societies—in the U.S. and Canada, in Western Europe and in Israel--will not survive if they do not understand and protect the very foundations of their own freedom.




There is a site here promoting an "Aftershock Survival Summit" that seems a bit overhyped to me but the present out-of-control Federal spending is certainly a huge threat to America's economic future. That the dire predictions come from an economist with an unusually good track-record of predictions is food for thought.

Norquist: GOP “won’t be fooled” into raising taxes: "As a Congressional 'super committee' tasked with cutting the deficit was on the verge of failure, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist insisted in a series of interviews Monday that it wasn’t his fault. Norquist told CNN’s Carol Costello that Republicans were willing to 'compromise' with Democrats as long as additional tax revenues were off the table. At least 279 Republican members of the current Congress have signed Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes."

Spain: Voters elect conservative in response to debt crisis: "Spanish voters kicked out the Socialist government Sunday in elections seen as a referendum on the handling of the European debt crisis, which has left Spain buckling under soaring unemployment, burgeoning debt and cuts in public benefits. It was the fifth European government -- after Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy -- to be brought down in the past year because of the debt crisis and the Socialists' worst result since Spain held its first democratic election in 1977 after a 40-year-long dictatorship."

Armed illegals stalked Border Patrol: "Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show. At least two of the Mexicans carried their assault rifles “at the ready position,” one of several details about the attack showing that Mexican smugglers are becoming more aggressive on the U.S. side of the border. According to the indictment, the Mexicans were “patrolling the area in single-file formation” a dozen miles northwest of the border town of Nogales and — in the darkness of the Arizona night — opened fire on four Border Patrol agents after the agents identified themselves in Spanish as police officers. Two AK-47 assault rifles found at the scene came from the failed Fast and Furious operation."

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

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


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


24 November, 2011

Making Americans

by Jeff Jacoby

WITH OUR MUSIC TEACHER, Mrs. Feigenbaum, at the piano playing the melody – the Toreador's Song from the opera "Carmen" – and the lyrics handed out to us on mimeographed pages, my 4th-grade classmates and I practiced one of the songs we were learning for our school's Thanksgiving assembly:

Thanksgiving Day comes once each year
Our president proclaims it far and near.
Thankful for the bounty of our land,
The harvest that makes this nation grand,
Bestowed us from above,
God bless this land,
This precious land we love.

I was a student at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, a Jewish day school where half of the curriculum was devoted to religious studies and the school year conformed to the Jewish calendar. Most of the kids in my class came from Orthodox Jewish homes, and many of us were the children of Eastern European immigrants who spoke Yiddish more fluently than they spoke English.

Yet there we were, kids whose parents may have gotten off the boat only 10 or 15 years earlier and whose family life bore little resemblance to The Patty Duke Show, singing songs about the Mayflower and turkey dinners without a hint of irony. The inculcation of Jewish values and learning was the Hebrew Academy's chief priority, but it was understood that raising kids to be good Jews went hand-in-hand with raising them to be good Americans. Parents and teachers alike took it for granted that the story and traditions of Thanksgiving (or Columbus Day or Washington's Birthday) should be as familiar a part of our cultural identity as the Passover story and its traditions.

I didn't know it at the time, but what my classmates and I were experiencing was the classic model of American assimilation: the process by which immigrants and ethnic minorities, and the children of those immigrants and minorities, had for decades been successfully turned into Americans. In a world filled with ethnic antagonism and religious violence, the United States had found a paradigm for unifying the most ethnically, racially, and religiously varied population on the planet into a relatively tolerant and unified culture.

We rarely reflect on what an astonishing achievement this was. But how many other societies have managed to maintain national cultural unity in the midst of ethnic diversity? Cyprus? Rwanda? Sri Lanka? The former Yugoslavia?

The key to what Peter Salins, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute, calls "assimilation, American style" was a balancing act. On the one hand, newcomers streaming to the United States found out quickly that they were expected to become honest-to-God Americans. That meant learning English, getting a useful job, embracing America's democratic values and institutions, and eventually taking the oath as new citizens.

On the other hand, immigrants weren't obliged to shed their ethnic pride, or to drop the foods and customs and festivals they brought with them from their native land. They were free to be "as ethnic as they pleased," writes Salins. The goal of assimilation was not to make all Americans alike; it was to get newcomers, however dissimilar their backgrounds and cultures, to believe that they were "irrevocably part of the same national family."

There was one other key ingredient, which we too easily overlook. Immigrants understood that the country they had come to was in some indispensable way better than the one they had left. They might retain a soft spot for the scenery or clothing or rhythms of life in the old country, they might always prefer their mother tongue to English, they might even pay tuition at a private or parochial school so that the religious or linguistic values they had grown up with would be passed on to their kids.

But underlying everything would be the awareness that they had chosen to be Americans. America was better than their native land -- perhaps because its rulers were corrupt, or because it was riven by war, or because economic opportunities were limited. Perhaps, as in my father's case, because totalitarian tyrants – first Nazis, then Communists – had made life there a hell on earth. Perhaps because, like the Pilgrims, they sought a peaceable society where they could worship as they saw fit without being "hunted and persecuted on every side."

As my fellow 4th-graders and I belted out the lyrics to another song -- "P-I-L-grim fathers landed here on Plymouth Bay" -- we probably assumed that Mrs. Feigenbaum was just getting us ready for the Thanksgiving assembly. She knew, of course, that she was doing something far more important. She was getting us ready to be Americans.



So-Called Electability and MSM Bias

It is open season for the liberal media on any GOP presidential candidate who displays the audacity to surge in the polls, the latest targets being Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. A reasonable case can be made for some of these criticisms, and conservatives often concede the weaknesses, but there is no justification for this same media's ongoing cover-up for the current White House occupant.

Can you imagine how differently our political climate would be if the mainstream media had the slightest inclination toward fairness and balance? The liberal media have never, to my knowledge, shined the spotlight on Obama's many embarrassing gaffes. They have rarely called attention to his deceit, broken promises and policy failures.

Part of the reason is their presupposition that because he's a credentialed left-winger, he is brilliant, and any departure from that is a mere aberration, an exception that couldn't possibly detract from his presumptive brilliance. And as a bona fide "progressive," he is imbued with superior moral standards, and his misdeeds must be excused in exchange for his dedication to policies the liberal media deem are ethically unassailable.

From the mainstream media's perspective, conservatives, on the other hand, are presumptively dimwitted or morally bankrupt, because you can't be intelligent and conservative unless you're morally depraved. Ronald Reagan was an amiable dunce, despite his unparalleled ability to communicate; Dan Quayle was irredeemably simple because he misspelled "potato." George W. Bush was too stupid to tie his shoes (but inexplicably cunning enough to con erudite liberal congressmen into supporting him in his devious plot to depose Saddam Hussein).

GOP candidates magically become less competent or more corrupt the instant they show any signs of electability. Meanwhile, the MSM continue to ignore, defend and lie about Obama's abundant gaffes, policy failures, deceptions, divisiveness and extremism.

Think how different our discussions of electability would be if the liberal media were to:

--Dan-Quayle Obama for his "57 states" and Navy "corpse-man" gaffes.

--Play a video loop of his brain freezes and verbal stutter-steps.

--Showcase his shoutout to Dr. Joe Medicine Crow during what was expected to be a solemn expression of sorrow for the victims of the Fort Hood murderer.

--Air a montage of his bellicose attacks against Republicans, followed by clips in which he bitterly complained of their partisanship.

--Remind him of his immodest pledge to be a post-racial president while having ushered in an acutely race-conscious climate.

--Call him out for wasting $868 billion on a "stimulus" that Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf admitted would have "a net negative effect on the growth of GDP over 10 years."

--Refuse to ignore his cynical admission that he hadn't been altogether honest in claiming there were abundant "shovel-ready" jobs waiting in the wings.

--Point out that he promised to improve America's international image but has turned out to be even less popular in the Muslim world than President George W. Bush and has repeatedly offended our allies and their leaders, the most recent being Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

--Highlight that Obama expressed solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, many of whom have been arrested for criminality, but demonized law-abiding tea partyers.

--Challenge Obama on his disingenuous commitment to make abortion "safe, legal and rare" while his administration has actively promoted the proliferation of abortion domestically, through its unswerving support for Planned Parenthood and its 900 abortions per day and through its taxpayer-funded lobbying for pro-abortion policies in Kenya and other nations.

--Report that Obama crammed through Obamacare on the false representation, aided by fraudulent accounting, that it would bend the health care cost curve down, even though it actually will greatly increase costs.

--Provide even the most rudimentary scrutiny of the twin scandals of Solyndra -- and its many green cousins -- and "Fast and Furious."

--Tell even part of the sordid tale of Obama's symbiotic relationship with ACORN and the Service Employees International Union.

--Ask Obama how he can be so high and mighty in condemning enhanced interrogation techniques on moral grounds despite knowing that with the implementation of those techniques in just three instances, many American lives were actually saved.

--Press him to explain his shaming Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary race for proposing a health care insurance mandate and then brazenly making such a mandate a foundational component of Obamacare.

--Underscore his phony, though tepid and "evolving," opposition to same-sex marriage while he unleashes a full-frontal assault on traditional marriage through his extraconstitutional refusal to enforce it in court and his active effort to repeal it legislatively.

I speak of an imaginary world, but imagining it should serve to illustrate the extent to which the liberal media conspire to perpetuate a lingering illusion, to the immeasurable detriment of the nation.



Not Herman Cain, please

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain formed a political action committee (PAC) last year, ostensibly for the purpose of supporting other Republicans seeking elective office in the 2010 elections. That’s what Mr. Cain announced in an e-mail to his "Hermanator's Intelligent Thinkers Movement," an online extension of his motivational speaking business, T.H.E. New Voice, Inc.

He called it the “Hermanator PAC.” It raised more than $220,000. Two Republican contenders each received $1,000 from the PAC money (about nine-tenths of 1%). Cain spent the rest of the loot – at least $218,000 (about 99.1%) -- on himself according to federal election commission records.

"By agreeing to help The Hermanator PAC, either by volunteering or by giving a monetary donation, you will be helping to elect conservative candidates that share our principles and values," Cain represented to potential donors. "Let's send President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid a message for the right kind of change."

But Cain, the Hermanator, used almost all the cash instead on five star first class hotel stays, lavish restaurant meals at pricy high-end establishments, and luxurious private airplane travel for expensive jaunts across the country.

The problem for Mr. Cain, according to Paul Ryan, associate legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, is that candidates who create PAC’s like these are supposedly legally barred from using any of the funds collected on themselves.

In this case the poor saps who donated to The Hermanator PAC thinking that their contributions were going to help other Republicans get elected were simply duped into establishing a big cushy slush fund for Herman Cain’s personal use.

This news comes on top of earlier reports that a Wisconsin tax-exempt charity called Prosperity USA, founded by Mark Block, Cain’s chief of staff, and Linda Hansen, his deputy chief of staff, doled out some $40,000 worth of iPads, private chartered airplane fees and other high-end expenses for Cain’s fledgling campaign.

Once again, these kinds of payments are supposedly illegal under federal tax and election laws, because nonprofit charities are not allowed to donate money or services to political campaigns.



Free the Market. Save Lives

The prohibition on human-kidney sales is a perfect example of uncompensated third-party harms – negative externalities – inflicted on innocent people by political decision-making. A chief (tho’ not the only) reason given to justify this prohibition is that many people find the thought of a free-market in kidney sales to be distasteful. As a fellow student at UVA Law informed me 20 years ago, “I [my fellow student] just don’t want to live in a society that allows such commerce.” She advised that it’s just so distasteful that it shouldn’t be allowed to occur.

This woman was willing to vote for a policy that results in unnecessary suffering and premature deaths simply so that she and her tender sensibilities might be spared what for her is the unsavory knowledge that somewhere in America some people voluntarily and peacefully engage in exchanges that are mutually agreeable and, frequently, life-saving. Having her ‘say’ in other people’s lives – without her having to pay to exercise that say or to compensate those people harmed by her vote – is an instance of a politically induced negative externality....

More broadly, this example highlights the strength of Carl Dahlman’s important 1979 argument (in the Journal of Law & Economics) that, ultimately, what is and what is not a policy-relevant externality is not a matter of objective science but, rather, of value judgments.

My law-school classmate from long ago might well reply that the psychic harm inflicted on her by the knowledge that legal kidney sales are taking place would itself be a negative externality unleashed by the legalization of such sales.

And she’d be correct. Or, at least, neither I nor anyone else would be able to disprove her positive claim of being severely psychically harmed by knowing that such legal sales occur.

Some value judgment must be exercised to weigh the value of saving people from suffering and dying prematurely against the value of saving the tender psyches of people such as my former classmate.

Most people, I believe, value saving innocent lives and preventing unnecessary physical suffering more highly than they value preventing the ethically sensitive among us from having to endure pangs of anguish caused by the knowledge that other people are buying and selling human kidneys. (This case isn’t close to being ‘close’ – for example, as between valuing the farmer’s desire to grow crops without worrying about those crops being set afire by sparks from a passing locomotive, and the railroad’s desire to run its train at top speed over its tracks that abut a cornfield.)

Trouble is, each person is intimately familiar with and concerned with his or her own personal psyche – each person gets the full measure of pleasure from gratifying that psyche and suffers the full measure of disappointment or anguish from irritating that psyche. A busybody – especially one unaware of the unintended economic and medical consequences of banning kidney sales – is too likely, then, to gratify his or her psyche by imposing uncompensated burdens on those people who wish to purchase kidneys and on those who wish to sell their kidneys.

If we agree that saving lives is more important than saving tender psyches, then the policy of preventing the buying and selling of kidneys at market prices inflicts on innocent third-parties a policy-relevant negative externality – and, frankly, one that is especially heinous.


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

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


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


23 November, 2011

Back to 1693‏

Economic historian Martin Hutchinson, below, is having a lot of fun using his knowledge of history to enlighten us about the world financial crisis. But while he agrees with many other economists in foreseeing much gloom immediately ahead he has a vision for the medium-term future which is positively radiant by libertarian/conservative standards.

I think he over-eggs the pudding and I cannot see that a return to the gold standard is on the cards but he is probably broadly correct. The money-printing binge in the USA and the UK combined with the un-repayable debt run up in much of Europe has got to lead to massive asset-destruction sooner or later. If I were an American right now, I would be taking a trip to Canada and converting my holdings of greenbacks into deposits of Loonies. Anybody who did so a couple of years ago would certainly be laughing now -- JR

The eurozone crisis, which could have been defused initially by allowing Greece to depart the euro, has now taken on a much more serious aspect. If as seems possible Italy, Spain and even France lose the confidence of the international debt markets and are forced to write down debt, then government debt of prime countries will no longer be considered a risk-free asset. That will take markets back beyond the traumas of the 20th century, beyond the relatively serene 19th century, beyond even the institution-forming 18th century. It will undo the 1751 triumph of the forgotten financier Samson Gideon in forming the immortal Consols, will undo the sterling if self-serving 1721 work of Sir Robert Walpole in preventing the South Sea crash from destroying the British government bond market as the Mississippi crash did the French one, and will even undo the 1694 foundation of British credit, the formation of the Bank of England. Life for government bond dealers will revert to a primitive Hobbesian state of nature, nasty, brutish and short. But will the rest of us suffer, except in the short term?

Based on the bond market as we have known it over the last century or two, only Greece was bound to default. Its problem was not so much its starting ratio of debt to GDP, but the fact that its GDP was over-inflated, being based on hopelessly unrealistic living standards for the Greek people. Once the Greeks were paid at a level at which the country’s economy would balance – no more than $15,000 or so in GDP per capita compared to 2008’s overinflated $32,000 – Greek GDP would be halved, and its debt/GDP ratio doubled to a level approaching 300%. That would have been beyond the highest levels ever successfully reduced without default – 250% of GDP by Britain after 1815 and again after1945. Since Greece is a notoriously undisciplined society, with poor tax enforcement and an open economy whose citizens keep much of their wealth abroad, a Greek default was and is inevitable in the best of circumstances.

The same is not however true of Italy and Spain. Italy’s competitiveness has declined by about 20% against Germany’s in the last decade. However its debt level is only 120% of GDP, or say 150% of GDP if Italy’s living standards and GDP declined by the necessary 20%. Since its budget deficit under the competent management of Silvio Berlusconi’s finance minister Giulio Tremonti was only about 3-4% of GDP, Italy’s position by the standards of the last two centuries is perfectly manageable without default being more than a distant threat. Similarly Spain has a budget deficit of around 7% of GDP, and a housing finance sector that is a mass of bad debts, with house prices still to descend to market-clearing levels, but its official debt is only 61% of GDP, and its economically odious Zapatero government is on the way out.

The level of market panic about Italian and Spanish debt indicates that the comforting parameters of 19th and 20th century sovereign debt finance no longer hold. The principal reason for this is the determination by the eurozone authorities to break the rules by which debt markets have traditionally been governed. Instead of allowing Greece to default or rescuing it completely, they arranged an inadequate debt-financed bailout that simply postponed Greece’s inevitable exit from the euro and increased its debt. Then they arranged a “voluntary” writedown of Greek private sector debt, which was subordinated in repayment to the monstrous institutional and government debt created by the bailout.

When the Greek government attempted to get referendum or electoral support for the “reforms” imposed by the eurozone authorities, they replaced it by a eurozone stooge, without democratic legitimacy. They repeated this stooge imposition process with the long-lasting and economically capable Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi, who they regarded as euro-skeptic and excessively devoted to free market, low-tax principles, replacing him with a government dominated by europhiles and the left, who had been decisively defeated in the previous election.

Finally and most damagingly, the eurozone authorities prevented the modest $3.5 billion of Greek credit default swaps from paying out, thus drastically devaluing the CDS of Italy, Spain and France, whose volume is of the order of $40 billion each. They have thus called the entire CDS market into question, at least for sovereign names, and have badly shaken the security of international contracts. By doing this, according to Gillian Tett of the FT, they removed the protection that Deutsche Bank, for example thought it had obtained this year by buying CDS on $7 billion of its $8 billion Italian exposure.

Investors in PIIGS debt thus now face the reality that they have been subordinated arbitrarily to the international and eurozone institutions. Their ability to protect themselves by CDS purchase has been removed. The security of their debt contracts themselves has been called into question. Finally, investors’ protection against coups and revolutions, that monetary and fiscal policy were being set by democratically elected governments acceptable to their people, has been removed by the imposition of governments wholly lacking in democratic legitimacy. If those governments impose policies that the populace finds intolerable, as is very likely, there is now far more chance of outright popular revolt or coup d’etat, since ordinary democratic change has been blocked.

In short, the protections given to government debt progressively in the last three centuries have been removed. The rationale for the Basel committee rating government debt at zero in banks’ risk calculations has been exposed for the fraud it always was. Since government levels of taxation are close to the Laffer Curve yield peak in most countries, the protection given to investors by the taxing power has also been rendered nugatory. Investors are no longer in the position of investors in the solid, well managed government debt of Walpole and Lord Liverpool, in which the phrase “as solid as the Bank of England” made British debt sell at the finest international rates. Instead they are in the position of the goldsmiths lending to Charles II, charging 10% for their money and liable to be ruined at any point by a Great Stop of the Exchequer like that of 1672.

I have written before in some detail about the likely effect on the global economy of the removal of government debt markets. In general, it should improve financial availability for the private sector, while starving profligate governments of the means to implement “Keynesian” stimulus and other wasteful policies. Thus it may well improve economic performance in the long run, certainly compared to the anemic growth and high unemployment suffered in most countries since 2009. Needless to say however, the 2010s will be a grim decade, since the transitional and wealth effects of eliminating the government debt markets that have formed the centerpiece of the last three centuries will be enormous – a Reinhart/Rogoff depression of spectacular severity.

However there is another effect of transporting the world financial system back to 1693. The European Central Bank will be bankrupt, because of its holdings of worthless PIIGS debt, and it is most unlikely that German taxpayers will consent to recapitalize an institution that has failed so badly, after first eliminating their beloved deutschemark. The Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan will also be legally insolvent, since in their policies of quantitative easing they have acquired gigantic quantities of assets that will drop catastrophically in price once interest rates rise.

The Fed for example is leveraged 60 to 1, and it was recently calculated that a rise in long-term interest rates of only 40 basis points – 0.4% -- would be sufficient to wipe out its capital. Needless to say, a rise of 4-5% in long-term interest rates, back to a historically normal level 2-3% above the true level of inflation, would put a hole in the Fed’s balance sheet that in current stringent budgetary conditions would be politically impossible for the U.S. Treasury to fill. Thus if a debt default in the eurozone spread even partially to the over-indebted economies of Britain, Japan and the United States, not only will government bond markets be wiped out, but central banks in their current form will disappear also.

In the long term, this should also prove a blessing. My colleague and co-author Kevin Dowd has been trying for some years to persuade me that the ideal monetary system is not only a Gold Standard, but one entirely without a central bank. I had always resisted this, believing in the positive qualities of the privately owned Bank of England of the 1797 Old Lady of Threadneedle Street Gillray cartoon, the 1844 Bank Charter Act and the elegant inter-war Montagu Norman, the hero who removed the 1929-31 Labour Government by omitting to tell that bunch of economic illiterates that leaving the Gold Standard was an available option.

However lovers of central banks cannot deny that the Fed bears a substantial share of the responsibility for creating the Great Depression and an even greater share of the responsibility for creating the 2008 crash and the period of grindingly high unemployment that has followed. Thus the existence of a central bank is no longer a battle won and lost in 1694, but must be considered to have become a live question.

If government debt markets across Europe collapse and central banks worldwide are rendered insolvent, the fiat currencies of the world are no longer likely to command enough public confidence to be workable. Like successive generations of Argentine pesos and Ecuadorian sucres, they will have to be junked. Further, since there is unlikely to be a figure like Weimar Germany’s Gustav Stresemann, able to create a new and workable fiat “rentenmark” out of a mythical monetization of land values, a return to a Gold Standard will be not only inevitable but irresistible, since it will have been imposed on the ruins of the current system by the global private sector.

With a Gold Standard, and central banks in ruins, a truly free banking system will also be inevitable. Most large existing banks will have failed along with their central banks, with no more money for bailouts and their regulatory institutions thoroughly discredited. The new central bank-less Gold Standard banking system that arises from the ashes of the old will be perfectly workable, as in 18th century Scotland, 19th century Canada and the United States between 1837 and 1862. It will permit only minimal government, but will allow the private sector, particularly the small scale private sector, to flourish as never before. As after 1945, from the chaos of monetary ruin will emerge a new global economy that is stronger and healthier, provides better living standards for its citizens and imposes far fewer taxes, scams and state-aided rip-offs on their wealth than does the current system.

But the intervening decade is certainly not going to be easy or pleasant.



The authoritarianism, simple-mindedness and failure of America's pundits

That liberty might be the answer doesn't seem to occur to them

Consider for a moment the paradoxical pain of being a best-selling political pundit so successful that American presidents don’t just seek but heed your advice. You have lobbied in your columns for the commander in chief to deploy your signature catch phrases, and he has. You have, in times of both crisis and sloth, advocated robust federal action in the name of national “greatness,” and the people in power have mostly followed suit. You have been flattered by invitations to the White House and pecked at by lesser partisans, yet you’ve maintained your critical distance in the patriotic spirit of post-ideological problem solving. All this influence and success, and somehow the country still sucks.

“Are we going to roll up our sleeves or limp on?” an exasperated Thomas L. Friedman asked the nation in a September 20 New York Times column. Friedman, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, influential Iraq war supporter, champion of “green jobs” industrial policy, and backer of President Barack Obama’s public education initiatives, is threatening to secede from a status quo he helped create.

“Given those stark choices,” he wrote, “one would hope that our politicians would rise to the challenge by putting forth fair and credible recovery proposals that match the scale of our debt problem and contain the three elements that any serious plan must have: spending cuts, increases in revenues and investments in the sources of our strength. But that, alas, is not what we’re getting, which is why there remains an opening for an independent Third Party candidate in the 2012 campaign.”

These are glum times not just for the 23 million working-age Americans without steady jobs but for hyper-employed commentators who have built comparative fortunes whispering into and occasionally bending the world’s most powerful ears. “I’m a sap,” a morose-sounding New York Times columnist David Brooks confessed the day before Friedman’s outburst. “I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.” But now that the president had unveiled a dead-on-arrival, soak-the-rich jobs package in a televised address designed more to please his progressive base than to actually solve problems, even David Brooks—who in March 2010 deemed Obama “the most realistic and reasonable major player in Washington”—was forced to admit the unbearable: “This wasn’t a speech to get something done.” But noble dreams die hard. “I still believe,” Brooks insisted, “that the president’s soul would like to do something about the country’s structural problems.”

Do something. Is there a two-word phrase in politics more loaded with disguised ideological content? Embedded within is both an urgent call for powerful government action and an up-front declaration that the policy details don’t matter. The bigger the crisis, the more the urgency, the sparser the detail. On September 30, 2008, in a classic of the do-something genre, Brooks argued that the Troubled Asset Relief Program should be rammed through Congress over public objections because the federal government needed “to give people a sense that somebody was in charge, that something was going to be done.” Did that “something” involve buying up toxic assets? Introducing or relaxing certain banking regulations? Taking over or winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Not important. “What we need in this situation,” Brooks declared, “is authority.”

American discourse is saddled with a large and influential do-something school of political punditry, a cadre of pragmatists from Meet the Press to your local editorial board who are forever seeking to solve the country’s problems by transcending ideology, demanding collective citizen sacrifice, and—always—empowering authority. In their new book That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, Friedman and Johns Hopkins foreign policy professor Michael Mandelbaum lament that people “in positions of authority everywhere have less influence than in the past,” due to a “corrosive cynicism” preventing “the collective action that is required.” America, David Brooks wrote in March 2010, “is suffering a devastating crisis of authority,” resulting in a “corrosive cynicism about public action.” The similarities are not accidental.

Brooks and Friedman may be the most prominent practitioners, but the do-something school is evident just about anywhere the political class is talking shop. Here is former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum at CNN.com on September 26, lamenting that the “old rules” of bipartisan cooperation “have broken down,” unlike those bygone days when “the imperatives of the Cold War inspired a spirit of deference to the president.” There is centrist Matt Miller at Washingtonpost.com the day before, writing an imaginary speech (a favored tactic of the do-something set) for an imaginary independent presidential candidate (ditto) who rejects “the Democrats’ timid half-measures and the Republicans’ mindless anti-government creed” in favor of “a bold agenda equal to the scale of our challenges.” That agenda is virtually indistinguishable from the Brooks/Friedman playbook: higher energy taxes, more money for infrastructure and schools, and national service for the young, all while somehow cutting government spending over the long term.

There are some obvious rejoinders to this fictitious excrescence of the “radical center” (Friedman’s preferred term). As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent pointed out in response to Miller, “many of those calling for a third party are refusing to reckon with an inconvenient fact: One of the two parties already occupies the approximate ideological space that these commentators themselves are describing as the dream middle ground that allegedly can only be staked out by a third party. That party is known as the ‘Democratic Party.’ ” By dreaming up a third way to deliver ideas and rhetoric already associated with Barack Obama, the centrists are making the implicit admission that the president is ineffectual in the face of GOP intransigence.

But there is an even less charitable explanation. Because do-something punditry inevitably appeals to whoever holds power—what president doesn’t want to rise above partisanship to get things done, particularly if the solution amounts to a blank check to government?—pragmatic centrism has been implemented to a much greater extent than any of the “rigid” ideologies it abhors, whether they be trade unionism, social conservatism, or across-the-board libertarianism. Put another way, we live in a David Brooks/Thomas L. Friedman world, but now that the results have come in they are trying to wash their hands of the whole experiment.

Much more HERE

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

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


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


22 November, 2011

Compassionate Liberalism?

By Gary Baker

While viewing and commenting on a different blog today (Enemy of the Republic ((Hi Susan!))) I came across a comment that was amusing, exasperating, and somewhat ironic. It was amusing in how sincere the writer was. It was exasperating in how factually wrong she was. And it was ironic in that a few comments ago I was cautioned about using that particular blogsite as forum for personal view, and then this comes along. So it goes. At any rate, I sent a follow-up comment stating that I would not try to engage her on that site, but that she could come over here if she had any interest in honest discussion. I am eager to see if she will arrive.

The subject of the thread was government neglect of education. The blogger who commented put forth a number of statements regarding the Bush administration and compassionate conservatism. Many of these are worth examining.

She (the commenter) began by telling the story of a sadly depressed area, the city of East St. Louis (ESL). Lest anyone think that I am mocking the poor, please be assured that I am not. I hardly grew up in a well-to-do area or family. I did some research in this area, and it certainly has had its share of hard knocks. What the commenter wrote:

"I live near one of the most disadvantaged areas in the US. It's called East Saint Louis, IL. At least,75% of the people who live there are below the national poverty level. And these people, were forced to live there because they had no other place to go, they were segregated. Their children were not welcome at our schools, with our children....they were the untouchables of our society. ESL has basically been a reservation. "

Back in the 1980's the city was sued and the plaintiff won, after this the city went bankrupt. ... They no longer had any money to pay the garbage collectors, there were bags of trash sitting in back yards, in empty lots, in the streets. There were huge rats everywhere. Of course, there were children living here. Then, the ancient sewer stystem finally began to wear out. There was sewage all over the city, backing up in peoples houses, their basements, coming out of peoples sinks, pooling in the empty lots. The school kept having to be shut down, the sewage was coming out of the sinks in the school kitchens where the children's meals were prepared. Diptheria and hepatitis were major health threats.

And again, I remind you, this was in the late 1980's.

There have many large factories outside the city, one of them being Monsanto. They had been illegally dumping chemicals into the soil for years. The lead level in the soil is way beyond what is considered toxic. No-one cared, these people had no-one to help them. "

(Full Disclosure - Some of the parts of the text above, though reproduced accurately, do not appear in the same order as they were posted on the original thread. I have taken great pains, however, to ensure that the meaning of the words quoted is accurately preserved. For the complete full thread, please go to Enemy of the Republic blogsite.)

This certainly sounds like an impoverished area. For those most part, the facts are uncontested. According to an article in Time on line, the lawsuit was in 1995. It also said that the town used to be integrated, but by 2001 was 98% black. There are other statements, however, that are far less accurate from a historical aspect. For example:

"This was during Reagan's administration and the policies of the administration were what was making this possible."

A review of the history of the area shows that if Monsanto was illegally dumping, then it was the last of a long and illustrious line. The town had been largely a mining town since early in the century. According to PATRICK E. GAUEN, Politics writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, coal was a large part of the economy, as well as aluminum and zinc. This continued from early in the century until after WWII. Considering the methods involved, I think it reasonable to assume that a good deal of the damage had been done before Reagan took the reins of the country. Also, according to the same columnist,

"East St. Louis remains an enigma to most Illinoisans, who know it only through its poverty, corrupt past, outsized crime rate and historical ability to deliver Democratic votes."

In point of fact, the article shows the past of the town as one mired in corruption, gangsterism, drug abuse, prostitution. All of this, and reliably democrat elected officials. I find it very odd through all of this, only a Republican president is singled out for any blame or responsibility. When the commentor brings up Clinton, it is in a far different reference:

"When Clinton became president, he fixed the most immediate problems. The city is still bad but at least there is not garbage and sewage in the streets. The city is actually run by the State of Illinois now. "

If the commenter can offer some bona fide points that Clinton "fixed" I would be happy to examine them. The press that I read gives credit for the limited recovery to revenues that came when a casino located there in the 94-95 time frame.

"There are people who manage to become productive members of society who come from there, most of them join the Military and hope that they don't get blown up while they are over in Iraq, it is their only ticket and they are willing to take the chance. And we say that they don't try?"
As a former veteran myself, I question the ability of the commenter to determine all the motives that people have for joining up. I myself went into service more for training than for patriotism, and I freely admit that. I got the training, and it has helped me to be far more successful than I might have been without it. I, for one, applaud those who take advantage of the opportunity and privilege to serve.

"No child left behind withholds funds from schools that do not meet federal standards. ESL is a perfect illustration of why this program will not help those who need help the most. It shows a lack of insight and understanding of the environments that these children live in and how they can best be helped. It shows a lack of compassion."

Granting funds to schools that take the children, give them no useful skills, and trap them into poverty is not compassion. It is stupid. And again, the schools were lousy before NCLB. The schools are now being held accountable. Parents with students in failing schools now at least have the hope of transferring to someplace better, and taxpayers have the hope that their hard earned money is not thrown down a rathole. This is compassion that works. This is improving people's lives, not offering them a fake smile while you slowly ruin their children's lives.

The commenter also wrote " Get out of your books and take a walk. Talk to people like this, ask them questions, get to know them.....Jesus did.....and he would have never promoted 'compassionate conservatism'. Anyone who thinks he would have must have a different Bible than I do."

Take a look at that Bible again. Christ gave people a chance for success. He fed some people at his sermons. Once. He didn't say "Come back tomorrow for more." He didn't set up government food programs. During his time, the church was the program for the poor, not the government. Families were to take care of each other. The poor were helped through the church if they were unable to work. Those who could work were expect to do so (Check "gleaning" in your concordance.) Yes, we are to be generous, but with our own resources, not with those who we feel "already have enough." Compassionate liberalism gave people generational welfare, several generations without two parents, and an endless cycle of dependency. I never recall Christ pushing people to be dependent on anyone except for God; certainly not government.



Can the Underground Economy Save Europe?

"The growth of unofficial employment is an entrepreneurial response to unnecessarily rigid labor markets and excess regulation."

As the old saying goes, the more expensive you are to fire, the more expensive you are to hire. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the European continent.

Even with the United States' lengthening of unemployment insurance benefits at the wake of this crisis, the benefits for the standard down-on-his-luck American pale in comparison to those of the average European. Upon job separation the average Frenchman can expect to see more than half of his salary extended in the form of unemployment benefits. Many European workers see these benefits extended for two to three years after their termination, with some countries extending benefits indefinitely.

Spells of unemployment are consequently prolonged on the European continent. Strict laws governing the separation of employees from companies (a nice way to say, "You're fired") lower the rate of job separation in these countries. Unfortunately, these laws also decrease the rate of job finding, resulting in the prolonged unemployment durations evident.

This problem of unemployed masses was no more than an unfortunate consequence of a well-developed social-welfare system during the boom years. Government coffers were plush to pay out hefty benefits. As the crisis wears on, this unfortunate side effect is increasingly turning into an oncoming train wreck as government deficits widen and welfare payments strain already tenuous state finances.

Decreasing benefits may be unfortunate to those relying on them, but such cuts are inevitable. Already some countries have enacted measures to try to bring these unsustainable systems closer to sustainability. The retirement age has been extended to reduce social-security payments, and unemployment benefits have been cut. People have responded with protests, trying to maintain the standard of living that they fought so hard to achieve over the past decades. Unfortunately, not all things desirable are feasible — Europe's plush welfare system is a case in point.

Fortunately there is a silver lining. In most European countries, and especially in the crisis-stricken periphery, large underground economies exist. While Spain's official unemployment rate is pegged around 20 percent, a substantial portion of its workers are indeed employed, if only outside official statistics. As I outline in a new collection I've edited, Institutions in Crisis: European Perspectives on the Recession, the underground economies of Europe's periphery provide ample (if not always desirable) opportunities for employment. While the Greek economy has the largest underground estimated at 25.2 percent of GDP, the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) average 21.7 percent of their economic activity hidden from the official statistics. For comparison, 14.7 percent of German, and 7.8 percent of American output is estimated to be confined to the underground.

If substantial masses of officially unemployed workers can take solace in knowing that there exist large underground venues for their efforts, we may do well to outline the reasons why this unofficial option exists. Hans Sennholz, in his work The Underground Economy, lists four main categories of underground economy activity:

* that portion evading taxes,

* that portion violating laws or production standards,

* production from transfer beneficiaries barred from otherwise partaking in pecuniary-enhancing activities (welfare recipients for example), and

* production from illegal aliens.

While many people assume that the underground economy consists purely of tax evaders and drug dealers, we see that only two of the categories above allow for these groups. That is not to say that underground workers in the other categories do not evade taxes or sell elicit substances. It is to say that the main reason for their involvement outside of the official economy is neither of those reasons.

