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

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

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November 30, 2013

The racist media bury the latest episode in the Duke Lacrosse Story

On Nov. 22, with the national media focused on the 50th anniversary of former President John F. Kennedy's death, few noticed the story of a jury in North Carolina convicting Crystal Mangum of murder in the 2011 kitchen stabbing death of her boyfriend Reginald Daye. Why should that fact fixate the national media?

On its own, it shouldn't. But in 2006 and 2007, Mangum's false charges of rape against three Duke University lacrosse players caused a national tsunami of media sensation, an angry wave of prejudiced coverage presuming the guilt of rich white college boys when being accused by an African-American stripper.

More than any other media outlet, The New York Times trumpeted Mangum's rape accusations, even after they fell apart. As other liberal media were backing away, the Times published a notorious, error-riddled 5,700-word lead story on Aug. 25, 2006, by Duff Wilson, who argued there was enough evidence against the players for Michael Nifong, the atrocious local prosecutor (who would later be jailed and disbarred), to bring the case to trial.

Within the Times, perhaps the most aggressive accuser was then-sports columnist Selena Roberts, who made a habit of comparing the accused Duke lacrosse players to drug dealers and gang members.

Roberts continued to lob charges of white privilege in her last column on the subject in 2007: "Don't mess with Duke, though. To shine a light on its integrity has been treated by the irrational mighty as a threat to white privilege. Feel free to excoriate the African-American basketball stars and football behemoths for the misdeeds of all athletes, but lay off the lacrosse pipeline to Wall Street, excuse the khaki-pants crowd of SAT wonder kids." She lamented, "some news media jackknifed as they moved from victim's advocate to angel-tinting the lacrosse team."

To Roberts, the false accuser never stopped being the victim. Roberts never wrote a retraction for her columns that relentlessly championed a false narrative. She is the Al Sharpton of sports columnists.

The coverage ended. Well, there was one small trickle of news. In December 2010, The New York Times ran a tiny wire item in the sports section about the Duke lacrosse "victim" being found guilty of "misdemeanor child abuse and damaging property. A Durham County jury convicted Crystal Mangum, 32, of contributing to child abuse or neglect, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer after a February confrontation with her live-in boyfriend."

Then, in 2011, Mangum was indicted for murdering her boyfriend. Again, it was a tiny item in the Times -- a brief at the bottom of page B-14 of the sports section, under "Lacrosse": "Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused three Duke players of raping her in 2006, was charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend."

So when Mangum was convicted of murder on Nov. 22, now would it garner serious attention? The Times ran a tiny, 98-word wire story. There were no burning columns from the successors of Roberts.

Now remember that the entire time Mangum was ruining the reputations of three young men, the media kept her identity a secret. But now that her secret of lying and even murder is out, the secret remains, at least on the media's radar screen.

There were no Duke-accuser updates on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, USA Today or The Washington Post.

Like Roberts, ABC legal reporter Terry Moran didn't easily let go of the blame-the-rich-whites game in the spring of 2007, writing for his ABC blog: "Perhaps the outpouring of sympathy for (the falsely arrested Duke lacrosse players) is just a bit misplaced ... As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives ... They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team."

Those women were briefly, unfairly smeared one day in a bad Don Imus joke at 6 a.m., as "nappy-headed hos." Few would have heard it if liberals hadn't flagged it. Just as liberals flagged some falsely accused lacrosse players who were only guilty of being rich and white.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, CNN offered two segments on Mangum's conviction. Defense attorney Mark Geragos offered a strong post-trial verdict: "I thought at the time that that (Duke lacrosse) prosecution was not only ill-advised but that prosecutor and we were vindicated to some degree was -- ended up being disbarred."

"Now you have a woman, and, you know, somebody had remarked to me this morning, karma is a bitch," he said. "You've got a situation where, you know, she had at least arguably a decent defense in this case, but has absolutely no credibility."

The national media also lost credibility in this Mangum mess. Their coverage at the start was outrageous, as was their suppression at the end.



A nation of captives

Self-reliance and freedom are inseparable. Americans once knew this in their very souls. Now, coaxed by those with a socialistic vision of government, we are beginning to forget it. We are becoming ever more dependent on government and putting our freedom at risk. It is as simple as that.

The Census Bureau recently published some remarkable data. As of the end of 2011, it said, there were approximately 151,014,000 who received one or more benefits from the federal government. That was 49 percent of the population of the country, which then stood at 306,804,000.

Some of the people receiving federal benefits had paid payroll taxes their entire working lives in return for the privilege of living in government dependency during their retirement. 49,901,000 were on Social Security, according to the Census Bureau, and 46,440,000 were on Medicare.

Others, however, were simply on the dole. 108,592,000 people in the United States as the end of 2011 were enrolled in one or more federal means-tested welfare programs, according to the Census Bureau. Those 108,592,000 welfare recipients out-numbered the 101,716,000 people who worked full time that year.

For each person in this country who gets up each week day and goes to work, and works a long day, and does it week after week after week, there is now more than one other person who is living off the taxes that person and his fellow full-time workers pay and off the new net debt the Treasury must continually issue to cover the cost of a government that routinely exceeds tax revenues.

The welfare takers, according to the Census Bureau, included, among others, 13,433,000 who relied on the government to provide them with housing or a subsidy for their housing, 49,073,000 who took food stamps, and 82,457,000 living in households on Medicaid.

Think of the person who took his housing, food and health care from the government. Could he have helped in framing the Constitution? Could he have struck out West and settled Iowa? What would he do if the government decided to stop providing him with the basics of life? What if a financial crisis made it impossible for the government to continue to provide him with the basics of life?

Or what if the government decided to use its leverage over people who are dependent on it to force them to do things that are morally wrong?

Today, for example, the federal government is telling all Americans they must buy health insurance and that almost all of them must buy coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. Those Americans who take a federal subsidy to buy health insurance in the Obamacare exchanges have no choice at all: They must buy health insurance that covers abortion drugs.

The government concedes that this violates the religious and moral convictions of many Christians, but the government does not care.

If Obamacare is cemented into American life and culture, the government will soon be paying for the majority of American's health care and this government has already demonstrated it is willing to use its leverage over health care to force people to make immoral decisions on a matter that involves the deliberate destruction of innocent human life.

Government dependency does not liberate, it enslaves. If America does not recapture its pioneering spirit soon and begin dismantling the welfare state, it will dismantle us.



Courts must stop Obamacare’s ‘taxation without representation’

President Obama’s socialized medicine law has a big problem on its hands — something much more serious than a botched website or a broken political promise. And while some say it’s nothing more than a “technicality,” the court case over this “glitch” is moving forward even as most of the mainstream media looks the other way.

“This is for all the marbles,” George Mason University professor Michael S. Greve wrote.

“This has the potential to sink Obamacare,” Cato Institute health policy expert Michael Cannon told The Los Angeles Times.

The case they’re referring to is Halbig v. Sebilius, filed in May by seven plaintiffs (four individuals and three companies) in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. At the heart of this case is a simple question: Does the federal government have the right to tax and spend $700 billion worth of health care subsidies in the thirty-four states which declined to create state-administered health care exchanges under Obamacare?

Under the specific language of the law, tax subsidies (and tax penalties) on individuals and employers only apply in states that created these exchanges. It’s right there in black-and-white — as the availability of subsidies was expressly confined to qualified plans enrolled “through an Exchange established by the State.”

Obamacare makes no mention of these subsidies being provided in federal exchanges.

At the time the law was being drafted this wasn’t seen as a problem. The President and his allies believed the allure of more “free money” from Washington would be sufficient to entice states into doing their bidding. However when it became clear this wasn’t happening, the Internal Revenue Service scrambled to issue a “rule” extending the subsidies to all states.

The rub? This IRS rule explicitly contravenes the language approved by Congress — and signed into law by Obama himself. Not only that — to quote from Halbig — it “(disburses) monies from the Federal Treasury in excess of the authority granted by the Act.”

And at $700 billion, we’re talking about the single largest instance of taxation without representation in human history.

The legal principles involved in Halbig are simple: If Obamacare is to be taken at its word — then the law’s subsidies and penalties do not apply in two-thirds of the country. And if that’s the case, then Obamacare is a “Dead Law Walking” — incapable of sustaining itself without hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending.

So where does this case currently stand? Last month U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman issued a pair of procedural Halbig rulings. First, he denied the government’s attempt to dismiss the case — concluding its plaintiffs had standing to pursue their claim against the IRS. Friedman also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for injunctive relief — concluding they had failed to demonstrate irreparable harm as a result of the law’s slow-rolling implementation. Of course Judge Friedman attributed this decision to the fact a verdict in the case is expected prior to the late March deadline for enrollment.

In other words there’s no irreparable harm because Obamacare’s mandates aren’t yet in place.

Where Judge Friedman (and higher courts) ultimately come down on Halbig is anybody’s guess — but if they follow the letter of the law they must limit IRS tax collection and Treasury disbursements to those states which established exchanges. There is simply no legal authorization to tax and spend beyond that.

Judge Friedman seemingly acknowledged as much during oral arguments last month – when government lawyers tried to copy and paste definitions from one section of Obamacare to the section governing the subsidies and penalties.

“They’re still not established by the state,” Friedman chided.

The government’s response? That even if states did not create exchanges, Obamacare’s commandment that they “shall” create them preemptively supersedes their refusal.

“The premise stands,” government attorney Joel L. McElvain argued.

That’s a pretty convoluted basis on which to impose a $700 billion tax hike. And make no mistake, this is a tax — something the Obama administration is definitively admitting after several flip-flops.

“There is no such thing as an individual mandate,” McElvain said. “It’s a tax.”

On every front, Obamacare has been a disaster. The law has forced millions of Americans to lose their coverage, raised premiums for millions more and prevented thousands of employers from creating jobs our economy desperately needs.

It’s time for the courts to put an end to this abomination: And all they have to stop it is simply uphold the law as it was written.



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

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


November 29, 2013


November 28, 2013

A Foreign-Policy Disaster

"For the first time in nearly a decade we have halted parts of Iran's nuclear program," announced a jubilant Barack Obama after the news of the just-signed Geneva six-month interim agreement with Iran.

But the American goal for the accord was that the Iranians not "advance their program" of building a uranium nuclear bomb (and perhaps a plutonium bomb too); the apparent deal exactly permits such advancement, plus grants sanctions relief to Tehran worth about $9 billion.

This wretched deal offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and November 24 will be remembered along with Munich and September 29.

Barack Obama has made many foreign-policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster. Along with the health-care law, it is one of his worst-ever steps. John Kerry is a too-eager puppy looking for a deal at any price.

With the U.S. government forfeiting its leadership role, the Israelis, Saudis, and perhaps others are left to cope with a bad situation made worse. War has now become a much more likely prospect. Shame on us Americans for reelecting Barack Obama.



The goal of Obama’s foreign policy is to weaken the State of Israel

It isn’t surprising that the US and the other five powers signed a deal with Iran on Saturday. Over the past few weeks, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear that they were committed to signing a deal with Iran as quickly as possible.

And it isn’t surprising that the deal these overeager leaders signed with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism makes the world a much more dangerous place than it was before the agreement was concluded.

With the US and its allies far more eager to reach an accord with Iran on its illicit nuclear weapons program than Iran was, it was obvious from the outset that any deal ultimately reached, at least as long as these negotiating conditions remained in force, would facilitate rather than inhibit Iran’s quest to build a nuclear arsenal. And indeed, the sanctions relief that Iran has gained simply by signing on the dotted line will be sufficient to buffet the Iranian economy through a successful nuclear weapons test.

Iran will achieve nuclear capability while enriching itself through the deal because the deal gives Iran sanctions relief without requiring Iran to make any irreversible concessions. Indeed, Iran just received the international community’s permission to continue to enrich uranium, keep all its nuclear installations open and build new centrifuges.

While the deal isn’t surprising in and of itself, Obama’s decision to conclude it now makes clear the true goal of his foreign policy. To understand that goal, it is first necessary to consider an aspect of the deal that, on the surface, makes little sense.

The negotiations with the Iranians that culminated in Saturday night’s agreement went on for a year. And yet, the final deal reflects Iran’s opening positions.

That is, over the course of the entire year, American and European negotiators were not able to move Iran’s positions one iota.

So what has the Obama administration been doing for the past year? Since Iran’s positions were the same all along, why didn’t they sign this deal a year ago? The US’s strength relative to Iran did not diminish significantly since a year ago. So the US didn’t need this agreement more now than it did a year ago.

Clearly, Obama did not spend the last year trying to build domestic American support for a deal that enables the regime that calls daily for the annihilation of America to become a nuclear power. With Iran building military bases all over Central and South America, Obama never bothered trying to make the case to the American people that they would be more secure with this regime in possession of the capacity to kill millions of Americans with one bomb.

Obama never stood before the Congress to explain how a deal that gives America’s Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program advances US national security. He never explained how allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium decreases the likelihood of war.

So what did Obama need the last year for? If he wasn’t concerned with getting a less dangerous deal, and he didn’t care what the American people though about his facilitation of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, what prevented him from okaying the agreement last year? To ascertain the answer, it is worth considering Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s comments Sunday morning. Beyond noting the nuclear deal’s danger to Israel’s security, Lapid said, “I am worried not only over the deal but that we have lost the world’s attention.”

And indeed, Israel has lost the world’s attention. Its appropriately deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear behavior were belittled, ignored and derided, first and foremost by the Obama administration. Worse than belittling Israel’s concerns, which are completely shared by the Sunni Arab world, Obama and Kerry have castigated as warmongers those Americans who agree with Israel’s concerns and have attacked them as traitors who seek to push America into an unnecessary war. At the same time, they have presented the dispute as one of Israel against the rest of the world, ignoring that the Sunni Arab world shares Israel’s concerns.

Statements to this effect from US officials have been legion since the details of the deal were first divulged to Israel and the Gulf States by the French and the British three weeks ago.

The brazenness of these anti-Israel statements points to the main action that Obama and his advisors have engaged in for the past year, while not moving Iran a millimeter from its opening position at the nuclear talks.

Over the past year, Obama has engaged in systematically weakening Israel’s position both regionally and in Washington. Regionally, the US has forced Israel into talks with the Palestinians that are engineered to weaken Israel strategically and diplomatically. The US has delegitimized Israel’s legal rights to sovereignty and self-defense, while effectively justifying Palestinian terrorism as a legitimate response to Israeli actions – which themselves were perfectly legal. So, too, the US has given a green light to the EU’s illegal, discriminatory economic war against Israel.

Beyond that, the Obama administration has significantly expanded the prospect of war between Israel and Syria by leaking Israeli strikes against Syrian targets that posed a threat to Israel’s security.

The US has also weakened Israel’s capacity to take steps short of war to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons possessing state by leaking key components of Israel’s covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama appointed outspoken critics of the US-Israel alliance to key positions in his national security team. First and foremost in this arena was his appointment of Chuck Hagel to serve as defense secretary.

The culmination of this long process of delegitimizing Israel as a warmongering, ungrateful ally and its supporters as turncoats who are forcing the US to endanger itself for the benefit of the Jewish state was the administration’s hysterical campaign against Israel and its supporters in the lead-up to Saturday’s signing ceremony in Geneva. Everyone, from the White House to Kerry, accused Israel and its supporters of trying to force the US to fight an unnecessary war.

When we consider Obama’s decision to wait for a year to sign the deal that enables Iran to become a nuclear power in the context of his main activities over the past year, we understand his foreign policy.

His goal is not to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. It isn’t even to facilitate a rapprochement between America and Iran. The goal of Obama’s foreign policy is to weaken the State of Israel.



US Shuts Down Vatican Embassy After Striking Deal with Iran

The White House has recently announced that they will shut down the US Embassy to the Holy See, and relocate it to a “safer” location on the grounds of the American Embassy in Italy.

Officially, the US is explaining the relocation effort as a security measure in reaction to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. . . Because, ya know, those crazy Vatican Catholics are a naturally militant bunch. Heaven forbid someone makes an anti-Christian movie! Whoa, the whole place could erupt into a deadly string of mass prayers and forgiveness! (Ahem… Sarcasm.)

The decision on part of the US Administration to move the American Embassy is being interpreted by many as a slap in the face to the Vatican. At the very least, it is likely to produce a tension that will lead to a deterioration of US/ Vatican communication and cooperation.

Adding to the suspicion that America’s decision is primarily political, and not based in security concerns, is the fact that the current Embassy has state of the art security. According to former US Ambassador James Nicholson, the current location is highly secure, and pivotal to continuing relations with the Holy See.

Furthermore, the move illustrates our President’s perspective on “right” and “wrong” when it comes to world events. It says something about the Administration’s world view when they champion an Iranian Nuclear deal that lifts sanction and emboldens our enemies the very same week they withdraw diplomatic ties from the Vatican.

At least When Neville Chamberlin was trotting around Europe declaring “peace in our time”, he was primarily naïve. That’s not necessarily the case with our current leader of appeasement.



Irreconcilable Ideological Demarcation

The last five years of the Obama administration have been like living on a volcano. The country has gone from one crisis to another. The skyrocketing deficit, welfare reform, immigration policy, Social Security, and environmental regulations were just a few of the issues on which the Democrats and Republicans were far apart. Americans have been suffering a catastrophic loss of trust in their government, democratic institutions, and the president. In September 2011, Obama said he hoped that:

"in the midst of a crisis like this that we could pull America together to move forcefully on behalf of the American Dream and on behalf of all those who aspire for something better for their kids. And what has been clear over the last two and a half years is that we have not had a willing partner."

Apparently, at least half of the country does not share the president's peculiar vision of the American Dream.

After experiencing five years of infighting, not the least of which were the government shutdowns over the debt limit and Obamacare, Americans might be likely to name dysfunctional government as the most important problem facing this country. Yet Americans don't seem to be able to identify the major cause of this dysfunction. Some think it is the Tea Party, some blame Republicans in general or Democrats or both, some blame the president. Some think, and for a good reason, Barack Obama and John Boehner do not like each other. Americans continue emphasizing the obvious, overlooking the important. The inability of the Republicans and Democrats, and the president to come together and solve the nation's problems is the obvious. The important is that the current brinkmanship is another chapter in the epic struggle between socialism and freedom.

President Jefferson declared in his inaugural address that "we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists." Many years later another president reconfirmed the sentiment. In his State of the Union Address in January 1989, President Reagan said, "Yes, we will have our differences. But let us always remember: what unites us far outweighs whatever divides us."

The point both presidents were making was that we are all Americans and we all share the same ideals and aspirations: self-reliance, belief in a free-market economy, and commitment to the democratic process. It was the key reason the previous administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, despite ideological differences over a wide spectrum of issues, including the role of government and a variety of social concerns, could work out their disagreements and get important legislation passed.

The current political environment, however, is fundamentally different. The rise of Left radicalism culminated with the election of a Marxist socialist government that is fostering the replacement of American self-reliance with government dependence. The government's control over the economy and the proliferation of the welfare state, led to the emergence of the Right radicalism that is committed to the preservation of the Constitution and the capitalist free-market economy.

The radicalism on both sides became too intense, and as a result the ideological Great Divide became impossible to bridge. "The bonds of affection" Abraham Lincoln talked about in his inaugural address were broken. Any attempt to negotiate a settlement between Democrats and Republicans is doomed from the start because they are pursuing diametrically opposed visions of America.

This is a struggle directed from two bitterly opposed and ideologically hostile irreconcilable camps. One is desperately trying to preserve the old political reality and the other is aggressively fighting to replace it with a new order. Therefore, the government is not dysfunctional; it functions as should be expected in these desperate hours of a highly polarized environment of the cold civil war.



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

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


November 27, 2013


November 26, 2013

What they signed up for



'Largest Massacre of Christians in Syria' Ignored

One of the worst Christian massacres—complete with mass graves, tortured-to-death women and children, and destroyed churches—recently took place in Syria, at the hands of the U.S.-supported jihadi "rebels"; and the U.S. government and its "mainstream media" mouthpiece are, as usual, silent (that is, when not actively trying to minimize matters).

The massacre took place in Sadad, an ancient Syriac Orthodox Christian habitation, so old as to be mentioned in the Old Testament. Most of the region's inhabitants are poor, as Sadad is situated in the remote desert between Homs and Damascus (desert regions, till now, apparently the only places Syria's Christians could feel secure; 600 Christian families had earlier fled there for sanctuary from the jihad, only to be followed by it).

In late October, the U.S-supported "opposition" invaded and occupied Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the nation's military. Among other atrocities, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; Sadat's 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for "subhuman" Christians).

The jihadis even made a graphic video (with English subtitles) of those whom they massacred, while shouting Islam's victory-cry, "Allahu Akbar" (which John McCain equates to a Christian saying "thank God"). Another video, made after Sadad was liberated shows more graphic atrocities.

Here are the words of Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama (another detailed account, with pictures, appears here):

What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half… 45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing. For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women…. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture… What happened in Sadad is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010.

In the Iraqi attack of 2010, al-Qaeda linked jihadis stormed the church during service killing some 60 Christian worshippers (see here for graphic images of the aftermath).

While the archbishop is correct that this is the "largest massacre of Christians in Syria," it is but the tip of the iceberg of the persecution the nation's Christian minority has suffered—including beheadings, church bombings, kidnappings, rapes, and dislocation of hundreds of thousands of Christians—since the war broke out (see Syria entries in monthly persecution series).

A month before Sadad, another ancient Christian region, Ma'loula, one of the world's very few regions that still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus, was besieged by the jihadis, its churches bombarded and plundered, its inhabitants forced to convert to Islam or die. The last words of one man who refused were: "I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me for this, I do not object to it."

The archbishop concluded his statement concerning Sadad by asking: "We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us."

Serge Trifkovic—who hails from a European region especially acquainted with Islamic jihad—responds to the archbishop as follows:

That no "human consciousness" is to be found in the White House, or in the editorial offices of the leading Western media, is now a matter of well-established record. Just try searching for "Sadad" (or alternatively "Saddad") on the websites of the Department of State or The New York Times. Ditto the leading European dailies, the CNN/BBC/RTF, the human-rights defending "NGOs" et al.

The problem, of which Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh appears unaware, is no longer in the Western elite's mere indifference to the impending demise of Christianity in the lands of its birth, but in its active, ongoing, and open contribution to that demise. Cyprus (1974) and the Balkans (1991-9) provided the test, Iraq (2003-today) the conclusive proof. In Syria the Obama administration remains committed to supporting the rebels—ah, yes, only the "moderate" ones, like the Christian-murdering "Free Syrian Army" (discretion advised again), not "even though" the result will be the same, but precisely because it will be.

In one of the Arabic videos documenting the aftermath of the Sadad massacre, as the mutilated bodies of one family are drawn from a well (around :30 second mark), a middle-aged male relative, in tears, says:

The most precious in the whole universe [his family], are now gone, leaving me alone, but thank God I am still surrounded by these loving people who remain. I want to say, let people [the jihadis] return to their minds. The problems of the world can only be solved by knowledge and brains. Enough insanity, the nerves of the people are shredded. Enough, enough—return to your minds; you people, you humans—return to your humanity, enough crimes.

As a sign of the times, here is a Syrian, an "easterner," evoking rationalism and humanity, products of the Christian West, at a time when the post-Christian West is governed by anything and everything—propaganda, emotionalism, mindless indoctrination—but the twain.



A lot of People Won't Be Able to Keep Their Doctors Either

Senate Democrats' historic power-grab may have consumed the Beltway news cycle today, but out in the real world, the Obamacare reckoning continues. The Washington Post addresses the "access shock" issue that millions of Americans will begin confronting in 2014, with millions more waiting in the wings.

As Americans have begun shopping for health plans on the insurance exchanges, they are discovering that insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and hospitals in order to keep costs low, and that many of the plans exclude top-rated hospitals. The Obama administration made it a priority to keep down the cost of insurance on the exchanges, the online marketplaces that are central to the Affordable Care Act. But one way that insurers have been able to offer lower rates is by creating networks that are far smaller than what most Americans are accustomed to. The decisions have provoked a backlash...The result, some argue, is a two-tiered system of health care: Many of the people who buy health plans on the exchanges have fewer hospitals and doctors to choose from than those with coverage through their employers. A number of the nation’s top hospitals — including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and children’s hospitals in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis — are cut out of most plans sold on the exchange.

The Obamacare exchanges don't include a function that allows consumers to check whether their doctors and hospitals of choice are covered under their new plans, so many of the unpleasant dropped-doctor discoveries will happen on the fly. "What do you mean I can't keep my doctor? I need her. Now". The harsh reality is that many doctors are taking a looking at their new, significantly lower reimbursement rates under Obamacare, and are heading for the exits. As mentioned above, this trend is fueling concerns that the president's healthcare law is creating a new underclass of Americans. These people may be "insured," but in many cases, their options for care will be severely limited -- an outcome that the White House might describe as "junk" or "substandard" coverage. As for the White House's "priority" of keeping rates low, how's that going?

Many Americans browsing the Obamacare exchanges are finding the Affordable Care Act isn't living up to its name. It's not just premiums that are bringing up the costs. Consumers are finding high deductibles, co-payments and other expenses that make the Obamacare policies seem more like catastrophic plans than comprehensive insurance. Those picking a bronze plan, which carry the lowest monthly rates, may have to spend $5,000 or more before the insurance kicks in. The next highest level of coverage, the silver tier, can carry $2,000 deductibles. And once they hit their deductibles, policy holders still have to pay for doctor visits, lab tests and medication.

"All we ever heard about Obamacare is that it would lower our deductibles and premiums," said Jennifer Slafter, 40 of Mabel, Minn. "That's just not what's happened." Slafter and her husband, Steve, are scrambling to find affordable care for themselves and their two children. The exchange's Blue Cross Blue Shield plan was $1,087 a month with a $6,000 deductible, while a Medica plan was $877 a month with a $12,700 deductible. Both are steeper than their current plan. "Everything got higher," said Slafter, who is still waiting to hear whether they qualify for a premium subsidy. But even if they do, she said she'd still find it very tough to meet the deductibles.

These stories are ubiquitous. Here's one Florida family whose previous plan ($408 monthly premiums, $5,000 deductible) has been dropped and replaced with coverage that costs $671 per month in premiums with an eye-popping $12,500 deductible:

But the experience of Washington State resident Charlene Hopkins represents a different variety of human tragedy. Obamacare has robbed this self-sufficient, conscientious woman of her dignity by effectively forcing her to enroll in a state-run Medicaid program:

Since she couldn't afford the new plan offered by her insurer, she told me she was eager to explore her new choices under the Affordable Care Act. Washington Healthplanfinder is one of the better health-exchange sites, and she was actually able to log on. She entered her personal and financial data. With efficiency uncommon to the ObamaCare process, the site quickly presented her with a health-care option. That is not a typo: There was just one option—at the very affordable monthly rate of zero. The exchange had determined that my mother was not eligible to choose to pay for a plan, and so she was slated immediately for Medicaid. She couldn't believe it was true and held off completing the application. "How has it come to this?" she asked in one of our several talks over the past few weeks about what was happening. When she was a working mother and I was young, she easily carried health insurance for our whole family. "How have I fallen this far?"

Leftists cannot understand how this is bad news. Hey, she's getting free insurance! She should stop whining. This attitude clearly ignores the empirical failure of Medicaid and the terrible coverage it offers (this applies to other programs as well), and it fails to grasp how being shoved onto the dole is a scarring and humiliating experience for many people. Read the whole piece. It's deeply sad, but it should remind conservatives why the struggle against statism is worth the frustration and effort.



Obama loses Time magazine

Now that the Big Lie has been exposed for everyone to see, it’s going to take some time for it to sufficiently sink in. I imagine most low-information voters who don’t follow politics regularly -- the obvious exception being people who’ve already been negatively impacted by the Affordable Care Act -- aren’t too familiar with the president’s now-broken “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” pledge. That will all change soon enough.

Now, of course, when Americans head to the grocery store -- or perhaps to their local pharmacy -- this cover will be staring them blankly in the face as they wait in the check-out line. Oof:



A small revival

Over 90% of what appears on my blogs are words written by others that I find some merit in. But I also write a great deal myself. And I have been writing for a long time. So sometimes when I want to refer back to something in my previous writings, I can't find it. I have written too much to keep mental track of when and where I wrote it.

So in such circumstances I use good old Google to find my own writings. I add the term "John Ray" to a subject search and I can usually find what I want.

An odd thing I notice however is that my discontinued blog "A Western Heart" seems to be in some way preferred by Google. Quite often I have put up a post in more than one place and when that is so the post on Western Heart is the one that comes up first -- with the other sites not mentioned at all or being given way down in the list.