Europe's underground economies have seen much growth over the past 30 years, especially since this crisis began. In some ways the growth of unofficial employment is an entrepreneurial response to unnecessarily rigid labor markets and excess regulation. Evidence suggests that industry in at least two of our prime culprits have benefited from the expansion of the underground economy. Growing underground economy employment has allowed Italian and Spanish firms to expand and contract production more easily to market demands.

There is an increased emphasis on reallocating the underground economy into the official one as Europe's crisis progresses. The most commonly advocated method involves more frequent tax audits and heavier fines to incentivize entrepreneurs to report their full incomes to the official authorities. The problem with such a solution is that it ignores the core reason why the underground economy exists — and may very well strengthen its existence.

Entrepreneurs operate in the unofficial economy for two main reasons: taxes make official transactions unprofitable, or regulations make them unfeasible. Threats of increased monetary fines do nothing to alleviate the former reason, while only a reduction in the web of rules and regulations will reduce the latter.

Increased fines and audits will undoubtedly reduce the size of the underground economy. Entrepreneurs, even underground ones, will respond to the increased costs and risks by reducing the scope of their activities. This reduction will not translate into an increase in official market activity. Only by easing the regulatory and tax burden facing entrepreneurs will more of them be willing to operate in the official economy.

Instead of viewing Europe's underground economies as bad things, policy makers would do well to start viewing them for what they are: an important signal that old interventionist policies have failed. If one views large underground economies as inherently bad, one must also deem the policies that breed their existence to be bad.



Big recovery in the Rich Port shows what sensible economic policy looks like

The gridlocked members of the congressional Supercommittee should grab President Barack Obama and decamp to a tropical island. Specifically, they should visit Puerto Rico, where a courageous leader is using free-market reforms to reinvigorate this recently moribund U.S. territory.

"We are clearly pro-growth," says Republican Governor Luis G. Fortuno. "And we do not apologize for that."

Fortuno was inaugurated on January 2, 2009, just 18 days before Obama. Since then, these two officials have marched in opposite directions, with opposite results.

"We were closer to the abyss than most states," Fortuno says. "When I came into office, we were facing not just the worst recession since the '30s, but the worst budget deficit in America, proportionally. We were literally broke. We did not have enough money to meet our first payroll. We had to take out a loan to do that. At that point, my wife asked me if we could ask for a recount."

So, unlike the free-spending Obama, and George W. Bush before him, Fortuno declares: "We cut expenses."

Fortuno gave himself a 10-percent pay cut. He trimmed his agency heads' salaries by 5 percent. That bought him the credibility to chop overall spending by 20 percent. He booted some 20,000 government workers, through attrition as well as layoffs, saving $935 million. (Compare that to Bush-Obama's 11.7 percent hike in federal civilian headcount since the Great Recession began in December 2007 -- excluding temporary Census jobs.) Fortuno has shifted remaining government workers from old-fashioned, statist, defined-benefit pensions to modern, market-friendly, defined-contribution plans.

Ranked No. 51 in 2009, behind each of the United States, in terms of deficit-to-revenue, Puerto Rico now is 15th, with the $3.3 billion deficit Fortuno inherited (44 percent of revenues) now macheteed to $610 million (7.1 percent). Fortuno's reforms, including merging government agencies, led Standard and Poor's to upgrade Puerto Rico's credit rating for the first time in 28 years. S and P, of course, famously downgraded U.S. sovereign debt last August, a historical first. Meanwhile, America's national debt screamed past the $15 trillion mark on Wednesday.

Fortuno has sliced taxes. The corporate tax rate plunged last January 1 from 41 percent to 30 percent, en route to 25 percent in 2014. He cut average individual tax rates by one quarter this year and in half within six years.

"You needed to obtain an average of 28 permits and endorsements to do anything," Fortuno says, regarding regulatory relief. "You had to go to 20-plus different agencies to do that. Today, you go to one agency, and you get your permit there, or you can go to PR.gov, and get it online."

"We have created a better business climate, and it shows," Fortuno explains.

A five-year property-tax holiday and the scrapping of capital gains and death taxes have helped push existing home sales up 35 percent this year (while they fell 7.9 percent on the Mainland) and new home sales soaring 92.2 percent (as they sagged 9.9 percent up north)


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

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


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


21 November, 2011

Don't Cry For Me, America

In the early 20th century, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. It was blessed with abundant agriculture, vast swaths of rich farmland laced with navigable rivers and an accessible port system. Its level of industrialization was higher than many European countries: railroads, automobiles and telephones were commonplace.

In 1916, a new president was elected. Hipólito Irigoyen had formed a party called The Radicals under the banner of "fundamental change" with an appeal to the middle class. Among Irigoyen's changes: mandatory pension insurance, mandatory health insurance, and support for low-income housing construction to stimulate the economy.

Put simply, the state assumed economic control of a vast swath of the country's operations and began assessing new payroll taxes to fund its efforts. With an increasing flow of funds into these entitlement programs, the government's payouts soon became overly generous. Before long its outlays surpassed the value of the taxpayers' contributions. Put simply, it quickly became under-funded, much like the United States' Social Security and Medicare programs.

The death knell for the Argentine economy, however, came with the election of Juan Perón. Perón had a fascist and corporatist upbringing; he and his charismatic wife aimed their populist rhetoric at the nation's rich. This targeted group "swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes, who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated."

Under Perón, the size of government bureaucracies exploded through massive programs of social spending and by encouraging the growth of labor unions. High taxes and economic mismanagement took their inevitable toll even after Perón had been driven from office. But his populist rhetoric and "contempt for economic realities" lived on. Argentina's federal government continued to spend far beyond its means.

Hyperinflation exploded in 1989, the final stage of a process characterized by "industrial protectionism, redistribution of income based on increased wages, and growing state intervention in the economy..." The Argentinian government's practice of printing money to pay off its public debts had crushed the economy. Inflation hit 3000%, reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. Food riots were rampant; stores were looted; the country descended into chaos.

And by 1994, Argentina's public pensions -- the equivalent of Social Security -- had imploded. The payroll tax had increased from 5% to 26%, but it wasn't enough. In addition, Argentina had implemented a value-added tax (VAT), new income taxes, a personal tax on wealth, and additional revenues based upon the sale of public enterprises. These crushed the private sector, further damaging the economy. A government-controlled "privatization" effort to rescue seniors' pensions was attempted. But, by 2001, those funds had also been raided by the government, the monies replaced by Argentina's defaulted government bonds.

By 2002, "...government fiscal irresponsibility... induced a national economic crisis as severe as America's Great Depression."

In 1902 Argentina was one of the world's richest countries. Little more than a hundred years later, it is poverty-stricken, struggling to meet its debt obligations amidst a drought.

We've seen this movie before. The Democrats' populist plans can't possibly work, because government bankrupts everything it touches. History teaches us that ObamaCare and unfunded entitlement programs will be utter, complete disasters.

Today's Democrats are guilty of more than stupidity; they are enslaving future generations to poverty and misery. And they will be long gone when it all implodes. They will be as cold and dead as Juan Perón when the piper must ultimately be paid.



President do-nothing

Obama fiddles while the economy burns

Even members of the president’s party are growing restive at a president who has time for fundraising, time for foreign receptions where he can bad-mouth the USA as “lazy,” time for a 57 state bus tour under which the finances of the country are regularly thrown to give the bus a little more traction, yet he has no time to negotiate a budget deal.

This is the third time in one year that Obama has had the opportunity to negotiate a major budget deal. It’s also the third time he’s fumbled the chance.

No president has done less with more chances.

“Three times is a lot,” Churchill wrote about how the British Navy blew three opportunities to secure a decisive victory at the Battle of Jutland.

I expect that once the budget deal finally fails and automatic cuts are enacted, Obama will announce a major vacation initiative on Good Morning America.

Obama seems to be stuck refighting Harry Truman’s come from behind campaign against a do-nothing Congress. Problem is this isn’t 1946 and Obama’s no Harry Truman.

He’s a president who has been recorded as not present on budget and fiscal issues since taking the oath of office. He was more believable in the role of the do-nothing Senator than he has been as president. Harry Truman never voted “not present” in his whole life: not as farmer, not as haberdasher, not as Senator, not as president.

As president, Obama has even made a poor Senator.

Democrat US Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin, a former governor who knows a little about governing- which seems to be a weak spot for Obama- blasted his president on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday when asked if Obama is doing enough to reach fiscal sanity: “Well, if it doesn't work, then no one’s done enough on it. And he's the leader of this great country, and we want him to step forward.”



A soft generation

The Occupy crowd saunter from their air-conditioned homes to their air-conditioned cars to their air-conditioned classrooms with their faces buried in smart phones, texting away to their friends about their fantasy football team or the results of Dancing with the Stars. Many look with disdain at the burger-flipping jobs my peers took while working their way through high school and college. They’re too busy with sports and clubs to work, unless it’s an internship for a group that is saving the earth or the whales or the smelt fish – in fact, saving everything except their parent’s money.

To say that they haven’t faced adversity and that they are an abundantly indulged generation severely understates the matter. Of course, there are exceptions in every generation: Athletes who live the principle of sacrifice for their team. There are the engineering and science majors that face demanding curriculums in order to earn good jobs. And, most obviously, there are the large numbers of young Americans who put their lives on the line by volunteering to defend the country in the armed services.

Separate out these remarkable, goal-oriented young men and women – and ignore the crazies and anarchists who have capitalized on the situation – and what you have left are the young Americans of the Occupy generation, a group of people who went through college expecting (yes, expecting) that upon graduation, they would be rewarded with a job where they would continue to be pampered. When they left the protective nest of academia and walked into an economic downturn that didn’t have a big fat job with a big fat paycheck and big fat benefits, they decided it was the mystical “rich” of America – the 1% – who were at fault.

The absolutely hilarious part comes from them completely ignoring that, because they live in America, they are part of the world’s 1%. They ignore that the reason they’re not part of America’s 1% is because they haven’t worked for it. And they really ignore the fact that the scholarships and loans they received are the product of the hard work, contributions, and taxes of the 1% that they both hate and/or envy.

Despite their college “educations,” they display an embarrassing lack of knowledge in economics and government. They demand bailouts from their student loans “just like Wall Street was bailed out,” utterly clueless to the fact that Wall Street paid back the money with interest.

They implore the government to create more “equality” in America, completely oblivious to the following facts: In the last 50 years government has grown from 27% of GDP to 37%; and, during that time, almost 50% of Americans have stopped paying income taxes, while the top earners bear an ever-growing share of the tax burden. And yet despite this blatant redistribution of wealth, income inequality in America has skyrocketed. Maybe they should correlate those facts and figure out that it’s probably government, not Wall Street, that’s the cause of rising inequality – just like government was the root cause of the housing crisis.

So what is our reaction to dealing with these overindulged youths when they decide to protest? We indulge them some more. They go to a park in New York and have a “Love-in.” The Mayor doesn’t give them the boot while other people supply free food and clothing. In a little known fact not reported in the mainstream press, Mayor Bloomberg has recruited a team of mothers to fluff their pillows and tuck them in at night after making them hot chocolate. Finally Bloomberg decides that recruiting all these volunteer mothers is too hard so he gives the kids the boot. Meanwhile, our babysitter-in-chief Barack Obama panders to the group by changing the rules to relieve them of the responsibility of paying their first financial obligation – their student loans.

What they need to do is take one of the jobs that exist in America. Yes, there are a whole lot of them, but those jobs are beneath these kids. I understand there are crops to be picked in Alabama and California because illegal aliens are scarce. Or maybe they could work at a donut shop or a McDonald’s. But that’s not going to happen because these kids have expectations and their food has always just appeared in the refrigerator – provided by magic elves of course.



The Accountability Charade

By Michelle Malkin

You can’t spell “accountability” without “A,” “C” and “T.” But in Washington, government officials routinely get away with “taking personal responsibility” by mouthing empty words devoid of action. Heads nod in collective agreement that mistakes were made. But heads never roll. The Obama administration has raised this accountability charade to an art form.

At a House Energy Committee hearing on the half-billion-dollar bankrupt Solyndra loan-guarantee disaster, Energy Secretary Steven Chu made a grand pretense of falling on his sword. The neon-green solar energy zealot told lawmakers in prepared testimony that the “final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind.” But again and again, Chu admitted, those decisions were made with serial cluelessness about the political jockeying, dire financial warnings, legal red flags and conflicts of interest that “everybody (else) and their dog” knew about (as GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas politely pointed out).

While former Democratic chief inquisitor Henry Waxman praised Chu’s “reputation for integrity” as “unimpeachable,” Chu came across as more Mr. Magoo than Mr. Clean.

Chu said he was “unaware” of the Department of Energy’s own staff predictions two years ago that Solyndra would face a serious cash-flow crisis today.

Chu said he was “unaware” of administration pressure on Solyndra to suppress layoff announcements until after the November 2010 midterm elections. “I don’t know. I just learned about that,” he shirked.

In fact, he used the phrase “I am aware of it now” at least a half-dozen times. If there were a Nobel Prize for Unknowing, Chu would be two-time shoo-in. GOP House Energy Committee Chairman Cliff Stearns summed up:
“We talked about the August 2009 email predicting Solyndra would be out of cash in September 2011. You knew about that, but you didn’t seem to know about that.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers concerns about Solyndra, you didn’t seem real concerned or weren’t aware of it.

The White House emailing your chief of staff regarding their concerns with the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, you didn’t seem to know too much about your chief of staff’s awareness of that.

The request to hold off announcement of the DOE loan, and request by your agency to Solyndra to hold off on announcing layoffs till after the midterm election, you don’t have any recollection of this. So what I am saying is that through all of this you seem to have an unawareness.”

In short, Chu took full responsibility for everything he wasn’t aware of … until it was too late.

Sound familiar? It was the leitmotif played in last week’s Fast and Furious hearings with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Despite a raft of briefing memos with his name on them, Holder claimed he never received or read them. Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ran interference, sanctimoniously explaining for all the non-career government attorneys in the audience — including the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry — that nooooooo one in the top echelons of the federal lawyers’ bureaucracy actually reads memos addressed to them. It’s merely a “convention” for junior staff to feel better and more important about themselves.

Taking his boss’s lead, former Holder Chief of Staff Kevin Ohlson — who is seeking a federal judicial slot — explained away his failure to do anything about the festering Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal. He had “been informed that routine courtesy copies of weekly reports were forwarded to me that referred to the operation by name, but that did not provide any operational details and did not refer to gun walking or anything similar.”

Although his name was on the documents, Ohlson just didn’t bother to read them because they weren’t marked important or sensitive. Imagine an ordinary small businessman or taxpayer trying that one out on the IRS.

Situational unawareness in the private marketplace or on the battlefield will cost you your livelihood or your life. In the Age of Obama, however, such willful ignorance is a job prerequisite. The less you know the better.




Putting bureaucracy first: Rachel Maddow’s progressivism: "Progressives today say people should come before profits. Now in a privilege-ridden corporate state, that’s a worthy goal, though Progressives have no clue how to achieve it. How nice it would be if they were equally committed to putting people before bureaucracy. Here they fall down rather badly because their signature ideas would subordinate regular people to the dictates of the power structure."

Middle class in big trouble: "But as much as lefties want to blame this disturbing trend on the evils of capitalism, in fact Big Government is a big culprit. Why has manufacturing declined in the U.S.? Because labor and environmental regulations -- both payoffs to Democrat Party constituents -- have made it virtually impossible to profitably manufacture in America, forcing companies to ship production to low tax, low regulation areas overseas"

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

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

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


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


20 November, 2011

Would you like to be a blogger?

I am looking for co-bloggers on my EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL blog. Education is such a huge topic with so many incidents and controversies to report that I am acutely aware that I only scratch the surface with the blog as it stands.

So if you are of conservative to libertarian views and would like to blog on education (you will probably have some teaching background at some level), email me on jonjayray@hotmail.com

Joining an existing blog is much easier than starting your own. Those who start their own often give up quickly for lack of readers. But my blog does have a small core of regular readers.


What Americans are up against in Washington D.C.

A government of addicts -- addicted to spending with no thought for tomorrow. Can America still afford a Federal bureaucracy that duplicates just about everything that the State governments do? Abolishing (say) the EPA would still leave lots of State government environmental protections in place. There's a whole alphabet soup of Federal agencies that are similarly superfluous and abolishing them would both be a huge saving to the taxpayer and a millstone off the neck of job-creating American businesses

It took 40 presidents and nearly two centuries, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, for the US government to accumulate $1.5 trillion in indebtedness. The 44th president -- aided and abetted by Congress -- enlarges the federal debt by that amount every 12 months.

Yet the political class has its knickers in a twist because the much-vaunted "supercommittee" has only until Thanksgiving to come up a plan for trimming the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

Washington's refusal to take spending reduction seriously amounts to an almost criminal abdication of its responsibilities to the taxpayers, and politicians of both parties share in the guilt. As a candidate for president in 2008, Barack Obama properly blasted what was then a $9 trillion national debt as "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic." Just weeks after moving into the White House, he vowed that by the end of his first term he would cut the $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit in half.

"We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration, or the next generation," Obama told a White House summit on fiscal responsibility. "You don't spend what you don't have."

But Washington continues not only to spend what it doesn't have, but to do so at a record-setting pace. In the fiscal year that ended on September 30, the federal government burned through a staggering $3.6 trillion -- "well above amounts recorded before 2009," as the Congressional Budget Office dryly noted. The budget deficits of the past three years -- $1.416 trillion (2009), $1.294 trillion (2010), and $1.298 trillion (2011) -- have been the largest in American history, whether measured in dollars or as a percentage of GDP.

For all the hyperventilating in recent months about "draconian" cuts and "slashing spending" and the "brutal" scope of the automatic reductions that are supposed to take effect if the supercommittee doesn't agree on a plan, the bottom line is unchanged: The federal budget, like the federal establishment it funds, is grotesquely overweight and getting fatter by the day. The frantic stimulus spendathon has done nothing to heal the economy, and it is ludicrous that anyone can speak of the government's current "austerity" with a straight face. The deal that raised the federal debt ceiling last summer didn't impose austerity on Washington's budget-makers. It averted austerity.

Sequestration -- the triggering of spending cuts if the supercommittee fails to come up with the required deficit trims -- will barely slow the spending train. Between 2013 and 2021, the federal budget is expected to grow by another $1.7 trillion. And if the sequester trigger is pulled? By another $1.6 trillion. If that's "brutal", I'm Katy Perry.

Like any morbidly obese patient, the federal behemoth needs to go on a diet. Ultimately the only prescription for reducing the government's parade of yearly deficits and mounting debt without suffocating economic growth is to cut spending. Politicians find that a frightening prospect, and special interests and pressure groups don't hesitate to exploit their fear.

The budget deficits of the first three years of the Obama administration have been the largest in US history, both in absolute terms and as a share of GDP.

But kicking the out-of-control spending habit isn't impossible. Other governments (and earlier administrations) have done it, and with excellent results. Under Prime Minister Jean Chretien in the 1990s, Canada slashed spending across the board, reduced its federal payroll by 45,000 jobs, and privatized the national railway and air-traffic-control system. The result, as Fred Barnes recently chronicled in National Affairs, was an economic rebound. A deficit of nearly $37 billion turned into a $3 billion surplus, and a national economy that had been growing at an anemic 1% kicked into overdrive, expanding by an annual average of 3.4% between 1994 and 2006.

The longer Washington avoids serious and permanent spending cuts, the higher the debt will climb and the more painful the ultimate reckoning will be. "We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences," the president said in 2009. It was true then. It's even truer now.



The Brain-Dead Left

Obamaville's incoherence is a symptom of intellectual exhaustion

"They paused to scream at the walls of a Citibank branch."

To our mind, that sentence more than anything we've read encapsulates the spirit of Obamaville. It originally appeared in a San Francisco Chronicle story about an incident in which "dozens of college students" invaded a Bank of America Branch, "pitching a tent and chanting 'shame, shame' until they were arrested."

On the way to B of A, they paused at Citi to scream at the walls. These are college students, acting like 2-year-olds throwing a tantrum. What does that tell you about their critical thinking skills--and about the standards of American higher education? The likes of the New York Times expect us to take such incoherent spasms of rage seriously as a political "movement." What does that tell us about the standards of the liberal media?

At the Puffington Host, Robert Reich, who served as President Clinton's labor secretary and is now a professor of public policy at the University of California's flagship Berkeley campus, issues a preposterous defense of the Obamavillians, allegedly on First Amendment grounds. He begins by rehearsing the standard left-liberal lament that the First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring speech merely because the speakers choose to organize themselves as corporations. That leads to this non sequitur:
This is where the Occupiers come in. If there's a core message to the Occupier movement it's that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy.

Yet when Occupiers seek to make their voices heard--in one of the few ways average people can still be heard--they're told their First Amendment rights are limited.

The New York State Court of Appeals [sic; actually a state trial judge] along with many mayors and other officials say [sic] Occupiers can picket--but they can't encamp. Yet it's the encampments themselves that have drawn media attention (along with the police efforts to remove them).

A bunch of people carrying pickets isn't news. When it comes to making views known, picketing is no competition for big money.

In reality, the First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech--to state one's views without government censorship or the fear thereof. It guarantees no one the right to make "news." Nor does it guarantee the right to engage in unlawful behavior with the purpose of "making views known."

It is true that constitutional "speech" goes beyond the exercise of the vocal function and includes symbolic actions. Perhaps the most famous example is the burning of an American flag, which the Supreme Court in 1989 held to be "symbolic" speech. But it is not the act of burning that is protected by the First Amendment. Texas v. Johnson did not strike down fire codes, or even set out an exception to them for expressive purposes. It said the government may not penalize the specific act of burning a flag because of that act's symbolic meaning.

Similarly, if, say, the New York City Police Department allowed Tea Partiers but not Obamavillians to camp out for months at Zuccotti Park, that would be a First Amendment problem. But the law, in all its majestic equality, forbids the right, as well as the left, from sleeping in a publicly accessible park. Breaking the law may be an effective way to call attention to one's ideas, but that motive does not confer a right to do so.

On a related note: What ideas? Burning the flag is an act of symbolic speech that carries an easily comprehensible message: "I hate America." By contrast, camping out in a park, or screaming at a bank, is literally unintelligible.

Reich claims to be translating these actions and noises into English when he writes that the "core message" is "that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy." That itself is a rather nugatory assertion, but it's also what Reich believes. We suspect he heard it in his own head, not in the screams of the San Francisco college students. There is no basis to credit the screamers with any thought. We assume they are merely stupid, ignorant, immature or all of the above.

The left's embrace of a "movement" based on nonsense is a symptom of its own intellectual bankruptcy. Drew Westen--best known for his massive New York Times op-ed in August calling on President Obama to govern by telling fairy tales, has more comedy gold in an online Times piece in which he puzzles over why Obama has so often delayed the taking of decisions and implementation of policies, ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to ObamaCare. He toys with the idea that it is a psychological defect:
Decades ago, psychoanalysts identified a particular personality style common among high-achieving men (although not limited to them), and in recent years researchers have been hot on its trail. People with this style (not narcissism, although that would be a good guess) prefer to see themselves as logical and rational, uninfluenced by emotion, and to think in abstract and intellectualized ways, as if emotions were irrelevant or inconsequential to decision making--when in fact they are essential to it. Whether that describes this president I cannot say, although he has been described by a close aide, and similarly by others, as "the most unsentimental man I've ever met."

"A second possibility," he writes, "is that the president either doesn't know or doesn't want anyone else to know what he believes":
During the 2008 election, I remember listening incredulously to focus groups as swing voters would repeatedly say about a man they had watched for two years, "I don't know who he is." Now I understand what they meant. No modern American president has ever managed to make it through nearly three years in the White House with so few people really having any idea what he believes on so many key issues--let alone what his vision for the country is.

Isn't the real explanation pretty obvious? Obama has multiple degrees from Ivy League colleges and spent a good deal of his career as a part-time professor. At Columbia, Harvard and the University of Chicago, he absorbed the politically correct nostrums of the academic left. But he didn't pick up much by way of critical thinking skills (although at least he doesn't scream at banks).

He didn't have to learn how to think, since he was thinking all the "right" thoughts anyway. So he came to office with lots of ideological preconceptions but no ability to adapt or innovate. As a result, he is simply in over his head intellectually--at the mercy of allies, opponents and events.

The other night we happened to catch Harvard's Laurence Tribe, a leading liberal legal scholar, being interviewed on television by Charlie Rose about the ObamaCare cases the Supreme Court had just agreed to take up. It struck us that Tribe, an enthusiastic booster of ObamaCare, seemed a lot less confident that the government would prevail than he was earlier this year.

Because so many intellectuals are on the left, the intellectual dissolution of the left over the past few decades has been easy to overlook. But really, with the exception of same-sex marriage, can you think of a single new idea that has come out of the left since Lyndon Johnson was president? The ObamaCare case illustrates the point beautifully: The so-called individual mandate was originally a conservative idea--though, to be sure, one of the worst conservative ideas ever. But whereas a progressive of Obama's age is at least capable of borrowing bad ideas from the right, the next generation screams at banks.



A man of principle versus a mob

Will America’s character ultimately be defined by the rabid “Me! Me! Me!” mentality of a teeming mob or by the solemn determination of one man to stand on principle when the best career advice would probably tell him to do the opposite? Indeed, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is Kipling’s man who “can keep his head when all about him are losing theirs.”

With Election 2012 all the rage, the travails of the sleepy-eyed governor pale next to the Cain saga and Newt’s meteoric ascension in the polls. But according to The Huffington Post and other outlets, the governor is cancelling an appearance at an upcoming fundraiser in Kansas, where thousands of union employees were threatening to protest.

Earlier this month, Occupy Chicago protestors interrupted his speech at the city’s Union League Club where he was — gasp! — crediting tax cuts for making his state more business friendly. Walker, of course, is most famous for curtailing the collective bargaining of most public sector unions in his state. The streets of Madison soon resembled a mass playroom temper-tantrum, but his legislation stands.

The governor has been savaged personally, and his speech this June at a Special Olympics ceremony was interrupted by protestors dressed — I’m not kidding — as zombies. Classy bunch. Bear in mind, some of these miscreants are teaching your children. Where are the civility monitors who demand the smelling salts every time Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh offers an opinion?

I find it intellectually lazy to embrace public figures just because they are targeted by leftist hordes, but someone as progressively uncool as Scott Walker can’t be all bad: a Boy Scout, inspired as a youth by Reagan and a champion of tax cuts.

Somehow, New Jersey’s blustery Chris Christie was touted for standing his ground against collectivized labor, but it is Governor Walker who has felt the most heat, and he deserves the moral support of not just every conservative but any American who values limited government and reasoned, issues-oriented discourse.

The governor is now the subject of a recall effort in his state. Petition drives are underway at this very moment, and activists have already ousted two of six Republicans on ballots this summer for recall. Men such as Walker, who consider themselves Americans first as opposed to mere extras in a rage-of-the-day production for the nightly news, are all that stand between a free capitalist society and, say, Europe.

At times, America seems precariously close to the statist’s primary (but not ultimate) goal of 51 percent of the population permanently dependent on government, either through direct subsidy or employment or both. Sealing America’s fate is the fact that those ties between citizen and state are emotional and not to be easily broken by appeals to reason and individual empowerment.

So, the mob members are fueled by the inertia of their mere numbers, and public policy is soon dictated by who can shout the loudest or stand outside the capital the longest waving a sign of Walker with a Hitler mustache.

But the governor never buckled. Republican primary voters, we are told, are pining for a true conservative voice not swayed by prevailing collectivist passions. Well, the staid and dignified Walker is your man, at least in terms of standing his ground against public sector unions. He is no less a statesman than Christie, and while nothing written here should be taken as an official endorsement of any sort, the man just needs to know that small-government patriots have his back, as do all Americans who value sane, reasoned (albeit passionate) discourse.

Leaders such as Walker seldom seek personal glory, but they do occasionally need the goodwill of supporters. Greece or the United States of America? Free, independent citizens or bile-spewing mobs? Let’s opt for freedom and all hail Scott Walker.


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

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


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


19 November, 2011

Was this Obama's first national TV appearance? Hilarious video emerges of President from 1991

Two decades ago Barack Obama was elected as the first black president in history - but of the Harvard Law Review, rather than the U.S. Now a video has emerged of President Obama aged 29 presenting a Black History Minute public service announcement for TBS back in 1991.

It is believed to be his first-ever appearance on national television and his voice sounds much deeper and monotonous compared to the present day.

President Obama was talking about Charles Hamilton Houston, the black lawyer known for teaching Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The two worked on the landmark court ruling Brown v Board of Education, which marked the end of colour segregation in public schools.

‘The fact that I've been elected shows a lot of progress,’ President Obama told the New York Times in 1990 of his election as Review president.

President Obama, who also attended Columbia University, had previously spent four years leading a initiative helping poor black people in Chicago. He told the New York Times in 1990 that he intended to spend up to three years working in law and then go into politics or community work.

‘The distinguished lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston was born in 1895, eight months before the Supreme Court’s "separate but equal" ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson,’ he said in the video. ‘He spent his career fighting to overturn that decision.’

He finishes the video saying: 'I'm Barack Obama, remembering Charles Hamilton Houston and celebrating a great moment in our history.'



Treasury Admits What Everybody Already Knew: Taxpayer Losses On GM Bailout Are Going to be Massive

Am I allowed to say, I told you so? The Treasury Department yesterday revised its loss estimate for the Government Motors bailout from $14.33 billion to $23.6 billion, thanks to the company’s sinking stock price. GM’s Sept. 30 closing price, on which the new estimate is based, was $20.18, about $13 less than its December IPO price and $35 less than what is needed for taxpayers to break even.

The $23.6 billion represents a 25 percent loss on the feds $60 billion direct “investment” in GM. But that’s not all that taxpayers are on the hook for. As I explained previously, Uncle Sam’s special GM bankruptcy package allowed the company to write off $45 billion in previous losses going forward. This could work out to as much as $15 billion in tax savings that GM wouldn’t have had had it gone through a normal bankruptcy. Why? Because after bankruptcy, the tax liabilities of companies increase since they have no more losses to write off.

This means that the total hit to taxpayers, who still own about a quarter of the company, could add up to $38.6 billion. That’s even more that the $34 billion on the outside I had predicted in May.

Although GM will never, ever make taxpayers whole, taxpayer losses could be mitigated if GM’s stock price rises before the Treasury sells its remaining equity, something it was supposed to do by year-end but has postponed under the circumstances. But right now at least the prospects of a serious upward move in GM’s stock don’t look too good for reasons at least partly beyond GM’s control.

GM actually has been doing quite well in North America and China with profit margins of 10 percent, among the best in the industry. How long that will last is an open question. That’s because GM’s new competitors are not Toyota and Honda that share its cost structure but Hyndai and Kia that have a far leaner one. These companies concentrate on the small car market and don’t offer a full product line so GM and Ford’s most profitable vehicles—those evil, gas-guzzling, greenhouse-gas emitting SUV’s and pickup trucks—are somewhat insulated from the downward price pressure. But the greens and Obama administration want GM to reorient its product mix away from big cars and toward money-losing hybrids and electrics, something that could well put GM back in a hole.

But that’s part of the administration’s long-term strategy for ruining GM. The company’s big weak spot right now is Europe for two reasons: One, thanks to political pressure and labor resistance, it hasn’t been able to address its bloated cost structure there. Two, Europe’s economy is imploding, weakening car sales.

All of this shows why forcing taxpayers to wager their hard-earned dollars on a risky venture was exactly the wrong thing to do. But the Ostrich-in-Chief Barack Obama, who had assured taxpayers that their GM "investment" would cost them "not a dime," is drawing the opposite lesson, obviously. He has been trumpeting the success of the bailout—repeatedly. He was in Michigan recently claiming that the “investment had paid off.” What’s more, he declared, that now that GM is back, it is just a matter of time before Detroit is too:
“[D]espite all the work that lies ahead, this is a city where a great American industry is coming back to life and the industries of tomorrow are taking root, and a city where people are dreaming up ways to prove all the skeptics wrong and write the next proud chapter in the Motor City's history."

But the “next, proud chapter in Motor City’s history” actually is likely to be bankruptcy. That’s because Detroit is facing a $209 million budget deficit and is going to be completely out of operating cash by April.

Here is a very helpful piece by Detroit Free Press’ editorial page editor, Stephen Henderson, explaining in gory but accurate detail just what a mess the city is in. Perhaps President Obama can glance at it before he returns here and spins some more fairytales?



Upholding the health insurance mandate would encourage endless meddling in our spending decisions

A couple of months ago, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkmann was standing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, defending the federal law requiring Americans to buy government-approved health insurance, when Judge Laurence Silberman asked her about broccoli. Specifically, he wanted to know whether a law requiring Americans to buy broccoli would exceed the federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce. "No," Brinkmann said. "It depends," she added.

Silberman evidently was troubled by that shifty answer. Last week he expressed "discomfort with the Government's failure to advance any clear doctrinal principles limiting congressional mandates that any American purchase any product or service in interstate commerce." Oddly, he voiced that concern in the context of a majority opinion upholding the health insurance mandate. Dissenting Judge Brett Kavanaugh congratulated the majority for its candor in "admitting that there is no real limiting principle to its Commerce Clause holding."

For the sake of our teetering federalist system, which helps preserve liberty by restricting the national government to specifically enumerated powers, let's hope the Supreme Court can locate the limit Silberman could not. On Monday the Court agreed to review an August 12 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which unlike the D.C. Circuit deemed the insurance mandate unconstitutional, saying Congress may not "compel individuals to enter into commerce so that the federal government may regulate them."

If Congress had that authority, Judge Joel Dubina warned in the majority opinion, it would be free to dictate all manner of transactions, beginning with other forms of insurance and extending to decisions about housing, education, investing, and saving for retirement. In fact, he said, if a decision not to buy something can trigger federal intervention, provided it has a "substantial effect" on interstate commerce when combined with similar choices by millions of other individuals, "we are unable to conceive of any product whose purchase Congress could not mandate."

Which brings us back to broccoli. Dissenting from the 11th Circuit's decision, Judge Stanley Marcus said health insurance is not like broccoli because failing to buy it imposes costs on others. Thanks largely to a federal law that requires hospitals to treat people regardless of their ability to pay, taxpayers and policyholders pick up the tab for treating the uninsured.

By contrast, Marcus said, the rationale for a broccoli mandate is that eating more green vegetables would "improve people's health," which would in turn "improve overall worker productivity, thus affecting our national economy." He noted that the Supreme Court has rejected such productivity-based reasoning, precisely because it could apply to almost any activity.

But that is not the only way to justify a broccoli mandate. You could also argue that the failure to eat green vegetables imposes costs on others because it makes people less healthy and therefore more likely to need medical treatment.

That sort of argument becomes increasingly powerful as the government's role in health care expands. When the government forces you to pay for other people's medical treatment, either directly through taxpayer subsidies or indirectly by requiring insurers to take all comers and charge them the same rates regardless of health, you have a financial stake in other people's lifestyle choices, including their diets, their exercise levels, their sleep patterns, their oral hygiene, and their risky habits.

These decisions, aggregated together, have a substantial effect on health care spending, which the Obama administration has vowed to control. Imagine the fun that Congress could have coming up with mandates aimed at coercing healthier lifestyles once it has a constitutional blessing as well as a fiscal justification. Even if it sticks to regulating purchases, the possibilities for meddling will be wide and varied, ranging from food to recreational activities.

If you value your freedom to spend your money as you choose, you should hope the Supreme Court rejects the Obama administration's open-ended view of the Commerce Clause—no matter how you feel about broccoli.



There is a new definition of patriotism, at least for millionaires: Paying more in taxes

Vice President Joe Biden informed us of that a while back, and in case you’ve forgotten, there is a group called Patriotic Millionaires to help remind us. Patriotic Millionaires has been organized by the left-wing Agenda Project, the same people who brought you the “f*ck tea” campaign.

There are about two hundred millionaires involved in Patriotic Millionaires now, including actress Edie Falco, economist Nouriel Roubini, and the Democratic National Committee’s treasurer, Andrew Tobias. They came to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a hearing with the Congressional Progressive Caucus to deliver their message that to reduce the federal deficit, we must return to the pre-Bush tax rates for upper-income earners, with a top-rate of 39.6%.