I don't know why that is but I think I should take advantage of it. So posts that I would not like to get "lost" I am going to put up on Western Heart occasionally -- JR.

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


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

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


November 25, 2013

Tell Me Their Names?

By Rich Kozlovich

Fox News has been running features on a growing problem in the black community called “knockout”. According to black youths its 'just a game’. Interesting game! They pick out a person who is alone or seeming incapable of standing against a young violent thug…or thugs….and beat them senseless.

The goal is to do it with one punch, but often times they just beat them to death. Men or women, it doesn’t matter, just so long as they are white.

These punks are nothing but cowardly curs, but they’re all black cowardly curs, so the mainstream media says nothing. Big mouths like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP leadership, and all the trash talking Hollywood crowd who just thought it was terrible that a thug like Trayvon Martin (whom idiots like Richard Dreyfus started calling ‘a child’) was killed are saying nothing.

They are just as silent now as they were when that 13 month old baby was murdered by two black ‘children’ aged 17 and 14. Apparently black ‘children’ really are that dangerous.

By the way - without looking it up - what was that 13 month old child’s name? You don’t know it do you? You know Trayvon Martin’s name, why don’t you know that child’s name? Martin was a criminal and a thug, but you all know his name, and it was presented in such a way to generate sympathy for him.

That 13 month old baby really was innocent. He never did one bit of harm to anyone. He wasn’t a criminal, he wasn’t a thug, but most importantly, he was a white baby deliberately murdered by black ‘children’, so little was made of it by the media. If it wasn’t for the internet no one would know about this tragedy. For those who disagree with me, tell me, please – what was that poor child’s name?

Recently an article appeared, entitled, Three “Knockout” Attacks Reported In Philadelphia Area, saying; “knockout” attacks have been reported in several states around the country and now investigators believe three people have been attacked in our area. Police in Lower Merion are investigating two attacks in the area, and Philadelphia detectives are investigating an attack in Northeast Philadelphia. It’s a violent crime that in other parts of the country has proven fatal.”

This article demonstrates the pattern of cowardice displayed by these cowardly black youths. One victim said; “Someone asked me for a cigarette and by the time I got my hands out my pocket I was getting hit by four kids.” He says, “It was hard seeing and I’m still having trouble breathing and swallowing.”

“On October 29th, two black ‘children’ beat “a 63-year-old man who was walking his dog.” “He punched him right in the mouth and knocked him to the ground.”

In another case “an elderly man was also attacked when he was mowing his lawn outside of his home.” The victim said some “‘kid’ came up to him and just punching him in the mouth. He ended up laying the street with his lawnmower.” It turns out this ’kid’ “did it on a dare. He said give me five dollars and I’ll knock that guy out.” This elderly man “is now using a cane and a walker to get around. He has had to undergo multiple medical procedures”, and Jesse and his mob, which includes the main stream media, remain silent.

By the way, what was that old man’s name?

There was a recent article in FrontPage.com entitled, EricHolder, Hate Crimes and Double Standards, by Colin Flaherty, where-in he highlights this national violent out of control racism by blacks against whites, and in some cases against homosexuals.

1. In Brooklyn ten black people surrounded a car, then beat the two white occupants, a husband and wife. They even called them racial names, as in “Get those crackers” and “get that white whore.” All in front of witnesses in the middle of the day. The Brooklyn DA says he will not file hate crime charges.

2. In New Haven, a few days before that, 500 black people attending a party called “An All Black Affair,” destroyed property and rioted in a downtown restaurant. Then outside. Then in two more restaurants. Not only are there no hate crime charges, New Haven police did not arrest anyone for anything during these rampages. Race was the central organizing feature of the party — and the riot.

3. A few days before that in St. Paul, a car full of black people robbed and assaulted a white woman. They called her a “white bitch” while holding her down so one of the assailants could urinate on her.

4. A few days before that in Tacoma, a car full of black people shouted racial expletives at two white soldiers. Soon one soldier was dead from a knife. No hate crime charges have been filed.

5. A few days before that in Pittsburgh, a group of black people pulled a white woman from her car, and while beating her, yelled “Shut up white [expletive].” The other said, “Get that white [expletive].”

6. In Iowa – yes Iowa — hordes of black people beat white people in and out of the Iowa State Fair for three nights in a row in 2011. A police report says some of the people involved were chanting “Beat Whitey Night.” It only takes a few magic words to turn a vicious assault into a federal hate crime. And that seems to fit the bill.

Hate crimes? Really? Then why aren't we seeing the Justice Department going after these people under hate crime laws? Holder is still trying to figure out some way to put Zimmerman in jail, so what's different here? These thugs are black; Holder is a vile racist; and the members of the main stream media have sunken to the level of 'sewer trout', except that is an insult to sewers.

By the way. What were all of these people’s names?

Thomas Sowell, on October 24, 2013, wrote an article entitled “Early Skirmishes in a Race War” noting that : “officials and media aren’t being honest about the violence.” He first outlines the problem and what is going on and then ends the article with these paragraphs.

“books are emerging that are more clearly a white backlash, in the sense that they attack behavior patterns among contemporary blacks in general. Perhaps the most clearly “backlash” books are those written by Paul Kersey, whose central theme is that whites have created thriving cities, which blacks subsequently took over and ruined. Examples include his books about Birmingham (The Tragic City) and Detroit (Escape from Detroit).”

“Kersey even takes a swing at Rush Limbaugh (and at yours truly) for saying that liberal policies destroyed these cities. He says that San Francisco and other cities with liberal policies, but without black demographic and political takeovers, have not been ruined. His books are poorly written, but they raise tough questions.”

“It would be easy to simply dismiss Kersey as a racist. But denouncing him or ignoring him is not refuting him. Refuting requires thought, which has largely been replaced by fashionable buzzwords and catchphrases when it comes to discussions of race.”
“Thought is long overdue. So is honesty.”

One more thing! That 13 month old child’s name was Antonio Santiago.



"Knockout Game" Player Shot By Concealed Carry Permittee

Townhall reported on the "knockout" game last week, and now one participant is learning that trying to knock random people unconscious with a single punch could have dangerous consequences.

Marvell Weaver, a 17 year old from Michigan, attempted to "knock out" a man at a Lansing bus stop. Unbeknownst to Weaver, the man was a legal concealed carry permittee and was carrying a gun at the time.

After approaching the man and "shoving something" into his side, Weaver was shot twice and survived. He has been sentenced to a year in jail.




Site here. Click "Apply".

p.s. Let me know if you make it.


Second wave of health plan cancellations looms

It's both pleasing and amusing that the Donks have tied this stupid thing around their own necks

A new and independent analysis of ObamaCare warns of a ticking time bomb, predicting a second wave of 50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations next fall -- right before the mid-term elections.

The next round of cancellations and premium hikes is expected to hit employees, particularly of small businesses. While the administration has tried to downplay the cancellation notices hitting policyholders on the individual market by noting they represent a relatively small fraction of the population, the swath of people who will be affected by the shakeup in employer-sponsored coverage will be much broader.

An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

"The impact I'm mostly worried about is on small young, entrepreneurial firms that will suddenly face much higher health insurance premiums if they want to offer health insurance to their employees," said AEI resident scholar Stan Veuger. "I think for a lot of other businesses ... they can just send their employees to the exchanges or offer them a fixed subsidy every month to buy health insurance themselves."

Under the health care law, businesses with fewer than 50 workers do not have to provide health coverage. But if they do, the policies will still have to meet the benefit standards set by ObamaCare.

As reported by AEI's Scott Gottlieb, some businesses got around this by renewing their policies before the end of 2013. But the relief is temporary, and they are expected to have to offer in-compliance plans for 2015. According to Gottlieb, that means beginning in October 2014 the cancellation notices will start to go out.

Then, businesses will have to either find a new plan -- which could be considerably more expensive -- or send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges.

For workers, their experience could mirror that of the 5 million or so on the individual market who already received cancellation notices because their plans did not meet new standards under the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama announced last week that insurance companies could offer out-of-compliance plans for another year. But that only means the cancellation notices will resume late next year.

Obama met Wednesday with state insurance commissioners about the change. In a statement afterward, National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Jim Donelon voiced concern with the change but said: “We will work with the insurance companies in our states to implement changes that make sense while following our mandate of consumer protection.”

The business community has already been hit with another side effect from ObamaCare. Because the law will require businesses with more than 50 full-time workers to offer health coverage, there are reports that companies are shifting employees to part-time status to avoid hitting the threshold.

A survey showed 31 percent of franchise businesses, and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses, have already reduced worker hours. It also showed 27 percent of franchise businesses, and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses, have replaced full-time workers with part-time employees.



Typical Leftist short-sightedness

The filibuster rules ensured an element of moderation in judicial appointments. But now it is "winner takes all". Under the new rules the Donks will now be powerless to block appointments under a future Republican President. And it was mostly they who used filibusters. The most amusing thing about this is that the way is now open to abolish Obamacare by a simple majority vote. Maybe Reid accepts that Obamacare is already a lost cause

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) dropped a bomb on the Senate this week by “going nuclear” and changing the rules for filibustering Barack Obama's nominees. Appellate court and executive nominees now can be confirmed with an up or down majority vote. The surprise move is just another in a long line of Obama's rule-changing, cheating and lying to pass his agenda.

The Senate's nuclear option is the latest of Obama's autocratic power grabs – this time to stack the courts with far-Left judges before the 2014 election.

Now for some history. The filibuster was rarely used to block nominations until Democrats lost the Senate in 2002 and decided to torpedo as many of George W. Bush's nominations as they could. When Republicans considered ways to do something about that, Democrats threw a hissy fit about the “tradition of the Senate.” In 2005, then-Sen. Barack Obama argued, “The talk of the 'nuclear option' is more about power than about fairness.” Then-Sen. Joe Biden declared, “The nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power.” Harry Reid warned that changing the rules was “un-American” and “illegal,” and in 2008 promised never to bring it up for a vote.

This week, however, Reid finally pulled the trigger and changed the rules.



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

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


November 24, 2013

The Myth Of JFK

Derek Hunter

The life of JFK is, perhaps, the most documented life ever lived. People alive in his time, whether they voted for him or not, or even whether they were old enough to vote for him or not, have a romanticized vision of him and his life that simply doesn’t comport with the reality of objective observation and knowledge gained over time.

Not everyone, certainly, shares this view, but it cuts a wide swath through all demographics and has the stamina of 50 years behind it.

This is where you lose me.

President Kennedy remains popular with journalists and historians, but was not a popular president with the American people at the time. His re-election in 1964 was not certain. It was, in fact, a long shot at the time of his murder.

His presidency was, for the most part, a non-event. The Bay of Pigs was a fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought us to the brink of nuclear war, cost us missiles in Turkey and doomed Cuba to the underside of the Fidel Castro’s boot to this day.

On civil rights, something for which President Kennedy receives much credit and praise, he did little more than pay lip service to the concept. My friend and a host of the C4 Show on WBAL right before my show, Clarence Mitchell IV, whose grandfather was Clarence Mitchell Jr., the chief lobbyist for the NAACP during the Kennedy years, tells me, “My grandfather always said President Kennedy, at the insistence of his brother Bobby, was not a champion of civil rights, that he was actually an obstacle. He kept things slow because he wanted the support of southern Democrats. It wasn’t about right and wrong with them, it was about what would get them the most votes.”

President Kennedy is given credit for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but he had little to do with it aside from having spoken on the subject a few times. In fact, C4 tells me that in August of 1963 there was a “big meeting” of civil rights leaders at the White House with the Kennedy brothers because there was talk that they might not endorse JFK’s reelection. They were promised what politicians always promise voting blocs they’re stringing along – action after the election. Tragedy intervened, so we’ll never know what he might have done, but we do know what he did do and that wasn’t much at all.

In fact, it seems nearly every positive development of that era is somehow credited to JFK – even those he had little to nothing to do with. It’s just been credited to him, or imposed on him, as part of the myth-making surrounding “Camelot.”

President Kennedy was a great orator and a master at public relations. He also had a press corps that adored him, thus insulating him from reality in the annals of history. (Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?)

The “Camelot” legend was myth, constructed to obscure the reality of a despicable man elected through fraud and an unholy alliance with the mafia in Chicago. The real John F. Kennedy was a womanizing misogynist, a spoiled brat who ran for the U.S. Senate for lack of anything else to do and to feed his controlling father’s ego. Just eight years and very few accomplishments later, he sought the presidency for much the same reason.

He was a reckless man, sleeping with interns, girlfriends of mafia bosses, Russian spies and seemingly anyone else willing. He took his job seriously enough, but in perhaps the most blatant act of corruption since Teapot Dome, appointed his own brother Attorney General of the United States. Kennedys are loyal to Kennedys first; there is no second. The idea that Robert Kennedy could be trusted to, if called for, investigate possible corrupt actions of President Kennedy is laughable.

After his tragic assassination, the Kennedy myth-making started and hasn’t stopped. It started with the coaching of 3-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. to salute his father’s coffin for the cameras as the procession passed, and it continues to this day. Even his gravesite is a testament to that myth.

President Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and rightfully so. He did serve our country with honor in World War II. But real estate at Arlington is at a premium, with our heroes buried in close proximity to each other to accommodate all who deserve it. Yet the JFK gravesite sits alone in a large otherwise-vacant plot. I don’t begrudge him the eternal flame – though that seems a bit much. But his wife is buried next to him in spite of remarrying, and his brother, Robert, is buried in the special "Kennedy only section" of the cemetery too.

This “devout Catholic” family exemplifies hypocrisy on every level – from their bootlegging beginnings to their philandering lifestyle, there is very little about their legend that stands up to even the most cursory of scrutiny. Despite this fact, hours of television time, gallons of ink and gigabytes of web-space will be dedicated to how extraordinary JFK was, how they all were.

It’s simply not true.

There’s something to be said for being an inspiration, and JFK was – though far more after his death than when he was alive. But there’s more to be said in favor of reality.

It’s conventional wisdom to say the nation lost its innocence 50 years ago at the hands of a left-wing assassin in Dallas, and in some ways that’s true. But given the continuing naïveté surrounding the presidency of John F. Kennedy and the entire Kennedy clan, it’s clear there’s still a lot of innocence, willful as it may be, around today.



But he spoke well at times

In the wake of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and in light of Ira Stoll’s new book JFK, Conservative, we decided to pull together 12 of JFK’s most conservative quotes.

1. The American character has been not only religious, idealistic, and patriotic, but because of these it has been essentially individual. -- Independence Day Oration, July 4th, 1946

2. Conceived in Grecian thought, strengthened by Christian morality, and stamped indelibly into American political philosophy, the right of the individual against the State is the keystone of our Constitution. Each man is free. --Independence Day Oration, July 4th, 1946

3. In Revolutionary times, the cry “No taxation without representation” was not an economic complaint. Rather, it was directly traceable to the eminently fair and just principle that no sovereign power has the right to govern without the consent of the governed. Anything short of that was tyranny. It was against this tyranny that the colonists “fired the shot heard ’round the world.” -- Independence Day Oration, July 4th, 1946

4. The ever expanding power of the federal government, the absorption of many of the functions that states and cities once considered to be responsibilities of their own, must now be a source of concern to all those who believe as did the great patriot, Henry Grattan that: “Control over local affairs is the essence of liberty.” -- Commencement Address, University of Notre Dame, January 29, 1950

5. I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal at all…I’m not comfortable with those people. -- Saturday Evening Post, June 1953

6. I say this not because I believe Christianity is a weapon in the present world struggle, but because I believe religion itself is at the root of the struggle, not in terms of the physical organizations of Christianity versus those of Atheism, but in terms of Good versus Evil, right versus wrong… Our minds, like the headlines of our newspapers, are intent upon the present and future conflicts of armed might, and upon the brutal, physical side of that ominous war upon which we have bestowed the strange epithet “cold”. We tend to forget the moral and spiritual issues which inhere in the fateful encounter of which the physical war is but one manifestation. We tend to forget those ideals and faiths and philosophical needs which drive men far more intensively than military and economic objectives. -- Commencement Address, Assumption College, June 3, 1955

7. But in “the stern encounter”, in the moral struggle, religion is not simply a weapon- it is the essence of the struggle itself. The Communist rulers do not fear the phraseology of religion, or the ceremonies and churches and denomination organizations. On the contrary, they leave no stone unturned in seeking to turn these aspects of religion to their own advantage and to use the trappings of religion in order to cement the obedience of their people. What they fear is the profound consequences of a religion that is lived and not merely acknowledged. They fear especially man’s response to spiritual and ethical stimuli, not merely material. A society which seeks to make the worship of the State the ultimate objective of life cannot permit a higher loyalty, a faith in God, a belief in a religion that elevates the individual, acknowledges his true value and teaches him devotion and responsibility to something beyond the here and now [Emphasis ours]. The communist fear Christianity more as a way of life than as a weapon. In short, there is room in a totalitarian system for churches- but there is no room for God. The claim of the State most be total, and no other loyalty, and no other philosophy of life can be tolerated. -- Commencement Address, Assumption College, June 3, 1955

8. This administration is pledged to a Federal revenue system that balances the budget over the years of the economic cycle – yielding surpluses for debt retirement in times of high employment that more than offset the deficits which accompany – and indeed help overcome – low levels of economic activity in poor years…Debt retirement at high employment contributes to economic growth by releasing savings for productive investment by private enterprise and State and local governments.” -- Special Message to the Congress: Program for Economic Recovery and Growth, February 2, 1961

9. If it is in the public interest to maintain an industry, it is clearly not in the public interest by the impact of regulatory authority to destroy its otherwise viable way of life. -- Special Message to the Congress on Regulatory Agencies, April 13, 1961

10. While government economists can point out the necessity of increasing the rates of investment, of modernizing plant and productivity, while Washington officials may urge responsible collective bargaining and responsible wage-price decisions, we also recognize that beneath all the laws and guidelines and tax policies and stimulants we can provide, these matters all come down, quite properly in the last analysis, to private decisions by private individuals. -- Address Before the United States Chamber of Commerce on Its 50th Anniversary, April 30, 1962

11. We want prosperity and in a free enterprise system there can be no prosperity with profit. We want a growing economy and there can be no growth without the investment that is inspired and financed by profit. We want to maintain our natural security and other essential programs and we will have little revenue to finance them unless there is profit. We want to improve our balance of payments without reducing our commitments abroad, and we cannot increase our export surplus, which we must, without modernizing our plants through profit…In short, our primary challenge is not how to divide the economic pie, but how to enlarge it. -- Address Before the United States Chamber of Commerce on Its 50th Anniversary, April 30, 1962

12. This administration intends to cut taxes in order to build the fundamental strength of our economy, to remove a serious barrier to long-term growth, to increase incentives by routing out inequities and complexities and to prevent the even greater budget deficit that a lagging economy would otherwise surely produce. The worst deficit comes from a recession, and if we can take the proper action in the proper time, this can be the most important step we could take to prevent another recession. That is the right kind of tax cut both for your family budget and the national budget…Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries and more customers and more growth for an expanding American economy. -- Radio and Television Report to the American People on the State of the National Economy, August 13, 1962



Public dissent from the JFK story not allowed

A fast-moving wall of law enforcement officers assaulted a group of protesters and journalists led by Alex Jones of Infowars inside the perimeter of Dealey Plaza in Dallas shortly after the city’s official memorial of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

The mêlée began around 1:45 p.m., shortly after Jones, with the assistance of a bullhorn, spoke out against the mainstream media and the government’s official story about the assassination of JFK.

“It was definitely the Feds” leading the Dallas County sheriffs, said Jones after the chaos subsided, “We’re going to get lawyers, we are going to sue them.”

Jones said he was punched in the stomach during the police assault.

Initial witness accounts suggest that the Dallas County Sherriff’s Department, and not the Dallas Police Department, was the agency directly involved in the scuffle. Jones maintains that Dallas Police allowed the group to move into the area.

Some officers pushed and shoved the protesters and journalists, while other officers behind them brought in movable metal barricades.

Infowars and Storyleak correspondent Anthony Gucciardi stated during the continuing internet livestream of the event that the sheriff’s department deputies came from the direction of homeland security fusion center command vehicle.



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

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


November 22, 2013

The War Against Achievement

Thomas Sowell

A friend recently sent me a link to an inspiring video about an upbeat young black man who was born without arms. It showed him going to work -- unlike the record number of people living on government payments for "disabilities" that are far less serious, if not fictitious.

How is this young man getting to work? He gets into his car and drives there -- using controls set up so that he can operate the car with his feet.

What kind of work does he do, and how does he do it? He is involved in the design of racing cars. He sits at his computer, looking at the screen, with the keyboard on the floor, where he uses his toes as others use their fingers.

His story recalls the story of Helen Keller, who went to an elite college and on to a career, despite being both deaf and blind. Her story was celebrated in books, in television documentaries and in an inspiring movie, "The Miracle Worker."

But our culture has changed so much over the years that the young man with no arms is unlikely to get comparable publicity. Helen Keller's achievement was seen as an inspiration for others, but this young man's achievement is more like a threat to the prevailing ideology of our times.

The vision on which the all-encompassing and all-controlling welfare state was built is a vision of widespread helplessness, requiring ever more expanding big government. Our "compassionate" statists would probably have wanted to take this young man without arms, early on, and put him in some government institution.

But to celebrate him in the mainstream media today would undermine a whole ideological vision of the world -- and of the vast government bureaucracies built on that vision. It might even cause people to think twice about giving money to able-bodied men who are standing on street corners, begging.

The last thing the political left needs, or can even afford, are self-reliant individuals. If such people became the norm, that would destroy not only the agenda and the careers of those on the left, but even their flattering image of themselves as saviors of the less fortunate.

Victimhood is where it's at. If there are not enough real victims, then fictitious victims must be created -- as with the claim that there is "a war on women." Why anyone would have an incentive or a motivation to create a war on women in the first place is just one of the questions that should be asked of those who promote this political slogan, obviously designed for the gullible.

The real war -- which is being waged in our schools, in the media and among the intelligentsia -- is the war on achievement. When President Obama told business owners, "You didn't build that!" this was just one passing skirmish in the war on achievement.

The very word "achievement" has been replaced by the word "privilege" in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called "privileged" individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.

The length to which this kind of thinking -- or lack of thinking -- can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most "privileged" group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of "privilege" grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.

If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general -- and of people like the young black man with no arms -- make those on the left uneasy. And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the President of the United States.

What would happen if Americans in general, or blacks in particular, started celebrating people like this armless young man, instead of trying to make heroes out of hoodlums? Many of us would find that promising and inspiring. But it would be a political disaster for the left -- which is why it is not likely to happen.



DC Walmart More Selective than Harvard

The District of Columbia's first Walmart store has received over 23,000 job applications for only 600 jobs, Business Insider reported on Tuesday. That means that one out of every 38 applicants will be offered a position with the store, or about 2.6 percent. Harvard University, one of the most selective colleges in the United States, has an acceptance rate of 6.1 percent.

DC's first Walmart almost didn't happen. The D.C. Council had proposed a "living wage" bill that would require a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour for all "large" retailers with annual corporate sales that exceed $1 billion. This would have effectively shut out Walmart from the city. The bill was vetoed by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and minimum wage in the city remains at $8.50.

While Walmart is maligned by critics, many fail to realize that for many associates, Walmart is the only place they would be able to actually be employed. Having a job—any job—is better than having no job, which 23,000 DC residents were quick to realize. While your average D.C. Council member may sneer at the thought of working at a Walmart, it may in fact be the best option for someone with a very limited skill set. The vast majority of Walmart associates aren't exactly turning down jobs left and right to work at Walmart.

While it's a sad reminder of how disastrous employment statistics are today to see over 23,000 people apply for 600 jobs, it's fortunate overall that these jobs were even able to come to DC in the first place.



War on the Little Guy

John Stossel

Marty the Magician performed magic tricks for kids, including the traditional rabbit-out-of-a-hat. Then one day: "I was signing autographs and taking pictures with children and their parents," he told me. "Suddenly, a badge was thrown into the mix, and an inspector said, 'Let me see your license.'"

In "Harry Potter" books, a creepy Ministry of Magic controls young wizards. Now in the USA, government regulates stage magicians -- one of the countless ways it makes life harder for the little guy.

Marty's torment didn't end with a demand for his license. "She said, from now on, you cannot use your rabbit until you fill out paperwork, pay the $40 license fee. We'll have to inspect your home."

Ten times since, regulators showed up unannounced at Marty's house. At one point, an inspector he hadn't seen before appeared. He hoped things had changed for the better.

"I got a new inspector and I said, oh, did my first one retire? She said, 'No, good news! We've increased our budget and we have more inspectors now. So we'll be able to visit you more often.'"

Here are your tax dollars at work.

The inspectors told Marty that the Animal Welfare Act required him to file paperwork demonstrating that he had "a comprehensive written disaster plan detailing everything I would do with my rabbit in the event of a fire, a flood, a tornado, an ice storm."

The federal forms list "common emergencies likely to happen to your facility ... not necessarily limited to: structural fire, electrical outage, disruption in clean water or feed supply, disruption in access to facility (e.g., road closures), intentional attack on the facilities ... earthquake, landslide/mudslide/avalanche ... "

Sadly, this Kafkaesque enforcement of petty rules is not a bizarre exception.

Some regulation is useful. But when we passively accept government regulation of everything, thinking we're protecting people from evil corporations run amok, we're really making life harder for ordinary people. Every profession, from cab driving to floral arrangement, is now burdened with complex rules.

You can't even give tours of Washington, D.C., the city that produces most of these insane rules, without getting a special license. Tour guides must pay about $200 for criminal background checks, provide four personal references, show passport photos and pass a written test -- a difficult one.

People who reflexively defend government may feel no pity for businesses that face extra costs: Let businesses pay fees and take tests -- we don't want unlicensed tour guides describing famous statues incorrectly! But these costs add up. Often, they make a small, barely profitable business impossible to operate. These rules also violate Americans' right to free speech. They are unnecessary. If tour guides are no good, people can patronize others. The government doesn't need to be gatekeeper.

These rules generally prevail because existing businesses are politically connected. They capture licensing boards and use license rules to crush competition from businesses just getting started.

In some places, you can't open a business like a limo service or moving van company unless you can prove that your business is needed and won't undermine existing businesses in the same field.

But undermining competition is the whole idea. If Starbucks or Home Depot had to prove new coffee shops and hardware stores were "needed," we wouldn't have those companies. Apparently they were needed, since these companies thrived, but no one could have "proven" that beforehand.

Jeff Rowes, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties group that defends many people caught up in regulatory cases, says, "America was conceived as a sea of liberty with islands of government power. We're now a sea of government power with ever-shrinking islands of liberty."

The little guys don't have an army of lawyers to defend those islands of liberty one regulatory battle at a time. We should get rid of most of these regulations -- and sail back, together, to a free country



The Writing Is on the Wall

It has been obvious for some time that ObamaCare is full of lies, and that one of the primary lies was this: "You can keep your plan. Period." Barack Obama "apologized" for this "misstatement," while other Democrats are torn between arguing Obama said nothing wrong and asserting that they knew all along that you couldn't keep your plan.

The latter group is far closer to the truth. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy unearthed a brief filed by the Justice Department in Priests for Life v HHS that acknowledges and argues for regulations that would cancel millions of insurance plans: "Even under the grandfathering provision, it is projected that more group health plans will transition to the requirements under the regulations as time goes on. Defendants [the government] have estimated that a majority of group health plans will have lost their grandfather status by the end of 2013."

As for Obama's "fix" -- allowing state insurance commissioners to decide whether insurance companies in their state can extend cancelled policies through next year's elections -- it quickly turned from illegal farce to unwanted flop. Insurance commissioners in Washington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Minnesota (all blue states) have already declined to participate; more will undoubtedly follow. Georgia's commissioner called it a "political stunt," but promised to do everything he can to help Georgians kicked off their plans.

Meanwhile, user data at Healthcare.gov remains at "critical risk," according to congressional testimony from an IT expert Tuesday. An inspector general report warned over the summer about the lack of security testing, and, in August, 14 attorneys general demanded a delay of the launch in order to address security issues. Evidently the site is no better seven weeks after its launch, but the administration continues to offer nothing but Jedi mind tricks: "This is not the security vulnerability you're looking for."

Worse, Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), estimates that 30% of the website still hasn't been built. And that includes the payment system, which brings up another question: If people can't pay, is anyone actually enrolled? Political considerations alone pushed HHS to proceed with the Oct. 1 rollout, but they badly miscalculated because ObamaCare will continue to fail and it will continue to bring Democrats down.