(Just to be clear, that top tax rate would apply to those earning less than a million annually too. But hey, we need more patriotic six-figure-naires too.)

One of the group’s assumptions is that Congress can be trusted to use new revenue wisely. That seems like a rather shaky premise, especially at a hearing organized by the really big spenders of Congress. So, at the press conference following the hearing, IBD asked about that. David desJardins, a former software engineer at Google (GOOG) and now director of Electrified Games, responded.
IBD: How confident are you that Congress will use this extra tax money to actually reduce the deficit instead of more spending?

David desJardins: I don’t think that’s really our job. I think that’s Congress’ job. I hope Congress does the right thing. I think the American people are here to keep an eye on them. I don’t think anybody is in favor of wasteful spending or unnecessary spending. There is plenty of room for defense cuts, for reductions in spending in other areas and I hope they can do that too.

So, the Patriotic Millionaires are going to all of this trouble begging Congress to take more of their money, but they aren’t going to put any effort into following how Congress uses it? They “hope” Congress will be responsible? They also “hope” that Congress will cut spending in nondefense areas?

No wonder the Congressional Progressive Caucus is so enthusiastic about this group!

If Patriotic Millionaires genuinely think that the lawmakers they spoke to at the hearing will be responsible, they should take a look at the Progressive Caucus’ “People’s Budget.” It claims to fully eliminate the deficit over 10 years while also spending an additional $1.45 trillion on “job creation, education, clean energy and broadband infrastructure, housing and R&D.”

It achieves this miracle with higher taxes, much higher than the pre-Bush era. The CPC plan would create “five additional income tax brackets, starting at 45 percent for married couples making over $1 million dollars a year and increasing to 49 percent for people making $1 billion and over.” (Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at these higher rates.) Unfortunately, IBD didn’t get a chance to ask the Patriotic Millionaires if they’d support rates that high.

But we wouldn’t be surprised if they did. After all, if going from 35% to 39.6% is patriotic, then going up to 49% is even more patriotic and this group is nothing if not patriotic.

It also appears to be quite trusting. They seem to genuinely believe that CPC members will use all that new tax money for the sole purpose of reducing the deficit. And the CPC, naturally, is all too happy to play them for fools.

UPDATE: A Daily Caller reporter was also on Capitol Hill Wednesday asking the Patriotic Millionaires if they’d make a contribution to the IRS. You can probably guess what the response was, but watch the video anyway. desJardins shows up at 0:51 and 1:44




Yes, government does get in the way: "Oh, the I-9. In my family, this form is known as the infamous I-9. It’s infamous because it’s a symbol of the government regulation that slowly sucked away my husband’s desire to continue growing his computer company. It just wasn’t worth the continued frustration."

Cannabis’s impact on health justifies its legalization, not its criminal prohibition: "Despite the U.S. government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids. Remarkably, nearly one-third of these were published within the last three years."

America’s gerontocracy: "One fact that has become increasingly evident in the Great Recession’s wake is the disproportionate influence exerted upon economic policy by those aged 65 years or older. This group is far more economically secure than most other Americans -- according to a recent Pew Research Center study, the gap between the average net worth of those 65 and over and those under the age of 35 is increasing"

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

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


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


18 November, 2011

Europe's social failure

(By Oliver Marc Hartwich, a German economist who has now fled to sunnier climes and a more relaxed lifestyle in Australia)

Capital markets are not loquacious storytellers. They condense the world into simple numbers. For this reason, the surge in Greek, Italian and Spanish bond yields could be mistaken for a mere technicality, a simple recalibration between the forces of demand and supply that happens in markets every day.

But these are no ordinary times. Through bond yields, credit spreads and bets on government defaults, capital markets are delivering the clearest possible verdict on the grand European experiment of social democracy.

Italy now needs to pay more than 7 per cent interest on its long-term borrowing, which means investors no longer believe that the country has a future in its present state. They doubt Italy can return from the brink of bankruptcy after wrecking its public finances through decades of overspending and over-borrowing.

Politicians and intellectuals still refuse to understand what is easily discernible on the cold-hearted trading floors of the world's bond markets: The European social model, the romantic idea of an omnipotent and omni-responsible state, has passed its use-by date.

Ironically, in today's Europe there are only social democrats left, who face the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess of social democracy.

Almost 30 years ago, in a book published in 1983, the great Anglo-German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf declared the end of social democracy. Not because it had failed but because it had reached all of its traditional goals: "We have all absorbed a few core ideas and made them look self-evident, which define the theme of the social-democratic century: growth, equality, work, reason, state, internationalism."

The social-democratic program was so attractive that it had been accepted by political parties Left, Right and Centre, argued Dahrendorf. This rendered the original social democrats strangely visionless because they no longer had anything to fight for, at least nothing that would distinguish them from other political parties.

In hindsight, Dahrendorf's obituary to social democracy came too early because he had underestimated social democrats' desire to extend the reach of the state. What he also probably did not realise was that, in the 1980s, social democracy had moved beyond workers' movements to activism in fields such as gender equality, environmentalism and political correctness.

In fact, Europe's social democracy turned away from its traditional labour roots and replaced them with a new statism of the inner-city elites.

The only constant was social democracy's unwavering trust in the power of the state to organise the economy and society. Nothing could deter social democrats from their belief in the primacy of politics over economics, not even the giant bill that came with it. Instead of questioning their underlying philosophy, they glossed over its inherent contradictions by running massive deficits.

In one aspect, however, Dahrendorf's analysis was spot-on. By the end of the 20th century, the once colourful political spectrum had shrunk to a single spot. Political parties may have still called themselves conservative, Christian democrat, liberal or green but in effect they were just different shades of social democrat. A Christian Democrat was just a social democrat who went to church on Sundays; a Greens supporter was a social democrat who recycled their rubbish to perfection; and a Liberal was a social democrat who liked to talk about freedom when it suited them.

In Europe's political practice, conservatives and social democrats have become virtually indistinguishable. It probably takes a microscope and a PhD in political science to detect the great ideological differences between Tony Blair and David Cameron, or Gerhard Schroeder and Angela Merkel. In reality, there are no differences because they are all varying shades of social democrats.

There are at least two good reasons Europe's political systems have converged on the social democratic Centre. One is the fallout from the collapse of Soviet communism. The other is the practical constraint: the need to win elections.

When communism collapsed in eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many observers concluded that this marked the triumph of the Western model. Indeed it did. The state-run economies of the East could not keep pace with the mixed economies of the West.

But instead of celebrating the victories of the market economy over planning, Europe's more conservative parties were left strangely weakened by these events.

Perhaps they naively believed that history had indeed reached its end state, as Francis Fukuyama famously opined. The result was a certain smugness on the part of the political Right, who assumed that the big ideological confrontations were a thing of the past now that Western liberalism had won the battle of the ideology. This was naive because the demise of the Soviet Union in no way diminished the aspirations of the Western social democrats to reform society according to their values.

While the Left was thus busy entrenching the welfare state, the Right made the mistake of not realising that history had never stopped. The demise of the threat of communism made the liberals and conservatives forget what they stood for because they had lost the main threat they once were united against.

The second reason for the convergence of Europe's political system on the social-democratic centre was that it is here that elections are being lost and won in modern mass democracies. To win a majority of the voters, no politician can afford to move too far from this Centre. And when a large group of the population receives a large part of its income from or through the state, it is no surprise that the political system reinforces this dependence through elections. Consequently, dependence on the state tends to enlarge the state's activities through time.

Economists have long analysed this phenomenon. Anthony Downs explained it in great detail in his treatise An Economic Theory of Democracy, first published in 1957. He contended that in modern democracies, political parties tried to target the so-called "median voter". By moving closer to the political centre, left-wing parties could win over some right-leaning voters and vice versa. As a result, left and right parties became more like each other with each election because they were both after the support of the "median voter".

What sounds very game-theoretical has been Europe's practical experience. Blair's New Labour was an attempt to shift the old Labour Party to the Centre. In the same way, Cameron's repositioning of the Conservative Party only had one goal: to win back the voters in the Centre who had previously been lured over by Blair. No wonder die-hard traditionalists in both parties were equally irritated: old-school Labour supporters because Labour sounded too much like the Tories, and old-fashioned conservatives because Cameron styled himself as the "heir to Blair". But that was precisely the point of the exercise.

In mixed economies with their large welfare states, the drive to the Centre has made economic reforms all but impossible. Unless circumstances are as dire as after Britain's 1978-79 "Winter of Discontent" that brought Margaret Thatcher to power, elections can no longer be won by promising radical change.

Merkel had to learn this lesson the hard way. In the 2005 German general election, she ran on a ticket of fundamental free-market reforms. As opposition leader, she promised a complete overhaul of the health system and a fundamental simplification of the complex tax system. One of her key advisers even wondered publicly whether Germany should move towards flat taxes by abolishing the myriad tax breaks that Germans had become used to.

On election day, Merkel was punished for so much courage. In an election thought to be unlosable for the opposition, her party only narrowly won more votes than the social democrats, with whom she was forced to enter into a grand coalition. Merkel learned her lesson and has not talked about anything that remotely looks like an economic reform.

On the contrary, she now talks and acts like the social democrats she once liked to castigate. In her latest U-turn, she supports universal minimum wages (she calls them "lower-wage limits").

The quest for the often welfare-dependent median voter has turned all parties across Europe into social democratic parties.

Elections in the past have been thinly disguised bidding wars between political operators that turned around the question of who could promise more to the present generation at the expense of generations to come. The bills for politicians' profligacy were shifted into the distant future. Europe's politicians became masters in the art of fiscal illusion, always making the costs of their programs appear smaller than they really were.

It is fair to say that European politicians not only managed to fool voters about the true nature of their fiscally unsound policies, but for a long time their reckless policies also escaped the attention of capital markets. Perhaps that was because deficit spending in Europe had been practised for so long that it was regarded as a perfectly normal state of affairs. In any case, Europeans were convinced that state bankruptcies could happen only to hapless Latin Americans or unsophisticated Southeast Asians, not to them.

As Europe's debt crisis now reveals, that was an arrogant mistake. Like everybody else, Europeans cannot escape the consequences of their actions forever. The day of reckoning for Europe's previously celebrated social model has come.

This is a rude awakening from the social democratic dreams across Europe, not just in Greece, Spain or Italy. Germany, the self-righteous and self-proclaimed anchor of stability, has an official debt ratio of 81 per cent of GDP, which is still higher than Spain's. And British politicians, who gleefully look down on the troubled eurozone, can only hope that the debt vigilantes do not turn their attention to Britain's budget deficit, which is just as bad as Greece's.

Europe is a continent run by a deeply statist social democratic elite. For decades, they have become used to only enjoying the proceeds of growth. And when that growth was no longer sufficient, they were quick to prop it up by going deep into debt.

In recent months, capital markets have finally - and not a day too late - made it clear to politicians that this is an unsustainable business model for Europe. What must happen next is the painful task of reining in public expenditure, cutting back the state, and freeing the economy so it can recover.

All these tasks are anathema to social democrats. Little wonder that European politicians are going cap in hand to the Chinese rather than tackling their own home-made problems. But whether they like it or not, for lack of any political alternatives, it will be up to Europe's social democrats of all parties to clean up the mess they have created.



The impending collapse of Italy

By economic historian Martin Hutchinson

In the past decade, Italy under Silvio Berlusconi has been considerably better managed than was Lehman Brothers. Berlusconi and in particular his finance minister Giulio Tremonti have an excellent grasp of Italy’s weaknesses, and have tried within the constraints of the Italian political system to bring the country’s bloated spending under control, improve its abysmal tax compliance and, as a corollary, reduce its excessive burden of taxes. In consequence, the Berlusconi governments have at least stabilized Italy’s grossly excessive public debt, which had risen disgracefully from 30% of GDP in 1970 to 120% in 1995, but has been flat since then in spite of Italy’s deteriorating demographic profile. They have also accomplished a considerable amount in pension reform, but have not adequately reformed Italy’s corrupt public sector, its over-burden of regulation or its opaque and sluggish corporations.

The main criticism of the Berlusconi governments, which should really be directed at the leftist governments that intermingled with them, is that they have not prevented a substantial deterioration in Italy’s relative productivity against its Eurozone neighbors, which has gradually made Italian exports uncompetitive and widened its balance of payments deficit to 3.7% of GDP.

Italy’s problem is now a political one. Under Berlusconi it was mostly competently run and could hold its own internationally if only through the force of Berlusconi’s personality. As the market figured out in its negative second-day movement after Berlusconi’s departure, it is most unlikely that any Berlusconi successor will be anything like as good. Even if some figure from Berlusconi’s own party, such as Angelino Alfano, were to succeed him, he would have far less authority over the fractious center-right coalition and far less ability to keep the necessary budget-cutting reforms moving forward. A “technocrat” successor such as the much loved (by the EU bureaucracy) Mario Monti would be much worse; he would secure a large handout from his friends at the EU or the IMF, and would then waste the proceeds in government aggrandisement, making an eventual Italian bankruptcy 12-18 months down the road all the more painful. Since the market would quickly spot the road down which a Monti government was heading, it would withdraw support for Italian bonds within weeks, well before that inevitable destination had been reached.

Of course, if Italy had kept Berlusconi there would have been a clear solution to its problems; departure from the euro. Unlike Greece, whose currency parity needs to drop to a third or less of its current euro parity to be viable, Italy becomes competitive with a devaluation of no more than 20% or so. With a Berlusconi to keep public spending under control, an Italy devalued 20% could even service its public debt, since its average maturity is relatively long and any cost increase resulting from re-liraization could be easily absorbed over time.



Italy defaults on debt and sends lenders broke? So be it

By Adam Creighton, writing from a country that entered the GFC debt-free -- Australia

“Contracting debt will almost infallibly be abused in every government. It would scarcely be more imprudent to give a prodigal son a credit in every banker’s shop in London …” -- David Hume, Of Public Credit (1742)

The interesting question to ask about the European debt crisis is not what sort of bailout package will work, or which Italian or Greek government should oversee it. Economic forces will overwhelm any political theatrics.

The relevant question is how European countries were able to borrow so much in the first place. How did Italy end up with debts of 120% of GDP, or €1.9 trillion? How could Greece, a long-standing economic basket case, borrow as much as 150% of its GDP?

The answer seems to demonstrate either the gross stupidity or masterful sophistication of financial markets.

These countries, especially Greece, should not have been attractive to lenders. Greece had defaulted routinely on its debts since the early 19th century, and its finances (even the faked ones) were demonstrably shambolic right up to the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.

Italy, still a geographic expression [As Metternich said] as much as a functioning political entity, riddled with corruption, had an excessive debt to GDP ratio of about 110% in 2001.

That governments will want to borrow excessively and wastefully is not a new revelation. David Hume knew that. But how could financial markets, awash with highly paid “risk managers” and apparently staffed with the most talented employees, shovel so much money at these nations?

Both countries were able to borrow almost as cheaply as Germany, a country with more evident fiscal fortitude, throughout the 2000s.

Sure, the advent of the euro had bound European countries more closely together, but that didn’t mean individual countries could no longer default. Indeed, the European Central Bank, the European Union and European politicians were emphatic that no bailouts would ever occur under any circumstances. Edmund Stoiber, a prominent German politician, reckoned bailouts to be as likely as famine in Bavaria.

That many banks and fund managers now face substantial losses on their loans to recalcitrant European countries may demonstrate their foolishness.

Or perhaps their brilliant perspicacity? Year after year lenders made a little bit extra profit on their loans to Greece and Italy. As for the risk, they might have realised that whatever European leaders said, Western governments had become so large, social democracy so rampant, and banks so large and interconnected that it would be impossible for any democratically politician to permit lenders to lose substantial sums on their loans.

And that is exactly what has happened. Indeed, private lenders have transferred vast swathes of their dodgy, multibillion dollar loans to public European institutions such as the European Central Bank, while politicians and the International Monetary Fund fall over themselves to protect lenders from losing money. At the same time, those lenders continue to clock up massive profits and pay absurd salaries to many of their staff.

It is a master stroke for private lenders; never in my lifetime have ordinary taxpayers been bilked so comprehensively and unwittingly.


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

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


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


17 November, 2011

Romney or bust?

Ann Coulter below thinks so and although I don't like it I suspect she is right. Many conservatives don't like him because he is too centrist but that may be in his favor. Centrism could pull in the essential independent voters

The mainstream media keep pushing alternatives to Mitt Romney not only because they are terrified of running against him, but also because they want to keep Republicans fighting, allowing Democrats to get a four-month jump on us.

Meanwhile, everyone knows the nominee is going to be Romney.

That's not so bad if you think the most important issues in this election are defeating Obama and repealing Obamacare.

There may be better ways to stop Obamacare than Romney, but, unfortunately, they're not available right now. (And, by the way, where were you conservative purists when Republicans were nominating Waterboarding-Is-Torture-Jerry-Falwell-Is-an-Agent-of-Intolerance-My-Good-Friend-Teddy-Kennedy-Amnesty-for-Illegals John McCain-Feingold for president?)

Among Romney's positives is the fact that he has a demonstrated ability to trick liberals into voting for him. He was elected governor of Massachusetts -- one of the most liberal states in the union -- by appealing to Democrats, independents and suburban women.

He came close to stopping the greatest calamity to befall this nation since Pearl Harbor by nearly beating Teddy Kennedy in a Senate race. (That is when he said a lot of the things about which he's since "changed his mind.") If he had won, we'd be carving his image on Mount Rushmore.

He is not part of the Washington establishment, so he won't be caught taking money from Freddie Mac or cutting commercials with Nancy Pelosi.

Also, Romney will be the first Republican presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan who can talk. Liberals are going to have to dust off their playbook from 30 years ago to figure out how to run against a Republican who isn't a tongue-tied marble-mouth.

As we've known for years, his negatives are: Romneycare and Mormonism.

We look forward with cheery anticipation to an explosion of news stories on some of the stranger aspects of Mormonism. The articles have already been written, but they're not scheduled for release until the day Romney wraps up the nomination.

Inasmuch as the Democrats' only argument for the big-eared beanpole who's nearly wrecked the country is that you must be a racist if you oppose Obama, one assumes a lot of attention will be lavished on the Mormon Church's historical position on blacks. Church founder Joseph Smith said blacks had the curse of Cain on them and banned blacks from the priesthood, a directive that was not revoked until 1978.

There's no evidence that this was a policy fiercely pushed by Mitt Romney. To the contrary, when his father, George Romney, was governor of Michigan, he was the most pro-civil rights elected official in the entire country, far ahead of any Democrat.

No one is worried Romney will double-cross us on repealing Obamacare. We worry that Romneycare will make it harder for him to get elected.

But, again, Romney is the articulate Republican. He's already explained how mandating health insurance in one particular wealthy, liberal Northeastern state is different from inflicting it on the entire country. Our Constitution establishes a federalist system that allows experimentation with different ideas in the individual states.

As governor, Romney didn't have the ability to change federal laws requiring hospital emergency rooms to treat every illegal alien, drug dealer and vagrant who walked in the door, then sending the bill to taxpayers. (Although David Axelrod, Michelle Obama, Eric Whitaker and Valerie Jarrett did figure out a way to throw poor blacks out of the University of Chicago Medical Center..)

The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, supported Romneycare at the time. The biggest warning sign should have been that Gingrich supported it, too.

Most important, Romney has said -- forcefully and repeatedly -- that his first day in office he will issue a 50-state waiver from Obamacare and will then seek a formal repeal.

Romney is not going to get to the White House and announce, "The first thing I'm going to do is implement that fantastic national health care plan signed by my pal, Barack!"

Unlike all other major legislation in the nation's history, Obamacare was narrowly passed along partisan lines by an aberrationally large one-party majority in Congress. (Thanks, McCain supporters!) Not one single Republican in Congress voted for it, not even John McCain.

Obamacare is going to be repealed -- provided only that a Republican wins the next presidential election.

If a Republican does not win, however, it will never be repealed. Recall that, in order to boast about the amazing revenue savings under Obamacare, Democrats had to configure the bill so that the taxes to pay for it start right away, but the goodies don't kick in until 2014.

Once people are thrown off their insurance plans and are forced to depend on the government for "free" health care, Obamacare is here to stay. (And Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to tinker with it "right-wing social engineering.")

Instead of sitting on our thumbs, wishing Ronald Reagan were around, or chasing the latest mechanical rabbit flashed by the media, conservatives ought to start rallying around Romney as the only Republican who has a shot at beating Obama. We'll attack him when he's president.

It's fun to be a purist, but let's put that on hold until Obama and his abominable health care plan are gone, please.



Romney in an Age of Anger

Obama's attack on America has poisoned the atmosphere for more moderate politicians

Why do so many prominent pundits and politicos on the right who embraced Mitt Romney as their champion in 2008 reject him now as a gutless, unprincipled moderate and unworthy standard-bearer for the conservative cause?

The answer to that uncomfortable question has nothing to do with changes in Mitt Romney (if anything, he’s gotten more conservative in the last four years) but it does indicate troubling tendencies within the Republican Party and the nation itself.

In February, 2008, the most influential (and persuasive) right winger of ‘em all threw his all-important support to Romney’s then struggling candidacy. “I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that’s Romney,” he told his massive audience. “The three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives and the fiscal conservatives.”

After Rush highlighted the de facto endorsement in his newsletter with the headline “One Candidate Now Represents All Three Legs of Conservatism” the rest of syndicated talk radio (Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck) largely followed suit. Laura Ingraham introduced Mitt at CPAC as a “true conservative” and “a conservative’s conservative.” Only one lonely, courageous voice among the top-rated national hosts (and that would be me) openly dissented and proudly (and perspicaciously) endorsed McCain. Even Jim DeMint, the most conservative member of the US Senate, fell in line behind the Mittster.

But this time, conservatives seem wary, cynical or downright hostile to Romney’s smooth and formidable campaign. Instead of praising Romney as the perfectly balanced, three-legged-stool conservative dream candidate, El Rushbo now says, “Romney is not a conservative. He’s not folks. You can argue with me all day long on that, but he isn’t.” (October 13). Erick Erickson of RedState.com goes even further, wailing that “Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process…He is neither liberal nor conservative. He is simply unprincipled.”

What did Romney do, exactly, to inspire such angry contempt?

On no major issue did he move to the center in the last four years and on several (like Medicare reform, or environmental regulation) he moved decisively, even boldly to the right. The conservative commitments he made in 2008 (on social issues and other matters of policy) remain firmly intact, and the notorious flip-flops with which his thinking “evolved” over the years have receded further into the past (mostly before 2005) and so should seem less relevant, not more so.

Furthermore, as a candidate Romney has vastly improved with his self-assured, focused and coherent debate performances and a more genial and engaging, less plastic and patrician, personality. Looking at tape from four years ago and comparing it to the polished, capable candidate on display today, it’s easy to find reasons to rally to Romney’s cause this time, but impossible to discern any change for the worse.

Why, then, the stubborn conservative resistance to Romney’s seemingly inevitable nomination?

Some of his critics claim that right-wingers oppose him this time because they can select among better, more viable alternatives than in 2008, when some conservatives would do anything to stop McCain. This argument, however, displays a short, selective memory: in what way do formidable figures like Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Fred Thompson, with all their governmental experience and folksy charm, count as less plausible or impressive than the likes of Rick Perry and Herman Cain? Moreover, the impassioned conservative 2012 candidates from the House of Representatives (Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul) hardly overwhelm the trio of House contenders from 2008 (Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo…and Ron Paul).

Part of Romney’s problem in this year’s race stems from Obama’s disastrous decision to push through his ill-considered health care reform, which brings fresh focus on Romney’s own sweeping (and controversial) insurance plan in Massachusetts. But Mitt had finished any tinkering with medical mandates by the time he left the governorship at the end of 2006, and in the intervening years he fought Obama care from the beginning and came up with refreshing proposals for more practical, market-based reforms.

The real problem for Romney this time around involves something deeper, and more disturbing than questions of policy, and centers on the utterly changed mood in the country at large and particularly within the Republican Party. Four years ago, despite the beginning stages of the economic meltdown and the last stages of a painful war in Iraq, the nation yearned unmistakably for unifying, reassuring leadership. Barack Obama pledged to fill that need and won the presidency largely based on his hopeful promises to bring people together, bridging barriers of black and white, rich and poor, progressive and conservative.

Today, after four years of incompetence, reckless spending, self-infatuated grandiosity and shameless class warfare, neither side touts compromise or cooperation while both try to rally their die-hard loyalists with promises to follow Conan’s prescription for “what’s best in life: to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentations of their women” (okay, maybe not the last part).

Amazingly enough, in the midst of the debt-ceiling debacle this summer, all the current leaders in the GOP presidential field (yes, including Mitt Romney!) urged John Boehner to risk default and national disaster rather than reach any deal with the dreaded Democrats. As the Super Committee struggles to craft some sort of agreement before the doomsday deadline at the end of this month, fierce partisans on both sides refuse to give ground and hammer out an agreement that might actually reduce the deficit and save the country. Democrats claim that Republicans want to wreck the economy for political advantage, or to steal more money from the poor for their rich Wall Street friends; conservatives insist that Obama and his minions scheme to wreck the economy to impose their vision of a totalitarian socialist utopia.

In other words, a moment of aspiration has given way to an era of anger, while hope-and-change morphed into rage and paranoia. Some measure of the sad state of the nation (and of the conservative movement) can be gathered from the desperate weeks that the preening demagogue Donald Trump actually received serious consideration as a presidential possibility.

In this atmosphere Romney looks suspect to many activists on the right not because he isn’t conservative enough but because he isn’t angry enough. His real problem isn’t a question of ideology, it’s a matter of attitude. Mitt can’t keep himself from looking self-possessed and unflappable, cool and collected, reasonable and restrained. Rage isn’t part of his emotional repertoire: even when visibly frustrated by Rick Perry’s boorish disregard of all rules of debate in the Las Vegas slugfest, he came across as more pained and perplexed than infuriated.

Like most seriously successful businessmen, Mitt is a pragmatic problem solver, a sensible fixer, a technocrat. It’s easy to imagine him rolling up his perfectly cuff-linked sleeves to begin a process of cooperative, institutional repair in Washington but it’s tough to visualize the perfectly poised governor at the head of an avenging conservative army, laying waste to the opposition in a merciless effort to smash the remaining redoubts of their power.

Four years ago, Mike Huckabee delighted his many admirers with a wonderful line that seemed to capture the more hopeful spirit of that time. “I’m a conservative,” he liked to say, “but I’m not angry about it.”

The fact that Mitt Romney’s lack of anger and indignation has become a disqualifying attribute to many of his conservative critics isn’t just a problem for Romney or for Republicans. It’s an alarming development for the United States of America.



A Response to Jeffrey Sachs' Progressive Vision

In last weekend’s New York Times, Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs predicted and championed a new progressive movement that will allegedly restore “honest and effective government for all,” revive “crucial public services,” “end the climate of impunity” that encouraged fraud on Wall Street, and “re-establish” the supremacy of “people votes over dollar votes” in Washington, D.C., whatever that means. These ends will be accomplished by essentially replicating the Obama presidency thus far. If this prediction has any merit, it is a prudent time to heed Bill Buckley’s admonition to stand athwart (progressive) history and yell, “Stop!” Happily, three formidable obstacles undermine Professor Sachs’ progressive prophecy.

First, his inspiration is misplaced. Professor Sachs takes inspiration from the Occupy Wall Street movement. He shouldn’t. Whereas most hardworking, law abiding Americans see in the Occupy movement unruly scenes of violence, drug use, social disorder, and disorganization, Professor Sachs sees the beginnings of a new era in modern politics. Contrary to this wishful thinking, the people in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere have not started America on a path to renewal. They have started themselves on a path to social alienation, criminal records, and, as reported at the Occupy Atlanta encampment, tuberculosis. Unsurprisingly, there has been no popular outcry against the reestablishment of law and order, and sanitation.

What the Occupy crowd and Professor Sachs seem to miss, or not appreciate, is that bigger government equals bigger businesses and less consumer choice. It also, as Dennis Prager correctly notes, leads to smaller citizens. Increasing the size and scope of the federal government inexorably restricts individual decision-making. Subjecting citizen initiative to the policy paternalism of Washington is, aside from being bad policy, also fundamentally un-American. Professor Sachs’ vision runs contrary to the truth Ronald Reagan noted: we are a people with a government, not a government with a people. Finally, he gets the Progressive analogy wrong. Whereas earlier Progressives were law abiding citizens who championed some admirable causes, like women’s suffrage, today’s Occupy rabble trash private and public property and have no discernible, coherent agenda.

Second, his perspective is selective and incomplete. The root cause of Professor Sachs’ misperception of America lies in his vantage point. He suffers from Baby Boomer Ivory Tower Syndrome (BBITS), a chief symptom of which is, among other things, a surprising inability to accurately gauge the convictions of the intended conscripts of this purported Progressive army, whom Professor Sachs presumably encounters on a daily basis. The vast majority of those in his targeted age range would be generations X and Y. They have no memory of or inclination towards the earlier Progressive movements; they are not the SDS of today; and their relationship to the federal government is not defined by what happened at Kent State or in Vietnam. They are wholly different creatures than 1960s student radicals (see below).

Instead, thanks to the Reagan economic boom, a substantial number of those in generations X and Y have lived lives of unparalleled comfort and plenty, immune from draft cards, and obsessed with technological materialism (iPhones/Pods/Pads, etc.), mindless entertainment (reality TV, video games, fantasy football), and symbolic, empty forms of social activism (using recyclable shopping bags, driving a Toyota Prius, donating a Facebook “status” to tsunami victims). They are decidedly less politically radical -- the largest political club on the Berkeley campus is the College Republicans -- and they’ve lived through the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush administrations, which (generally) agreed that raising taxes to support big government was a feature of a bygone political era, or at least not a prudent path to political victory. Also, these generations are famously entrepreneurial, e.g.. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, etc. Their focus is on what they can build up in the private, not public, sector.

These traits lead to a unique political ideology commonly found in dynamic urban areas. For example, in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, California, where this column is written, the prevailing orthodoxy of those in the 25-40 year old range seems to be: “I’m fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.” For better or for worse, this demographic is notoriously laissez faire concerning government intrusion (hands off) because it is unaccustomed to, and therefore not reliant upon, government provision. For the Xs and Ys, the goal is self-sufficiency. No one takes the bus, or clamors for high speed rail, when they can instead fight traffic in a BMW 3 series, or a Prius.

Third and finally, Professor Sachs ignores political reality. One line from his recent book, The Price of Civilization, demonstrates his misguided thinking: “Yes, the federal government is incompetent and corrupt – but we need more, not less, of it.” Voters across America disagree: the elections last week produced important small government/anti-tax wins across the country, including in the bell weather states of Colorado (rejected tax increases), Ohio (rejected Obamacare) and Virginia (elected more Republicans statewide). And, Mr. Obama’s progressive interventions have spawned and empowered the Tea Party and the Tea Party Congressional Caucus, which has single-handedly ended his short-lived progressive agenda in Congress. How Professor Sachs can observe these trends and discern a new Progressivism is bewildering.


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

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


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


16 November, 2011

Is America past its prime?

Jeff Jacoby is cautiously optimistic below but on fairly vague grounds. Obama's vast expansion of the Federal bureaucracy is getting the USA into a similar league to Britain, where living standards have been FALLING every year for around the last 5 years.

Britain is going backwards. Its people are getting steadily poorer. And there is no sign of it pulling out of that spiral. All predictions are that it will continue. Britain has passed the tipping point. There are just too many knees under government desks for Britain to prosper.

Thanks to his ability to lie and deceive, Obama is still much more popular than any of the GOP Presidential hopefuls so the USA too could very easily pass the tipping point in the next 5 years

ARE YOU GLUM about the nation's prospects? If so, you've got lots of company.

According to a recent poll for The Hill, a Washington-based daily, 69 percent of American voters say the US is declining, and 83 percent of voters describe themselves as worried (49 percent say very worried) about the country's future. Worldwide, the Pew Research Center finds in a separate poll, "many now see the financially-strapped US as a great power in decline." Among respondents in 18 countries, 47 percent expect China to replace the United States as the world's leading power. Only 36 percent disagree.

"America's best days are yet to come," Ronald Reagan often declared. But in a Rasmussen survey late last month, just 37 percent of likely voters shared that sentiment, while 45 percent thought America's best days were past.

So it's no surprise that when Commentary magazine, for a symposium published in its current issue, asks 41 American thinkers whether they're optimistic or pessimistic about America's future, there is pessimism aplenty among the responses.

Columnist David Brooks, for example, laments the "consumption-oriented" narcissism of American society, and the "fiscal crackup" it's bringing on. Kay Hymowitz, a Manhattan Institute scholar, expresses alarm at the breakdown of family life, including the "sharp rise in divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing among the less-educated middle class." Former Undersecretary of State James K. Glassman is distressed that "America's will to lead seems to be slipping away," and that isolationism is rising on both right and left. Dennis Prager, the radio host and ethicist, sees an assault on the "American Trinity" -- the values proclaimed on every US coin: Liberty, E Pluribus Unum, and In God We Trust.

"Obesity already affects a third of our population, and will likely affect 50 percent of us by 2030," writes novelist Kate Christensen, while Dana Gioia, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, bewails "a vast dumbing-down of our public culture that may already be irreversible."

They and other contributors to Commentary's symposium make it clear that the case for pessimism is compelling and daunting. Anyone seeking evidence that the United States is now a "Republic in twilight," as the essayist Mark Steyn puts it, can find it with depressing ease.

And yet when hasn't America been confronted with dire challenges? From "the starving time" at Plymouth Plantation to the sack of Washington during the War of 1812 to the terror and confusion of 9/11, there have always been reasons to be depressed about the nation's prognosis. And there have always been Americans who refused to be depressed. Writing from Philadelphia in July 1776, John Adams acknowledged the struggle and sacrifice that American independence would require. "Yet through all the gloom," he assured his wife Abigail, "I can see the rays of light and glory."

Several participants in Commentary's symposium likewise see through gloom of the present to American triumphs yet to come. John Podhoretz, the magazine's editor, is buoyed by the fact that even amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, "there are surprisingly few signs of social instability" in the United States. Here -- unlike, say, Greece -- political upheaval has generally been channeled through the voting booth, and voters have "demonstrated a remarkable, almost unprecedented taste for shifting direction" when politicians have let them down.

No less valuable than our national political flexibility is something that R.R. Reno, the editor of the journal First Things, points to: the extraordinary absorptive power of "the American myth" -- the civil religion of freedom and justice that animates American patriotism. That common culture is what "reabsorbed a defeated South after the Civil War" and "waves of immigrants" and "even the children of ex-slaves, whose suffering and humiliation should have made them eternal enemies."

Reno isn't the only Commentary contributor who points to America's ability to assimilate outsiders as a singular advantage in the present, and an ongoing reason for optimism about the future. Yes, remarks Harvard's Joseph Nye, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, "but the United States can draw on a talent pool of 7 billion." From every corner of the globe, dreamers, strivers, and self-starters have been willing to uproot themselves for the chance to make a better life in this astonishing land of opportunity.

"I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means" -- John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

"Optimism, by nearly all accounts, has been an integral part of our national DNA," writes James Ceaser, a scholar of American politics at the University of Virginia. The crises of the moment -- a limping economy, soaring government debt, a stifling bureaucracy -- are undoubtedly serious. But they are far from insoluble, and they certainly aren't grounds for terminal pessimism.

The nation that transformed an undeveloped wilderness into history's freest, most prosperous superpower; that overcame the cancer of slavery; that trounced totalitarianism; that still inspires the persecuted and downtrodden -- that nation isn't about to fade to gray. We have licked worse problems than those we face now.

Optimistic or pessimistic about America's future? The Gipper had it right: Our best days are yet to come. This nation has had a remarkable run, but you ain't seen nothin' yet.



America's drift into Fascism continues

An Oklahoma woman named Kaye Beach refused a REAL ID-compliant drivers license, primarily on religious grounds. Even though she has no criminal record, her inability to use a state-issued ID means she is now denied . . .

* prescription medications
* hotel rooms
* use of a debit card
* and a PO box

She is suing the state for its refusal to accommodate her religious beliefs, protected under the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act.

She is also suing the state for violating her right to keep her personal and unique biometric measurements and identification private, per Article II, Section 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which is VERY similar to the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

I support her, and believe Congress should as well by repealing the REAL ID Act.

Unfortunately, some in Congress are taking the opposite position. Rep. Sensenbrenner, for instance, wants to PUNISH citizens of non-complying states by denying them the right to fly or enter federal buildings. He is actually PROUD of this. (http://tinyurl.com/bwahclp)

Sensenbrenner's position is at odds with the Constitution, conscience, and even common sense . . .

* The Constitution neither requires the states to issue ID's, nor does it authorize Congress to regulate them

* There are many persons, like Kaye Beach, who believe that this identity scheme was spoken of in Biblical prophecy, and that taking it condemns them

* Forcibly enrolling innocent citizens in a federal criminal database makes us MORE vulnerable to identity theft and is a warrantless invasion of privacy

* Terrorists won't be inconvenienced by getting a REAL ID, but ordinary citizens such as the elderly or people who have changed their names may encounter great difficulty

Are now living in a totalitarian State in which people must "show their papers" (or ID) in order to travel or make purchases? Aren't we becoming the kind of nation we condemned during the Cold War?



Obama's Half-Billion-Dollar Crony Drug Deal

Since smallpox has been eradicated worldwide this is very strange indeed. As far as we know the only remaining samples of it are in two high security labs in the USA and Russia. Russia could conceivably release it at great risk to itself but it is one of the remotest threats that America faces

What do you get when you mix Democratic fat-cat donations, Big Labor favors, pharmaceutical lobbying and Beltway business as usual? Answer: another toxic half-billion-dollar Barack Obama-approved crony deal. Move over, Solyndra. Here comes Siga-Gate.

This latest Chicago-style payoff on your dime involves a dubious smallpox drug backed by a liberal billionaire investor, along with a former union boss who was one of the White House's most frequent visitors. They're the "1 percent" with 100 percent immunity from the selectively outraged Occupier mobs that purport to oppose partisan government bailouts and handouts to privileged corporations.

Ronald Perelman is the New York City-based leveraged buyout wheeler-dealer who controls Siga Technologies. He has donated nearly $130,000 mostly to Democrats over the past two election cycles alone, and he forked over $50,000 to pay for the president's lavish inaugural parties. A Siga affiliate pitched in nearly half a million more in contributions -- 65 percent of which went to Democrats -- and the firms have spent millions on lobbying.

Perelman's pharma company makes an experimental antiviral pill used by smallpox patients who received diagnoses too late to be treated with the existing smallpox vaccine. Smallpox experts cast doubt on the need for the drug given ample vaccine stockpiles, the remoteness of a mass attack and questions about its efficacy. But over the objections of federal contract negotiators, competitors and scientists, the Obama administration approved a lucrative $433 million no-bid deal for Siga in May. No other manufacturers were able to compete for the "sole source" procurement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The special arrangement was made after a competitor objected to the administration's violating small-business rules during a first call for bids. That's right: It's yet another rigged giveaway from a Hope-and-Change champion who vowed on the 2008 campaign trail to "end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all."

Intensifying the culture-of-corruption stench: the critical role of Andy Stern. He's the profligate, corruption-coddling former head of the powerful Service Employees International Union -- the 2.2 million-member public-employee union powerhouse that he left in April 2010 with a mountain of debt and eroding rank-and-file pensions.

After pouring some $60 million of workers' dues into Democratic coffers, Stern was rewarded by Obama with a cozy spot on the White House deficit panel and dozens of visits to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- including at least seven with the president, one with Vice President Joe Biden, and meetings with Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain, OMB Director Peter Orszag, health czar aide Jennifer Cannistra and Valerie Jarrett's former high-powered aide and Chicago fundraiser Tina Tchen.

In a classic access-buying maneuver, Siga placed Stern on its board of directors in June 2010. Four months later, Siga nabbed an estimated $3 billion contract. By January of this year, Siga's stock had skyrocketed. The House GOP has been investigating the deal for months, which comes amid separate allegations of insider trading and political profiteering by investigative journalist Peter Schweizer.

Stern and Perelman have been scratching each other's backs for years. In the fall of 2006, the SEIU backed off organizing protests against AlliedBarton, a security guard firm in Philadelphia owned by a Perelman interest -- and then remained quiet when the firm was bought out by a longtime SEIU nemesis, the Blackstone Group.

According to the L.A. Times, which exposed the scandal over the weekend, Obama's top biodefense bureaucrat Nicole Lurie railroaded a key dissenter at the Department of Health and Human Services who ridiculed Siga's inflated projected profit margins. Lurie soothingly reassured a whiny Siga executive that the "most senior procurement official" would take over and mollified him in a letter: "I trust this will be satisfactory to you."

Lurie falsely told the newspaper that she had never made contact with the official regarding the contract and deemed any such contact improper. When caught with documentation, her department spun the communication with Siga as a "national security" matter. Lurie, it should be noted, is a former Clintonite and Howard Dean health care consultant who was most recently in the headlines for pushing anthrax vaccine testing for children. According to the Labor Union Report, there have been market murmurs of a merger between Siga and the anthrax vaccine manufacturer, PharmAthene. Hard to trust Lurie's public health moral authority with the taint of pay-for-play wafting over the Siga deal.

As always, venture socialism backed by Big Labor muscle and White House wealth redistribution is hazardous to taxpayers' health.




Local politics are also the most corrupt: "Local politics is not only the most intense, local politics is not only the most blatant, local politics is also the most vicious and corrupt in its pettiness."

Supreme Court should require warrants for GPS tracking: "As technology advances -- and law enforcement adapts these advancements to police work -- courts will be asked to apply the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in new and varied situations. The Supreme Court should ensure that courts maintain oversight of Information Age policing."

Big government is bad for democracy: "The federal bureaucracy is largely a creature of the executive branch. The president is elected, but the executive's political appointees are not, though some of them are subject to congressional approval. Anyway, most of the personnel of the state is permanent, and varies only slightly as partisan governments come in and out of power. The actual exercise of power in the various bureaucracies is subject to democratic oversight in only the most tenuous sense."

Why legalizing organ sales would help to save lives, end violence: "Many will protest that an organ market will lead to exploitation and unfair advantages for the rich and powerful. But these are the characteristics of the current illicit organ trade. Moreover, as with drug prohibition today and alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, pushing a market underground is the way to make it rife with violence and criminality."

Cannabis’s impact on health justifies its legalization, not its criminal prohibition: "Despite the U.S. government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids. Remarkably, nearly one-third of these were published within the last three years."

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

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


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


15 November, 2011

On the Verge of Gutting Individual Constitutional Protections?

California is trying to make its bureaucrats unaccountable dictators

The glue that holds a civilized society together is the knowledge that when a victim is wronged, a legal process exists by which the wrongdoer will be held accountable and the victim thereby compensated for his injury. While not perfect, we have a legal system in America today in which fair play and justice is expected. This expectancy represents an evolution of over eight centuries. It dates back to England’s 13th century Magna Carta which mandated “the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.” However, sometimes the justice expected in holding the wrongdoer accountable for the victim’s injury gets lost in the discord of lower courts raising constitutional issues independent of the underlying wrong. This leaves as final arbitrator the highest court in the land—the U.S. Supreme Court.

One such case that has run the gauntlet of discord will soon be before the US Supreme Court—Miracle Star v. State of California, Case No. 11-359. In dispute is a perfect storm of individual rights, a state government’s rights and federal rights under the US Constitution.

This case involves a plaintiff who filed a claim for injury suffered when California government representatives failed to provide claimant, Miracle Star, with rights of due process. The representatives also caused plaintiff—operating an overnight assistance program for handicapped persons, including those who are homeless—to have to shut down the operation: all for simply not having a tightly fitting trash can lid and a functioning light bulb in May 2004. California refused to renew plaintiff’s “state-approved” license, resulting in a cease and desist of operations order at that time, thus revoking Miracle Star’s license to continue service.

The defendant representatives had acted arbitrarily in doing so—thus violating a basic tenet of one’s individual rights that have been recognized over centuries. The trial court awarded plaintiff a $400,000.00 judgment. California appealed.

The Appellate Court overruled the trial court based on its reliance on applying two State cases permitting legal immunity. These cases even expanded the theory of government immunity to the breaking point, ignoring the prevailing violations of the US Constitution recognized by the lower court. The premise was, since the State was possibly immune, if argued based on these two state cases then the same lack of damages should be the result if federal damages were sought and won in the Miracle Star case.

The plaintiff brought an action in state court claiming California violated its rights, citing 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. In a nutshell, this federal statute says any government representative, whether federal or state, who deprives a citizen (which includes corporations) “of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured…” Without belaboring the specifics of the Appeal Court’s argument, the effective impact of its decision is that immunity is created for State employees inflicting injury on aggrieved victims who have been deprived of their constitutionally-protected right of due process.

In so deciding, the Appellate Court disregarded the superior law of our land based on the Supremacy Clause, which is the primary reason state courts maintain concurrent jurisdiction over such claims. But state courts, just as much as federal courts, are responsible for ensuring their officials do not run roughshod over the federal rights of any citizen. When an individual files such an action in state court, that court cannot simply decline jurisdiction over a federal claim, as is being done here, on the grounds that an act of Congress “is not in harmony with a policy of the state.” The decision by the Appeals Court in not upholding the superior law of our land is as wrong as it is dangerous.

The actual legal question that will now come before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether a state court, addressing a Section 1983 claim can prohibit the award of compensatory damages without violating the Supremacy Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly admonished state courts under Section 1983 claims for changing the remedial scheme Congress has provided—and part of that remedial scheme is an entitlement to compensatory damages. Yet despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s clarity on this issue, the California Court of Appeals overturned a jury award of close to $400.000. If the Court of Appeals decision stands, the bottom line to California citizens is that they will be deprived of a state court forum to litigate abuses of their federal rights by granting immunity to state officials where none exists. This case has snuck up on the legal community, creating a back-ended immunity whenever the State decides it will not follow the U.S. Constitution. This case also raises the possibility of expanding to other states claiming similar immunity.

Led by Martin Luther King, the civil rights marches of the 1960s sought and, through legislation signed by President Lyndon Johnson, achieved to hold the US government accountable for equal rights for all. That accountability—as well as the protections won via the Magna Charta and U.S. Constitution—will be gutted if the Court of Appeals decision is not reversed, also setting a dangerous precedent in diminishing the peoples’ right to hold their government accountable.

In signing the Magna Carta and launching a new era in the rights of the individual over those of the government, King John of England had little choice. He was forced to sign the document at knife point by subordinates tired of an arbitrary rule of law where the ultimate authority lacked accountability for his actions. We have advanced as a civilized society in the centuries since then so that the judges of the US Supreme Court will not be forcibly held to sign off on a decision whether to take on the Miracle Star case and on how to judge it. It is hoped, however, eight centuries of legal theory will not be tossed out the window and the U.S. Supreme Court judges will recognize the greater rights of the people of California to hold their government accountable for any abuse of authority.



The Same Old Obama

President Obama's various remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO business summit in Honolulu over the weekend show he is simply incapable of growing in office. In just a few short statements, we saw many of the familiar practices through which he has alienated such a large percentage of the American people and damaged the economy.

Away from his teleprompter, he treated us to further insults of Americans, his unfriendly attitude toward business and the private sector, his narcissism, and his refusal to accept responsibility for his own actions.

In his Monday evening press conference from APEC, Obama showed that he can't shake his narcissistic impulses. One would think that with all that has been written about Obama's "me, myself and I" fixation, he would at least try to pretend to be other-directed on occasion, to show he has the capacity to think of his position as something larger than himself.

In his opening remarks, he didn't say that "we" or "Americans" want other nations to buy American-made goods, but "I want them to," and so "I've been doing everything I can to make sure" we stay competitive. He didn't say, "The United States was honored to host APEC this year," but "I've been proud to host APEC this year."

When NBC's Chuck Todd asked him to clarify his "hot mic" conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which they both insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he refused to comment, which means he refused to deny, much less apologize for offending the leader of our staunch ally, Israel, when he told Sarkozy, "You're fed up with (Netanyahu), but I have to deal with him even more than you do."

Two days earlier -- on Saturday -- Obama had modified his comment in September that Americans had "gotten a little soft" in competing in international markets. At APEC, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney asked him to consider the Chinese perspective and their concern about impediments to investment in the United States. How, wondered McNerney, would he address their dissatisfaction over these obstacles?

Rather than addressing the question directly, Obama deflected any responsibility for the situation and said, "We've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted - well, people will want to come here and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America."

I happen to believe that comment is absurd on its face, as even my small hometown in Missouri has made great efforts to bring foreign businesses into the community, sometimes successfully. Other communities throughout the United States daily engage in a competitive effort to attract businesses into their cities and states, and for the president to characterize them as "lazy," demonstrates he is as out of touch with Americans as he is disdainful toward them.

He might consider responding to the question next time, which involved impediments to doing business that often put American companies and communities at a competitive disadvantage in attracting foreign businesses. Doesn't Obama owe us all an answer to that question?

But to answer would require Obama to account for his own deplorable economic record and his hostility toward business, the private sector and the free market. A fair, reasonable response would have included his acknowledgment of how much damage his policies have caused to the American business climate, instead of an indictment of every American besides himself.

With his accelerating mounds of regulations, his imposition of Obamacare, his increased taxes, his incessant spending and the resulting jobs-challenged economy, why would foreign companies be any more excited about the Obama business climate than American businesses are?

Obama's aptly titled "Regulatory Czar," Cass Sunstein, protests, "the annual cost of regulations has not increased during the Obama administration." But the Heritage Foundation has called Sunstein out on that, just releasing a study showing that the administration is churning out regulations at a significantly faster pace than previous administrations. Obama recently announced reforms to eliminate burdensome, obsolete rules, but they were more hype than substance. Our regulatory costs are continuing to increase with no end in sight.

While little austerity was practiced in the regulatory area during the George W. Bush era, Obama has easily outpaced his predecessor. Through the end of March 2011, Obama had piled on $40 billion in new costs to the economy, more than doubling Bush's additions. In fiscal year 2010, Obama added $26.5 billion in costs, making it the record year for increased regulatory costs.

With Obama at the helm, in economic terms, among others, we've got the worst of all possible worlds: a rigid commitment to policies that harm rather than help, and personality traits that prevent him from admitting, learning from and correcting his mistakes. We'll just have to wait a little longer.



Big Dem Donors' Company to Cut Jobs Due to ObamaCare

Remember when Nancy Pelosi said ObamaCare would "create 4 millions of jobs – 400,000 almost immediately." Don't hold your breath.

Now that businesses have had time to "find out what's in it" as the former Speaker of the House invited, instead of job creation, jobs are actually being destroyed by the provisions of ObamaCare, just as concerned critics predicted. A study by the NFIB, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, predicted 1.6 million jobs would be destroyed by 2014 when ObamaCare would be fully implemented, mostly within small businesses. Even the CBO predicted 650,000 jobs would be destroyed by the legislation. It's happening.

Stryker Corporation is a manufacturer of artificial hips and knees for replacement surgery headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Due to a new 2.3% tax on medical devices that will be imposed because of ObamaCare, Stryker has announced a 5% reduction in the company's 20,000 employee global workforce in order to reduce annual pretax operating costs by more than $100 million prior to 2013 when the new tax is scheduled to kick in.

Ironically, Pat and Jon Stryker, the billionaire grandchildren of the company's founder and orthopedic surgeon Homer Stryker, have invested millions of their inherited fortunes electing Barack Obama and Democrats who passed the legislation that is destroying jobs and increasing costs at the company that made them rich.

Pat and Jon are ranked among the richest people in America by Forbes, and like to identify their occupation as "philanthropist." We doubt the Stryker employees who get fired will appreciate the result of Pat and Jon's political "philanthropy."



Mainstream Economic Theory Meets Reality

Economic theory is perfectly acceptable. But in the real world, economic reality is much more important.

Yet in a recent Associated Press news story, reporter Charles Babington seems to have confused theory with reality. After noting that most of the GOP candidates are pressing for lower taxes and less regulation, Babington clucks that these steps aren’t likely to work. “Mainstream economic theory says governments can spur demand, at least somewhat, through stimulus spending,” he wrote. “The Republican candidates, however, have labeled President Barack Obam’s 2009 stimulus efforts a failure.”

Let’s consider Babington’s assertion.

It’s certainly true that “mainstream economists” think government can stimulate demand. That’s a perfect description of Keynesian economics. But there’s no need to turn to economic theory to see what the 2009 “stimulus” bill has wrought. In the real world, the 2009 stimulus efforts are a failure.

Recall that Congress spent almost $800 billion, much of it on supposedly “shovel ready” projects that were supposedly going to produce jobs. Before they went to work at the White House, two “mainstream economists” predicted that the bill would keep unemployment to less than 8 percent. They also predicted that the measure would create even more jobs in 2010 and 2011.

Instead, the unemployment rate climbed steadily throughout 2009, reaching 10.1 percent by October. It remained higher than 9.5 percent throughout 2010, and hovers at 9.1 percent today. Economic theory was all well and good, but economic reality is what matters to those who can’t find work.

As Daniel Mitchell, a less-mainstream but still prominent economist at the CATO Institute, writes, “the problem with Keynesianism is that it fails the empirical test. The Keynesians may be good at constructing models, but that doesn’t mean much if the models don’t match the reall world.” And they don’t.

But Babington’s not finished. “Key proposals from the Republican presidential candidates might make for good campaign fodder. But independent analyses raise serious questions about those plans and their ability to cure the nation's ills in two vital areas, the economy and housing,” he writes. “Consider proposed cuts in taxes and regulation, which nearly every GOP candidate is pushing in the name of creating jobs. The initiatives seem to ignore surveys in which employers cite far bigger impediments to increased hiring, chiefly slack consumer demand.”

Well, it isn’t simply presidential candidates who are clamoring for less regulation; so are business leaders. In the Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz says the late Steve Jobs warned President Obama that he was “headed for a one-term presidency.” Jobs was an Obama supporter, and meant that as a warning for the president to change course.

“Apple’s founder said regulations had created too many burdens on the economy,” Crovitz adds. “High-tech companies are supposed to be the country's engine for growth, but the federal government is gumming up the works.”

Want another view from the top? “Washington’s political gridlock and volatility threaten to derail an economic recovery that wants to take flight. Observers are right to perceive a collective failure to govern, and that perception creates costly uncertainty for job-creating American businesses,” writes Jim McNerney in the Wall Street Journal.

He’s the CEO of Boeing, a company that’s trying to create jobs in South Carolina but is being stymied by regulators at the National Labor Relations Board. McNerney adds: “The regulatory climate is a perfect example. A tsunami of new rules and regulations from an alphabet soup of federal agencies is paralyzing investment and increasing by tens of billions of dollars the compliance costs for small and large businesses.”


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

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


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


14 November, 2011

Another out-of-control government agency

Health department tyrants raid local 'farm to fork' picnic dinner, orders all food to be destroyed with bleach

It is the latest case of extreme government food tyranny, and one that is sure to have you reeling in anger and disgust. Health department officials recently conducted a raid of Quail Hollow Farm, an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in southern Nevada, during its special "farm to fork" picnic dinner put on for guests -- and the agent who arrived on the scene ordered that all the fresh, local produce and pasture-based meat that was intended for the meal be destroyed with bleach.

For about five years now, Quail Hollow Farm has been growing organic produce and raising healthy, pasture-based animals which it provides to members as part of a CSA program. And it recently held its first annual "Farm to Fork Dinner Event," which offered guests an opportunity to tour the farm, meet those responsible for growing and raising the food, and of course partake in sharing a meal composed of the delicious bounty with others.

But when the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) got word of the event and decided to get involved, this simple gathering of friends and neighbors around a giant, family-style picnic table quickly became a convenient target for the heavy hand of an out-of-control government agency. And Monte and Laura Bledsoe, the owners and operators of Quail Hollow Farm, were unprepared for what would happen next.

Laura Bledsoe explains in a letter to her guests written after the fact that two days prior to the event, SNHD contacted the farm to say that, because the picnic was technically a "public" event, the couple would have to obtain a "special use permit," or else face a very steep fine. Not wanting to risk having the event disrupted, the Bledsoes agreed to jump through all the demanded legal hoops even though their gathering was really just a backyard picnic.

But the day of the event, an inspector from SNHD, Mary Oaks, showed up and declared that all the food the Bledsoes would be serving was "unfit for consumption," and that it would have to be destroyed. Though there was no logical or lawful reasoning behind this declaration, and the Bledsoes had complied with all the requirements, Oaks insisted that the food be discarded and destroyed using a bleach solution.

One of the so-called reasons for this action included the fact that some of the food packaging did not contain labels, even though labels are not necessary if the food is eaten within 72 hours. Oaks also cited the fact that some of the meat was not US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified, that the vegetables had already been cut and were thus a "bio-hazard," and that there were no receipts for the food (which was all grown on the farm, not purchased from a grocery store).



Small Business and Regulation

Dodd/Frank and Obamacare are choking off funds for business expansion and new jobs

A recurring theme in this series on small businesses and regulation is the effect that Dodd-Frank is having on small firms’ borrowing.

In previous parts in this series, the owners of both the American Business Group and Matthew’s House brought up the difficulty that small businesses are experiencing in accessing capital.

Mike Bucci, owner of K & M of VA, Inc., has had similar problems. He noted how lending for his small business had changed within the space of a year:
About 16 months ago I went to my bank and said I needed to expand my credit line. My credit is impeccable. I pay everything on time. When I was speaking to the customer service person, he told me, “Wow, I can’t believe you qualify for our lowest rate. No one ever does.” The bank’s attitude was, yes, we can do this. About six or seven months ago I needed to expand my credit line again. My business was growing and I needed to expand my inventories. The bank’s attitude had done a 180. It now had a new department to handle small business requests. They initially told me that not only would they not expand my credit line, but they wanted to shrink it. I wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I went to see the guy in charge of this department. He told me, in effect, that he would never lose his job for saying no to a loan. This new department was the bank’s “no” team.

Bucci eventually got the capital he needed from other sources, but it took up a lot of his time over the next few months.

He has owned K & M of VA, Inc. for over five years. Basically, it is an “idea” business — Bucci is always on the lookout for ideas for new products. His business will develop a product idea, source it, and market it. His signature product, thus far, is called the “painter pyramid.” He usually has just under 10 employees working for him.

“There are two things, I think, that are making it hard for small businesses to access capital,” Bucci said. “There are the capital liquidity requirements (for banks). That’s one of the drivers. There is also a tone that Dodd-Frank has set with the regulators. Regulators are now in their ‘hyper-sensitivity’ mode because they got burned recently.”

Dodd-Frank isn’t the only major legislation passed in the 111th Congress that has Bucci struggling.

“Securing health coverage for a small business was scary before the inappropriately named ‘Affordable Care Act’ was passed,” he said. “The rate of scariness has only increased. It’s driving extraordinary price increases. I’ve seen a 30% increase in premiums. A few other owners I’ve talked to have seen increases near 70%. Before this, my increases were south of 20%. I think what ObamaCare has done is that it has created much more uncertainty for insurance providers, and I think they are building that into the price.”

The increase will cost him thousands of dollars extra in the coming year. “I have a very small business, and thousands matter,” he said.



Facing Eurocollapse: An end to Europhoria

Conrad Black writes in a very literary way below but what he says is mostly sensible. I have highlighted a couple of points for those who find him hard going. He is pleased that Europe's problems dynamite the admiration of Europe that used to ooze from the American Left ("Europhoria")

As the world financial crisis deepens, it is unlikely that it can be alleviated without carefully reviewing the infelicitous confluence of mistakes in Europe and the United States that has brought it to its present extreme state. The European Monetary Union, involving 17 countries, was based on a number of generally admirable premises, but also on a couple of false assumptions.

Greece, in particular, joined the euro, scrapping the ancient drachma, on a false prospectus prepared with the help of the ubiquitous, not to say adaptable, Goldman Sachs. Greece fluffed up its assets, finessed its liabilities, and leapt into the eurozone like a circus acrobat moving forcefully to a higher but stronger trapeze. In practice, the real backing of the euro was about three fifths a Deutschmark, one quarter a French franc, 5 percent a Dutch guilder, and the rest a potpourri of everyone else. (Britain has abstained and Switzerland is not a member.) Kohl and his officials presumably suspected that Greece and some of the others were over-egging the pudding a little, but were prepared to stand for it in the higher interests of a popular Germany girt about with grateful allies.

All of Western Europe has been suffering from a collapsed birthrate, and has been paying fiscal and political Danegeld to organized labor and the small farmers for notoriously obvious historic reasons. Only about 40 percent of eurozone residents work, and demographics assure that an ever-increasing percentage of people are on benefit, piggybacking on the productive minority within each country and in the EU as a whole.

And for over ten years, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain have been issuing prodigious quantities of debt (Italian sovereign debt is 120 percent of GDP, compared with about 90 percent in the U.S.), in euros, and the European Central Bank laboriously conserved the fiction that all Euro-debt was of equivalent quality. The European private-sector banks, pretending that the riskier issues had the same debt standing as the German government’s, hold nearly $2 trillion of these unreliable sovereign obligations, which obviously imperils the European banking system, and backs into questions of the solvency of a number of European countries.

As one palliative after another has been put forward, and been shattered by deteriorating events, and as each solution, accompanied by a fanfare on the theme of “Mission Accomplished,” has failed, confidence has eroded. As historian Niall Ferguson [wittily] remarked, the West failed to “beware Greeks bearing debts.” The European Central Bank imposed on Greece a regime of spending cuts and tax increases that was bound, in the short term, to increase the deficit; instead of a package such as Ireland adopted (with considerable success so far), of expense reductions but also incentives to investment, that has reduced its deficit. The fate of Greece has been that of a sovereign Lehman Brothers that has rewarded the short sellers.

Whatever happens to Greece — and the sojourn with the referendum was a bolt of insanity — Europe must prescribe measures for other laggards that encourage economic growth. Herbert Hoover proved that you can’t shrink your way out of bad economic news, just as Barack Obama has proved that you can’t spend your way out of it either.

Europe will have to put everything behind its banking system, pare back the welfare cocoon, and promote economic and natural-population growth. (It was a little gratuitous for a major American newspaper recently to refer to the birth of a child to French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his glamorous wife as “a gesture to family values.”)

These are very serious problems, but they have at least banished Europhoria, and they can be met by determined leadership. Germany’s Angela Merkel and the incoming conservative Spanish regime are probably up to it. Sarkozy is questionable, and it should finally be time for a change from the Berlusconi carnival in Rome. There has been some talk of a Euro-bailout by China. If any arrangement were made with the People’s Republic, it would be so usurious that the European commissioners would soon be personally conveying their Chinese creditors through the streets of Europe’s capitals in rickshaws. It’s up to the Europeans; the Americans can’t help them this time.

I have dilated on the American economic and budgetary condition at such length and so often, here and elsewhere, that strict economy of words and metaphors is appropriate. It is a bit rich for Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner (though it is a relief to hear Mr. Geithner speak in public again after a lengthy simulation of a cigar-store Indian) to urge stimulative spending in Europe. Europe is not prepared, to its great credit, to resort to the fraud of simply “electronically” buying its own bonds, as the U.S. has been doing with the last $3 trillion of new debt; and the policy has failed in the United States. The $800 billion stimulus package of 2009 accompanied an addition of 2.5 million unemployed, despite the creation of over 400,000 new federal-government jobs.

The collapse of anticipated U.S. economic growth from an expected 3.5 percent to 0.7 percent in the first half of this year (though the latest figures are better) amplifies the failure of public-sector pump-priming. The two-part debt-ceiling fiasco — the original impasse, followed by the failure to agree on the required deficit reduction — emphasizes the ineffectuality of the country’s leadership.

As American conditions deteriorated, a great deal of capital moved out of equities and other places to low-yield but liquid money-market funds, until it came to light that these funds were engaged in large-scale loans to European banks imperiled by the sovereign-debt crisis. This drove Americans out of Europe and back to U.S. debt held by the same money-market funds, ironically (and briefly) facilitating continued fiscal profligacy in the U.S.

The whole stimulus concept is a fraud, because as much productive resources are immobilized in borrowing the stimulus as are created in spending it. And the spectacle of the administration claiming to seek deficit reduction in the debt-ceiling process, while asking for $477 billion of new borrowed stimulus in what is called a “jobs bill,” is contemptible, and is universally seen as such. The idea that temporary tax cuts will permanently invigorate the economy even after they have been cancelled after a year is nonsense.

One more time, the country needs entitlement reform, consumption and some transaction taxes (though not the taxes the Wall Street Journal has been frightening its readers with), personal- and corporate-income-tax reductions, tax simplification, promotion of alternative energy sources, real health-care reform, and the bundling together of most of the monstrous public-sector debt bomb in a sinking fund with a believable plan for reducing it without just monetizing the Obama debt hemorrhage, which most observers suspect is now in the cards.

Not all hope for progress after the 2012 election has been extinguished. The principal Western countries are great nations and they will survive, but not the way they have been pursuing that objective in recent years.




Dems push to repeal DOMA: "Senate Democrats who back gay marriage have decided now is the time to repeal a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The Democrats may satisfy their gay marriage supporters, but the bill won't get very far. ... The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she doesn't have the votes for Senate passage, and the bill would have no chance in a House controlled by Republican conservatives."

Muslims out of the armed forces? "Local and national Muslims called for state officials Saturday to rebuke state [TN] Rep. Rick Womick for remarks he made that all Muslims be removed from the U.S. military. ... Womick, though, stood by his comments and offered no apology when contacted by The Daily News Journal. 'Who are we at war with?' Womick said. 'We are at war with al-Qaida and the Taliban, who are Muslims. It’s a Catch-22. They are not allowed to kill their fellow Muslims; we’re at war with Muslims. The only solution I see is that they not be allowed in the military.'"

Did Mossad do it? "Mystery surrounds yesterday's explosion at a Revolutionary Guard ammunition depot that was so large it was felt and heard almost 30 miles away in Tehran. Even as funerals began on Sunday for the 15 soldiers killed, Iranian commanders sought to downplay any connection to Iran's advanced ballistic missile arsenal and its controversial nuclear program."

Watchdog: IRS taxpayer files not secure: "The IRS is having problems securing personal taxpayer data and is not doing enough to prevent 'unauthorized users' from accessing that information, according to a new report. The Government Accountability Office this past week warned that the IRS continues to suffer from a 'material weakness' in information security. While the report praised the IRS for encrypting more files and taking other steps to address the problem, the GAO said the agency is still at 'increased risk of compromising confidential IRS and taxpayer information"

Iran pot bubbles, will it cook Obama?: "President Obama has suddenly been confronted by a bubbling challenge from Iran he almost certainly would have preferred to avoid during a presidential election year. Like President George W. Bush before him, he pledged to block Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. But his offer to talk with Iran’s leadership was rebuffed."

Counting sheep: "To save money, the Agriculture Department will no longer perform as many reports on the size and scope of some industries. Good. But New York Times writer William Neuman asks: 'If the government stops counting catfish do catfish farmers disappear?' He argues that if the government doesn't keep track of the number of catfish, no one will, and industries will disappear because lobbyists and investors won't know the size of the industries. Hello? Industries 'disappear because because lobbyists and investors won't know the size of the industries?' What?"

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

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

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


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


13 November, 2011

Another Leftist claim of psychological dysfunction among conservatives

Leftists have been projecting their own psychological deficiencies onto Conservatives since at least 1950 -- and they are not going to give up any time soon.

The latest installment is a book by Warmist Chris Mooney called "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Don't Believe in Science". Below is an announcement of it which I will follow with some comments

Over the last year here at DeSmogBlog, my writings have converged around a set of common themes. On the one hand, I've shown just how factually incorrect today's political conservatives are, documenting the disproportionate amount of misinformation believed by Fox News watchers and the disproportionate wrongness of the right when it comes to science.

At the same time, I've advanced a variety of psychological explanations for why we might be seeing so much political and scientific misinformation today on the right wing. For instance, I've unpacked the theory of motivated reasoning; and I've also talked about why conservative white males in particular seem to be such strong deniers of climate science.

All of this, I'm now prepared to say, is just the iceberg tip. You see, for the last year, I've been working on a book on the same topic, which explains why conservatives are so factually incorrect-drawing on the latest research in social psychology, political science, cognitive neuroscience, and other fields.

The book is now finished in draft form-due out next year with Wiley-and it is long past time to formally announce its existence. After all, it is already up on Amazon. But I can go farther by showing the draft cover image (the current subtitle is likely to change, as this phenomenon goes far, far beyond science, as does the book). I can also share the text that will soon go up to Amazon and elsewhere. Eat your heart out, Ann Coulter:
Bestselling author Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today's Republicans reject reality-it's just part of who they are.

From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won't Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts?

Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.

* Goes beyond the standard claims about ignorance or corporate malfeasance to discover the real, scientific reasons why Republicans reject the widely accepted findings of mainstream science, economics, and history-as well as many undeniable policy facts (e.g., there were no "death panels" in the health care bill).

* Explains that the political parties reflect personality traits and psychological needs-with Republicans more wedded to certainty, Democrats to novelty-and this is the root of our divide over reality.

* Written by the author of The Republican War on Science, which was the first and still the most influential book to look at conservative rejection of scientific evidence. But the rejection of science is just the beginning.

Certain to spark discussion and debate, The Republican Brain also promises to add to the lengthy list of persuasive scientific findings that Republicans reject and deny.

I know very well that this invites controversy, so let me say (even though I expect many conservatives will ignore it!) that the book also fully documents the handicaps and drawbacks of liberal/Democratic psychology. It's a yin-and-yang kind of thing; you can't make one argument without the other.

There's a reason Winston Churchill was a better wartime leader than Neville Chamberlain. There's a reason why the Tea Party got itself elected in under two years, while Occupy Wall Street is kinda all over the place. There's a reason why we have scores of environmental groups that often can't see eye to eye. There's a reason, as George Lakoff and others have noted, why Democrats (and scientists!) focus too much on policy facts and details rather than winning over people's hearts (and winning elections).

But when it comes to determining what's true about complex, technical subjects-issues full of ambiguity and uncertainty, where you can't just jump to conclusions and have to stay open-minded and tentative in your beliefs-I'll take the scientific-liberal approach any day. And after reading the book, I think so will you.


It's laughable how he can't see his own faults and instead attributes them to others. He praises "staying open-minded and tentative in your beliefs". Yet is a member of the terminally dogmatic Global Warming crowd with their desperately asserted "consensus". If only Warmists WOULD "stay open-minded and tentative in their beliefs" -- but there's no sign of it. Jim Hansen compares coal trains with Nazi death trains: Very subtle.

On one level what Mooney says is right. There is no doubt that Leftists and Rightists have differing brains. The repeated findings about the strong genetic determination of political orientation leave no doubt of that. But how those differences work is as yet unknown. It's all speculation and theory. I point to the fact that levels of happiness are dispositional and suggest that conservatives are born happy and Leftists are born whiners. But I have no more evidence for that speculation than Mooney does for his theories. It is certainly true that conservatives repeatedly show up in surveys as happier than those on the Left but whether that is a direct outcome of brain anatomy remains to be seen.

It is true that there are various psychological studies supporting his characterization of conservatives. I spent 20 years ripping metaphorical holes in the journal articles concerned. The studies are universally poorly done. Leftists are generally too lazy (for instance) to do doorknock research. They just hand out a bunch of questionnaires to their students and their students happily give the "researchers" back what they want. And that is supposed to tell us about all humanity.

And when we add to their lack of sampling their psychometric naivety, what we have is mere progaganda -- something more reminiscent of Dr. Goebbels than of science. To take just one instance of such naivety: They have lists of questions that they use to separate out people who are conservative from those on the Left. But when it comes to actual elections, we find that their alleged indices of conservatism give zero prediction of actual vote! Alleged conservatives are just as likely to vote Democrat as Republican! So the Leftist psychologists don't even know what conservatism is, let alone being able to research it.

But let us assume that despite their methodological negligence, the Leftist psychologists have somehow guessed right. Even then there still are deep holes in their reasoning. A classic accusation -- hinted at by Mooney above -- is that conservatives are "intolerant of ambiguity". But is that a vice? Might it not be a sign of mental laziness? Surely its opposite is the search for order -- and what a true scientist does is search for order in the phenomena he studies. So Leftists must make poor scientists -- and the global warming nonsense certainly confirms that. A majority of physical scientists seem to believe it -- despite it being nothing more than a poorly-founded prophecy. They are certainly accepting a lot of ambiguity there, a quite stultifying level of ambiguity.