It wasn't long ago that Obama was bragging that when opponents saw how well the "Affordable" Care Act worked, they'd quit calling it "ObamaCare." After its calamitous rollout, however, it's Democrats who are quietly dropping the term. The word is disappearing from Healthcare.gov and Democrats' websites, as well as from TV talking points and speeches. Nancy Pelosi even corrected David Gregory for using the term on NBC. But Democrats can't erase the term "ObamaCare" completely; it is the writing on the wall.



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

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


November 21, 2013

The Moral, Emotional and Intellectual Bankruptcy of Progressivism

By Arnold Ahlert

Last Thursday, President Obama did the nation a profound favor, albeit unintentionally. He revealed the utter fraud of a progressive ideology that is about nothing more than the accumulation of power – by any means necessary. It is an ideology where there are no values, save those that apply to a given moment, right here, right now. If and when the moment changes, progressives like the president are entirely comfortable with taking positions that are completely the opposite of those they previously embraced, even as they remain immune to their own hypocrisy.

Up through last Wednesday, the president and his minions in government and the media waged an unrelenting campaign against “bad apple” insurance companies and their “substandard” policies. Policies for which millions of “unwitting” Americans had developed a thoroughly misguided sense of satisfaction, undoubtedly buttressed by assurances from the president himself that, irrespective of the Democrats and their social utopian impulses, if they liked what they had, they could keep it – period.

Then that lie unraveled. And make no mistake: other than for those equally corrupted by the same ideology, it was indeed a bald-faced lie. It was not, as some have asserted, an utterance made by a somewhat misinformed president. The Wall Street Journal blew that nonsense out of the water when it exposed the bankrupt machinations of Obama's advisors. Two quotes from that article are invaluable with regard to understanding the progressive mindset. “Simplification and ease of explanation were a premium, and that was true throughout the process,” said Jon Favreau, who served as Mr. Obama's top speech writer. Translation: Americans are too stupid to understand anything told to them, unless it's reduced to the simplest of terms. “You try to talk about health care in broad, intelligible points that cut through, and you inevitably lose some accuracy when you do that,” said a former unnamed official.

Translation: it's OK to lie in order to advance the progressive agenda.

Which is precisely what the equally contemptible and corrupted New York Times did when they asserted that Obama “clearly misspoke,” rather than lied. Unfortunately for the Times and other true believers, Obama “clearly misspoke” on 30 separate occasions. Nonetheless the Times' editorial continues. “By law, insurers cannot continue to sell policies that don't provide the minimum benefits and consumer protections required as of next year. So they've sent cancellation notices to hundreds of thousands of people who hold these substandard policies.”

Yet as of last Thursday, they can sell those “substandard” policies once again. The moment has changed, and that which was contemptible for at least three years prior to that moment has been re-defined as acceptable.

The “by law” part? Once again, when you embrace a bankrupt ideology, the law becomes as malleable as anything else – even as one professes allegiance to it, much as Democrats endlessly repeated that Americans must accept ObamaCare because it is the “law of the land.”

Really? Which part? Certainly not the employer mandate, which the president imperiously postponed, absent any input from the apparently superfluous legislative branch of government. Ditto for the 75 percent insurance premium subsidies for Congress and their staffs. And now, in a grandiose assertion that would make any dictator proud, the president has broken the law's backbone, namely the requirement that all insurance policies must comply with the ObamaCare mandates.

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, many Americans will have figured out that the president's “fix” is as big a lie as his original assertion. Most Americans whose insurance has been cancelled won't be able to get their old policies back, for two very good reasons. One, they no longer exist. Two, with a big hat tip to National Review's Andrew McCarthy, insurance companies are not going to put themselves in the position of being held legally liable for issuing polices based on a presidential “waiver,” as opposed to legally enforceable law. McCarthy illuminates the details:

“The health-insurance companies … would be deluged with lawsuits by insureds who claimed that the policies were illegal and wrongly denied coverage for this or that treatment. The insurance companies themselves would get into the act, filing suits to be compensated for payouts they'd made based on the illegal policies. The Obama 'waiver' would avail them of nothing in a court, where a judge would be obliged to follow the law, not Dear Leader's enforcement preferences.”

It is useful to reveal that the aforementioned contempt for the average American's intelligence is once again in play here. Don't think for a nanosecond that the president isn't fully aware of the reality that the proverbial toothpaste cannot be shoved back into the tube. This particular lie is all about shifting the onus of blame back onto the same “bad apple” turned “good apple” soon-to-be “bad apple” again insurance companies, rather than where it truly belongs.

As in, they don't call it ObamaCare for no reason.

A remarkable quote from president's speech last week further underscores the bankruptcy of progressivism. After once again blaming everyone else for the debacle of the website's rollout, he said something that should stun every American. “What we're also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Obama and Democrats concoct a 2000 page healthcare bill and another 11,000 pages of regulations that apply to it, and the president is just now discovering that buying insurance is complicated?

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

Unfortunately in this particular case, that hubris and ignorance only serves to advance the progressive agenda. While I refuse to believe dim-bulbs like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or even Obama himself had the foresight to know how bad the ObamaCare rollout would be, there is little question they are more than willing to use the misery of millions of Americans to advance their ultimate healthcare agenda, as in moving to a single-payer, government-controlled system. And I am certainly willing to believe that an inveterate liar like the president is fully aware that his half-in, half-out hybrid insurance purchasing scheme will facilitate that transformation.

And then what? Let me reduce that reality to its simplest terms. Before ObamaCare, many Americans were doubtlessly dealing with “heartless” insurance companies. But here's the thing: if they got too heartless, one could sue them and/or switch to another company. When a government bureaucrat makes the same decision – much like Kathleen Sebelius already did when she was willing to allow a 10-year-old girl in need of lung transplant to die, rather than bend the rules to save her – Americans will have no recourse. As for litigation, good luck suing the federal government. Even if ObamaCare survives in its current incarnation, Americans will be beholden to a new level of heartlessness known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB will be comprised of a group of appointed “experts” tasked with deciding whether the “greater good” is served by giving Grandma a new hip – or a new cane.

Thus, the ultimate question arises. Have you had enough yet? Have you had your fill of a naked lust for total control being promoted as caring and compassion? Are you sick and tired of seeing the outright destruction of dignity and integrity that serving one's government masters demands? Are you aware of that fact that even if this disaster comes to full flower, the Congressional Budget Office projects that 32 million people will still be uninsured ten years from now, even as an additional $1.8 trillion will be spent by the federal government to achieve that result?

How come our progressive champions never mention that reality?

Because, in the end, what's going on isn't really about healthcare. It's about control. And if 32 million people are left out in the cold? So what. Remember when this whole thing blew up, Press Secretary Jay Carney noted that “only” 5 percent of the country would be losing their health insurance coverage. That number represents 14 million Americans whose lives have been turned upside down. But that was when insurance companies were still “bad apples” offering Americans “substandard” plans.

Now they're not bad apples, and those plans are OK. At least until they're not again.

That's vintage progressivism – in all it's moral, emotional and intellectual bankruptcy. With any luck it will be consigned to the ash heap of history, as Americans continue to get shafted, one dropped doctor from their new policy after another, one policy cancelation after another – and most importantly, one unsustainable lie after another unsustainable lie.



Crisis of Political Authority? I Wish!

By Robert Higgs

I have often received unsolicited copies of recently published books from the publishers, who hope to obtain reviews that will help them drum up sales. Today’s mail delivery brought me such an unrequested volume, a book titled The End of Authority: How a Loss of Legitimacy and Broken Trust Are Endangering Our Future, by Douglas E. Schoen.

Skimming quickly, I found that the book deals with what the author calls “a crisis of governance, a crisis of legitimacy, and, indeed, a crisis of authority.” “All around the world,” he declares, citizens “have lost confidence in those charged with the responsibility of governing them.” (Notice the language, “those charged with the responsibility,” rather than “those who, by hook and by crook, have impudently imposed themselves on their exploited subjects.”) In this dire situation, Schoen intends his book “to offer clear, unambiguous solutions” to this allegedly urgent problem (p. 245).

My first reaction was, “Crisis of Authority? I wish.” Although ruling elites may be distressed by the various expressions of discontent and even outrage being expressed by particular groups of (what they surely take to be) troublemakers, they are accustomed to a certain amount of discontent and rebellion. Suppressing such outbreaks and pounding, tricking, or soothing people back into line are all in a day’s work for the rulers. Given the ruling elites’ disproportionate possession of wealth, connections, and firepower, they usually succeed, and I expect that in most cases those who are feeling pressed today will, sooner or later, succeed in reining in their restive populations. The Arab Spring will turn to Arab Summer, Arab Fall, and Arab Winter. The Tea Partiers will lose interest and drift away—many have already been coopted or politically disarmed by the established major parties. The little bands of libertarians will squander their energies, feuding with their fellows and arguing about not-so-pressing issues in lifeboat ethics. The European rioters will be tear-gassed, sprayed with fire hoses, and beaten about the head and shoulders until they find better uses for their time and energy.

Douglas Schoen clearly writes as a friend of the international elite, for whom he has worked in the past as a pollster, consultant, and strategist. One has only to consider what he takes as a given, namely, that existing Establishment institutions deserve to occupy their powerful positions in social and economic life and ought to be reconfigured to exercise their powers more effectively—that is, in a way that gives rise to fewer troublesome reactions from the peasantry.

Well, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. I have a different view of the situation. I perceive that the existing institutions—above all, the various nation states—have highly problematic legitimacy. To speak more bluntly, the state in particular has none at all, aside from the somnolent or distracted acquiescence of the mass of its subjects. If there really were a crisis of authority for the state per se, I could only say, thank God, it’s about time; bring it on! A few thousand years of people’s being bullied, plundered, humiliated, and even killed by their loving masters is more than enough, and the subjects can scarcely move fast enough to suit me in challenging this immoral domination.

Even before I opened the book, I had a strong premonition that I would find its message impossible to swallow. Four blurbs on the dust jacket express high praise for the author and the book. The blurbs are signed by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, and publisher Steve Forbes. If such persons actually approved of what Schoen has to say, I knew with almost complete certainty that I would not approve. Call me an incurable skeptic, but I simply cannot imagine that anything good could come from the current masters of the world, the very people who have contributed so magnificently to the world’s present horrors.



Obamacare "Success Story" is Actually Unable to Afford Insurance

On October 21st, President Obama spoke about Jessica Sanford, a woman in Washington state who had previously been unable to buy insurance and was able to buy an affordable, decent plan using Washington's health insurance exchange (Washington Healthplanfinder).

Except she wasn't.

Shortly after being told she was eligible for a subsidy to purchase a "gold" plan for $198 a month, she was informed that there was an error on the website in calculating her tax credit amount, and that her plan actually cost $280 a month. That was also a mistake—it turns out Sanford, who is self-employed single mother, was not actually eligible for any subsidy and has to pay the full cost of the plan. Sanford, who makes around $50,000 a year, is unable to afford the plan and will instead pay the $95 penalty.

Sanford's son has attention deficit disorder and has medications that cost $250 per month, and Sanford has been uninsured for the past 15 years. While she had thought that the Affordable Care Act was going to help her and her son, it in fact made their situation worse.

I feel for this woman. She was lied to by multiple parties, and simply wanted to get insurance for herself and her son. It is not her fault that she was deceived, and now she's being fined for being unable to afford something. This is absolutely ridiculous and a total embarrassment for the Obama administration.



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

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


November 20, 2013

The genetics of politics

People on both the Left and the Right are usually quite firm in their view that their political choices are reasonable and the product of thought. But what if they are not? It would tend to explain the vast gulf in views betweeen the Left and the Right in America today. And I have for some years been pointing out the various studies that have found that there is a substantial element of genetic inheritance behind our political preferences. We are to a degree born to be Leftists or Rightists.

This sits comfortably with just about no-one so it behooves us to check and recheck the research concerned. That has recently been done, looking at many of the bodies of data that enable us to research the matter. The result is a remarkable degree of agreement that genetics IS a major factor influencing our political opinions. The abstract of the paper concerned is given below.

The paper also tried to identify specific genes behind the effect but was unsuccessful. Investigations of that sort are still at an early stage. The paper also did not try to ascertain if there were any personality variables that mediated the genetic connection. My deduction is that the correlation indicates that Leftists are just born miserable. All the research certainly shows that conservatives are happier.

The paper below was concerened with detailed political questions such as abortion, gay marriage etc. It did not deal with actual vote at election time. Is Democrat or Republican loyalty inherited too? We do have some data on that from elsewhere which points to a somewhat qualified conclusion. Hatemi et al (2007) found that vote was substantially inherited but only because many of the things influencing vote were inherited -- church attendance, specific attitudes etc. Vote does not have its own set of genes behind it.

REFERENCE: Hatemi (2007) "The Genetics of Voting: An Australian Twin Study" Behav. Genet., 37:435–448

Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Genome - Wide Findings on Three Populations, and a Mega - Twin Analysis of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Western Democracies

Forthcoming in Behavior Genetics – Lindon Eaves Festschrift

By Peter K. Hatemi et al.


Almost forty years ago evidence from large studies of adult twins and their relatives suggested that between 30 - 60% of the variance in Liberal and Conservative attitudes can be explained by genetic influences. However, these findings have not been widely accepted or incorporated into the dominant paradigms that explain the etiology of political ideology. This has been attributed in part to measurement and sample limitations as well the inability to identify specific genetic markers related to political ideology

Here we present results from original analys es of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five western democracies (Australia, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, and the U.S.A.), sampled over the course of four decades. We provide definitive evidence that heritability plays a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the time period or population sampled. The only exception s are questions that explicitly use the phrase “Left - Right”.

We then present results from one of the first genome - wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples : a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individua ls from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families . Several polymorphisms related to olfaction reached genome - wide significance in the 2008 Australian sample, but did not replicate across samples and remained suggestive in the meta - analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects



Obamacare Schadenfreudarama

It feels pretty good to watch the whole thing fail

Jonah Goldberg

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the unraveling of Obamacare.

First, the obligatory caveats. It is no laughing matter that millions of Americans’ lives have been thrown into anxious chaos as they lose their health insurance, their doctors, their money, or all three. Nor is it particularly amusing to think of the incredible waste of time and tax dollars that has gone into Obamacare’s construction. And the still-unfolding violence that this misbegotten legislation will visit on the economy and our liberties is not funny either. This very magazine has been downright funereal about the brazen and unconstitutional seizure of one-sixth of the economy, and rightly so.

But come on, people.

If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more.

Alas, the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing, which is why we must all thank the Germans for giving us the term “schadenfreude” — the joy one feels at the misfortune or failure of others. The primary wellspring of schadenfreude can be attributed to Barack Obama’s hubris — another immigrant word, which means a sinful pride or arrogance that causes someone to believe he has a godlike immunity to the rules of life.

The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”

In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality. The Greeks had a god, Nemesis, whose scythe performed the same function. It was Nemesis who lured Narcissus to the pool where he fell in love with his own reflection. Admittedly, most of Nemesis’s walk-on roles were in the Greek tragedies, but in the modern era, comeuppance-for-the-arrogant is more often found in comedies, and the “rollout” of Healthcare.gov has been downright hilarious. (I put quotation marks around “rollout” because the term implies actual rolling, and this thing has moved as gracefully as a grand piano in a peat bog.) But, as the president says, “it’s more than a website.” Indeed, the whole law is coming apart like a papier-mâché yacht in rough waters. The media feeding frenzy it has triggered from so many journalistic lapdogs has been both so funny and so poignant, it reminds me of nothing more than the climax of the classic film Air Bud, when the lovable basketball-playing golden retriever finally decides to maul the dog-abusing clown.

During the government shutdown, Barack Obama held fast, heroically refusing to give an inch to the hostage-taking, barbaric orcs of the Tea Party who insisted on delaying Obamacare. It was a triumph for the master strategist in the White House, who finally maneuvered the Republicans into revealing their extremism. But we didn’t know something back then: Obama desperately needed a delay of Healthcare.gov. In his arrogance, though, he couldn’t bring himself to admit it. The other possibility is that he is such an incompetent manager, who has cultivated such a culture of yes-men, that he was completely in the dark about the problems. That’s the reigning storyline right now from the White House. Obama was betrayed. “If I had known,” he told his staff, “we could have delayed the website.”

This is how you know we’re in the political sweet spot: when the only plausible excuses for the administration are equally disastrous indictments.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it took about five minutes for liberals to cast the chaos and confusion of the disaster as a searing indictment of not just the Bush administration but of conservatism itself. Whatever the merits of that argument (and there are not many), Katrina was at least a surprise. The October 1 deadline for Obamacare was set by Obama’s own administration years ago — and it caught them completely off guard. The president may now claim that he knew nothing, but he must have wondered why Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager, set the bar of success at sea level last March: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a Third World experience.” At this point, it could only be more of a Third World experience if Healthcare.gov required enrollees to pay with chickens



Obama's War On America's Standard of Living

Some quotes to remember

When Barack Obama was campaigning for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President in Oregon, he made some very revealing comments about his plans to "fundamentally transform the United States." On January 17, 2008, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would put an aggressive cap and trade system in place, "more aggressive than anybody else's out there," and that he is willing to let the coal industry go bankrupt. Obama said: "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, and other alternative energy approaches. ... We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times -- and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."



Democrats Panic Over ObamaCare

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted 261-157 in favor of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Some 39 Democrats joined all Republicans in voting yes just a day after Barack Obama announced his own unilateral and illegal “fix” for his ailing law.

The Wall Street Journal summarized Upton's bill:“The one-page bill would allow insurers to continue offering for sale in 2014 the policies that ObamaCare terminated, exempting them from federal regulatory edicts.” However, because insurance companies have spent the last three and a half years working to comply with ObamaCare regulations, Upton's bill is unlikely to actually save many plans. Such is the nature of Obama's “you can keep your plan” lie.

By contrast, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) offered her own version of a “keep your plan” bill in the Senate. In this case, the Journal writes, Landrieu's bill “would order insurers to continue to offer the dumped plans that in many cases no longer exist. This is also a substantive due process violation for business and unconstitutional commandeering of state regulators.” That would be par for the course.

Unfortunately, but predictably, the House vote didn't come close to a veto-proof majority as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did the necessary nagging to prevent a caucus-wide jackass stampede. Furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed that he won't take up the House bill. Either way, Obama would never let Congress compromise his legacy when he can come to the rescue himself.

But the House vote does indicate that, thanks to the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, at least 39 Democrats are in near-total panic over their election prospects in 2014. Nearly all of them barely won their 2012 elections, and many are in Republican-leaning districts. Their short-sighted scrambling is quite a shift from 2010, when Democrats gleefully used their Washington hegemony to realize the 100-year-old progressive dream of “universal” health care. Recall that Democrats lost a near-record 63 seats in 2010 after passing the law.

It's also clear that ObamaCare will hang like an albatross around Democrats' necks. They'll never admit it – in fact, DNC chair Debbie Wassermann Schultz swears Democrats will run on ObamaCare next year – but they all know it's true.



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

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


November 19, 2013

Obama Refuses to Speak to Netanyahu

US President Barack Obama has refused to answer phone calls from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "more than once," according to Kuwaiti news source Al-Jarida.

In a deliberate snub, Netanyahu's calls have instead been forwarded to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

An American source told Al-Jarida that Jewish American politicians have been keen to fix the situation, which has steadily been deteriorating over the past month, and are attempting to set up a meeting between the two world leaders at the White House.

The news is the latest in a series of public spats between the two nations, whose differences about the handling of a nuclear Iran threaten the traditional US-Israel alliance.

Obama, issued a direct warning to Congress against further sanctions on Iran last Thursday, saying that a deal in the works could prevent the "unintended consequences" of war.

"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective and that brought them to the table in the first place," Obama said.

Obama has also reportedly been in the process of lifting the sanctions for over 5 months - without a deal with Iran or express Congressional approval.

The statements follow controversial remarks by Kerry last Wednesday, who told Republican senators who were briefed about recent talks with Iran to “ignore anything the Israelis say” about the issue.

Kerry's visit to Israel this past month to facilitate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was something of a diplomatic disaster, after he reportedly threatened a third intifada and then pledged over $75 million in financial support to the Palestinian Arabs.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, has been urging world leaders to avoid the deal, in a bid for both Israel's national security and international safety from a nuclear Iran. "Israel prefers the diplomatic option over any other option. But we want a genuine diplomatic solution that dismantles Iran's military nuclear capabilities,” Netanyahu said in remarks at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit.

“The proposal that was put on the table, the details of which we are familiar with, is a bad deal. It leaves Iran with nuclear capabilities for military objectives, and provides it with a significant easing of sanctions. The additional danger is that it gives Iran legitimacy to be a nuclear threshold state. That goes against the interest of the international community,” he stressed.

The war of words has trickled down the political ladder this weekend; Naftali Bennett and Jewish Home members continue to rally US support for the Israeli stance on the issue, while US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has reportedly approached the Israeli media in attempts to win over Israeli public support.

Shapiro's words may fall on deaf ears, however; a poll recently revealed that most Israelis believe that the IDF could and should strike Iran on its own



Israel said to be working with Saudi Arabia on Iran strike

Israel is working on coordinating plans for a possible military strike with Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh prepared to provide tactical support to Jerusalem, a British newspaper reported early Sunday.

The two countries have both united in worry that the West may come to terms with Iran, easing sanctions and allowing the Islamic Republic to continue its nuclear program.

According to the Sunday Times, Riyadh has agreed to let Israel use its airspace in a military strike on Iran and cooperate over the use of rescue helicopters, tanker planes and drones.

“The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” an unnamed diplomatic source told the paper.

The report comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of a blitz to lobby against a deal and cobble together an international alliance opposed to an agreement that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium.

On Sunday, Israel will welcome French President Francois Hollande, who a week earlier put the kibosh on a deal between six world powers and Iran that would ease sanctions in return for initial steps toward curbing enrichment.

Netanyahu on Friday urged France to remain firm in its pressure on Iran ahead of a new round of talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in Geneva, kicking off Wednesday.

After meeting Hollande, Netanyahu will head to Moscow on Wednesday to meet with President Vladimir Putin and lobby against the deal.

Iran’s bid for the bomb “threatens directly the future of the Jewish state,” Netanyahu told CNN recently, in a short preview clip of an interview broadcast on Saturday. As the prime minister of Israel, he stressed, he had to care for “the survival of my country.”

CNN reported that Netanyahu also said in the interview that he would do whatever it was necessary to do in order to protect Israel. The full interview will air Sunday morning.

Should a deal be reached at talks set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday, according to the diplomatic source, a military option would be back on the table. Saudi tactical support, in lieu of backup from the Pentagon, would be vital for a long-range mission targeting Iran’s nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim country across the Persian Gulf from Iran has long been at odds with Tehran, and fears a nuclear weapon would threaten Riyadh and set off a nuclear arms race in the region.



When the translator has more sense than the politicians

A United Nations interpreter translating the proceedings of the General Assembly on Thursday was caught – not realizing her microphone was still piping her voice into the chamber – expressing her dismay that the world body is so focused on condemning Israel while ignoring every other country in the world.

Following votes at the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee which includes all 193 UN member states, nine resolutions were adopted condemning Israel. Not one resolution was adopted targeting any other country, not even Syria where more than 100,000 have been killed in just two-and-a-half years.

The unnamed interpreter, unaware she was still being heard both by delegates and online via a live webcast, said, “I mean, I think when you have five statements, not five, like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad sh** happening, but no one says anything, about the other stuff.”

After the translator spoke, the delegate chairing the meeting could be seen trying to suppress his laughter. This as other delegates laughed audibly after hearing the interpreter’s candid opinion about their work, including her use of an expletive.

Once she realized what was happening, the translator said, “apologies” after which the Secretary of the meeting commented, “I understand there was a problem with interpretation?” The translator could then be heard saying “The interpreter apologizes.”

UN Watch, a non-governmental organization which monitors events at the United Nations, first caught the gaffe and posted a recording of it on YouTube.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday played the clip of the interpreter’s candid assessment at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Should her job be threatened, Netanyahu said she would have a place to work in Israel, Ynet reported.

“I would like to tell this translator that she has a job waiting for her in the State of Israel. There are moments that tear the hypocrisy off the unending attacks against us and this brave translator did so,” he said according to a translation of the text posted by the Prime Minister’s Office website.



Desperation: Bush resurrected

The NYT acknowledges Obama's in trouble by reminding us that Bush was really, really bad. Remember?!!

At the website front page the teaser headline — which is also the headline in the paper version — is: "As Troubles Pile Up, a Crisis of Confidence for Obama." But if you click to the article, the headline becomes "Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response."

I can think of a whole bunch of non-parallels:

1. Bush's political party didn't design and enact Hurricane Katrina.

2. Bush didn't have 5 years to craft his response to the hurricane.

3. Bush didn't have the power to redesign the hurricane as he designed his response to it.

4. The Republican Bush believed he could not simply bully past the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and impose a federal solution, but the Democrat Obama and his party in Congress aggressively and voluntarily took over an area of policy that might have been left to the states.

5. The media were ready to slam Bush long and hard for everything — making big scandals out of things that, done by Obama, would have been forgotten a week later (what are the Valerie Plame-level screwups of Obama's?) — but the media have bent over backwards for years to help make Obama look good and to bury or never even uncover all of his lies and misdeeds.

6. If Bush experienced a disaster like the rollout of Obamacare, the NYT wouldn't use its front page to remind us of something Bill Clinton did that looked bad.

But let's check out the asserted parallels in that NYT article by Michael D. Shear:

"The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency. But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn."

Oh, well, that's another nonparallel. Republicans oppose Obama, unlike those Democrats who sometimes helped Bush. And the NYT reinforces my point #5 (above).

But think about it this way, NYT. What if Bush and the Republicans had created the hurricane, and the Democrats adamantly believed it would be better not to have a hurricane? Would the Democrats have been "occasionally cooperative" to Republicans who smugly announced that they won the election and they've been wanting this hurricane for 100 years and canceling the hurricane was not an option?

"Republicans readily made the Hurricane Katrina comparison."

Oh? Note the wording. It doesn't say that important Republicans were bringing up Katrina on their own. I suspect that the journalist, Shear, asked various Republicans to talk about Bush and Katrina and some of them did.

“The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie,” said Peter D. Feaver, a top national security official in Mr. Bush’s second term. “Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.”

Okay, so Shear got Feaver to put a name on the assertion that Republicans made the comparison. No other Republican is named. Shear moves on to Obama's "top aides" and tells us — here's my point #5 again — that they stressed how unlike Katrina it is, since "Mr. Obama is struggling to extend health care to millions of people who do not have it. Those are very different issues."

I agree. The health care screwup isn't a natural disaster. Obama and the Democrats made their own disaster, stepping up to do something they should have known they weren't going to be able to do well, and they lied about what they were doing to get it passed.

And yet they meant well. They wanted to help people. Unlike Bush, who — what? — asked for that hurricane?


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


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

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


November 18, 2013

None Dare Call It Fascism

John C. Goodman

Here is something that is odd: For the past six years President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have waged a relentless attack on the health insurance industry. In the most recent iteration, the president assures us he is not responsible for the wave of health insurance policy cancellations. The insurance companies are.

Okay, so where is the other side?

When is the last time you saw an insurance industry executive interviewed on a TV talk show, presenting the industry's answer to all these attacks? You can't remember seeing that? I can't either.

Well what about the health insurance industry trade groups, the folks who are supposed to explain to Congress and the general public the industry's position? When is the last time you saw one of those representatives on TV? Can't remember? Nor can I.

Okay, let's try one more option. When is the last time you saw someone from a university or independent think tank giving the health insurance industry side of all the complaints that are being slung their way? Don't bother responding. We both know that answer as well.

I submit that this is not a small matter.

A free society requires the free flow of information. In any public policy dispute, if only one side is heard from, we are likely to get further and further away from the truth. The attackers will find there is no penalty for getting minor facts wrong or shading the truth. That will embolden them to make more serious errors, eventually resorting to downright lying. If the only entity providing any push back is the Washington Post fact checker, we are in real trouble. Roughly 99.99% of the population doesn't read the Washington Post.

But what threatens the foundations of a free society most of all is when it is the government (and its allies in the private sector) who are doing the attacking, and when the reason there is no response is that the victims of the attacks have been threatened and bullied into silence.

I believe that is where we are today -- not just with respect to health insurance, but with respect to health care generally. I'm afraid other industries are not far behind.

During the debate leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I talked to a number of CEOs of large health insurance companies. I frequently heard such comments as, "Don't tell anyone I told you this" or, "If you use this information, don't mention my name" and even, "Don't tell anyone that we ever had this conversation."