The other type of study the moon-man refers to is activity studies in the brain. And it seems true that in the same situation, different areas of the brain "light up" among Leftists and Rightists. That is perfectly to be expected from the genetic studies. But the moon-man tries to infer things from such patterns of lighting up. But such research only scratches the surface of brain function so all such inferences are just speculation. More on that here

On the question of whether religion makes conservatives anti-science, I have what I think is an amusing commentary here

The moon-man will give comfort to Warmists but it is comfort that is as poorly founded as Warmism itself


My favorite politician speaks

Nigel Farage is head of UKIP --a party that want to get Britain out of the EU. Like all good libertarians he wants less government and ditching EU rule would be a large step in that direction. He is incensed below by the proposal to increase the powers of the EU to deal with the crisis in Greece and elsewhere. He is the best political speaker that I know. He pulls no punches. It is good to see him back in good form after his serious injuries in an aircraft accident last year.


The Real Scandal

The real scandal in the accusations against Herman Cain is the corruption of the law, the media and politics.

Let's start with the law. Some people may think the fact that the National Restaurant Association reportedly paid $45,000 to settle a claim made by one of its employees against Mr. Cain is incriminating.

Most of us are not going to part with 45 grand without some serious reason. But that is very different from the situation of an organization in the present legal climate.

The figure $45,000 struck a chord with me because, some years ago, my wife -- who is an attorney -- was fervently congratulated when her client had to pay "only" $45,000 in a jury award when the plaintiff was demanding a million dollars, in a case that was as frivolous a lawsuit as you could find.

The person who was suing was a drunk driver, whose car went out of control and slammed into a tree. After the sheriff's deputies arrested her, she sued them on dubious charges, and the sheriff's department was glad it had to pay "only" $45,000.

The department was painfully aware of the uncertainty about what ruinous costs a jury might impose on the deputies.

The real scandal goes far beyond the case of Herman Cain and his accusers. The real scandal is that the law allows people to impose heavy costs on others at little or no cost to themselves. That is a perfect setting for legalized extortion.

The fact that neither judges nor juries always stick to the letter of the law means that people who have zero basis for a lawsuit, under the law as written, can still create enough uncertainty to extract money from people who cannot afford the risk of going to trial.

As for a $45,000 settlement, that is what an organization would pay to settle a nuisance lawsuit -- if they are lucky.

If we had a legal system where judges threw frivolous cases out of court, instead of letting them go to trial, that would put a damper on legalized extortion.

If those who bring charges that do not stand up in court had to pay the other party for their legal fees -- and should have to pay for their time as well -- these games could not go on.

It turns out that the women making televised charges against Herman Cain have past histories that do not inspire confidence, including in at least one case a history of making similar complaints against others.

Another woman who has come forward tells of Herman Cain asking her, at some conference, to see if she could locate some woman in the audience who had asked him a question, so that he could take her to dinner. This apparently struck her as suspicious.

This too reminded me of something I knew about personally. Many years ago, I was at a conference where a woman made some very insightful comments, and I took her to lunch to continue the discussion.

It so happens she was a nun. Contrary to cynics, there is more than one reason for a man to take a woman to lunch or dinner.

The same mainstream media whose responses to proven charges against Bill Clinton was, "Let's move on," is not about to move on from unproven charges against Herman Cain.

What role does race play in all this?

It is probably not racism, as such, that motivates these attacks on Herman Cain. The motivation is far more likely to be politics, but politics makes a prominent black conservative like Clarence Thomas or Herman Cain far more dangerous to the Democrats than an equally prominent white conservative.

The 90 percent black vote for Democrats is like money in the bank on election day. A prominent black conservative who offers an alternative view of the world is a serious danger politically, because if that alternative view has the net effect of reducing the black vote for Democrats just to 75 percent, the Democrats are in big trouble at election time.

In this political context, merely defeating a black conservative at the polls or at confirmation hearings is not enough. He must be destroyed as an influence in the future -- and character assassination is the most obvious way to do it.



The United States of Adult Dependence -- in an age of unemployment

Obama's economy-wrecking policies are poison to young people

The youth is the future, as often said. Thanks to the crushing effects of this economy however, our youth is finding it difficult to grow up.

To move from one's parents is often a crucial step towards full maturity. This crucial phase is being stifled, delayed, and curbed by the Great Recession. The impact is reported by the Pew Research Center. Of those living in what they define as "multigenerational homes"; seven in ten of these households are with adult children under the age of thirty.

Furthermore, Pew finds that 37% of adults ages 18-to-29 are either unemployed or out of the workforce. In an effort to evade poverty, more individuals are moving back in with relatives or acquire a roommate as a form of informal charity shelter. Many have been forced to return to a state of childhood dependence despite their best effort at independence. Among those of age 25-to-30 who living with their parents, 35% claim that they once lived independently on their own.

College enrollment has also skyrocketed as of late as another avenue of escape. Unfortunately, disappointment often waits on the other side of graduation. To illustrate, take the number of graduates in May 2011 compared to the number of jobs created that very same month.

A total of 3,205,000 post-high school degrees were conferred in May of 2011, yet only 54,000 new jobs were created that month. With a labor market already approximated at around 198 million people, such a ratio of new-jobs-to-new-graduates spells easily falls short of what's necessary to launch the promise of a new generation into the labor market. Even the most optimistic of estimates places a rate of 130,000 jobs per month as necessary if a return to pre-recession unemployment is to be obtained. The 84,000 jobs created in October, though a "recent high" still falls woefully short of a solution.

Since the days of the baby-boomers, college enrollment has gone up by 15.6%. Never before has a generation arisen with the promised of highly developed talent and education, prepared to lead us into the new, service-based economy of the Information Age. Without the opportunity to put these talents to practice however, suppressed income and dismal dependence will prove to be the killer of this Dream.


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

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


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


12 November, 2011

The Australian Prime Minister is pro-American in an unmistakeably heartfelt way

Very rare in a Leftist leader. Her speech to Congress in March was also notably warm. Her speech yesterday in Hawaii:

Ms Gillard paid tribute to America's war dead at a moving Veterans Day ceremony. The ceremony at Honolulu's picturesque Punchbowl Cemetery was Ms Gillard's first official engagement of her trip for APEC.

Just a few kilometres from the site of the infamous Pearl Harbor attack of World War 2, Ms Gillard was given a 19-gun salute as she arrived at the cemetery.

She told the crowd of veterans and their families it was a great privilege to be with them. "In this beautiful and hallowed American place where so many of America's own lie in graves which they found too soon you would be well entitled to say: They died for us. This is a day and a place for ourselves alone," she said.

"But we Australians know that this is not your way. "Because we know that so many of these buried here died for us too. "When we were under attack in the Pacific, so many of these buried here were among those who came to our aid. "They fought with us, together, side by side, step by bloody step."

It was US sailors during the Battle of the Coral Sea that eliminated Australia's fears of a Japanese invasion, she said. "It is a battle which is immortal in Australia," she said.

The importance the US places on Veterans Day says something about the country's peace-loving nature, she said. "It is not the anniversary of the onset of a great conflict. "Not the commemoration of a great victory or great feat of arms, it is the day and the hour of the end of the Great War.

"You remember your veterans in the moment to which each one of them dedicated their dearest hopes - you remember them at the moment when peace began."

Australia will never forget the sacrifices the US has made for peace, she said.

Ms Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson then joined local luminaries and veterans in laying wreaths at the memorial.



Obama's New Job Plan: Kill 400,000 Jobs Immediately

John Ransom

The decision by the Obama administration to delay any action on the XL Keystone pipeline until after the election is a fitting development for an administration that has pursued a bankrupt energy policy, a bankrupt jobs policy and is quite literally bankrupting the country with politics thinly veiled as policy.

And the beauty for Obama in this latest axe he's taken to jobs in the USA is that he doesn't even have consider Congress while he's swinging it. He can kill close to a half-a-million jobs all on his own.

“The State Department said Thursday it would take up to 18 months to review alternative routes for the Keystone expansion,” reports MarketWatch, “so it avoids carrying heavy Canadian crude past Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region and a major regional aquifer.”

The pipeline could ultimately supply about a million barrels of Canadian oil to the US per day and 400,000 US jobs, most of them almost immediately. But instead, the president, who has been railing against Congress for not passing another expensive jobs bill just killed 400,000 American jobs, while making sure the price of gas stays high for citizens.

And despite everything the Obama administration has done to slow down domestic development of oil and gas resources, the oil and gas sector is one of the fastest growing jobs markets in a very anemic job market. While other sectors are shedding jobs, oil and gas is hot.

“The six fastest-growing jobs for 2010-11,” according to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc’s (EMSI) latest quarterly employment data, “are related to oil and gas extraction. This includes service unit operators, derrick operators, rotary drill operators, and roustabouts. Each is expected to grow anywhere from 9% to 11% through this year, in an otherwise mostly stagnant economy.”

Imagine what would happen if we could get Obama to cooperate with creating jobs just a little bit.

The State Department had already issued an approval for the XL Keystone project back in August and it was just waiting on Obama’s desk for action.

Obama could have approved the pipeline easily on economic grounds- the project will create 20,000 construction jobs, plus another 350,000 ancillary jobs- but he’s being bullied by his friends on the left to stop the project in its tracks. The green meanies want him to put their anti-growth, anti-development, anti-job, misanthropic agenda above the welfare and prosperity of US citizens…again.

And he’s complied with them now temporarily, likely with the message that if they get him reelected, he’ll kill the project permanently.

Environmental whackos have been getting arrested by appointment at the White House for the last two months hoping to put pressure on Obama to scuttle the most significant development in energy for our country in the last 50 years.

If successful, the Keystone pipeline will not only significantly reduce US imports of oil from place like the Middle East and Latin America, but it will also help open up huge new oil resources in the United States by providing the confidence to develop oil reserves in the Rocky Mountain region.

While it’s estimated that Canada may have as much as 2 trillion barrels of oil in reserves, “the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the [US] has 4.3 trillion barrels of in-place oil shale resources centered in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, said Helen Hankins, Colorado director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management” according to the Associated Press.

4.3 trillion barrels is 16 times the reserves of Saudi Arabia or enough oil to supply the US for 600 years.

But the newest delay has noting to do with aquifers in Nebraska; rather it has to do with activists on the left who want no fossil energy development under any circumstances. Obama thinks that if he alienates these activists, that he can forget about reelection. He’s already alienated the right and center. The only place he has to go is to the left.

The left doesn’t care about jobs. They only care about their agenda.

"The road to viability for the oil shale industry is reliant on a predictable regulatory structure and an environment in which companies can invest in research and development and create jobs," said Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO), who has accused Obama of delaying the commercial extraction of shale oil by adding regulatory obstacles.

"The proper implementation of our environmental and safety regulations already on the books is a far better strategy than adding additional layers of bureaucracy to the process," said Tipton who held hearings on the subject in Colorado in the summer.

Earlier this summer the high priest of climate change, Nobel Prize winner, Al Gore blasted Obama for being timid on environmental matters, perhaps because he sensed a sell-out coming.

It will be a tough sell to the American people struggling under massive unemployment that the 400,000 jobs that could have been created by Keystone aren’t more important than the worries of environmentalists who think that a grouse has more value than a baby.

After all, the oil shipped through Keystone will replace oil that is being purchased from countries that don’t like us very much. And the project will add good paying, US jobs.

And this latest delay will undercut Obama’s demand that Congress pass his jobs bill “immediately,” a demand that started before the bill had even been written.

“The question, then, is, will Congress do something?" the president said at a press conference when he announced his jobs bull, but before he presented it to Congress.

"If Congress does something, then I can't run against a do-nothing Congress. If Congress does nothing, then it's not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town, because they are frustrated."

Frustrated? Yeah. Obama still doesn’t understand the half of it. It will be US Against Him until he’s out of office.



With Friends Like These...

Caroline Glick

The slurs against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voiced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama after last week's G20 summit were revealing as well as repugnant. Thinking no one other than Obama could hear him, Sarkozy attacked Netanyahu, saying, "I can't stand to see him anymore, he's a liar." Obama responded by whining, "You're fed up with him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

These statements are interesting both for what they say about the two presidents' characters and for what they say about the way that Israel is perceived by the West more generally. To understand why this is the case it is necessary to first ask, when has Netanyahu ever lied to Sarkozy and Obama?

This week the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's report about Iran's nuclear weapons program made clear that Israel - Netanyahu included - has been telling the truth about Iran and its nuclear ambitions all along. In contrast, world leaders have been lying and burying their heads in the sand.

Since Iran's nuclear weapons program was first revealed to the public in 2004, Israel has provided in-depth intelligence information proving Iran's malign intentions to the likes of Sarkozy, Obama and the UN. And for seven years, the US government - Obama included - has claimed that it lacked definitive proof of Iran's intentions.

Obama wasted the first two years of his administration attempting to charm the Iranians out of their nuclear weapons program. He stubbornly ignored the piles of evidence presented to him by Israel that Iran was not interested in cutting a deal.

Perhaps Obama was relying on the US's 2007 National Intelligence Estimate about Iran's nuclear weapons program. As Israel said at the time, and as this week's IAEA report proves, it was the NIE - which claimed that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 - not Israel that deliberately lied about the status of Iran's nuclear weapons program. It was the US intelligence community that purposely deceived the American government and people about the gravest immediate threat to US national security.

Israel, including Netanyahu, was telling the truth. So if Netanyahu never lied about Iran, what might these two major world leaders think he lies about? Why don't they want to speak with him anymore? Could it be they don't like the way he is managing their beloved "peace process" with the Palestinians?

The fact is that the only times Netanyahu has spoken less than truthfully about the Palestinians were those instances when he sought to appease the likes of Obama and Sarkozy. Only when Netanyahu embraced the false claims of the likes of Obama and Sarkozy that it is possible to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River could it be said that he made false statements.

Because the truth is that Israel never had a chance of achieving peace with the Palestinians. And the reason this has always been the case has nothing to do with Netanyahu or Israel. THERE WAS never any chance for peace because the Palestinians have no interest in making peace with Israel.

As the West's favorite Palestinian "moderate," Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with Egypt's Dream TV on October 23, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. I will never recognize the 'Jewishness' of the State [of Israel] or a 'Jewish state.'" That is, Abbas will never make peace with Israel.

Acknowledging this, on Tuesday Netanyahu reportedly told his colleagues that through their recent actions, the Palestinians have abrogated the foundations of the peace process. As he put it, "By boycotting negotiations and by going instead to the United Nations [to achieve independent statehood], they [the Palestinians] have reneged on a central tenet of Oslo."

That tenet, which formed the basis of the Oslo peace process, was "land for peace." As Netanyahu explained, Israel gave up land within the framework of the Oslo Accords. In exchange the Palestinians committed to resolve their conflict with Israel through direct negotiations that would lead to peace.

Their UN gambit, like Abbas's statement to Egyptian television, shows that the Palestinians - not Israel - have been lying all along. They pocketed Israel's territorial concessions and refused to make peace.

So why do the likes of Sarkozy and Obama hate Netanyahu? Why is he "a liar?" Why don't they pour out their venom on Abbas, who really does lie to them on a regular basis? The answer is because they prefer to blame Israel rather than acknowledge that their positive assessments of the Palestinians are nothing more than fantasy....

Scarcely a day goes by when some foreign leader, commentator or activist doesn't say that being pro-Israel doesn't mean being pro-Israeli government. And like Obama's campaign-trail statement, Clinton's diatribe, Sarkozy and Obama's vile gossip about Netanyahu and Britain's self-congratulatory declarations and veiled threats, those who make a distinction between the Israeli people and the Israeli government ignore two important facts.

First, Israel is a democracy. Its governments reflect the will of the Israeli people and therefore, are inseparable from the people. If you harbor contempt for Israel's elected leaders, then by definition you harbor contempt for the Israeli public. And this makes you anti-Israel.

The second fact these statements ignore is that Israel is the US's and Europe's stalwart ally. If Sarkozy and Obama had said what they said about Netanyahu in a conversation about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or if Netanyahu had made similar statements about Obama or Sarkozy, the revelation of the statements would have sparked international outcries of indignation and been roundly condemned from all quarters.

And this brings us to the other troubling aspect of Sarkozy and Obama's nasty exchange about Netanyahu. Their views reflect a wider anti-Israel climate. Outside the Jewish world, Sarkozy's and Obama's hateful, false statements about their ally provoked no outrage. Indeed, it took the media three days to even report their conversation.

This indicates that Obama and Sarkozy aren't alone in holding Israel to a double standard. They aren't the only ones blaming Israel for the Palestinians' bad behavior. The Western media also holds Israel to a separate standard. Like Obama and Sarkozy, the media blame Israel and its elected leaders for the Palestinians' duplicity. Like Obama and Sarkozy, the media blame Israel for failing to make their peace fantasies come true. And that is the real message of the Obama- Sarkozy exchange last week. Through it we learn that blaming the Jews and the Jewish state for their enemies' behavior is what passes for polite conversation among Western elites today.

More here

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

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


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


11 November, 2011

Europe's Entitlement Reckoning

From Greece to Italy to France, the welfare state is in crisis

In the European economic crisis, all roads lead through Rome. The markets have raised the price of financing Italy's mammoth debt to new highs, and on Tuesday Silvio Berlusconi became the second euro-zone prime minister, after Greece's George Papandreou, to resign this week. His departure may keep the world's eighth largest economy solvent for the time being, but it hardly addresses the root of the problem.

In Italy, as in Greece, Spain and Portugal and eventually France, the welfare-entitlement state has hit a wall. Successive governments on the Continent, right and left, have financed generous entitlements with high taxes and towering piles of debt. Their economies have failed to grow fast enough to keep up, and last year the money started to run out. The reckoning has arrived.

If the first step in curing an addiction is to acknowledge it, there is little sign of that in Europe. The solutions on offer are to spend still more money, to have the Germans bail out everybody else, or to ditch the euro so bankrupt countries can again devalue their own currencies. France's latest debt solution includes raising corporate, capitals gains and sales taxes.

Editorial board member Matt Kaminski discusses Italy's economic and political problems as Berlusconi fights to stay in power.

Yet Europe's problem isn't the euro. If it were, Hungary, Iceland and Latvia—none of which use the euro—would have been spared their painful days of reckoning. The same applies for Britain. Europe is in a debt spiral brought about by spendthrift, overweening and inefficient governments.

This is a crisis of the welfare state, and Italy is a model basket case. Mario Monti, who is tipped to lead a new government of technocrats, once described the Italian economy as a case of "self-inflicted strangulation." Government debt is 120% of GDP, making Italy the world's third largest borrower after the U.S. and Japan. Its economy last grew at more than 2% a year in 2000.

An aging and shrinking population is a symptom, but not a leading cause, of the eurosclerosis. A fifth of Italy's 60 million people are 65 or older and make increasingly expensive claims on state-paid pensions and other benefits. In fast-growing Turkey, only 6.3% fit that demographic. Italian women have on average 1.2 children, putting the country's birth rate at 207th out of 221 countries.

But the bulk of the responsibility lies with politicians. Mr. Berlusconi, Italy's richest man, promised a shake up each time he ran for office (in 1994, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2008). He was the longest serving premier in post-war Italy, from 2001 to 2006, controlled parliament and could have pushed through reforms. He didn't. Promises to lower taxes and hack away at regulations and protections for Italy's powerful guilds—from taxi drivers to pharmacists to journalists—were broken.

"It is not difficult to rule Italy," Benito Mussolini once said, "it is useless." The so-called concertazione, or concert, of Italian coalition politics that brings together numerous parties in the Parliament makes for unstable and indecisive governments. So does the fear prominent in many European countries that any serious reform will provoke street protests. An unhappy byproduct of a welfare state is that it creates powerful interests that will fight to the last to preserve their free lunch, no matter the cost to the country.

But now hard choices can no longer be postponed. And the solution to Europe's debt crisis must begin with reforming, if not dismantling, the welfare state. Europe rose from the economic grave in the 1960s, it rode the Reagan-Thatcher reform wave to more modest growth in the 1980s-'90s, and it can grow again. A decade ago, Germany was called the "sick man of Europe," bedeviled by Italian-like economic problems. But a center-left coalition, supported by trade unions and German society, overhauled labor and welfare codes and set the stage for the current (if still modest) export-led revival in Germany.

The road from Rome may now lead to Paris, Madrid and other debt-ridden European countries. But this is no cause for U.S. chortling, because that same road also leads to Sacramento, Albany and Washington. America's federal debt was 35.7% of GDP in 2007, but it was 61.3% last year and is rising on an Italian trajectory. The lesson of Italy, and most of the rest of Europe, is never to become a high-tax, slow-growth entitlement state, because the inevitable reckoning is nasty, brutish and not short.



More on Small Business And Regulation

When Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, said in 2009, “Make no mistake about it: The Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business,” it wasn’t entirely clear what she meant. Small businesses have since found out.

IBD interviewed Monty Friebel who runs Cooper Enterprises for the first part in this series on small businesses that struggle with government regulation. During that interview Friebel said:
When I first got involved, the (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) would come in and point out things that were not correct. They’d issue citations but there were no fines associated with it. They’d give you time to take corrective action and if it met their satisfaction that was the end of it. Today they come out and they fine you first. You still correct it, you demonstrate to their satisfaction that it is corrected and you still get to pay the fine.

“That’s the feedback I’m getting from our customers,” said Ty Baker-Baumann, who runs Rebsco, Inc. in Greenville, Ohio. “We belong to some different business associations and when I talk to the directors of those associations that’s what they’re hearing from their members pretty consistently.”

Baker-Baumann is a second-generation owner of Rebsco, which provides design, engineering, fabrication and installation services to businesses such as agriculture, asphalt and aggregate (stone and gravel used in construction). Rebsco has about 20 employees.

She relayed two stories about regulations that harmed two businesses she worked with. The first was an aggregate business that had closed down temporarily. The owner posted a sign out front that explicitly said that the business was closed temporarily.

But an inspector from the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined the business for closing down permanently without notifying MSHA.

“Now they have to go through all the hoops with the regulators and dealing with the fine and trying to appeal it,” said Baker-Baumann. “That costs a lot of time and energy at a time when this business owner should really put his energy into selling product, not dealing with a regulator.”

In the other instance, a small feed and grain facility in the area was visited by an OSHA inspector in August.

“The owner’s comment to me was, ‘If I can get through an OSHA inspection with $10,000 in fines or less, I feel lucky,’” she said. “He could be using more productively to make an improvement or pay for health insurance. Instead, he’s paying a fine, but for what useful purpose?”

She states that this more adversarial relationship between regulators and business began with the current administration. “It’s a very anti-business climate. When you see all the new regulations coming out of the Department of Labor, it doesn’t give you the sense that business is highly valued.”

She thinks that most small-business owners want reasonable regulations that promote safety and are cost-effective. Nevertheless, she said:
From a small business owner’s perspective, the proliferation of regulations and enforcement hit small businesses more heavily than a larger corporation. Your fines tend to be a bigger part of your profit margin, and if you really can’t see the cost-benefit in it, it’s a struggle. Further, small business owners wear many different hats. They do sales, human resources, marketing, operations, accounting and so on. The burden of regulatory compliance also falls on those same shoulders. I can’t go out and hire someone to go through all the information out there and help me figure out what new regulations are coming down the pike that I have to tend to. No small business owner can do that. So we would greatly benefit, as would our employees and our communities, with a regulatory environment that is more thoughtful, more supportive, and more conducive to a partnership.



Republican Senator Calls on Obama to Cancel Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Bonuses

A Republican senator is calling on President Obama to cancel the $12.8 million in bonuses that were approved for 10 executives at the government-seized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that received a $170 billion taxpayer-funded bailout.

“I am calling on the president of the United States to cancel those bonuses and explain to the American people, the taxpayers who bailed out Freddie and Fannie, why he continues to reward failure,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said at a news conference Tuesday.

The two housing giants have received about $141 billion in taxpayer funds since the government took them over in 2008 during the financial crisis. Sen. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., is pushing a bill to suspend pay packages at Fannie and Freddie and require executives and employees of government-sponsored enterprises to be paid according to the federal pay scale.

Politico first reported the $6.46 million in bonuses for the top five officers at Freddie Mac -- including $2.3 million for CEO Charles E. Haldeman Jr., who is stepping down next year -- and $6.33 million for Fannie Mae officials, including $2.37 million for CEO Michael Williams, for meeting modest goals.

A second bonus installment for Freddie executives in 2010 has yet to be reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Politico reported.

White House aides say the president took a lead on cleaning up excessive compensation on Wall Street with the Dodd-Frank bill, but those provisions do not apply to Fannie and Freddie.

“The White House was not involved and nor should it be,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

But during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama had a slightly more aggressive view.

“I’ve always said that any action with respect to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac needs to put taxpayers first and can’t under any circumstances bail out shareholders or senior management of that company,” Obama said.



The Left's Many Double Standards

David Limbaugh

Today's liberals would have you believe they occupy the moral high ground on every political and cultural issue. But have you ever taken inventory of their double standards?

The left's inconsistency in applying their principles based on the party affiliation of those they're judging, gives fuller meaning to the concept of moral relativism. The only thing that's consistent is their reliable inconsistency, whether in the area of economic, social or national defense issues.

Let's consider just a few examples:

-- When "bimbo eruptions" threatened to derail Bill Clinton's campaign, his hit squad, the commander in chief of which was Hillary Clinton, eviscerated every accuser, inventing tales to destroy their character and distorting the facts of what occurred. When Ken Starr accused Bill Clinton of lying under oath, liberals turned their venom on him, accusing him of sexual perversion just for delving into the subject.

When Republicans argued that Clinton's serial sexual exploits, some of which had then occurred quite recently, demonstrated poor character, Democrats defiantly dismissed his actions as irrelevant to the performance of his presidential duties. These guardians of the fairer sex -- watchdogs of government corruption -- didn't care that Clinton's taking advantage of an intern in the Oval Office was a quintessential case of sexual harassment, given the power disparities between his station and that of Monica Lewinsky's. They even defended Clinton's perjury concerning the matter. Some argued that it was almost virtuous that he chose to lie under oath and protect his family rather than take the easy way out and come clean.

Today, liberals are in high dudgeon and probably higher conspiracy over sexual harassment allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain that supposedly occurred 14 years ago. CNBC's GOP presidential debate moderators pointedly asked Cain and one of his rivals Mitt Romney, whether a man guilty of such conduct had the requisite character to be president of the United States.

-- Democrats maligned former President George W. Bush's economy for the better part of his two terms, despite the robust growth, unemployment below 5 percent and a 2007 deficit less than 10 percent of what it is today. They tell us that President Obama's horrendous economy, on the other hand, is not even his fault.

-- Frustrated with their inability to succeed in talk radio and the resulting loss of their decades long national media monopoly, liberals have resorted to demonizing conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel, saying they habitually engage in hate speech of a sort that gives rise to violence. Following the Oklahoma City bombing, Bill Clinton himself shamelessly suggested there was a causal connection between that heinous crime and conservative talk. That there was no proof of such a connection didn't deter him and his ideological colleagues even slightly.

Similarly, when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot, liberals immediately jumped to the unwarranted conclusion that the shooter had been stirred into violence by conservative hate speech and particularly, a bulls-eye image from Sarah Palin. Discovering that the shooter was anything but right-wing didn't keep President Obama from framing his Tucson speech around the theme of civility in our political discourse. If he'd talked about European demographic trends in Late Antiquity, his speech couldn't have been any less relevant. But it would have been less politically inflammatory and exploitive.

Relevance aside, did Obama follow his own gratuitous admonitions to avoid embittered partisan rhetoric? Obviously not. He has repeatedly demonized Republicans both before and after Tucson, his favorite theme being class warfare. Just last week, he branched out from the politics of greed and envy and preposterously accused Republicans of blocking his recklessly wasteful environmental initiatives because they want dirty air and dirty water.

-- On a related matter, Democrats have slandered genuine grassroots Tea Partiers as lawless, racist, AstroTurf scofflaws who are sometimes even domestic terrorists, despite the Tea Partiers' peaceful, respectful behavior, no evidence of racism and almost no arrests at any of their events. Liberals pejoratively labeled them Tea Baggers and mocked their legitimate protests against the unprecedented spending of the Obama administration. But when leftist Occupy Wall Street protesters have truly been organized from above, have engaged in lawless and violent behavior leading to many arrests and have spewed anti-Semitic bile, liberals, including President Obama himself, have lionized them and identified with their cause.

-- When President Bush attacked Iraq with the Democrats' approval, based on a perceived and possibly actual national security threat, liberals savaged him as a lying warmonger. But when President Obama attacked Libya, let alone Egypt, without any discernible national security interest and without Congress's endorsement, liberals hailed his foreign policy acumen.

-- Democrats vilified Bush for enhanced interrogation techniques and domestic surveillance against terrorists, but now glorify Obama for his literal assassinations of terrorist leaders, and they look the other way as he continues many of the Bush era anti-terrorism strategies.

I'll stop here, even though I'm not yet halfway through my list.


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

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


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


10 November, 2011

Pakinsanity: Now Even Being an Active Anti-American Terrorist Doesn’t Make You Off-Limits for The Obama Administration

Even the New York Times is shocked. Here’s how the story begins:
“Just a month after accusing Pakistan’s spy agency of secretly supporting the Haqqani terrorist network, which has mounted attacks on Americans, the Obama administration is now relying on the same intelligence service to help organize and kick-start reconciliation talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.”

There are two problems here:

–Despite massive financial aid, Pakistan has proven to be unreliable in fighting terrorists or helping the United States capture them. It is also a major sponsor of terrorism. In Afghanistan, it has worked secretly with the Taliban and other violent Islamist groups.

So why is the United States making that country the centerpiece of its Afghanistan plans? Note the parallel to making the hostile Islamist Turkish regime the manager of its Syria policy. It’s also coddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood as well. If it weren’t for the power of pro-Israel sentiment in the country, I’d bet the Obama Administration would be making nice with Hamas and Hizballah as well.

–The Administration is also ready to deal with the Taliban, remember that it was an enabler for the September 11 attack, and the Haqqani network, a group close to al-Qaida and one that is very active in terrorism against Americans, including a recent assault on the U.S. embassy in Pakistan and now a suicide bomber attack killing ten Americans in Kabul.

As usual, double-talk is employed to make this absurd policy sound reasonable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls it, “Fight, Talk, Build.” The United States will attack Haqqani while trying to get it to negotiate.

Aside from an ideology that portrays the United States as a minion of Satan (a serious barrier to becoming friends), the Haqqani and their Pakistani sponsors know that the United States is leaving any way. So why not just outwait the attacks? Moreover, the United States is not able to hit them hard enough to make a difference.

Or as the New York Times puts it so well, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chieftains, “see little advantage in forcing those negotiations, because they see the insurgents as perhaps their best bet for maintaining influence in Afghanistan as the United States reduces its presence there.”

As senseless policies and failures proliferate, dissent grows inside the administration. A “senior American official” summarized the Pakistani position as “Cease-fire, Talk, Wait for the Americans to Leave.”

In sharp contrast to Iraq, Afghanistan is likely to collapse in bloodshed after the U.S. departure and a radical, probably Islamist, and anti-American regime will come to power. That would be still another monument to the Obama Administration policy of rewarding enemies and punishing friends.



Small Business And Regulation again

Sheila Ogle is somewhat like Jessica Hadler Baines from Tuesday’s small business profile. She too has seen the financing woes that Dodd-Frank has caused for smaller firms.

“One of the tenants in my commercial buildings, she’s a veterinarian,” said Ogle. “She’s been trying for over a year to borrow money to build her own building. She’s been in business three years and showing a profit. She’s been to six banks and overwhelmed with paperwork.”

Ogle’s own struggle with regulations has come via the Environmental Protection Agency. She owns three small businesses in Cary, North Carolina: MRPP, an advertising firm; the Matthew’s House (used for receptions); and the Matthew’s House Catering.

A few years ago, Sheila and her husband expanded the kitchen at Matthew’s House so that it would be a full-service catering kitchen. To do this, they had to expand the retention pond on the land. A retention pond is a basin designed to catch run-off water.

“When you have a commercial building, the EPA can require you to have a retention pond that retains storm water run-off so that impurities don’t get into the city water,” said Ogle. The pond takes up about a quarter of an acre at Matthew’s House.

“There are lots and lots of guidelines you have to follow (to get the EPA to approve)” she said. “When we expanded Matthew’s House we had to add more depth to the pond, more gravel and more vegetation.”

The cost to do that was about $30,000. That’s $30,000 she was not able to invest in her business.



In Praise of Capitalist Inequality

As both Ayn Rand and Steve Jobs would remind them, the economic inequality that the OWS protestors oppose is not something to be condemned, but to be celebrated

For several weeks now, the Occupy Wall Street protestors in New York City and around the country have been demanding “economic justice,” which includes a mishmash of leftist goals including universal health care, forgiveness of student loan debt, and higher taxes on the wealthy. To the extent the OWS protestors have a unifying theme, it’s that capitalism is bad and that redistributing wealth to reduce “inequality” is good.

The Irish socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” The Occupy Wall Street protestors demanding government redistribution of wealth from the richest Americans (“the 1%”) to themselves (“the 99%”) would certainly agree. But as some of them are starting to learn, if their ideas were actually put into practice they’d end up being the Peters, not the Pauls.

Already, some of the OWS protestors are finding their ideas coming back to bite them. Recently, OWS kitchen staff staged a mini-revolt because they were tired of working 18-hour days to prepare meals for “freeloaders.” Another OWS protestor was upset that someone had stolen her $5500 Macintosh computer. Redistributing wealth suddenly became a lot less appealing when one was the victim of the “redistribution,” rather than the recipient.

The OWS protestors are learning first hand about something that novelist Ayn Rand discussed more than 50 years ago in Atlas Shrugged, in her vignette about the Twentieth Century Motor Company. In the novel, the new owners of the factory decided to run the company according to the supposedly noble precept of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Workers would be assigned duties based according to their expected ability — but paid according to how much money they needed, rather than how much they produced.

In theory, this would result in a more equitable distribution of wealth. But in practice, it meant the men of greater ability worked longer hours without hope of reward. Hence, the more competent workers either left or deliberately underperformed. In contrast, the more irresponsible workers received more money because of their “need” — regardless of how hard they worked. Of course, eventually the company went bankrupt.

But Rand’s lesson was not merely that such a model was economically unsustainable. She also made a deeper moral point about the motivations of the workers who supported this scheme. As one of the characters in the story said:

There wasn’t a man rich and smart enough but that he didn’t think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better’s wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he’d get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who’d get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who’d rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss’s, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own.

This is precisely the lesson that the OWS kitchen staff (or the woman with the laptop) have learned the hard way. Most people who advocate robbing Peter to pay Paul always imagine themselves as Paul — never as Peter. But when their desired forced redistribution is applied at a national level, the result is the near-universal misery and squalor of socialist countries like Cuba and North Korea. Except for a few political elites, everyone is equal — but poor.

In a free society, the economic inequality that the OWS protestors oppose is not something to be condemned, but something to be celebrated. A fully capitalist society allows people to rise as far as their ability and efforts allow. Because people differ in their talents, work ethic, and personal priorities, the natural result would be unequal levels of wealth.

Unequal “power law” distributions are the norm in a free society. A small number of authors sell a disproportionate number of books — just ask Harry Potter author JK Rowling. A relatively small fraction of blogs attracts a majority of web traffic. Or as anyone who works in a customer service field knows all too well, a small minority of customers always account for the majority of complaints.

Hence, it’s natural that a relatively small fraction of individuals might possess a disproportionate share of the wealth. In a free society, such inequality per se is not a problem, especially given that there is still income mobility for people to rise (or fall) as they deserve based on their talent and willingness to work hard — which is still the case in America.

Fortunately, many Americans still have a healthy respect for earned inequality. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently passed away, William Stoddard poignantly wrote:

I’ve given many thousands of dollars to Apple over the decades, a substantial part of which went to Jobs. And every dollar I’ve spent has brought me something that was worth more than the money was. Jobs spent his life giving me things of greater value than the money he accepted in exchange. And the same is true for his other customers. He gave the world far more value than the value of his personal wealth. If his fortune looked huge, it was a measure of the immense number of other people he made better off.