As far as I can tell, things have gotten worse. In fact I don't know any employee of any health insurance company that is willing to go on the record with any statement that is critical of the Affordable Care Act.

Now it's possible that my experience is unique. And I know that there are many readers of this blog who also interact with folks in the industry. So if I'm wrong about this, please correct me in the comments.

The result is unanswered charges that are getting more and more reckless. Within the past two weeks, for example, we have had the president himself, David Axelrod, Zeke Emanuel and others all asserting…

[BTW, have you ever noticed how Republicans in public tend to speak their own mind and as a result all seem to say something different? That doesn't happen to Democrats. When they go on TV they are the epitome of the disciplined message. They all say the same thing, even using the very same words. Have those words been tested before focus groups prior to the Democrats even appearing before the cameras? I would bet so.]

Anyway, back to the most recent charge, which is that under the pre-Obama system insurers cancelled policies after people got sick. Really? So says the president. And Axelrod. And Emanuel.

Hmmm. I remember when one insurer got hit with one of the biggest judgments ever because the insurer would not approve a bone marrow transplant to treat breast cancer (a procedure we all now know doesn't work). Are we supposed to believe that these same companies routinely cancel policies and refuse to pay medical bills just because someone gets sick?

Please, give us an example. I don't believe you.

In the early 1980s (while there was still a Berlin Wall), I went through Check Point Charlie from West Berlin to East Berlin. On either side of the wall, there were the same people with the same culture, same genes, etc. The only difference was a difference of political systems, and because of that difference East Berlin was of course poorer.

After about an hour of touring, though, I sensed that there was some other difference and it took me a while to pin point it. In East Berlin, no one smiled. No one laughed. No one joked. People looked at us and at each other with hesitation and even apprehension. Were we really tourists? Or might we be posing as tourists to report on their behavior?

If I could summarize everything in one word, it would be "fear." The East Germans were afraid. You could see it in their eyes. And that was something you never saw in the West.

So why am I telling you about a 30-year-old experience? Because I sense that same feeling again ? right here, in the United States of America.



An Incurious Or Willfully Ignorant President

When President Obama stepped in front of the cameras Thursday to magically waive a wand and arbitrarily change his signature accomplishment, he couldn’t help but lie to the American people…again. But lying about the accomplishments of his administration isn’t a compulsion; it’s a requirement.

Looking back on the last five years, what has the Obama administration accomplished? Anything? Put your partisanship aside and be honest – can you name any?

His trillion-dollar stimulus was such a failure that progressives had to invent a new, unverifiable measure to claim victory –and the pathetic “it stopped things from getting worse” defense was the absolute best his team of spin-doctors could muster.

The economy has not recovered. The unemployment rate has decreased only because people have given up the hope to find work and no longer count. We’re on the verge of acquiring as much debt under this president as under all previous presidents combined. And the Middle East is in shambles. The only growth we’ve seen is in a stock market propped up by the Federal Reserve’s printing presses, taxpayer subsidized “green” company bankruptcies, disability and food stamp rolls and the bottom lines of Canadian web design firms.

Obamacare was the only real hope the president had left. After months of scandals exposing him as either disconnected from his own administration or callous and vindictive, the president put all his chips on the Oct. 1 launch of healthcare.gov. The idea that the American people, who had just re-elected him, would turn on him and his baby was the furthest thing from his mind.

When they did he was ill-prepared to deal with that reality.

The failures of the website were far from his biggest problem. The website is but the portal to a failed concept, and its unveiling – luckily for the president – was drowned out in the news by the government shutdown. But after 16 days, the clouds cleared and the lousy website’s problems would give way to the failed concept taking center stage.

The failed concept is that the government can create a structure in which the private sector can function and flourish. The reality is the government can’t even build the most expensive website ever constructed and make it work.

When the concept started causing people to lose the health insurance they voluntarily purchased, Democrats were relieved to be talking about the failed website because it could be fixed. When the numbers of people losing their health insurance climbed into the hundreds of thousands, that aspect of the problem no longer could be ignored.

When the media switched from website crashes to human stories of people being harmed by the government, even cheerleaders of the law started putting down their pom-poms.

Had the president and scores of congressional Democrats avoided specifics and promised only that lives would be made better by the law, the media would have granted a pass, as usual. But they went out of their way. Period. More than three-dozen times in the case of the president alone. Period. To ensure us that if we liked our plan, we would be able to keep it, no matter what. Period.

Partisans and their friends in the media could not explain this away. The big lie was exposed. The game was up.

President Obama tried to fall back on his personal charm and talk his way out of it. Acting like a person summoning memories of what humility was like from stories heard long ago, he offered something resembling as close to an apology he has in him. The “I’m sorry you didn’t understand what I was saying was the opposite of what I was actually saying, so it’s really your fault” line went over like a brick. But it was all he had.

It was so ineffective that it, and the damage the law was doing to people, left former President Bill Clinton no choice but to attempt to distance and differentiate himself, and more importantly his wife, from this law and this president. Having the first prominent Democrat call for a change to the law be named Clinton without it being Hillary, to still give the illusion of loyalty, was important for their future plans.

When one rat starts to leave a ship, the rest follow…

The chorus rose to the point of legislation being introduced, not only by Republicans but by Democrats as well. Action was coming, one way or another.

Never one to worry much about Constitutional constraints, the president pre-empted his detractors and pretended the law that was set in stone only six weeks earlier was made of clay and he changed it.

When asked about his repeated promise he said, “With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, I think -- you know, and I've said in interviews -- that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.”

The only way he could not have known it was if he didn’t want to know – if his staff was under orders or chose not to tell him. There’s no reason to believe he’d know on his own. He has no real-world experience in business or the private sector in general, but he does have a staff. The motivation for his lie is either willful deceit or willful ignorance. But neither excuses it.

On the website, what he said was telling. “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as -- the way it was supposed to.”

The key word is “directly.” Either the president was remarkably incurious about the main consumer aspect of his proudest achievement or he was lied to. If he was lied to, the fact that no one has been fired is a disgrace. If he was incurious…

So, either the president of the United States has surrounded himself with people who deliberately keep him in the dark and/or lie to him, or he is an incompetent man in over his head so far that he’s frozen in ignorance, unable to muster the wherewithal to ask even the most basic questions on major issues. Or else he’s lying.

History will judge, but the present, between now and the end of his term, can’t be allowed to forget.



MSNBC Guest: Abortionists Are “Doing Wonderful, Important Work”

This MSNBC segment was an attempt to soften the image of the pro-abortion side. You know, trotting out the super rare personal and (as usual) very emotional narrative that is supposed to make you forget the 99-plus-percent of abortions (that's why the the only go-to card pro-abortionists pull during their defense of the abortion industry is the rape or incest scenario).

After viewing this you will see the massive gulf between the two sides. Mrs. Weinstein tells us how she had an abortion to "end her pain," meaning, her unborn babies pain. Huh?! Consider the implications if we determined human life or death on whether one was experiencing "too much" pain? And how does one decide how much pain is too much for a fetus to endure? How did Mrs. Weinstein know her baby was experiencing too much pain? BTW: Since when did pro-choice activists become so concerned with the pain of a fetus? And then there was the "doing wonderful and important work" comment from Meaghan Winter....

The one part I did appreciate was their personal run-ins with pro-life protesters. This is life and death we're dealing with so I empathize with the intense passion and urgency expressed and felt from my pro-life brothers and sisters, but it MUST be done from a loving and compassionate heart--not just for the baby but for the women who have had or are considering having an abortion.



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

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


November 17, 2013

Old voters collecting Social Security may never change their minds, but libertarianism is growing fast among young Americans

John Stossel

I didn't know what a libertarian was when I started reporting. I was just another liberal. I knew the Republicans were icky, and Democrats were more like me—except they didn't care about debt.

I had no idea there was an actual movement of thinking people who want to honor the principles of the Founders—liberty and limited government. It took me a long time to wake up.

Now more Americans have woken up, say Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie, editors of Reason magazine.

"Poll after poll show you that Americans are much more fiscally conservative than their elected representatives," says Welch. "A majority of Americans thinks that we should balance the budget. Seventy-five percent think that we should not raise the debt ceiling ... Growing majorities—especially young people—are more socially tolerant. They think that we should legalize marijuana ... they're in favor of gay marriage."

Gillespie argues that some of the change comes from people seeing how the private sector offers us more options that we like, while government fails.

"The 21st century has been a demonstration project of how Republicans and conservatives screw things up, under the Bush years, and now we have the Obama version—the liberal Democrat version of screwing everything up ... you go to Amazon.com, you have a good experience and you get all sorts of interesting stuff. When you go to a government website, not so much."

It changes minds, they argue, when people see this is a strong pattern, not just the result of isolated mistakes unique to Obamacare or another specific government project.

But do people realize that it's a strong pattern? I don't think so. I wrote No, They Can't: Why Government Fails—But Individuals Succeed because I worry most Americans instinctively trust central planning. The spontaneous order of the invisible hand is harder to grasp. The invisible hand is ... invisible.

Maybe that's why leftists fear liberty. A sarcastic online video scares people by calling Somalia a "libertarian paradise." (It isn't. Libertarianism assumes private property and rule of law.) One of my Fox colleagues, Bill O'Reilly, calls my libertarian views "desperately wrong" and says "you're living in a world of theory!"

But Gillespie says even people who don't understand the theory at least see what the invisible hand produces. "Where people do things voluntarily and in free markets, everything is getting better, (but] when you go to this old model of command and control, things are terrible." True. But while Gillespie, Welch and I —and maybe you readers—pay attention to that, I suspect that the promises of the central planners will fool most people most of the time.

Politicians fool us with offers of free goodies like cheaper health care and "cures" for social problems, like the War on Drugs. They fool us with their promises to "contain" China, Iran, al-Qaida, etc. and "build democracy" in the Middle East.

If libertarian-leaning politicians express doubt, they may be condemned by others in their own party.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., filibustered until President Obama responded to their questions about drone strikes. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called them "wacko birds."

After some politicians criticized NSA spying, Gov. Chris Christie said, "This strain of libertarianism is a very dangerous thought."

Mainstream conservative pundit Fred Barnes tells me Ron Paul is "deluded" because he wants to shrink the military. Barnes says we're not seeing a new libertarian era, just a libertarian "blip." He points out that even government programs Ronald Reagan railed against are still with us 30 years later—and suggests that they probably aren't going away.

I'm not optimistic about most people recognizing liberty's benefits. Old politicians—and old voters collecting Social Security—may never change their minds. But libertarianism is growing fastest among the young, and groups like Students for Liberty give me hope. These young people certainly know more about liberty than I did at their age.

Maybe they will avoid prior generations' big-government mistakes. Maybe



The Intolerant State

Sometimes, government is the things that OTHERS choose for us

"Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together."

That quote, usually attributed to former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, is one of those rare political statements of equal use to opposite sides of America's bitter ideological divide.

Bay State governor Deval Patrick deployed Frank's aphorism at the 2008 Democratic National Convention to make the case for Barack Obama's quest "to rebuild our national community." My first hit in a Google search for the quote reveals a San Francisco Foundation essay celebrating Tax Day, "that day that calls on all of us to think about what it means to be a citizen of the United States and what our obligations are to each other."

The right tends to deploy the quote sardonically. "'Government' is just a name for things we all do together, like shove elderly war heroes back from the memorials built in their honor," Human Events staff writer John Haywood tweeted at the beginning of the government shutdown in October. As Jonah Goldberg observed in The Tyranny of Cliches, "We do many things together, some of them involve the government, most don't. An estimated 111 million people watched the 2011 Super Bowl. Weren't we as 'together' for that as we are for, say, an OSHA hearing on the efficacy of toilet flush regulations?"

On those rare occasions when the national political conversation focuses on the proper role of government in our lives, the sentiment behind Barney Frank's quip fills the airwaves and op-ed pages. On the third day of the federal government shutdown, for example, President Barack Obama trotted out this parade of horribles: "The impacts of a shutdown go way beyond those things that you're seeing on television. Those hundreds of thousands of Americans don't know when they're going to get their next paycheck, and that means stores and restaurants around here don't know if they'll have as many customers. Across the country you've got farmers in rural areas and small business owners who deserve a loan, but they're being left in the lurch right now. Veterans who deserve our support are getting less help. Little kids who deserve a Head Start have been sent home from the safe places where they learn and grow every single day."

So the federal government is apparently the name we give to the magical apparatus responsible for maintaining the status of public-sector workers, private sector retail managers, farmers, small entrepreneurs, and preschoolers, in addition to the one group (veterans) whose care is incontrovertibly the responsibility of the national government that sent them into war.

No wonder the 2012 Obama campaign didn't understand why critics were creeped out by its "Life of Julia" slideshow demonstrating how Democratic policies are crucial at every stage of a woman's life from age 3 to 67. When people depend on government for everything of value, it's hard to tell the difference between objecting to a smothering state and complaining about the very existence of other human beings.

Given the stakes, it's no surprise that Democrats and liberal columnists reacted to the government shutdown by portraying Republicans as anti-human. New York Times columnist Charles Blow warned that the GOP's tactics were "how the money-rich are able to prey on the knowledge-poor," opening up "the possibility that a government by the people may swiftly give way to a government dominated by dark money and dark motives." Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. singled out the "cranks and outliers within the party so addled by hatred of the president, so crippled by the mental disorder known as Obama Dementia, that they are incapable of rationality and reason."

I prefer to assume that people with whom I disagree about politics come to their opinions genuinely, rather than through sinister, anti-democratic motives and/or advanced mental illness. And while I believe that shutting down the federal government was mostly the result of a series of tactical and political blunders by the GOP majority in the House of Representatives, it's worth pausing to examine the broader argument about the role of government occasioned by the dispute.

Yes, in a universe where the overwhelming majority of federal government expenditure comes in the form of transfer payments, yanking the plug out is going to hurt some people and disrupt business as usual for many others. (Though most of those payments are actually unaffected by D.C. closing down, ensuring that more than four out of every five federal dollars gets spent regardless of whether the Grand Canyon is open to the public.) Those first days of October were filled with horror stories of children and widowed families not getting their planned clinical trials or day care or even funeral ceremonies. Many of the highlighted cases drew enough outrage to loosen either federal monies or private philanthropy.

But in our sea of federal spending and debt, these direct tales of woe are mere drops. A Congressional Research Service report released just before the shutdown about the effects of the 1995-96 Newt Gingrich/Bill Clinton federal work stoppages included in its top-line highlights such mundane hiccups as: "National Institute of Standards and Technology was unable to issue a new standard for lights and lamps that was scheduled to be effective January 1, 1996, possibly resulting in delayed product delivery and lost sales."

Meanwhile, Obama's magic machine is still capable of literally dumping hundreds of millions of dollars directly into the trash: The Dayton Daily News reported in October that a dozen brand new $50 million C-27J cargo planes were delivered straight to the Air Force's "boneyard" of abandoned aircraft in Tucson, Arizona, because no one actually needs the things. Amazingly, the production orders continue apace.

The shutdown should make us question these oozing pits of government waste and the folly of nationalizing so much of American life, from beaches in New York City to crab fisheries in Alaska. When you stuff so many disparate responsibilities into a single entity in Washington, the on/off switch becomes terrifyingly potent.

But D.C.'s latest dysfunction should also be an occasion to rethink the "things we choose to do together," reflecting on whether we are in fact making those choices consciously. And it's time to confront the neglected truth that government is also the things that centralizers inflict upon those of us just trying to exercise our freedom.

This issue of reason is all about the messy, heavily contested intersection between do-it-yourself technological liberation and the intolerant forces of state control. From the 3D-printed firearm on the cover ("The Unstoppable Plastic Gun," page 24) to the mind-bendingly decentralized currency and digital protocol Bitcoin ("Bitcoin: More than Money," page 34) to the sadly shuttered doors of once-thriving marketplaces ("The Death of Intrade," page 44, "How Poker Became a Crime," page 62), these cautionary tales reveal an unpredictable leviathan capable of suddenly throwing its massive weight onto whatever new innovation or subculture it considers suspicious.

As the George Mason University economist Robin Hanson points out regarding Intrade, "The history of financial regulation is that everything was illegal gambling to start with. Insurance, stocks, commodities futures, options—all of these things were illegal."

With the world's highest incarceration rate, the United States government spends far too much of its time using its monopoly on force cracking down on peaceable individual transactions. We need to reorient the default arrangement between federal government and American citizen, so that freedom is assumed to be desirable, instead of a national security threat. Or as George Will explains in a wide-ranging interview on page 50, "Before the government interferes with freedom or privacy, it ought to have a compelling reason. That's all, tell me your reason."



The Fix? Another BIG Lie

Barack Obama added another chapter to his politically motivated unconstitutional rewrites of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” Thursday. After more than 5 million insurance cancellations mandated by his ACA regulations, and the political consequences for Democrats, he declared that you can keep your plan (at least until after next year's elections). This was his latest political lie to cover his previous round of lies to cover his oft-repeated original lie that “you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”

His latest “pledge to the American people” is: “[W]e're gonna solve the problems that are there, we're gonna get it right, and the Affordable Care Act is going to work for the American people.” (He forgot to add, “Trust me!”) Obama plans to “fix it” through “enforcement discretion,” a patently unconstitutional maneuver typical of autocratic ineptocracies, but he has never allowed Rule of Law to be an impediment to this administration's political agenda.

Obama is crafting his latest blame-shifting cover story on the theme that insurance companies are the bad guys. But, the 2010 HHS regulations his administration wrote, and he signed into law, mandated that any policy adjustment in a plan after that enactment would require cancellation of that plan if it did not fully comply with ObamaCare's “comprehensive coverage” requirements. Now, with a wave of his magic wand, Obama says none of that applies, and that, as long as state insurance commissioners permit it, insurance companies can continue to offer the plans that they previously had to cancel due to regulations. In other words, he put this 600 lb. gorilla on the back of state commissioners and insurance companies.

As noted, Obama has no authority to enforce this proposed retrofit – or, as he put it, to “improve” the law. But he has a history of “selective law enforcement” according to his political agenda, and in the case of ObamaCare, he already unilaterally declined to enforce the employer mandate – now he's unilaterally declining to enforce the coverage mandate, at least until after the 2014 elections. He admits “we did fumble the ball” on the Healthcare.gov rollout, which directly affects a person's ability to replace a plan that was forcibly cancelled. He claims he only wants to fix what he broke. Apparently, Bill Clinton, who declared that Obama ought to let the American people “keep what they got,” is now calling the shots.

In reality, Obama's executive action is an effort to preempt a lawful Republican legislative correction to ObamaCare, aptly titled the “Keep Your Health Plan Act” – scheduled for a vote Friday. Many panicking Democrats were hinting at voting for the bill, mainly to save their own skin in 2014, but that would be too embarrassing for the president. He even threatened to veto the bill, likely because it would bolster private competition for his exchanges, and he simply can't tolerate that.

Responding to Obama's latest alteration, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) warned that his fix will “destabilize the market” and drive prices higher. Insurance industry analyst Robert Laszewksi explained, “This means that the insurance companies have [six weeks] to reprogram their computer systems for policies, rates, and eligibility, send notices to the policyholders via US Mail, send a very complex letter that describes just what the differences are between specific policies and Obamacare compliant plans, ask the consumer for their decision – and give them a reasonable time to make that decision – and then enter those decisions back into their systems without creating massive billing, claim payment, and provider eligibility list mistakes. All by January 1.” And Obama could not get the Healthcare.gov website operational in three years with $600 million.



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

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


15 November, 2013

Amphibian wisdom


Obama Blames U.S. Economic Trouble on Someone Else

The Reagan administration waged the War on Drugs; the second Bush administration waged the War on Terror. Barack Obama will go down as the president who waged the War on Success. A key weapon in this war has been diverting responsibility to others. It was no shock when during the 2008 campaign Obama blamed George W. Bush for the economic meltdown. It soon became apparent that affixing blame elsewhere would become a way of life for Obama.

He blames everyone, from the “the millionaires and billionaires” to Fox News. More recently, “bad apple” insurance companies are to blame for the nightmare that is ObamaCare. Basically, the Obama administration has been responsible for nothing – except, of course, the take-down of Osama bin Laden. The president most recently continued this pattern by blaming U.S. economic problems on … Germany. A semi-annual report by the Treasury Department report accused Germany of “cooking the books” in terms of its exports and thus hindering the global recovery. The Germans are already upset with the U.S. over the NSA spying; now Obama blames them for his economic mess.

Germany does make an excellent scapegoat for Obama with its enviable (by comparison) 6.9% unemployment rate and its increase in consumer spending. It's faring much better than other countries in the EU, something the German authorities were quick to point out in their reaction to the report. It seems Obama is not just against American exceptionalism but exceptionalism, period.

In the meantime, the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.8% annual rate from July to September, much better than anticipated by economic experts. So much for the Democrats' claims that the government shutdown would hurt the economy – in fact, maybe the government should shut down more often.



Bill Clinton May Have Just Penned ObamaCare's Epitaph

Who would think the president who proposed HillaryCare would help kill ObamaCare. Bill Clinton just gave congressional Democrats cover to oppose their party's president — and try salvaging their political skins.

When New Coke failed back in the 1980s, the Coca-Cola Co. didn't "fix" it; the company swiftly brought back the real Coke, calling it "Coca-Cola Classic."

In the end, New Coke was scrapped and the fiasco made consumers appreciate "The Real Thing" that they had taken for granted.

ObamaCare can't be "fixed" any more than New Coke could. But the pressure's on for Democrats to get rid of it, even if, like the Coke Co., they must pretend it's not really a failure, and they're not returning to the past.

Of all people, ex-President Bill Clinton has come to their rescue. Ozy Media's interview with Clinton sent tremors through Washington on Tuesday, as President Obama's official ObamaCare "explainer in chief" said: "Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made" to younger, healthy health insurance beneficiaries "and let 'em keep what they got."

But this isn't just self-centered Bill being Bill, as when his convention speech outshone Obama's at last year's convention. Clinton may well be saving incumbent Democratic congressmen and senators from the voters' wrath next year, for which they'll be grateful — both to Bill and to certain 2016 presidential candidate Hillary.

What the Democratic Party's elder statesman just did is give congressional Democrats permission to oppose Obama on ObamaCare.

It doesn't mean they will explicitly call for repeal, but they now no longer have to be shy about insisting on big legislative changes that could unravel the whole law.

Writing in Forbes on the eve of Clinton's remarks, University of Colorado at Boulder presidential scholar Steven Hayward firmly predicted that "ObamaCare is going to be repealed well in advance of next year's election" — even if it's "repeal" by another name.

The question is what the political dynamic will be in Congress. With majority control of the House of Representatives, Republicans should wield huge leverage.

But Hayward warns that changing the ObamaCare law to drop the individual mandate "could leave us with an unfunded expansion of Medicaid and a badly disrupted private insurance market," something the GOP can avoid through proposing "a serious replacement policy, based on the premium support tax credit ideas that John McCain advocated (poorly) in 2008."

There is a much bigger issue, however: Will the Tea Party, and their sizable forces among House Republicans, accept anything less than pure repeal — even if it is a legislative reform that tears the heart out of ObamaCare and will be a big step toward its demise?

Will doing nothing — forcing Democrats to sleep in the bed they made for themselves — be an option?

Whatever happens, by backing changing the law to fulfill a promise Obama knew he couldn't keep, Bill Clinton may find himself having written ObamaCare's epitaph.



Trust Us: This Will Be Good for You

By Jonah Goldberg

The government thinks you're stupid, or at least ignorant.

This isn't just an indictment of the current government or an indictment of government itself. It's simply a statement of fact. At its core, the government exists to do certain things that people aren't equipped to do on their own. The list of those things has gotten longer and longer over the years. In 1776, the federal government's portfolio could have easily fit in a file folder: maintain an army and navy, a few federal courts, the post office, the patent office and maybe a dozen or two other pretty obvious things.

Now, the file folder of things the federal government does is much bigger. To paraphrase Dr. Egon Spengler from “Ghostbusters,” let's imagine that the federal government in 1776 was the size of this Twinkie (take my word for it, I'm holding a normal-sized Twinkie). Today that Twinkie would be 35 feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds. Or, if that illustration doesn't work for you, consider this: The number of civilians (i.e., not counting the military) who work for the executive branch alone is today nearly equal to the entire population of the United States in 1776. The Federal Register, the federal government's fun-filled journal of new rules, regulations and the like, was about 2,600 pages in 1936 (a year after it was created). Today it's over 80,000 pages.

And that's just at the federal level. Each state government is a pretty giant-sized Twinkie, too. In Massachusetts, all kids in daycare are required by law to brush their teeth after lunch. In Texas – Texas! – if you don't have an interior design license, you can't call yourself an interior designer, lest some unsuspecting consumer trust your opinion on throw pillow placement without the backing of the state. Almost everywhere, Americans need a license to open a business – sometimes even a lemonade stand – but in Milwaukee, you even need a license to go out of business.

The justifications for all of these laws and all of these workers – the good, the bad and the ugly – have one thing in common: the assumption that the rest of us couldn't get by without them, whether we like it or not.

This week the feds took the first steps to ban trans fats. Why? Because trans fats are bad for you and you can't be trusted to avoid them on your own. I bring this up not because it is such an outrageous illustration of my point, but to demonstrate how typical it is. This is what the government does, day in, day out.

That's what makes the reaction to Obamacare so interesting. Several times now, the president has endeavored to explain that it's not that big a deal millions of Americans are losing their health insurance plans against their will. The people who had plans they liked didn't understand that the plans they liked were no good – they were the actuarial equivalent of trans fats, don't you know? The fact that the people who held them liked them, thought they were good and wanted to keep them doesn't count for much, because the government knows best.

The president can't say it as plainly as he would like, because to do so would be to admit not only that he lied to the American people, but that he thinks the complainers are ignorant about their own needs and interests.

The president's more intellectually honest defenders have said exactly that. “Vast swathes of policy are based on the correct presumption that people don't know what's best for them. Nothing new,” tweeted Josh Barro, politics editor for Business Insider.

Barro's fairly liberal, but I'd be dishonest if I said that he was wrong from a conservative perspective. The difference, however, is that conservatives tend to see government as a necessary evil, and therefore see policymaking with some humility. Liberals tend to see government as a necessary good, and see ordering people to do things “for their own good” as a source of pride, even hubris.

From a conservative perspective, telling people how to run their lives when not absolutely necessary is an abuse of power. For liberals, telling people how to run their lives is one of the really fun perks of working for the government.

You can see the frustration on the president's face. It's almost like the ingrates who refuse to understand that his were necessary lies for their own good are spoiling all his fun.



The Progressive Degradation of Freedom

By Daren Jonescu

I am convinced we are born with a "freedom sense," a mental faculty which perceives the degree to which our lives are grounded in our own will and judgment. This is not the same as the desire to be free; rather, it is the capacity to perceive whether we are free. It is therefore related to the desires as are all our perceptual faculties, namely as nature's means of revealing our proper goals. Freedom would therefore stand in the same column of human goods as the beautiful and the euphonious, things which are desirable because they satisfy the natural purpose, or obey the innate "rules," of the faculties to which they correspond.

What happens, however, when oppressive violations are systematized, and take on the aspect of insurmountable obstacles which leave us physically intact while flatly denying us the basic ownership of body and mind that is the minimum requirement of natural self-preservation? What happens, in other words, when coercion and violation -- the normal methods of humans who choose to live as irrational animals -- evolve towards a totalitarian form?

In such circumstances, the choices before us are more complex. These "progressive," insinuating forms of oppression force us to accommodate ourselves to the situation -- to learn to live with it -- as the only means of maintaining any sense of normalcy in our lives. Just as we have the capacity to adjust the receptiveness of our sight to filter out flaws and ugliness that disturb our view of things, or to acclimatize our hearing to ignore monotonous or ugly sounds that would otherwise distract us from our thoughts and pleasures, so we are able to train our minds to overlook encroachments upon our will in the name of maintaining a more palatable perception of our circumstances with regard to freedom.

To demonstrate what is thus lost, consider, on the one hand, the American founders, men whose freedom sense was developed to a level comparable to perfect pitch in hearing. They were so acutely sensitive to encroachments upon the individual's natural need for self-determination, and so offended by these unnatural disturbances, that while differing on the precise means, they were united in literally seeking to banish the most serious and offensive of such violations -- those deriving from political authority -- from their midst entirely, at the risk of their reputations, wealth, and blood if necessary. "Give me liberty or give me death" may be said by anyone; it may only be lived by someone with a heightened sensitivity to the loss of liberty, meaning someone whose nature has not yet been diluted by the gradual distortion of self-preservation into acquiescence, as described above.

And consider our Western progressive majority, their freedom sense well along the downward arc from the peak of the American founders to the bleak degradations of North Korea. What has progressivism wrought?

Today, even the heirs to the American founders have seen themselves subjected to degradations and injustices more extreme than the affronts which compelled their forebears to stage a revolution. And progressivism's grand prize, socialized medicine, has forced in the door at last. Americans who fantasize that Obamacare's failure will be its undoing have missed the point. What does "failure" have to do with anything? All progressive programs fail. If the successful provision of societal benefits were a necessary condition of its continuance, socialism would no longer exist. The necessary condition for the continuance of progressive policies is a ruling elite motivated by power lust -- and time for men to denature themselves in the name of "learning to live with it."

Socialized medicine teaches that you must not value your life above that of other men. Not only should no doctor care about your personal survival, but you yourself should stop thinking your survival is any kind of priority. You should wait your turn in the only line in town, and be grateful if you do eventually get what you need from central command. After all, what choice do you have? Finally, this degradation -- this total denial in principle of the most basic instinct of all living things, the instinct to preserve oneself through one's own effort -- causes one to see "fairness" in this universal abject self-denial, to bow one's head before the objective hand of government.

This is what becomes of the desire for self-preservation under progressivism. Indeed, this is the purpose of progressivism in all its forms -- from socialized education to the bureaucratically micromanaged economy, and from the moral relativism and collectivist sentimentalism of "mass entertainment" to the protection of a permanent ruling elite through cronyism and a state-manipulated press. The aim is to produce the sort of citizen for whom "I am human" no longer essentially means "I am free."

The goal is to degrade your natural perception of freedom to the level of being content with your bowl of rice -- or, at the intermediate stage, with your smartphones, music videos, and entitlement programs -- purchased with your daughter's future, your reason, your self-ownership. That this goal is as close to global achievement as it is today is astonishing -- though no more so than the fact that there are still men left who are able to perceive what has been lost, and to mount a resistance.



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

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


14 November, 2013

How liberalism corrodes a smart brain

In his critique of conservatism, David Simon commits one of the informal fallacies of logic -- something you learn even in High School logic classes: The "ad hominem" fallacy -- the fallacy that the truth of a proposition can be determined from the character of the person proposing it. How can a smart man be so infantile? -- JR


Let me first praise David Simon for his terrific book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets which spawned one of the greatest American TV series in history, Homicide: Life on the Street. I also hear The Wire is great.

Praise complete. Now I’ll bury this Hollywood liberal bully.

Simon presses the liberal agenda of White American Guilt in his oh-so-noble praise of the new film 12 Years a Slave, which also demonstrates how yet another Hollywood know-it-all has absolutely no understanding of our Constitution. This is particularly galling because Simon is an accomplished journalist, and his work on Homicide demonstrated equal compassion for all human beings.

Simon praises Slave's emotional honesty and narrative fairness, saying, “for once, the escapism, bluster and simple provocation that marks a good 95 percent of our film output has been somehow flanked, and subversively so.” This alone is enough to get me to consider seeing the film, though the words of a Jewish college pal regarding Holocaust films echoes in my mind: “I don’t need Hollywood to revivify the Holocaust for me.”

I feel the same way about slavery. I’ve written before that capturing evil on film is likely impossible in narrative form. That somehow a movie is going to elevate my understanding of slavery seems unlikely.

However, Simon goes off the rails when he presents the tired argument that because the Founding Fathers had slaves, the Constitution itself is fruit of the poisonous tree. Therefore, if you support “original intent” when interpreting the Constitution, you are a racist.

"If original intent included the sadism and degradation of human slavery, then original intent is a legal and moral standard that can be consigned to the ash heap of human history. Hardcore conservatives and libertarians who continue to parse the origins of the Constitutions under the guise of returning to a more perfect American union are on a fool’s journey to decay and dishonor."

Except Simon has constructed a straw man “if-then” proposition, because that’s not what “original intent” means. One such definition is, “…"original intent" can be ascertained by review of the historical context of the issue being addressed and goals that must have been in the minds of the framers of the Constitution as they wrote the words. Usually the authors and signers of a Constitution will have written privately and/or publicly about the document or the various issued addressed within.”

Originalism itself has many definitions and subsets, with many legal analyses littering the internet. Yet Simon claims that because the Founders were not perfect, and some (12 of the 55 at the Constitutional Convention) owned slaves, the goals in the minds of the framers are racist, invalidating the entire document or original intent reading thereof, making them morally abhorrent. It’s typical Alinsky, by the way--frame your opponent as a racist, call him a racist--now he’ll be seen as a racist.

However, if you ask most conservatives and libertarians what “original intent” means to them in just a few words, they repeat the words of Patrick Henry: "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government." In other words, Mr. Simon, “original intent” means “limited government,” and not having liberal justices treat the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” whose interpretation changes with whomever is on the judicial bench at the time.

To be more specific, Simon and all his liberal pals would benefit by viewing Bill Whittle’s outstanding series “What We Believe” and maybe take a class in the Federalist papers, for no sane person equates slavery with a “perfect union” or “original intent.” The Founding Fathers were not perfect. America was not perfect. That’s exactly why the Constitution created a mechanism for amending the document. What’s troubling is that Simon--a smart and accomplished individual--is either ignorant regarding what Conservatism is really about, or (more likely) he’s being a typical liberal bully.

Here’s why I assert Simon is a bully. His own words reveal him to be a petty, nasty, mean-spirited guy. “…anything I've ever accomplished as a writer, as somebody doing TV, anything I've ever done in life, down to, like, cleaning up my room, has been accomplished because I was going to show people that they were [bleeped] up, wrong, and that I was the [bleeping] center of the universe and the sooner they got hip to that, the happier they would all be."

This petulant, childish Leftist can’t even clean up his room without showing people he’s the [bleeping] center of the universe. Yet, we’re expected to take his word as to what “original intent” means? It certainly does not include “sadism and degradation of human slavery.” What it means to liberals like Simon is yet another excuse to tear up the Constitution, force big government onto the people, and have liberal ideology rule the day. In other words, make us all slaves to government.

How ironic.



The Unbearable Blindness of David Simon

by Andrew Klavan

I have been traveling and so this comes a little late, but it’s still worth saying. Lawrence Meyers at the wonderful Breitbart site Big Hollywood had an excellent takedown of David Simon last week. Simon, author of the brilliant book Homicide and creator of the excellent television show The Wire, is also, according to the book Difficult Men, a self-obsessed and bullying leftist. Recently, he attacked conservatives and, indeed, the U.S. Constitution they are trying to defend. Simon says:

"If original intent included the sadism and degradation of human slavery, then original intent is a legal and moral standard that can be consigned to the ash heap of human history. Hardcore conservatives and libertarians who continue to parse the origins of the Constitutions under the guise of returning to a more perfect American union are on a fool’s journey to decay and dishonor."

I leave it to Meyers’s strong piece to take down this nonsense, as indeed he does.

But here’s what bugs me. The Wire (which is, to some extent, based on the year Simon spent with the Baltimore Homicide Squad while researching Homicide) takes place in a city without conservatives, even without Republicans. There has not been a Republican mayor of Baltimore since 1967. And much of the show’s genius lies in its depiction of the brutalized life of black people in the city’s ghetto.

So we have a writer who has seen for himself, and who has shown us, the effects of Democrat governance on a city, the dehumanization of the poor that is the direct result of leftism and the corruption that inevitably springs from it. And yet Simon blames conservatives!

I understand why too, as I’ll explain:

I was a liberal once. I knew that liberal policy was wrong — but I also knew that conservatives were evil. Racist, sexist, uncaring, one step from Nazis. This was a religious truth to me. Well, of course it was. All leftists are taught this. That’s how the left keeps you in the fold despite the evidence of your own eyes. Leftists do to their followers what the townspeople did to Jim Carrey’s character in that movie The Truman Show. They teach them to fear and hate the unknown so much that they won’t test alternative ideas no matter how bad things get. “Life in Liberal World may be a mess, Truman,” they tell you, “but oh the horrors that wait for you out there in Conservative Land!”

David Simon’s intelligence is being thwarted by this superstitious fear. Cowering inside the virtuous feeling of his leftism, he does not know what he does not know. If he wants to see up close the horrors that left-wing policies visit on the lives of the poor, he ought to try watching The Wire. It’s all in there.



College Students Assess the Terms “Conservative” and “Progressive”

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph recently walked around American University asking students how they defined the terms “conservative” and “progressive.” It didn’t go so well:

In fairness, I suspect the responses would have been very different if the interviews were conducted at an institution like, say, Hillsdale College -- and not American University. But generally speaking, these reactions -- remarkable for their uniformity of opinion -- are probably typical of how students think at institutions of higher learning in the United States today.

The general consensus? Conservatives want America to be a 1950s-esque patriarchal society where power is concentrated in the hands of the “one percent,” whereas progressives have “open views” and want to make things better for everyone. The implication, of course, as Joseph pointed out, is that conservatives are therefore actively not trying to make things better for everyone -- a complete distortion of American conservatism and what it stands for. Students repeatedly used the term “status quo,” avowing that conservatism, as an intellectual movement, is fundamentally "against moving the country forward." To back up their claims, students cited a number of hot-button issues -- gay marriage, abortion, and climate change, to name a few -- as evidence that conservatives really do subscribe to a “backwards” ideology. None of this is surprising, fair, or, for that matter, even true.

Students who attend decidedly liberal colleges are presumably going to view conservatives in a negative light. This caricature is reinforced by their professors and the content of their classes. In time, they will come to see conservatism as a powerful yet misguided movement that is inherently racist, bigoted, and “for the rich.” Not until conservatives seriously engage this audience of Americans -- by first and foremost visiting their colleges and universities -- will the status quo ever change.

Time to get to work.



EMP threat: Ostrich response?

Few public policy issues are of greater import to the future security of the United States and its people than whether the nation’s electric grid is sufficiently resilient to withstand serious, and possibly enduring, disruption from man-caused or naturally occurring events.

Yesterday, however, a congressional warning was sounded that the needed, honest evaluation of that question may be hindered – not advanced – by a test slated for 13-14 November that is billed by its chief sponsor as a “biennial international grid security exercise” designed to evaluate “crisis response plans and identify actionable improvement recommendations for plans, security programs, and skills” in the face of cyber and physical attacks on the grid.

In the attached letter to the leaders of the electric industry’s trade association/regulator, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) expressed concern about the public response of a Florida utility, the Kissimmee Utility Authority, to a National Geographic feature film entitled, “American Blackout” that aired on 27 October 2013.

“[The docudrama] showed what our countrymen and nation would experience in the event of a cyber attack on the U.S. bulk power distribution system that shut down the grid for ten days. If anything, the serious hardships, dislocation, physical destruction, deaths and societal breakdown portrayed in this docudrama are likely understated.

“Yet…the Kissimmee Utility Authority saw fit to issue a press release after ‘American Blackout’ was broadcast that downplayed the dangers associated with the sort of disruption portrayed in the film. It was headlined, ‘No Need for Panic.’”

Mr. Franks, the Co-Chairman of the House Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Caucus, observed: “We note that the industry has often issued such casual assurances when confronted with evidence – including that contained in no fewer than five different federal government studies in recent years – that a sustained blackout would be catastrophic.

Rather than address this conclusion forthrightly and ensure that corrective actions are taken to prevent such an event, or at least minimize its likelihood, NERC and many of the utilities it represents have historically tried to deflect attention and trivialize the threat.”

Rep. Franks, who introduced last week with Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, asked the electric industry leaders pointedly: “In light of these dangers, we want to establish whether you and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation share the view of the utility in Kissimmee? Or do you believe the public should be concerned that the grid may be offline for extended periods?”

In conclusion, Rep. Franks served notice on those responsible for GridEx II: “If…NERC and others involved in planning and executing GridEx II are dismissive of those who believe such vulnerabilities exist – and if the planners are intent on using the exercise to hide, rather than expose, these shortcomings – GridEx may actually be a grave disservice to the consumer, to the public more generally and perhaps to America’s vital national security.”

A new video (“The Real American Blackout” at www.StopEMP.org) was unveiled last week by the EMP Coalition – an ad hoc group made up of many of the nation’s leading experts and organizations committed to protecting the bulk power distribution grid and the critical infrastructures that depends upon it from the terrible consequences of a long-duration loss of power, raises similar concerns.



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

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


13 November, 2013

Oh dear! Who's the shrimp in this picture?

The tall man is a King, and a very popular one. He is Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The Dutch do tend to be tall. Willem Alexander is 6'3"

And you know who the shrimp is. Hint: The pic was taken in Russia


More on WWI

On Nov. 7th., I put up a post which eneavoured to explain both why wars in general happen and why WWI in particular happened. The sheer awfulness of WWI does however make my explanation in sociological and legal terms seem rather shallow so I would like to put forward deeper levels of explanation as well. Before I do that, however, I reproduce below an essay that stresses how hard it is to understand the awful events of that war.
Why War?

By Richard Koenigsberg

In 1989, I was on the fourth floor of the Bobst library at NYU. Having read most of the books on Nazism, Hitler and the Holocaust, I drifted across the aisle and started browsing through the volumes on the First World War—and was astonished at what I discovered.

I was astonished—not only by the persistence and magnitude of the slaughter—but by the blasé way historians described what had occurred. It seemed as if mass murder was taken for granted: nothing special. At least the Holocaust evoked shock and bewilderment. But the extermination of 9 million human beings (most of them young men) evoked little amazement.

I began studying the topic more deeply, assuming historians would reveal the causes. What was so significant that could generate such massive slaughter? Of course, historians were able to trace how one event led to another. But why did the slaughter take place? Why was it necessary? Gradually, I realized historians were unable to answer these questions.

Orion and I were reading back issues of the New York Review of Books earlier this week—as a model for Library of Social Science Book Reviews—and came across a terrific article by Jason Epstein. In his review essay, Epstein poses several questions I have been thinking about during the past 25 years.

Reviewing John Keegan’s The First World War, Epstein conveys this great historian’s conclusion: that the nations of Europe (and the world) “had no compelling reason to fight.” Keegan asked: “Why did the states of Europe proceed as if in a dead march and a dialogue of the deaf, to the destruction of their continent and its civilization?” It is this question—and others like it—that we pose in this Newsletter, and through our Websites.

The most profound flaw in the thinking of historians and political scientists is their assumption of rationality. They proceed as if it is possible to identify “real reasons” for mass murder—and for the tendency of nation-states to proceed as if self-extermination was their objective.

Epstein cites a sermon presented by the Bishop of London in 1915, who urged Englishmen to kill Germans…to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young men as well the old,…to kill them lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed. As I have said a thousand times, I look upon it as a war for purity…for the principles of Christianity. I look upon everyone who dies in it as a martyr.

The words in this brief passage (that easily could have come out of Hitler’s mouth) reveal several themes that have emerged from my research on collective forms of violence.

Warfare revolves around the idea that it is necessary to kill or destroy the enemy. There is blind passion in the Bishop’s words—he insists it is necessary to “kill Germans,” the “good as well as the bad,” the “young men as well as the old”. Why this belief that it necessary to kill—or kill off—each and every member of another nation or societal group?

Nations and enemies go together. It seems that one requires the other, almost as if nations need enemies in order to energize themselves—to stay alive. The nation’s identity seems to be dependent on its capacity to identify an enemy to hate, revile—and possibly kill.

The Bishop asserts that it is necessary to kill Germans “lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed.” I have found that the idea of “rescuing civilization” is central in generating warfare. War is not about “primitive aggression.” Rather, nations initiate acts of war when they imagine that the future of civilization is at stake.

Somehow, the other civilization (or group) is imagined to threaten the existence of one’s own civilization. This principle applies to contemporary political struggles—as well as the First World War. Warfare arises as a form of morality, or moral righteousness. The enemy Other is imagined to be acting to destroy one’s own society. Violent acts are therefore necessary—required.

Hitler explained, “We may be inhumane, but if we rescue Germany, we have performed the greatest deed in the world.” If you think about any case of political violence that you have studied or are familiar with, you will probably conclude that Hitler’s statement is applicable. Collective forms of violence are undertaken in the name of a rescue fantasy. “Yes, we are performing acts of inhumane violence. However, if our nation or society is to survive, we have no other choice but to undertake them.”

The Bishop’s war cry, Epstein observes, could have “landed him in an asylum” had he delivered it a year earlier. Warfare, it would appear, renders normal what in other circumstances would be judged insane. Outside the context of war, asking men to get out of trenches and to run into machine gun fire and artillery shells for four years—would be considered a form of insanity.

I worked with a psychiatrist in 1998 developing an all-day seminar on warfare. She was not a historian and was unfamiliar with the First World War. We were sitting on a couch watching Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957). When we came to the scene in which soldiers were compelled to get out of their trench and move into no man’s land—in the face of massive shelling (click the link to view the video), she jumped up from the couch and screamed, “It’s crazy. It’s insane.”

This, perhaps, is the normal or natural reaction of a human being who has not been socialized into the historical discourse on the First World War. And yes, what occurred between 1914 and 1918 was insane. However, we don’t like to say this. We shy away from acknowledging that insane forms of behavior are contained within the fabric of civilization.

What’s more, human beings to not seem to be ashamed of their proclivity toward mass murder and self-destruction. Leaders who are responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings often live to a ripe old age. Perhaps we are even proud of our willingness to kill and die for abstract ideas—our sacred ideals. It’s what distinguishes us from other animals.

Can we begin to “bracket” the ideology of warfare—to conceive of this institution as something other than who we are? Post-modernists have deconstructed nearly everything. However, the idea of warfare (and of the nation-state, which generates war) reigns supreme.

It is easy to be “against” war. However, we have yet to pose and answer fundamental questions: Precisely what is warfare? Why do we need it? Why have human beings become so attached to the idea or ideology of warfare? These are questions we seek to answer through our Library of Social Science Newsletter, our Ideologies of War website, and through Library of Social Science Book Reviews.

We may not be ready to conceive of warfare as an institutionalized form of insanity. So let’s say that warfare is like a dream that many people are having at once: a collective fantasy that has been embraced and called “reality.”

At least in the essay above, Koenigsberg has no answer as to why those terrible events all happened -- but I think a wider knowledge of history does give a lot of the answers.

The key, as I see it, is that there were many mutually reinforcing tendencies leading to that war. I have dealt with the sociological and legal reasons on 7th., so now I want to mention the anthropological, psychological and strategic reasons. With influences at all five levels pointing in the one direction, the actual events become more understandable.

For a start, let me reinforce something Koenigsberg says: That Britons were told the were defending civilization against the barbaric Germans. Since Germany was at the time arguably the most civilized nation on earth, this is a truly epic example of lying propaganda.

And illogical, though it was, that propaganda message seems to have been widely accepted. A generation later, Hitler greatly admired that. He thought it showed that the British were masters of propaganda, something I would not dispute.br />
To understand why that bizarre message was even initiated, however, anthropology needs to be called upon. And it helps if you know Melanesians. Melanesians are the black inhabitants of the large island of New Guinea (slightly larger than Texas) and neighboring islands. I rather like Melanesians but they do not like one-another very much. They mostly live in small villages as subsistence farmers.

Some Melanesians

There are about 400 languages in New Guinea and a similar number of tribes that speak them. And social relationships are overwhelmingly governed by whether the other person is a "wantok" or not. A "wantok" is someone who speaks your language. Your relationship with a wantok is tightly rule-governed but anything goes with others. A non-wantok is fair game. And that is just one reflection of the attitudes that the different tribes have towards one another: They hate one-another. To us the diffences between the various tribes seem minute but not so to the people concerned.

So to generalize from that, tribalism is deeply human and deeply hostile. A different tribe has to be only slightly different to be hated. So the WWI British portrayal of Germans would be completely understood in New Guinea. And the acceptance of that portrayal by the British public would also be seen as unremarkable. We and Melanesians are more alike that we would like to think. Both of us are quick to think ill of other language groups

It could in fact be argued that Melanesians are more civilized than we are. Anything above a skirmish between wantoks is virtually unknown in New Guinea. But as America's two wars for Yankee supremacy show, Americans have no such scruples. Americans even attack wantoks. And both the war of Independence and the North/South wars were brutal, with the death toll in the second war in the same ballpark as WWI on a per head basis. Such slaughter of wantoks would appall Melanesians.

So we can see that anthropology adds its bit to the motivation behind WWI.

And the psychology was powerful too. Thanks principally to the rather bewildering statesmanship of Otto von Bismarck, Europe had a long and virtually unprecedented period of peace from 1871 on.

And all the nations of Western Europe used this time to catch up with the British industrial revolution. So there was vast modernization and a great improvement in living standards generally. And the people of Europe saw that and were much pleased. And each nation saw its rapid progress over two generations as its own achievement. As the anthropology would lead us to expect, they did NOT see the transformation as riding on the coattails of British innovation and entrepreneurship.

So with vast confidence in their brilliance, all the nations felt invincible in war. They all thought that with their obvious civilizational superiority, any war that they undertook would be over in a matter of weeks. They were spoiling for a fight, a fight which they thought would prove their superiority once and for all. So they rose with alacrity to the challenge when at last it came.

And then there were the strategic considerations, particularly where Britain was concerned. If Britain had stayed out of the war, the outcome would almost certainly have been little more that a re-run of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The Germans would have won, carved off a few bits of French territory, and withdrawn to fight the Russians.

And the British were in fact not really obligated to fight. Their treaty with France did not really envisage a war where France declared war without itself first being attacked. So British propaganda could have easily coped with staying out of the war on legal grounds.

So why did Britain join in? Partly as a matter of honour. British waffling to escape a treaty obligation would have degraded Britain's value as an ally and British European policy had always been reliant on having allies. And the "honor" aspect was of course a major focus in British propaganda.

But there was also a very practical strategic reason for Britain to join in. They were worried sick by the German Hochseeflotte (navy) -- and this was a chance to sink it -- which they eventually did. Their worries were highly realistic. At the battle of Jutland, the German High Seas Fleet ran rings around the Royal Navy. Britain kept the field only by virtue of superior numbers. And another ten years of competitive shipbuilding on both sides could well have eroded that numerical advantage.

And the navy has always been vital to Britain. As Drake versus the Spanish Armada and and Nelson against the Franco/Spanish fleet at Trafalgar showed, the Royal Navy was instrumental in keeping Britain safe from invasion. And as the British empire expanded the navy assumed the extra burden of keeping a worldwide empire safe. So British naval supremacy was sacrosanct, even if much of the British army had to be sacrificed to preserve that supremacy. And that is exactly what happened.

So the fact that the war persisted for four grisly but largely static years was testimony to the great range of powerful influences that impelled it in the first place.

Koenigsberg would ask WHY we see ourselves as part of a nation or some other collectivity but I treat that as a given. Something that virtually all men do can at least for my purposes be reasonably treated as axiomatic -- JR.


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

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


12 November, 2013

Commander oblivion


I Have Seen the Future, and it Is Idiocy

by Theodore Dalrymple

Yesterday morning, as I was sitting in the flat on Paris that I have rented for a time quietly finishing my latest book, Murderers I Have Known (and I have known quite a few), a furious row broke out in the street six floors below. I went out onto the terrace—the flat is on the building’s top floor—to see what was going on. There were several other equally curious people standing on their balconies on both sides of the street.

A little knot of young black men, with two or three girls among them, was having a furious row. It was obvious that they were in earnest, though goodness knows about what, as I could not make out any words. I was like a dog; I went by the tone of their voices.

One of the young men struck another and he fell, his face covered in blood. The man who had struck him kicked him with full force and got down on him to punch him as hard as he could. He got in several very hard blows before some others hauled him off. If he had not been hauled off, I think he would have beaten him to death. I was very glad that neither of the two, the beater and the beaten, had a gun, for I am sure that in their heightened state of emotion, whatever it was about, one of them would have used a gun to kill. Of course, there will be those who say that if each of them had thought the other had a gun, they would not have fought in the first place.

It was strange to see cars crawl by this scene, the drivers obviously seeing what was going on but doing nothing about it. Some passersby passed by and others tried to intervene. More than one called the police.

Oddly enough, once the man had been hauled off his prostrate associate (former friend? longtime enemy?), the group reformed and went up the street, still arguing furiously. A couple of shopkeepers came out to tell them to calm down, as the frightening fury was presumably bad for trade.

This all continued for several minutes. The police never came. They probably had other things to do.

As it happens, their slowness to react (infinite slowness, in fact, since they did not react at all), contrasted oddly with an experience I had the previous Sunday. A couple of American filmmakers came to Paris to interview me—it always surprises me that anybody would take so much trouble to interview anybody, let alone me—and decided that the little park opposite my flat, with a pretty little bandstand, would be a good place to do so. They set up the camera, but a few seconds later, before they could ask me a single question, a municipal policeman arrived. They were not allowed to film here without a permit from the mairie of the arrondissement, he said. I explained that these were Americans, come all the way from Texas expressly to interview me. He, a very pleasant and polite man of African origin, phoned his chief to see whether an exception could be made. As I suspected, it could not.

I told the film crew that we should make no fuss; the man was only doing his job, silly as that job might be. As it happens there were several drunks in another part of the park making aggressive-sounding noises and breaking bottles, but them he did not approach, perhaps wisely, as they were several and he was only one. He thought he would have more luck with someone wearing a tweed jacket and corduroy trousers as I was. We found a café willing to accommodate us.

The contrast between the authorities’ alacrity on one hand in preventing innocent filming for a matter of a few minutes (the policeman said authorization was necessary because it might cause a disturbance, and, being kind, I refrained from laughing), and on the other their slow response to a nasty incident that might have ended in murder, was emblematic of the modern state’s capacity to get everything exactly the wrong way around, to ascribe importance to trivia and to ignore the important. There are, of course, many more employment opportunities in trivia, since there is much more that is trivial in the world than is important.

France is not unique in this respect, or even the worst example I know. In London I once parked outside a hotel where I proposed to stay. Parking was forbidden outside, but I stopped only to take my baggage inside. I received a parking ticket within sixty seconds, a miracle of efficiency (I genuinely admired it in a way), though it was perfectly obvious from my car’s open doors that I did not propose to stay long and was only taking my luggage into the hotel. But on another occasion when my wife telephoned the police to inform them that youths were committing arson in our front garden before her very eyes, they had no time to attend to it. A more senior officer, however, did find the time a quarter of an hour later to complain to my wife that she had wasted police time by complaining in the first place.

It often seems, then, as if modern state authorities live in a looking-glass world: What normal people regard as important is for them of no importance, while what they regard as of supreme importance normal people regard as of no importance. For them the respectable are suspect and the suspect respectable. A tweed jacket is a sign of menace, while a broken bottle is a sign of harmless intent.

One must not exaggerate the degree to which official idiocy impinges on our lives. The exaggeration of misery is one of the royal roads to political disaster. Still, I have seen the future, and it is idiocy.



Early Skirmishes in a Race War

Officials and media aren’t being honest about the violence

By Thomas Sowell

One of the reasons for being glad to be as old as I am is that I may be spared living to see a race war in America. Race wars are often wars in which nobody wins and everybody ends up much worse off than they were before.

Initial skirmishes in that race war have already begun, and have in fact been going on for some years. But public officials pretend that it is not happening, and the mainstream media seldom publish it at all, except in ways that conceal what is really taking place.

For American society, a dangerous polarization has set in. Signs of this polarization over the years include opposite reactions between blacks and whites to the verdict in the O. J. Simpson murder case, the “rape” charges against Duke University students, and the trials resulting from the beating of Rodney King and the death of Trayvon Martin.

More dangerous than these highly publicized episodes over the years are innumerable organized and unprovoked physical attacks on whites by young black gangs in shopping malls, on beaches, and in other public places all across the country today.

While some of these attacks make it into the media as isolated incidents, the nationwide pattern of organized black-on-white attacks by thugs remains invisible in the mainstream media, with the notable exception of Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News Channel.

Even when these attacks are accompanied by shouts of anti-white rhetoric and exultant laughter at the carnage, the racial makeup of the attackers and their victims is usually ignored by the media, and public officials often deny that race has anything to do with what happened.

These attacks have sent many people to the hospital, and some victims have died, but the attacks are often carried out in a festive atmosphere. What are called “troubled youths,” in this and other contexts, are often in fact young people enjoying themselves greatly by creating big trouble for others.

Some of these many attacks are covered in detail in a book titled White Girl Bleed a Lot, by Colin Flaherty. It was a phrase that I recognized immediately from my own previous research.