The fact that Steve Jobs earned a greater fortune than most others reflects the fact that he created much more value than most others — and in the process enhanced others’ lives to a proportionately greater degree. Steve Jobs’ earned wealth was a direct reflection of the value he added for himself and others — and his wealth should be praised and respected as a noble achievement.

It is also important to recognize that America is not currently a capitalist country, but rather a mixed economy with both capitalist and socialist elements. Hence, some Americans have become undeservedly rich through political “pull” and favors. But the OWS protestors aren’t opposed to government favoritism in principle — they merely want to shift those special favors onto themselves.

The OWS protestors claim to want “economic justice.” But real economic justice doesn’t consist of looting others’ wealth, but respecting others’ right to keep what they’ve earned. Unlike the OWS protestors, I don’t want to destroy the 1% to achieve a dubious “equality” where everyone is equally miserable. I don’t want to live in a dog-eat-dog world of constant “redistribution” and mutual predation where I survive only by looting from those wealthier than me, while those poorer than me survive by looting from me. Instead, I want a capitalist society which allows the top 1% the freedom to make their lives better — and in the process makes my life better as well.




Russia orders five Yasen class nuclear subs: "Russia announced plans to build five nuclear submarines and made $9 billion worth of orders for the navy on Wednesday as part of an ambitious programme to modernise its army and fleet spear headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin."

Safety risks seen in computerized medical records: "The nation’s transition to electronic medical records, now in full swing, risks overlooking potential patient safety problems, independent advisers warned the Obama administration in a report Tuesday. Computerized medical records have been sold as a powerful tool to improve patient safety, for example by automatically alerting a doctor about to prescribe medication a patient is allergic to. But the report by a panel from the influential Institute of Medicine said such benefits shouldn’t be taken for granted."

Does Mars have rights?: "It may be technically possible to transform Mars so that it is more hospitable to terrestrial life, but some ethicists argue that it would be wrong to do so. Do we have a moral obligation to leave Mars and other worlds alone?"

Doug Casey on Occupy Wall Street: "Casey: "I am, clearly, one of the 1%. So are you. In fact, almost everyone who has worked hard, saved money, and not invested it unwisely is at least in the top 10%. What the OWS people are angry about -- or should be angry about -- are the people who made their money through government contacts, or connections. They didn't produce anything; they're really just sophisticated thieves. I have only contempt for those who feed at the public trough."

The FDA is killing us: "Recently, there have been shortages of some medicines. Cancer patients can't get drugs they need. Why not? One reason is that a big drugmaker shut down for a year in part to meet Food and Drug Administration rules. The FDA makes it so expensive and difficult to sell drugs that there isn't an eager pack of companies rushing to the fill the gap. ... Does the FDA say it's sorry for its part and back off? Of course not. Regulators almost never do that. In fact, the FDA wants more power."

SCOTUS wrestles with sticky Jerusalem passport case: "In a dispute that evokes Arab-Israeli tensions and important divisions of federal power, Supreme Court justices voiced doubt Monday that Congress could override the president and require U.S. passports of children born in Jerusalem to list the place of birth as Israel. For more than six decades, since the 1948 creation of the state of Israel, the U.S. government has declined to recognize any country as having sovereignty over Jerusalem."

We’re still not cutting: "In the spring fight to avert a government shutdown, Republicans promised $100 billion in real cuts but then compromised for $38.5 billion in future savings. In reality, the Congressional Budget Office found the deal still resulted in an increase of more than $170 billion in federal spending from 2010 to 2011. The 'largest spending cut in history' ended up being a spending increase."

The threat of electromagnetic pulse: "From an enemy's point of view, a single large device exploded 250 to 300 miles above Iowa would disrupt the entire United States. But getting a missile that far inland could be a problem for them. On the other hand, because the radius of destruction of one high-altitude explosion is very large (as much as 1400 miles), three missiles, launched almost straight up, from freighters off the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts, should just about cover the lower 48 states with EMP surges that would all but incapacitate our nation."

The truth will get you fired: "What kind of friend is Hamid Karzai? If it weren’t for U.S. involvement in his corrupt administration propping him and his cronies up, and the deaths of thousands or our soldiers, Hamid Karzai, assuming he were lucky enough to still be alive, would be living in a cave and picking poppy flowers somewhere in the Afghan hinterland. Karzai takes our blood and treasure while stabbing us in the back. We should be firing him instead of General Fuller."

AL: County files for largest municipal bankruptcy: "Alabama's most populous county filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history Wednesday, years after being plunged more than $4 billion into debt by a corruption-riddled sewer project. Just two months after it seemed Jefferson County could stave off embarrassment by striking a deal with creditors, talks broke down over about $140 million, said Commissioner Jimmie Stephens, who made the motion to file for the protection."

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

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


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


9 November, 2011

The Great American Memory Hole

John 8:32 -- "Know the truth and the truth will set you free". Lefists know that the truth is fatal to them so many of them are busy revising and erasing history. They are even altering legal records. Keep your own notes and records to thwart them

In the fictional world of George Orwell's 1984, when printed information conflicted with the newest version of truth as Oceania's government proclaimed it, relevant documents were promptly revised by the Ministry of Truth and damning remnants of evidence stuffed down Memory Holes.

In the real world, when information conflicts with the truth as the Obama team defines it, inconvenient facts are spun, obscured, or sealed. Often important data is never collected or produced at all, eliminating the possibility that discrepancies may be revealed or inconsistent conclusions reached.

The pattern of clouding Obama's personal history began in 1995 with the publication of his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. In a 2008 NY Times article, Janny Scott noted: "In the introduction, Mr. Obama acknowledged his use of pseudonyms, composite characters, approximated dialogue and events out of chronological order." Jack Cashill, author of Deconstructing Obama, would likely add a few words to the end of Scott's article title, "The Story of Obama, Written by Obama," such as: "With Lots of Help from Some Guy in his Neighborhood."

Yet Dreams, admitted by its author (whoever that may be) as not entirely factual, was practically the only thing the media placed in Obama's vetting file. Cashill also raised doubts as to the authorship of Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, and Stanley Kurtz uncovered varying versions of the inspirational Jeremiah Wright sermon by the same title.

If any other scant investigating revealed inconvenient associations or facts, they were promptly spun and flushed down a Memory Hole by those Cashill calls the "Fifth Estate."

Mondo Frazier, in his new book, The Secret Life of Barack Hussein Obama, wrote:
In an age in which seemingly every facet of a person's life is recorded, on file, and increasingly available on the Internet, the total absence of Barack Obama's vital records is an almost singularly unique phenomenon...In Obama's case, the records either don't exist, haven't been released, or have disappeared.

Beginning in 2008, when citizens questioned whether Obama, with his unusual background, was really born in Hawaii (recall that even MSNBC's Chris Matthews in 2007 described Obama as "born in Indonesia") and whether his dual citizenship made him ineligible, the media maligned the doubters as "birthers," and Obama's relevant records were sealed even tighter. As Frazier noted: "Asking questions was no longer the mark of an informed electorate; it was considered bad form."

Another Orwellian phenomenon surrounding the "birther" controversy was recently discovered: "JustiaGate," in which 25 Supreme Court decisions that cited to the same case that defined "natural born" citizen were altered on Justia.com's public database sometime mid-2008. The changes consisted of deleted references to the case name (Minor v. Happersett), "mangled" numerical citations, and other instances of missing text. Within days of the Portland Examiner's publishing of attorney Leo Donofrio's findings, Justia removed Wayback Internet Archives access, making it difficult to ascertain the plausibility of Justia owner Tim Stanley's explanation to CNET.

Although the decisions remain intact at other reliable sources, Justia is a popular free site, referred by many law schools for research. Journalists and attorneys frequently link to Justia's SCOTUS decisions in articles such as this recent posting on the WSJ Law Blog that cited Dirks v. SEC. In fact, google "Dirks v. SEC" and note the first search hit.

The unexplained omission of two important words ("of parents") from an 1862 Congressional Globe quotation that defined "natural born," cited in an amicus brief for a citizenship case before the Supreme Court, was noted in a previous American Thinker article. The column also described another instance in which the phrase "whose parents are citizens" was changed to "with an American parent" in an updated version of a 2008 scholarly article -- a small rewrite that made a world of difference regarding Obama's eligibility.

The "Requirements to Hold Office" page on the NY Board of Elections website is the subject of another recent controversy over a couple of qualifying words: "natural born" vs. "born a" citizen, and yet again, the tracks left behind in the Internet archives have been obscured.

Small words, their arrangement and placement, and nuances in their meaning can have great impact. So can small footnotes, as the 789 terminated Chrysler dealers learned. Donofrio represented 76 of them in an appeal after discovering that the presiding bankruptcy judge included an inexplicable footnote in his decision allowing the terminations to take place pre-sale (and therefore negating the dealers' rights as unsecured creditors). Judge Gonzalez wrote: "... [Fiat's representative Alfredo] Altavilla also responded affirmatively to a question regarding whether a dealership network needed to be restructured for the Fiat Transaction to close, stating that a 'restructuring needs to occur.'"

But previous testimony revealed that Fiat's representative, when asked whether the terminations were a prerequisite, actually asserted: "...a restructure needs to occur. Whether it occurs before or after the closing of the deal is not a material difference." Note the material difference in meaning, however, implied by the arrangement of words in the judge's footnote.

CNBC recently uncovered a Ministry of Truth-style edit by "someone affiliated with the Department of Energy" of two press releases on the same loan guarantee program offered Solyndra. The congressional investigations into that DOE program and Project Gunwalker may result in both Obama's Blackberry and the missing "Third Gun" stuffed down the same Memory Hole. The DOJ is also attempting to throw in Elena Kagan's documents relating to her involvement with ObamaCare as Solicitor General.

The Daily Caller reported on the Justice Department's proposed "revision to Freedom of Information Act rules [that] would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don't exist." The agencies could then slip "certain records" down Memory Holes -- legally. But last week, the resulting "pushback" forced the DOJ to drop the proposal, although questions remain as to the department's internal guidance that allows certain "exclusions."

And if all the shovel-ready shovels are still lying around after Obama's presidency, they can be employed to dig Obama's "official" Memory Holes: according to the Judicial Watch blog, "a group of congressional Democrats has introduced legislation ... that will allow the commander-in-chief to keep presidential records secret after he leaves office."

Rather than contrived or directed by a central figure such as Orwell's Big Brother, some conspiracy-like movements can simply consist of many individuals motivated by a similar goal or worldview, independently creating, spinning, revising, or obscuring information -- a word, a sentence, a footnote, a record at a time.



More information suppression

The White House laments that America hasn't built enough massive government infrastructure projects. Nonsense. At the rate it's growing, the Great Stonewall of Obama may soon be the second largest manmade object visible from outer space.

While many construction workers across the country remain idle, Team Obama's attorneys have been laboring overtime to erect impenetrable information blockades around three festering scandals: Solyndra, LightSquared, and Fast and Furious.

This much is clear: The "most transparent administration ever" is hyper-allergic to sunlight and subpoenas.

During another trademark Friday news dump, the White House revealed that it would fight a GOP House subpoena for internal documents related to the half-trillion-dollar, stimulus-funded, now-bankrupt Solyndra solar energy loan bust. White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler fumed that the information request placed an "unreasonable burden on the president's ability to meet his constitutional duties." (Said duties, it should be noted, which the president has had no qualms circumventing during his "We Can't Wait" orgy of executive orders.)

Indeed, pestering the White House for a full accounting of how Solyndra and its largest investor -- Obama campaign finance bundler and billionaire gambler George Kaiser -- left taxpayers holding the bag is a most unwelcome intrusion into Obama's executive privilege. So someone summon a wahmbulance. He's feeling put upon.

Ruemmler further complained that the subpoena represents "a significant intrusion on executive branch interests." Then she uncorked a full-throated whine:

"As written, (the subpoena) encompasses all communications within the White House from the beginning of this Administration to the present that refer or relate to Solyndra, and the subpoena purports to demand a complete response in less than a week. Thus any document that references Solyndra, even in passing, is arguably responsive to the Committee's request, and you reaffirmed this week that you intend for the request to be that broad."

While she paints the request as a last-minute surprise, the White House has been stonewalling on Solyndra all year long. And as Reason magazine's Tim Cavanaugh points out: Compliance would be "the work of a few hours, at a time when the executive branch has 2.8 million employees. The whole thing could be done by staffers, leaving the president to focus on golf and fundraising and long, boring speeches."



Liberal Programs Deserve Blame for Income Inequality

The Congressional Budget Office documents income gains for everyone, not just the wealthy

Liberals are treating a new Congressional Budget Office study showing that income inequality increased in America over the last three decades as the smoking gun they’d always been looking for—the ultimate indictment of America, capitalism, and apple pie.

The Nation’s George Vornick wrote a piece titled “Yes, Virginia, There Is Income Inequality,” billing the CBO’s finding as “dramatic.” And he wondered whether the study, released as the Occupy Wall Street protests gather steam, would finally force the Republicans on the deficit reduction super committee to face some “uncomfortable truths.” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait wasted no time in accusing those not in a tizzy over the study of being “blinkered ideologues” and “income inequality deniers.”

But if not everyone is alarmed by dubious claims about rising Gini co-efficients, a metric that measures income inequality, is it because they are “blinkered ideologues” and "deniers." No. Income inequality tells us zilch about the only thing that really matters: Are the lives of Americans, rich, poor, and in between, getting better or worse?

The finding that generated the most headlines was that the after-tax household income of the top 1 percent of Americans grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007. But this figure was based on outdated pre-recession data that omitted 2008 and 2009, when the “1 percenters” saw a decade's worth of gains wiped out. This is nothing to weep over. They took the risk and they lost.

But is the fate of those lower on the totem pole cause for panic? Not really. The study reports that in the same period, households in the top quintile saw a 65 percent income gain; the vast middle in the 21st to 80th percentiles saw about a 40 percent gain; and the bottom quintile saw an 18 percent gain.

In other words, no group lost ground or even stagnated. So why all this breast-beating?

Few, besides vulgar Marxists, believe in the “immiseration of the masses” theory of capitalism anymore—the idea that the wealth of the top few is extracted by exploiting the labor of the bottom many. Burying this notion is one of the enduring intellectual victories of market theorists.

The post-liberalization successes of India and China have convinced even ardent liberals that markets play a crucial role in raising productivity and relieving scarcity, vastly expanding the proverbial social pie so that everyone has more to go around.

Of course, some gain more than others. But so what? Isn’t an unequal distribution of wealth preferable to an equal distribution of poverty? Is there any amount of inequality that liberal worrywarts would accept? Suppose the CBO had found that every group’s income increased by exactly 65 percent. Would they celebrate everyone’s good fortune or mourn the unwavering income gap? The question answers itself.

If liberals accept the market’s productive capacity but reject its distributive verdict, it’s because they think of the market as an abstraction that spews out wealth like a spigot, with who gets what being completely up for grabs. Rich people get more, they believe, because they are more skilled at clawing their way to the head of the line.

But in functioning markets, there is a connection between creating and gaining wealth. Those on the front lines of wealth creation get more than those at the back, regardless of whether they began as rich people or poor. Steve Jobs, whose net worth upon his death was $8.3 billion, got rich because he created a $360 billion company, not because he cut ahead of others. It bespeaks a profound conceptual misunderstanding to talk, as the CBO study does, about the growing concentration of income in the hands of the rich, as if the “rich” existed apart from the wealth—the value—they create.

Another thing liberals are worked up about is that the study attributes rising inequality to fewer “federal transfers” to the poor. But that’s not because poor people are getting less money from Uncle Sam in absolute dollars. In fact, they get more every year. It is just that they are getting a smaller portion of total transfers. This is not something that “income inequality deniers” have made up. It is what the study itself says.

It found that in 1979, households in the bottom quintile received more than 50 percent of all transfer payments. In 2007, similar households received about 35 percent of transfers. “The shift reflects the growth in spending for programs focused on the elderly population (such as Social Security and Medicare), in which benefits are not limited to low-income households,” the study explains. “As a result, government transfers reduced the dispersion of household income by less in 2007 than in 1979.”

In other words, poor people are getting relatively fewer handouts thanks to the Great Society programs that liberals themselves put in place for the elderly. This demonstrates the core problem with unfettered redistributionism: Eventually, you run out of other people’s money. And when you do, you have to make hard choices about whose needs to prioritize—not demonize opponents.



The folly of corporate taxes

What about raising taxes on corporations as a means to get them to pay their "rightful share of government"? If a tax is levied on a corporation and if it is to survive, it will have one of several responses or some combination thereof. One response is to raise the price of its product, so customers share part of the burden. Another response is to lower dividends, so shareholders share a part of the burden. And a considerable portion of reduced dividend burden falls on ordinary non-rich people. According to the Tax Foundation, 19 percent of federal tax returns report dividend income but 42 percent of taxpayers older than 65 report dividend income. Therefore, it is people, not some legal fiction called a corporation, who bear the burden of the tax. Because corporations have these responses to the imposition of a tax, they are merely government tax collectors.

The largest burden of corporate taxes is borne by workers. We discover that by asking a simple question, such as: Which workers on a road construction project earn the higher pay, those employed moving dirt with shovels and wheelbarrows or those doing the same atop giant earthmovers? You'd guess the guys operating the earthmovers, but why? It's not because they're unionized or because construction contractors have a fondness for earthmover operators. It's because those workers have more capital (tools) to work with and are thereby more productive. Higher productivity translates into higher wages.

Tax policies that raise the cost of capital formation -- such as capital gains taxes, low depreciation allowances and corporate taxes -- reduce capital formation. As a result, workers have less capital, lower productivity and lower wage growth. In 1980, Joseph Stiglitz, now a Nobel laureate, said that workers share the highest corporate tax burden in the form of lower wages. A number of economic studies, including that of the Congressional Budget Office, show that workers bear anywhere from 45 to 75 percent of the corporate tax burden.


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

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


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


8 November, 2011

IBD Blog Series on Small Business And Regulation‏

Each day this workweek Capital Hill will feature a small business owner who struggles with government regulations. The companies were provided to us via the National Federation of Independent Business which, in recent weeks, has been blanketing Congress for reform as part of its Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations program.

The first business in this series is Cooper Enterprises, which manufactures wood and laminated components like office furniture and flooring. Located in Shelby, Ohio, it is owned by Monty Friebel. The business has been in his family since 1965. It currently employs 61 people.

Friebel’s biggest regulatory difficulty is dealing with the sawdust produced at his business. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration deems this to be “combustible dust.” Friebel spends over six figures making sure his business meets OSHA’s standards on combustible dust. The problem is that it’s not very clear what those standards are.

“There are no specific guidelines on dealing with combustible dust,” said Friebel. “OSHA addresses it under its ‘General Duty’ clause.” The General Duty clause merely states that “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

That provides no guidelines as to how much combustible dust is unsafe or what procedures must be used for handling it.

“We have very highly sophisticated dust collection systems in place for all of our equipment and we have good housekeeping practices to keep the place clean and organized,” said Friebel. “But it is impossible for me to cut or mill anything without generating some level of uncaptured dust. So I’m automatically in violation of the OSHA General Duty clause. I can’t be in business and not be in violation of the clause.”

While Friebel has never been fined for combustible dust, other people he knows in the business have. But that hardly means that Friebel pays no cost. “I’ve had to add an additional person to the safety team and I’ve had to spend more money with my outside safety consultant trying to mitigate this concern.” He estimates that costs him between $120,000 and $150,000 annually.

It’s not even clear how much of a safety hazard combustible dust is. Friebel doesn’t think sawdust is all that combustible. He says it requires a fuel source, air and an ignition source. In the over twenty years he’s been involved in with Cooper Enterprises, he’s had no explosions due to combustible dust and only two small fires in the dust collection system that were easily extinguished.

In short, Friebel is spending a sizable amount of money on an unclear regulation to deal with a substance that is of minimal danger, money that is not being spent on a new employee, or increasing sales, or developing a new product.

“These costs are at the point right now I question why I still have a business, and you have to question why other businesses have left the U.S. and gone elsewhere,” he said.



Latino Small Business Owners Tell Their Stories of Lawsuit Abuse

Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime del Campo are the owners of La Casita Mexicana, a small restaurant in Bell, California that has become increasingly popular for its authentic Mexican dishes. Yet one day, Jaime and Ramiro were shocked to receive notice that they had been sued, along with dozens of neighboring businesses, by a plaintiff who has filed more than 500 lawsuits – including many against small Latino-owned businesses.

Roberto Guerrero found himself with a similar problem. The owner of Cumaica Coffee in San Francisco was also sued by a serial plaintiff. Several neighboring businesses were sued by the same plaintiff, and at least two were forced to close.

Unfortunately, these stories of lawsuit abuse are all too typical for small business owners, an increasing number of whom are Latino Americans. In fact, U.S. Census figures show that Latino Americans are creating small businesses at a rate three times higher than the rate for the non-Latino population.

To reach out to this growing community, ILR has created a new Spanish language version of its Faces of Lawsuit Abuse website (www.abusosdedemandas.org) and launched two new videos, in English and Spanish versions, that tell the stories of Jaime and Ramiro as well as Roberto.



Taxpayers Beware: More irresponsible housing expenditure coming

Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, a massive lobbying effort is underway. On a seemingly small issue with scant public attention, powerful special interests are looking to cash in their chits and strike a deal – a deal that will come at the expense of taxpayers.

This week, House and Senate conferees will negotiate a minibus appropriations measure. Many Americans will focus on the inflated levels in spending and wonder how any self-described conservative could vote for a spending increase. The media will focus on the threat of a government shutdown and hope it will spike their rating. However, those powerful interests will focus like a laser on securing an increase in the conforming loan limit.

Wait! Don’t stop reading. Conforming loan limits sound boring, but that is by design because boring doesn’t invite scrutiny. In reality, this stealthy, special interest lobbying effort has major ramifications for America’s housing market and it could be the most significant legislative action this Congress.

An increase in the conforming loan limit would increase taxpayers’ exposure to additional bailouts by allowing the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) to purchase and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure home loans up to $729,750. As of October 1, the stimulus-era increase ended and the limit dropped to $625,000. Before the financial crisis, it was $417,000.

In practical terms, it would mean taxpayers would now be on the hook for guaranteeing home loans for as much as $729,750. If you’re looking to buy a home in that price range, you’re probably a fan of this idea because it would amount to an “upfront subsidy” of more than $123,000 since the down payment is not risk-based, according to the folks at Economics21. However, as we saw last week when taxpayers shelled out another $6 billion to keep Freddie Mac solvent, there is a serious risk to the taxpayer.

That is why Republican presidential candidates have mentioned Fannie and Freddie repeatedly. Even a former Freddie lobbyist is lobbying against the increase. There is widespread recognition the current housing system is broken, and it cannot be fixed without serious reforms to Fannie and Freddie. To their credit, House Republicans laid out a strong position in their Pledge to America last fall:

“Since taking over Fannie and Freddie, the mortgage companies that triggered the financial meltdown by giving too many high risk loans to people who couldn’t afford them, taxpayers were billed more than $145 billion to save the two companies. We will reform Fannie and Freddie by ending their government takeover, shrinking their portfolios, and establishing minimum capital standards.”

Now, an array of special interest housing groups, including the National Association of Home Builders and National Association of Realtors, are lobbying those same House Republicans to turn back on their Pledge to America. And make no mistake, “Big Housing” carries a lot of sway inside the Washington Establishment.



Prepare for the coming Entitlement Nightmare

At a recent National Speakers Association convention, agewave.com futurist Ken Dychtwald shared a startling fact, "Two-thirds of the people who have ever lived past 65 throughout history are alive today." That's not surprising when he reports that that for 99% of human history life expectancy was 18 years of age. By 1900, it was only 47.

But by 2030, over 20% of America's population could be over 65, and they'll expect the government to honor its promise to take care of their retirement and healthcare needs for the rest of their lives. They'll have more political clout to demand it than they have now. If not dealt with soon, funding their entitlements may very well bring America to its knees.

When German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck first set 65 as the age for receiving state pensions in 1889, life expectancy was 45 years of age. Using that difference from our current life expectancy of 78, today we'd start benefits at 98.

That won't fly in this age of entitlement, but politicians on both sides of the aisle better start facing reality. We need bold leaders willing to make dramatic changes to our outdated and underfunded Social Security and Medicare system so that future generations to avoid a financial collapse.

Unfortunately, expecting bold leaders to emerge from our promise more, spend more, owe more political culture seems Pollyanna at best. As Will Rogers said, "We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress." Waiting for bankruptcy and chaos on the streets is not leadership. But besides voting for politicians who will tackle the entitlement addiction, what can citizens do to age responsibly?

Start by facing the challenge. Seeing families cope with the financial and health challenges of aging is sobering. Even with planning and resources, Social Security, Medicare, long-term care insurance and offspring who can afford to help, the financial and time strain on caregivers can tax all involved. Just remember, it's not the number of years, but the quality of the life lived that determines whether a long life is a blessing or a curse.

You can't control everything that happens to you as you age, but you can take responsibility for improving your odds of aging well. Some advice is obvious. Pay off debts early. Save more. Spend less. Think simple. Downsize. Get rid of stuff you don't need. And of course, spend time with grandkids. Love on them as they love on you. But if you want them to keep loving you, do what you can to make it less likely you will ever become a burden.

Use it or lose it. Phyllis Diller loves to say, "Maybe it's true that life begins at 50... but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out." It's no wonder seniors are "spreading out" when the average senior watches 48 hours of TV every week. Aging well requires developing exercise and eating habits that will give you a body ready for action. What's the best exercise? The one you'll do consistently. Trade watching more TV movies for more movement.

Keep working as long as you love it. Instead of sliding into retirement, invest in reenergizing and reinventing yourself. You become an old dog when you stop doing new tricks. Invest 5-10% of your time in developing a Plan B--a career or side business you can continue beyond your retirement. Many companies are creating part-time, project-limited career options for seniors with the right skills and experience. Other seniors have started service businesses out of their homes. As a professional speaker, I treasure the words of George Burns, "I can't die; I'm booked."

With aging, more and more of your friends and loved ones pass away. One woman shared her Senility Prayer: "Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.”One of the best ways to find and nurture new caring relationships is to participate in a faith community of your choice. Not only will you nurture your faith and connection to God; you'll find people of all ages who care about you. You will find strength both in helping and in being helped.

Finally, take aging seriously, and yourself lightly. Art Gliner had a great perspective: "We're only young once, but with humor, we can be immature forever." When you stop laughing, you become "old" faster! Read funny books. Watch comedies. Spend time with people who love to laugh. Laughter is a tonic for the soul that can bring momentary joy into the darkest of your days. Rest assured that aging will give you reasons to laugh or to cry. Choose more laughter, and start by laughing a bit more at yourself.




"Occupier" scum attack 78-year-old woman: "We posted video last night in which degenerates from Occupy D.C. stormed the Washington Convention Center where Americans For Prosperity was holding a dinner. In the course of their riot, the Occupiers attacked a 78-year-old woman who had been attending the dinner, and pushed her down a flight of stairs. Her name is Dolores Broderson, age 78. She rode on a bus for 11 hours from Detroit to get there. She went to the emergency room with a bloody nose and bruises on her hand and leg.”

Vietnam war vets seize back hijacked ship: "Taiwan hailed on Monday the bravery of five Vietnamese war vets who launched a surprise assault on six armed pirates and successfully took back their vessel after it had been hijacked off East Africa. The former Vietnam war fighters had been recruited by Taiwan to be part of a 28-man crew on the Chin Yi Wen .... The crew, who had been out of contact with the ship since Friday according to the foreign ministry, forced the six armed Somali pirates to jump overboard" [I like that last bit]

Obama’s contraceptive mandate will snare religious organizations: "A proposed Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate emanating from President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act will require all private health insurance plans to cover contraceptive and sterilization prescriptions as 'preventative services' for women. Contraception and sterilization are currently causes of religious tension in many states, and this mandate has become a serious issue for religious institutions."

Government bureaucrats can’t prevent data breaches: "Sony’s popular PlayStation Network suffered a massive data breach earlier this year, exposing 100 million users’ credit card numbers, home addresses and more. Numerous other firms, including Morgan Stanley and marketing firm Epsilon, also have suffered major breaches in recent months. With this epidemic of data breaches making headline after headline, it was only a matter of time before Congress got involved. But more government intervention will only make things worse."

US economic recovery remains anemic, at best: "As the chart shows, real GDP has recovered its losses during the recent contraction and is now running at about the same rate as it was at its pre-recession peak in late 2007. So, the rate at which the U.S. economy produces total output has gained nothing during the past four years, and its present rate of growth, even if it continues, is too slow to bring back into employment many of the would-be workers now without work, including a disturbing number who have been without employment for years."

The varying states of US freedom: "The thought of learning another language in itself gives most Americans hives. Further still, most Americans like where they live and love their country, warts and all, and would never think of leaving. However, for anyone who has a constraint to internationalizing, a compromise solution to securing greater personal freedom without fleeing the homeland does exist: choose your state of residence wisely."

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

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


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


7 November, 2011

Were the lying Dutchman's lies important?

Rush Limbaugh makes a case that the now discredited Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel was riding the old Leftist hobbyhorse of trying to prove scientifically that conservatives are psychologically defective: Good projection but bad science.

The paper that Rush concentrates on is here and it implies that we dislike blacks because we often see them in messy "slum" environments. Even if that were a genuine finding, however, I don't really see it as much of a problem. Stapel did not claim that he had isolated the ONLY cause of negativity towards blacks and the possibility that the very high rate of violent crime among blacks has a central bearing on attitudes towards them was not addressed at all.

Stapel did however claim that a "heightened need for structure" was behind the effect that he observed -- i.e. it was only people with a heightened need for structure who let the messy environment influence them. That too seems innocuous enough at first sight but when one realizes that a heightened need for structure has been identified by many psychologists over the years as characteristic of conservatives, we begin to see the "conservatives are defective and that's why they don't like blacks" story emerging.

That a need for structure is a bad thing is of course highly debatable (does it mean that Leftists have a need for chaos?) but in any case I did many years of research on the "conservatives have a greater need for structure" hypothesis and other hypotheses like it and found that all the "proof" offered was based on research methods not much better than Stapel's. You can read my papers on the subject here.

Stapel also claimed that meat-eaters are a bad lot but I think Rush deals well with that claim.


Conservatives don't let imperfections ruin their lives

The imperfections in the world can bring some entertainment. I am glad for that. Unbroken comfort can make you more numb than jumping into that frozen lake with a polar bear club.

Recently I enjoyed sitting outside during the dirt storm that hit the area. My young daughter enjoyed it with me. She ran around laughing as the dirt engulfed her - obviously exhilarated by the novelty of the situation. We could have hunkered indoors and complained about the weather, but look at the joy we would have missed. Adverse conditions can be fun to sit through, with the right attitude. Witness storm chasers.

Some people live lives of bitterness just because everything in the world isn't perfect. They seem to believe the only way to make themselves feel better is to force everyone else to conform to their idea of "perfect." That is sad. Sure, there are so many things that could be better, but you may as well enjoy what you can when the opportunity presents itself. You are only responsible for your life, and you have an obligation to mind your own business. Remembering that frees up a huge amount of your life.

For example: I value liberty, but I can still enjoy life even though I am surrounded by a government that I don't need, I don't want, I don't respect, and that only gets in the way. There is no Utopia. Even in a free society there will still be bad guys trying to use coercion or other aspects of the political method in order to deprive individuals of their life, liberty, and property. If you can't enjoy life now, under government, you wouldn't be able to enjoy a life of liberty, either. If you can't enjoy a little dirt storm now and then, you probably can't enjoy the rainy days. There will always be something you could complain about.

That doesn't mean you let evil go unnoticed or unchallenged. It just means you call a spade a spade, then move on and don't let it ruin your day. In fact, you can probably get on with the business of living more easily when you clear the air and stop trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Just weather the storm, try not to get blown away, and laugh at the foolishness of it all. Especially the foolishness of those who mistake the storm for life.



How to Fix the Housing Crisis

Fannie and Freddie must die

The foreclosure crisis has crawled on for going on four years now with no end in sight. The S&P/Case-Shiller index for August fell 3.8 percent from a year ago. The index includes home prices for 20 US cities.

"Continued house price declines could lead to even more defaults, foreclosures and distress sales, undermining wealth, confidence and spending," William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said. "Breaking this vicious cycle is one of the most pressing issues facing policy makers." ...

Any business dominated by entities only in business because of the good graces of the government cannot be considered part of the free market. The reason the housing market is not clearing is that the government stands in the way by propping up the large mortgage holders.

No reasonable person sees Fannie Mae and sister entity Freddie Mac, which were seized by the government in September 2008, as the product of spontaneous order. To stay in business, the two firms together have needed about $169 billion in taxpayer bailout funds, with no end in sight.

Changes to FASB rules 157, 115, and 124, which allowed banks greater discretion in determining at what price to carry certain types of securities on their balance sheets and recognition of other-than-temporary impairments have made the big banks wards of the state as well.

The real help for underwater homeowners will only arrive when Fannie, Freddie, and the rest are allowed to fail. The equivalent of a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing (liquidation) would put these underwater loans out for bid in the market place.

No one can get a loan for a 110 percent of value in this market, let alone 125 percent, or 100 percent for that matter. Those looking for mortgages should expect to put 20 percent down. Values in a bankruptcy sale would reflect this reality and then some. Based on the liquidation prices received by the FDIC and other distressed debt sellers, this mortgage paper would likely be scooped up for half or a third of the home's value.

Buyers of the paper would immediately negotiate with borrowers to create loans that are conforming (80 percent LTV) and performing.

For instance, Selene Residential Mortgage Opportunity Fund purchased the mortgage secured by the home of Anna and Charlie Reynolds in St. George, Utah, for a deep discount, the Wall Street Journal reported in a front-page story. The Reynolds were struggling with a $3,464 monthly payment and the value of their home had plummeted.

Selene, run by Wall Street legend Lewis Ranieri, buys loans to make a profit on them, not as a public service, but company officials say it is often more profitable to keep the borrower in the home than to foreclose. If a delinquent loan can be turned into a "performing" loan, with the borrower making regular payments, the value of that loan rises, and Selene can turn around and either refinance it or sell it at a profit.
Home values in St. George had plummeted in similar fashion to that of Las Vegas, only a two-hour drive away. Selene slashed the principle balance of the loan due from $421,731 to $243,182 and lowered the interest rate, reducing the Reynolds' monthly payment to $1,573.

"Around 90% of Selene's loan modifications involve reducing the principal," James R. Hagerty wrote in the WSJ, "compared to less than 2% of the modifications done by federally regulated banks in the first quarter."

And while many upside-down borrowers can't even find a human to talk to about their loan, let alone sit down and renegotiate terms that will benefit both parties, Selene immediately tries to contact the borrowers on the notes they have purchased, "sometimes sending a FedEx package with a gift card that can be activated only if the borrower calls a Selene debt-workout specialist." It's hard to imagine Fannie and Freddie being so proactive.

Ludwig von Mises explained that one government intervention leads to an endless succession of interventions to deal with the effects of the first and subsequent interventions. Ultimately, it comes down to two choices. "Either capitalism or socialism: there exists no middle way," Mises wrote.

Likewise, there is no middle way to solve the housing crisis. For capitalism to work its magic and set underwater homeowners free, mortgage holders must be allowed to fail.



Obama's Economic Team: Charlatans and Quacksalvers

If a man is judged by the company he keeps--what does Obama's choices say about him? Consider Obama's choices for his economic advisors. There seem to be three overarching principles that guide their decision-making--all bad.

First, Obama's advisors believe that economic growth can be achieved by rewarding dubious, but favored, industries. Second, Obama seems to think that the financial assistance provided to his "favorites" can be achieved by taxing and placing additional regulatory burdens on small businesses, prudent savers and job creators. Third, Obama seems to think he can act irresponsibly with other people's money--take enormous risks--and refuse to accept any responsibility for failure as the cumulative effect of his policies expands the role and power of government.

Americans have watched, over the past three years, as the recommendations of Obama's economic advisors have crashed and burned, exacerbating rather than improving the economic situation in the U.S.. Nowhere is this flawed approach to economic growth more apparent than in the recent debacle surrounding M F Global Holdings and Jon Corzine, the President Obama's "Wall Street Guy".

What the current MF Global scandal has shown is the likelihood that Corzine has been flimflamming investors. Huge and irresponsible risks were taken, all with someone else’s money, in the blind hope that government would bail out any losses. Worse yet, according to most recent reports in the press, Corzine seems to have illegally tapped as much as $900 million dollars from individual investor accounts in a vain attempt to cover and hide his many misdeeds.

Playing fast and loose with other people’s money was a skill Corzine developed and refined as the Democratic Governor of New Jersey, but, when exposed in the real world, the inevitable result is Chapter 11. Here, too, it is important to note that Corzine’s ruinous actions will almost certainly result in the immediate termination of the jobs of 3000 employees that once worked for MF Global and were dependent upon Jon Corzine's stewardship.

As his investors and former employees now face economic ruin, Jon Corzine’s vast, personal fortune, estimated at $300 million or more remains unaffected. Small business owners that make boneheaded decisions face certain economic ruin, but Corzine is, incredibly, eligible for a $12 million severance package after plundering MF Global Holdings, ruining employees' jobs, and losing investors' private funds.

The Corzine Affair also offers insights into the Obama Administration's compendium of new rules, regulation and increased oversight designed monitor the level of risk within financial institutions. The system clearly didn't work--or at least not well enough to save the MF Global Holdings investors.

Americans should also remember that Obama believed so strongly in Jon Corzine back in July of 2009 that he campaigned aggressively for Corzine against Chris Christie. Obama even went so far as to claim that Corzine was "one of the best partners I have in the White House."

Corzine has been closely involved with the Obama Administration as far back as Obama's presidential campaign--where Corzine was often cited and photographed as being one of Obama's close economic advisors.

Obama has shown a consistent pattern of keeping bad company, bad advisors and the result has been bad for the American economy. Most of the President's early economic advisors have abandoned him.

Christina Romer, Chief of the Council of Economic Advisors, left after only one year, when neither the $787 billion dollar economic stimulus had any effect, nor did unemployment decrease, despite her promises and predictions.

Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, left after a year, during which increased regulations strangled small businesses and unemployment remained at staggering highs.

Austan Goolsbee, Romer's replacement, only lasted 11 months.

Peter Orszag, Obama's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the first to leave and move on to greener pastures, left Americans with a federal budget almost $3 trillion dollars more annually than when he first entered the job and the realizations that the economic growth promised by critical infrastructure projects that never occurred left the nation worse off than ever.

What is somewhat startling is the sheer number of Obama's economic advisors who have departed the White House. Many of the lower levels of Obama’s National Economic Council team (Sarah Cannon, Eric Lesser, Bryan Jung, Kyle Watkins, Pascal Noel) abandoned the sinking Obama ship. This mass exodus of Team Obama’s economic advisors seems a clear vote of no confidence in the President’s economic policies.

Americans are left with many questions-- but two rise to the top. First, is President Obama the only one who still believes wealth distribution schemes, favoritism, and punishing job creators is the best way to advance the American economy? Second, who has replaced Jon Corvine and the many other mountebanks who provided Obama with such poor economic advice over the past three years?

Obama gave us the answer to one of the questions. Where is he getting his economic advice now? Looks to me like Obama is now getting his economic counsel from The Occupy Wall Street crowd, who seem to be the only people left that still believe it is possible to expand government and all entitlements, reward favorite industries, despite the growing number of bankruptcies and failures, and fund the madness by punishing job creators. If that doesn't scare Americans--then nothing will.




UK army chief secretly visits Tel Aviv: "Richards who is Britain's Chief of the Defense Staff reportedly held several meetings with the senior commanders of the Israeli regime's army though there are no details on the subject of his talks. He also visited the northern parts of the Israeli occupied territories at the regime's borders with Lebanon. The secret visit comes as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are reportedly making efforts to rally enough support in the cabinet to launch a military attack on Iran though an Israeli minister has dismissed a conflict as imminent. Moreover, after it emerged that Richards secretly met with Israel's military and intelligence senior staff, Barak arrived in London on Wednesday to meet with Richards and Britain's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and National Security Adviser Sir Peter Ricketts."

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

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

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


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


6 November, 2011


I don't really get what Tumblr is good for. I have opened a site here with a few random bits so guess I could use it if I knew why I should. Is it a sort of super-twitter? Help and suggestions welcome.


Leftists love destruction

The nearer they get to revolution, the happier they are

Occupy Oakland called for a general strike — the city grinding to a halt, banks unattended, and schools closed. What they got was a few thousand protesters vandalizing banks and briefly closing a unionized port, but more important, a mayor happy to facilitate it all. Wednesday night would have been no more disturbing than a vigorous though destructive demonstration by the lefties of the Occupy movement — except that it occurred with the endorsement of Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan.

The problems began last week when Oakland police cleared the illegal tent city in Frank Ogawa Plaza, responding to claims of sexual assault, vandalism, and other crimes. Clashes broke out between protesters and police, in which one man was accidentally seriously injured. The next day, much to the justified confusion and anger of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, the protesters were allowed to return and continue their blatantly unpermitted occupation of the park — where Mayor Quan promised they could stay until they wanted to meet with her (they haven’t).

As if to make up for having offended her fellow activists-cum-politicians, Quan began to express her support for the movement’s “general strike” this Wednesday. She informed city employees, with the exception of the police, that they would be allowed to take the day off in order to participate in the strike, but few did — 360 workers from the 2,000-strong Oakland Unified School District, for instance. Even with all the abetting the city government could afford, only 18 percent of one of the strongest progressive groups in America, unionized teachers, joined the strike.

Despite her words, Quan attempted to maintain some sense of propriety and responsibility by requiring that all police officers show up to work and ordering extra police into the streets. It appears, however, that she significantly hindered their ability to protect citizens and private property. At 11:55 p.m. Wednesday night, police reported that “the protesters began hurling rocks, explosives, bottles, and flaming objects at responding officers.” The mayor responded with an almost unbelievable tweet at 1:00 a.m.: “OPD has not taken action. Smoke is from burning barricade. I’ll say it again, protestors need to call now” (having provided her office phone number earlier in the evening).

Although the exact events of the evening remain murky (my requests for explanation from the mayor’s office were not answered), this much is clear: While protesters were committing widespread acts of arson and violence, she felt the need to offer free consultation to the perpetrators and clarify that the police were doing nothing to stop them.

Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of the California Republican party, noted to National Review Online that he is hardly surprised; Quan was “really always more of an activist than a mayor.” There are obvious parallels to our current president, who has also expressed some support for the Occupy movement. The comparison stops there, however: Quan’s position demands a practical and serious response to a movement that endangers her citizens, and she has offered inane yet maleficent ideological encouragement instead.

This is not Quan’s first dereliction of her first duty, protecting the citizens of Oakland: Police chief Anthony Batts resigned two weeks ago, citing the impossibility of reform and effective law enforcement in a suffocating city bureaucracy. Del Beccaro explained that it was widely perceived that the mayor had “pushed him out because he got tough on crime.” In doing so, she showed shades of the liberal orthodoxy that has made her so ineffective in confronting this week’s events: ideological solidarity overruling practical concerns.

Del Beccaro, a resident of the Bay Area, finds himself bewildered by Quan’s attempts to “fan the flames” of unrest in Oakland. He characterizes the state of Oakland as “just sad,” afflicted with 15 percent unemployment, dysfunctional and corrupt government, and appalling rates of crime. That’s why the mayor’s office has attempted to portray Wednesday night’s events as successful work by her office.

Following the night’s chaos, Mayor Quan has refused to confront an angry and frightened Oakland public, but her office did release a summary of the events, beginning triumphantly: “Yesterday, the City of Oakland facilitated a long day of primarily peaceful protests with some isolated incidents of violence and vandalism” (note that she refuses specific credit to the police, the city workers tasked with controlling the mess she had instigated).

The isolated violence extended all the way to a gathering of thousands to close the Port of Oakland, and isolated vandalism afflicted banks and businesses all across the city. Even Whole Foods, the favored grocer of the American Left, had its stores vandalized by protesters because they had refused to allow their employees to strike; they relented later in the day, after the protesters smashed store windows and harassed customers and employees.

Mayor Quan’s obvious affections for the far-left Occupy movement have endangered her city. Politicians elsewhere may admit that the Occupy movement has legitimate grievances, but only go so far as to allow them a reasonable, legal forum for airing them. On the farthest edge of America’s left coast, Jean Quan’s sympathy makes her loath to restrain the protests when they begin to descend into violence — suggesting that, to paraphrase Evelyn Waugh, protesters have the right to bear arms in any battle anywhere against the upper classes.

Conservatives have joked that President Obama is our “community-organizer-in-chief.” Oakland certainly has one for a mayor, whose political inclinations make her comfortable and even pleased promoting and facilitating civil unrest. Her refusal to acknowledge this has left her community very disorganized indeed.



Medallion madness

by Jeff Jacoby

HERE'S ONE for the Guinness World Records people: Two New York City taxi medallions were sold last month for $1 million apiece. That's the highest price ever paid for the right to operate a car as a taxicab in The City That Never Sleeps. It's also an expensive lesson in the harm caused to consumers and would-be entrepreneurs by overregulation and the strangling of competition.

By law, every cab in New York has to have an official medallion -- the numbered metal plate nailed to the hood -- but the number of medallions is fixed at 13,237. When the city first issued taxi medallions in the 1930s, they cost $10 each. But before long the demand for taxi ownership had outstripped the limited supply of medallions. Since City Hall wasn't issuing new ones, the only way to get a medallion was to buy one from an existing owner. Over time the value of those metal tags went through the stratosphere.

In the years after World War II, a New York City taxi medallion could be had for $2,500. By the mid-1970s the going price was $50,000. In 1985, when a medallion changed hands for $100,000, it made the front page of The New York Times. That sale was arranged by a "taxi financing specialist" named Nat Goldbetter, a one-time cabdriver who discovered he could make a better living arranging medallion sales on the secondary market. By coincidence, it was Goldbetter who arranged the sale of the million-dollar medallions last month, landing him again on Page 1. "Nobody ever thought the medallion would get to this point," he marveled.

In a rational market, Goldbetter's industry wouldn't even exist. A taxi medallion, after all, has no intrinsic value -- it is merely the government's permission to use a car to transport passengers for a fee. Acquiring a medallion isn't like acquiring a dental practice or some other going concern: It doesn't come with a built-in customer base or first dibs on popular routes. It doesn't include the price of gas or insurance, let alone a car. A medallion represents nothing but official approval to be in the cab business. No one has to invest a fortune to get the government's OK to sell tacos or put out a newspaper or practice podiatry. Why should anyone have to invest a fortune -- or hire a "taxi financing specialist" -- to get the government's OK to own a cab?

The medallion system is a classic illustration of what economists call "rent-seeking" -- manipulating the political system to gain economic benefits without providing any additional value to society in exchange. Imposing caps on the number of taxis enriches existing owners with windfall profits. But by making the cost of cab ownership obscenely high, it prevents countless would-be cabbies from going into business for themselves. And by stifling competition, it drives fares through the roof while lowering the quality and availability of service.

New York isn't alone in blighting its taxi market like this. In Boston, which also adopted a medallion system in the 1930s, the little metal plates now sell for $400,000 and cab fares for most rides are the highest of any big city in North America. The number of cabs is limited to 1,825, which is why trying to get a taxi in the city's outlying neighborhoods can be so tough. Cabbies -- most of whom can't afford a medallion of their own and instead must pay stiff fees to lease somebody else's -- naturally gravitate to the most lucrative routes.

Even more obnoxious is the government-protected monopoly in Milwaukee, which in 1991 imposed a citywide cap of just 321 taxis, yielding a ratio of 1 taxi for every 1,850 residents. (By comparison, the ratio in Boston is about 1 to 340; in Washington, DC, where the number of cabs is not artificially limited, it's 1 to 90.) The cost of a taxi permit has soared from $85 to $150,000, which is well above the price of an average Milwaukee house.

"In the classic story of entrepreneurship, someone starts a taxi business in order to save up enough money to buy a house," says attorney Anthony Sanders. "In Milwaukee, you need to save up enough money to buy a house just to start a taxi business." Sanders works for the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that litigates around the country in defense of the right of individuals to earn an honest living. The institute, which successfully defended reforms that ended a taxi cartel in Minneapolis, recently filed a lawsuit challenging Milwaukee's cap on taxi permits as unjust and unconstitutional.

Can you imagine City Hall trying to fix the number of shoe stores or web designers or CPAs allowed to operate in town? Arbitrary limits on the number of taxicabs should be considered just as ridiculous. The government has no right playing favorites, or crushing competition. The Institute for Justice describes itself as advocating for fairness and economic liberty; what it really seeks to protect is the American Dream. In Milwaukee today. In New York and Boston, perhaps, tomorrow.



Herman Cain's media Lynching

No one who followed politics 20 years ago will forget the night when Clarence Thomas sent an electric charge through a Senate hearing room. As liberal Democrats pushed the unproven sexual harassment charges of Anita Hill, in an attempt to destroy Thomas's chance to serve on the Supreme Court, Thomas called them out for conducting a national disgrace. "This is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."

This line packed a wallop because Hill's charges were about as proven as the old charges of perverted indecency against white women that were concocted by racists. Whether her claims were true or not was utterly irrelevant to liberals. All that mattered was that Thomas be ruined and that black conservatives be denied a role model so prominent and so accomplished.

Twenty years later, it sounds like an echo. Once again, the liberal media have provided an unproven charge (of unknown severity) of sexual harassment, filed by two anonymous women who allegedly settled complaints with the National Restaurant Association in 1999. The newspaper Politico offered an incredibly vague story that somehow required four reporters to compile.

This is how vague the claims were, which Politico rushed to publish. They assert there were "conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature," and also, "descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual" but made women uncomfortable. What does all this mean? At least in Hill's case, she was making wacky but specific charges about Long Dong Silver. But who cares? All that matters is that Cain's presidential campaign is ruined, just as it reached its height. Black conservatives must be denied a role model this prominent and successful.

Within two days, NBC's Ann Curry was leading off the "Today" show with this thermonuclear question about Cain: "Will the controversy and his reaction to it derail his presidential campaign?"

Is this a high-tech lynching because Cain is a conservative black? Just examine how white liberals are treated. Not only do liberal media outlets fail to break these stories, they refuse even to demand the questions be answered.

Cain is only one contender in the 2012 Republican field. Bill Clinton was president of the United States when he was charged with three separate sexual allegations. But from Monday morning through Thursday morning, ABC, CBS and NBC ran 50 stories on the allegations against Cain. Now, let's compare.

In 1994, when Paula Jones publicly, at a national press conference for God's sakes, accused President Clinton of exposing himself while demanding oral sex -- something no one accuses Cain of doing -- CBS and NBC completely ignored her press conference. ABC gave it just 16 seconds.

When Kathleen Willey accused Bill Clinton in 1997 of sexually groping her in the Oval Office when he was president -- another woman coming forward publicly with a charge far more serious than anything even suggested about Cain -- the networks ran a grand total of three stories, the longest of which was just 1 minute.

And in the first five days after the publication of the 1999 Wall Street Journal column in which Juanita Broaddrick reluctantly came forward and charged the President with a bloody rape, the number of news stories totaled to three.

So it's maddening when someone like Tom Brokaw goes on MSNBC and insists that Herman Cain should be laying everything out on the table: "I would think that he would be eager to get the details out as quickly as possible, if he's as innocent as he has described himself in all of this."

That's not how Brokaw felt about Paula Jones's sexual harassment charges against Bill Clinton. On CNBC in 1994, he dismissed that story. "It didn't seem to most people, entirely relevant to what was going on at the time. These are the kind of charges raised about the President before. They had been played out in the Gennifer Flowers episode." Brokaw surely knew the difference between the consensual sex with Flowers and the sexual harassment of Jones.

Brokaw didn't demand that Clinton "should be eager to get the details out as quickly as possible" about Jones ... or about Willey ... or even about the rape charges of Broaddrick. Clinton wouldn't even deny the rape charge. He only said he would refer "all future questions to be answered by my attorneys." But Tom Brokaw deliberately never filed a single story on Broaddick's charges on his "NBC Nightly News" program -- even though the break-through interview was broadcast on "Dateline NBC"!

So these windbags should spare us the lectures about how Cain really needs to submit to more media interrogations while they have protected white liberals from charges that are much more egregious. Their only interest in this matter is not in creating news, but in destroying Herman Cain.


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

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


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


5 November, 2011

‘Connecting America’ More Venture Socialism

Lacking any clear statutory authority, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) nonetheless voted last week to force American consumers to subsidize a massive expansion of rural broadband infrastructure.

“Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said during a speech in early October.

To stimulate this “necessary participation,” the FCC’s so-called “Connect America Fund” will spend $4.5 billion a year over the next six years siphoning money away from America’s telephone subscribers.

Government bureaucrats are understandably ecstatic — promising that this “historic” vote will lead to the creation of 500,000 new jobs.

Consumer advocates know better. “The Commission’s actions will lead to higher prices at a time when the average American is watching every penny,” said Gigi B. Sohn of Public Knowledge, a group that advocates for digital freedom.

Sohn added that the Commission “has once again evaded the central problem” by moving forward with this new fund despite lacking authority over broadband issues.

“By declining to address this issue, the Commission is condemning the industry to more years of uncertainty, consumers and others will be powerless to complain about industry practices and the future of the network is left in limbo,” Sohn said.

Of course the “Connect America Fund” is more than just another flagrant government shakedown of taxpayers and naked bureaucratic power grab. Like the “Green Jobs” scam that brought us the infamous Solyndra scandal, it’s yet another example of government fundamentally usurping the private sector’s role of allocating capital.

In fact, the government’s new “broadband scam” already has its own Solyndra scandal — a company called Open Range.

Right around the time Genachowski was making his “necessary participation” speech, it was revealed that Open Range filed for bankruptcy despite being approved for $267 million in loans from the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Ironically, it was a decision by the FCC to deny a special license to Open Range’s business partner, Globalstar, that led to the company’s collapse. Some have even speculated that the FCC deliberately denied this license because it was promoting a competing venture involving LightSquared, a company backed by a powerful Democratic fundraiser.

Imagine that — one government bureaucracy works to jump start a specific company while another effectively shuts it down!



Demopublicans: Big Government Republicans Reject Spending Curbs‏

The spending virus has become a permanent infection in Americam politics. How ill will it eventually make the patient?

If you want to know why it is so difficult to cut federal spending, look no further than Tuesday’s Senate actions on some appropriations bills. Three amendments were offered that would have either reduced spending or redirected it to a more useful purpose. All were defeated.

While there are more than enough Democrats in the Senate to beat back such amendments, there was no shortage of Republicans who voted against them. Indeed, one offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla, which would have cut $1 billion from the Rural Development Agency, had 32 Republicans vote “nay.” Only 13 Republicans voted in favor.

Coburn’s other amendment to eliminate funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Program, saving $6 million, fared considerably better, getting 41 “yays”. Seven of those were Democrats, meaning that 11 Republicans still voted against it.

Sen. Rand Paul’s amendment didn’t even cut and spending. It merely reallocated 10% of highway funds away from “transportation enhancement activities” to the highway bridge program. It failed 60-38, with seven Republicans voting against it.

You’d swear that November 2010 never happened the way these Republicans vote. Perhaps some flooding of their office phone lines by Tea Partiers might result in an attitude improvement.



Post Ignores Sexual Assaults in Wall Street Protests

I read the Washington Post article, “Violence and the occupy movement,” expecting to see a discussion of the sexual assaults and rapes being reported during the Wall Street protests. Instead, the author, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, writes about “the violence of systems that create and sustain economic and social injustice on a wide scale.” She is apparently talking about capitalism, a system that has lifted more people out of poverty than any in human history.

Brandon Darby broke the story at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com that the protests “pose special dangers for women” because of the rapes and sexual assaults taking place. He notes several such incidents:

* A 14-year-old runaway was allegedly sexually assaulted at Occupy Dallas.

* A 19-year-old student activist was allegedly raped at Occupy Cleveland.

* A man was arrested on charges of indecent exposure to children at Occupy Seattle.

* A female reporter was threatened by activists at Occupy Oakland.

Also at BigGovernment.com, John Nolte writes about the protesters’ “rap sheet,” which numbers 119 cases of sexual assault, violence, vandalism, anti-Semitism, extortion, perversion, and lawlessness. These are hardly law-abiding protesters, as the lawyers at the National Lawyers Guild and Center for Constitutional Rights maintain.

These incidents are occurring because of the complete breakdown of law and order in the makeshift tent cities of the Occupy movement. Under political pressure, the local and even federal authorities have ceded the space to the protesters, effectively abdicating law enforcement’s role. As a result, when police finally do move into these places, as we saw in Oakland, they are met with violence from organizers of the protests. When the police defend themselves, they are accused of police brutality. This accusation was a prominent charge made in Thistlethwaite’s piece.

The protests are in fact illegal, since there is no city or federal law which allows tents, food preparation, and other such activities in the cities where they are taking place. Some of the demonstrations have no permits or expired permits. They have made it impossible for truly law-abiding citizens to enjoy these public and private parks.

Everything fell into place when I found Ms. Thistlethwaite’s bio, disclosing that she works at the Center for American Progress, the group funded by billionaire currency speculator George Soros. This is the man who has exploited international financial markets around the globe to make himself rich but now insists that capitalism is a much greater threat to human progress than communism.



ACORN Officials Scramble, Firing Workers and Shredding Documents, After Exposed as Players Behind Occupy Wall Street Protests

Officials with the revamped ACORN office in New York -- operating as New York Communities for Change -- have fired staff, shredded reams of documents and told workers to blame disgruntled ex-employees for leaking information in an effort to explain away a FoxNews.com report last week on the group’s involvement in Occupy Wall Street protests, according to sources.

NYCC also is installing surveillance cameras and recording devices at its Brooklyn offices, removing or packing away supplies bearing the name ACORN and handing out photos of Fox News staff with a stern warning not to talk to the media, the sources said. “They’re doing serious damage control right now,” said an NYCC source.

NYCC Executive Director Jon Kest has been calling a series of emergency meetings to discuss last week’s report—and taking extreme measures to identify the sources in their office and to prevent further damage, a source within NYCC told FoxNews.com.

Two staffers were fired after NYCC officials suspected them as the source of the leaks, a source told FoxNews.com. “One was fired the day the story came out, the other was fired on Friday. (NYCC senior staff) told everyone that they were fired because they talked to you,” a source said.

FoxNews.com’s report identified NYCC as a key organizing force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Sources within the group also told FoxNews.com NYCC was hiring people to carry signs and join the protests. NYCC -- a nonprofit organization run almost entirely by former ACORN officials and employees --did not reply for comment prior to the publication of the initial article, but later posted a statement on its website dismissing the article and denying that it pays protesters.

The source said staffers at the meeting contested Westin’s denial:

“It was pretty funny. Jonathan told staff they don’t pay for protesters, but the people in the meeting who work there objected and said, ‘Wait, you pay us to go to the protests every day?’ Then Jonathan said ‘No, but that’s your job,’ and staffers were like, ‘Yeah, our job is to protest,’ and Westin said, ‘No your job is to fight for economic and social justice. We just send you to protest.’

“Staff said, ‘Yes, you pay us to carry signs.’ Then Jonathan says, ‘That’s your job.’ It went on like that back and forth for a while.”

NYCC is also monitoring its staff’s behavior, cracking down on phone use and socialization. Officials have ordered all papers -- even scraps -- to be shredded every night, the source said.



Hamas-linked CAIR pretends that Muslims are threatened by Christians praying

In the wake of the Islamic supremacist anti-free speech firebombing in Paris, Hamas-linked CAIR is yet again trying to portray Muslims as victims. This time, they're pretending that Muslims in the Detroit area are threatened by Christians who are coming to the city to pray.

Perhaps Dawud Walid of Hamas-linked CAIR is so used to Muslims storming out of mosques after hearing the Friday sermon and rioting or terrorizing non-Muslims that he assumed a Christian gathering would work the same way.
Dearborn — The local head of a national Muslim civil rights group says a Christian prayer summit to be held at Ford Field next week promotes anti-Muslim sentiment and is warning local mosques to step up their security.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan, met Wednesday with Muslim activists to voice his concern over the rhetoric he fears could be at the center of the event Nov. 11.

"There's a bigger force or movement behind this prayer summit and how they're literally demonizing Muslims," he said.

But Metro Detroit pastors involved in the event say the gathering is merely meant to help Detroit, not target Muslims.

"I don't know anything about that," said Bishop Edgar Vann of Second Ebenezer Church. "People are coming here to pray for our city and that's what I'm concerned about. Christians will be praying, but it's open to anyone."

Walid advised the heads of local mosques to "maintain security at all entrances, and make sure to notify the police immediately if suspicious persons congregate on mosque property."

Such as...persons with ties to Hamas or other jihad terror groups?



The Stupidity of "Buy American"

The case against economic protectionism. If everybody did it, trade would cease and living standards would plummet. And American exporters would grow broke, sending millions out of work -- JR

John Stossel

One sign of economic ignorance is the faith that "Buy American" is the path to prosperity. My former employer, ABC News, did a week's worth of stories claiming that "buying American" would put Americans back to work. I'm glad I don't work there anymore.

"Buy American" is a dumb idea. It would not only not create prosperity, it would cost jobs and make us all poorer. David R. Henderson, an economist at the Hoover Institution, explained why.

"Almost all economists say it's nonsense," he said. "And the reason is: We should buy things where they're cheapest. That frees up more of our resources to buy other things, and other Americans get jobs producing those things."

This is what people always forget. Anytime we can use fewer resources and less labor to produce one thing, that leaves more for other things we can't afford. If we save money buying abroad, we can make and buy other products.

The nonsense of "Buy American" can be seen if you trace out the logic. "If it's good to Buy American," Henderson said, "why isn't it good to have Buy Alabaman? And if it's good to have Buy Alabaman, why isn't it good to have Buy Montgomery, Ala.? And if it's good to have Buy Montgomery, Ala. ..."

You get the idea. You wouldn't get very good stuff if everything you bought came from Montgomery, Ala.

"A huge part of the history of mankind is an increase in the division of labor. And that division of labor goes across national boundaries."

The same applies to so-called sweatshop-free products. I'm for free trade, but trade means you get the lowest price, and that might mean you buy something from what some people call a sweatshop. The name itself conveys abuse.

Henderson says that's wrong. The workers aren't abused. "In fact, they're better off taking those jobs. ... The mistake Americans make is they think they would never work in a sweatshop and therefore they say these people shouldn't. Well, no one's offering those people green cards. Those people are stuck in those countries. They're choosing their best of a bunch of bad options. And when you take away someone's best of a bad option, they're worse off."


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

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


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


4 November, 2011

More Leftist "civility"

We’re not certain how many people listen to “progressive” radio host Mike Malloy, but for those of us who don’t Newsbusters does, and has brought to light some of his truly slanderous comments about Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter. Namely that Coulter is a “deeply closeted killer” — who has only refrained from murdering Muslims to now because she hasn’t mustered up the “courage yet” — and that one day she will likely “enter into” a “suicide pact” with Glenn Beck.
Ann Coulter is an incipient, closeted, deeply closeted killer. We all know this. She has talked about going to Muslim countries and killing everybody.

She’s a real murderess, I mean, she really is. Just hasn’t had the courage yet. She will probably enter into some kind of a suicide pact at some point with Glenn Beck.

The segment was not intended to be satirical, these are Malloy’s thoughts in earnest.



Who really built the Hoover Dam?

Hoover Dam has become something of a liberal icon these days. President Obama points to it as an example of the sort of federally funded projects that once “unleashed all the potential in this country” — potential that his next round of stimulus will unleash again.

MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow has pointed to the 726-foot-high, 660-foot-wide dam as proof that some projects are just too big for private enterprise. “You can’t be the guy that built this,” she tells the TV screen. Only government can, is the implication.

Well, that would come as a surprise to the guy who did build it – or, rather, the guys who did, with their private companies. In the five-year process they discovered, even back then, that the biggest obstacle they faced in Black Canyon wasn’t nature or the Great Depression, but New Deal Washington.

The truth was, construction on the scale of Hoover Dam lay far beyond the powers of the federal government — in 1931 or even later. Four and a half million cubic yards of concrete — enough to build a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York — and 19 million pounds of reinforcing steel somehow had to be moved into the middle of the Nevada wilderness to construct both the dam and a 1.2-million-horsepower electric plant. Thousands of tons of loose rock then had to be scraped by hand from the surface of Black Canyon, before massive tunnels could be dug to divert the Colorado River to power the plant and then fill a reservoir 115 miles long with a 550-mile shoreline.

The heads of the consortium of six private construction firms that won the $48 million contract, which came to be known as “the Big Six,” weren’t the kind of business leaders who would appear on a presidential jobs commission today. Idaho builders Harry Morrison and Morris Knudsen (of Morrison-Knudsen), Utah Construction’s Bill Wattis, and California road-makers Henry Kaiser and Warren Bechtel (whose company later became the bête noire of the American Left) had all left school early to do manual labor. Kaiser had quit at 14; as a teenager, Bill Wattis had pounded rail spikes for the Union Pacific Railroad; Pacific Bridge’s Charlie Shea smoked foul-smelling cigars and dressed like one of his workmen. Only the heads of the venerable San Francisco construction firm Kahn and MacDonald had ever attended college, and Alan MacDonald had been such a misfit that he was fired from 15 different jobs before partnering with Felix Kahn.

Indeed, in 1931, only Morrison and his architect Frank Crowe knew much about building dams (at one point Kahn and MacDonald had tried their hand at it and failed).

But what they all did have was experience in big construction projects and mines, and a dedicated knack for doing the impossible. They and their workers and engineers built not only the dam, but also all the roads, railways, and other infrastructure necessary to bring in their equipment and materials. Kaiser and his partners even built an entire town (today’s Boulder City) to house their 5,200-strong work force.

And through it all the Six Companies had a running battle with Washington and the Interior Department.

Interior Secretary Harold Ickes had seen the dam as essentially a federal make-work project for the unemployed. Kaiser and his colleagues had to point out that they needed men with genuine skills, not just people willing to turn up for a paycheck. Ickes wanted the door open to union organizing; the builders convinced him the key to happy workers was paying them well, not giving them a union card. Ickes wanted every federal health and safety regulation to be rigorously enforced, and counted no fewer than 70,000 violations of the letter of the contract. They patiently showed him that applying those standards would mean the dam would never be finished on time, let alone on budget



Remember Monica? ("That woman")

Liberals Suddenly Care About Sexual Harassment...Again

Christopher Adamo

It is hard to know where to begin listing the reasons why “liberalism” and “hypocrisy” have become synonymous. But the latest flap over some warmed over charges of “sexual harassment” against Herman Cain is a sterling example. Outrageous though this synthetic controversy may be, it hardly comes as a surprise. Conservatives have been warning for weeks that the left would most certainly engage in just such behavior once Cain’s star began to rise. Yet it is always amazing how shamelessly liberals can ignore the mountains of evidence proving their insincerity while they lecture the nation with almost comical passion.

Nor do they seem to be the least bit aware of how thoroughly they caricature their ceaseless self-glorification. This latest barrage against Cain is nearly satirical, and absolutely reeks with all of the stereotypical bleatings from their leftist strategy book. On the heels of the unsubstantiated and ambiguous claims of Cain’s supposedly crude innuendos, it is a sure bet that he will next be accused of having stolen hubcaps from his subordinates’ cars in Godfathers’ parking lots.

Admittedly, this current chorus of liberal fury exhibits an amazing ability to switch on a moment’s notice from alarm and righteous indignation to total indifference, and back to moral outrage, as varying events have unfolded and either presented a public relations liability or an opportunity to make political hay. Particularly in light of the recent history of real sex scandals perpetrated by prominent liberals, most of which involved substantiated incidents of harassment, assault, and abuse, liberals have been forced into some thoroughly shameless gymnastics in hopes of navigating the gauntlet needed to maintain the moral “high ground.” But of course they are up to the task.

Consider the drastic lane changes that were required in the 1990s, after the 1992 election of philanderer in chief Bill Clinton. After the stormy 1991 Supreme Court appointment of Clarence Thomas, which was punctuated by spurious charges against him of sexual harassment, liberals believed they owned the issue. Despite their failure to thwart his confirmation, they declared a moral victory, and insisted that votes to confirm Thomas constituted acceptance of abusive behavior towards women. For the next few years, they remained on that pious perch, loudly crowing of their superior advocacy of the fairer sex.

However, it was not long before the advent of the Clinton Presidency thoroughly discredited such claims and, more significantly, proved the entire liberal/Democrat establishment to be entirely phony in its professed concern for women in general. From the repugnant treatment of Paula Jones to a physical assault on Kathleen Willey (followed by thuggish attempts to silence her), to the very likely rape of Juanita Broderick to the exploitation of Monica Lewinsky, Clinton revealed an absolute contempt for women, other than as objects of his own amusement and self-gratification.

Even more significant however was the manner in which the entire liberal political cabal not only refused to condemn his actions, but breached every boundary of credibility and decency in order to defend him. New and contorted definitions of “sexual harassment” were concocted by liberal politicians and pundits which somehow always preserved a “safe zone” around Clinton. In other words, the left was not (and never has been) really interested in the proper treatment of women, but only sought to caterwaul about such things on a selective basis when it could gain political ground as a result. So now that the tables have seemingly turned and a Republican is in the crosshairs, the phony empathy and concern spews incessantly from every liberal mouthpiece. As such, the entire affair epitomizes liberal hypocrisy on parade.

But from an even more encompassing perspective, it is ever more apparent that glaring liberal inconsistencies and indefensible contradictions are hardly confined to this one topic. In fact, it is all but impossible to find any issue of supposed concern to the left that is not filled with hype, manipulation, intellectual dishonesty, and total fraud.



Occupiers, Tea Partiers, and the Tenth Commandment

by Jeff Jacoby

AT THE OCCUPY PHOENIX demonstrations, fliers encourage protesters to violently resist police officers, asserting that "you will usually have only two options: submit, or kill the cop." At Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, an Occupy Wall Street protester was sexually assaulted in her tent; according to the New York Post, a woman was raped at the same site a few weeks earlier. In Denver, "Occupy" activists turned on the police, screaming obscenities and knocking a motorcycle cop to the ground. Occupy Oakland grew even more violent, as police were pelted with bottles and rocks, and had M-80 firecrackers thrown at them. And in cities from Boston to Berkeley, Occupy encampments have coincided with surges in vandalism, assault, and theft.

Some individuals have strained to compare the Occupy Wall Street protests to the Tea Party movement. "They're not that different," President Obama told ABC's Jake Tapper. "Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government." The Daily Show's host Jon Stewart argued: "Here's a group of Americans, disenchanted, railing against big government bailouts…. These protesters, how are they not like the Tea Party?"

But the contrast between the Occupiers and the Tea Partiers could hardly be greater. Tea Party rallies haven't turned public squares into squalid slums or incited protesters to curse the police. What the Occupy movement descended to in less than two months -- the hundreds of arrests, the vandalism, the anti-Semitic rants, the all-night drumming, the public urination -- is like nothing the American public saw in more than two years of Tea Party activism.

That isn't a fluke. When you flout the Tenth Commandment -- "Thou shalt not covet" -- things are apt to get ugly.

The ranks of both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are filled with the frustrated and the fed-up; both movements seek dramatic change in the nation's policies. But the values that propel them are poles apart. The Tea Partiers advocate limited government, personal responsibility, lower taxes, and economic freedom, all within a framework of constitutional restraint. What the Occupiers appear to want above all is to punish the wealthy, to demonize corporations, and to wallow in their own victimhood and sense of entitlement. They claim to represent "the 99 percent." Many would like to "Shut Down the 1 Percent."

Such class hostility pervades the Occupy movement. It is ubiquitous among the signs and chants at the demonstrations ("Wall Street Is Our Street," "Tax the Millionaires," "Human Need, Not Corporate Greed"). It is echoed by media cheerleaders as well. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson last week condemned income growth among the highest-earning Americans as "theft," while NBC's David Gregory observed that the Occupiers' demands "dovetail nicely" into Obama's "big message ... of going after Wall Street and the banks, talking about unfairness."

Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen, interviewing some 200 Zuccotti Park protesters, found that most of them share "a deep commitment to left-wing politics: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth." They favor stiffer taxes on the wealthy (77 percent) and more regulation of business (70 percent), and 31 percent say they would engage in violence to advance their agenda.

The violence is not tangential to the agenda. As the mounting hooliganism at Occupy encampments suggests, where class resentment takes root, predatory lawbreaking frequently follows. When politicians rail against "millionaires and billionaires," when social-activist campaigns scapegoat the "1 percent," it is only a matter of time before thugs feel emboldened to steal, rape, and worse. Class envy is not benign. At its most extreme -- the communist tyrannies of Lenin and Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot -- it unleashed the bloodiest genocides of the 20th century.

Economic envy may cloak itself in rhetoric about "inequality" or "egalitarianism" or "redistribution of wealth," but its oldest name is covetousness. That is the sin enjoined by the last of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor's."

At first blush it may seem odd that God would ban a mere desire. After all, the other nine commandments concern behavior: idolatry, theft, perjury, and so on. But as a matter of moral and social hygiene, the Tenth Commandment is indispensable. Covetousness -- particularly when it takes the form of class hatred -- is the root of innumerable other evils. From the belief that you don't have enough because others have too much, it isn't that great a stretch to the belief that those who have too much should be forced to make do with less. It shouldn't be surprising when a movement obsessed with what rich capitalists earn rather than with what they produce starts treating other people's property and persons with contempt.

Occupy Wall Street preaches that the "1 percent" got rich by exploiting the "99 percent." The Tea Party believes that with greater freedom and less government, we could all be more prosperous and productive. One is rooted in envy, the other in self-respect. What distinguishes them, you might say, is the culture of the Tenth Commandment. That distinction is showing up in many ways, not least in the latest police reports.




Communism dying in Cuba too: "Cuban state media says the government is allowing citizens to buy and sell real estate property for the first time since the early days of the revolution. The reform is the most important yet in a series of free-market changes ushered in by President Raul Castro to breath life into a limping Marxist economy. Communist Party newspaper Granma says in Thursday's edition that the law will take effect Nov. 10. It will apply only to Cuban citizens and permanent residents of the island."

Election Day alcohol tremors?: "If you live in Michigan, you can’t order online from wine retailers in other states, at least not if you want the wine shipped to your door. But action this Election Day far off in Washington State may send tremors across America by cracking open the anti-consumer, anti-competitive alcohol regulations there. Entrenched interests -- particularly alcohol wholesalers -- appear frightful that they will be the ones to suffer from government withdrawal from the industry. But if enthusiasm for such freedom becomes contagious and spreads to other states, consumers will reap the benefits."

Even Dr Livingstone was horrified by black criminality: "The field diary makes clear that Livingstone - an ardent abolitionist - was horrified by the moral character of the freed slaves sent to reinforce his expedition. He describes them as 'senseless slaves with no honor.' In Livingstone's account, they emerge as rebellious and violent - at one point he confides that 'if they go anywhere, I must go with them or murder is certain.' In another passage, dated May 18, Livingstone says the slaves have mutinied and bought guns with his money. Those passages were either sanitized or excised from Livingstone's 1872 journal. Wisnicki claimed that the edits, combined with discrepancies between the field diary and the journal's descriptions of the massacre, suggest Livingstone may have had something to hide about the bloody incident. Mr Jeal acknowledged that the slaves were 'clearly very disobedient and violent men,' but said it was unlikely that they would have gone on a rampage in Livingstone's presence."

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

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


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


3 November, 2011

Ricin "terror plot": Four in Ga. accused of planning "militia" attacks

This will give Leftists a horn but will probably go the way of the Hutaree Militia case: A government setup. The Hutaree case is so poor that the Feds keep postponing a trial -- hoping for a plea bargain, no doubt

Four men in Georgia intended to use an online novel as a script for a real-life wave of terror and assassination using explosives and the lethal toxin ricin, according to court documents.

Federal agents raided their north Georgia homes Tuesday and arrested them on charges of conspiring to plan the attacks.

Frederick Thomas, 73; Dan Roberts, 67; Ray Adams, 65; and Samuel Crump, 68, are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. Relatives of two of the men said the charges were baseless.

Court documents accused the men of trying to obtain an explosive device and a silencer to carry out targeted attacks on government buildings and employees. Two of the men are also accused of trying to seek out a formula to produce ricin, a biological toxin that can be lethal in small doses.

Thomas' wife, Charlotte, told The Associated Press that the charges were "baloney." "He spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy. He would not do anything against his country," she said. "He loves his country."

Thomas, who is portrayed as the ringleader, talked of modeling the actions on the online novel "Absolved," which involves small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials, according to court documents. It was written by former Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh, who wrote on his blog Wednesday that his book was fiction and said he was skeptical a "pretty geriatric" militia could carry out the attacks the men were accused of planning.

Adams also arranged to buy what they thought was an explosive device and a silencer from an undercover agent. The men were arrested days after a lab test confirmed they had trace amounts of ricin in their possession, authorities said.

"While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

Federal investigators have monitored the group since at least March 17, when a confidential source recorded a meeting of the fringe group at Thomas' two-story house in Cleveland, a small town in the mountains of north Georgia. Thomas boasted of making a "bucket list" of government employees, politicians, businessman and media members that he felt needed to be "taken out."

It's not clear from the court documents exactly how the men obtained the trace amounts of ricin. [planted by the Feds?]

Thomas' wife said her husband was a Navy veteran, while Roberts' wife Margaret said her husband retired from the sign business and lives on pensions. She said FBI agents showed up Tuesday with a search warrant and went through her home, handcuffing her and taking a computer and other items.

"He's never been in trouble with the law. He's not anti-government," she said. "He would never hurt anybody."



Payday loan economics

By Thomas Sowell

California is a great place for studying the thinking -- or lack of thinking -- on the political left. The mindset of the left was recently displayed in a big, front-page story in the October 30th issue of the San Mateo County Times. It was an investigative reporter's expose of the "payday loan" business and its lobbyists.

According to the reporter: "In California lenders charge up to $45 in fees on a maximum $300 loan. This amounts to an interest rate of 460 percent, trapping some borrowers into a never-ending cycle of debt."

Let's take this one step at a time. Whatever the merits or demerits of the rest of the argument, $45 is not going to trap anyone in a never-ending cycle of debt, even if they are making only the bare minimum wage. Personal irresponsibility in managing money can trap anyone, but that is regardless of whether or not they take out payday loans.

Now to the 460 percent rate of interest. You don't need higher math to figure out that $45 is 15 percent of $300. How did we get to 460 percent? Very simple: By distorting the actual conditions of most payday loans.

As the name might suggest, payday loans are short-term loans to tide people over until they get their next check, whether a salary check, a welfare check or whatever. Payday loans are relatively small sums of money borrowed for very short periods of time, often by low-income people who want some cash right now, for whatever reason.

Is it worth paying the $45 to get the $300 right now, rather than wait a couple of weeks for your check to arrive?

No third party can know that. But taking decisions out of the hands of those most directly affected is one of the central patterns of the political left that make them dangerous to the very people they think they are helping. This is not idealism. It is arrogance -- and too often, it is ignorant arrogance, as in this case.

The 460 percent figure comes from imagining that the borrower is not just going to borrow the money for a couple of weeks, but is going to keep on borrowing every couple of weeks all year long.

Using this kind of reasoning -- or lack of reasoning -- you could quote the price of salmon as $15,000 a ton or say a hotel room rents for $36,000 a year, when no consumer buys a ton of salmon and few people stay in a hotel room all year. It is clever propaganda, but do people buy newspapers to be propagandized?

What about the $45 that is at the heart of all this runaway rhetoric? Does that do more than cover the risk and the costs of processing the loan? Apparently our crusading investigative reporter did not find that worth investigating, even in a long article taking up another page and a half inside the newspaper.

What is called "interest" by the media includes things that an economist would not call interest. The fees charged must also cover the cost of processing the loan, which is to say the pay of people doing the work, the rent of the premises and other overhead expenses, as well as the risk of default.

But mundane facts like these would spoil the moral melodrama, starring the reporter on the side of the angels against the forces of evil.

Instead, we get the story of how the payday loan industry, like most other industries, has lobbyists contributing money to politicians to try to get spared more regulations. This the investigative reporter calls "protecting" the payday loan industry.

Protecting them from what? From the politicians. Some would call their campaign donations "protection money," in the same sense in which the Mafia collects protection money.

None of this is peculiar to this industry, to California or to our times. When Al Gore was Vice-President of the United States, he phoned businesses from the White House to tell them how much money he expected them to contribute to political campaigns.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's son extorted a $200,000 loan from a grocery chain that was under federal investigation -- and he never repaid the loan. Moreover, FDR spoke directly to the head of the chain to seal the deal.

There are not a lot of angels to be on the side of.



Why Our Blacks are Better Than Their Blacks

Ann Coulter

By spending the last three decades leveling accusations of "racism" every 10 seconds, liberals have made it virtually impossible for Americans to recognize real racism -- for example, the racism constantly spewed at black conservatives.

In the last year alone, a short list of the things liberals have labeled "racist" include:

-- Being a Republican;

-- Joining the tea party;

-- The word "the" (Donald Trump's statement that he has a "great relationship with the blacks");

-- References to Barack Obama's playing basketball (Trump again);

-- Using Obama's middle name;

-- Scott Brown's pickup truck;

-- Opposing Obamacare;

-- Opposing Obama's stimulus bill;

-- Opposing Obama's jobs bill.

The surge in conservative support for Herman Cain confuses the Democrats' story line, which is that Republicans hate Obama because he's black.

Cain is twice as black as Obama. (Possible Obama campaign slogan: "Too Black!")

This is why the liberal website Politico ran with a story on Cain that had everything -- a powerful black man, a Republican presidential candidate, the hint of sexuality -- except facts.

All we learned was: About a decade ago, as many as two anonymous women accused Cain of making unspecified "inappropriate" remarks and one "inappropriate" gesture in the workplace. (We had more than that on John Edwards' mistress a year into the media's refusal to report that story.)

If the details helped liberals, we'd have the details.

To have been accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s is like having been accused of molesting children at preschools in the 1980s or accused of being a witch in Massachusetts in the 1690s.

In the 1990s, one plaintiff won a $50 million jury verdict against Wal-Mart on the grounds that a "hostile environment" was created by her supervisor's yelling at both male and female employees. In another case, a plaintiff won a $250,000 award for sexual harassment based on her complaint that a male colleague had reached for a pastry saying, "Nothing I like more in the morning than sticky buns," while "wriggl(ing)" his eyebrows.

It got so crazy that a 6-year-old boy was suspended from class for a day for kissing a classmate on the cheek, and a Goya painting had to be removed from a Penn State classroom because a professor complained that it constituted sexual harassment.

With no standard other than the subjective offense taken by the accuser, absolutely anyone could be called a witch, i.e., a sexual harasser. So it's striking that the only two conservative public figures accused of being witches both happened to be conservative blacks: Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain.

Liberals go straight to ugly racist stereotypes when attacking conservative blacks, calling them oversexualized, stupid and/or incompetent.

The late, lamented, white liberal reporter Mary McGrory called Justice Antonin Scalia "a brilliant and compelling extremist" -- while dismissing Thomas as "Scalia's puppet."

More recently, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid called Scalia "one smart guy." In the next breath, he proclaimed Thomas "an embarrassment to the Supreme Court," adding, "I think that his opinions are poorly written."

When Bush made Condoleezza Rice the first black female secretary of state, terror swept through the Democratic Party. What if people began to notice and ask questions: "Who's that black woman always standing with George Bush?" Never mind! He's probably arresting her.

In addition to an explosion of racist cartoons portraying Rice as Aunt Jemima, Butterfly McQueen from "Gone With the Wind," a fat-lipped Bush parrot and other racist cliches, allegedly respectable liberals promptly called her stupid and incompetent.

Joseph Cirincione, then with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Rice "doesn't bring much experience or knowledge of the world to this position." (Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose experience for the job consisted of being married to an impeached, disbarred former president.)

Democratic consultant Bob Beckel -- who ran Walter Mondale's 1984 campaign so competently that Mondale lost 49 states -- said of Rice, "I don't think she's up to the job."

When Michael Steele ran for senator in Maryland in 2006, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dug up a copy of his credit report -- something done to no other Republican candidate. He was depicted in black face with huge red lips by liberal blogger Steve Gilliard. Oreo cookies were rolled down the aisle at Steele during a gubernatorial debate in 2002.

Trafficking in racist imagery is consequence-free for liberals because they have ruined charges of "racism" with their own overuse of the term. By now, any accusation of racism has the feel of a Big Foot sighting.

It's a neat trick, rather as if the Nazis had called everything "genocide" right before launching the Holocaust, and then admonished resisters not to "play the genocide card."

Liberals step on black conservatives early and often because they can't have black children thinking, "Hmmm, the Republicans have some good ideas; maybe I'm a Republican."

The basic setup is:

Step 1: Spend 30 years telling blacks that Republicans are racist and viciously attacking all black Republicans.

Step 2: Laugh maliciously at Republicans for not having more blacks in their party.

It is beyond insane that Herman Cain would have considered running for president if he had the tiniest skeleton in his closet. To be an out-of-the-closet black Republican, you had better be a combination rocket scientist/Baptist preacher. Which, as it happens, Cain is.

Meanwhile, MSNBC is cutting into its prime-time programming to announce updates in the fact-free hit on Cain. That's not because anyone there thinks he'll be the nominee. Everyone knows it's going to be Mitt Romney.

But liberals are determined to make sure that, six months from now, everyone has forgotten Herman Cain so they can go back to claiming Republicans oppose Obama because they hate blacks.




Syria signs Arab League deal to pull back military: "Under intense pressure from Arab states, Syria has signed a pact to pull its armed forces from the streets, release political prisoners and engage with opposition groups after seven months of unrest that has ravaged the strategically situated nation and unsettled the entire region. On the surface, the move appears to be a major concession from an increasingly isolated President Bashar Assad, who has been the target of international condemnation and sanctions."

UK: Court rules against Assange in extradition case: "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange lost a skirmish in his legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden today, but has a two-week window in which to seek permission for an appeal to the supreme court. Assange has not been charged with any crime and alleges that the extradition request, for questioning on alleged sex crimes, is politically motivated."

Israel signals attack on Iran: "An Israeli official said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to persuade his Cabinet to authorize a military strike against Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program -- a discussion that comes as Israel successfully tests a missile believed capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to Iran. It remained unclear whether Israel was genuinely poised to strike or if it was saber-rattling to prod the international community into taking a tougher line on Iran."

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

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


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


2 November, 2011


It’s the Autumn of Love! Occupy Wall Street protesters are flocking to nearby health clinics for STD and HIV testing after getting their freak on in ’60s-style hookups with crusty strangers, sources told The Post yesterday.

“Last week was free love,” said a medical professional at a clinic located a short walk from Zuccotti Park, referring to the number of people who organizers have referred for sexually transmitted disease testing.

A volunteer at the park admitted concern among protesters about STDs. “We give directions to clinics if people ask for information regarding STDs,” said the volunteer, who identified himself only as “Captain” and added that pregnancy tests are also a hot item. “Like anything else, it happens. People ask, and we do the best we can for them.”

Volunteers at the medical tent hand out cash, usually $15 or $20, so the randy radicals can visit clinics that cater to a low-income clientele, the source said. Experts said it’s the right thing to do.

“My advice for the protesters would be to practice safer sex. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a condom than get treated for an STD,” said Dr. Lisa Oldson, medical director of Chicago-based Analyte Health, which provides testing services for labs nationwide, including STD Test Express New York.



Confusing democracy with mob rule


In various cities across the country, mobs of mostly young, mostly incoherent, often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrators are making themselves a major nuisance.

Meanwhile, many in the media are practically gushing over these "protesters," and giving them the free publicity they crave for themselves and their cause -- whatever that is, beyond venting their emotions on television.

Members of the mobs apparently believe that other people, who are working while they are out trashing the streets, should be forced to subsidize their college education -- and apparently the president of the United States thinks so, too.

But if these loud mouths' inability to put together a coherent line of thought is any indication of their education, the taxpayers should demand their money back for having that money wasted on them for years in the public schools.

Sloppy words and sloppy thinking often go together, both in the mobs and in the media that are covering them. It is common, for example, to hear in the media how some "protesters" were arrested. But anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I protest against all sorts of things -- and don't get arrested.

The difference is that I don't block traffic, join mobs sleeping overnight in parks or urinate in the street. If the media cannot distinguish between protesting and disturbing the peace, then their education may also have wasted a lot of taxpayers' money.

Among the favorite sloppy words used by the shrill mobs in the streets is "Wall Street greed." But even if you think people in Wall Street, or anywhere else, are making more money than they deserve, "greed" is no explanation whatever.

"Greed" says how much you want. But you can become the greediest person on earth and that will not increase your pay in the slightest. It is what other people pay you that increases your income.

If the government has been sending too much of the taxpayers' money to people in Wall Street -- or anywhere else -- then the irresponsibility or corruption of politicians is the problem. "Occupy Wall Street" hooligans should be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

Maybe some of the bankers or financiers should have turned down the millions and billions that politicians were offering them. But sainthood is no more common in Wall Street than on Pennsylvania Avenue -- or in the media or academia, for that matter.

Actually, some banks did try to refuse the government bailout money, to avoid the interference with their business that they knew would come with it. But the feds insisted -- and federal regulators' power to create big financial problems for banks made it hard to say no. The feds made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

People who cannot distinguish between democracy and mob rule may fall for the idea that the hooligans in the street represent the 99 percent who are protesting about the "greed" of the one percent. But these hooligans are less than one percent and they are grossly violating the rights of vastly larger numbers of people who have to put up with their trashing of the streets by day and their noise that keeps working people awake at night.

As for the "top one percent" in income that attract so much attention, angst and denunciation, there is always going to be a top one percent, unless everybody has the same income. That top one percent has no more monopoly on sainthood or villainy than people in any other bracket.

Moreover, that top one percent does not consist of the "millionaires and billionaires" that Barack Obama talks about. You don't even have to make half a million dollars to be in the top one percent.

Moreover, this is not an enduring class of people. Nor are people in other income brackets. Most of the people in the top one percent at any given time are there for only one year. Anyone who sells an average home in San Francisco can get into the top one percent in income -- for that year. Other one-time spikes in income account for most of the people in that top one percent.

But such plain facts carry little weight amid the heady rhetoric and mindless emotions of the mob and the media.



Democrat Blanche Lincoln To Obama: Stop Regulating

Today the National Federation of Independent Businesses will release a letter that calls on President Obama to cut back on government regulation. What’s notable is that one of the signatories is ex-Sen. Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat.

Although Lincoln tended to be a more moderate Democrat while she was in the Senate, it’s still not helpful to the White House to have a party member do something like this just before an election year.

When asked about this, NFIB President Dan Denner replied, “She’s a long and strong supporter of small business. That was a good part of her state ... and she had a strong track record when she was here in Washington of support for small business. She’s someone we at NFIB have worked closely with for many years.”

He added that Lincoln doesn’t see this as political: “What she’s said at some of the events we’ve had in the past is that it’s not a political statement, it’s about the significance of regulation to small business.”

The letter states:
Since 2005, there has been a 60 percent increase in the number of federal regulations defined as “economically significant” — each costing the economy $100 million or more. Today there are 4,257 regulations in the pipeline with 845 directly impacting small businesses.

Federal regulations disproportionately affect smaller firms, according to a study conducted last year for the Small Business Administration. The study found that small businesses pay 36 percent more per employee, per year to comply with federal regulations than larger businesses. Whether new rules require more paperwork, redundant certifications, or costly new technology, they put an unanticipated drain on small-business resources.

The letter is accompanied by a “Statement of Principles For Regulatory Reform.” It urges the government to assist small business with regulatory compliance, make every major regulation undergo rigorous cost-benefit analysis, base regulation on objective data and hard science, and require more transparency in the regulatory process.

Neither document calls for deregulation or a moratorium on new regulations, but Denner stated, “We would like to see a moratorium until these principles are addressed.”



China fear overblown

Below is a letter to the editorial-page of the Washington Times by Prof. Boudreaux

In your uncritical review of Pat Buchanan’s new book – which expresses his hysterical fear that the American economy will be shattered if nothing more is done to block Americans’ access to inexpensive goods from abroad (and especially from China) – you assert that “It doesn’t matter what you want; almost every consumer product on U.S. store shelves is made overseas, especially in China. It doesn’t matter how much you want to find it; almost nothing you need is made in the USA” (“Buchanan: Take the China Test,” Oct. 30).

Wrong. According to an August 2011 report by the San Francisco Fed, the percent of Americans’ personal consumption expenditures used to buy Chinese-made goods and services in 2010 was 2.7 percent. And if we exclude expenditures on food and energy, the percent of our 2010 personal consumption expenditures spent on goods and services from China rises to only 3.1 percent.

In contrast, the percent of Americans’ personal consumption expenditures spent on goods and services made in America in 2010 was 88.5 (and 88.0 percent if we look at personal consumption expenditures excluding those on food and energy).*

Surveying the “Made in” labels on goods sold at Wal-Mart and Costco, while perhaps a cheap source of anecdotal fodder for fear-mongering protectionists, is not rigorous economic research.



Will Obama Evade Law on UNESCO Vote?

As expected, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — UNESCO — voted to admit “Palestine” as a full member-nation today, a move that will trigger an automatic cutoff of American funds and participation in the organization mandated by U.S. law. But the immediate response of the American delegation that had fought to either delay or defeat the move was far from defiant.

According to the New York Times: "David T. Killion, the American ambassador, said that the United States, “remains deeply committed” to UNESCO. But he said that Monday’s decision, which he repeatedly called premature, “will complicate our ability to support UNESCO.” The United States will seek other means to support the agency, Mr. Killion said, although he did not offer specifics about any avenues under consideration."

While it is difficult to understand exactly what Killion means by that, it seems to indicate the Obama administration will seek to evade the restrictions enacted by Congress in order to go on supporting the problematic UN agency. Doing do will not only undermine the rule of law, it will send a very loud signal to the world the administration places a higher priority on its devotion to the UN than it does support for Israel.

While the Obama foreign policy team, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had tried hard to avoid this vote, throughout the controversy their main concern has seemed to be their embarrassment about the law that requires an end to U.S. funding for UNESCO if it, or any other world body or agency, admitted the Palestinians as full members in this manner. Instead of directly challenging the notion that the Palestinian drive for recognition as a sovereign state without first making peace with Israel or even controlling the territory in question, the tone of American diplomacy in UNESCO has been more about saving the organization from any inconvenience.

That inconvenience will be considerable no matter how much Obama and Clinton regrets it. The United States provides $70 million per year or 22 percent of UNESCO’s annual budget.

Clinton and others in the administration have highlighted the good work done by the agency on women’s rights and international development but largely ignored the steady stream of anti-Israel decisions that stem from UNESCO’s role as the arbiter of world heritage sites. UNESCO has opposed the efforts of Israeli archeologists to explore the Jewish roots of Jerusalem, called Jewish shrines such as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron “mosques” and ignored the vandalism of ancient artifacts on the Temple Mount by the Palestinian Authority’s religious arm.




SCOTUS case on GPS surveillance could break new ground: "In a potentially groundbreaking case on high-tech tracking by police, the Supreme Court will decide whether constant surveillance is such an intrusion on people's lives that police need a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a person's car. The case, to be heard Nov. 8, tests law enforcement's use of the latest technology to fight crime as it raises the specter of a 'Big Brother' government knowing one's every move."

Conference on Cyberspace: State reps preach freedom while proposing control: "UK Foreign Secretary William Hague opened the London Conference on Cyberspace today with seemingly incompatible demands: That the Internet stay 'open to innovation and the free flow of information' on one hand, but be controlled on behalf of 'intellectual property' claimants on the other. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales countered that the biggest problem Internet freedom faces is 'misguided and overreaching government policy.'"

Visible projects, hidden destruction: "Today's crop of central planners and big-spending politicians could learn a thing or two about economics from Henry Hazlitt's classic bestseller, Economics in One Lesson, published in 1946. Common sense doesn't have an expiration date. 'There is no more persistent and influential faith in the world today than faith in government spending,' Hazlitt wrote."

Nobody’s tax scheme will fix feds’ spending problems: "Trying to fill the federal government's gigantic budget hole with a 5.6 percent surtax on the tiny number of people with incomes greater than $1 million, as President Barack Obama proposes, is like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with a spoonful of dirt. It's a gesture, a charade, a joke. It's just not serious. Spending, not revenue, is the problem. Did you believe the federal government was too small 10 years ago? I'll bet not."

Is US culture stifling entrepreneurship?: "In the US, entrepreneurship is often portrayed as something reserved for an elite, intellectual class. The message seems to be, 'Only start a business if you've really got it figured out.' The entrepreneur drops out of college not because he's dumb -- but rather because he's too smart and visionary for school. In a way, that's not what entrepreneurship is all about. Despite the common portrayal, it's not about being smarter than everyone else; it's about creating something for yourself."

The TSA monster is coming for you: "The TSA's 'VIPR' program is a growing bureaucratic monster that will bring groping and body scans to train stations, highways, sporting events and concerts, as well as shopping malls near you. This is just the latest instance of the Federal State's poisoning of American rights and freedoms."

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

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


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


1 November, 2011

Hatred of an American oil company

Corrupt NY officials aid and abet a corrupt prosecution in Ecuador

Chevron is not backing down to New York State officials who are pressuring the company to settle a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that involves plaintiffs from Ecuador who are suing over alleged environmental damages.

On Oct. 7, Chevron submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in an effort to flush out and detail the assistance he and his predecessor Alan Hevesi furnished to the plaintiffs’ lawyers and the consultants.

The litigation began in New York back in 1993, but the case was moved to Ecuador a decade later. Although Chevron has never operated in Ecuador, it purchased Texaco Petroleum in 2001, which was the subject of the initial suit. Plaintiffs accused Texaco of dumping oil-drilling waste in unlined pits they claim later contaminated the forest and caused illness to the local population. In response, Chevron pointed out that Texaco remediated environmental impacts that resulted from its operations. Moreover, this remediation was certified by government agencies in Ecuador.

“All legitimate scientific evidence submitted during the litigation in Ecuador proves that TexPet’s remediation was effective and that the sites it remediated pose no unreasonable risks for human health or the environment,” Chevron officials have pointed out. Moreover, Ecuador’s state-owned company, Petroecuador, was actually the majority owner of the consortium that included Texaco and bears responsibility, with the government of Ecuador, for any environmental damage that has occurred in the region, Chevron has argued.

Nevertheless, in Feb., an Ecuadorian court in Lago Agrio issued an $18 billion judgment against Chevron. Since then the company has fought back vigorously. It claims the ruling is illegitimate and unenforceable because of documented evidence of fraud on the part of the plaintiffs, the Ecuadorian government and that country’s judiciary. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York concurred after hearing the evidence and issued a preliminary injunction that barred any attempt to enforce Ecuadorian judgment outside of that country.

Diapoli has leaned on Chevron to settle the suit claiming that it could impact the state pension fund’s $780 million investment in Chevron stock, according to a report in the New York Times. The plaintiffs working through their representatives have also cajoled DiNapoli into taking a public stand against Chevron, the report says.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also interjected himself into the case while serving as state attorney general at the behest of an aide who was being paid $10,000 a month by a group that collaborated with the plaintiffs the New York Times reported.

Chevron has filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) suit that claims plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants provided “clandestine assistance” to the Ecuadorian court in drafting the judgment against Chevron.

Chevron’s RICO suit alleges that the defendants and key co-conspirators have used the lawsuit to threaten the company, dupe U.S. government officials and harass Chevron employees. Those named in the suit include: New York City-based plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger; his Ecuadorian colleagues Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza; their front organizations, the Amazon Defense Front and Selva Viva; and Stratus Consulting, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm.

Donziger, the New York attorney, has stepped down as the lead attorney and has declined to make any recent media comments. The plaintiffs have reacted to recent developments through Pablo Fajardo, an attorney in Ecuador.

Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, has issued a preliminary injunction order against RICO defendants. The order “enjoins and restrains” the defendants from receiving any benefits, directly or indirectly, until after a final determination is made about the RICO suit.



Ireland Versus Greece: A clear lesson for America

America's Celtic cousins have chosen the right path

Ireland’s refusal to bow to Eurozone pressure on tax hikes has resulted in slow but steady economic growth on the Emerald Isle — while Greece’s insistence on tax hikes in lieu of tougher “austerity” measures has crippled its economy and threatened to plunge the Eurozone (and the world) into another recession.

What lessons should U.S. policymakers take from these divergent paths? That’s easy — if economic recovery is truly your goal, cut government instead of raising taxes.

Last January, an EU report revealed the Greek deficit was 12.7 percent of GDP — more than three times its government’s previous estimate (and more than four times the amount permitted under EU rules). Three months later, that figure was adjusted upward to 13.6 percent of GDP.

Ireland’s situation wasn’t much better. From 2008-2010 government spending climbed from 42.8 percent to 67 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Ireland’s debt quadrupled over roughly the same period to more than 100 percent of GDP as Dublin took a page out of Washington D.C.’s “too big to fail” playbook.

Having forced Greece into adopting a host of new tax increases, Eurozone nations eager to enhance their own competitiveness tried to force Ireland into raising its 12.5 percent corporate income tax rate to a level more in line with rates in France (33 percent) Germany (30 percent), Spain (30 percent) and Great Britain (28 percent). Irish leaders wisely rejected this demand, however, recognizing that such a tax hike would eliminate a key competitive advantage and hamstring their economic recovery.

They were correct.

“Ireland was Europe’s second fastest growing economy in the second quarter of this year, expanding at an annual rate of 2.3 percent,” bond analyst Michael Hasenstab wrote recently. “The recovery in GDP growth in turn helped Ireland to meet and exceed the deficit-reduction targets set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.”

Hasenstab also noted that foreign direct investment climbed by 19 percent during the first six months of 2011 due to Ireland’s competitive tax climate and comparatively light regulations.

Meanwhile in Greece – which imposed higher corporate, value-added, fuel, luxury and property taxes – GDP is projected to slump by 5.5 percent this year, and another 2.5 percent next year. Meanwhile Greek debt – forecast to climb to €357 billion this year (or 162 percent of GDP) — will soar to 173 percent of GDP next year.

Clearly, Ireland will be in a much better position to weather the consequences of a possible Eurozone collapse than Greece — or for that matter Portugal, Spain or Italy.

And while European nations are doing everything within their power to plug a growing number of holes in the dam, it’s looking increasingly like “when” not “if” this collapse occurs.

Earlier this month Great Britain authorized another £75 billion worth of quantitative easing — in addition to the £200 it has previously approved. Meanwhile the European Central Bank announced it was authorizing another €40 billion in emergency loans on top of the €60 billion it already approved. A few weeks ago, Dexia — the Franco-Belgian bank that was bailed out in 2008 to the tune of €6.4 billion — received another bailout along with state guarantees of up to €90 billion to finance borrowing over the coming decade.

And of course there’s a second Greek bailout on the way that’s likely to top €110 billion.

In light of America’s deteriorating economic and financial position, when should our leaders press the panic button?

“For Greece, crisis came when its debt reached 137 percent of its economy,” U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint recently warned. “For Ireland, it was 74 percent. For Portugal, it was 82 percent. Every country and every crisis is unique, but with the United States debt-to-GDP ratio at 102 percent, there is no question we are already well within the debt ‘red zone.’”

What’s becoming abundantly clear, though, is that once that button is pressed — the key to surviving a debt crisis is cutting government, not the economy.



Occupy Wall Street’s Anti-Semitic Slurs Ignored by the Left

The President and his buddies seem to be fans of the “Occupy” movement. Some even claim they created it. They neglect to mention that there is a great deal of hate and even violence in this group.



Equally Poorer

As President Obama continues to base his reelection hopes on resentment toward the "1 percent" who are supposedly not "paying their fair share," the latest evidence suggests that his attacks are still off-target.

According to data just released by the Tax Foundation, the top 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans earned 16.9 percent of all adjusted gross income in the United States. While no doubt that's a lot of money, it actually represents a decline from 2008, when the rich earned 20 percent of all income. That's right; the rich are earning a smaller proportion of U.S. income.

In fact, there has been a 39 percent decline in the number of American millionaires since 2007. Among the so-called super rich, the decline has been even sharper. The number of Americans earning more than $10 million per year has fallen by 55 percent. Perhaps someone should tell the folks in Zuccotti Park: Inequality is actually declining.

Interestingly, the decline in earnings by the rich has corresponded with higher unemployment and rising poverty overall. We are all poorer, but at least we are more equally poor. Hooray.

Could it be that the rich might actually perform a valuable service in our economy by, say, creating jobs? After all, what does the president think that the rich do with their money: Bury it in their back yard? In reality, individuals either spend that money or they save and invest it. If they spend it, it helps provide jobs for the people who make and sell whatever it is they buy. If the money is instead saved and invested, it provides the capital that is needed to start businesses and hire workers. It is trite but true — not many Americans have been hired by a poor person.

As for their not paying their fair share, according to the Tax Foundation report, that top 1 percent of earners paid 36.7 percent of all income taxes, an amount that truly does seem disproportionate. The top one-tenth of 1 percent, the truly rich, earned nearly 8 percent of all income but paid a hefty 17 percent of all income taxes.

And while Warren Buffett may, as he claims, be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary, he is clearly an exception. In fact, the effective tax rate paid by the rich has actually gone up in recent years, and now averages roughly 24 percent, compared with an average of 11 percent for all taxpayers. Moreover, as the Tax Foundation points out, the reason that Buffett and those like him pay low effective tax rates is that much of their income is derived from capital gains and dividends, but "income derived from these sources has already been taxed once by the corporate income tax, which is not included in the current study, meaning the average effective tax rate numbers can be somewhat misleading."

All of this may be one reason why, despite the protestations of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, support among Americans for redistribution of the wealth is actually declining. According to the General Social Survey, the number of Americans who believe that "government should reduce income differences between the rich and the poor" has fallen dramatically, with barely a quarter of the population strongly supporting the proposition. And, the biggest decline for redistribution has actually occurred not among the rich but among the working class.

Perhaps the "99 percent" are not quite so seduced by class warfare as President Obama thinks. Or perhaps they understand that, as William J. H. Boetcker once said (in a quotation often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln), "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich."




The numbers refute Keynes, Obama, Krugman: "The actual numbers on consumer spending instantly refute the Keynesian economic proposals favored by President Obama and Paul Krugman. There is no lack of 'consumer demand.' Instead, consumer spending is at an all-time high. Why then do so many small business owners list 'poor sales' as their chief concern? Could it be because they need more sales in order to pay the increased burdens imposed upon them by The State?"

Censoring cash: "Some governments are weighing the outright elimination of cash. Last year, for example, Swedish officials debated going cashless. Cash still circulates, but the prominent Swedbank announced its intention to cease cash transactions in central Sweden with the exception of one Karlstad branch office."

Social cooperation doesn't mean government: "In recent months I’ve drawn attention to the emphasis that free-market liberals historically have placed on social cooperation. Contrary to the partly self-inflicted caricature of the libertarian as an atomistic, rugged, self-reliant individualist, the weightiest thinkers in this tradition have in fact stressed the indispensability of sociality to human well-being."

Occupy Wall Street demands life without hardship: "I watched cable news. The lead story was about Occupy Wall Street -- a group that seems to consist of mostly young, able-bodied, able-minded people with their well-honed sense of entitlement 'protesting' against a country that much of the world would lie, cheat, steal and kill to enter. They finally issued their list of 13 demands. These included, but were not limited to, a 'guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.' Such a life would provide the Occupy folks plenty of time to think up more demands -- while sitting around all day."

I ah tell ya, this shite will blow up on you: "The Iranian government is showing remarkable stupidity in their coverage of OWS. I know, I know, their 1% isn’t on friendly terms with our 1%, so they are happy to see our 99% pissing upward. But, honestly, have they given any thought to what your average Iranian might actually think when he sees coverage of people protesting in the streets? I don’t see how this will improve Yusuf Schmoiani’s opinion of his 1%."

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

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among 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

“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the 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

“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ? John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"