That phrase was uttered by one of a group of black attackers who descended on a group of whites at a July 4th fireworks show in Milwaukee. But what happened there was not unique, either in itself or in the efforts of police and political authorities to downplay what happened — and to say that race had nothing to do with it.

When the Chicago Tribune was criticized for editing out the race of the attackers in a series of similar organized attacks in Chicago, it replied that race was irrelevant. Yet race is not considered irrelevant when indignantly editorializing on a disproportionate number of young black males arrested and imprisoned.

Sadly, what happened in Milwaukee and Chicago were not isolated incidents. They were part of a pattern repeated in dozens of cities, in every region of the country. Colin Flaherty’s book, which is subtitled “The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It,” reveals this pattern in painful detail.

Other books are emerging that are more clearly a white backlash, in the sense that they attack behavior patterns among contemporary blacks in general.

Perhaps the most clearly “backlash” books are those written by Paul Kersey, whose central theme is that whites have created thriving cities, which blacks subsequently took over and ruined. Examples include his books about Birmingham (The Tragic City) and Detroit (Escape from Detroit).

Kersey even takes a swing at Rush Limbaugh (and at yours truly) for saying that liberal policies destroyed these cities. He says that San Francisco and other cities with liberal policies, but without black demographic and political takeovers, have not been ruined. His books are poorly written, but they raise tough questions.

It would be easy to simply dismiss Kersey as a racist. But denouncing him or ignoring him is not refuting him. Refuting requires thought, which has largely been replaced by fashionable buzzwords and catchphrases when it comes to discussions of race.

Thought is long overdue. So is honesty.



Attempted Land Grab Ends With Voters Booting Entire City Council

Government officials like to use eminent domain for the convenience of their preferred policies and/or the enrichment of themselves and their buddies. Usually, they get away with it, because the folks on the receiving end are too few and powerless to hold their tormentors to account. In Hackensack, New Jersey, however, the officials who targeted Michael Monaghan's property for seizure as part of an "area in need of redevelopment," even while denying him the right to develop it himself, pushed too many people around, too often. Last month, voters booted out the entire city council.

From the Institute for Justice:

"Michael Monaghan has wanted to develop his property on Main Street in Hackensack, New Jersey, just a few miles away from Manhattan. Yet the city twice denied two applications for banks to build on his land.

Instead, Hackensack’s Planning Board designated Michael’s and another owner’s land as an “area in need of redevelopment,” authorizing the use of eminent domain to condemn and seize the properties. “I've stood up and tried to protect my property for the last eight years,” he said in an interview with a local paper.

Adding insult to injury, this designation was completely unwarranted. According to Michael’s attorney, Peter Dickson, the board “did not make the Constitutional finding of blighted, and did not have any evidence that would support such a finding.”

Last month, the Appellate Division of the state Superior Court agreed, ruling the Planning Board didn’t properly prove that those properties were blighted and “in need of redevelopment.” The city council intended to appeal the appellate court’s decision.

But fortunately for property owners, Hackensack’s entire city council was booted out of office. The grassroots group Citizens for Change won every single seat on the city council, despite being outraised 2:1. Their slate of candidates successfully ran on a platform against costly litigation, nepotism, and corruption. (For example, Hackensack’s police chief was recently convicted for official misconduct and insurance fraud.) Citizens for Change also sharply criticized Hackensack’s redevelopment projects, calling them “sweetheart deals and special privileges for politically connected property owners and developers.”

A happy outcome like this is no surefire guarantee that eminent domain won't be abused in the future. But it is a sign that, even in New Jersey, government officials have to keep the bullying below the public's pain threshold.



Conservative white Republican exploits black racism to win election

A WHITE candidate who tricked voters into believing he was black to win a local election is unapologetic about his deception.

"Every time a politician talks, he's out there deceiving voters," Dave Wilson, a conservative white Republican who ran for office in Houston, Texas, told the local K Houston TV station.

Wilson, whose tactics were labeled "disgusting" by opponents, sent out fliers to his overwhelmingly black Democrat constituency strongly implying he was black.

The fliers had on photos of smiling African-Americans and were captioned "Please vote for our friend and neighbour Dave Wilson."

One of the fliers referred to an endorsement from Ron Wilson, a name local voters were likely to associate with a former Houston state representative who is also black. In fact the endorsement came from Wilson’s cousin who lives in Iowa and shares the politician’s name.

The tactic worked and Wilson - an anti-gay activist who opponents call a "right-wing hate monger" – won election to the Houston Community College System.

Bruce Austin, the longtime Democrat incumbent pushed out by Wilson, said: "I don't think it's good for both democracy and the whole concept of fair play. But that was not his intent, apparently."


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


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

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


11 November, 2013

Laurent Fabius our hero?

He seems to have been the only barrier to giving Iran all they want. Laurent Fabius is a French Socialist politician and the current Foreign Minister of France. He served as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1986. He is Jewish by ancestry

Marathon talks on a deal to temporarily curb Iran's nuclear program have broken down after a negotiations between foreign ministers ran into trouble late last night.

France raised objections to a draft agreement, complaining it did not go far enough to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of six other delegations conferred with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a late-night session which broke up after midnight.

The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, told France Inter radio yesterday that Paris would not accept a 'sucker's deal'.

They complained the text which was drafted as part of the agreement had been presented a 'fait accompli' and did not want to be forced into a a deat.

EU foreign policy chief Barones Ashton said 'a lot of concrete progress has been made but differences remain' with Tehran.

Asked whether it was French objections which scuppered any deal, Baroness Ashton said Fabius 'came determined to try to help this process'.

Zarif said the three days of talks had been 'very productive', despite the failure to reach agreement.



Obama’s Democrat Party of Pitchmen and Liars

It’s getting both comical and frustrating to watch liberals rush a prevent-style defense in the wake of Obama’s most recently broken promise. The now laughable claim that “if you like your private insurance plan, you can keep your private insurance plan” is haunting Democrats across the nation. It’s hard not to call such a line – uttered well after the White House estimated millions would lose their insurance – anything other than an outright lie.

From the party that decided to parse the meaning of the word “is” in the 1990’s has come a full range of defenses. The most popular being that “for 95 percent of Americans” the President’s claim will prove to be accurate. . . Of course this is merely the most recent lie to escape the lips of the Left’s most desperate salesmen.

This figure is based off the roughly 5 percent of Americans who get their insurance from the individual market, as opposed to their employer provided coverage. And yet, according to the rarely mentioned memo that proves the President’s malicious intent to deceive, as many as 69 percent of certain employer based insurance plans could lose coverage. According to McClatchy news, as many as 52 million Americans might be losing their coverage because of the pages of regulation in the “Affordable” Care Act.

Which brings us to another point: Aren’t the Democrats supposed to be the party for the disenfranchised? Are those 52 million (or for that matter, the 11 million people to which Obama, Wasserman-Schultz, and Jay Carney keep referring) not real people? Are they not cancer survivors who are depending on their current insurance, and current doctors for care? Or are we not supposed to concern ourselves with anecdotal stories when the narratives run contrary to Democrat platforms?

So far, in Obamacare’s infancy, far more people have lost their insurance than have signed up for the exchanges. Yet, I don’t see Obama holding a press conference with people like Edie Sundby standing behind him as a human prop. Maybe he should. . . From a pure PR standpoint, there are far more horror stories to highlight than success stories in relation to the “Affordable” Care Act.

And let’s not gloss over the name of the President’s signature piece of legislation. . . Now, which is the bigger lie: The President’s claim that you can keep your insurance, or the actual name of his healthcare bill? The “Affordable” Care Act is projected to increase premiums an average of 41 percent. And for many of those who will soon be losing insurance coverage, the increase (as they’re forced into more comprehensive and wide ranging plans) could be substantially more. Some victims of the President’s socialization of Healthcare have reported premium hikes up to 1000 percent.

In fact, as we learn more about the law and its implementation, we are learning that many aspects of the law were sold with less-than-honest sales pitches. Remember how Obama, Pelosi and Reid insisted this Frankenstein of regulation was necessary to insure the uninsured? Well, after a decade of implementation the law will still fail to cover tens of millions of Americans. . . And that’s assuming that those individuals who find themselves unexpectedly without coverage this year don’t decide to remain in the category of “uninsured.”

What’s more stunning, is that the Media is just now beginning to catch on to this theme. It’s not as if this is the first time the White House has let slip a non-truth. Much of the President’s tenure has been a tour of dishonesty and deceit.

Remember Fast and Furious? First there was denial. Then we were told the operation was small and isolated. Then the Department of Justice issued a letter stating no knowledge of the operation; only to retract that letter and admit to “administrative” knowledge of the gun running operation that ultimately took the lives of two US border Patrol Agents. Then there was Benghazi: At first we were told that Ambassador Stevens was killed in a protest-gone-wrong. . . Of course we now know that was not only false, but unconditionally and irretrievably false. And what about the IRS scandal that started as “a couple of rogue” agents in Cincinnati; but quickly ballooned to involve the IRS Director herself?

Not all of Obama’s non-truths, half-truths and outright-lies are the products of uncovered scandals. Some are more benign than others. After the government shutdown and debt ceiling negotiations, it’s almost comical to recollect his 2008 speech to the Mile High City, in which he portrayed himself as the great “Uniter.” After a full five years of stubbornly high unemployment, we should be reminded about his promise to create “shovel ready” jobs.

The implementation of Obamacare has simply exposed a long standing truth about our 44th President: His teleprompter has no periods. . . Only Asterisks. And while Democrats try to blame the private insurance companies (that Obamacare is responsible for regulating), and the purchasers of “inadequate” insurance, they will quickly lead the American people to another truth:

President Obama is merely a representative sample of today’s Democrat Party. Because let’s face it. . . There’s only one Party in America that is currently defending the claim that 51 million Americans will be able to keep the insurance they are currently losing. If you or I made a similar claim to Congress, it might be considered a felony.



The Future of the Conservative Movement

At long last, the conservative movement is taking a long, hard look at itself. Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his fellow ideologues barrel full steam ahead in their quest to “fundamentally transform” the country.

The time is now to read to Ilana Mercer’s, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Mercer, the daughter of a rabbi and former anti-apartheid activist, was raised, first in Israel, and then South Africa. Though this classical liberal and self-professed “paleo-libertarian” has never been any sort of friend to either apartheid or any other racially-based institutional arrangement, Mercer is at great pains to note the ugly fact that, by any standard, life in “the New South Africa” is dramatically worse than was life in the old.

And this is why she fled her home to forge a new existence in America.

The first chapter of Cannibal is a gripping—and grisly—account of the scourge that crime has become in post-apartheid South Africa. Refusing to reduce the victims of barbarism to a bunch of bloodless statistics, Mercer introduces readers to people like twelve year-old Emily Williams, who was shot to death when she stumbled upon an armed robbery in progress at a friend’s house while walking to school. Her heart broken parents subsequently decided that their country had become an intolerable place to remain. They have since relocated to the United Kingdom.

The reader is also acquainted with the likes of Rene Burger, a young and promising medical student who was kidnapped and gang-raped at knife-point by three degenerates at a “well-patrolled” hospital where she was taking classes, and Sheldon Cohen, who died in front of his young son after being gunned down by three predators.

Mercer identifies others—including a not inconsiderable number of her own relatives—who have suffered unspeakable violence at the hands of South African thugs. She also definitively establishes that to no slight measure, this crime epidemic is motivated by an animus toward whites, a deep seated racial hatred that is both encouraged and, particularly in the case of the legions of white Afrikaner farmers who have been forced from their lands, sanctioned by the African National Congress.

But it would be a grave mistake to think that Cannibal is only about South Africa. It is not. As its author describes it, and as its subtitle makes clear, it is a “labor of love” to her homelands old and new. Mercer is determined to spare America the same fate that befell South Africa. Furthermore, it would be as equally egregious a mistake to think that Cannibal is only, or even primarily, about race. There are larger issues to which Mercer speaks, issues with which conservatives have grappled from at least the time that their “patron saint,” Edmund Burke, first articulated them.

Though Mercer insists that she is no conservative, there are similarities, striking similarities, between her and Burke. The latter made an impassioned defense of his 18th century England against the radicalism of the French Revolution that he feared would soon enough ravage his country. It was in response to these ideological excesses that conservatism first emerged as a distinctive tradition of thought. Mercer carries on this estimable tradition inasmuch as she seeks to defend her new country, America, against the ravenous radicalisms that threaten it.

The forces that imperiled France and England in Burke’s day are the same forces that consumed South Africa and that imperil America in our own. These forces boil down to a lust, an insatiable lust, for revolutionary change and the ideological abstractions that inspire it.

As the conservative theorist Michael Oakeshott memorably remarked, change is emblematic of death. Thus, conservatives have always preferred changes that are slight to those that are vast, changes that are necessary to those that are not, and changes that are gradual to those that are radical. Changes that are “fundamentally transformative” siphon the life out of a society by severing its present from its past.

Unlike most of us, Mercer knows all too well how an agenda to “fundamentally transform” a society, pursued with all of the recklessness with which such agendas are inevitably pursued, is guaranteed to destroy that society—however beautiful-sounding the abstract ideals in the names of which it is executed.

However, it isn’t just the usual suspects—leftists or Democrats—who have an ardent affection for radical change and abstract ideals. The GOP and “the conservative press” have had more than their share of true believers as well.

It was, after all, “conservatives”—or, more accurately, neoconservatives—that most rigorously supported George W. Bush’s campaign to “fundamentally transform” the Middle East into an oasis of “Democracy.” Noting that abstract ideals like Democracy are not timeless principles written in “human nature” but the hard-earned gains of a civilization that has been millennia in the making, Mercer was among those who argued mightily against this fool’s errand from the outset. Though she fell out of favor with some notable “conservative” media personalities for doing so, time has vindicated her while indicting her critics.



Words Matter

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post from economist Don Boudreaux:

Matt Miller includes himself among those “who think the health security the Affordable Care Act provides marks a fundamental advance in America’s social contract” (“Obamacare’s well-insured critics,” Nov. 6).

Mr. Miller needs a refresher on the definition of “contract.”

A contract binds only those parties who voluntarily agree to be bound by its provisions. Central to this definition of “contract” is the presumption that all parties to the contract know the provisions to which they agree. But because Obamacare passed without a single favorable vote of the opposition party, because it passed by a narrow margin in the House of Representatives, and because even some of Obamacare’s enthusiastic Congressional supporters admitted that they did not know all of the provisions of the bill, to call Obamacare part of a “social contract” is a dishonest attempt to clothe that legislation with a legitimacy that it does not possess.

Unchecked political majorities often run roughshod over minorities – forcing, in each case, the minority to obey the majority’s commands (rather than, as with true contracts, bargaining with parties who remain free to refuse any and all contractual offers). No realistic person doubts this regrettable reality. Please, though, let’s not perfume up and glorify such exercises of raw majoritarian power by calling their outcomes clauses of a “social contract.”




Every now and again I put up a small gallery of graphics that have appeared on this blog that I think are worth revisiting. The latest can be accessed here or here


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

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


10 November, 2013

The Flynn effect

The Flynn effect is the fact that average IQ scores throughout the world rose substantially throughout the 20th century. The scores for both blacks and whites rose but the gap between the two remained essentially the same.

The effect has been something of a puzzle. Why did it happen? There are probably a number of processes causing it -- processes which could be broadly grouped as "modernization". An interesting part of the effect is that scores on subtests that load most highly on 'g' (the general factor) have changed least. This suggests that scores on a perfect test would not have changed at all.

A new researcher has fastened on to that fact and looked at what characterizes high 'g' and low 'g' subtests. He finds that the subtests which have shown the biggest change are tests where a small group of strategies allow you to answer most of the items successfully.

And that ties in with an explanation commonly given for the Flynn effect -- that ever rising number of years spent in the educational system give students more and more practice at using test-answering strategies. And they can use some of those strategies in answering IQ tests too. So education increases scores on the least-central question-types. On items that strategies cannot help you to answer (such as testing how many hard words you know) there has been virtually no change over the years.

So education has now been fairly conclusively identified as the main cause of the rising scores and at the same time the rising scores have been shown as not reflecting a real rise in underlying abilities.

Steve Sailer has the details


Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan is something of a figure of fun to many of us. He gets a lot of readers but his changes of direction make it possible to answer almost anything he says today by quoting what Sullivan himself said 5 to 10 years ago. He has for instance gone from being a passionate Zionist to being a passionate Israel-hater.

And the passion would seem to be the key to his popularity. I am guessing that most of his many readers are Left-leaning, and Leftists mainline on emotion, regardless of the facts.

There is a big survey of Sullivan's "thinking" (if you can call it that) here that endevours to make some sense out of what drives him -- without success. I think he just likes hearing the sound of his own voice (or its written equivalent). And he would appear to make significant money out of his writings.


Are Jews a “privileged” class?

This current Leftist variation of an old Marxist "ad hominem" argument rather amuses me. If anybody told me to check my privilege I would reply: "Am I privileged to be born the son of a poorly educated lumberjack in a small town almost nobody has heard of?". I think that would have some derailing power. In fact I feel very privileged to be born in "The Lucky Country", Australia, and to be descended from those who made it what it is today by their hard work. If all the "disadvantaged" people in the Western world worked as hard as my forebears did, not many would still be poor

A few months ago Louise Mensch was attacked at ‘Comment is Free’ for dismissing the idea of ”privilege checking”. Mensch had argued the following:

“Check your privilege”, for example, is a profoundly stupid trope that states that only those with personal experience of something should comment, or that if a person is making an argument, they should immediately give way if their view is contradicted by somebody with a different life story.

Laurie Penny is an absolutely prime example; she does it all the time. The other day on Twitter she told people not to rise to what she felt was a race-baiting article by Rod Liddle in the Spectator. She was quite right. Everybody with a blog knows what “don’t feed the trolls” means. However, she was angrily contradicted by the black comedian @AvaVidal who told her that people of colour were striking back and they should rise to it. Instead of defending her position, Penny caved, recanted, and commented mournfully that “having your privilege checked” was painful.

Here are the relevant passages from an essay by Laurie Penny, contributing editor at The New Statesman.

Louise Mensch is confused. The erstwhile MP and professional gadfly has published a blogpost decrying “privilege checking”, and longing to return to a species of “reality-based” feminism where everyone would stop bothering her about class, race and money.

Actually, “privilege” isn’t at all hard to understand. It just means any structural social advantage that you have by virtue of birth, or position – such as being white, being wealthy, or being a man. “Check your privilege” means “consider how your privilege affects what you have just said or done.” That’s it.

Privilege is not the same as power. Nor is it a game whereby only the least privileged people will henceforth be allowed an opinion – the last time I checked, the political conversation was still dominated by rich white men and their wives. These are the people who go into spasms of outrage at the very notion that a black person, or a woman, or a working-class person might have as much right to an opinion as they do on matters that affect them.

Whilst the idea of ‘privilege’ is intellectually suspect for a host of reasons (many of which Mensch explored in her blog post), it’s quite interesting that Jews, of all people, are often considered among “the privileged” within this paradigm. Not only has the post-Holocaust taboo against antisemitism been eroded, but Jews, who represent a fraction of 1% of the world’s population, are – in a manner evoking classic tropes about Jewish control - typically portrayed, by virtue of their relative success, as an elite, powerful, and privileged class.

Whilst reasonable people can agree or disagree with attempts to explain disparities in economic, educational and social outcomes in terms of one’s ‘privilege’, it seems difficult to avoid including Jews among those who are “historically disadvantaged” when honestly exploring its political implications.

So, for those who fancy the specious argument that you can quantify privilege in terms of one’s race, ethnicity, gender, etc., here’s some food for thought – a list of the advantages (privileges) of waking up in the morning as a non-Jew – the daily effects of non-Jewish privilege.

1. You likely don’t have your people’s right to national self-determination questioned or characterized as racist.

2. You are not characterized as racist for the alleged sin of caring more about your own people’s safety and welfare than that of other groups.

3. You are not accused as a group – by virtue of by your current alleged “immoral behavior” – of having betrayed the memory of coreligionists who were victims of genocide.

4. You are not accused of being more loyal to a foreign state than to the interests of your own nation.

5. You are likely not held personally responsible for the actions of others who share your religion or ethnicity.

6. You are not likely to be targeted for terrorist attacks by extremists simply because you happen to share the same religion as the majority population in one foreign state.

7. You likely don’t have to avoid expressing your religious identity when visiting Middle Eastern or even European countries for fear of violence.

8. You are likely never accused of being part of an international conspiracy to control the world.

9. You are not accused of exercising disproportionate control over the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

10. Your success and personal achievements – and other fruits of your hard work – aren’t turned upside down and characterized as evidence of your ‘privilege‘.

To be clear, none of this is meant to suggest that we subscribe to the facile theory that groups should be divided between the ‘privileged’ and the non-privileged. However, for those who do give this paradigm credence, it does seem to represent an egregious moral double standard to impute ‘privilege’ to such a historically persecuted, disenfranchised and marginalized minority as Jews.



New Threat in California

Reliable investigative sources in California say that radical Muslims are planning to go on a rampage in the City of Los Angeles, killing anyone who is a U.S. citizen.

Police fear the death toll could be as high as 9


Obama says that people who have lost their insurance probably had sub-par insurance anyway

As a golfer, he should know that sub-par is better than average.

Even his spins are stupid!!!!


Netanyahu on proposed deal with Iran: 'This Is a Bad Deal--a Very, Very Bad Deal'

A very unusual statement from the Israel prime minister on the eve of a possible nuclear detail between the U.S. and Iran:

"I met Secretary Kerry right before he leaves to Geneva," said Netanyhau. "I reminded him that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. That the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure.

I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal--a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community."

Robert Zarate of the Foreign Policy Initiative explains how the proposed deal is full of concessions toward Iran:

The potential package of Iranian concessions could reportedly include:

(1) Partially Increased Nuclear Transparency: somewhat increased inspection and monitoring of Iranian nuclear material, equipment, and facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but less than enhanced measures authorized by the so-called “Additional Protocol” agreement that Iran has refused so far to ratify.

(2) Freeze on Medium Enriched Uranium: a freeze on Iran’s production of uranium enriched to 20-percent (sometimes called “medium enriched uranium” or MEU), and conversion of Iran’s stockpile of 20-percent MEU into harder-to-enrich reactor fuel plates.

(3) Numerical Limits on Centrifuges to Enrich Uranium: limits on the number of Iran’s actively-enriching first-generation centrifuges, and a delay on the use of Iran’s installed and more advanced second-generation centrifuges.

(4) Delayed Start-Up of the Plutonium-Producing Heavy Water Reactor: deferral on starting up and operating Arak, a heavy water reactor capable of producing spent nuclear fuel containing plutonium that is very well-suited for use in a nuclear weapon.



Former MSNBC host rants at Obama on Twitter after health insurance plan cancelled

Former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan doesn’t like how President Barack Obama’s health care law is caring for him.

Ratigan, who hosted MSNBC’s “The Dylan Ratigan Show” before abruptly quitting in 2012 to become a farmer, took to Twitter Friday to blame Obamacare for his health-care plan being cancelled and his new monthly insurance rate tripling.

Fortunately for Ratigan, he gets a consolation prize for having to pay more than three times more per month for his health insurance: a presidential apology. In an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd Thursday, Obama apologized to Ratigan and the millions of other Americans he lied to when he promised, while flacking for his health care law, “if you like your plan, you can keep it. Period.”

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said Thursday. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Despite the apology, Obama continued to downplay how many people will be forced off the insurance they like as a result of Obamacare, saying it was a very small number. Other estimates suggest that more than 129 million Americans may not be able to keep their previous health care plan if Obamacare is fully implemented.



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

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


8 November, 2013

Deportation Numbers Unwrapped -- Raw Statistics Reveal ICE Enforcement in Decline

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that ICE is arresting and removing noticeably fewer illegal aliens from the interior now than was the case five years ago, and even two years ago. The focus has shifted away from interior enforcement in favor of processing aliens who are apprehended by the Border Patrol. Despite reports of an emphasis on criminal alien removal from the interior, those removals have also declined.

The number of deportations that will be attributed to ICE for FY2013 is 364,700, according to information obtained by the Center despite a gag order from the ICE front office. That number is down 11 percent from 2012. Of these, approximately 216,800 were criminals, which is four percent less than 2012. These numbers fell despite an increase in the number of illegal aliens encountered by ICE agents in the interior.

The Obama administration's assertion that they have achieved a record number of deportations, proving illegal immigration is under control and the time is right for amnesty for the 11 million illegal immigrants presently in the country, is invalid.

View the entire report here

"It was astounding to discover that ICE has been arresting and removing so few illegal aliens from inside the country, considering that they have better tools and more resources at their disposal than ever before, and considering that there is an abundance of criminal aliens and illegal workers who should be removed," said Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies for the Center. "They have used statistical smoke and mirrors to obscure the disastrous results of so-called prosecutorial discretion and other enforcement-suppressing policies. The next step in immigration reform should be to restore credibility to ICE's interior programs, especially including worksite enforcement and Secure Communities."

Key Findings:

* The number of deportations resulting from interior enforcement by ICE declined by 19 percent from 2011 to 2012, and is on track to decline another 22 percent in 2013.

* In 2012, the year the Obama administration claimed to break enforcement records, more than one-half of removals attributed to ICE were the result of Border Patrol arrests that would never have been counted as a removal in prior years. In 2008, under the Bush administration, only one-third of removals were from Border Patrol arrests.

* Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495 - the low-est level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.

* When claiming record levels of enforcement, the Obama administration appears to count only removals, which are just one form of deportation, and only a partial measure of enforcement. Beginning in 2011, a shift of some of the routine Border Patrol case load to ICE enabled the administration to count an artificially high number of removals.

* Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the division of ICE that is responsible for work site enforcement, combat-ing transnational gangs, overstay enforcement, anti-smuggling and trafficking activity, and busting document and identity theft rings, now contributes very little to immigration enforcement. In 2013 HSI has produced only four percent of ICE deportations, making just a few thousand arrests per year throughout the entire country.

* ICE is doing less enforcement with more resources. Despite reporting more encounters in 2013 than 2012, ICE agents pursued deportation of 20 percent fewer aliens this year than last.

* Enforcement activity declined in every ICE field office from 2011 to 2013, with the biggest declines in the Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Washington DC/Virginia, and Houston field offices.

* Criminal alien arrests declined by 11 percent from 2012 to 2013, despite the completion of the Secure Communi-ties program, which generates more referrals of arrested aliens than ever before. ICE agents took a pass on hun-dreds of thousands of aliens who were arrested by local authorities in those years.

* ICE is carrying a case load of 1.8 million aliens who are either in removal proceedings or have already been or-dered removed. Less than two percent are in detention, which is the only proven way to ensure departure.

* As of the end of July 2013 there were 872,000 aliens - nearly half of ICE's total docket - who had been ordered removed but who had not left the country.

* The State Department continues to issue tens of thousands of visas annually to citizens of countries that refuse to take back their countrymen who are ordered removed from the United States. Many of these are violent criminals.

The data for this report was from a collection of mostly unpublished internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics.



Leftist Hollywood

Some people are shocked that so many members of the acting profession are liberals. It shouldn't be too surprising. After all, even though some actors are more talented than others, all that's really required is an unnatural desire to live a life of pretense. Although I have known a lot of actors, and even liked a few of them, I confess I have never understood the desire to wear other people's clothes and to have makeup applied in order to recite lines written by someone else and be told where to stand, when to move and how to read those lines by a third party.

It's all harmless enough, I suppose, but as a rule, people outgrow the urge to pretend to be someone other than themselves at a fairly early age. Instead, with maturity, most of us want to become the best possible version of ourselves. But without passing through the maturation process, one has no recourse but to remain forever a child; that is to say, a liberal.

Speaking of actors, one of the better ones, James Woods, recently garnered some notice by saying some extremely honest - that is to say, harsh - things about Barack Obama. That grabbed my attention because when I interviewed Mr. Woods a few years ago for my book, "Portraits of Success," he told me that although some people assumed he was a Republican, they were mistaken.

After reading that he tweeted among other things that "Obama is vile and a true abomination" and "I think Barack Obama is a threat to the integrity and future of the Republic" and, furthermore, "Sixteen years of machine Democrats shredding the fabric of the Republic will toss the greatest democracy on the trash heap of history," I sent him an email.

I asked him if he had changed his politics in the three or four years since our interview. His honest response was that he had always been a conservative, but that he had to eat. He added: "These libs are brutally dangerous and sneaky people."

As you see, there are always exceptions. So, although most actors never really mature, but simply age into character roles, occasionally one does.

In spite of his Oscar nominations, Woods expects he will never work again. How ironic is it that liberals are forever bringing up the blacklist of 60 years ago as if it were on a par with the Spanish Inquisition, but don't seem to mind the practice at all so long as they're in charge of the racks and applying the thumbscrews!



Bureaucrats Against Healthcare Access

Remote Area Medical (RAM) offers a glimpse into a robust, voluntary health sector, but not if bureaucrats have anything to say about it

Though the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges has dismayed even the law's supporters, the problem the ACA is designed to address is real enough: Millions of Americans, even those with insurance, lack access to adequate healthcare. In a voluntary society, civil-sector groups would step up to provide social services, like healthcare for the needy.

Government intervention in health markets currently crowds out such services-but not completely. Remote Area Medical (RAM), a Tennessee-based charity that is completely privately funded, offers a glimpse of what voluntary healthcare might look like. The group treats all comers at free weekend clinics dotted across the country.

"Remote Area Medical provides stuff that no one else provides," says Dr. David Milzman, a professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and emergency physician at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. "They can make 1,200 to 1,500 pairs of glasses a day. Talk about a life-changing thing: Doing an eye exam and then giving glasses to someone who's never had glasses."

Originally founded to do expeditions in South America, the group has shifted its focus homeward because of the need here in the United States. At a typical event, over a thousand patients arrive in the wee hours of the night to make sure they get a spot in line. Many drive for hours and sleep in their cars.

In addition to providing general medical care, RAM specializes in dental and vision work because diseases in these areas, although serious, can be permanently resolved in a few hours. Since 1992 RAM has organized over 700 events and seen over half a million patients in Tennessee, Illinois, California, Virginia, Texas, and other states.

But rather than welcome the organization, which operates at no cost to taxpayers, most state governments actively impede its efforts. In 2009, the Washington, D.C., Department of Health assessed RAM a $77,000 facilities fee and forced the group to apply for a certificate of need, which involves "proving" to a panel of bureaucrats that there is a need for services.

According to Milzman, who was part of an ad-hoc group of doctors and nurses who tried to shepherd RAM through the approval process in D.C., the need for more services in the region is obvious. "They have beautiful dental facilities [for the poor] down at D.C. General," says Milzman, "but no one to staff it. They have 15-16 operatories there, but they only staff it with one or two dentists a day. It's crazy."

Ultimately, D.C. officials refused to issue a one-time waiver to the district's occupational licensing law, according to Milzman, who relates D.C. officials' response as, "There is no medical problem in D.C. and we didn't need a free clinic." Milzman adds: "This was a disaster."

Unfortunately, few states allow health workers licensed in other states to see patients-even when they are working for free. And the majority of RAM's network of volunteers crosses state lines for events. "It's a question of mathematics," says RAM founder Stan Brock. More volunteers mean the group can see more patients.

According to Brock, occupational licensing laws are the biggest hurdle the group faces. Health officials cite safety concerns to justify barring out-of-state volunteers; for instance, how are California officials to know a nurse licensed in New Jersey is qualified?

But the objection rings hollow. All medical professionals must meet certification requirements administered by national specialty boards. Standards are thus nearly identical across states; the licenses themselves serve little purpose beyond raising revenue for state treasuries and keeping nurses' salaries higher than they might be otherwise.

According to Brock, RAM has worked with over 80,000 volunteers without encountering an incompetent practitioner. Nonetheless, health officials regularly insist on licenses-even in emergencies. After a hurricane demolished Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, RAM sent its mobile eyeglass clinic to help in the relief effort. But it had to turn around without making a single pair of glasses because it couldn't find a state-approved optometrist and opticians.

Medical malpractice liability is another stumbling block. The cost and complexity of insurance keeps many otherwise-willing practitioners from volunteering outside their regular practices. But efforts to ease liability rules face obstacles in state legislatures.

In Missouri this year, the state's trial attorney association objected to a bill lifting liability except for cases of "willful misconduct." Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, which he mischaracterized as providing "blanket immunity" for volunteers. (Last month, legislators overrode the veto, prompting RAM to begin planning an event in St. Louis, the group's first in the state.)

But an absence of regulatory obstacles remains the exception, not the rule.

"The frequent comment that I get from would-be volunteers," says Brock, "is that they throw up their hands and say, `Gosh, it's easier for me to volunteer my time in Guatemala than it is in my own country.'"

Advocates for more government intervention often insist on referring to the pre-ACA status quo as the "free market." RAM provides a useful corrective to that narrative. In a free market, would intransigent officials have so much power to stifle voluntary efforts to address one of the country's most pressing problems?


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


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

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


7 November, 2013

On war

I write under the above heading with apologies to Clausewitz, Sun Tzu and many others. What inspires me to write on this occasion is that a relative sent me a rather heartfelt rendition of a famous Australian antiwar song. It is here. It uses a lot of Australian English so is unlikely to be fully understood by non-Australians -- but you will undoubtedly get the gist of it.

The thing that characterizes all antiwar songs that I know is that they take a very superficial view of war. They see the suffering and waste and make no effort to see WHY the suffering and waste took place. They think it is sufficiently profound to deplore war rather than attempt to understand it.

And a lot of people in general do that. They speak of the "folly" of war, which is in fact a confession that they do not understand it. And I imagine that anyone reading here has been confronted by such sentiments at some time or other. I thought therefore that it might be useful to set out in a simple way how war is to be explained. Some people seem to need such an explanation.

The first thing to note is that conquered people are often treated very badly by victor nations. It can be literally a matter of life and death. There are therefore very good reasons to fight a defensive war. You may avoid oppression that way. And that is the basic argument for war. There may also be reasons for an offensive war but I doubt that any of those are good reassons.

The second thing we need to understand is that most people prefer prevention to cure. It is all very well to defend yourself if attacked but it is surely best to prevent war breaking out in the first place. The best known of such strategies is "Si vis pacem, para bellum", a Latin adage translated as, "If you want peace, prepare for war". And there are some good examples of that as a successful strategy -- 20th century Switzerland and Sweden, for instance.

There is however a very important second strategy, one that tends to slip below the public consciousness: Treaties and alliances. To most people such things seem to be old men talking to one another with no relevance to everyday life. In fact, however, they are a major deterrent to war and should therefore be highly valued by any reasonable person. And politicians at least do usually value them highly.

What treaties do is to make a group of nations to big or too strong to attack. They say to potential aggressors: "If you attack any one of us, all of us will strike back at you." Unity is strength, in other words. And there is no doubt that treaties do prevent wars. At a time when the Soviet Union was in an aggressively expansionist phase, Western Europe would not have retained its independence but for its treaty with the United States (NATO).

So treaties are very important. And you must honour them. If you fail to come to the defence of a country that you have a treaty with, ALL treaties will tend to be undermined and an important deterrent to war will have been lost.

Which brings us to WWI, the subject of the antiwar song I mentioned above. Even to me, WWI seems a foolish war. Why did civilized countries line up their young men in opposing ranks in order for the other side to machine-gun them down? Why did Australian soldiers end up trying to invade Turkey? And for those who take a more informed view of the matter, why did the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in Serbia by a nonentity known as Gavrilo Princip lead to the fine young men of Britain making war on fine young men from Germany in the fields of Belgium?

It makes no sense unless you understand the importance of treaties for war prevention. In 1914, Germany had a treaty with Austria, Britain had a treaty with France and France had a treaty with Russia. And those treaties had to be honoured if endless war was not to be ushered in.

So when Serb activist Princip shot the Archduke, Austria cracked down on the generally hostile Serbs, with which Austria had a border. (A similarity between Osama bin Laden attacking the twin towers and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan may be noted.) But the Tsar of Russia saw the Serbs as fellow Slavs, brothers to Russia. The Tsar remonstrated with the Austrians but the Austrians replied that the matter was none of the Tsar's businmess.

So the Tsar declared war on Austria. It was a meddlesone Russian ruler who set the ball rolling on WWI. Because then the treaties came into effect: Germany declared war on Russia in defence of Austria; France declared war on Austria and Germany because of their treaty with Russia; and Britain declared war on Germany in defence of France. The logic was dismal but logic it was.

So it is not a common way to look at it but WWI was fought in defence of the integrity of treaties. If the various treaties had been betrayed at that time, treaties might not have kept Western Europe safe from the dismal grip of Soviet Russia in the post-WWII era. Russia might have been tempted to roll in the belief that the USA would not honour its treaty with Europe. So some good did come from WWI. It was a war that had to be fought.

So what about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars waged by the USA? They were clearly defensive wars waged to discourage any repetition of the 9/11 attacks. You would think that knocking out two of the three regimes most hospitable to the Jihadis would show them that the USA was not a paper tiger and discourage the Jihadis for good but the fact that the Iranians have got off scot-free probably gives them encouragement.

Dropping a big one on their holy city with a promise of more to come would be a low-cost way of causing the Iranians to rethink their hostility towards just about everyone -- and with a bit of luck the Israelis might do just that in the not-too distant future -- to the benefit of us all. The Iranians have installed substantial military facilities in the Qom area so they are asking for it. Losing their holy city would also make them the laughing stock of the Sunni world -- and ridicule can be even more grievous than defeat. The Ayatollahs would be completely discredited. -- JR



I have made many similar observations to the ones below. I would however add that the liberal feels not only morally superior but superior in wisdom and understanding too -- JR

I’m always searching for a unified field theory of liberalism that reconciles its craziness, destructiveness and sanctimony. I thought the “liberalism is a mental disorder” meme came close, but in the end was too easy. It’s like having a madman as a villain in a story–you don’t have to explain, motivate or justify his behavior. It’s the difference between “Friday the 13th” and “Crime and Punishment.”

A recent sad experience with a friend undergoing rehab has left me with another analogue. I now think liberalism is an addiction and displays all the behaviors commonly associated with addictive behavior.

Well, not “liberalism” per se. That policy-agenda is really an elaborate metaphorical delusion built to camouflage the true drug these poor souls crave so desperately: moral superiority.

It’s as powerful as heroin or cocaine. It supplies a terrific high: all sense of personal failure, betrayal, guilt, ineffectiveness, irrelevance, of being nothing and nobody, disappears in a flash. Instead our hero feels extraordinarily good about himself. He is helping. He is compassionate. He is without sin. He is sensitive, caring, part of the solution and not the problem. He feels handsome, daring and heroic. He thinks it will get him laid. How could he not love this?

He cannot see the harm he is doing, either at the micro level or at the cataclysmic macro level; he cannot see how his “generosity” with other people’s money, for example, has devastated the black community, turned it bitter, hopeless, impulsive, violent and addicted itself to free stuff from the gub’mint as well as the crutch of “racism” to justify everything.

But you have seen this most explicitly in the last few weeks, as Obamacare, a hopelessly idiotic delusional program meant to redistribute wealth (in the form of medical care) to the unfortunates who’ve never paid a tax in their lives, has crashed and burned. As anybody who knows anything about the addictive state knows, when the addict is threatened with the cut-off of his supply, he becomes a monster.

I saw this with my friend, who it turned out had been lying to me for years about his addictions. He loved me; I kept him alive. But he could not help himself from using me and feeding me a tapestry of lies to keep the money coming. I thought I was “helping,” just as liberals think they are helping. But I learned, finally, that I was just enabling. This is a lesson liberals will never learn.

As the collapse of Obamacare reveals, they go into reflexive monster mode. Like any addict, they will lie, cheat, steal, even become violent when their supply is threatened. They have no moral qualms about betraying their closest friends because the moral part of them is dead. They see only the end of their high and that becomes the defining issue of their life. They will do anything to protect it. That is why they are such wily opponents and such aggressive defenders of what the whole of the rational world now realizes was fabrication, delusion and ultimately fantasy.

So if we look to liberate them from the agony they don’t even know they suffer from, we must look to the known cures of addiction. Terrible, hard work, draining and demoralizing, but I think we are up to it.



Obamacare Is Obama Unmasked

Everyone is focusing on Obamacare because it is such an obvious disaster, but in fact, it is but a microcosm of Barack Obama's entire presidency. Obamacare is Obama unmasked.

Aren't some of you tired of making lame excuses for him that only serve to make things worse? He has made a mess of nearly everything his policies have touched, and he's mostly avoided the blame; but he owns Obamacare, and he has nowhere to hide.

When someone with the influence Obama enjoyed upon first taking office sets out to fundamentally transform the nation -- and he has the unqualified support of the entire liberal media apparatus, the Democratic Party in lock step, millions of people purchased with government money and/or indoctrinated in liberal universities, and the cudgels of racial shaming and white guilt -- the possibilities are endless.

Constitutionalists have observed for years that America has been on a downward spiral as its ruling class has discarded its founding principles -- the very ideas that led to this nation's uniqueness, power, prosperity and benevolence. We've known that we could not forever piggyback, with impunity, on America's system of limited government and its free market economy. Eventually, statist encroachments on both would destroy our prosperity, liberty and power.

But we were thinking in terms of decades into the future, not a matter of a few years. Who would have ever thought the United States would embark on such an accelerated path of national suicide?

At the beginning, people could argue that Obama would usher in a period of prosperity and bipartisanship and that things would get better in America. But after five years of unconscionably reckless federal spending, a wholesale assault on our domestic energy industries, endless abuses of executive authority and other lawless incursions on the Constitution, unprecedented divisiveness and polarization across economic, racial and gender lines, America's declining power and prestige in the world, an explosion of the welfare state, and the worst economic recovery in 60 years, how can anyone who cares about this nation's future and the well-being of our children and grandchildren keep supporting this man's policies?

Even those of you who seem to have an endless capacity for buying into the administration's childish scapegoating of the Bush administration or the current GOP opposition for every Obama policy failure surely are beginning to have doubts as you watch the inglorious unfolding of Obamacare.

At first, you may have been hanging on to the fantasy that this was just a technical problem with the website -- perhaps marginally understandable given the immense scope of the "transition" into government-run health care. But unless you have been asleep the past few weeks, you understand that the problems with the website were so colossal that only an incompetent and arrogant administration could have presided over them.

But you also know that as horrendous as the website problems are, they pale in comparison with the substantive problems with Obamacare and Obama's abject lies to pass the bill in the first place and his continuing pattern of deceit concerning this boondoggle.

You may choose, like New York Times editors, to become part of the lie and euphemize Obama's Obamacare lies as "misstatements." But that's an insult to anyone in possession of the left side of his brain. Actually, it's an insult to right-siders, too, because you'd have to be bereft of intuitive powers not to sense the enormity of the presidential deception.

It is inconceivable that Obama merely misspoke when he promised that Americans could keep their private plans and doctors if they liked them and when he said the premiums for an average family of four would decrease by $2,500. Those were cold, calculated lies designed to defraud the American people and their representatives into supporting Obama's "signature" legislative dream, which was never about increasing access, reducing costs, increasing quality and preserving choices. Rather, Obamacare has always been nothing less than the linchpin in Obama's bigger dream to fundamentally change America into a nation he could like instead of resent -- a socialist utopia rather than the land of the free, of the brave and of equal opportunity.

Those on the left who stubbornly insist on continuing to support Obama and his destruction of America need to re-evaluate him. Is your appetite for denial unbounded?

Those on the right who insist on continuing to pull their punches instead of calling it like it is will also eventually have America's blood on their hands.

We all had better wake up. There's only so much bitterness and covetousness a nation's leaders can arouse in its people before they reduce it to permanent mediocrity.



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

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5 November, 2013

Which ObamaCare shoe will drop next?

by Jeff Jacoby

FIRST IT was the debacle of Healthcare.gov, the botched ObamaCare website, that dominated coverage of the Affordable Care Act's rollout.

The new insurance exchanges were a disaster — technical malfunctions, frozen screens, interminable wait times, error messages, lost data. President Obama had promised that the new system would make getting health insurance as easy as shopping online — "the same way you'd shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon," he'd said. What he delivered instead, as Democratic Senator Max Baucus predicted months ago, was a "huge train wreck."

Last week that train wreck grew huger.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being notified that their health insurance policies will be cancelled, notwithstanding Obama's endlessly repeated assurance that "if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan." But that claim, voters now realize, was also untrue.

As NBC News reported on Monday, "the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them." ObamaCare regulations promulgated in 2010 were designed to force millions of consumers into getting more comprehensive, more expensive, insurance coverage than they want or need. Yet over and over the president insisted that wouldn't happen — a falsehood so egregious it earned "four Pinocchios" from the Washington Post's fact-checker. And that was before Obama's trip to Faneuil Hall last week to scapegoat "bad-apple insurers" for selling Americans health-care plans they liked.

Remember Joe Wilson, the South Carolina congressman who yelled "You lie!" during Obama's health-care speech to Congress in 2009? His outburst was inexcusably rude. But in retrospect, it looks increasingly prescient.

Which shoe will be the next to drop? What other ObamaCare promise will voters discover was bogus? Perhaps it will be the claim that the president's health law won't add "one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future." Or the rosy pledge that it will lower premiums for the typical family by $2,500 per year. Or the vaunted assurance that it will "bend the cost curve downward." Or all of them.

But will it make any difference?

Complaints that politicians tell lies are as old as politics — and so, most of the time, is the public's willingness to live with those lies. Nearly all of us say we don't like being deceived by elected officials, but even brazen liars are routinely reelected. Polls consistently find that members of Congress have a rock-bottom reputation when it comes to ethical standards — in a recent Gallup survey, only 1 in 10 Americans gave Congress a high rating for honesty— yet the vast majority of congressmen seeking reelection are successful. Candidates preceded by a reputation for mendacity and insincerity get elected to the White House: Think of "Tricky Dick" Nixon or "Slick Willie" Clinton.

On the whole, society tends to be more tolerant of politicians who break their word or fail to keep a promise than of businesses that do so. Consider the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, who has been adamant in recent years about not charging passengers for baggage. "Bags Fly Free" has been a mainstay of Southwest's advertising. "I don't want to be waffling on this," Kelly told an interviewer last year. "We're not going to charge bag fees, no way." In a conference call in April, he underscored the point: "Our brand includes 'bags fly free.' Period."

Representative Joe Wilson blurts "You lie!" during President Obama's health-care speech in 2009. His outburst was certainly rude. It was also prescient.

So it made news when Kelly hinted this month that Southwest's policy may change, if the company concludes that passengers will accept "an à la carte approach." Business leaders, like politicians, would rather paint a 180-degree reversal as an evolution, not a broken promise. But Kelly knows his margin for error is precarious. Unlike politicians, he and Southwest are answerable to the marketplace, where the penalty for deceiving customers or betraying shareholders can be swift and ruthless. No corporate executive would dare to be as cavalier about consumers' expectations as the White House has been with regard to the promises the president made about ObamaCare.

If Obama were the CEO of a private company, writes George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux, "he would be sued, publicly lambasted by all the major media, perhaps hauled before an admittedly grandstanding Congressional committee, and possibly prosecuted, convicted, fined, or even imprisoned for fraudulent misrepresentation." But politics isn't the marketplace, and politicians are held to a different standard. We entrust elected officials with far too much power, then routinely fail to hold them accountable when they abuse their power and betray that trust.

Ultimately the only solution to the problem of faithless politicians is to put less faith in politicians. For as government gets bigger, citizens get smaller — and public servants become impossible to control.



Is The Tea Party Really All About Alger Hiss?

Unde malum et quare? Where does evil come from and why does it exist? That has always been one of the big questions; over at Bloomberg News, former White House macher and Samantha Power super-spouse Cass Sunstein says he’s solved at least one part of the riddle: he’s figured out the from whence and why of the Tea Party.

The Tea Party is a huge intellectual problem for blue model liberals. It sprang up out of nowhere, it lacks a formal leadership structure, and despite many obituaries in the MSM, it remains a significant force in the Republican Party and in American politics as a whole. It is everything Occupy Wall Street hoped to become, and the MSM did everything possible to make OWS flourish. It was hailed as a movement of historic impact, the start of a global trend, one of those epochal developments after which nothing will ever be the same—and it guttered out ignominiously.

The Tea Party, on the other hand, has flourished despite non-stop efforts to smother it in the media. While its record is mixed and, from a Democratic point of view not all bad (arguably, without unqualified Tea Party-backed candidates, the GOP would now have control of the Senate), its persistence annoys. It is almost as if the MSM’s power to shape American politics is on the wane.

Professor Sunstein (he teaches at Harvard Law) has a theory, though, about where the Tea Party comes from. It all goes back to Alger Hiss, a State Department official under Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. After playing an important role in US policy in the Middle East and East Asia, he chaired the international committee that established the United Nations. On leaving the government in 1946 he went on to head the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, then as now one of the most respected institutions of the foreign policy establishment.

Sunstein tells what happened next:

"In his 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Whittaker Chambers, a writer and editor for Time magazine and a former Communist, identified Hiss as a Communist. Hiss adamantly denied the charge. He said he didn’t know anyone named Whittaker Chambers. Encountering his accuser in person, Hiss spoke directly to him: “May I say for the record at this point that I would like to invite Mr. Whittaker Chambers to make those same statements out of the presence of this committee without their being privileged for suit for libel?”

Chambers took Hiss’s bait. In an interview on national television, Chambers repeated his charges. In response to the libel suit, he produced stolen State Department documents and notes that seemed to establish not merely that Hiss was a Communist, but that he had spied for the Soviet Union. Hiss was convicted of perjury.

The conviction was stunning, for Hiss had been a member of the nation’s liberal elite. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a law clerk for the revered Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, he held positions of authority in the Agriculture, Justice and State departments. He was tall, handsome, elegant, gracious, even dashing."

So how do we get from a perjurious traitor and his apologists to the Tea Party?

Well, for one thing, the liberal establishment stood by its man. Again, Professor Sunstein:

"At his 1949 perjury trial, an extraordinary number of liberal icons served as character witnesses for Hiss, including two Supreme Court justices (Stanley Reed and Felix Frankfurter); John W. Davis, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1924; and Adlai Stevenson, who was to become the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1952 and 1956."

But the real problem, says Sunstein, wasn’t that the liberal establishment was too clueless and too self-protected to recognize a dangerous traitor in its midst. It was that Hiss’s accuser, Whittaker Chambers, was “polarizing.” Here’s how Sunstein closes:

"Chambers’ broader charge — that liberalism was a species of socialism, “inching its ice cap over the nation” — polarized the nation. His attack on the patriotism of the Ivy League elite reflected an important strand in American culture, and it helped to initiate suspicions that persist to this day.

Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor. We can’t easily understand those accusations, contemporary conservative thought or the influence of the Tea Party without appreciating the enduring impact of the Hiss case."

This is a surprisingly lame ending to the piece. After all, if Chambers’ attack on the Ivy League “reflected an important strand in American culture,” then the Tea Party must have deeper roots than one half-forgotten cause célèbre. It’s also not clear what he means by the reference to false accusations against liberals for holding positions that they abhor. Is that what Sunstein thinks the Tea Party is about? That if those unfortunate and paranoid folks understood liberals better, they would oppose them less?

There are some tinfoil hat types out there who think that President Obama and his cohorts are hiding Qu’rans in the White House and looking to introduce both socialism and Sharia as soon as they can. Nut jobs on both the left and the right and all kinds of cranky positions in between are an enduring part of American politics. But if Sunstein thinks that this is the energy that powers the Tea Party, he is very far from understanding either this phenomenon or American politics as a whole.

The Tea Party is mostly something much more conventional: a libertarian, small government protest against the centralization of federal power, and a populist resentment of snooty Ivy League professors who think the common people aren’t very smart. We’ve had these movements in America ever since colonial times; when Andrew Jackson defeated John Quincy Adams’ re-election bid in 1828, the 19th century forerunners of the Tea Party were in full cry.

We aren’t seeing a right-leaning populist surge today because of Alger Hiss; we are seeing it because many Americans believe that President Obama’s liberal and technocratic agenda represents a threat to a way of life they value. We are seeing it because many Americans blame the establishment of both parties both for the financial crisis and for the vast transfer of resources to the wealthy that came after the crash. We are seeing it because whether you look at foreign or domestic policy, the technocratic suggestions of the Great and the Good have not been helping ordinary Americans much for the last 20 years.

We don’t think Tea Partiers are wrong to see President Obama’s political goals as fundamentally opposed to their own vision of what America should be. They aren’t angry because they are stupid, and deep disagreement with technocratic liberalism is not a mental disease.

Some zealous Tea Partiers put two and two together and get eight, giving the Obama administration and its liberal backers credit for more foresight and cunning than they possess. There were those in 1800 who thought that John Adams was planning to introduce a monarchy into the United States. There were those on the right who thought that Franklin Roosevelt was a socialist; there were those on the left who thought Ronald Reagan was a fascist and that Margaret Thatcher hated poor people. But to confound a major current of American politics with the lunatic fringe is not a recipe for healing the nation or even for helping your side put some points on the board. There are birthers in the Tea Party, but the Tea Party is not the voice of birtherism.

But Professor Sunstein does have a point. The Hiss case was not a cause of the Tea Party, or even of the anti-intellectual tradition in American politics that Richard Hofstader analyzed in the early 1960s. It was, however, a prominent manifestation of the class snobbery and intolerance that so often shapes elite liberal responses to political events and that so frequently fills so many Americans with loathing and disgust.

For a generation after Alger Hiss was convicted on two counts of perjury, American liberals went on to defend him as a plumed knight and a martyr. They slimed his accusers as knuckle dragging know-nothings and McCarthyite enemies of freedom. They never forgave Richard Nixon for helping Whittaker Chambers. As the evidence against Hiss mounted, they fought a long rear-guard defense. Even today, Cass Sunstein doesn’t quite come out with the ugly truth. Instead he gives us a mealy-mouthed formulation:

"Most of those who have carefully studied the case, and who have explored evidence emerging long after the trial itself, have concluded that Chambers was telling the truth and that Hiss did indeed perjure himself."

No, as Sunstein says,

"Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor."

Yes, liberals are the victims here. After decades of vicious invective and bile-spewing, liberals find the whole Hiss subject dull and don’t want to think about the case anymore—but they just hate it when other people don’t appreciate their selfless dedication to the public good.



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

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


4 November, 2013

Obamacare's Authoritarian Problem

You can't keep your insurance if you like it under Obamacare, because you're too ignorant to understand what's good for you.

That's the argument we've been hearing from a lot of folks on the left -- an argument that pivots from "common good" to soft authoritarianism. President Barack Obama is all in, as well, claiming that he was merely guilty of forcing Americans to pick a "Ferrari" health care plan over a "Ford" one. (Is it really "picking" if you're forced?)

This is necessary because health care is not a product as a toaster is a product. (It took me only a few seconds online to find 613 different types of toasters, ranging in price from more than $300 to $15. They weren't subsidized, and I even could carry them across state lines. If health care were like toasters, we'd all be in great shape.) And as they do with anything that features negative externalities, technocrats will tinker, nudge and, inevitably, push.

"America doesn't have a free-market health care system and hasn't for decades," Business Insider's Josh Barro wrote in a piece titled "If You Like Your Health Plan, You Probably Shouldn't Be Able To Keep It." "With taxpayer subsidies so embedded in everybody's plan purchasing decisions, taxpayers have a legitimate interest in ensuring that health plans serve the public interest, not just private interests."

"Legitimate" is a malleable adjective. Just think of all the other areas of American society that are subsidized by taxpayers. Agriculture, higher education, the auto industry, the banking industry, professional sports, marriage -- the possibilities are endless. Why is Washington allowing 20-year-old college students to work on business degrees when we need them to be engineers and factory workers? We subsidize, so why don't we decide?

CNN.com contributor Sally Kohn wrote a piece titled "A canceled health plan is a good thing." You're not getting what you want; you're getting what you need. Kohn -- unsheathing the "public good" justification that opponents of same-sex marriage regularly use -- failed to mention even once that the president explicitly assured Americans while campaigning for the Affordable Care Act that "if you like your plan, you can keep it." NBC News is reporting that the Obama administration knew that millions of Americans would probably lose their current health plans because of the implementation of the law, yet it went on lying.

It's almost as if some people believe lying is acceptable -- even preferable -- if the political outcomes are morally pleasing to them. Many Obamacare supporters, in fact, are beginning to sound as if they couldn't care less about process, the law, order, competence or anything that undermines the goal of putting your health care choices into more capable hands.

But even the more specific arguments do not stand up to scrutiny.

Admittedly, many people do stupid things that aren't good for them. And though I may not know exactly what I need, I probably know as much about what I need as Kohn or Obama -- or even the 51.1 percent of the electorate that voted for the president. The reason Kohn and many of the others believe that Americans should be thankful for a paternalistic administration that en masse pushed us into (supposedly) top-shelf plans is that they don't believe in markets or they don't understand how they work -- and in some cases, it's both.

Let me put it this way: There's this Chinese restaurant near my house. It's not the cleanest place, granted. And the folks who "work" there are, it seems, completely uninterested in my dining experience. The food is priced accordingly. But I love the dumplings. It's really all that matters to me. There's another Chinese place nearby. This one is newer. It has a friendly and attractive staff. It offers me clean silverware, and I walk on expensive contemporary tiles. All that classy stuff is nice, and it's also embedded into the price of my dumplings -- which are no better. I don't want to pay for the tiles. I just want the dumplings.

In health care and other things, we often pick plans that offer us something we value above other things. Americans don't need all their plans to look the same. Maybe some of them like the customer service; maybe some like the stability of staying with one company for many years. This is why having 600 toasters in an open market is preferable to having a handful of choices in a fabricated "market" exchange -- and why choice is better for us than coercion.



Islamists salivate over Bill de Blasio, New York's mayor-in-waiting

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successor will bring change to New York City, and some of it is likely to warm an Islamist's heart. Consider the NYPD's post-9/11 intelligence-gathering operations inside the Muslim community. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended these counterterrorism tactics against years of criticism; long-shot Republican candidate Joe Lhota also supports them.

However, Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio has pledged to replace Kelly and clearly seeks to curb the NYPD, telling Muslims that "the efforts of surveillance have to be based on specifically specific information."

Recapping the Islamist terror plots thwarted by the NYPD, writer Daniel Greenfield explains that "the standard of 'specifically specific information' would have led to the deaths of countless New Yorkers." He adds: "They relied on informants drawing out potential terrorists, instead of waiting blindly for them to strike. If Bill de Blasio has his way, that will no longer be something that the NYPD will be able to do."

The sole silver lining is that any resulting tragedy will prompt the swift repudiation of such kinder, gentler counterterrorism — at least until forgetfulness triumphs once more.

Another probable change involves city schools. Both de Blasio and Lhota favor closing them on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, a move that Bloomberg opposes. One can reasonably argue that Muslim holidays should be treated no differently than Jewish holidays if the two populations are of comparable size. Yet there are drawbacks to altering the calendar. First, the mere prospect of adding Muslim holidays has already sparked a flood of requests that other groups be similarly recognized. Second, this concession will only embolden Islamists to demand more — and that is never a happy outcome.

Left: Conspiracy theorist Linda Sarsour spoke at the October 16 rally of Muslims for de Blasio. Right: CAIR's Zead Ramadan, who has characterized NYPD counterterrorism work as "f—ked up," also attended the event, a month after he was trounced in a City Council primary.

Voters reject CAIR candidate for New York City Council

One piece of positive news from Gotham: Zead Ramadan, a longtime senior official with the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), came up far short in his bid to represent Manhattan's District 7 on the New York City Council. Despite some significant endorsements, including one from former mayor David Dinkins, Ramadan garnered a paltry 657 votes, 3.6 percent of the 18,010 cast in that district's Democratic primary election.

A 2013 IW article outlines Ramadan's Islamist record. In addition to having served as board president of CAIR-New York, one of the notorious pressure group's more radical chapters, he has smeared the U.S. on Iranian state-controlled TV, refused to denounce the Hamas terrorist organization, and blasted NYPD counterterrorism activities. His defeat is a victory for New York.



Why Aren't People Grateful for the Better Health Plans (or Light Bulbs) Mandated by the Government?

Shane JansenShane JansenThe New York Times notices that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—under which, President Obama assured us, we could keep our health plans if we liked our health plans—has resulted in the cancellation of medical coverage for "hundreds of thousands of Americans in the individual insurance market." But the article treats this phenomenon mostly as a Republican talking point, as opposed to an actual problem. "Cancellation of Health Care Plans Replaces Website Problems as Prime Target," says the headline. "After focusing for weeks on the technical failures of President Obama's health insurance website," says the lead, "Republicans on Tuesday broadened their criticism of the health care law, pointing to Americans whose health plans have been terminated because they do not meet the law's new coverage requirements." The Republicans even have props:

"Baffled consumers are producing real letters from insurance companies that directly contradict Mr. Obama’s oft-repeated reassurances that if people like the insurance they have, they will be able to keep it....

The cancellation notices are proving to be a political gift to Republicans, who were increasingly concerned that their narrowly focused criticism of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov could lead to a dead end, once the website's issues are addressed."

The Times does intimate that canceled health insurance is perceived as a problem by those who experience it but repeatedly suggests that it's not that big a deal. "The affected population, those who bought insurance on their own, is a small fraction of an insurance market dominated by employer-sponsored health plans," it says. (Won't the government's new minimum coverage requirements force changes in those plans too, and won't that result in higher costs for employees?) "Tens of millions of people are finding that their insurance is largely unchanged [except for the cost?] by the new health care law," a sidebar notes.

What about the others? "In many of those cases," the Times says, "the insured have been offered new plans, often with better coverage but also at higher prices." At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, likewise emphasized (as paraphrased by the Times) that "the new policies would provide more benefits and more consumer protections than many existing policies."

Tavenner seems to think that makes it OK to force people out of their old policies and into the new, government-approved ones. Yet people who buy coverage on the individual market already have weighed the tradeoffs and decided they do not want the benefits that the federal government insists they should have. Overriding those judgments is like demanding that car buyers looking for an economical subcompact buy a hybrid minivan instead. Sure, it costs more, but it's a better vehicle! Look at all that space for children! And if the buyer happened to be a bachelor, he would be in the same position as all the people compelled to buy "maternal coverage" or "substance abuse services" for which they have no use.

Even features that pretty much everyone would like if all other things were equal, such as low deductibles and generous prescription drug coverage, cost money. People who deliberately forgo them have decided they are not worth the price. By what right does the government tell them they are wrong?

The argument that the insurance mandated by Obamacare costs more, but it's worth it reminds me of the debate over the creeping federal ban on incandescent light bulbs. There, too, consumers had made a choice that politicians and bureaucrats did not like: They overwhelmingly preferred traditional bulbs, despite their inefficiency, because they were much cheaper than the alternatives. But consider the energy savings! "A household that upgrades 15 inefficient incandescent light bulbs," an Energy Department official enthused, "could save about $50 per year." Consumers unimpressed by that calculation were clearly too stupid to be making decisions for themselves, so they had to be forced into better (albeit more expensive) choices.



Next Week's New Yorker Cover Takes on Healthcare.gov Glitches

With Obama on a "brick" phone from about 20 years ago

Everyone is jumping on the ‘making fun of Obamacare’ bandwagon. Last weekend the cast of SNL made fun of rollout train wreck and now the New Yorker is joining that group. This coming week’s cover (as seen below) is a drawing of Sebelius crossing her fingers and President Obama on the telephone, huddled around a computer with a tech trying to make it work.

This is quite amusing because the tech guy is trying to use a floppy disc to make improvements on the healthcare.gov website. As many people know, the use of floppy discs has basically become so outdated they are not in use anymore. Perhaps it is time to do more than hire outdated techs and just crossing your fingers to make things better.



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

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


3 November, 2013

Lies on Lies on Lies

Obama was in Boston this week, attempting to deflect attention from his key O'Care sales pitch promise that Americans could keep their insurance and doctors, “period” – a remark even the Washington Post classified as a “WHOPPER.” Obama doubled down on the lie: “If you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you're able to keep it. That's what I said when I was running for office. That was part of the promise we made.”

Analysts now believe that more than 90 million plans are at risk of alteration or cancelation, both individual and corporate policies, and that this information was known to the administration in 2010. The lie just keeps getting bigger.

Back in Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Obama bureaucrat directly responsible for the failed launch of ObamaCare, was planting prevarications before Congress.

Sebelius admitted that the Healthcare.gov rollout was “miserably frustrating” and said, “I'm responsible.” She then proceeded to deny responsibility, and even repeated her boss's lie about consumers being able to keep their health plan if they like it. Period. She argued, “[I]f a plan was in place in March of 2010 and, again, did not impose additional burdens on the consumer, they still have it. It's grandfathered in.” She complained that, before ObamaCare, the insurance market was “unregulated.” That's patently false, and, of course, those pesky “additional burdens” – like mandatory maternity coverage even for single men – were placed on insurance companies by HHS and ObamaCare regulations. So much for accountability.

Sebelius also told Congress, “The website [Healthcare.gov] never crashed. It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability.” But when she was asked to disclose the enrollment numbers, she replied, “The system isn't functioning, so we are not getting that reliable data.” Her flip-flop is hardly surprising, but concerning her original comment, the system's constant failure is one of the primary reasons she was on Capitol Hill, not to mention the reason that the majority of consumers have been unable to enroll. Additionally, her statement was made all the more ironic considering the site crashed moments before Sebelius began her remarks. Half an hour into her testimony, the exchange was still dead in the water. (For the record, CBS reveals that only 6 individuals successfully enrolled within the first 24 hours of the exchange's launch.)

Yet another laughable moment came when Sebelius insisted that it would be “illegal” for her to obtain insurance coverage through the exchanges. There are, however, just three requirements listed on Healthcare.gov for purchasing a plan on an exchange: Buyers “must live in the United States”; “must be a U.S. citizen or national (or be lawfully present)”; and “can't be currently incarcerated.”

The secretary didn't even know whether Healthcare.gov is a secure website. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent specializing in electronic security issues, chastised Sebelius and by extension, Obama, for the lack of security at Healthcare.gov: “You allowed this system to go forward with no encryption on backup systems. They have no encryption on certain boundary crossings. You accepted a risk on behalf of every user [and] put their personal financial information at risk because you did not have even the most basic end to end test on security of this system.” As The Patriot noted months ago, one of the liabilities that will plague Democrats who supported ObamaCare is the fact that it will be an easy mark for ID theft.

ObamaCare is also proving to be the biggest voter registration fraud scheme in our country's history. The Medicaid sign-up portal is not only signing folks up for subsidized health care, but to vote! Under current federal law (“Motor Voter”), when someone goes to the DMV for a driver's license, he or she is asked whether or not they want to register to vote. Under the ObamaCare application process, if you apply for Medicaid, you are automatically registered to vote unless you opt out (by completing a form designed to unduly complicate the process).

Finally, as we've said before, while Sebelius is indeed responsible for much of the current debacle, to suggest she should resign implies that a better HHS secretary might have made it work. Fact is, the failure of the rollout is but a metaphor for the reality that a government bureaucracy can't even effectively manage a basic commerce website for insurance comparisons – much less an enterprise that encompasses 18% of the U.S. economy.



None dare call it tyranny

Intimidation. It is an ugly word bringing to mind mobsters threatening to burn down a shop owners store if he doesn’t buy fire insurance, or a loan shark enforcers breaking legs to send a message to someone who bet the wrong horse.

It is even uglier when it is used in conjunction with the Presidency in a nation that has historically prided itself as being above the raw use of power to achieve one’s political ends.

CNN, one of the most vocal supporters of President Obama and his policies reported on October 30, that health insurers which are now heavily regulated under Obamacare “feared retribution” if they expressed their displeasure with the rollout of Obamacare. Fearing retribution and not taking an action due to that fear is almost a classic definition of successful intimidation.

CNN News Anchor Carol Costello reported that she felt intimidated when reporting on the presidential race saying, “I mean President Obama’s people can be quite nasty. They don’t like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they’re not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job [emphasis added].”

Now, Costello never claimed to have changed any story she produced as a result of this atmosphere of intimidation, but it is hard to imagine many reporters not choosing to present the campaign party line rather than give a more balanced perspective when their very jobs may have been at risk.

Earlier in October, an award winning freelance journalist who had written exposes about malfeasance at the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration found her home raided by a combination of Maryland State Troopers and DHS agents over allegations that she had purchased a potato launcher over the Internet five years prior. Apparently, the anti-potato launcher section of Homeland Security decided that a nice 4:30 am raid of the reporter’s home was needed five years after the purchase which was apparently illegal in Maryland, but legal under federal law.

While Marylanders were made safe from random potato attacks, DHS officials made off with all of the reporters notes on the TSA case, including the names of the whistleblowers who unveiled the illegal activity.

The Washington Times Editor John Solomon promised legal action against DHS stating, “While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter.”

Solomon continued by arguing, “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.”

In the months prior, the Obama Administration’s Justice Department admitted that they had tapped the phones of Associated Press reporters for months in an attempt to find reporter’s sources.

The Obama Administration even has gone so far as to contend that Fox News Washington’s James Rosen aided and abetted a breach of national security for doing his job and reporting information provided to him by a government official. Unlike some cases in the past where reporters were put in jail for contempt of court for refusing to name a source, Rosen has come under legal jeopardy for simply reporting a story.

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza succinctly summed up the abuse of government power tweeting, “If James Rosen’s ‘clandestine communications plan’ were illegal, every journalist in Washington would be locked up. Unreal.”

With this history can anyone still be surprised at Obama’s use of the IRS and other agencies of the federal government to intimidate political foes?

Can anyone remain naïve enough to believe that actions taken against True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht by the IRS, OSHA and ATF was anything but a coordinated federal government wide effort to shut her up. The inter-agency assault on Engelbrecht could only have been directed from the one place that breaks down the barriers between federal government agencies — the White House.

Intimidation is a standard tactic in NASCAR, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and most sporting events. It is even attempted when elected officials try to stare down each other and interest groups with threats, voiced or veiled, of future ramifications for political actions.

But the brazen intimidation of the media and political opponents by this Administration goes far beyond the always implied threat that if I don’t like the story you write, I won’t give you the next one, to direct threats against one’s livelihood and indeed, freedom.

In America there is no place for raiding reporter’s homes, bugging their phones and threatening to indict them in order to obtain their sources. The sanctity of a reporter’s source is well established in our nation’s courts, yet in Obama’s America, whistleblowers are nothing more than ducks in a shooting gallery. This doesn’t just chill the ability of reporters to get information from the inside of government, but puts it in a deep freeze, because no whistleblower can ever again expect his or her anonymity to be protected, and without that protection, information dries up.

In Obama’s America, the Internal Revenue Service becomes what everyone has always feared, an Agency that selectively enforces the law based upon the politics of those in power.

None dare call it tyranny, but when freedom of the press comes under wholesale attack, and a government uses its vast resources to assault and intimidate its political enemies, what you call it really just comes down to semantics.



Jay Carney Berates Insurance Companies For Complying With Obamacare

Speaking to reporters Tuesday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney blamed loss of healthcare coverage for millions of Americans on insurance companies complying with the Affordable Care Act.

"Insurers pulled those plans away from them," Carney said. "The law [Obamacare] could not order insurers not to cancel that plan."

Millions of health insurance plans are no longer available because they do not meet Obamacare standards and regulations. Carney's comments come less than 24 hours after information surfaced showing President Obama knew millions of Americans would be losing their health insurance plans under Obamacare despite promising, "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

When pressed on the issue of millions losing individual insurance plans they wanted to keep, Carney said it is five percent of the population being affected by insurance loss. That five percent adds up to 14 million people.

"We're talking about 5% of the country," Carney said after justifying losses and referring to the individual marketplace as a "wild west" that needed more regulation.

Now that the Obama administration is taking heat from all sides on the loss of insurance, the White House is pivoting back to blaming insurance companies for the loss of those plans, not Obamacare itself, which makes millions of plans illegal.



Court Rules Obama Admin Can’t Make Catholic Family Business Follow contraception Mandate

A powerful federal appeals court ruled today that a Catholic family-run business does not have to comply with the Obamacare abortion mandate requiring it to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Francis A. Gilardi, Jr. and Philip M. Gilardi, two brothers who own and control two companies that are involved in the processing, packaging, and transportation of fresh produce, filed suit against the Obama administration on behalf of their business, Freshway Foods, a nearly 25 year old family-owned fresh produce processor and packer, which serves 23 states and has 340 full-time employees.

Both companies are located in Sidney, Ohio, a city in west-central Ohio located about 40 miles north of Dayton. The owners, who are Catholic, contend that the HHS mandate requiring coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs – violates their religious beliefs.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most influential bench in the land behind the Supreme Court — ruled in favor of the brothers. Requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception, the court ruled, is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control and abortion on religious grounds.

“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote on behalf of the court.

“They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong,” Brown wrote.

The Obama administration said that the requirement is necessary to protect women’s health and abortion rights. The judges were unconvinced that forcing companies to violate their religious rights was appropriate.

Brown wrote that “it is clear the government has failed to demonstrate how such a right — whether described as noninterference, privacy, or autonomy — can extend to the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices.”



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

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


1 November, 2013

Americans were warned about Obamacare -- despite vigorous efforts to suppress the warnings

Michelle Malkin

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is allergic to the truth. She is the ruthless enforcer of Obamacare's Jenga tower of lies upon lies upon lies. Now that this fatally flawed government edifice is collapsing, you can expect Sebelius to do what she has done her entire career: blame, bully and pile on more lies.

Three years ago, when insurers and other companies had the audacity to expose Obamacare's damage to their customers and workers, Sebelius brought out her brass knuckles. Remember? As I reported at the time, the White House coordinated a demonization campaign against Anthem Blue Cross in California for raising rates because of the new mandate's costs. Obama singled out the company in a "60 Minutes" interview, and Sebelius sent a nasty-gram demanding that Anthem "justify" its rate hikes to the federal government.

A private company trying to survive in the marketplace was forced to "explain" itself to federal bureaucrats and career politicians who have never run a business (successful or otherwise) in their lives. Sebelius went even further. She called on Anthem to provide public disclosure of how the rate increases would be spent -- a mandate that no other private companies must follow.

In an even more heavy-handed effort to suppress criticism, Sebelius wrote America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurers, "calling on their members to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act." The threatening cease-and-desist letter commanded: "I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases. ... Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections."

The speech-stifling gag order declared war on every opponent of Obamacare who dared to question the administration's phony claims of cost-savings or expanded access. When McDonald's notified the feds that it might have to cancel health insurance plans for 30,000 workers because of Obamacare's effective prohibition on low-cost plans, Sebelius slammed The Wall Street Journal for reporting the story. She then rushed to issue McDonald's an Obamacare waiver, the first of thousands to quell criticism and bleeding.

Health care policy analyst Merrill Matthews points out that Sebelius cracked her whip against health insurer Humana even before the law had passed. When the insurer warned seniors that an Obamacare proposal to cut reimbursements could harm their Medicare Advantage benefits and coverage, Sebelius demanded that the company "suspend potentially misleading mailings to beneficiaries about health care and insurance reform."

The warning, of course, proved true. In September 2010, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care canceled MA policies covering 22,000 seniors precisely because of Obamacare rules on reimbursements and MA-style plans.

Sebelius' power-mad partner on Capitol Hill, Henry Waxman, targeted companies including Deere, Caterpillar, Verizon and ATT in a brass-knuckled effort to silence companies speaking out about the cost implications and financial burdens of Obamacare. After the firms reported write-downs related to the Obamacare mandate (disclosures that are required by law), Waxman scheduled an inquisition hearing to berate them publicly. After the Democrats' own congressional staff pointed out that the companies "acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards" in submitting filings that were required by law, Waxman called off the hounds.

It was a temporary reprieve. Caught with their pants down on the Obamacare website abomination and unable to stifle the cries of millions of Americans who are unable to keep the plans and doctors they like, Sebelius and her corrupt company are now blaming insurers, contractors and customers for the Obama administration's ideological mess. In short: They lied, but for your own good. Culture of Corruption 101.



Federal officials seek to impose racial preferences on banks and financial sector under Dodd-Frank Act

At the National Review, Roger Clegg discusses the racial “diversity quotas” that may result from a proposed regulation under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which expanded federal control over banking. That law contains racial diversity mandates drafted by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Castro-loving, left-wing ideologue who called the Los Angeles race riots that destroyed many Korean-owned shops an “uprising” against injustice. Waters once told a CEO in a Congressional hearing, “This liberal will be all about socializing . . . .uh, uh . . . would be about, basically, taking over and the government running all of your companies.”

As Clegg points out, the proposed racial “diversity” regulation is legally dubious, and even more burdensome to regulated businesses than one would have expected:

Today a number of Obama administration agencies with financial-sector regulatory responsibilities have jointly published in the Federal Register a proposed “Policy Statement Establishing Joint Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices of Entities Regulated by the Agencies.” The statement comes as a result of Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank legislation, which requires these agencies each to “establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion” that, in turn, is to develop diversity and inclusion standards for workplaces and contracting.

The proposed statement is even worse than the bill itself, since it aggressively applies not only to the agencies themselves but also to all those regulated by it, and repeatedly insists on the use of “metrics” and “percentage[s]” (i.e., numerical quotas) to ensure compliance. And while the statute at least cautions that diversity efforts are to be undertaken “in a manner consistent with the applicable law” . . . there is no such nod in the proposed statement, nor is there any mention of stopping or preventing discrimination – the only possible [constitutional] justification for consideration of race, ethnicity, and sex in hiring, promotion, and contracting.

As Clegg (who served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General) notes, the statutory provision that led to these proposed racial preferences was “criticized by the Wall Street Journal, four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Diana Furchtgott-Roth,” and other lawyers and economists. (The Dodd-Frank Act was passed along party lines by a Democratic Congress with President Obama’s backing.) Clegg wrote a “short summary of Section 342 here, and Christopher Byrnes wrote a much more comprehensive analysis of the statute, here. Comments on the proposed statement are due by Christmas Eve.”

Racial preferences don’t have to rise to the level of racial quotas to violate the Constitution; milder racial preferences can be illegal as well, as is illustrated by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod v. FCC (1998), which struck down the FCC’s attempt to pressure broadcasters to hire more minorities and women to promote “diversity.” While the courts have countenanced the use of race to promote “diversity” in the college setting, they have often refused to allow the use of race to promote “diversity” in the employment setting (see court rulings such as Lutheran Church v. FCC, 141 F.3d 344 (D.C. Cir. 1998); Messer v. Meno, 130 F.3d 130 (5th Cir. 1997); and Taxman v. Board of Education of Piscataway, 91 F.3d 1547 (3rd Cir. 1996)). Similarly, the D.C. Circuit earlier declared unconstitutional the FCC’s use of gender in awarding broadcast licenses in order to promote “diversity,” in Lamprecht v. FCC, 958 F.2d 382 (D.C. Cir. 1992).

Since a desire for “diversity” is not sufficient reason to use race or gender in hiring, it is unconstitutional for this proposed Dodd-Frank regulation to require banks to use such “diversity . . . considerations in both employment and contracting,” including “hiring, recruiting, retention and promotion.” Such a requirement runs afoul of the Constitution even when it does not require a bank to hire a specified percentage of minority employees.

While it is unclear how much this “diversity” requirement will actually increase minority representation, it is clear that from the length and complexity of the proposed rule that it will impose substantial compliance costs on banks (you can find the proposed regulation implementing the diversity requirement at this link).

The proposed rule also requires the use of racial “diversity” considerations in contracting. But contracts cost far more when they are awarded based on race, rather than to the lowest bidder. Even fairly mild racial preferences impose substantial costs on businesses and taxpayers.

For example, in the Domar Electric case, Los Angeles accepted a bid for almost $4 million to complete a contract rather than the lowest bid of approximately $3.3 million, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $650,000. The lowest bidder was rejected solely because it failed to engage in affirmative action in subcontracting. California’s Proposition 209 later limited this sort of racial favoritism by banning racial preferences in state government programs, saving taxpayers money. A number of state affirmative-action programs have since been struck down under Prop. 209, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. (I cite the Domar case because it involved an affirmative-action program that has been depicted by supporters as unobjectionable and unburdensome because it did not mandate racial quotas or fixed percentages. Racial quotas can lead to even larger disparities between the lowest bid and the bid accepted by the government, resulting in much higher costs to taxpayers).

I wrote earlier about how provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act violate equal protection guarantees and property rights at this link.



Racial Preferences in Obamacare, and Discrimination, Too, Based on Weird Ideology

The Daily Caller has an interesting story about race-conscious provisions and racial preferences contained in Obamacare. It’s a subject that has received remarkably little attention, even though the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded back in 2009 that the healthcare bill was racially discriminatory, in two ways. First, the law is filled with “sections that factor in race when awarding billions in contracts, scholarships and grants” and give “preferential treatment to minority students for scholarships.” Second, as an African-American member of the Commission noted, it ”creates separate and unequal operating standards for long-term care facilities that serve racial and ethnic minorities.” By granting HHS “the discretion to waive substantial penalties . . . for failing to report elder abuse and other crimes committed against residents of long-term care facilities that serve racial and ethnic minorities,” it ”could increase the probability that residents of such facilities won’t receive the same level of protection as residents of nursing homes that serve non-minority populations.”

As the Daily Caller notes, some of these racial preferences reflect a weird theory promoted by certain Obamacare architects: that the healthcare system should promote “racial concordance,” a fancy word for “pairing patients and doctors of the same race, a goal toward which the law channels taxpayer dollars.” The idea is that patients do better with doctors of the same race. But this motivation for using race conflicts with Supreme Court rulings, which reject such racial pairing as a reason for using race.

While the Supreme Court has allowed the government to use race in hiring or admissions for certain other reasons (to remedy the effects of the government’s own past discrimination, and, in the college setting, to promote diversity in admissions), it has rejected using race for reasons like this. In its decision in Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986), the Supreme Court rejected using race to give minority students teachers of their own race. It observed that pairing people by race perpetuates, rather than dismantles, segregation: “Carried to its logical extreme, the idea that black students are better off with black teachers could lead to the very system the Court rejected in Brown v. Board of Education,” the Supreme Court noted. (Indeed, defenders of segregation had once defended having all-black and all-white schools precisely in order to provide role models for minority students.) Earlier, in its Bakke decision, the Supreme Court expressed skepticism about the value of providing minority physicians for minority patients, refusing to allow a state university to give minority applicants a racial preference in admissions to medical school in order to give minority patients access to physicians of the same race, and ruling that the university had “not carried its burden of demonstrating that it must prefer members of particular ethnic groups over all other individuals in order to promote better health care delivery to deprived citizens.”

The Daily Caller argues that “Obamacare seeks to segregate patients, doctors by race.” While this may be painting with too broad a brush, Obamacare does not seem to rely on the justifications for using race that have been blessed by the Supreme Court, like remedying the present effects of the federal government’s own past discrimination against minorities. This is fatal, because an improper motivation for using race taints an otherwise valid affirmative-action program, under Supreme Court decisions like Shaw v. Hunt. Even if the government had discriminated against minorities in the past, and the effects of that discrimination lingered today, that could only justify using race in minorities’ favor if remedying their effects was Obamacare’s “actual purpose” for using race, and its use of race cannot be justified if such a remedial rationale “did not actually precipitate the use of race.” (See Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 908 n.4, 910 (1996)).

Regardless of Obamacare’s motive for using race, its racial preferences and discrimination are unconstitutional under existing precedent. Any federal discrimination against minorities in healthcare is either too isolated, or too far in the past, to support the use of racial preferences in the present. Even a history of discrimination against minorities by the government cannot justify the use of race now unless the discrimination is recent. (See, e.g., Brunet v. Columbus, 1 F.3d 390 (6th Cir. 1993) (discrimination that occurred 17 years ago does not support affirmative action today); Hammon v. Barry, 813 F.2d 412 (D.C. Cir. 1987).)

Moreover, to justify racial preferences, the discrimination against minorities must have been “intentional,” not merely “disparate impact” (“disparate impact” is a race-neutral practice that disproportionately weeds out minority applicants, like a standardized test that more blacks flunk than whites). See People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 538, 534 (7th Cir. 1997); Builders Association of Chicago v. County of Cook, 256 F.3d 642, 644 (7th Cir. 2001).

In 2009, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights criticized the racial preferences in the healthcare bill, saying that they were likely unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s 2000 Adarand decision, which subjected race-based affirmative action to “strict scrutiny” and barred federal racial preferences absent evidence that they are needed to remedy intentional past discrimination by the government. In cases like Rothe Development Corp. v. Department of Defense and the Western States Paving case, the courts have sometimes struck down federal affirmative-action plans sponsored by liberal lawmakers, citing the Supreme Court’s Adarand decision. ObamaCare goes even further in mandating the use of race than past affirmative action plans.

Racial preferences are not limited to Obamacare. Earlier, we wrote about unconstitutional requirements that banks and financial institutions use race in hiring and contracting, requirements contained in a recent proposed regulation to implement the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Obamacare contains not only racial discrimination, but also other kinds of discrimination, such as massive marriage penalties that discriminate against married people. The healthcare law also contains huge work disincentives for some people. It has also reduced hiring and resulted in employers replacing full-time employees with part-time workers, driving even unions that once backed it to seek its repeal or replacement. It has also caused layoffs in the medical device industry.



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

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


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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


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

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.


A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

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

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: