Friday, October 31, 2008

A small reflection about the relationship between England and Australia

Most Americans feel proud, pleased and blessed to be born in America. And rightly so. Australians and the English feel similarly and for similar reasons. But from the large and constant stream of English immigrants arriving in Australia, one gathers that a lot of the English like some sunshine with their English heritage. And there is more than sunshine to it. I remember a recent arrival in Australia who hailed from Yorkshire saying to me that Australia is "Yorkshire with brass", where "brass" is Northern slang for money. He was oversimplifying but there was a lot of truth in what he said nonetheless. The ties between England and Australia are a lot closer than either side will normally admit. Australians speak derisively of the English (calling them "Poms") and the English speak derisively of Australians (calling them "colonials").

But it remains true that both nationalities feel very much at home in the others' country. And I am probably a rather extreme example of that. When I was growing up in Australia in the 1950s, I grew up into a society that was very Anglophilic. Many Australian-born people still copied their parents' usage and referred to England as "home". And we had a Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who described himself as "British to his bootstraps". And I remember crying -- aged about 9 -- when it was announced that the King had died. An even stronger influence than all that, however, stemmed from the fact that I was a great book reader from an early age. And most if not all boys' books available were written and published in England for the English. So I grew up in a mental world that was half-English: Which was a very good start on understanding English thinking.

So when I first arrived in England in 1977 I found a few peculiarities but in general had no social difficulties -- which is saying something if you know the intricacies of English social rules. I imagine that I did transgress in various ways from time to time -- but never enough to be a bother. In fact my high level of social acceptance would have been the envy of many Englishmen. I was materially assisted in that by the fact that an educated Australian accent is quite close to RP ("Oxford" English) and accent is enormously important in England. Any Australian accent is in fact closer to RP than are many regional English accents. So I was often told in England that I had a "soft" accent -- meaning that although detectably Australian it was not beyond the pale in in the Home Counties. My conservative politics tend to go down well in the Home Counties too.

An amusing effect of this close but usually denied affinity is the way that some Australian women have constructed for themselves a version of English "society". In England there really is such a thing as "society" -- basically the English aristocracy. The Australian version is of course self-selected rather than genetically selected but they do a moderately good job of imitating the English original. And part of that is that they do a rather good job of imitating the speech of the English original. I remember one example vividly. When I was talking on the phone to Laurie, she sounded to me just like Margaret, who is an English lady I know who really is a born member of the English aristocracy.

So who was Laurie? She was the daughter of my father's accountant. In other words we both grew up in a small Australian country town -- going to school in bare feet in a tropical environment -- an environment beset by such perils as taipan snakes, funnelweb spiders, box jellyfish, finger cherries and crocodiles, rather than the more pleasant English phenomena of crocuses, daffodils, cuckoos and skylarks. From that humble beginning, however, Laurie had acquired all the language, mannerisms and values of the English aristocracy. And I imagine that she did so without ever visiting England.

It reminds me of something that someone wrote (probably Andrew Ian Dodge -- an Anglophilic American) when I first started putting up my "Eye on Britain" blog. He said that this is a blog about England from an outsider's point of view -- but the author really isn't an outsider because he is an Australian. Very insightful.


Don't Let the Polls Affect Your Vote: They were wrong in 2000 and 2004

By Karl Rove

There has been an explosion of polls this presidential election. Through yesterday, there have been 728 national polls with head-to-head matchups of the candidates, 215 in October alone. In 2004, there were just 239 matchup polls, with 67 of those in October. At this rate, there may be almost as many national polls in October of 2008 as there were during the entire year in 2004.

Some polls are sponsored by reputable news organizations, others by publicity-eager universities or polling firms on the make. None have the scientific precision we imagine. For example, academics gathered by the American Political Science Association at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington on Aug. 31, 2000, to make forecasts declared that Al Gore would be the winner. Their models told them so. Mr. Gore would receive between 53% and 60% of the two-party vote; Gov. George W. Bush would get between just 40% and 47%. Impersonal demographic and economic forces had settled the contest, they said. They were wrong.

Right now, all the polls show Barack Obama ahead of John McCain, but the margins vary widely (in part because some polls use an "expanded" definition of a likely voter, while others use a "traditional" polling model, which assumes turnout will mirror historical trends but with a higher turnout among African-Americans and young voters).

On Monday, there were seven nationwide polls, with the candidates as close as three points in the Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll and as far apart as 10 points in Gallup's "expanded" model. On Tuesday, the Gallup "traditional" model poll had the candidates separated by two points and the Pew poll had them separated by 15. On Wednesday, Battleground, Rasmussen and Gallup "traditional" model polls had the candidates separated by three points while Diageo/Hotline and Gallup "expanded" model polls had the spread at seven points.

Polls can reveal underlying or emerging trends and help campaigns decide where to focus. The danger is that commentators use them to declare a race over before the votes are in. This can demoralize the underdog's supporters, depressing turnout. I know that from experience.

On election night in 2000 Al Hunt -- then a columnist for this newspaper and a commentator on CNN -- was the first TV talking head to erroneously declare that Florida's polls had closed, when those in the Panhandle were open for another hour. Shortly before 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Judy Woodruff said: "A big call to make. CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column."

Mr. Hunt and Ms. Woodruff were not only wrong. What they did was harmful. We know, for example, that turnout in 2000 compared to 1996 improved more in states whose polls had closed by the time Ms. Woodruff all but declared the contest over. The data suggests that as many as 500,000 people in the Midwest and West didn't bother to vote after the networks indicated Florida cinched the race for Mr. Gore.

I recall, too, the media's screwup in 2004, when exit-polling data leaked in the afternoon. It showed President Bush losing Pennsylvania by 17 points, New Hampshire by 18, behind among white males in Florida, and projected South Carolina and Colorado too close to call. It looked like the GOP would be wiped out. Bob Shrum famously became the first to congratulate Sen. John Kerry by addressing him as "President Kerry." Commentators let the exit polls color their coverage for hours until their certainty was undone by actual vote tallies.

Polls have proliferated this year in part because it is much easier for journalists to devote the limited space in their papers or on TV to the horse-race aspect of the election rather than its substance. And I admit, I've aided and abetted this process.

In the campaign's final week, though, the candidates can offer little new substance, so attention turns to the political landscape, and there's no question Mr. McCain is in a difficult place. The last national poll that showed Mr. McCain ahead came out Sept. 25 and the 232 polls since then have all shown Mr. Obama leading. Only one time in the past 14 presidential elections has a candidate won the popular vote and the Electoral College after trailing in the Gallup Poll the week before the election: Ronald Reagan in 1980.

But the question that matters is the margin. If Mr. McCain is down by 3%, his task is doable, if difficult. If he's down by 9%, his task is essentially impossible. In truth, however, no one knows for sure what kind of polling deficit is insurmountable or even which poll is correct. All of us should act with the proper understanding that nothing is yet decided.

As for me, I've already cast my absentee ballot in Kerr County, Texas -- joyfully, enthusiastically marking the straight Republican column. I would like to have joined the line Tuesday outside the polling place in Ingram, where I've been registered the past few years. But I will be in New York, part of the vast horde analyzing exit polls, dissecting returns, and pontificating on consequences. I'll thoroughly enjoy myself that night, and probably feel guilty the next morning. But this year's 728 national polls and the thousands of state polls made me do it.



McCain is Winning --Here is the Proof

Some not unreasonable optimism from Evan Sayet

John McCain has the upper hand in the November 4th election. How can I say that when the polls show Obama leading by anywhere from one (IBD, the most accurate pollster the last time out) to 13 from the folks who brought you Dan Rather and the use of forged documents to try and steal the election just four years ago. A brief look at the methodolgy of these polls -- the degree of over-sampling of Democrats corresponding almost to perfection with the degree of Obama's "lead" in them -- shows a tight race, with McCain actually leading by a point or two. This reality is underscored by events within the campaigns which, when analyzed, show an Obama camp in desperation.

1) The politically savvy Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, is clearly panicking. Rendell has publicly begged the Obama campaign to send their star back to the state for no less than THREE major events to "close the deal" on a state that should have been closed for the leftists month ago. And it's no wonder the campaign is panicking, an Obama internal poll was accidentally released to the media and it shows The Anointed One in a statistical dead heat with his American hero opponent. And this was BEFORE John Murtha basically parrotted Obama's San Francisco speech in which The Anointed One candidly spoke of his disdain for the people of Pennsylvania. Murtha may not be as eloquent as The One, but the condescension and disrespect that he has for the people who "cling" to their Christianity and constitutional rights is exactly the same.

Murtha's poll numbers are cratering. I can't imagine that Obama, who shares Murtha's convictions, aren't doing the same. If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be runing an ad every ten minutes with nothing but these Democrats own words and the tag line "If this is what they THINK of you, imagine what they plan to do TO you."

2) Obama has "suspended" campaigning -- something he refused to do to help quell the financial crisis that he sees as working in his favor -- in order to visit his ailing grandmother. Since this is the same grandmother he had cynically thrown under a bus in his wonderfully eloquent speech in defense of his mentor, Jeremiah Wright -- a woman he later described as nothing more than "a typical white woman," it is fair to be cynical about his real purpose in suddenly caring so much about her he would actually visit her (when he barely spent a minute with her just a few weeks ago when he vacationed in Hawaii.) I suspect, more than anything, it was a desperate attempt to get his name out of the news for a few days, to let the stink of his campaign go away, after several disastrous stories made their way into the public consciousness.

Over the past few weeks a narrative of Obama's thuggery was more and more coming to the fore. Despite the leftist media's best efforts to protect him, the actions of his minions in the thugocracy of ACORN, his allies' vicious attacks on a plumber who merely asked a policy question and the close ties of Obama to the terrorist who segued from murdering Americans to brainwashing their children more and more reminded Americans that they really don't know this neophyte, first term, junior senator who somehow managed to rise to the top of Chicago's corrupt political landscape by affiliating himself with the worst of the worst of the worst. A quick trip to visit "granny" and suddenly questioning the "grieving" candidate would be seen as below the belt.

Meanwhile, it's obvious that Obama DIDN'T suspend his campaign but instead used his time in Hawaii to put together what his campaign is calling a "major economic policy" speech. Unless grandma is a Harvard MBA, it's highly unlikely he wrote, edited and rehearsed this speech at the bedside of the woman he "cares" so much about.

3) Candidates who are well on their way to a landslide do not make "major speeches" in which they introduce new policy. Candidates who recognize that there is a deep mistrust of their policies do. Again, despite the best efforts of the leftist media, Obama's deeply held Marxist beliefs have made it into the minds of mainstream America and Obama, without any lead in the polls, feels he must explain away the evidence.

4) If you'll recall, the reason the God of Change chose Joseph Robinette Biden -- a guy who has been sitting in the US Senate since he was about the same age as Britney Spears is today -- was because he would quell the rightful fears of an electorate that recognizes Obama's utter lack of executive or foreign policy experience. Now Joe has shown himself to be, well, to be nice about it, wholly unhinged. From ordering cripples to "stand up" to describing Obama's fiscal policy in "three letters...J-O-B-S, to his belief that FDR was president in 1929 and that Americans all sat around their televisions watching him, Biden's mental health needs to be seriously questioned.

These insanities, however, pale in comparison to Biden's promise that, should Obama somehow manage to win (or steal) the election, there will be an international crisis within six months BROUGHT ON BY OBAMA, not to mention Biden's expounding on the point by saying Obama's policies will appear to be the wrong response but trust us -- the wholly unknown Obama at the helm, the mentally unstable Biden his number two.

Just in case you think the recognition of Biden's mental instability is just my own, consider that even those fun-loving, Republican-hating kids at Saturday Night Live couldn't help but spoof Biden's insanity, titling their opening piece this week "Sen. Biden and Rep. Murtha Say Crazy Things..." What followed was an almost word-for-word re-enactment of Biden's actual speech.

Perhaps worst of all for the leftists is that cracks are beginning to appear in the monolithic and utterly corrupt media coverage. SNL's lampooning of Biden is but one example. Another is an interview that took place this week where Biden was actually asked a tough question or two. Biden, of course, failed miserably which, in turn, brought on the usual response from the Obama camp, the thuggish attempt to destroy, not Joe the Plumber but Barbara West, one of the few reporters Biden has met who doesn't work inside the cocoon of the Beltway or have aspirations to the anchor desk in leftist New York City.

Put together the panic in PA, the sudden "suspension" of the Obama campaign, the need for a major speech on "economic policy," the meltdown of the "experienced" one on the ticket, the gathering evidence of Obama's ties to thugs, criminals and terrorists, the over sampling of Democrats in the polls and more, and you get a clue as to where we really are in this campaign. With ten days or so to go, Obama's making moves of desperation.



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


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Group Pride, insecurity and the Left

Strictly speaking, the generalizability of the research below is limited by the sample they used but the conclusions are very ancient and almost certainly true. In ancient Athens, hubris (arrogant pride) was actually considered a crime while megalopsuchia (proper pride; big spiritedness) was a virtue. I follow the report below with a few notes about the wider implications of the research
From screaming baseball fans to political rally-goers, groups that engage in boastful self-aggrandizing may be trying to mask insecurity and low social status. "Our results suggest that hubristic, pompous displays of group pride might actually be a sign of group insecurity as opposed to a sign of strength," said researcher Cynthia Pickett, associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.

The new study reveals how two types of pride are related to a person's good feelings about one social group or another to which they belong. These good feelings could come from being a Los Angeles Lakers fan (when they win), a war veteran, a member of a particular ethnic group or a sorority gal or fraternity brother. But while authentic pride is linked with real confidence in your group, hubristic pride is a false arrogance that belies insecurities about one's group. These results build on past research showing similar pride characteristics in individuals.

"It turns out, people who have the hubristic collective pride in their group, underlying it all is an insecurity about whether the group is good enough, really," said researcher Jessica Tracy, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia. The research was presented last week at a meeting of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology in Sacramento.

In three studies, Pickett, Tracy and their colleagues surveyed more than 300 undergraduate students, first asking each participant to write about an experience when they felt proud of their group. In one of these studies, students had to recall the UC Davis football win over Stanford. In another, Asian American students were asked to write about a proud experience tied with their ethnic background. Other experiences ranged from sports team wins to achievements by sororities, say raising a big chunk of money for a charity.

Each participant then rated to what extent they would use certain words to describe themselves at the time of the event or achievement. Some of the descriptors indicated hubristic pride, such as "snobbish," "pompous" and "smug," while others were linked with authentic pride, such as "accomplished," "successful" and "confident." Students also answered questions about the status of the group, including whether the group was valued by non-members, whether they themselves thought highly of the group, whether the group was under threat or in competition with another group, and other group-related questions.

The results showed that groups in which individuals boasted and gloated - a sign of hubristic pride - tended to have low social status or they were vulnerable to threats from other groups. So the worse the person felt about their group's status as well as how badly they thought the public viewed the group, the more likely that member would experience that empty, boastful pride. In contrast, those groups that expressed pride by humbly focusing on members' efforts and hard work tended to have high social standing in both the public and personal eyes.

Hubristic pride can rear its ugly head in both small groups like sports teams and larger groups like citizens of a country. "A lot of this has real-world implications," Tracy told LiveScience. "There are some kinds of collective pride where people get really angry and hostile and feel like 'it's not just that my group is great but my group is better.'" She added, "You can think of it as the distinction between nationalism and patriotism, with nationalism being the sense of it's not just that I love my country, it's that my country is best."

When group members show signs of hubristic pride, such as making grandiose statements about their country, that could be a sign of underlying insecurity, the researchers said. "When you hear groups starting to get into that type of rhetoric it may be because they're starting to realize they're in a losing position and that they need to do something to try to drum up respect, to drum up the kind of status that they feel they're lacking," Pickett said.


The first thing that needs to be stressed about the above findings -- something the authors themselves imply -- is that not all group loyalty is dysfunctional. Tribalism or group action is very common in the animal world -- from ants to apes -- and it is part of humanity too. Leftists tend to deny that, however. They see any kind of group loyalty -- such as patriotism -- as primitive. And tribalism certainly is a prominent feature of primitive societies. That something is primitive does not mean that it is weak, however. And in fact tribal loyalties of one sort or another still to this day dominate most human societies. In Muslim lands, for instance, there is virtually no loyalty to the nation. All loyalty is to your tribe, to your clan, to your kinship group or to your religion.

As Emmanuel Todd, a French Leftist historian, correctly pointed out, it is the Anglo-Saxons who are deviant. To Southern Europeans, the English family is incomprehensible. It appears pathologically fractionated. Instead of strong family loyalties, the English simply go their own way once they leave home and have almost no further contact with one-another by normal human standards. I saw this in the late '60s when I was doorknocking with a social survey in an ethnically mixed area of Sydney. One of the questions I asked was: "How often do you see relatives?" The Greeks and Italians would usually say: "Every weekend". By contrast, about half the Anglo-Australians said: "Never!".

So if even family ties are so weak among Anglo-Saxons, one can understand that tribal loyalties are very limited -- usually seen only in attachment to particular sporting teams. Sport is a re-enactment of real combat so it is a very primitive thing and draws out primitive reflexes.

But tribalism DOES have some life among Anglo-Saxons outside sport. In particular, Anglo-Saxons do have some attachment to their own nation and ethnic group. They put up surprisingly well with having other ethnic groups living among them but their preference nonetheless is generally for their own ethnic group. See here, for instance. And this tattered remnant of group loyalty is what Leftist routinely stigmatize as "racism".

Ironically, however, it is Leftists themselves who seem to have the strongest group orientation. Contrast the lukewarm support of conservatives for McCain with the hysterical adulation for Obama on the Left. And, from Hegel through Hitler ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer") to Obama, it is Leftists who glorify unity and seem to regard as ideal an anthill type of existence where everybody obeys implicitly direction from the top. So Leftists are clearly the political fanatics. And the research above does therefore identify them as the most insecure.

And there is reason for that insecurity and its compensatory fanaticism. They know that what they really want is the utter destruction of the "system" in which they live and there is always a great risk that the mask will come off that and expose them for the haters and destroyers that they are.

And that Islamic hypersensitivity about "insults" reflects insecurity is a common observation. They certainly have little to be proud of by way of real recent achievements and their sensitivity to slights shows that they know that a low opinion of them and their hamstrung lifestyle has some justification. By contrast, cartoons ridiculing Christians are routine (usually from the Left) but I have yet to hear of any Christian demands to behead cartoon publishers.

Reference: Todd, E. (1985) The explanation of ideology Oxford: Blackwell


Brookes News update

The coming Obama economic nightmare: Obama and his crew must love economic disasters, because that is what his economic policy would be. As for Obama himself. The man is an intellectual sponge. He soaks up these ideas without being able to carry them to their logical conclusion. This severe intellectual deficiency of his is concealed behind a carefully cultivated aura of sublime cerebral confidence. What sensible folk call intellectual posturing. Even his appearances are nothing but studies in theatrics
They are still getting it wrong on the recession: The recession is deepening and our economic commentariat still cannot get it right. Complete cluelessness on the nature of the crisis and what caused it has made virtually all economic commentary on the matter worthless
Obama, Alinsky and the Marxist Left: The Democrat Party has been taken over by the extreme left wing to the extent that earlier Democrats like Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey would not recognize it. A perfect storm of socialism has been developed by shrewd people behind the scene, a corrupt leftist media and careful long term planning
Paul Krugman's explanation of the financial crisis is pure baloney: Krugman admits that his forecasting record is not what one might call brilliant. In fact, if he had worked for a stock broker he would have been fired. My point is that accepting as accurate economic predictions from economists who ignore both monetary and real factors is akin to playing Russian roulette with 5 rounds in the chamber
The Joe-the-Plumber vote is bigger than you think: Obama's rich targets are not rich at all. They are high-income earners, many of whom believe that by rich Obama means the likes of Buffett. But the real rich will escape Obama's destructive tax net because it is designed to haul in incomes and not wealth. If Obama were really sincere about taxing the rich he would have proposed a wealth tax instead of taxes on getting wealthy
Obama's campaign built on lies: Journalists have delivered the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars in free advertising for Obama with puff piece reporting on his campaign, and far less favorable coverage of the McCain campaign. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media have been unconcerned about Obama's brazen dishonesty
Argentina's Obama policy of spreading the wealth sinks the economy: A massive surge in government spending, socialist redistribution schemes, confiscation of private pension funds and a contempt for the laws of economics sent the Argentinean economy into a downward spiral. These are also Obama's policies. He and his fellow Democrats are also greedily eyeing 401(k)s
The financial crisis and the worst campaign question: Because of those earlier political interventions, there are more malinvestments than ever. The liquidation of these massive malinvestments would be so jarring that all of official Washington is striving to postpone the day of reckoning with government controls and more easy credit from the Fed"
Obama's agenda is so "gay": If elected, Barack Obama - the 'change candidate' - will undoubtedly live up to his name. He will certainly institute sweeping change over the next four to eight years. But consider whether Obama's brand of change is change America can afford


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


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


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sarah Palin's a Brainiac

by Elaine Lafferty

The former editor in chief of Ms. magazine (and a Democrat) on what she learned on a campaign plane with the would-be VP

It's difficult not to froth when one reads, as I did again and again this week, doubts about Sarah Palin's "intelligence," coming especially from women such as PBS's Bonnie Erbe, who, as near as I recall, has not herself heretofore been burdened with the Susan Sontag of Journalism moniker. As Fred Barnes-God help me, I'm agreeing with Fred Barnes-suggests in the Weekly Standard, these high toned and authoritative dismissals come from people who have never met or spoken with Sarah Palin. Those who know her, love her or hate her, offer no such criticism. They know what I know, and I learned it from spending just a little time traveling on the cramped campaign plane this week: Sarah Palin is very smart.

I'm a Democrat, but I've worked as a consultant with the McCain campaign since shortly after Palin's nomination. Last week, there was the thought that as a former editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine as well as a feminist activist in my pre-journalism days, I might be helpful in contributing to a speech that Palin had long wanted to give on women's rights.

What is often called her "confidence" is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is. Now by "smart," I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a "quick study"; I'd heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her "confidence" is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.

For all those old enough to remember Senator Sam Ervin, the brilliant strict constitutional constructionist and chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee whose patois included "I'm just a country lawyer". Yup, Palin is that smart.

So no simple task then, this speech on women's rights. For the sin of being a Christian personally opposed to abortion, Palin is being pilloried by the inside-the-Beltway Democrat feminist establishment. (Yes, she is anti-abortion. And yes, instead of buying organic New Zealand lamb at Whole Foods, she joins other Alaskans in hunting for food. That's it. She is not a right-wing nut, and all the rest of the Internet drivel-the book banning at the Library, the rape kits decision - is nonsense. I digress.) Palin's role in this campaign was to energize "the Republican base," which she has inarguably done. She also was expected to reach out to Hillary Clinton "moderates." (Right. Only a woman would get both those jobs in either party.) Look, I am obviously personally pro-choice, and I disagree with McCain and Palin on that and a few other issues. But like many other Democrats, including Lynn Rothschild, I'm tired of the Democratic Party taking women for granted. I also happen to believe Sarah Palin supports women's rights, deeply and passionately.

More here


The Truman Show: How McCain Could Pull Off a Final Week Upset

The most reliable surveys put McCain five to seven points behind Obama as we enter the last week of this interminable campaign. But in a race that will be famous for years afterwards for its volatility, it is not too late for the Republican to pull out a victory.

For Harry Truman in 1948, the presidential race shifted dramatically in the final week, and it's happened three more times in the past 30 years. In 1980, Reagan came from eight points behind to a solid victory by winning his sole debate with Carter in the last week of October. In 1992, Clinton, who had fallen behind in the polls because of the pounding he was taking over his liberalism and propensity to raise taxes, surged ahead of Bush when Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh announced that he was indicting Defense Secretary Casper (Cap) Weinberger, an indication of Bush's possible complicity in the Iran-Contra scandal. And in 2000, Bush's three-to-four point lead in the polls was erased over the final weekend when reports surfaced that he had been cited for DWI 20 years before and had not revealed the fact to the public. Bush still won the election, of course, but Gore won the popular vote by half a point.

What does McCain have to do to pull off a similar shift this time?

1. Use the stock market crash to highlight the tax issue. With the Dow Jones dropping each day by hundreds of points, this election is being held against a backdrop of economic fear unlike any since the Depression. Almost every reputable economist agrees that it would be catastrophic to add to the economy's woes by raising the capital gains tax. But Obama is on record as favoring an increase from 15% to 20% and suggested during the primaries that he would consider hitting 28%....

2. Bring back Rev. Jeremiah Wright. For reasons that are beyond me, John McCain has vowed not to make an issue out of Rev. Wright's extreme anti-American statements. But that should not stop independent expenditure and 527 groups from raising the issue.....

3. Warn voters of impending socialism in America. The recent bailout legislation puts the United States government inside the ownership, management and direction of many of our major companies and financial institutions. The bureaucrats have entered as firefighters, trying to extinguish the blazes that threaten to consume these companies. But once the flames are put out, will the firefighters go home or will they set up shop and give the United States a socialist economy akin to that of Western European nations? Will the bureaucrats relinquish the power they are being given in a time of crisis? McCain needs to point out that bureaucrats never let go of power unless they have to.

McCain needs to point out that it was political meddling by liberals that led Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to encourage subprime mortgage loans in the first place. Were it not for the pressure in the Clinton Administration to expand home ownership to poor people and minorities, Freddie and Fannie would not have relaxed their down payment policies and would not have been willing to guarantee mortgages without proof that the borrowers had sufficient income to repay the debts....

If the Dow continues to terrify investors and distract voters from the election, it will continue to bolster Obama's candidacy and his lead. But if there is some stability in the final week before the election, there is every chance that voters will take another look at Obama and decide that he is too risky. By stressing the tax issue and the potential of an Obama regime to subvert our free enterprise system, McCain can harness the crisis and warn voters of the impact of a decision to elect the most radical candidate for president in our nation's history.

More here


The financial crisis has been even more catastrophic outside the USA

By Spengler

It wasn't the world that got flat, contrary to New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman, but the emerging markets that got flattened. Faddish conventional wisdom over the past few years held that American influence was fading as technology radiated to the far reaches of the world. When America's economy went into a ditch, though, the supposed economic superpowers of the future went flying, like children on skates holding onto the back of truck.

The American consumer, it turns out, played Atlas to the global economy, taking the exports of Asia, so that Asia could buy the commodities of Russia, Latin America and Africa. Remove the American consumer, and Asian exports crash, taking commodity prices along with them.

The financial crash exposes the fragility of large swaths of the world. The political consequences will be terrible. The worst of it is that America will not be around to moderate the melee, not if Democratic Senator Barack Obama is elected president, that is. Those who objected to America's role as world policeman will get what they wanted, but they won't like it: a religious war reaching from Lebanon to Pakistan, and Colombian-style narco-war spreading to Mexico and Brazil.

The wave of American self-pity that may carry Obama to the White House stems, in turn, from a global crisis that has sunk a good deal of the developing world. Worst affected are the most populous Muslim countries, and Russia's "near abroad". Pakistan, Ukraine and Belarus are out of funds and have applied for help to the International Monetary Fund. Indonesia and Turkey face drastically increased borrowing and import costs. Iran's economy will implode with oil in the mid-US$60s....

The economic crisis buoyed Obama out of his post-convention slump and exposed the emptiness of the Republicans. But it also has crushed the aspirations of the most populous Muslim countries. Even before the financial crisis, Pakistan and Turkey had turned towards political Islam. Pakistan's intelligence service is providing support to the Taliban in Afghanistan, jeopardizing the Western position. The financial crisis will push Pakistan further towards radical Islam. Now this proclamation will be preached from every mosque from Tyre to Lahore: "The corrupt West tried to seduce you with consumerism. Now the poisoned gifts of the West are shown to be an illusion, and those of you who lusted after them are left only with your humiliation."

No one in Asia, it appears, knows how to make money when American import demand shrinks, and when Asian growth falls, raw materials prices collapse. No one in Latin America, for that matter, seems to know how to make money when raw materials prices collapse. For all the preening and posing of the emerging world's nouveau riche, it turns out that the American consumer was the center of the world economy, and without the American consumer, all that is left are busted stock markets and bad credit. Most embarrassing for the flat-worlders is the observation that the emerging markets crashed when the world concluded that Washington would not be able to reverse the financial crisis. The economic bomb that detonated in America caused more collateral damage in the emerging markets than casualties at home.

Until July 2008, commodity prices rose as stock prices deteriorated because investors falsely assumed that Washington would set off a new wave of inflation as it rescued the banking system. The commodity producers thumbed their collective nose at economic distress in the industrial world and expected the boom to go on forever. Once the markets concluded that Washington would not be able to prevent a financial collapse, the commodity indices crashed along with stock prices. The commodity producers went from boom to bust almost overnight.

Iran's theocrats, as I reported in June (Worst of times for Iran, Asia Times Online, June 24, 2008), managed to steal $35 billion from oil revenues. Luxury real estate prices rose to Parisian levels while poor Iranians lacked necessities. With the collapse of the oil price, subsidies for essential items will disappear and the regime will face economic collapse. Before it does so, I believe Iran will undertake an adventure to assert its hegemony in the region, probably at the expense of Iraq.

The low level of violence in Iraq during the past several months owes something to the skill of American arms in the so-called "surge", but it owes even more to a tacit agreement between Iran and the George W Bush administration: in return for leashing its irregular forces in Iraq, Iran would get a free hand with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and American forbearance with respect to its nuclear weapons program.

The Bush administration's motive to bribe Iran and avoid political damage in Iraq disappears on US presidential election day on November 4. Whether the US administration (or for that matter Israel) has the nerve to launch an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities is anyone's guess (and everyone is guessing that the answer is negative). Nonetheless, Iran has created the strongest Shi'ite presence since the original battles that determined the succession to the Prophet Mohammed. It can watch the Shi'ite cause fade away with the price of oil, or it can attempt to use its capabilities before they are lost for another thousand years. Nothing at all that we know of the Iranians indicates that they would go quietly into another long night of Sunni oppression.

Iran's leaders, in short, find themselves in a position similar to, but more urgent than, the one that Adolf Hitler described to his senior commanders three weeks after the German invasion of Poland. I have quoted this before, but it deserves to be tattooed onto the foreheads of analysts who think that economic weakness reduces the likelihood of armed conflict.
We have nothing to lose, but much indeed to gain. As a result of the constraints forced upon us, our economic position is such that we cannot hold out for more than a few years. [Hermann] Goering can confirm this. We have no other choice, we must act ... At no point in the future will Germany have a man with more authority than I. But I could be replaced at any moment by some idiot or criminal ... The morale of the German people is excellent. It can only worsen from here.

Iran's ultimate target will be Saudi Arabia, whose largest oil fields are found inconveniently in Shi'ite-majority areas just across the Persian Gulf from Iran. The Saudis will not sit quietly while Iran gains the upper hand in Iraq. Pakistan and Turkey, Sunni powers with large armies, will be loath to allow Iran to dominate the region, and they also will be all the more dependent on Saudi generosity.

A whole generation of Western analysts looked approving on Turkey's turn to Islamism, as I reported last summer (Turkey in the throes of Islamic revolution, Asia Times Online, July 22). Now Turkey will be Islamist - and broke. Turkey paid more than 20% for local currency deposits in order to attract the funds to finance a current account deficit amounting to 7% of gross domestic product. The Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan now faces the worst of all possible worlds. The Turkish lira has lost a third of its value in the past month, and almost all of the devaluation will turn up in higher domestic prices. Credit availability for Turkish businesses will vanish, and Turkey will enter a profound economic crisis.

A belt of ungovernability now stretches from Lebanon to Pakistan, with incalculable political and military consequences. I believe that a Shi'ite-Sunni version of Europe's 17th-century Thirty Years' War will engulf the region.

More here


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


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


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some deep background on the polls

Reader Frogg passed along this really interesting commentary from a professional pollster who is (a) a die hard Obama supporter and (b) laughing at the public polls:
I was having dinner a night ago with a friend of mine who is a statistician for a well-regarded private polling company. They do some work for Republicans in California, but most of the work they do is for Democrats or Democrat-leaning operations (Unions, etc.). Anyway, her shop was retained to do a few Presidential polls for targetted states on behalf of a union so the union could decide where to spend their ad dollars for the last week. They did Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Missouri. After mocking the hell out of the voter id spreads used by Rassmussen, Zogby, etc. (and this is coming from a committed Dem who will be voting for Barry O) she said the results of their polling lead her to believe that McCain will definitely win FL, OH, NC, MO and NV.

She says Obama definitely wins New Mexico. She said that Colorado and New Hampshire were absolute dead heats. She said she thinks there is a 55% chance Obama holds on in Pennsylvania and a 75% chance McCain wins Virginia. She absolutely laughed at the public polls showing Obama leading Virginia-and pointed out that all of those polls rely on Dem turnout being +4 and as much as +7, when in 2006, Republicans actually had the advantage by +3. She also pointed out that the numbers for Obama in SWVA look absolutely awful and that McCain is running 10 points better then Allen did in NoVa.

Anyway, her company's conclusion is that the election will come down to Colorado, New Hampshire and the Republican leaning district in Maine, which in her opinion might very well decide the Presidency (apparently the district in Nebraska that Obama thought he might be able to get is now off the table). She said she has very little doubt that the public polling is part of a "concerted voter suppression effort" by the MSM. She said IBD/TIPP was the only outfit doing public polling that was "worth a bucket of warm piss".

The turnout model scam of 2008 will be the big story of this election. In my last post on polls I noted how many of the polls out there are starting to fall into two camps. The first camp is the traditional approach using historic turnout models where party affiliation is actually quite close as both sides turn out their base equally well. The second model is new and unverified, and assumes there will be a huge difference in party affiliation turnout this year.

The first class of polls show a very tight race, the second class are so heavily weighted towards the dems they assume all the anger with the direction of the country has no impact on Democrats and their media puppets. The DC/NY Political Industrial Complex is mostly liberal in its make up, and it has recently become more and more isolated in its echo chamber. Just look at how it reacted to Sarah Palin. The end result is the polls of polls are showing a classic bimodal result with clusters of polls at one of these two modes: "traditional' and "extended" - just like the two turnout models now being openly produced by Gallup.

I think this pollster has it about right. LJStrata and DJStrata have been out doing the GOTV stuff this week and what they find here in our part of Northern Virginia is there are about equal numbers of Obama and McCain supporters, but the Obama supporters are more open, and the McCain supporters are a bit down because of the tilted polls. The GOP support is quiet, but just as massive as the Obama support.

Sadly, one of the better pollsters has gone to the dark side of the bimodal results. Rasmussen has decided to increase his Democrat edge to new heights, under the naive assumption Dem and GOP supporters are equally engaged in answering pollsters:
Like all polling firms, Rasmussen Reports weights its data to reflect the population at large. Among other targets, Rasmussen Reports weights data by political party affiliation using a dynamic weighting process (see methodology)..... The targets are not set arbitrarily. Rather, they are established based upon survey interviews with a separate sample of adults nationwide completed during the preceding six weeks. A total of 500 nightly interviews are conducted for a total of 21,000 interviews over the six week period.

While it sounds reasonable, the fact is willingness to participate in polls may not be uniform between the left and right. And pollsters are more and more considered part of the problem, part of the Political Industrial Complex which the public blames for the country being on the wrong track by 90+%. There is a `pox upon all your houses' mentality in the country that is starting to lump the media, the pollsters, the consultants in with the politicians from both sides. Trust in the political class is gone.

Rassmussen now gives the dems a questionable 33-40 edge in turnout (Indies at 27). Previously in September he had Rep-Dem-Indie (RDI) at 34-39-28. Each time he increased the dems edge McCain lost ground - duh!

Let's look at the latest Newsweek Poll which has Obama up 12%. One look at the internals gives the answer to the large lead. Supposedly from 1204 interviews they distilled out 1092 Registered Voters, which were further distilled down to 882 Likely Voters. Of these they claim 299 Reps, 380 Dems and 381 Indies.

If we do the math the total sample size for party affiliates is 1060 - which cleverly doesn't map to interviews, registered voters or likely voters. What is also interesting is they have error bars on their party ID? They claim the Rep error bar is +/-7 (which comes out to 2%.) and the indie/dem error bar is +/- 6. Not sure why they are not sure what party people claimed they were associated with was in doubt, but there it is.

Anyway, if we do the math the Newsweek RDI turnout model is 28-36-36. Recall Rasmussen's model was 33-40-27. I mean they are not even close!

One of the problems is a lot of people are still on the fence to some degree and pollsters are trying to push them into a lean for one candidate, but this is very shaky ground to be on. Look at this Minnesota poll which is making people sit up and take notice:
A St. Cloud State University poll shows that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama leads Republican opponent John McCain 42 percent to 37 percent in Minnesota.... After earlier surveys showed DFL challenger Al Franken with an edge, the SCSU poll shows Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman leading with 36 percent, compared with 27 percent for Franken. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley trails with 16 percent.

Not only is McCain down only 5%, there are an enormous number of undecideds given the low numbers for both candidates. I included the surprise Senate seat race for comparison because it shows similar numbers for Coleman and Franken (with the Rep out front), but there is a substantial number voting for a 3rd party candidate in that race. There is no major 3rd party candidate on the national level. In MN and with this poll, the race is wide open because of the enormous number of uncommitted voters. Obama could easily lose this state if this poll is to be believed.

So what do we have? We have polls using dynamic turnout models which link willingness to take a poll to willingness to get out and vote (a very suspect assumption IMHO). Especially since different pollsters are deriving vastly different turnout models as a result of this approach. All these polls share one thing, they tend to show massive Obama leads, while the traditional turnout models show a tight or tightening race.

Much more here


Congressional folly is destroying the basis of America's prosperity


Financial panics, if left alone, rarely cause much damage to the real economy, output, employment or production. Asset values fall sharply and wipe out those who borrowed and lent too much, thereby redistributing wealth from the foolish to the prudent. This process is the topic of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book "Fooled by Randomness."

When markets are free, asset values are supposed to go up and down, and competition opens up opportunities for profits and losses. Profits and stock appreciation are not rights, but rewards for insight mixed with a willingness to take risk. People who buy homes and the banks who give them mortgages are no different, in principle, than investors in the stock market, commodity speculators or shop owners. Good decisions should be rewarded and bad decisions should be punished. The market does just that with its profits and losses.

No one likes to see people lose their homes when housing prices fall and they can't afford to pay their mortgages; nor does any one of us enjoy watching banks go belly-up for making subprime loans without enough equity. But the taxpayers had nothing to do with either side of the mortgage transaction. If the house's value had appreciated, believe you me the overleveraged homeowner and the overly aggressive bank would never have shared their gain with taxpayers. Housing price declines and their consequences are signals to the market to stop building so many houses, pure and simple.

But here's the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn't create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.

If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street.

Much more here


Justice and Vote Fraud

Lawyers who supervise voting rights are Obama donors

We've all read a lot about the "politicization" of the Justice Department in recent years, and that political pounding is having an ironic effect. The prosecutors who are supposed to guard against voter fraud don't seem very interested in running the political risk of doing their job.

If voter fraud would ever be ripe for investigation, this would seem to be the year with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn) having been caught filing thousands of bogus voter registrations in at least 14 states. Acorn's history of deceit and the national sweep of today's scandal demand a federal probe. Safeguarding the integrity of the vote is every bit as important as protecting access to the polls, yet Democrats want Justice to pay attention only to the latter.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers recently sent two letters to Attorney General Michael Mukasey deploring a news leak that the FBI is investigating Acorn, and warning Justice to focus instead on "voter suppression." Barack Obama has also joined in this political intimidation, demanding in two letters that Mr. Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Justice staff who he claims are engaged in "unlawful coordination" with John McCain's campaign to pursue "so-called 'election fraud.'" There is zero evidence that such coordination exists, but it is remarkable that a Presidential nominee would dismiss election fraud as a myth.

The lawyers at the Civil Rights Division are already falling into line. Justice recently decided to reverse a policy in place since 2002 to send criminal attorneys and other federal employees to monitor polling places. The decision came two weeks after a September meeting to which the Civil Rights Division invited dozens of left-wing activist groups to discuss voter "access" to the polls.

Justice has also failed to enter the fray in Ohio. As many as 200,000 new voter registrations in that state are suspect, yet Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is refusing to follow the 2002 Help America Vote Act that requires her to verify these registrations. The Ohio Republican Party sued Mrs. Brunner, but the Supreme Court said the GOP lacked standing. Justice does have standing -- it is charged with upholding that law -- but has ignored the fight. The Justice excuse is that it isn't appropriate to file litigation so close to Election Day.

Yet that hasn't stopped the Civil Rights Division this month from filing a lawsuit against Waller County, Texas, to correct alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act; a lawsuit against Vermont for failing to report accurately on overseas ballots; and an amicus brief in a case filed by a civil-rights group that is suing to stop the Georgia Secretary of State from complying with voter verification rules. Justice's election suits always seem to side with liberal priorities.

It doesn't help Justice's credibility that attorneys charged with supervising voting issues are avowed Barack Obama supporters. According to Federal Election Commission data, James Walsh, an attorney in the Civil Rights Division, has donated at least $300 to Mr. Obama. His boss, Mark Kappelhoff, has given $2,250 -- nearly the maximum. John Russ, also in Civil Rights, gave at least $600 to Mr. Obama.

More here

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


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


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


Monday, October 27, 2008

A small personal note from a quiet Australian Sunday morning

I gather that for most employed people the financial crisis has had negligible effects. I am however one of the investor class. As a retired man, I live almost entirely on the proceeds of my stockmarket investments. And about half of those investments are in Australian bank stocks. So I am in big trouble, right?

Not at all. One reason why I invested heavily in banks was that Australian banks had big meltdowns at the time of the Hawke/Keating deregulation a couple of decades ago. Most of the State banks went broke and even Westpac (then the biggest bank) tottered a bit. And that all happened because of incautious lending to the "entrepreneurs" of the day. So I figured that the banks had learned their lesson and were not likely to risk any recurrence of that. And I was right. The Australian banks are in good shape. They were and are still making profits and sub-prime loans have not been a significant problem in Australia. The bank share prices are way down but as long as the dividends keep coming, why should I worry about that? The new high is always higher than the old high so the share prices will bounce back in due course.

And September/October is dividend time so I have had a good cash inflow recently. I like to keep a fair bit of cash on hand to fund the various gifts and donations that I give out from time to time. My own needs are minimal. I mostly give direct to the intended beneficiary. Giving to charitable organizations usually just supports a herd of parasites. Most of what you give to Big Charity pays for "administration". The only exceptions I make are that I do give to the Salvation Army and to Legacy (an organization that looks after the wives and children of military men who did not come home). The fact that I have some army background is probably sufficient explanation for the latter and it explains a lot of the former too. Many old soldiers will tell you how good the Sallies have been in wartime. And I do have a soft spot for real Christians.

Even so, I recently found that I did have about $10,000 that I had no obvious use for so I BOUGHT SOME MORE SHARES. Why everybody is not doing so rather escapes me. Prices are very rarely as low as they are at the moment. It is a great time to buy cheap.

All of which, in my view, shows one benefit of managing your own money rather than giving it to someone else to manage. I can ride out the share price downturn because I don't need to sell anything. But superannuation funds and the like are always having to sell in order to fulfill their obligations to people who have reached retiring age. So they are selling at a huge loss, which drags down the funds available to everybody on their books. Not smart!

So my recommendation is just buy blue-chip stocks in your own name as a way of saving for retirement.


Journalists hardly even pretend any more

The traditional media is playing a very, very dangerous game. With its readers, with the Constitution, and with its own fate. The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun - for the first time in my adult life - to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer", because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.

Now, of course, there's always been bias in the media. Human beings are biased, so the work they do, including reporting, is inevitably colored. Hell, I can show you ten different ways to color variations of the word "said" - muttered, shouted, announced, reluctantly replied, responded, etc. - to influence the way a reader will apprehend exactly the same quote. We all learn that in Reporting 101, or at least in the first few weeks working in a newsroom. But what we are also supposed to learn during that same apprenticeship is to recognize the dangerous power of that technique, and many others, and develop built-in alarms against their unconscious.

But even more important, we are also supposed to be taught that even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible. That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views, and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire. If we can't achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty - especially in ourselves.

For many years, spotting bias in reporting was a little parlor game of mine, watching TV news or reading a newspaper article and spotting how the reporter had inserted, often unconsciously, his or her own preconceptions. But I always wrote it off as bad judgment, and lack of professionalism, rather than bad faith and conscious advocacy. Sure, being a child of the `60s I saw a lot of subjective "New" Journalism, and did a fair amount of it myself, but that kind of writing, like columns and editorials, was supposed to be segregated from `real' reporting, and at least in mainstream media, usually was. The same was true for the emerging blogosphere, which by its very nature was opinionated and biased.

But my complacent faith in my peers first began to be shaken when some of the most admired journalists in the country were exposed as plagiarists, or worse, accused of making up stories from whole cloth. I'd spent my entire professional career scrupulously pounding out endless dreary footnotes and double-checking sources to make sure that I never got accused of lying or stealing someone else's work - not out any native honesty, but out of fear: I'd always been told to fake or steal a story was a firing offense . . .indeed, it meant being blackballed out of the profession.

And yet, few of those worthies ever seemed to get fired for their crimes - and if they did they were soon rehired into an even more prestigious jobs. It seemed as if there were two sets of rules: one for us workaday journalists toiling out in the sticks, and another for folks who'd managed, through talent or deceit, to make it to the national level....

But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current Presidential campaign. Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass - no, make that shameless support - they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press. I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather - not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake - but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Gov. Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the Big Leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play. The few instances where I think the press has gone too far - such as the Times reporter talking to Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends - can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha Bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side - or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for Senators Obama and Biden. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as President of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: his job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so....

More here


McCain Versus the Juggernaut. We stand with him.

by William Kristol

It's always darkest before it goes totally black. This is one of John McCain's favorite remarks, ascribed (apocryphally, it seems) to Chairman Mao. Well, with 10 days to go before the election, it's getting pretty dark out there.

Still, we hope for a McCain-Palin victory, for the sake of the country. And also for the pleasure of seeing the dejection of the mainstream media, the incredulity of the leftwing triumphalists, and the humiliation of the pathetically opportunistic "conservatives" who've been desperately clambering on board the Obama juggernaut. We're proud to stay off that juggernaut. We're proud, in our modest way, to stand with John McCain and Sarah Palin against it.

An Obama-Biden administration--working with a Democratic Congress--would mean a more debilitating nanny state at home and a weaker nation facing our enemies abroad. We, of course, have confidence that the nation would survive such an interlude, and we would even hope that a President Obama might adjust course from the path he's advertised, especially in foreign policy. But the risk of real damage is great, especially when compared with the prospect of a tough-minded center-right McCain-Palin administration that could lead the country sensibly through these difficult times.

Reading the endorsements of Obama in the liberal media should strengthen the determination of all believers in American self-government and greatness to fight this election campaign to the end. Time magazine's Joe Klein tells us that Obama "seems a grown-up, in a nation that badly needs some adult supervision." To the contrary, we are a nation of adults. We don't need the "supervision" of a conventionally liberal and totally untested junior senator whose most impressive lifetime achievement has been the construction of an effective narrative about himself.

But wait. Obama does have one great achievement. He's run a good campaign. The New York Times tells us, "After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States." And how has he proved this? "Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change."

The "challenges" Obama has met have been political and electoral. He's met them well, and we'd be the first to pay tribute to his disciplined and effective campaign. Still, is this "proof" of a capacity to be president? Obama has run the most impressive campaign by a non-incumbent since George W. Bush in 2000, and by a non-incumbent Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Do the Obama acolytes want to hold up the Bush or Carter administrations as models for the proposition that a good campaign translates into a good presidency?

We also hear a lot of squeaking from rats deserting the McCain ship about Barack Obama's exemplary temperament. So what? If he'd had his way, Obama would have lost the war in Iraq--with equanimity. He would have been calm, cool, and collected as U.S. interests were sacrificed and U.S. honor besmirched. Neville Chamberlain also had a fine temperament and a good intellect. Joe Biden, by the way, has neither. But he did--much as he now wishes people to forget it--support the Iraq war. These days, he can barely be bothered even to mention Iraq. Oh well, start a war, lose a war. Gotta move on.

John McCain didn't move on. He helped to win the war. In a fine article on National Review Online last week, Byron York reported on a moment at a McCain rally:
"I just gave John McCain my Purple Heart," Marine Sgt. Jack Eubanks told me a few minutes after McCain finished a speech at a campaign rally in Woodbridge, Virginia, Saturday. "I said, 'I want to give this to you, sir, as a reminder that we want you to keep your promise to bring us home in victory and honor, so it will mean something.'?"

The 22-year-old Eubanks has been injured twice in Iraq. He's now teaching Marine recruits at Quantico--and walking with a cane. York explains that Eubanks saw remarkable progress in Iraq between his 2005 and 2007 tours and is concerned that it might all be for naught. "I think Obama's just going to pull everyone home as soon as he can, despite what's going on over there," he told York. "I just don't want it to turn into another Vietnam or worse where everything we fought for, and all my buddies who died over there, it was just for nothing."

We would hope that Obama might be more responsible with respect to Iraq as president than he was as senator, now that the surge he opposed and derided has worked. But hope is all anyone can do. And in dealing with other foreign threats, he'd more than likely follow his natural inclination--reflexively liberal, post-nationalist, timid to a fault.

More here


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


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


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hatred and Politics

Politics in America is a contact sport. Passions flare and the rhetoric can get heated and nasty. Political parties stoke these fires, playing on people's fears as a key fund-raising tactic.

Conservative authors have produced books with insulting titles like "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They Would Be Republicans" and "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder." The political left counters with ugly titles like "The I Hate Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh... Reader," "The I Hate Dick Cheney... Reader," and "The I Hate George W. Bush Reader."

It is ironic, yet natural, that the political left dominates hate literature. The irony is that the left championed "hate crimes" legislation. Having outlawed public expressions of hatred against various groups -- racial, linguistic, sexual orientation, etc.-- the left sees nothing hypocritical about fomenting hatred toward people of a different political orientation. Even if the "hate" authors don't personally hate Bush et al., people on the left must realize how such ugly language can poison susceptible minds.

While ironic, it is not surprising that hatred of political opponents is so virulent on the left. Hatred has long been a central pillar of leftist ideologies, premised as they are on trampling individual rights for the sake of a collectivist plan. Karl Marx boasted that he was "the greatest hater of the so-called positive." In 1923, V.I. Lenin chillingly declared to the Soviet Commissars of Education, "We must teach our children to hate. Hatred is the basis of communism." In his tract "Left-Wing Communism," Lenin went so far as to assert that hatred was "the basis of every socialist and Communist movement."

Indeed, it is easy to see the thread of hatred running through the various illiberal regimes of history, whether Soviet or Chinese communism or Hitler's national socialism. Only hatred could explain the willingness to kill, enslave, and rob vast numbers of innocent human beings. Hatred corrodes one's conscience. Under its toxic influence, a person will regard man's God-given right to be secure in his life, liberty, and property as nuisances to be overcome, not commandments to be obeyed. The flip side of hatred is an inflated self-love, self-importance, and self-righteousness so extreme that respect for other human beings diminishes and, in extreme cases (Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim, et al.), disappears.

An incident recounted in the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago illustrates this mental deformity (see "Thank You, Alexander Solzhenitsyn"). Soviet officials wanted to transport heavier loads of steel by railroad. When railroad engineers said that heavier loads would break down the tracks, they were shot as saboteurs of progress. When the loads were then increased, the tracks indeed broke down. Political goals could not nullify the principles of engineering.

A leftist conceit is that will-power can change the way the world works. It can't. This mad tendency persists today; signs of it are all around. A recent letter to the editor angrily insisted that the law of supply and demand didn't cause high gasoline prices, but that (what else?) evil oil companies did. The writer then vilified Americans for using too much gasoline (thereby contradicting his earlier statement that demand was irrelevant). So full of hatred is this writer that he spews contempt for economic laws. In his arrogant egotism, he blames the world's problems on the fact that millions of people make choices that he-who fancies himself more enlightened and morally superior to his fellows-thinks they shouldn't make. Welcome to the soul of leftism/illiberalism.

Hatred of individuals for ideological reasons is pathetic to behold. After conservative journalist Tony Snow passed on from a horrible disease (see "Tony Snow: Defender of the President and the Faith"), posters on the leftwing blog Daily Kos wrote "rest in hell" and "[I hope] there really is a hell and [Snow]'s burning in it now." How tragically self-demeaning such hatred is. It is a great sickness of spirit.

More recently, Gov. Sarah Palin has been the object of vicious vituperation and seething hatred (like the threat by comedienne Sandra Bernhard that Palin would be gang-raped if she campaigns in New York City). Perhaps her female attackers feel rebuked by her decision to choose life for babies. Perhaps they feel inadequate by comparison. When I see their contorted faces and hear the desperate unhappiness in their voices, I feel sorry for them and pray that the venom might leave their hearts.



Virginia Officials Illegally Discard Military Votes, Allow Out-of-State Votes

In Virginia's liberal Fairfax County, officials are illegally discarding absentee ballots cast by members of the military based on a technical requirement that is preempted by federal law. Meanwhile, people who live out-of-state are being allowed to vote (some people have boasted of being registered to vote, and voting, both in Virginia and another state) in Virginia elections, contrary to state law, based on instructions from liberal state voting officials and false claims by liberal advocacy groups.

The Washington Examiner reports on October 24 that "Fairfax County elections officials are rejecting about 200 overseas ballots, many of them from members of the military, saying the voters failed to observe a minor technicality in filling out their absentee forms." As retiring Congressman Tom Davis notes, that technicality "violates federal law" through its "disparate treatment of overseas voters."

"The State Board of Elections last week instructed county officials to adhere to the letter of the [state] law," even though it is preempted by contrary federal law. Officials at the State Board of elections are appointed by liberal Governor Tim Kaine.

Meanwhile, that same Board of Elections ordered Norfolk registrar Elisa J. Long to ignore state law by allowing college students not domiciled in Virginia to register and vote in Virginia elections.

The military votes in Fairfax County are being discarded by long-time Democratic operative Rokey Suleman, who became the Fairfax County registrar (a supposedly non-partisan position) after long being "active in Ohio Democratic politics." Suleman earlier sent staffers into the Fairfax County jail to register criminals to vote.

Source (See the original for links)


Voter fraud last time

The problem of voter fraud today is thoroughly revealed in a recent book by Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy (Encounter Books). One of the best features of that book is that it reveals what really happened in Florida in 2000: The Democrats tried to steal the election for Gore, but failed.

On the day after the election, Bush was declared the winner in Florida by 1,784 votes. Gore kept demanding broader and broader recounts, which were conducted in heavily Democrat counties mostly by Democrat party officials. Bush's margin kept declining, but he kept winning the recounts by hundreds of votes. Finally, Gore won a decision by the notoriously liberal fiction writers on the Florida Supreme Court, who began rewriting Florida election law to require a new statewide hand recount without clear uniform standards for each county. Both because the state court was changing the election rules as specified by the legislature, and because the counties would do the recount without uniform statewide standards, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the mandated recount violated the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. With the recounts ended, the Florida Secretary of State declared Bush the final winner by 537 votes.

After all the shouting was over, a consortium of major news organizations conducted their own thorough Florida recount. Despite well-developed Democrat mythology, supported by an idiotically irresponsible HBO movie on the controversy, the New York Times reported the results as follows: "A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward."

But Fund shows that only widespread Democrat vote fraud made the election as close as it was. The highly liberal Palm Beach Post conducted an investigation concluding that the county had illegally allowed 5,600 convicted felons to vote. Felons, of course, vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, apparently seeing them as soul mates. By contrast, Democrat lawyers won a motion to disqualify 1,420 military ballots because they didn't have a foreign postmark (which most likely resulted because the ballots were sent back through the U.S. military rather than foreign post offices). Those serving in the U.S. armed forces overwhelmingly vote Republican.

The national TV networks declared that Florida's polls were closed at 7 p.m. Eastern time, even though the polls in the heavily Republican Florida panhandle were still open for another hour because they are in Central time. Fund notes that CBS broadcast 33 erroneous statements between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. that Florida's polls were closed. NBC followed almost immediately by other networks even called the state for Gore at 7:48 pm Eastern time. Fund cites Democrat and Republican pollsters, as well as academics, who concluded that this cost Bush a net loss of close to 10,000 votes.

Most importantly of all, Fund conducts a detailed analysis of Palm Beach County election return anomalies, buttressed by local interviews, to conclude that Bush was deprived of another 15,000 votes through a little scam known as double punching. After the polls closed, Democrat election officials appeared to have taken dozens of the punch hole ballots at a time, and punched through the little box for Gore on all of them, using a nail or pencil. For ballots that had been voted for Bush, this would have resulted in invalid ballots that appeared to have been punched for both Bush and Gore. For ballots that had been voted for Gore, this would have had no effect, because the nail or pencil would have just pushed through a box that had already been punched out for Gore.

Washington State

Fortuitously, what Gore was trying to do by seeking recount after recount in Florida was demonstrated in the Governor's race in the state of Washington in 2004. On election night that year, Republican Dino Rossi had apparently won the Governor's race over Democrat Christine Gregoire by 3,000 votes.

Washington is comprised of heavily Democrat Seattle and King County, surrounded by a sea of Republican counties. Democrats in King County first focused on provisional ballots that were legally invalid because they were not signed or the signatures did not match the voter registration on record. (Provisional ballots are ballots that are cast because the voter does not appear on the registration rolls, so his vote is taken and kept to be verified later if possible.) Even though federal law requires the identity of such voters to be kept private, the Democrats found a judge who ordered that the names and addresses of these provisional voters be given to the Democrat party so they could go to the residence of each one and get the signatures straightened out.

Doing this only in the overwhelmingly Democrat county but not the others obviously would generate a lot more votes for the Democrat candidate. Fund further reports how the process worked, writing, "Democrats spent the next three days knocking on doors and speed dialing voters..Democrat volunteers asked if voters had cast ballots for Ms. Gregoire. 'If they say no we just tell them to have a nice day,'..Only if they said yes did the Democrats ask if they wanted to make their ballots valid." Gregoire got a net gain of 400 votes this way.

Then just two days before the final vote was to be certified, King County announced that it had found another 10,000 absentee ballots. Rossi's lead was soon down to 261 votes. That was enough to require a mandatory machine recount of all votes. Fund reports, "But in King County the recount went beyond running the ballots through the counting machines. Officials there 'enhanced' 710 votes that had been rejected by the machines, in some cases altering them with white out or filling in the ovals on the optical scan ballots." This netted another 219 votes for Gregoire, reducing Rossi's lead to 42 votes.

Democrats demanded and won yet another statewide hand recount. During that recount, heavily Democrat King County found another 561 ballots, more than a month after the election, that had been rejected because election officials couldn't find the voter's original signature in the registration records. Two days later, they found another 22 ballots hidden in voting machines that were already in storage, not sealed and secured in any boxes. "Another treasure hunt turned up 150 more votes that had been mistakenly put into storage," Fund reports. Meanwhile, in the hand recount, officials in King County decided they wouldn't automatically reject "overvote" ballots where the voter had mistakenly marked the ballot for both Rossi and Gregoire. These ballots were forwarded to the canvassing board, which somehow determined that some of these ballots were intended for the Democrat.

Fund reports, "The vote changes piled up so that by December 21, Ms. Gregoire took the lead by eight votes. Democrats promptly claimed victory..Ms. Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes two days before Christmas. She praised the whole process as 'a model for the rest of the nation and the world at large..'" This is how democracy has been suspended in Washington state for the last four years.

This is also what Gore was trying to do in Florida. Keep demanding recounts, until Democrat party election officials in heavily Democrat counties could find, create, manufacture, or rule in enough votes for Gore to take the lead. Then the counting would be over

More here


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


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


Saturday, October 25, 2008

No Reason For Conservatives To Jump Ship


Contrarian that I am, I'm voting for John McCain. I'm not talking about bucking the polls or the media consensus that it's over before it's over. I'm talking about bucking the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they're left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years. I stand athwart the rush of conservative ship-jumpers of every stripe - neo (Ken Adelman), moderate (Colin Powell), genetic/ironic (Christopher Buckley) and socialist/atheist (Christopher Hitchens) - yelling "Stop!" I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I'd rather lose an election than lose my bearings.

First, I'll have no truck with the phony case ginned up to rationalize voting for the most liberal and inexperienced presidential nominee in living memory. The "erratic" temperament issue, for example. As if McCain's risky and unsuccessful but in no way irrational attempt to tactically maneuver his way through the economic tsunami that came crashing down a month ago renders unfit for office a man who demonstrated the most admirable equanimity and courage in the face of unimaginable pressures as a prisoner of war, and who later steadily navigated innumerable challenges and setbacks, not the least of which was the collapse of his campaign just a year ago. McCain the "erratic" is a cheap Obama talking point. The 40-year record testifies to McCain the stalwart.

Nor will I countenance the "dirty campaign" pretense. The double standard here is stunning. Obama ran a scurrilous Spanish-language ad falsely associating McCain with anti-Hispanic slurs. Another ad falsely claimed McCain supports "cutting Social Security benefits in half." And for months Democrats insisted that McCain sought 100 years of war in Iraq.

McCain's critics are offended that he raised the issue of William Ayers. What's astonishing is that Obama was himself not offended by William Ayers.

Moreover, the most remarkable of all tactical choices of this election season is the attack that never was. Out of extreme (and unnecessary) conscientiousness, McCain refused to raise the legitimate issue of Obama's most egregious association - with the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Dirty campaigning, indeed.

The case for McCain is straightforward. The financial crisis has made us forget, or just blindly deny, how dangerous the world out there is. We have a generations-long struggle with Islamic jihadism. An apocalyptic soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. A nuclear-armed Pakistan in danger of fragmentation. A rising Russia pushing the limits of revanchism. Plus the sure-to-come Falklands-like surprise popping out of nowhere.

Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the last year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of "a world that stands as one"), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?

Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts, but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory? There's just no comparison. Obama's own running mate warned this week that Obama's youth and inexperience will invite a crisis - indeed a crisis "generated" precisely to test him. Can you be serious about national security and vote on Nov. 4 to invite that test?

And how will he pass it? Well, how has he fared on the only two significant foreign policy tests he has faced since he's been in the Senate? The first was the surge. Obama failed spectacularly. He not only opposed it. He tried to denigrate it, stop it and, finally, deny its success. The second test was Georgia, to which Obama responded instinctively with evenhanded moral equivalence, urging restraint on both sides. McCain did not have to consult his advisers to instantly identify the aggressor.

Today's economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I'm for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.




IBD/TIPP Tracking Poll: McCain close: "McCain has cut into Obama's lead for a second day and is now just 1.1 points behind. The spread was 3.7 Wednesday and 6.0 Tuesday. The Republican is making headway with middle- and working- class voters, and has surged 10 points in two days among those earning between $30,000 and $75,000. He has also gone from an 11-point de?cit to a 9-point lead among Catholics. An analysis of Final Certified Results for the 2004 election showed IBD's polling partner, TIPP, was the most accurate pollster of the campaign season."

AP presidential poll: All even in the homestretch: "The presidential race tightened after the final debate, with John McCain gaining among whites and people earning less than $50,000, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters in the election homestretch. The poll, which found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent, supports what some Republicans and Democrats privately have said in recent days: that the race narrowed after the third debate as GOP-leaning voters drifted home to their party and McCain's "Joe the plumber" analogy struck a chord.

Leftist hate again: "The home of a Central Florida Republican headquarters manager was shot up and damaged over his support of Sen. John McCain, the man told police. The Republican manager said he is convinced he was targeted because of new McCain signs he added around his home. "All I can tell you is this, I have a very good relationship with my neighbors," Coverely said. "I mow my lawn. The only thing that has changed is I have two McCain signs in my front yard."

In Obamaland: Black Chicago: "Dozens of mailboxes remain empty after the post office suspends service in one south suburban neighborhood. Some people get angry when their mail is late. But in Harvey, people have been waiting for days and days. They're not getting any mail at all. CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports that one mail carrier in Harvey feels threatened. The U.S. Post Office seems to think that this is one of the most dangerous blocks in the country. People who live on it say they haven't gotten any mail delivered to their homes in almost two weeks. Venus Jones is one of them. "Between robberies and shootings and delayed police response, several things going on, that would make it unsafe," said Harvey resident Venus Jones. One of those shootings on the morning of October 10th reportedly happened yards away from the mail carrier. That's when the mail stopped on Marshfield between 151st and 152nd streets, but the post office didn't tell anyone. "Some of the people didn't even know that it was being held at the post office," Jones said. Now Jones, who says her own home has been broken into three times in 30 days is talking to her neighbors about the mail problem and what should happen next."


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


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


Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama's mother

Follow-up to my "outrageous" post yesterday about Obama's mother is in two different posts on OBAMA WATCH and TONGUE-TIED.


Some practical socialism

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign the read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed. Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need-- the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more. I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.



Why do they hate Sarah Palin?

The abuse being heaped on Sarah Palin is such a cheap shot. The complaint against the Alaska governor, at its most basic, is that she doesn't qualify for admission to the national political fraternity. Boy, that's rich. Behold the shabby frat house that says it's above her pay grade. Congress has the lowest approval rating ever registered in the history of polling (12%!). She isn't the reason polls are showing people want the entire Congress fired, with many telling pollsters they themselves could do a better job.

Presidential candidates such as John McCain and Barack Obama have become untethered from the discipline of party institutions, largely because the parties have lost coherence. So we get celebrity candidates made famous, fundable and electable by dint of their access to the Beltway media. For voters, this election is a national Hail Mary. For nearly two years, all the major candidates have rotated through our lives as solitary personalities attended by careerist campaign professionals. Barack, Hillary, Rudy, Mitt, Mike, McCain. When the moment arrived to pick a running mate, input from the parties was minimal. That famous party boss, Caroline Kennedy, advised Barack Obama. They picked a three-decade denizen of the Senate. John McCain's obligation was himself and his endless slog to this big chance.

The quick surge of party-wide excitement and campaign contributions after his selection of Sarah Palin made clear that the McCain candidacy was moribund and headed for a low-turnout debacle. If he had picked any of the plain-vanilla men on his veep short list -- Pawlenty, Sanford, Romney or Lieberman -- they'd have won approval from the media's college of cardinals, and killed his campaign.

The stoning of Sarah Palin has exposed enough cultural fissures in American politics to occupy strategists full-time until 2012. We now see there is a left-to-right elite centered in New York, Washington, Hollywood and Silicon Valley who hand down judgments of the nation's mortals from their perch atop the Bell Curve. It seems only yesterday that the most critical skill in presidential politics was being able to connect to people in places like Bronko's bar or Saddleback Church. When Gov. Palin showed she excelled at that, the goal posts suddenly moved and the new game was being able to talk the talk in London, Paris, Tehran or Moscow. She looks about a half-step behind Sen. Obama on that learning curve.

Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," lives on the forward wave of American life. This week he gave his view of Sarah Palin to "I think Palin will continue to be underestimated for a while. I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her." Uh-oh. Sounds like the cancer could be in remission.

More here



The media again: "MSNBC has launched a news project with a variety of left-wing special interest groups to boost their Election Day coverage and help viewers experiencing problems at the polls. One of the groups involved in MSNBC's "Election Protection" project is the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now. ACORN has been involved in rampant voter registration fraud across the nation this election cycle and is actively supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for president. When asked for comment about ACORN's role in the project MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines wrote Townhall in an email "this a question for them, not us." Most of the groups MSNBC wants their viewers to contact and shape their news coverage on Election Day have extreme liberal agendas ranging and focus on variety of issues including housing, gay rights, amnesty, environmental policies and labor."

Sophisticated media commentary: "CNN contributor Roland Martin used an unoriginal line to attack Rush Limbaugh on Monday’s Election Center program. Host Campbell Brown wanted Martin, a Barack Obama supporter, to comment on something the talk radio host had said about Colin Powell’s endorsement of the Democratic presidential candidate: "Rush Limbaugh said today, this is about race. That's all it's about." Martin’s response: "I think I will quote Al Franken when talking about Rush Limbaugh -- is a stupid, fat idiot."

The usual Leftist hatred of anything that oprdinary people respect: "Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni today condemned a photomontage of Pope Benedict XVI with a swastika displayed on his chest which was published on a website run by supporters of her Kadima party, a close aide said.... One of the owners of unofficial site, Tziki Avissar, told public radio that the image was a way of "protesting against the Vatican's role during the Nazi genocide" in the face of the "shocking" support shown by Benedict for the beatification of his wartime predecessor Pius XII. The pope has insisted Pius spared no effort in the defence of the persecuted but often acted in silence, and earlier this month he praised his predecessor's memory on the 50th anniversary of his death."

Democrats now an openly elitist party: "What happened to the Democratic Party? Just a few generations ago, the party of Franklin Roosevelt went to bat for the little guy, the common man, the everyday Joe the plumber. Not anymore. Now, the wealthy elites who run the Democratic Party have declared war on working-class Americans while pretending to defend them against greedy and heartless Republicans. Those would be the same Republicans whose vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, doesn't just talk about working-class people but actually embodies one and yet has been savaged by liberals. And those would be the same Republicans who have devised a tax plan that might just appeal to “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, the Ohio resident who dared to confront Barack Obama over the unfairness of his tax plan."


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


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


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Naughty Obama Mamma

It's amazing what there is on the internet. A geneological researcher has emailed me with three pictures of Obama's mother in the nude. That would be of trivial interest except for the setting in which the picures were taken. They were clearly taken in a sophisticated mid-century apartment and my correspondent suggests that the apartment details could be used to identify the photographer. He feels that the photographer is the Communist "Frank" whom Obama mentions as his mentor. That Frank was so intimate with Obama's mother would support the contention that Frank was in fact Obama's father. Various bloggers have pointed out how similar Obama looks to "Frank" and the coverup of Obama's birth certificate is certainly very suspicious.

I will not post the pictures here as Google would undoubtedly take down this blog as soon as I did. Instead, I have posted the pictures here and here and here.

I give below part of the email from my correspondent:
By pure serendipity I found a photo of what I believe is Stanley Ann Dunham; two more I found through sheer plod. They are taken before Christmas by the decorations and unopened presents. Also a stereo and records that an expert could confirm as jazz records are in view.There is a distinctive grain to the wood floors. I do research including genealogical and had downloaded everything I could find. Not much. So when I saw the picture, I locked on the the ear lobes, chin, eyebrows. It is she. A nude photo,not distasteful, but posed, I believe, by a mature man who knows what he likes, including jazz and now we know young girls. One could ascertain the location of where the photos were taken.

And the shoes..not indigenous to Hawaii,but maybe not unsual for Helen Canfield Chicago socialite and Marshall's second wife. The photos are important in the sense that they explain the going to Chicago and the immediate acceptance by the hard left, if his father is Frank Marshall Davis, not just his mentor


McCain Outperforming Bush in Ohio Bellwethers?

I continue to hear from my source on the ground in Ohio, who is seeing results for McCain that are surprisingly good. He puts it, "in a key bellweather section of Ohio, McCain continues to show internals that are exceeding the national pollsters' results. This portends a potentially larger McCain victory in Ohio than Bush had in 2004."

As for those national pollsters, note that Fox News/Rasmussen puts McCain up 2, NBC/Mason-Dixon puts McCain up 1 and Rasmussen had it a tie last week. My guy on the ground thinks this might mean that the internal polling is a leading indicator, and he's noting that if McCain does as well among the key demographics in neighboring Pennsylvania as he is in Ohio, then the Democrats ought to be sweating about that state.

That's far from a given, of course; Pennsylvania is a bluer state than Ohio. I don't know that McCain will win Pennsylvania, but it isn't like he hasn't been given enough material - "spread the wealth around", "no coal plants", Murtha alternately calling his constituents "racists" and "rednecks," the bitter small-town clinger comment, etc.

I can hear it now - "Jim, Jim, what about the Suffolk Poll showing McCain losing Ohio by 9?" Well, if the Ohio electorate on Nov. 4 really does turn out to be 54 percent women and 46 percent men, and 45 percent Democrat and 31 percent Republican, then that may very well be the result. But I would be curious about which debilitating virus is attacking those with Y chromosomes in that state. (Having said that, the 2004 exit poll put the gender split at 53-47 in favor of women.)



There Will Be No Righting Voting Wrongs in Ohio

Reporting in the DC Examiner today, Quin Hilyer reports that there will be no righting voting wrongs in Ohio, in part because of the fact that Department of Justice lawyers who should be paying attention are not. Instead, they're "in the tank" for Barack Obama:

The kicker: The DOJ attorney on the case, former Ted Kennedy-affiliated lawyer James Walsh, is a contributor to the Obama campaign, as is his boss, former ACLU attorney Mark Kappelhoff. In all, DOJ lawyers and staff in the metro area have donated at least $150,000 to Obama. No wonder they seem more interested in prosecuting those who warn against vote fraud than enforcing vote-fraud laws.

This disconcerting news comes four days after I published a post (Supreme Court Confirms It: The Fix Is In!) about the high court's decision to allow Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner - a Democrat! - to ignore the temporary restraining order issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that ordered her to update Ohio's Statewide Voter Registration Database in compliance with Section 3003 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Now, more than ever, it appears the fix is in and there's nothing within the law that anyone can do about it until the next election cycle - unless, that is, the fears outlined by The Gadfly come to fruition under an Obama Administration.



Willie Brown: ACORN thinks it is entitled to break the rules

I am starting to like Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco who served 15 years as California's Speaker of the House. He'sa Democrat's Democrat. I hope he does not mind this little lift from his Sunday's column:
The Republicans do, however, have a point about ACORN and those voter registration drives. I have dealt with organizations like that for years. They all think they are sacrosanct and entitled to play fast and loose. They see themselves as advocates of the deprived, and they are made up of a combination of idealists, elements of the religious movement, and people like Obama. People who come out of college or law school and don't really need to go out and work, so they do a stint at community service.

ACORN and organizations like it are great places to do a stint like that. You use your skills and relationships to help them get grants. In return, groups like ACORN are unabashedly supportive of those who help them - especially with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives.

We used to call that telling it like it is.



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


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


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Conservatives are dumb fundraisers

No wonder Obama is so far ahead of McCain. I received an email asking me to donate to The McCain Palin Victory 2008 fund. I decided to send them $1,000. When I tried to do so, however, I was asked to give my State of residence. But only American States were listed. So I was unable to donate.

I ran into the same problem in responding to fundraising emails from David Horowitz and his Front Page outfit. I tried to get around the problem by randomly choosing an American State but that did not work as my credit card details did not line up with that State. No wonder Obama gets a heap more foreign donations!


So you think you can trust

I rarely put up emails I receive but the one below coincides with my own experience and I think the facts of the matter need to be known. Amusingly, I looked for the email on snopes and it was not mentioned!

We have all become accustomed to going to to verify hoax emails and other facts but did you know that, regarding political issues, snopes is not the source to go to?

I became suspicious after going to and typing in the search word 'Obama' which brought up almost every known accusation against Obama. Surprisingly, virtually each and every one of them was labeled 'false' or had some other explanation rendering it not true. Then I did a search using the search word 'McCain' and lo and behold.... there was virtually nothing that came up regarding accusations made against McCain but again brought up some of the same things that McCain supporters have made against Obama and again....claiming them 'false'.

I then did a web search on '' and found many articles and websites stating that is a known liberal biased website. Here's a quote off of one website: 'Snopes is reluctant to admit that most of the conservative political and religious emails are 'true' as far as snopes can determine. There is always a disclaimer, footnote or lengthy oratory explaining why everything from crime statistics to reports from Iraq must be viewed and understood through the 'snopes lens.'

Need more proof? Do your own web search on snopes and find many more things there talking about the political bias of snopes. So any of you who have misguided liberal friends or family that keep throwing 'check' in your face, please understand what you are looking at and inform those that use it as a crutch that it is a biased website that may be good to check email hoaxes, but not one to go to for political facts!!


BrookesNews Update

The US recession and Obama's destructive economic snake oil: Obama's tax plan is a recipe for economic stagnation if not worse. It is a direct attack on capital accumulation, the process that raises real wages and living standards. The only ones who would escape the consequences are the Democrats' billionaire supporters whose wealth will actually be protected by Obama's tax proposals
Why Rudd's $10.4 billion hit will not prevent a recession: There is no way Rudd's $10 billion package will ward of the impending recession. Monetary conditions have been extremely tight since last December, even being deflationary for the period of January to May. There is absolutely no way an increase in consumer spending can possibly offset the monetary squeeze the Reserve created
Australian journalists join the Democrats smear-mongering campaign: Journalists have ruthlessly smeared Obama's critics, calling them liars, racists, hypocrites, crooks, and far worse. This was done for the sole purpose of hiding from the public the real Obama, the one that lurks behind the public mask. The mass of journalist are lying political bigots who loath their own societies and their fellow citizens. The cloacal Geoff Elliott of The Australian is one such reptilian creature
Why do billionaires fund the Democrats' fascist economic policies?: The further away a businessman is from the actual production of physical things the greater is the possibility of him voting for leftist policies. I do not know of a single Democrat billionaire who is directly involved in manufacturing. But I can name those who are perfectly willing to give financial support to the Dems' fascist economic policies
Rev. Jeremiah Wright: The Cuban Connection: How curious, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - Obama's religious mentor and a vicious anti-Semite - admits he is linked to Cuba's intelligence agency through its religious front the Cuban Council of Churches. But this is par for the course for Democrats: we have Obama's strong links to America haters and unrepentant terrorists, Kerry's support for America-hating leftist thugs, Teddy Kennedy's offer to help the KGB bring down Reagan, Biden's promise to the Kremlin to betray dissidents, and many more examples of the left's treason
Top of form five-star green hypocrisy: The World Wildlife Fund is going to take a group of uber rich supporters on a private jet expedition that will have the carbon footprint of a volcano. (I'm exaggerating - but only a little). What we have here is another sickening example of the green ubermenschen's utter contempt for ordinary people. For them the environment is their playground and the little people can drop dead
Electing Obama will put us on the road toUSSA - United Socialist States of America: "Barack Obama entered electoral politics as a member of a radical Marxist group aimed at gaining control of the Democratic Party in order to implement a version of socialism in America. He signed a contract promising to maintain a visible relationship. Obama should be pressed by McCain to reveal that contract and proclaim his adherence to socialist goals before the American people approve him for our highest office
Metaphors reveal the economic ignorance of politicians and journalists: The stupidity, ignorance, economic illiteracy and sheer vacuousness of politicians and the media with respect to the financial panic is a singular lesson on the importance of a basic grasp of sound economics and a reasonable knowledge of economic history
Obama sowing ACORNs to reap the biggest oak tree in Washington, DC: America's corrupt media in covering up Obama's hatred of America and his links to activists and unrepentant terrorists like Ayers who want to destroy her. So why are they doing it? Because these phony journalists hate America just as much as Ayers does
The Indigenous Lives of Jesus and Mohammed: Leftwing 'academics' are writing American elementary school texts that are anti-Semitic and supportive of terrorism


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


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


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Real conservatism needed

If the election were held today, Barack Obama would be the new President of the United States of America. The latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls shows Obama ahead of McCain by nearly seven percentage points. It looks like the Democrats are going to have control of both the White House and Congress for the next four years. And, mark it down, if there is a Democrat sweep, conservative Republicans will get the blame.

The fact of the matter is, however, that President Bush and the Republicans who dominated Congress during most of his administration governed as anything but conservatives. Except during election season, it has been difficult to find any trace of conservative principles among incumbents within the Republican Party. During their tenure, Republican governance was characterized by out of control spending, record-setting earmarks, affirmative action programs for corporate wrongdoers, corrupt relations with special interests, and sexual scandal. While they often described themselves as "conservatives," their walk was very different from their talk...

During the period of Republican hegemony, no real ground was gained on reforming entitlements, no major effort was made to curb abortion (or even abortion funding), and the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product rose to a 50-year high!

Few Republicans in leadership in government during the past decade have been authentic conservatives. At best, they have been counterfeit conservatives, which no doubt accounts for why Republicans lost so many seats in 2006 and why they appear ready to lose more seats and the Presidency this November.

Because of the divergence between the words and deeds of those who have called themselves conservatives, there is a lack of clarity of what it really means to be a "conservative." Conservatives are sometimes confused with libertarians. But true conservatives are not autonomous individuals seeking absolute freedom. The siren call of extreme libertarianism is no less destructive than the liberal dream of the nanny state. Conservatives understand that every person is a part of a family and a community; they understand that each generation is just one link in the long chain of human history; and they understand that each person and each generation has duties to those who went before, those who are living today, and those who will come after us. A sense of duty and history governs the lives and thoughts of conservatives....

A recovery of conservatism begins with a recovery of the family. Families are the cornerstone of a healthy society. Families are the units that raise our children, transmit our values, and prepare children for life in society as responsible adults. In addition to providing protection, provision, and guidance, families provide an environment in which children learn how to order their lives as they live in community with others.

Conservatives believe that both mothers and fathers have unique and invaluable roles to play in the development of healthy children. Feminine and masculine role models are important for girls and boys alike. In our youth, we look to our mothers and fathers to learn how to live and relate to others. However, divorce, promiscuity, and co-habitation have devastated America's families. Many children have only a single parent to raise them. Consequently, children are often raised with a "gender gap," and they receive instruction and guidance at home from just a single parent. The pathologies of single parent children are all too familiar: academic failure, drug abuse, teen suicide, sexual promiscuity, juvenile delinquency. Conservatives, therefore, advocate policies that strengthen and undergird the family, knowing that such policies strengthen and undergird society.

Conservatives understand the value of work. Work is the means by which families sustain themselves economically. Since families (unlike government) are not able to print money, they understand the work-wealth connection. Conservatives deem the willingness to work hard to support oneself and one's family a virtue. They eschew policies that diminish incentives to work or encourage a lack of self sufficiency.

Conservatives also understand the importance of living within one's means. They understand the importance of savings and investment and know that to do either requires that they resist the temptation for instant gratification. They understand that the future is uncertain and life has its ups and downs. Therefore, in good times they set aside a portion of their earnings for the difficult times that may be around the bend. They favor policies that promote savings and investment and oppose those that promote unhealthy speculation, which they see as the equivalent of gambling.

Conservatives believe that markets should be free from excessive government regulation and that free market forces, not government intervention, should determine winners and losers in the market place. Competition is typically the best and most efficient way to determine which goods and services the consuming public wants. Government control of the means of production of consumer goods and government dictation of consumer preferences should be discouraged.

More here


Good Little Stuff from Big Mac

It certainly wasn't the big-bang across-the-board tax-reform and tax-cut plan that I and others lobbied for. But John McCain's "Pension and Family Security Plan" unveiled today on the campaign trail does have some solid pro-growth nuggets. I'm calling it some good little stuff.

The most important pro-growth measure is a reduction in the capital-gains tax rate to 7.5 percent in 2009 and 2010. Although I wish it were permanent, at least it will reward investors who scoop up undervalued assets, including bargain-basement stocks and underwater homes. Two years is not a very wide window. But this could promote a faster recovery in asset prices and wealth creation.

Alongside the cap-gains cut, McCain is proposing to increase the amount of capital losses eligible for tax write-offs from $3,000 to $15,000 for tax years 2008 and 2009. It's an offset to ordinary income. And again, while it should be permanent, at least it will be helpful.

Also in his plan, withdrawals from tax-preferred retirement accounts will be taxed at the lowest rate (10 percent) for the first $50,000 withdrawn from these accounts. Tax rules forcing seniors to sell retirement-account stock holdings when they reach age 70.5 will be suspended. That's good.

In effect, going into the final debate, McCain has a significant corporate tax cut and a modest capital-gains tax cut. He also wants to keep the Bush income-tax cuts in place. All of these measures are pro-growth.

I would have preferred a Paul Ryan modified flat tax with two brackets of 10 and 25 percent. In other words, a true across-the-board reduction in marginal tax rates as an economic recovery measure to connect with folks who are worried about recessionary losses for their jobs and home mortgages. Economic anxieties are big, and a big-bang tax-cut response would be optimal.

But cutting taxes for businesses, capital gains, and individuals does give McCain a lot of pro-growth meat on the bone for the big debate.

Now, if only McCain can succeed in selling these measures. Especially the corporate tax cut, which should be sold as a middle-class consumer tax cut inasmuch as corporations pass along their tax costs to consumers in the form of higher prices. This is the key to selling the corporate tax cut.




Wayne Lusvardi is campaigning for California's Proposition 8 -- which is aimed at stopping homosexual "marriage". He argues that it is in the interests of feminists to support the proposition. He won't convince the feminazis but lots of women have moderate feminist views.

High ratings for Palin on SNL: "The entertainment summit of the season -- Sarah Palin and her impersonator, Tina Fey -- earned "Saturday Night Live" its best ratings in 14 years. But if you blinked, you might have missed it. Fey was answering questions at a news conference, something Palin hasn't done yet as the Republican vice presidential nominee, when Palin walked on the stage. Fey beat a hasty retreat in the opening segment, walking past the real Palin with a barely perceptible nod. Palin's guest shot, widely anticipated since Fey began imitating her a month ago, led "Saturday Night Live" to its highest mark in overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings since March 1994, when assaulted skater Nancy Kerrigan was guest host. Although a complete audience estimate for the rest of the country won't be available until later in the week, it is likely to be around 14 million. For the first half-hour, when Palin first came out, the audience was about 17 million. That's pretty impressive for a TV program around midnight."

Canada looks to Europe in anticipation of Obama protectionism: "Barack Obama's promise to unilaterally rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico won't go along with his ideas on labor and the environment has not gone unnoticed in Ottawa. If Canadians are going to have a tougher time selling their goods and services south of the border, who can blame them for looking east -- across the Atlantic to Europe. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France signed an agreement Friday to begin negotiations for a free trade pact between Canada and the European Union. A Canada-EU study released last week outlines the joint economic benefits of such a partnership, with two-way trade estimated to increase 22.9% by 2014."

Typical Leftist destructiveness in Paris: "In a move that has ignited furious protests, Bertrand Delanoe, the Mayor of Paris, has approved plans for 180 council flats in Porte d'Auteuil, across the road from Villa Montmorency in well-heeled west Paris. Its rich and famous residents have signed petitions, berated MPs and complained that tenants will be able to see into their leafy and secret world from the tower block that Mr Delanoe wants to put up. Claudie Fournier-Christol, the chair of Porte d'Auteuil Environnement, a residents' association, accused the council of bringing "suburban crime" to the doorstep of France's "biggest taxpayers".

Farmers given more control in China: "Anxious at the spreading unrest among farmers left behind in the rush to get rich, China's Communist Party leaders yesterday unveiled sweeping reforms to give its 730 million or more rural residents more say in what they do with their land. The measures herald potentially the most far-reaching changes in rural China since a party plenum exactly 30 years ago when the late leader Deng Xiaoping launched market-oriented reforms with a decision to move away from communes and to allow farmers to till individual plots of land. Approved at a twice-a-year plenum of the party's Central Committee earlier this month, the scheme will allow farmers to transfer their land-use rights and to join share-holding entities with their farmland. The policies, still lacking in crucial details, effectively give farmers - rather than village leaders - the authority to decide how to use their land. Public ownership of land is a fundamental tenet of Communist Party rule and any attempt to enshrine farmers' ownership of their plots provokes howls of anger from Marxist ideologists. However, the current system of 30-year leases that can be extended gives effective ownership while maintaining the fig-leaf of public control - but has created a system rife with abuse. Under the new rules, severe punishment would be meted out to anyone violating farmers' interests."


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


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


Monday, October 20, 2008


An interesting research finding below

Chinese Children Excel on Novel Mathematics Problems Even Before Elementary School

By Robert S. Siegler and Yan Mu

ABSTRACT- Kindergartners in China showed greater numerical knowledge than their age peers in the United States, not only when tested with arithmetic problems, which Chinese parents present to their children more often than U.S. parents do, but also when tested with number-line estimation problems, which were novel to the children in both countries. The Chinese kindergartners' number-line estimates were comparable to those of U.S. children 1 to 2 years more advanced in school. Individual differences in arithmetic and number-line-estimation performance were positively correlated within each country. These results indicate that performance differences between Chinese and U.S. children on both practiced and unpracticed mathematical tasks are substantial even before the children begin elementary school.

Psychological Science, Volume 19 Issue 8, Pages 759 - 763, 2008


A big boost to socialism on the way?

The great credit crisis of 2008 and its aftermath come as a result of a "perfect storm" of almost unrelated events. Leftist attitudes were reaching a crescendo among the ideological classes, spurred on by such disparate and often logically irrelevant notions as racism, feminism, environmentalism, global warming, a health care crisis, an unpopular war and high energy costs. The political part of the mix included a bizarre set of primary elections and unlikely final candidates, one of whom is perhaps the most liberal figure in American politics. Globalization and increasing international trade stirred up the nativists and protectionists more than usual. The inevitable market-distorting results of interest rates kept too low showed up alongside a poor man's affirmative action lending program, all of which created a bubble that had to burst eventually. And new and not well-understood financial devices and organizations were creating public confusion and mistrust.

It was unlikely that all these influences would come to fruition at the same time, but they did. That is the nature of random events. The unlikely happens, and, almost by definition, no one is prepared for it when it does.

In spite of government efforts to reinflate the economy, we will now suffer a deep and painful recession/depression or stagflation, after which things will never be the same. That much of New Deal history can be confidently predicted to repeat itself.

The political direction of the country is now determined for a long time to come, and it is inevitably leftward. Politicians would never resist a popular but massive demand for more government regulation (even the few with enough brainpower to recognize what is going on). The business community has never been a strong supporter of free market capitalism, and it certainly cannot be counted on to change its stance this time around. The media, the various leftist trend-setting elites and university faculties have been waiting a long time for an opportunity just like this, and we can be sure that they won't squander it. The shrillness of their attacks on free markets will reach new heights of righteous indignation and assumed moral and intellectual superiority.

No policy issue based on private property, low taxes, small government or free trade will escape the charge that any unregulated free market will lead to disastrous excesses just as happened with the great financial crisis of 2008. This will be true for such soon to be rebuffed ideas as tuition vouchers for private schools, private health care, lower estate taxes, deregulation in its many forms, reduced use of eminent domain, tort liability restraint and free trade.

We can anticipate a new reign of mercantilism, as the protectionists among us wield this strong new weapon against globalization and open markets. And all of this is true in large degree regardless of who wins the forthcoming election. If Sarbanes-Oxley was any indication of the kind of legislation that results from crisis, then we can be sure that even more ham-handed regulation of all kinds will be the main product of the next Congress. Henry Waxman's grandstanding this past week about bankers' greed has been merely the warm-up for what is to follow.

Bankers eager for federal help now will find themselves regulated not far short of total federal control of their business behavior. Banks won't be permanently nationalized, but what we will get will differ from that result semantically more than factually. Derivatives, for all their promise of alleviating panics and distributing risk, will not now be allowed to evolve into the brave new system once predicted for them. Accounting rules will become even more convoluted as we continue to ask for more information out of double-entry bookkeeping than it can ever deliver.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope left to those who detest this seemingly inexorable slide into socialism or its first cousin, the super-regulatory state. That glimmer comes from the ghosts of Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, who still haunt the halls of the left. And in spite of all the claims made that this debacle marks the demise of free market philosophy, it won't go away so easily.

This time around, unlike during the New Deal, there is a substantial intellectual establishment to ride herd on leftist proclivities. There are numerous free market blog sites, which, for instance, can be properly credited with forcing modification of the recent short-sale ban. There are countless free market think tanks in Washington and all around the country exerting considerable influence on government policies. Libertarians are a small but growing political factor, and there are even a few university economics departments and law schools where sanity prevails or is at least occasionally evident.

Like it or not, these few intellectual bastions of freedom philosophy will be about the only thing that keeps these ideals alive in the coming years. But we should never underestimate the power of good ideas. Like the bad ones we are about to witness in large numbers, they may just have to bide their time until a new crisis causes the fickle and uninformed public to demand a new direction.

If these ideas are maintained in the inventory of ultimate possibilities, then there is always the chance of their public rediscovery and rebirth. It has happened with liberty before. And one thing is absolutely certain: Sooner or later the new era will end in another crisis. Perhaps then the defenders of freedom will be able to claim the moral high ground.




The Anchoress is collecting reactions to Sarah Palin's brief appearance on Saturday Night Live. The Puffington Host and their ilk are saying that it was a disaster for Palin but they think that it is a disaster that she even breathes. It was of course devoted to ridiculing her but that might actually have gained her some sympathy. Newsbusters has the video.

British airport security a farce too: "Replica bombs were smuggled past security staff in hand luggage during a safety inspection at Britain's second busiest airport. Staff at Gatwick failed to identify artificial explosives carried by undercover transport inspectors from Brussels even though one device was allegedly identified as suspicious by X-ray scanners. The device was apparently handed back to the purported terrorist because the person carrying out the screening did not realise what had been found, according to an airport source. The shortcomings high-lighted by the European commission's inspection this month will be tested again this week in a follow-up audit. Sources at Gatwick claim the work of security staff is being hampered by the need to keep queues to a minimum."

McCain Finally Uses The 'S' Word: "At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives. They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Senator Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut it's just another government giveaway.

What Do They See That Obama Didn't?: "The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has cancelled a speech by Bill Ayres -- after it became clear that an Omaha charitable foundation would pull all its donations to the university if Ayres spoke. That, incidentally, is the appropriate response to a man who tried to blow up the Pentagon, whose group tried to firebomb the home of a New York state supreme court judge, and who said -- as recently as 9/11/01 -- that "we didn't do enough." In essence, the charitable group refused to be associated in any way with Ayres. Why didn't Barack Obama feel the same way?"


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


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


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brilliant money manager says the privileged elite are stupid

You see his point when you look at what overvalued assets have just done to the financial system

Andrew Lahde, the hedge-fund manager who quit after posting an 870% gain last year, said farewell to clients in a letter that thanks stupid traders for making him rich and ends with a plea to legalize marijuana. Lahde, head of Santa Monica, California-based Lahde Capital Management, told investors last month he was returning their cash because the risk of using credit derivatives - his means of betting on the falling value of bonds and loans, including subprime mortgages - was too risky given the weakness of the banks he was trading with.

"I was in this game for money," Lahde, 37, wrote in a two-page letter in which he said he had come to hate the hedge-fund business. "The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government.

"All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other sides of my trades. God Bless America."

Lahde, who managed about $US80 million, told clients he'll be content to invest his own money, rather than taking cash from wealthy individuals and institutions and trying to amass a fortune worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

"I do not understand the legacy thing," he wrote. "Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the Blackberry away and enjoy life."

He said he'd spend his time repairing his health "as well as my entire life - where I had to compete for spaces at universities, and graduate schools, jobs and assets under management - with those who had all the advantages (rich parents) that I did not."

More here



It turns out that John McCain, who was widely mocked for saying that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," was actually right. We're in a financial crisis, not an economic crisis. We're not entering a second Great Depression, says Casey B. Mulligan is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. How do we know? Well, the economy outside the financial sector is healthier than it seems. One important indicator is the profitability of non-financial capital, what economists call the marginal product of capital:

* It's a measure of how much profit that each dollar of capital invested in the economy is producing during, say, a year.

* Some investments earn more than others, of course, but the marginal product of capital is a composite of all of them -- a macroeconomic version of the price-to-earnings ratio followed in the financial markets.

* When the profit per dollar of capital invested in the economy is higher than average, future rates of economic growth also tend to be above average.

* The same cannot be said about rates of return on the S.& P. 500, or any another measurement that commands attention on Wall Street.

Since World War II:

* The marginal product of capital, after taxes, has averaged 7 percent to 8 percent per year (in other words, each dollar of capital invested in the economy earns, on average, 7 cents to 8 cents annually).

* During 2007 and the first half of 2008, when the financial markets were already spooked by oil price spikes and housing price crashes, the marginal product was more than 10 percent per year, far above the historical average.

* The third-quarter earnings reports from some companies already suggest that America's non-financial companies are still making plenty of money.




Death duties dying in Taiwan: "The cabinet's plan, announced yesterday, is to convert the inheritance tax to a flat rate of 10% from the current 2%-50% range and increase the amount of inheritance exempt from any tax. The move would encourage more taxpayers to bring their savings and investments back onshore -- boosting domestic liquidity and consumption and generating employment in the high-paying wealth-management and investment-fund sectors. The plan also would increase the standard deduction on the personal income tax, effectively reducing household tax burdens."

Murdoch publications doing fine: "News Corporation chairman and chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch has expressed tremendous confidence in the media giant's future and its ability to weather the global financial crisis. Addressing the annual meeting of News Corp's stockholders overnight in New York, Mr Murdoch was expected to say the company would most certainly be tested by the current economic turmoil. But he said the company would remain faithful to its core mission that had served it well for more than 50 years. "And as long as we do, we will do what we do best: Connecting people all over the world, creating choice where none exists, informing with a purpose, challenging with a mission, taking on established competitors, and always reinventing ourselves while judiciously investing for the long term," Mr Murdoch said. In advance remarks of his speech, Mr Murdoch told stockholders that News Corp had reported its sixth consecutive year of record earnings." [Political balance pays off]

French bank loses a billion: "French bank Caisse d'Epargne lost 600 million euros ($1 billion) in a derivatives trading "incident" during last week's market turmoil, the company said today. The dramatic loss suffered by the mutual bank, one of France's biggest and generally regarded as a safe haven for cautious small savers, was the latest blow to confidence in a sector already ravaged by the credit crunch. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde ordered France's banking commission to conduct an immediate audit of the bank's trading activity, while stressing that there was no risk of the bank failing. News of the loss came in the same week as directors of Caisse d'Epargne approved plans to merge it with another company, Banque Populaire, and become France's second-largest retail bank. "Because of the extreme volatility in the markets and the stock market crash of the week of October 6, the Caisse d'Epargne group underwent a major incident in the derivatives market," the statement said."

Who are the villains of the mortgage mess?: "In this current mess, one problem is identifying the heroes and villains in Congress. Many analysts conveniently dodge this question and instead make the rather novel claim that the turmoil in financial markets somehow is the result of deregulation. Yet the financial services industry is probably the most heavily regulated sector of the American economy, saddled with hundreds of laws, thousands of regulations and a plethora of government agencies. If red tape were the answer, this problem never would have happened."

Community Reinvestment Act: The risk of unintended consequences: "As policymakers consider ways to address the current mortgage crisis, it is important to evaluate new proposals with an eye toward their future effects on the economy. The unintended consequences of government programs can have far-reaching economic and social effects. It's important to keep in mind that government intervention played a central role in creating and elevating the current crisis: Interest rate manipulation, tax code loopholes, and 'smart growth' land-use policies all contributed to artificially inflating home prices and shifting investment counter to real demand."


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


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


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Advice for those conservatives with palm-shaped forehead bruises

Many who are rooting for the McCain-Palin ticket or against the Obama-Biden ticket are frustrated with what they view as an uninspired campaign by Sen. McCain and his advisers. That frustration leaves us susceptible to discouragement - the precise emotion that the Dems' and their mainstream media allies are working very hard at promoting, relying in large measure on political polling whose accuracy is highly suspect.

In particular, right now there's a great temptation for those of us for whom John McCain was not our first choice for the GOP nomination to already start focusing about "How He Lost It." Folks, that's way premature. I've always believed that the Dems would lead in the polls up through election day, and that any GOP nominee would be running as an underdog. Every realistic victory scenario I've ever heard for this year required our team to pass through a trough something like this one - and given the size and urgency of the economic problems, it's actually quite amazing that we're not already totally swamped.

So I'm not particularly pessimistic. Come from behind victories are sweeter, and this one would be very sweet indeed. But even if your worst fears do come true, you'll have four years to polish your coulda-shoulda arguments. And there are better things for you to do right now than just to fume, even if they may be less obvious to you at the moment...

First, recognize that no campaign is optimal. Some of the things that most frustrate you, as a committed conservative, as you watch the path of the McCain campaign may not be miscues at all in the eyes of independent or cross-over voters. And the Biden-Obama campaign has also continued to make its own share of blunders - of which, again, only some of may be obvious to you, since you're not in that swing voter group. To a larger extent than you probably would think likely, each campaign's mistakes will tend cancel each other out.

Next, keep in mind that John McCain's character traits that are dictating the kind of campaign he's runniing - which includes his stubbornness, his instincts toward compromise, and a sense of propriety and decency (which his opponent and his campaign feign but do not truly share) - are, and have always been, parts of a double-edged sword. John McCain is what he is. And he is uninterested in, and incapable of, remaking himself in any fundamental way to meet an acute campaign need. Indeed, friends and neighbors, he's already demonstrated more innovative thinking - by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate - than I would permit myself to expect back when he clinched the nomination.

And finally, keep in mind that there are limits to what either campaign could accomplish even if either were to suddenly begin to run an optimal, perfect campaign. Even among those voters who are still undecided, most of them will end up making their final decisions based on the underlying fundamentals of the election - not based on the latest proposals from either campaign over the coming three weeks before election day. Between now and November 4th, Barack Obama is not going to miraculously grow a genuine record of legislative accomplilshment, for example, and neither is he going to transmute himself into anything but a first-term Chicago politician who's still "green behind the ears." Yes, he'll come up with new panders and give-aways - tens of billions of dollars worth of those. But fundamentally, he's not gotten any better, and he's just hoping he can keep his current momentum to manage to coast across the finish line.

More here


The nationalization of the banks

"There's nothing so permanent," Milton Friedman famously said, "as a temporary government program." For instance, I grew up in a rent-controlled apartment thanks to a temporary measure enacted during WWII. I was born nearly three decades after the war ended. Let's hope that the partial nationalization of America's banking system isn't equally "temporary."

In a dramatic meeting Monday between Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the heads of the nine biggest banks, the U.S. government made the financial industry an offer it couldn't refuse: Uncle Sam is buying big chunks of your banks whether you like it or not. Paulson didn't say, "I can either have your signature on this contract or your brains," the way Don Corleone explained things to Johnny Fontaine's bandleader in "The Godfather," but you get the picture.

Extraordinary crises sometimes require extraordinary measures. The danger is that the extraordinary could become merely ordinary.

Fannie Mae and related institutions were created during the New Deal to help expand homeownership. It was - and is - a laudable goal, and the government can point to some real successes, particularly when such programs were fundamentally conservative in their practices. But even then, the government was simultaneously subsidizing bad risks - hence making them seem less risky than they really were - while delaying the day when those toxic loans would reach critical mass. We've hit that day, and it has cost us trillions of dollars.

The Bush administration's shock trauma team has been doing things they once considered unimaginable and even today find philosophically repugnant. But again, we do things to patients in an emergency that we would never do when they're healthy. The federal government's mandatory quarter-trillion-dollar buy-in to the American banking system, we're told, is a temporary measure. The terms of the loans rammed down the bankers' throats are designed to encourage them to pay it all back within five years.

But who says those terms will stay that way? After all, the government now has a more real and explicit ownership position in these "private" banks than it ever did in Fannie and Freddie, which were so-called Government Sponsored Enterprises. More important, the Bush team is heading out the door. When the next squad comes in, they might discover they like being co-owners of America's banking system.

Democrats in Congress had great fun using Fannie and Freddie as public policy piggy banks, rewarding constituencies, funding pet projects, forcing the private sector to dance to their tune. What's to stop them from renegotiating this week's deal after the election and using Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and the others as Fannie Mae 2.0?

Please don't say that the terms of the deal are set and the government can't revise them. If there's one thing the last month has hammered home, it's that nothing is written in stone. Besides, the banks may grow to like the security of partial nationalization and even lobby to Congress to stay on as less-than-fully-silent partners. Heck, that way they wouldn't have to pay back the loans.

Barack Obama already has a strong record of sympathy for "public-private partnerships" and other schemes that put government in the driver's seat. ACORN, the militant wing of the Democratic Party, has been trying to shake down banks for years, and Obama is on record as saying it and similar groups will have a major role in helping him craft policy. And it's hardly reassuring that Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Nancy Pelosi will be running Congress. It doesn't seem crazy to suspect that a crowd that sees nationalization of health care as a vital public policy goal will not be dogmatically adverse to the nationalization of the credit markets.

More here


BrookesNews Update

How central banks destabilized the world' s economies: A step-by-step explanation of what caused the financial crisis. It is impossible to understand the present economic turmoil without knowledge of the economic fallacies upon which the central banks base their monetary policies. To fully comprehend the situation we also need to see why these dangerous fallacies have been adopted and are now generally accepted without question by the economics profession
Why Obanomics = Hoovernomics: Hoover's economic views is that they are not much different from Obama's. Hoover believed in protectionism, so does Obama, Hoover believed that higher taxes were necessary, so does Obama. Hoover believed in greater government intervention in the market place. So does Obama. Hoover believed in protecting money wages no matter what, so does Obama
Biden's Secret Diplomacy: A KGB file reveals that Biden was another Democrat who wanted to cosy up to the Soviets. This liar told the Soviets he only pretended to care about Russian dissidents so as to impress the folks back home. There is no doubt about it. He and Obama were made for each other
Obama's henchmen and the rise of commufascism: The willingness of the Obama campaign to use state power, to censor dissent even before Obama holds the actual power he seeks is deeply troubling. If he are willing to trample on the right to free speech now what would he be like if in the Oval Office?
The bailout of abominations: Socialism has finally arrived, thanks to the shameful collaboration of the people's representatives, under the guise of saving one and all from a phony financial catastrophe. a Chicken Little tale that worked. If you have any doubts, simply have a look at the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
What If Obama doesn't have America's best interests at heart?: What if Obama doesn't have America's best interest at heart? What if his candidacy has to do with the willful and radical recreation of the country, one that embraces Marxist ideals? What if the "change we can believe in" is directed subversion of the Republic in favor of the sort of socialist state that America-haters like Bill Ayers have been dreaming of since the Sixties?
How much of this anger is the media's fault?: Is it really a surprise that individuals prone to support McCain that have been following the election closely enough to read alternative, or new media are outraged right now? It's certainly no surprise to me that the lop-sided coverage breeding so much frustration among so many would now attempt to turn that frustration into yet another negative against John McCain and his supporters


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


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


Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama Hasn't Closed the Sale


This week also brought a reminder that Sen. Obama hasn't closed the sale. The Washington Post/ABC poll found 45% of voters still don't think he's qualified to be president, about the same number who doubted his qualifications in March. This is seven points more than George W. Bush's highest reading in 2000 and the worst since Michael Dukakis's 56% unqualified rating in 1988. It explains why Mr. Obama has ignored Democratic giddiness and done two things to keep victory from slipping away.

First, he is using his money to try to keep John McCain from gaining traction. The Obama campaign raised $67 million in September and may be on track to raise $100 million in October. Sen. McCain opted last month for roughly $85 million in public financing, giving him less than half of Mr. Obama's funds for the campaign's final two months. Even with robust Republican National Committee fund raising to augment his spending, Mr. McCain is at a severe financial disadvantage. So Mr. Obama is spending $35 million on TV this week versus the McCain/RNC total of $17 million. Mr. Obama is outspending Mr. McCain on TV in Virginia by a ratio of 4 to 1, in Florida by 3 to 1, and in Missouri and Nevada by better than 2 to 1. The disparity is likely to grow in the campaign's final weeks.

Money alone, however, won't decide the contest. John Kerry and the Democrats outspent Mr. Bush and the GOP in 2004 by $121 million and still lost. Mr. Obama's other strategy is to do all he can to look presidential, including buying very expensive half-hour slots to address the country next week. He wants to give a serious, Oval-Office type address. This is smart. People appreciate Mr. Obama's empathy on the economy, but as they take a long look at what he wants to do about it, they will be less impressed, especially if Mr. McCain draws sharp contrasts with clear policy proposals.

Mr. Obama is trying to make the case that his lack of experience or record should not disqualify him. But in doing so, he seems to recognize that the U.S. is still a center-right country. His TV ads promise tax cuts and his radio ads savage Mr. McCain's health-care plan as a tax increase. It's a startling campaign conversion for the most liberal member of the Senate. We'll know on Election Day if he is able to get away with it.

Similarly, Mr. McCain appears to be making three important course corrections. First, he and Gov. Sarah Palin are sharpening their stump speeches so their sound bites come off well on TV. Gone are offhand remarks and awkward comments read from notes perched on a podium. In are teleprompters and carefully crafted arguments. Mr. McCain is also more at ease than before and has an ebullient, come-from-behind underdog optimism that will serve him well in the final weeks.

Second, Mr. McCain is shaping a story line that draws on well-founded concerns about Mr. Obama's lack of record or experience. Mr. McCain is also bowing to reality and devoting most of his time to the economy. His narrative is he's the conservative reformer who'll lead and work hard to get things done, while Mr. Obama is the tax-and-spend liberal who's unprepared to lead and unwilling to act.

Mr. McCain is hitting Mr. Obama for wanting to raise taxes in difficult economic times, especially on small business and for the purpose of redistributing income, and for having lavish spending plans at a time when the economy is faltering. He's criticizing Mr. Obama for lingering on the sidelines while Mr. McCain dove in to help pass a rescue plan, necessary no matter how distasteful. And he's attacking Mr. Obama for not joining the fight in 2005 when reformers like Mr. McCain tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mr. McCain's other adjustment is his schedule. His campaign understands the dire circumstances it faces and is narrowing his travels almost exclusively to Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada. If he carries those states, while losing only Iowa and New Mexico from the GOP's 2004 total, Mr. McCain will carry 274 Electoral College votes and the White House. It's threading the needle, but it's come to that.

This task, while not impossible, will be difficult. By mid-September, the McCain camp was slightly ahead in the polls. Then came the financial crisis. The past month has taken an enormous toll on the McCain campaign.

Whether it can find the right formula in the next 19 days to dig out is a question. If Mr. McCain succeeds, he will have engineered the most impressive and improbable political comeback since Harry Truman in 1948. But having to reach back more than a half-century for inspiration is not the place campaign managers want to be now.



Houseful of out-of-state Obama activists registered as Ohio voters, received absentee ballots

Something smells at 2885 Brownlee Avenue in Columbus, Ohio. I strongly recommend that the Ohio Republican Party get on the case before it's too late. Today's the last day to challenge voters who registered early in Ohio before the run up to Election Day.

Here's the stench: An entire houseful of young, non-Ohioan Democrat activists have used the Brownlee Avenue address to register themselves to vote in the Buckeye State and secure absentee ballots under extremely shady circumstances - all while mobilizing a large effort to register thousands of others for absentee and early voting. The activists are leaders of a group called "Vote From Home `08." The group is self-identified as having "extensive experience with political organizing, election administration, and Democratic politics." They were hailed as the "Justice League" by a Daily Kos blogger. Their Facebook page brags: "Want to turn the Presidential election blue in a key swing state? Vote from Home is a political organization that was founded by a team of young people for the purpose of assisting, aiding, and tracking voters to elect progressive candidates to the White House. Encouraged by the excitement of the 2008 elections and the movement around the Democratic candidates, Vote From Home will be in Ohio seeking to deliver 10,000 votes to Democratic candidates statewide."

My friends at, a network of young reporters who have been doing the voter and registration fraud reporting that the MSM has been slow to do, have a breaking investigative report on how several members of the Democrat Vote From Home team - all Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, and Truman Scholars studying abroad - are turning up on Franklin County voter rolls despite having no bona fide residence in Ohio and admittedly having little to no knowledge about the state before descending on it in August to sign up other new voters in a rush to put 10,000 Obama supporters on the rolls.




There is a big article about polling and the media here which argues that the media bias in favor of Obama may not do him much good and that the polls favoring him may not be right.

The polls usually show the Democrat ahead "Reviewing the polls printed in the New York Times and the Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points. In 1976, Jimmy Carter narrowly beat Gerald Ford 50.1 percent to 48 percent. And yet, on Sept. 1, Carter led Ford by 15 points. Just weeks before the election, on Oct. 16, 1976, Carter led Ford in the Gallup Poll by 6 percentage points - down from his 33-point Gallup Poll lead in August. Reading newspaper coverage of presidential elections in 1980 and 1984, I found myself paralyzed by the fear that Reagan was going to lose. In 1980, Ronald Reagan beat Carter by nearly 10 points, 51 percent to 41 percent. In a Gallup Poll released days before the election on Oct. 27, it was Carter who led Reagan 45 percent to 42 percent."

Black racism, anybody?: "They say an informed electorate is a bulwark of democracy. How are we doing on that score? Well, a colleague of the talk show host Howard Stern traveled up to Harlem to canvas some folks about their choice for President. It is not surprising that most said they supported Obama. Statistics I've seen predict that Obama will get somewhere north of 95 percent of the black vote. But why? Judging from the responses of the men and women in Harlem, it doesn't have a lot do with his policies. Stern's colleague took several of McCain's policies-staying the course in Iraq, being pro-life, setting limits to stem-cell research, even choosing Sarah Palin as his VP-and attributed them to Obama. No problem! As one respondent put, it's very important to stay in Iraq and finish the job: he was really with Obama on that. He was with him, too, on being pro-life! Question: "And if he [Obama] wins, would you have any problem with Sarah Palin being Vice-President?" Answer: "No I wouldn't. Not at all."


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


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


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Message to McCain

There's a fine line between "maverick" and "ass." On Friday, John McCain crossed that line right into ass-dom. . At a campaign rally, McCain stood in front of his own supporters and told them Barack Obama isn't so bad. We need not fear an Obama presidency, he said. After all, Obama is a "decent" man. McCain went on to say he still believes he'd be the better president. Thanks, Mac. How about a cocktail with that grenade you just blew up in our faces?

McCain understandably-and justifiably-got booed by those at his rally. They were there to support him. To cheer him on. To buoy him at a time of sinking poll numbers. To give him the energy to fight on. What they got in return was a suggestion from their guy that it was OK to vote for the other guy.

Well, Senator McCain: you may not be angry, but we are. You may not be upset that Obama is about to walk away with this election, but we are. You may not be concerned that ACORN is making off with stuffed ballot boxes, but we are. You may not be teed off about the economic mess, but we are. You may not be upset about America's enemies-from Russia to Iran to North Korea-reasserting themselves, but we are. You may think an Obama presidency won't be "scary," but we do. You may be willing to toss in the towel, but we aren't.

Senator: you've got 3 weeks to turn this sucker around. Three weeks to remind us how "scary" an Obama presidency will be: from appeasing our enemies to filling 3 Supreme Court vacancies to taxing us to death and killing whatever's left of the economy. Maybe that doesn't scare you, but it scares us to pieces. We are fighting for you. We expect you to do the bare minimum in your own fight. And right now, you're not even doing that.



America Will Remain the Superpower

When the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under.

Constantinople fell to the Ottomans after two centuries of retreat and decline. It took two world wars, a global depression and the onset of the Cold War to lay the British Empire low. So it's a safe bet that the era of American dominance will not be brought to a close by credit default swaps, mark-to-market accounting or (even) Barney Frank.

Not that there's a shortage of invitations to believe otherwise. Almost in unison, Germany's finance minister, Russia's prime minister and Iran's president predict the end of U.S. "hegemony," financial and/or otherwise. The New York Times weighs in with meditations on "A Power That May Not Stay So Super." Der Spiegel gives us "The End of Hubris." Guardian columnist John Gray sees "A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power."

Much of this is said, or written, with ill-disguised glee. But when the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under. Before yesterday's surge, the Dow had dropped 25% in three months. But that only means it had outperformed nearly every single major foreign stock exchange, including Germany's XETRADAX (down 28%) China's Shanghai exchange (down 30%), Japan's NIKK225 (down 37%), Brazil's BOVESPA (down 41%) and Russia RTSI (down 61%). These contrasts are a useful demonstration that America's financial woes are nobody else's gain.

On the other hand, global economic distress doesn't invariably work at cross-purposes with American interests. Hugo Chÿvez's nosedive toward bankruptcy begins when oil dips below $80 a barrel, the price where it hovers now. An identical logic, if perhaps at a different price, applies to the petrodictatorships in Moscow and Tehran, which already are heavily saddled with inflationary and investor-confidence concerns. Russia will also likely burn through its $550 billion in foreign-currency reserves faster than anticipated -- a pleasing if roundabout comeuppance for last summer's Georgian adventure.

Nor does the U.S. seem all that badly off, comparatively speaking, when it comes to its ability to finance a bailout. Last month's $700 billion bailout package seems staggeringly large, but it amounts to a little more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product. Compare that to Germany's $400 billion to $536 billion rescue package (between 12% and 16% of its GDP), or Britain's $835 billion plan (30%). Of course it may require considerably more than $700 billion to clean out our Augean Stables. But here it helps that the ratio of government debt to GDP in the U.S. runs to about 62%. For the eurozone, it's 75%; for Japan, 180%.

It also helps that the U.S. continues to have the world's largest inflows of foreign direct investment; that it ranks third in the world (after Singapore and New Zealand) for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank; and that its demographic trends aren't headed toward a tall and steep cliff -- as they are in the EU, Russia, Japan and China.

Above all, the U.S. remains biased toward financial transparency. I am agnostic as to whether mark-to-market accounting is a good idea; last month's temporary ban on short-selling financials seemed a bad one. But a system that demands timely and accurate financial disclosure and doesn't interfere with price discovery will invariably prove more resilient over time than a system that does not make such demands. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were financial time bombs of one kind, then surely China's state-owned enterprises are time bombs of another. Can anyone determine with even approximate confidence the extent of their liabilities?

More here



Federal Court: Ohio Must Check Voter Registrations: "A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered Ohio's top elections official to set up a system by Friday to verify the eligibility of newly registered voters and make the information available to the state's 88 county election boards. The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must use other government records to check thousands of new voters for registration fraud. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit had disagreed last week. The full court's ruling, in which nine of 16 judges concurred, overturns that decision. Ohio Republicans had sued Brunner, a Democrat. Her spokesman had no immediate comment Tuesday."

Ship held by pirates freed in gun battle: "Soldiers of a regional government, with guns blazing, have freed a cargo ship that pirates had held off the Somali coast for five days, according to an official from the region. The ship and the 11 crew members - nine Syrians and two Somalis - were freed after a gun battle in which one soldier was killed and three wounded, said Deputy Seaport Minister Abdiqadir Muse Geele. No hostages or pirates were hurt, Geele said. The 10 pirates who had held the ship since Thursday surrendered when they ran out of ammunition, said Geele, who is a deputy minister in the government of the northern Somalia semiautonomous region of Puntland."

Oil price now roughly half what it was: "Oil fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday as concerns the global economy could slip into recession and drag down demand outweighed optimism over the bank bailout plans. U.S. crude settled down $2.56 at $78.63 a barrel after hitting $84.83 earlier. London Brent crude settled down $2.93 at $74.53 a barrel. Slumping demand in the United States and other big consuming nations and the mounting financial crisis have dragged crude off record peaks over $147 a barrel hit in July. Further pressure has come as investors sell oil for safer haven investments."

McCain's Killer Question: "If the economy is truly the issue that will decide this election, John McCain only needs to ask one rhetorical question to the American people during Wednesday night's debate: Are you currently working for, or have you ever worked for, a poor person? The implication is so obvious but, in today's liberal-dominated media, a conservative's first duty is to state the obvious. Jobs are produced by people with money who are trying to make more money. This is why those engaging in class warfare by "sticking it" to the rich are ultimately "sticking it" to themselves. Ask them, "Would you rather `stick it to the rich' or have a job?"

UK: Storm over Big Brother database: "Early plans to create a giant `Big Brother' database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government's own terrorism watchdog. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the `raw idea' of the database was `awful' and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public. Today the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is expected to signal the Government's intention to press ahead with proposals."

An article posted on Of Interest argues that Sarah Palin gives intellectuals the horrors because she is a rare voice from the workers whom they parasitize.


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


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


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

There Are Two Irreconcilable Americas

The Left want whatever America ISN'T

by Dennis Prager

It is time to confront the unhappy fact about our country: There are now two Americas. Not a rich one and a poor one; economic status plays little role in this division. There is a red one and a blue one.

For most of my life I have believed, in what I now regard as wishful thinking, that the right and left wings have essentially the same vision for America, that it's only about ways to get there in which the two sides differ. Right and left share the same ends, I thought.

That is not the case. For the most part, right and left differ in their visions of America and that is why they differ on policies. Right and the left do not want the same America.

The left wants America to look as much like Western European countries as possible. The left wants Europe's quasi-pacifism, cradle-to-grave socialism, egalitarianism and secularism in America. The right wants none of those values to dominate America.

The left wants America not only to have a secular government, but to have a secular society. The left feels that if people want to be religious, they should do so at home and in their houses of prayer, but never try to inject their religious values into society. The right wants America to continue to be what it has always been -- a Judeo-Christian society with a largely secular government (that is not indifferent to religion). These opposing visions explain, for example, their opposite views concerning nondenominational prayer in school.

The left prefers to identify as citizens of the world. The left fears nationalism in general (this has been true for the European left since World War I), and since the 1960s, the American left has come to fear American nationalism in particular. On the other side, the right identifies first as citizens of America.

The left therefore regards the notion of American exceptionalism as chauvinism; the United Nations and world opinion are regarded as better arbiters of what is good than is America. The right has a low opinion of the U.N.'s moral compass and of world opinion, both of which it sees as having a much poorer record of stopping genocide and other evils than America has.

The left is ambivalent about and often hostile to overt displays of American patriotism. That is why, for example, one is far more likely to find American flags displayed in Orange County, Calif., on national holidays than in liberal neighborhoods in West Los Angeles, Manhattan or San Francisco.

The left subscribes to the French Revolution, whose guiding principles were "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." The right subscribes to the American formula, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." The French/European notion of equality is not mentioned. The right rejects the French Revolution and does not hold Western Europe as a model. The left does. That alone makes right and left irreconcilable.

The left envisions an egalitarian society. The right does not. The left values equality above other values because it yearns for an America in which all people have similar amounts of material possessions. This is what propels the left to advocate laws that would force employers to pay women the same wages they pay men not only for the same job but for "comparable" jobs (as if that is objectively ascertainable). The right values equality in opportunity and strongly believes that all people are created equal, but the right values liberty, a man-woman based family and other values above equality.

The left wants a world -- and therefore an America -- devoid of nuclear weapons. The right wants America to have the best nuclear weapons. The right trusts American might more than universal disarmament.

The left wants to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples for the first time in history. The right wants gays to have equal rights, but to keep marriage defined as man-woman. This, too, constitutes an irreconcilable divide.

For these and other reasons, calls for a unity among Americans that transcends left and right are either naive or disingenuous. America will be united only when one of them prevails over the other. The left knows this. Most on the right do not.



Negative Advertising

by Thomas Sowell

One of the oldest phenomena of American elections-- criticism of one's opponent-- has in recent times been stigmatized by much of the media as "negative advertising."

Is this because the criticism has gotten more vicious or more personal? You might think so, if you were totally ignorant of history, as so many of the graduates of even our elite universities are.

Although Grover Cleveland was elected President twice, he had to overcome a major scandal that he had fathered a child out of wedlock, which was considered more of a disgrace then than today. Even giants like Lincoln and Jefferson were called names that neither McCain nor Obama has been called.

Why then is "negative advertising" such a big deal these days? The dirty little secret is this: Liberal candidates have needed to escape their past and pretend that they are not liberals, because so many voters have had it with liberals.

In 1988, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts called himself a "technocrat," a pragmatic solver of problems, despite a classic liberal track record of big spending, big taxes, and policies that were anti-business and pro-criminal.

When the truth about what he actually did as governor was brought out during the Presidential election campaign, the media were duly shocked-- not by Dukakis' record, but by the Republicans' exposing his record.

John Kerry, with a very similar ultra-liberal record, topped off by inflammatory and unsubstantiated attacks on American military men in Vietnam, disdained the whole process of labeling as something unworthy. And the mainstream media closed ranks around him as well, deploring those who labeled Kerry a liberal.

Barack Obama is much smoother. Instead of issuing explicit denials, he gives speeches that sound so moderate, so nuanced and so lofty that even some conservative Republicans go for them. How could anyone believe that such a man is the very opposite of what he claims to be-- unless they check out the record of what he has actually done?

In words, Obama is a uniter instead of a divider. In deeds, he has spent years promoting polarization. That is what a "community organizer" does, creating a sense of grievance, envy and resentment, in order to mobilize political action to get more of the taxpayers' money or to force banks to lend to people they don't consider good risks, as the community organizing group ACORN did.

After Barack Obama moved beyond the role of a community organizer, he promoted the same polarization in his other roles.

That is what he did when he spent the money of the Woods Fund bankrolling programs to spread the politics of grievance and resentment into the schools. That is what he did when he spent the taxpayers' money bankrolling the grievance and resentment ideology of Michael Pfleger.

When Barack Obama donated $20,000 to Jeremiah Wright, does anyone imagine that he was unaware that Wright was the epitome of grievance, envy and resentment hype? Or were Wright's sermons too subtle for Obama to pick up that message? How subtle is "Goddamn America!"?

Yet those in the media who deplore "negative advertising" regard it as unseemly to dig up ugly facts instead of sticking to the beautiful rhetoric of an election year. The oft-repeated mantra is that we should trick to the "real issues."

What are called "the real issues" are election-year talking points, while the actual track record of the candidates is treated as a distraction-- and somehow an unworthy distraction.

Does anyone in real life put more faith in what people say than in what they do? A few gullible people do-- and they often get deceived and defrauded big time.

Barack Obama has carried election-year makeovers to a new high, presenting himself a uniter of people, someone reaching across the partisan divide and the racial divide-- after decades of promoting polarization in each of his successive roles and each of his choices of political allies.

Yet the media treat exposing a fraudulent election-year image as far worse than letting someone acquire the powers of the highest office in the land through sheer deception.




Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's Goddess of Vote Fraud: "When even the Democratic press release digest known as The Columbus Dispatch expresses dismay at the Ohio Secretary of State's partisan antics, you know things have gotten really out of hand. Jennifer Brunner, whose business card reads "Goddess of Voter Registration Fraud" (or so I've heard), took a well-deserved bludgeoning in today's editorial. ...Brunner made a serious blunder by failing to give county elections boards the names of new voters whose registration records don't match state and federal data. She should comply with a federal court order to release the information within a week instead of appealing... In addition to discrediting herself, Brunner's attempt to withhold the data undermines the integrity of the election system"

It's easy to see who the haters are: "We've seen considerable left wing hyperventilation over an alleged "mob" mentality at McCain-Palin rallies. It is worthwhile taking a look at this five minute video by Oleg Abtashian of McCain-Palin supporters marching through Manhattan. Note the level of civility among the most urbane and sophisticated of blue state urbanites."


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


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


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


There Is No Financial Crisis

By Dick McDonald of Rise up America

Weeks ago I said there was no financial crisis. I said the Federal Reserve prints money and they can print as much as it takes to shore up the financial markets. I kept repeating that the taxpayers were never going to pay for this bail out. People don't pay taxes when newly printed money is used by government for commercial purposes - investments or expenses. Now look at what is happening. According to the NYT:
"Two weeks after persuading Congress to let it spend $700 billion to buy distressed securities tied to mortgages, the Bush administration has put that idea aside in favor of a new approach that would have the government inject capital directly into the nation's banks - in effect, partially nationalizing the industry."

Now after stampeding the public into believing that they were going to be taxed for the mortgage bail out, the geniuses that run our country have decided to inject newly printed money into the banks to get them working again. The Fed always had the ability to inject capital - it didn't need to ask for Congressional approval. These political paragons of certainty have confused the folks and put them in full panic mode. Taxing people for the bail out was never in the cards.

Weeks ago the President issued a Presidential Order that any bail out would be done off budget and that any credits issued by the Federal Reserve (printed money) would not be added to the national debt (no taxes necessary). That should have given everyone a clue - but the folks are so desperate to participate in their government they made a run on the banks and 401(k) s and crashed the stock market. Silent George didn't make things very clear.

The economy didn't fail - just a portion of the financial sector. By buying non-voting preferred stock in failing financial institutions the cash injected by the Fed will allow those institutions to firm up their balance sheets and begin loaning money again. As the interest the Fed buys is preferred stock, the investing public can enjoy any improvement in the value of the bank by buying common shares. The Fed will eventually get repaid through bank profits or proceeds from the issuance of new common stock based on the bank's increased earning capability. Banks WILL NOT be NATIONALIZED - no socialism here. Some banks will fail and be "creatively destroyed" - but they will be few.

Now the people who will lose money will be the shareholders of these failing financial institutions - so it should be. Other losers will be those who can't pay their mortgages even after their terms are modified. The winners will be those who have held onto their shares of stock as the market will rebound. Those who buy into solid companies here at the bottom should turn a tidy profit. Those who buy real estate at fire sale prices will do well too. And don't forget banks - some of their common is in the penny range - imagine what it will do with the cash infusion by the FED.

Try to avoid the insanity that always accompanies financial upheavals. Don't blame "hedge funds" they perform the necessary task of ridding old companies of costly entrenched bureaucracies and don't blame "derivatives" they shift risk to those who can afford it. Don't prove your ignorance by blaming the wrong thing or wrong people.

This time around blame the Democrat party and special interest lobbying groups like ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) for their insistence on legislation that forced banks to make NINJA loans (No Income, No Job. No Assets). Legislators like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank should be run out of town on a rail. Think about Maxine Waters and her insistence that lending to those who can't afford it is good public policy. Let's get real - these people are a real danger to running a fiscally sound democratic society. They should all be flushed down the drain in November.

And AIG should disband their 310-man London group that insured many securitized mortgage bundles for surely they were the biggest fools of all. As actuaries and underwriters they get an "F".


The Data Don't Justify Financial-Market Panic

By Robert Higgs, a senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute and editor of The Independent Review.

As the hysteria has grown in the discussion of financial markets and related government policies, I have been puzzled by the discrepancy between the best available data and the descriptions quoted in the press - statements by financial gurus, traders, and professors, as well as by government officials. To hear these spokesmen tell the story, you'd think that the world will soon go to hell in a hand basket, if it hasn't gone there already. Yet every time I look for data to check these claims, I find nothing solid to back them up.

The latest case in point concerns the markets for commercial paper. The Fed has just announced that it will launch an unprecedented program to support this credit market. As MarketWatch describes this initiative, the Fed "will buy unsecured commercial paper in an effort to restart a market that's ground to a virtual halt in recent weeks." This report goes on to explain that the Fed's purpose is "to get lending flowing again." It quotes John Ryding of RDQ Economics, who foresees dire consequences "if the Fed doesn't unfreeze the credit markets." Got the picture? Restart a virtually halted market; get lending flowing again; unfreeze credit markets - all of which suggest that at present nobody is borrowing and lending in these markets.

Such comments are extremely common in the press. Bloomberg's Commercial Paper Primer quotes New York University economist Mark Gertler's statement that "large corporations are having difficulty obtaining funds via the commercial paper market." A commentator at "The Bonddad Blog" says: "people are unwilling to buy this paper. . . . [N]o one is buying any commercial paper" (although, inconsistently, this same blogger notes that "lenders . . . are asking for a higher interest rate to pay them for a short-term loan," which implies that someone is lending).

The Federal Reserve System publishes comprehensive data on commercial paper issuance, commercial paper outstanding, and interest rates on commercial paper. I presume that these data give us a clearer picture of what's going on in the markets than a covey of hyperventilating Wall Street commentators.

Consider first the interest rates for commercial paper. For the past several weeks, 30-day nonfinancial paper has been going for about 2 percent; 60-day and 90-day loans in this market have required a slightly greater rate of interest. Financial commercial paper has been going for roughly 3 percent, give or take a few tenths of a point, with little difference among the 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day rates.

Given that the rate of inflation at present is greater than 3 percent, and presumably will remain greater than 3 percent for the next three months, these nominal interest rates on commercial paper imply that lenders are actually giving away money to corporations that sell commercial paper - the nominal rates of interest are less than the expected rate of inflation. Is this situation what one expects to see during a "credit crunch"? Hardly.

Many commentators claim, however, that virtually no transactions are occurring in this market. These claims are completely false. For the week that ended October 1, which is the most recent week currently reported, total commercial paper outstanding amounted to $1,607 billion. Yes, this amount was down from the $1,702 billion reported for the previous week, but is a 5.6 percent drop a good reason to panic? If we go back to March 2008, when nobody was talking excitedly about the commercial market's "freezing up," we find that the total amount outstanding, on average, was $1,822 billion, or only 13 percent more than last week. In March, the market was working fine; now it's "locked up." This sort of hyperbole, with which we are being bombarded hourly around the clock, is totally without a basis in the facts.

For the year 2006, when the financial markets were, for the most part, still ripping along very nicely, the total amount of commercial paper outstanding, on average, was $1,983 billion; for 2007, it was $1,781 billion. For the past seven months, on average of the monthly data, it was $1,743 billion. Does this 2.1 percent decline from last year's average give us a good reason to jump off a tall building?

Either someone is deliberately trying to spook us, or these panic-mongers have simply lost their grip on reality. Officials at the Fed and the U.S. Treasury are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They are dragging the world's leading central bankers and finance ministers around with them. The news media are raving like lunatics. The big unanswered question is: WHY?




The SEC short-sells us down the river: "The Securities and Exchange Commission took the very drastic step of outlawing the essential financial practice of short selling in an attempt to galvanize financial markets. (The SEC recently extended at least some portions of its initial ban through October 17.) But short selling provides essential information to market participants and helps us update our expectations accordingly. By outlawing short selling, the SEC has eliminated a crucial element of what makes markets work."

A 2006 McCain Letter Demanded Action on Fannie and Freddie: "Sen. John McCain's 2006 demand for regulatory action on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could have prevented current financial crisis. McCain's letter -- signed by nineteen other senators -- said that it was "...vitally important that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac]...operate in a safe and sound manner.[and]..More importantly, Congress must ensure that the American taxpayer is protected in the event that either...should fail." Sen. Obama did not sign the letter, nor did any other Democrat."

Thousands Of Dead People On Connecticut's Voter Rolls: "An in-depth look at voter rolls across the state by a group of University of Connecticut journalism students earlier this year found that about 8,500 dead people were registered to vote, and that clerical errors made it appear that 300 of them actually had voted. A closer look by state election officials thus far has found no evidence of election fraud, though the review is ongoing. The students' effort focused attention on weaknesses in public record-keeping at the local level that allowed thousands of mistakes to go undetected."

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


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


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


Monday, October 13, 2008

Some stray thoughts from a quiet Sunday morning

1). It seems that the Gramscian surge through the educational system has left young Americans with virtually no knowledge of the foundation of their country. So it is only the old guys these days that know anything about that. I wonder if even the old guys know enough, however. How many people know, for instance, how "created equal" got into the Declaration of Independence? It sounds emabarrassingly socialist, does it not? And how come Jefferson, who admired Christ but didn't think Christ was God (which makes me a Jeffersonian, I guess) put something so religious into the Declaration? Did Jefferson just have a brainwave one day, write it all down and everyone promptly said "Great"?

I think you can guess the answer. The Declaration was the endpoint of a LOT of debate and controversy. The original draft had "born free" where Jefferson put "created equal". So why the change? "Born free" sounds a heap better to me: Conservative rather than socialist. The Jeffersonian version was in fact a stroke of genius. The slave States would NOT allow "born free", as that would be a clear condemnation of their own practices. So a compromise would have to be found that kept the South onside. Various clumsy compromise wordings were tried but Jefferson's version was greeted as a triumph. It was vague enough to suit everybody and sounded really good.

One book that gives a very detailed account, with documentation, of the whole pre-Declaration discussions is Slave Nation but the authors are Left-leaning so they get carried away in the end and claim that the revolution was fought to defend slavery! Balance seems to be just too hard for Leftists. The fact that a right to "liberty" was included in the next sentence of the Declaration doesn't seem to give them any trouble at all. It didn't give the slaveowners any trouble either. Strange company they find themselves in.

2). I am amazed that so many stockmarket investors are being so foolish at the moment. Selling when the market is way down is just about the most foolish thing imaginable. Yet people seem to be doing it in droves. My portfolio is down by a third in value but if I had any loose cash I would be buying now, not selling. The new high is always higher than the old high. You just have to be a bit patient. And my dividends are still coming in much as usual so why should I worry?

3). Australian banks have been only marginally affected by the financial crisis. Australia has a large minority population too but most of ours are Han Chinese. And I doubt that any Chinese has ever walked away from a mortgage. They just work harder. I am a great fan of the Han! My son has similar views -- as you will see from the photo of him below:

OK. It is a bit irrelevant for me to put up a picture of my son on a political blog but if a father cannot be proud of his son, it's not much of a life, is it?

4). Did you know that there are no Chinese in China (sort of)? "China" means the land of the Chin and the Chin dynasty is long gone. Chinese usually refer to their country as "The middle kingdom" and the majority race in China is the Han (Yes. China has minorities too). But you find Han people throughout Asia: Thailand, Malaysia etc. There are even Chinese restaurants in India! I went to one there once.


More on the current Leftist "downfall of America" gloat

A Yale history professor has some more level-headed comments. Excerpt:

Well, slow down a minute. It is one thing to argue that the United States has been weakened by fiscal extravagance and military overstretch. It is a separate thing to recall that, regardless of regime follies, from century to century economic and military balances do shift gradually from one country or part of the world to another.

Right now both of those developments - American political incompetence and geopolitical shifts - have joined in time to make the world a less easy place for the United States. But one of the "rise and fall" lessons of history is that great powers (the Ottomans, the Hapsburgs, the British) take an awful long time to collapse. They take knocks on the head, they suffer a defeat and humiliation here or there, plus a bankruptcy or two. But they hold on, a trifle diminished although not mortally wounded.

Often they hold on because the rising powers don't know how to replace them. They hold on, too, because they have massive resources. The Hapsburgs held on because they had an army that could operate in 14 languages. The British held on because of the City of London and a lot of useful naval bases. The short-lived 20th-century empires - Nazi, Japanese, Soviet - had no such back-up systems. They came, they went.

America's back-up systems are enormous. It is a super-great-power, with about 20% of the world's product, 50% of its military expenditures and most of its top research universities, massive R&D spending, a highly sophisticated services industry to complement its industrial base, an extremely strong demographic profile and the best agricultural acreage-to-population ratio among all the large nations. This is not an imperium that will tumble into the sand overnight.

Still, one wonders whether Ozymandias - "whose frown and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command" - might not deserve a contemporary thought or two. What Shelley was really commenting upon was how a great power is slowly eroded, by arrogance surely, but also by the passage of time. So far as we know, Ozymandias's enormous sandstone figure at Luxor was not pulled down by marauding Nubians or Arabs. It slowly fell apart, more from within than from without.

More here


Stealing Pennsylvania: "Massive Fraud"

A retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice says that she is "not confident we can get a fair election" in the state come November. Justice Sandra Newman, accompanied by Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marsico and Pennsylvania Republican State Chairman Robert Gleason, expressed her concerns at a Harrisburg press conference this morning. A thick document replete with photo copies of phony registrations and aerial shots of vacant lots used as "addresses" for "voters" was handed out to journalists.

Gleason was even more explicit. "Between March 23rd and October 1st, various groups, including ACORN, submitted over 252,595 registrations to the Philadelphia County Election Board" with 57, 435 rejected for faulty information. "Most of these registrations were submitted by ACORN, and rejected due to fake social security numbers, incorrect dates of birth, clearly fraudulent signatures, addresses that do not exist, and duplicate registrations. In one case, a man was registered to vote more than 15 times since the Primary election." .....

Perhaps most humorously was the role of 21st century technology in tracking down several attempted frauds. Through the wonder of Google, aerial shots displayed the following:

* 2418 Curtin Terrace in Philadelphia is -- an empty field.
* 3103 S. 24th Street in Philadelphia -- ditto.
* 4543 N. 11th Street in Philadelphia -- ditto....

All of this brings Pennsylvania into focus as yet another key battleground state where a serious effort is being made to, bluntly put, steal the presidency in a move reminiscent of the attempts made by the 2000 Gore campaign in Florida. Just as ACORN's efforts have been directed at key electoral states such as Florida, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico Ohio, and Wisconsin, so within Pennsylvania have its efforts been targeted at key Pennsylvania counties. For decades the internal electoral math of the state for Republicans has been to overwhelm the heavy Democratic vote in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with strong showings in the Philadelphia suburbs, Central Pennsylvania, and western counties outside Pittsburgh.

Thus have ACORN's fraud efforts -- those at least that have been detected -- been directed at Philadelphia (where increasing the Obama total to counter less enthusiastic support from white ethnics becomes critical), Delaware County in the pro-GOP Philadelphia suburbs, Dauphin County (in the heart of Central Pennsylvania) and Erie in the Northwest.

Is it really possible that the presidency could be stolen for Obama by virtue of a massive voter fraud here in Pennsylvania? And elsewhere? ACORN seems to think so. One so-called "non-partisan" ACORN member, Gleason pointed out, has been captured on video tape saying the group's objective was to "beat McCain down." Not exactly "non-partisan" sounding, is it?

Newman, the retired Supreme Court Justice, was blunt on the evidence: "I don't want a president who does this." ACORN clearly does. Makes you wonder: why?

More here


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


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


Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Troopergate": Latest report just one biased opinion about Sarah Palin

Democratic state senator and staunch Barack Obama supporter Hollis French of Alaska boasted in early September that he would provide an "October Surprise" which would upset the McCain-Palin campaign. Indeed, he originally planned to time it for October 31, four days before the election, for maximum impact, until other legislators forced him to abandon that particular strategy.

Today, however, in an episode of political theater that would make Josef Stalin blush, French gave it his very best shot: The investigator he hired and directed, Steve Branchflower, has labored mightily and given birth to a bloated and redundant 263-page report which boils down, for purposes of the ongoing presidential campaign, to two paragraphs that completely contradict one another. And the one of them that's unfavorable ignores the most important - indeed conclusive - evidence on point, but goes on to provide Branchflower's guess as to whether Gov. Palin has done anything improper.

Please understand this, if you take nothing else away from reading this post: The Branchflower Report is a series of guess and insupportable conclusions drawn by exactly one guy, and it hasn't been approved or adopted or endorsed by so much as a single sub-committee of the Alaska Legislature, much less any kind of commission, court, jury, or other proper adjudicatory body. It contains no new bombshells in terms of factual revelations. Rather, it's just Steve Branchflower's opinion - after being hired and directed by one of Gov. Palin's most vocal opponents and one of Alaska's staunchest Obama supporters - that he thinks Gov. Palin had, at worst, mixed motives for an action that even Branchflower admits she unquestionably had both (a) the complete right to perform and (b) other very good reasons to perform.....

What's more incredible is that Branchflower utterly ignores the public admission made by Walt Monegan himself that ought to have ended this entire inquiry:
"For the record, no one ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff," Monegan said Friday from Portland. "What they said directly was more along the lines of 'This isn't a person that we would want to be representing our state troopers.'"

That explains, of course, why it took a couple of weeks for Monegan to be persuaded that he'd been improperly "fired" (for supposedly refusing to fire Wooten) by an Alaska blogger, Andrew Halcro - a bitter loser whom Gov. Palin crushed in the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial race (he got less than 10% of the vote, proving that most Alaskans have long since figured out he's an untrustworthy windbag).

Instead, Branchfire has piled a guess (that the Palins wanted Wooten fired, rather than, for example, counseled, disciplined, or reassigned) on top of an inference (that when the Palins expressed concern to Monegan about Wooten, they were really threatening to fire Monegan if he didn't fire Wooten) on top of an innuendo (that Gov. Palin "fired" Monegan at least in part because of his failure to fire Wooten) - from which Branchflower then leaps to a legal conclusion: "abuse of authority." Branchflower reads the Ethics Act to prohibit any governmental action or decision made for justifiable reasons benefiting the State if that action or decision might also make a public official happy for any other reason. That would mean, of course, that governors must never act or decide in a way that makes them personally happy as a citizen, or as a wife or mother or daughter, and that they could only take actions or make decisions which left them feeling neutral or upset. This an incredibly shoddy tower of supposition, and a ridiculous misreading of the law.....

Branchflower, I'm told, is an attorney and a former prosecutor. If he thinks this kind of nonsense could support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, or even a finding of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, then he may be the worst lawyer I've ever encountered - and I've met a lot of awful ones in almost three decades before the bar.

More likely, however, Branchflower knows that his imaginary case will never be tested before any judge or jury - and instead, Branchflower's audience, and the audience of his political patron Sen. French, is a purely political one. They do not want you to read the 263 pages of his report, but I invite you to do so: By the end of it, you'll be thoroughly convinced that both Wooten and Monegan ought to have been fired! And if you're a person, as I am, who admires husbands and fathers who stand up for their families, you'll definitely want to shake First Dude Todd Palin's hand, and maybe even give him a (manly) bear-hug.

No, indeed, Sen. French and Mr. Branchflower dearly hope most Americans won't look past the headlines generated by this ridiculous farce of a report. French and Branchflower hope that Americans will be misled into thinking this report is from someone whose judgment or opinions actually count for something - instead of being from a hitman hired to complete a political hatchet job, as it actually is.

More here



LAT Deliberately Edits Errors Into Palin Quote to Make Her Look Stupid: "But she didn't say them. She didn't say "confliction stories," as the LATimes claimed. She said "conflicting stories." And they made other changes like this. Most newspapers will clean up a politician's minor grammatical errors if only for ease of readability -- ever try to follow an exact uh-by-stutter transcription of speech? Today the LAT begins a new tradition -- deliberately inserting grammatical errors and wrong words to give the "flavor" of someone's presumed stupidity. Even if that person wasn't obliging enough to provide that flavor herself.

ACORN voter fraud in North Carolina: "State Board of Elections officials are trying to determine whether about 100 voter registration forms submitted by a local chapter of a national grassroots organization to the Durham County Board of Elections are fraudulent. Similar accusations have been lodged across the country against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which goes by the name ACORN. In Durham, the claims were made last month after the group submitted about 5,000 voter registration forms to the county board of elections. "All of a sudden, I started seeing the same names over and over again," said Mike Ashe, county elections director. He said some forms had similar names but different addresses or dates of birth.

ACORN Under Investigation, Yet Again, This Time in Pennsylvania: "Right here in Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala confirms an investigation of potential voter fraud involving ACORN and other organizations. "ACORN is part of this but there are other applications which have been filed which appear to have fraudulent signatures and fraudulent identifications of individuals," Zappala said. Currently the election bureau is reviewing some 45,000 new registration applications and Zappala says some of them have forged signatures of people who may or may not exist. "There are clearly people on these applications who have not either been solicited or may not exist and the signatures are clearly not - they're forgeries," Zappala says.

Obama's Rotten ACORN in Missouri: "ACORN has an assorted history in Missouri when it comes to voter registration. In 2007, four ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City for charges including identity theft and filing false registration. In 2006, eight ACORN employees plead guilty. So you have 12 employees from the 2006 election cycle that were up to no good, that were violating our laws and it's the sort of behavior we've seen from ACORN. "Right now, there are seven ACORN workers registering voters, collecting names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of births of lots of people in my state and they have criminal records. So seven ACORN workers have criminal records and they're out there collecting that sort of sensitive information. "And we've seen some serious problems with registration cards submitted by ACORN. In 2003, for example, ACORN submitted in St. Louis in one submission, submitted more than that year and the course of that election cycle, but in 2003 out of 5379 voter registration cards, only 2013 of those appeared to be valid and at least a thousand were believed to be attempts to register voters illegally.


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


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


Saturday, October 11, 2008

A few days ago I did a partial fisking of a currently very common set of Leftist ideas on the net: That America has just had some great collapse relative to the rest of the world and that it's all the fault of capitalism and conservatism. I am not in the mood to keep fisking such rubbish so I reproduce initially below the introduction to a VERY extensive fisking of such ideas (if you can call them that). I then give an excerpt from an article that probably gives a good idea of German thinking on the matter. Its statements are however so sweeping (in good Hegelian style) that I will leave it uncommented. The comments on the website where the article appears make a good start on bringing it back down to earth, however.

The basic downfall of these Leftist rants is their usual inability to see any reality that they do not like: In this case they fail to note that in all sorts of ways America still compares favourably with declining Europe -- and that Europe has had to take even more desperate measures to deal with the financial crisis than America has. I don't think America has nationalized a single retail bank yet but in Europe governments are taking over financial institutions wholesale. And China's banks have been on a knife-edge for YEARS! Capitalism is still doing better! And it would do even better if it were not so hog-tied by a tangle of Democrat-inspired regulations

Did you realize that we conservatives got all we wanted and that's what screwed up just about everything, from hurricanes and Iraq to the global financial meltdown? That's a rapidly-developing propaganda theme being disseminated in the Big Media. Case in point: Thomas Frank (What's the Matter with Kansas?) in the Wall Street Journal.
"Over many years of ascendancy, conservative Republicans have filled government agencies with conservative Republicans and proceeded to enact the conservative Republican policy wish list -- tax cuts, deregulation, privatization, outsourcing federal work, and so on.

"And as a consequence of these policies our conservative Republican government has bungled most of the big tasks that have fallen to it. The rescue and recovery of the Gulf Coast was a disaster. The reconstruction of Iraq was a disaster. The regulatory agencies became so dumb they didn't even see the disasters they were set up to prevent. And each disaster was attributable to the conservative philosophy of government."

If Mr. Frank really believes this, then one of us is crazy. But I don't think he believes it. I think he's in the tank for Barack Obama and wants to use the megaphone of the WSJ to put some meat on Obama's bones of "the last eight years." You can read his whole article, and you'll find no shred of evidence to support any of his claims. His logic is simple -- and flawed. It goes like this.
Republicans are conservative. (Flawed premise number one.)

Republicans have ruled in recent years. (Flawed premise number two.)

Everything wrong in that time is therefore due to conservatism. (The good old post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, even if based on good premises.)

We conservatives wish Republicans governed with any conservatism. There were some tax rate cuts in 2001, but that's about the sum total of the conservative "wish list" that was enacted under George W. Bush.

Much more here


How can the land of victories and optimism come to terms with a life after the imperial moment?

Learning to decline - is it doable? Can a world power that no longer presumes to dominate the world find a new role, without depression or biting fear, is there life after the imperial moment? That is the question that the United States faces and that will define the term of the next American President starting 20 January 2009. Managing getting weaker, revising the political self-image, if not the national identity is at least as great a challenge as tangible dangers; from the results of the financial crisis to competition from Russia and China to terrorism. Anyone who heard Barack Obama and John McCain at the end of the last week during their first debate had to have had doubts as to whether they (and their country) have clearly made out the entire dimension of the fall of America or whether they have found the courage to speak the truth.

It feels like a mocking punishment of the Gods that George W. Bush, the onetime embodiment of American Hubris, has to preside over the economic humiliation of his nation after the political and moral crises that had already openly broken out. America is simultaneously paying the price of power and powerlessness. The global image of the United States has not recovered since the days of the dominance rush, when the Bush government made its land hated in the world with the Iraq War and the excesses of Abu Ghraib. At the same time, however, the superior power position against which the anti-American resentment is still pointed, has long begun to crumble.

The economic and political dynamic has shifted to Asia at the outset of the 21st century - a secular process that has only entered the world consciousness with true drama in the last three of four years. A resurgent Russia can militarily force Georgia, the US client, to its knees without penalty. The fall of Saddam Hussein did not bring the democratic transformation of the Islamic world, but instead the end of the American era in the Middle East - from the Iranian atomic danger to the oil production quotas of Saudi Arabia to the power games of Pakistani domestic politics - control has slipped away from Washington.

This is all happening with breathtaking speed. Even in January 2005, at the beginning of his second term, George W. Bush announced perhaps the most ambitious historic program that has ever been proclaimed by a modern democratic statesman: The spread of the "fire of freedom" that, like a prairie fire, would grip the far corners of the world. It is difficult to imagine that Bush's successor, whether Democrat or Republican, will again act and speak in this manner...

Preachers of calm, who fight against the downfall thesis, point to earlier periods of American weakness, that soon thereafter were over with: At the end of the 1980s, the future seemed to belong to Japan, and during the Cold War there were even experts that gave the destitute and strictly disciplined Soviet Union better chances of winning and surviving than the opulent and softened down United States.

But it isn't always all as it once was - today's American loss of power it is not. The Communist eastern bloc was in truth only capable of competing militarily and hopefully inferior in all other areas, as was immediately shown after 1989 during the complete industrial collapse from East Berlin to Vladivostok. And Japan is a small country handicapped as the historic aggressor in the Second World War when compared to self-confident giants like China or India. The entire history of the United States to date was the story of its rise to the pinnacle of a world dominated by the West; but exactly this world, however, is no longer self-evident.

More here



British bureaucrats are STILL losing data: "A computer hard drive with the private details of 700,000 Armed Forces personnel and potential applicants is missing, The Ministry of Defence said today. The portable drive contains the names, addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth and driving licence details of around 100,000 serving personnel across the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, plus their next-of-kin details. It also has data on 600,000 potential services applicants and the names of their referees. Officials are 'not ruling out' the risk that bank account details of personnel were held on the drive, which belonged to its IT contractor EDS. The department said it learned of the loss on Wednesday and MoD Police were investigating. The missing drive is the latest information security breach to hit the MoD"

Stopping ACORN: "ACORN is rapidly becoming a major issue, with the Republican base outraged over the voter registration fraud investigations in ten states. An online petition has been created to demand an investigation of it and that the government take steps to stop its continued violations of election law. While there, take a look at the website of this new organization,"


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


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


Friday, October 10, 2008

Palin vs. Biden

How is it that an attractive woman who has been involved in state and local government since the early 1990s without much controversy is passed off in the media now as an airhead? Yet her opponent -- long known as an airhead, a braggart and even a plagiarist -- now is passed off as a statesman? I have in mind Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware or Scranton, Pa., or wherever he now claims to hail from. In September, Gov. Palin sat before ABC's Charlie Gibson and CBS' Katie Couric and was asked any question that popped into their minds or the minds of their researchers. The comely governor responded adequately. She might not win first prize on "Jeopardy," but then no "Jeopardy" winner has governed Alaska. Nonetheless, she is portrayed in the mainstream moron media as an airhead, and Sen. Biden is a statesman.

Well, take a glance at Sen. Biden's performance just last month. On Sept. 22, he bragged to a Baltimore audience: "If you want to know where al-Qaida lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three United States senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are." Two days later, he continued his BSing that al-Qaida's headquarters had been moved to "the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where (his) helicopter was recently forced down." Both statements were rehashes of his Sept. 9 garbage spiel that "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan (is) where (his) helicopter was forced down." Left unsaid by the senator -- who rarely leaves anything unsaid -- was that the helicopter was "brought down" not by enemy fire but by inclement weather.

OK, maybe those outbursts do not reveal Sen. Biden as an airhead, but they do reveal him as a phony. So consider a few more of the senator's September follies. On Sept. 17, at an appearance in Ohio, Sen. Biden tapped the chest of a reporter (presumably male) and said, "You need to work on your pecs." Then there was the senator's interview with Katie Couric. It is Couric, of course, who supposedly revealed Gov. Palin's intellectual weightlessness, but late in September, she revealed both herself and Sen. Biden to be ignoramuses.

While interviewing him on what appeared to be a bus, Couric evoked this response from the Democrats' vice presidential candidate: "When the stock market crashed (in 1929), Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" Actually, Roosevelt was not president until 1933, and in 1929, there was no "television audience" because there was no television available to consumers. By now, all Biden watchers have had a good laugh at his expense on this one, but the laugh is on Couric, too. Her round, girlish, expressionless face revealed no hint that she was aware of the senator's botched historical reference.

So Sen. Biden, in one month, reminded us that he is a phony and an airhead, but in September, he also reminded us that he is a plagiarist. In his 1988 presidential bid, he was caught lifting from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock the Welshman's biographical treacle, adapting it for an American audience thus: "My ancestors who worked in the coal mines in Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours." In Kinnock's version, his Welsh ancestors "could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football." This was a dreadful humiliation for Sen. Biden, made all the worse when it was revealed that he had faked his academic record and been accused of plagiarism in law school.

After being forced out of the 1988 race, the senator, one would have thought, never again would mention his "coal-mining" heritage. Yet Sept. 21, while addressing an audience filled with coal miners in Virginia, he fibbed: "I am a hard coal miner -- anthracite coal, Scranton, Pa. That's where I was born and raised." He was never a coal miner, and most of his early life was spent in Delaware. Amazing as it sounds, all the recent pratfalls were committed by the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in but one month. Nonetheless, as we enter October, it is Gov. Palin whom the media deem controversial.



More proof that a Democrat caused the Great Depression

He's got modern-day ideological descendants who are equally destructive

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933. "President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.

In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.

Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.

"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."




Huge British power generation bungle: "British companies are being forced to pay over four times more for their electricity this winter than competitors in France and in excess of 70 per cent more than in Germany. The discrepancy will increase concerns that Britain's crumbling power infrastructure is a growing threat to the country's competitiveness and comes as Ofgem today announces its report into competition in the energy market. Wholesale power prices in the UK have soared because of a squeeze in generating capacity, which is expected to leave an unusually thin margin of spare supply next month. On Friday, the forward price of power for November reached more than $260 per megawatt hour. In France, it was about $62 per megawatt hour, according to Spectron, a supplier of energy market data. In Germany, the price stood at around $194 per megawatt hour. Jeremy Nicholson, of the Energy Intensive Users' Group, gave warning that some British companies could close this winter because they will not be able to pay such high prices. Power-hungry industries such as brickmaking, cement, glassmaking and papermills are particularly at risk."

Voter fraud by ACORN again: Nevada state authorities seized records and computers Tuesday from the Las Vegas office of an organization that tries to get low-income people registered to vote, after fielding complaints of voter fraud. Bob Walsh, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, told the raid was prompted by ongoing complaints about "erroneous" registration information being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN. The group was submitting the information through a voter sign-up drive known as Project Vote. "Some of them used nonexistent names, some of them used false addresses and some of them were duplicates of previously filed applications," Walsh said, describing the complaints, which largely came from the registrar in Clark County, Nev."

Regulators cannot avert next crisis: "As usual after a financial crisis, we hear demands for new controls and regulations to stop it from happening again. But since every crisis has led to thousands of new pages of regulation, why is it that regulation doesn't stop crises from happening again? No matter what pundits say, we are nowhere near a laissez-faire situation. Look no further than the US federal institutions in Washington, DC, and we find 12,113 individuals working full time to regulate the financial markets. What did they do with the powers they had? Made mistakes. American politicians, central banks and regulators were just as eager as speculators to expand the housing bubble. They just had a bigger pump... The problem with regulation is that it is always a response to the last crisis. Generals fight the last war and always try to avoid the mistakes made then. So we get new rules that target the mistakes that everybody already knows they must avoid. The next possible crisis and its causes are so far unknown, and our regulations may have no effect or even make them worse."

Social Security still needs to be privatized: "Wall Street's wild ride over the last few weeks has many critics of President Bush's 2000 campaign promise to create personal Social Security accounts dredging up the issue to score points with justifiably frightened voters. Barack Obama's campaign has used the issue as a cudgel to whack John McCain, who supported President Bush's plan. Embattled GOP senators such as New Hampshire's John Sununu are also finding themselves on the defensive as the issue of private accounts is resurfacing in campaign attack ads. resident Bush deserves criticism for the way he pushed private accounts, but not for the idea itself. ... Private accounts made sense in 2001, and they still make sense today, even after the calamitous last month in America's capital markets."


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


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


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reactions to Worst. Townhall. Ever

The Anchoress summarizes a lot of reactions:

Good heavens that was the most boring townhall debate I've ever seen. No "moments" to it. Both the Kerry/Bush and Gore/Bush townhalls were a great deal more informative and persuasive. Brokaw needed more input from the audience and less from his gasbag self. I am told it was better on radio, but to me neither one of the candidates brought their A game, tonight. Both seemed like they needed a cup of Mystic Monk Coffee

Vodkapundit says McCain won, just barely. He might be right.but I think Obama did nothing good for himself tonight by sounding like a policywonk going-on-80, and failing to bring the charisma or even a modicum of humor. Obama made himself seem like any other politician. With his youth, he should have shown a brightness, a bounce to the step, even a cockiness; he should have walked all over the 72 year old McCain, and he didn't do it. Instead, he was wonkish and grim to the point of coma, and he almost seems like he has to be prompted (in rebuttal) to say anything good about America. I think the nation needed to see a bit more Obama Ommph. They don't expect it from McCain, but a little energy from Obama was really necessary. So, all in all, I think more than McCain winning "a little," Obama actually lost "a lot." He handed the "youth, energy and charisma" ball to Sarah Palin.

Instapundit notes that intrade markets show a 24 point drop for Obama and remarks, "That's odd. I didn't think it was that lopsided." It wasn't, except for Obama's utter lack of energy; his ability to seem distinct from any other politician. That is what I meant, when I said the debate gave the most help to Sarah Palin.

Vanderleun seems to agree with my assessment!

Question: Does anyone think Obama sounded like he was being prompted, almost word-by-word on his answers re Russia and Israel? He was so halting and dull it was receiving.each.word.through his left ear. But maybe I just have a very active imagination. And when one is bored, the imagination DOES take over.

I note that John McCain showed none of the oomph, vigor and fire that he showed just two days ago. I wonder if he is unwell?

UPDATE: YIKES!! Ann Althouse thought she saw an earpiece in Obama's LEFT ear.I kept asking my kids if it didn't sometimes seem like Obama was looking LEFT and giving halting answers, as though he was being prompted. The yawned at me, of course, but some of Althouse's commenters also thought the same thing. So, I ain't totally crazy.

Update II: Okay, Ann is "reconsidering" the earpiece. But I still think it's funny that she saw something in his left ear, and I'd been wondering about his looking to the left when his answers plodded. Oh.that works on so many levels, too! Heh.

McCain did not say the thing that would have won him the election, tonight. As we have seen before, no one ever listens to me. Both of them had their best moments on their closings, with the only interesting question of the night: "what don't you know?"

Althouse liveblogged and her commenters were very busy. All I know is Ann switched from tea to cognac by the end of it, and I wish I had, too.

Also.I'm sorry but the Palin/Biden debate was more interesting and entertaining. What has happened to Obama's energy and charisma? He seemed lethargic. McCain seemed old. Nothing vibrant or new or fresh about either of them. Neither of them managed to display much humor, self-deprecating or otherwise. Don't they understand the power that one has in the ability to laugh at oneself?

Reactions to the debate below, most recent links first:

Betsy Newmark: "We're in deep trouble". Not sure if she means the whole nation or just the GOP, there, as I am unimpressed and uninspired by either of these men.

Lorie Byrd emails that, watching on TIVO she sees McCain hitting all these points she'd hoped for. She feels more positive than many.

Camille Paglia: Do not underestimate Palin. As ever, she is a delight and a blast to read, even when one disagrees with her. On Palin, she is clearly having fun throwing darts at the provincial left. Don't miss it - including the letters.

Reuters: McCain camp has a sense of humor. Obama camp clearly does not. You gotta be able to laugh, guys.

Ace: Barack is a liar but McCain needed to change the game, so Barack wins by a hair and here's sixty seconds of truth. 60 seconds ain't enough time.

Andy McCarthy: Why won't Obama talk about Columbia? Maybe because he didn't write so well, back then?

Rod Dreher: What appalling candidates!

Jim Geraghty: "another hour and a half of my life I won't get back".

Mark Steyn: This debate a horrible travesty.

Stanley Kurtz: Obama's Seeds of Disaster

Mary Katharine Ham catches Chris Matthews cooing about Obama. Ick.

Michelle Malkin liveblogged, snored and woke up when Obama called 9/11 a "tragedy" that "most remember". Yeah, that was an eek. They both made eeks.

Palin watched the debate in a pizzaria. Pubs and pizzarias. I think I know this gal!

Ed Morrissey, who earlier today wrote of CNN commiting an act of random journalism, writes tonight that McCain won on points.



Barney Frank tries to pass the buck

Rep. Barney Frank is blaming a familiar scapegoat for the financial crisis: racist Republicans. As the Associated Press reports:
The Massachusetts Democrat, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the GOP is appealing to its base by blaming the country's mortgage foreclosure problem on efforts to expand affordable housing through the Community Reinvestment Act.

He said that blame is misplaced, because those loans are issued by regulated institutions, while far more foreclosures were triggered by high-cost loans made by unregulated entities.

"They get to take things out on poor people," Frank said at a mortgage foreclosure symposium in Boston. "Let's be honest: The fact that some of the poor people are black doesn't hurt them either, from their standpoint. This is an effort, I believe, to appeal to a kind of anger in people."

In fact, there was a concerted government effort to relax credit standards in order to make it easy for low-income and minority borrowers to get mortgages. As the Boston Herald reports, in 1992 the Boston Federal Reserve Bank put out an influential study called "Closing the Gap: A Guide to Equal Opportunity Lending." It concluded "that a serious problem exists in the market for mortgage loans, and lenders, community groups and regulators must work together to ensure that minorities are treated fairly." Among its recommendations to that end:
Policies regarding applicants with no credit history or problem credit history should be reviewed. Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor. Certain cultures encourage people to "pay as you go" and avoid debt. Willingness to pay debt promptly can be determined through review of utility, rent, telephone, insurance, and medical bill payments. In reviewing past credit problems, lenders should be willing to consider extenuating circumstances. For lower-income applicants in particular, unforeseen expenses can have a disproportionate effect on an otherwise positive credit record. In these instances, paying off past bad debts or establishing a regular repayment schedule with creditors may demonstrate a willingness and ability to resolve debts.

The Herald reports that economist Stan Liebowitz "says the widely disseminated guidelines were misused or exploited by lenders, some well-meaning and some predatory, and laid the groundwork for abusive practices--ch as no-money-down, option adjustable-rate-mortgage and liar loans--that have spiraled into the mortgage meltdown the country is faced with today." The head of the Boston Fed at the time was Richard Syron. The Herald describes his later career:
The Fed published a guide in 1993 for banks on equal opportunity lending, with a foreword written by Syron. The guide recommended changes to mortgage underwriting standards and practices that, according to Liebowitz, is where we find the seeds of today's mortgage meltdown. . . .

Syron left the Boston Fed in 1994 and wound up as CEO and chairman of the Federal Home Loan Corp., or Freddie Mac, in 2003. As head of Freddie Mac, Syron has said he faced increasing pressure to buy up more and more risky mortgages, some of which the Boston Fed's guide had, in effect, served to legitimize.

When too many of the mortgages went bad, the federal government stepped in last month to take over Freddie Mac and another government-supported enterprise, the Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae. Syron and Fannie Mae chief Daniel Mudd were ousted.

Barney Frank is playing an old and disreputable liberal game, one that we've seen in past debates over welfare and affirmative action: ascribing a racial motive to criticism of policies designed to help minorities. But not all of his Democratic colleagues are playing. Fox News quotes Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus:
Like a lot of my Democratic colleagues I was too slow to appreciate the recklessness of Fannie and Freddie. I defended their efforts to encourage affordable homeownership when in retrospect I should have heeded the concerns raised by their regulator in 2004. Frankly, I wish my Democratic colleagues would admit when it comes to Fannie and Freddie, we were wrong.

Does Frank want to call Davis racist too?



Brookes News Update

The US is definitely in recession: In the second quarter of the year GDP grew by 2.8 per cent. This was up from the 0.9 per cent increase posted in the first quarter. With GDP positive there can be no recession. Wrong. The US is definitely in recession
Can congress save the US economy from recession?: Supporters of the rescue package believe that without it there would be severe economic disruptions. This amounts to financial support at the expense of the taxpayer for a variety of phoney financial activities. The result is more political controls that will hamper genuine economic growth
Why the congressional bailout won't solve the credit crisis: The bailout cannot solve the problem because the real problem is one of lousy economics and an equally lousy understanding of economic history as well as the history of economic thought. So we can all look forward to more economic crises followed by more destructive politically inspired intervention
You're an angry feminist? That's so cute: Their shameful attacks on Palin and her family have revealed that liberal Democrats, the mainstream media, and those malicious hacks in the 'progressive' blogosphere are willing to navigate the deepest, darkest sludge of slash-and-burn politics to see their man, Barack Obama, elected President
Sarah Palin and the Experience Factor: "Palin accomplished more in 18 months than most governors do over full terms, including facing down a corrupt and entrenched old-boys network and bringing the oil companies - the state's biggest business - to heel, and completing a pipeline agreement with Canada. What did Obama ever do?
Obama advisors received millions instead of jail terms: The party of fraud, vote rigging, slander and treason has done it again. The three Democrats who looted Fannie Mae to the tune of scores of millions of dollars are now top advisors to Obama. As expected, the diseased media have refused to report or investigate
Israel on the brink as the winds of war from Syria and Iran gather intensify: Muslim enemies of Israel are getting ready - with the help of Putin - for another war. One that will, they hope, destroy Israel and finally bring about the total extermination of the Jewish race
Obama's economic agenda: This is change?: Any economists worth his salt knows damn well that equalizing incomes means attacking economic growth. But that doesn't bother Obama. He intends to raise capital gains taxes even though he knows it would damage economic progress. So what is fair about that?
Why America's economic crisis was unavoidable: As the financial crisis unfolds Americans have nothing to fear other than Congress. The Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac crisis is part of a larger and far more serious economic crisis, one that few economic commentators foresaw. There is nothing new here; financial crises are as old as banking itself. Fortunately the fear of another Great Depression are baseless
Can the US Government save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?: To save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from total collapse taxpayers will have to foot a massive bill. This means a further squandering of America's already depleted pool of real savings. It is only wealth generators that can revive the economy by accumulating enough real capital. This is the real cost of FF - the cost taxpayers do not see
Good job figures point to gloom times ahead: Regardless of what our Panglossian economic commentators are saying: one-third of Australia is not in recession. What we are seeing is the first material signs of a genuine recession and one that our economic commentariat is unable to explain
Media yawn as new museum honors Saddam's Abu Ghraib victims: When Abu Ghraib popS up in the news the leftwing media go on instant alert, sensing a renewed opportunity to negatively portray the Bush administration. But when the Iraqi government announced last week it was going to reopen the notorious prison as a museum honours the victims of the horrors committed there in years past, a collective yawn greeted the statement, proving that they are nothing but lying political bigots
Fannie May and Freddy Mac: the time bomb finally explodes: If you think that Fannie and Freddie's bust is a big deal, just wait until Medicare comes crashing down. Then, the wailing and gnashing of teeth will be truly unbearable. As that day rapidly approaches, however, you'll notice that the politicians are doing utterly nothing to forestall it
Discreet influences: Guenon, the author of the decay of the European West, had concluded in the 1920s that only three ways offered themselves to this civilization: the fall into barbarism, the restoration of the Catholic Church, or Islamization
The Book-Banners Hollywood Ignores: The September 11 terrorist attacks didn't turn celebrity leftists into hawks. But the minute they started reading false rumors about Sarah Palin restricting unfettered access to Daddy's Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies in her hometown library, Tinseltown's docile doves became militant warmongers
Why not use food as leverage for oil?: "If those leading America in the future had fortitude to do so, food could be used as part of a geopolitical strategy to make our country secure and as a counterweight to oil extortion. This may seem crass to liberals but our enemies do not share their sensitivities. We cannot continue to defend ourselves without using all our weapons in a world where our enemy only recognizes strength
Olavo de Carvalho's lecture: The structure of the revolutionary mind: When revolutionaries like Che, and Hitler's operatives murdered innocent people, they blamed their victims for making them do it by refusing to go along with their revolutionary notions. This is where moral relativism leads


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


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


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Here's all you need to know about the financial crisis

Two British comedians get perilously close to the truth

The alarming thing is that the video is 12 months old yet it is totally up to date. Even comedians could foresee what the Democrat Congresscritters could not. (H/T Agmates)


Sarah smarter than the pundits

She knew who the President of Iraq is. They didn't

A hilarious example of press bias against Palin occurred last FridayI on "The Diane Rehm Show," a production of Washington's WAMU-FM. The exchange between hostess Rehm, caller Tom of Norwich, Vt., and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne begins at about 46:10 of the "10:00 News Roundup":
Tom: I just wonder why not more has been made of the statement by Palin during the debate last night that "Maliki and the Talabani"--this is a quote from the transcript--"also in working with us are knowing again that we are getting closer and closer to the point of victory." The Talibani obviously are our absolute enemy and have been since 9/11; Maliki, our central ally in Iraq. This to me is a tremendous blunder, revealing a very superficial familiarity with these sorts of terms.

Rehm: Thanks for calling, Tom. . . . E.J.?

Dionne: I think that "superficial" is absolutely the right word for the knowledge or the lack of knowledge Palin showed yesterday. I'm glad the caller raised that one, and I suspect there is going to be a scouring of that transcript for exactly that sort of gaffe. That has echoes of some of the stuff she said to Katie Couric.

If you look at the debate transcript, however, you will see that the reference is not to "the Talabani" but to Talabani--as in Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq.



Sarah brings part of the American dream to life

When Sarah Palin appeared on the national stage, she was stepping into an archetype that already existed. In personality, looks, and behavior she resembled nothing less than our cultural image of the frontier woman. She was something out of history -- something that we already knew, were quite familiar with, and strongly approve of. But at the same time it's true that few people living (and those very aged) have ever met a frontier woman of the original breed. Our archetype comes from somewhere else. It comes, in fact from the movies. And in large part, from Maureen O'Hara.

While Palin looks nothing like O'Hara (who was a redhead, just for starters), the gestalt -- the overall picture -- is strikingly similar. The same strong features, the same sense of character, the same way of holding themselves. They even have the same powerful jawline that would look masculine on a less feminine woman.

The importance of the frontier woman cannot be overrated, because it was the women, in the end, who broke the frontier. Mountain men and related types had been traversing the wilderness for decades before the Westward Migration got rolling, without leaving behind as much as a scratch on the landscape. It was the women -- and their families -- who made the land bend, who brought with them a sense of permanency, who civilized the frontier. Where men went, they created forts and outposts. When women followed, they established settlements and towns.

The frontier was supposed to have "closed" by 1900, when no area existed in the continental United States that remained unsurveyed, unsettled, or untrod. That was undoubtedly the case in the real world. But in the American psyche, it's another story. There, the frontier will never be closed -- it survives as a living reality. The Westward Migration is this country's Odyssey, in the same way that the Civil War is its Iliad. What the road west implanted in our character remains, for good or ill, and is likely to remain for as long as there is an America.

That is why Sarah Palin will prove immune to attacks by the legacy media, no matter what form they may take. Palin reflects an ideal - an aspect of our best selves burned into history and made a permanent part of us all. In Palin they have come up against an archetype, a facet of the American character. This is not something you run into every day, not something the media has much experience with, and something that they will discover is not at all vulnerable to the techniques they're used to.

More here



Many countries now have lower taxes on business than the USA does -- and are doing very well as a result

Because they contribute to capital flight, high corporate tax rates lower government revenue. With increasing capital mobility, multinational firms respond to higher taxes by moving activities to lower tax jurisdictions. This capital flight means fewer taxes are paid domestically. In fact, governments frequently find that at a higher rate the tax actually raises less revenue. This finding adds support for the Laffer Curve, says Mehreen Younis, a research assistant with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The insight behind the Laffer Curve is that if a tax rate is high, a government can raise the same amount of revenue (or more) by lowering the tax rate. Most countries have found that tax revenues rise following cuts in their corporate tax rates. For example:

* The average corporate income tax rate worldwide fell from 46 percent to 33 percent between 1982 and 1999, while corporate income tax collections rose from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent of national income, reports the Cato Institute.

* Similarly, the average corporate tax rate in 19 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries fell from 45 percent in 1985 to 29 percent by 2005, while corporate tax revenues soared from 2.6 percent to 3.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

* Over the 2000 to 2005 period, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, average corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was one-third greater in OECD countries (3.4 percent) than in the United States (2.2 percent).

The revenue-maximizing corporate tax rate in developed countries was about 34 percent in the late 1980s and has declined steadily to about 26 percent in recent years, estimate Alex Brill and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Thus, at 39.25 percent, the U.S. corporate tax rate is not only high but also inefficient in producing revenue, says Younis.



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


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


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A shattering moment in America's fall from power (?)

I rarely fisk Leftist ignorance but I will do so now because the article below is typical of the frantic self-congratulation that Leftists are trying to extract from the banking crisis. It relies heavily of course on a belief that empty assertion can replace the facts. A great combination of supreme self-confidence and supreme ignorance is excerpted below

OUR gaze might be on the markets melting down, but the upheaval we are experiencing is more than a financial crisis, however large. Here is a historic geopolitical shift, in which the balance of power in the world is being altered irrevocably. The era of American global leadership, reaching back to the Second World War, is over. [Yet it was America that the world looked to to solve the global banking crisis]

You can see it in the way America's dominion has slipped away in its own backyard, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez taunting and ridiculing the superpower with impunity. [Why should America be worried by a Chihuahua?]

The setback of America's standing at the global level is even more striking. With the nationalisation of crucial parts of the financial system [All that is happening in the main is that some banks are taking over others. The big bank nationalization spree has been in Left-run Britain, where they have a history of that sort of thing], the American free-market creed has self-destructed while countries that retained overall control of markets have been vindicated. [So why are European banks in meltdown?]

In a change as far-reaching in its implications as the fall of the Soviet Union, an entire model of government and the economy has collapsed. Ever since the end of the Cold War, successive American administrations have lectured other countries on the necessity of sound finance. Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and several African states endured severe cuts in spending and deep recessions as the price of aid from the International Monetary Fund, which enforced the American orthodoxy.

China, in particular, was hectored relentlessly on the weakness of its banking system. But China's success has been based on its consistent contempt for Western advice and it is not Chinese banks that are going bust. [The Chinese banks are VERY shaky and have long been propped up by the Chinese government]

Despite incessantly urging other countries to adopt its way of doing business, America has always had one economic policy for itself and another for the rest of the world. Throughout the years in which the US was punishing countries that departed from fiscal prudence, it was borrowing on a colossal scale to finance tax cuts and fund its overstretched military commitments. Now, with federal finances critically dependent on continuing large inflows of foreign capital, it will be the countries that spurned the American model of capitalism that will shape America's economic future. [Like how?]

The dire condition of America's financial markets is the result of American banks operating in a free-for-all environment A typically Leftist reversal of the truth. It is Congressional regulation preventing normal market operations that led to the problems] that these same American legislators who have been debating a bail-out created. It is America's political class that, by embracing the dangerously simplistic ideology of deregulation, has responsibility for the mess.

In current circumstances, an unprecedented expansion of government [All that has happened is that the Feds have bought a huge gob of undervalued paper which they will in due course sell back to the market at a profit] is the only means of averting a market catastrophe. The consequence, however, will be that America will be even more starkly dependent on the world's new rising powers. The federal government is racking up even larger borrowings, which its creditors may rightly fear will never be repaid. It may well be tempted to inflate these debts away in a surge of inflation that would leave foreign investors with hefty losses....

There has been a good deal of talk in recent weeks about imminent economic armageddon. In fact, this is far from being the end of capitalism. The frantic scrambling in Washington marks the passing of only one type of capitalism - the peculiar and highly unstable variety that has existed in America over the past 20 years. This experiment in financial laissez-faire [Heavy and stupid regulation = laissez faire?] has imploded. While the impact of the collapse will be felt everywhere, the market economies that resisted American-style deregulation will best weather the storm..... Yadda, yadda, yadda

More here


George Bush has been in office for 7 1/2 years. The first six the economy was fine. A little over a year and a half ago:

1) Consumer confidence stood at a 2-1/2 year high;
2) Regular gasoline sold for $2.19 a gallon;
3) The unemployment rate was 4.5%.
4) The DOW JONES hit a record high -- 14,000+
5) American's were buying new cars, taking cruises and vacations overseas, living large!

But American's wanted 'CHANGE'! So, in 2006 they voted in a Democratic Congress & yep -- we got 'CHANGE' all right!

1) Consumer confidence has plummeted;
2) Gasoline is now over $3.75 a gallon & climbing;
3) Unemployment is up to 5% (a 10% increase);
4) Americans have seen their home equity drop by $12 trillion dollars & prices are still dropping;
5) 1% of American homes are in foreclosure.







European glee faded fast: "The only thing more predictable than European glee at American economic trouble is how quickly it fades amid Europe's own problems. So no sooner did Der Spiegel publish its latest eulogy for American power last week ("The Price of Hubris") than European banks had to be rescued one after another. The euro's recent fall of about 5% against the dollar is further proof that the credit mania was a global phenomenon and its aftermath requires global responses. In contrast to the U.S., Europe has no lender of last resort. The European Central Bank was created to manage the supply of euros, not to rescue failing institutions. It can provide short-term liquidity against collateral -- which it has done admirably so far. But it can't ease a solvency crisis. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet can provide intellectual leadership, but in Europe there are 27 separate national purses and no central treasury."

Dry-Cleaning Economics in One Lesson: "Another day, another news story about economic wackiness. Gas prices rise, the dollar sinks, and stores are limiting rice sales. What could be next? Clothes hangers. Yes, clothes hangers. Marie Sledge, co-owner of Rome (Georgia) Cleaners, states, "Hangers last year at this time were $28 a box, where now they are $56." News reports indicate that cleaners in Springfield, Missouri; Birmingham, Alabama; and Harlem are also encountering doubling hanger prices. In response, many cleaners are posting signs in their shops encouraging customers to return used hangers. Hangers can't, even if combined with government subsidies, be converted into biofuels. So what is causing the rapid increase in hanger prices? Government, of course, though in this case it's the trade bureaucrats at the Department of Commerce rather than the folks behind other debacles in the news these days".


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


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


Monday, October 6, 2008

Site blocked

Apparently, this site has been blocked in some places. An email recently received:
I thought you needed to know that you are being censored at various US locations. I tried to access your site, a daily ritual over my morning coffee, and now suddenly my employer has labeled your site as "unacceptable". I am pursuing a redress and am hopeful that reason will prevail. The Tech folks have not given me any idea on why your site is suddenly blocked while Daily Kos is not....

If it happens to you, don't forget my mirror sites listed: here and here


Who were the defaulters among holders of sub-prime loans?

The following report seems intended to show that whites were the main culprits. It fails to do that, however. It shows that it was mainly whites who got the loans but it does not show who were the main defaulters. I suspect that will be kept a deep, dark secret

ComplianceTech, a provider of technology and business intelligence for consumer lending institutions and government agencies, has released an industry report indicating that the majority of subprime-rate loans originated in 2006 were made to non-Hispanic Whites and upper-income borrowers (conventional, 1st lien, 1-to-4 family, owner-occupied, home purchase and refinance).The findings are contrary to the way subprime-rate lending has been portrayed. Frequent media portrayals and congressional dialogue refer to subprime-rate lending as a minority and low-income issue. Findings in the report are based on data submitted by lenders under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) analyzed with the data-mining tool LendingPatterns(TM).

The report concluded that a disproportionate share of loans made to minorities and low-income borrowers were subprime-rate loans, but the majority of subprime-rate loans were made to non-Hispanic Whites and upper-income borrowers. Of the 1,917,809 subprime-rate loans originated in 2006, non-Hispanic Whites had 70.82 percent of the loans, and 56.23 percent of the subprime-rate loans. Upper-income borrowers had the highest share of the subprime-rate loans at 39.37 percent, followed by 27.55 percent for middle-income borrowers and 20.99 percent for moderate-income borrowers.

Contrary to popular belief, low-income borrowers had only 149,173, or 7.57 percent, of 2006 subprime-rateloans. The report also concluded that the majority of subprime-rate loans were originated in predominately-White geographic regions (areas representing census tracts less than 30 percent minority).

More here


With One Month To Go: Why McCain Will Close and Win

By Hugh Hewitt

Because the country cannot afford the greatest gamble in its modern history at this moment in time. A confrontation with Iran looms and instability in Pakistan grows. The Islamist threat has been beaten back in Iraq, but continues to nurse its fanatical hatreds in many other places, from Waziristan to London. Israel is ringed not with an enemy that wants a state but by two enemies that want Israel to be destroyed.

The world's financial system is teetering, and the estrangement between the American people and their government has never been this deep in modern times.

The cost of energy has soared and will continue to climb. The entitlement trap has only grown worse in the three years since George Bush asked the Democrats to work with him on Social Security and they said no. The corrupt, self-dealing culture of the Beltway has poisoned the decision-making of many bureaucracies and in ways only the burdened know, and the credibility of the big media is shattered even as their audiences shrink and many of their news rooms come close to shuttering.

So, despite the rapture of college students and the registration of the homeless in Ohio, the common sense of Americans will override curiosity about Barack Obama and infatuation with his celebrity, and trust John McCain to pilot the country for the next four years.

More here


Advice from Karl Rove

On experience, I'm all for it. But judgment is at least as important. Biden has 35 years in the Senate, yet his record on national-security issues during that span has been atrocious. He might be able to name Germany's chancellor, but he was wrong in his fierce opposition to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and to the surge in 2007. Even Democrats don't see Biden as president. He got 0.9 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Forced out of the 1988 White House race for plagiarizing, he is that blend of longevity and long-windedness that Washington accepts as statesmanship.

McCain and Palin face an uphill struggle. Economic woes, war and the natural desire of Americans to give the other side a chance (after eight years with one party in the White House) should mean a big edge for Obama and Biden. But the race is tight, no candidate can get above 50 percent for more than a day or two, and it is likely to stay close right to the end.

The reason is, people have persistent doubts about whether Obama is qualified. NEWSWEEK's poll last month found that 47 percent felt Obama "has enough experience in politics and government to be a good president" but 46 percent said he didn't. In the recent ABC/Washington Post poll, 45 percent said Obama doesn't have "the needed experience," the same as last March. Even the late-September CBS News/New York Times poll found that while 46 percent feel "Obama has prepared himself well enough for the job of president," 45 percent do not. For good reason: Barack Obama has less than half a term in the Senate, where he's proposed little, accomplished less and spent virtually every day campaigning-as if being on the trail is a principal qualification for president.

McCain-Palin must deepen those doubts by pounding away on questions about Obama's character, judgment and values. Drawing on Obama's own record and statements, they need to paint him as a big spender, class warrior and cultural elitist; they need to say he's never worked across party lines or gotten his hands dirty solving big issues. But the duo must also give voters reasons to support them. They must crystallize a positive, forward-looking vision so people who see Obama as unqualified have something to hang on to. It can't be a laundry list of positions. McCain-Palin must offer a narrative about what they will do to help America see better days, especially on kitchen-table concerns.

More here


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


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


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Even a British Leftist lady grudgingly finds great virtue in Sarah Palin

Excerpts from a comment about the VP debate

And the joy of Mrs Palin, what endears her to Middle America and fascinates every British woman I know, is her quality that cannot be bottled and sold: authenticity.

It shines out, even through her shopping-channel presentation, the Day-Glo patriotism of her XXL Old Glory lapel pin, her talent for talking while perpetually smiling (which, ask Gordon Brown, is a tough trick to pull off without looking deranged), the cheeseball winks, the local DJ shout-outs to kids at her brother's elementary school, the exaggerated nose wrinkles when uttering something as disgusting as "single-sex relationships" or "redistribution of wealth". She is Nicole Kidman as the driven weather girl in To Die For, Reese Witherspoon, the ruthless high-school candidate in Election. A candy-coated ball of granite.

When she offered "a bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street", Joe Biden had to counter quickly with the word down in Kay's Restaurant and the Home's Depot in Wilmington. When Mrs Palin played her son in Iraq, her special-needs baby, her worries about college fees, Mr Biden had to match it with a soldier boy of his own and raise her with his dead wife and daughter, then an emotionally welling remembrance of struggling to raise two injured sons alone.

And you could detect frustration and pique in Mr Biden's lament that, "just because I'm a man", he doesn't understand the hard decisions made over that mythical American kitchen table. But perhaps in this alone women politicians have an advantage, being the ones most able to convince voters that they have seen the inside of a maternity ward, a supermarket, a classroom, have dried tears and chewed pencils over household budgets....

Authenticity is now at a premium. William Hague, with his soft Yorkshire tones, his tales of delivering fizzy pop to streets like my own, is an asset at this hour. Perhaps he is dragging out his kitchen-table conservatism even now. Even John Prescott, oddly, is a voice for these times, as is Alan Johnson, who raised three kids on a council estate. Peter Mandelson, with his slick suits and slippery mortgage, is the last face voters can bear. But then Gordon Brown has the more clearcut task of steering the ship between the icebergs: Cameron must get with the bodies in the water.

After that debate, those who loathe Mrs Palin will still loathe her; those who cleave to her will find no new reason to be repelled. It is just shtick, she's sticking to the rigid train tracks of her notes, you tell yourself when she says how Saturday soccer parents fret at the touchline over their investments. But then the debate ends, her great messy family spreads out on stage, and Mrs Palin tenderly passes her always-placid Down's baby to her little girl. The sound is off, the scripted babble is over. It is a silent gesture, something compellingly real in a cooked-up world.

More here. It's a pity the lady commenting does not speak Australian. Australian English has a very apposite word for the virtue she sees in Sarah. Sarah is "fair dinkum".


Nothing's the Matter With Kansas

My bank is still making loans. We have none in default

Here in the heart of Kansas, the sky isn't falling and Chicken Little isn't running around without a head. Community banks like mine are still making loans and serving the needs of customers.

I used to worry about competing in the world of mega "too-big-to-fail" banks. But now I know community banks offer something the monsters can never offer -- real personal service. Many financial-type businesses say they offer the same thing, but they usually don't list personal numbers in the phone book and probably aren't driving the volunteer fire truck. My father always told me that character repaid many more debts than collateral ever would. Community banks form long-term relationships with customers.

During the farm crisis of the 1980s the over-line credits we had placed with the city correspondent banks were called. A community bank used to rely on participating loans with large metro banks. For example, if my bank had a regulatory loan limit of a million dollars and I made a two million dollar loan, I would "sell" the over-line to a large bank. These large banks suddenly suspended and called all rural credits. This is probably similar to what is happening to borrowers who use super-large banks in today's panic environment. There was nothing wrong with these loans but every small bank suffered from this irrational wrath.

A group of fellow bankers formed an ad hoc loan-pooling arrangement and we traded loans. Not a dime was lost, no borrowers were sold out and we didn't need a government bailout. It did instill a fierce sense of independence and self reliance.

Today we are reacting to a crisis that absolutely everyone knew was going to happen. Can you tell me that the entire congressional delegation from California didn't read a newspaper or watch any TV when unregulated brokers were offering 100% loans and allowing borrowers to make up their income?

Appraisal rules were established after the savings-and-loan debacle. The brokers and packagers weren't regulated so some appraisers really had a field day being creative. And now the government thinks we need new rules? They didn't enforce the existing ones.

Community bankers get really ticked off when Treasury can, with the stroke of a pen, guarantee $50 billion in money-market mutual funds, including the tax exempt funds. These funds didn't participate in generating the guarantee dollars, weren't regulated, and aren't subject to Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rules. Why does that not surprise me? The CRA was passed in 1977 to ensure that banks meet the credit needs of their local communities but in effect practically compelled some regulated lenders to make loans to people and projects that have limited ability to repay them. Billions of these loans have been made, with a large percentage of the housing loans ending up at Fannie Mae. Community banks feel that if we must follow these CRA rules to comply with deposit insurance regulators, then anyone else receiving government guarantees should as well. Banks paid for all of the FDIC fund dollars as well as the operating costs of their regulators. We have been competing with these money-market funds for years, they mess up and now are handed a "get out of jail free" card.

All of the media pressure about this terrible crisis has really worried people. We community bankers must spend time reassuring folks that everything will be fine. The best way I have found to do that is to make more loans this September than we made a year ago, offer new products, and serve a fantastic group of customers with home loans at our bank where all is well and none are facing foreclosure.

If the government really wanted to help banks stimulate this economy, all that would be needed is a bonfire eliminating redundant red tape. While starter homes may cost a half-million dollars in some parts of this country, they are one-tenth of that here. So why does the borrower sign but three pieces of paper to process a $50,000 auto loan but needs two dozen-plus documents (which are never read) for a home purchase of the same amount? All that extra paperwork sure didn't protect anyone in this crisis.

Can anyone tell me why my small bank headquartered in a town of 1,100 is subject to the onerous rules of CRA, HMDA, CIP, FACTA, Red Flag and others? We have no red-lined areas or stop lights and everyone is making a low or moderate income. We were probably at the hospital when the borrower was born.

I am really concerned about my grandchildren's future being mortgaged by a $1 trillion porked-up bailout. But our small bank, along with many others, is alive and well and still making loans. To paraphrase the late great Kansas newspaperman William Allen White: What's right with Kansas are the more than 300 local banks taking care of Main Street.




Big, Big Audience for VP debate: "I think we've probably seen the last presidential debate on a Friday night for a while. Last week's presidential debate had an audience of about 52 million. They're talking 70 million to 75 million for last night's Palin-Biden showdown."

The Biden Error/Lie/Hallucination List (UPDATED to 22): "Below, you'll find a list of 14 "lies" Biden told last night, distributed by the McCain campaign. I'd just note two observations: first, when you tell stories of things that didn't happen with the frequency of Joe Biden, coupled with his fervent belief of these untrue and inaccurate statements, I don't think "lie" is the appropriate term. "Hallucinations" seems more accurate, I think. Second, they missed a bunch, so Biden's list of li- er, hallucinations is well beyond 14."

Great news!: "O.J. Simpson has been found guilty on all charges in the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room more than a year ago. The 61-year-old former football faces up to life in prison. A somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read Friday in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody. The verdict comes 13 years to the day after Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles. Co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody. The men were tried on 12 criminal charges."

Cash strapped British Navy cuts destroyer fleet : "The Fleet now has just five air defence warships left to protect vessels missile or aircraft attack at a time when other nations such as China, India and Iran are investing heavily in anti-ship warfare. Three Type 42 destroyers – Exeter, Nottingham and Southampton – have been "parked up" in Portsmouth at "reduced readiness" up to two years before they were due to be decommissioned. Britain's force of destroyers and frigates has now been reduced from 35 to 22 in the last decade despite government promises it would not slip below 25. It will be another two years before the first of six of the highly sophisticated Type 45 destroyers can be deployed on operations leaving a "gaping hole" in defences. Senior Navy commanders have told The Daily Telegraph that the nation is taking "serious risks" in protecting carrier groups or amphibious flotillas and have accused the Government of neglecting the Fleet that protects the 90 per cent of Britain's imported trade"


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


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


Saturday, October 4, 2008

A selection of conservative comments on the VP debate

Maybe John McCain should fire the advisers who won't let Sarah Palin do more interviews. The Alaska Governor has faced two major campaign challenges -- her acceptance speech and last night's debate -- and each time she's shown herself worthy of the national stage. Let Mrs. Palin be herself, and then when she makes a mistake, as every candidate does, it won't be treated like some epic judgment on her fitness to be Vice President.

Mrs. Palin couldn't match Mr. Biden's fluency on Bosnia or Darfur last night, but not too long ago neither could Barack Obama. The Republican nominee more than held her own on foreign policy in general, and in our view won on points at least on Iraq and Afghanistan. She didn't let Mr. Biden get away with interpreting the comments of a U.S. general in Afghanistan as a rejection of Mr. McCain's strategy. And on Iraq she exposed both Mr. Biden's change of heart on the war, and his change of heart on Mr. Obama's views on the war. At times Mr. Biden even looked a little frustrated -- as if he couldn't quite believe he had to share the stage with someone who hasn't hung out with Dick Lugar or . . . Mike Mansfield back when the Senate was still a civil place. Or someone who says "doggonit."

More here


She killed. She had him at "Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?" She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man. She was not petrified but peppy.

The whole debate was about Sarah Palin. She is not a person of thought but of action. Interviews are about thinking, about reflecting, marshaling data and integrating it into an answer. Debates are more active, more propelled-they are thrust and parry. They are for campaigners. She is a campaigner. Her syntax did not hold, but her magnetism did. At one point she literally winked at the nation.

As far as Mrs. Palin was concerned, Gwen Ifill was not there, and Joe Biden was not there. Sarah and the camera were there. This was classic "talk over the heads of the media straight to the people," and it is a long time since I've seen it done so well, though so transparently. There were moments when she seemed to be doing an infomercial pitch for charm in politics. But it was an effective infomercial.

Joe Biden seems to have walked in thinking that she was an idiot and that he only had to patiently wait for this fact to reveal itself. This was a miscalculation. He showed great forbearance. Too much forbearance. She said of his intentions on Iraq, "Your plan is a white flag of surrender." This deserved an indignant response, or at least a small bop on the head, from Mr. Biden, who has been for five years righter on Iraq than the Republican administration. He was instead mild.

The heart of her message was a complete populist pitch. "Joe Six-Pack" and "soccer moms" should unite to fight the tormentors who forced mortgages on us. She spoke of "Main Streeters like me." A question is at what point shiny, happy populism becomes cheerful manipulation.

Sarah Palin saved John McCain again Thursday night. She is the political equivalent of cardiac paddles: Clear! Zap! We've got a beat! She will re-electrify the base. More than that, an hour and a half of talking to America will take her to a new level of stardom. Watch her crowds this weekend. She's about to get jumpers, the old political name for people who are so excited to see you they start to jump.

More here


Governor Palin destroyed Senator Biden tonight and had fun doing it. She was a smiling barracuda teasing a guppy. The joy on her face was infectious - it was lost on Biden until she even made him smile broadly with her "There you go again" Reaganisms. There were no teleprompters. There were no MSM editing the footage to make her look bad. It was just plain Sarah - the most authentic person working as a politician I have ever seen in my lifetime.

Now if you thought Senator Biden was the winner you should have listened to Karl Rove on the roundup. He said Biden made ten undisputable misstatements and another eleven he could argue about. Biden may have sounded experienced - unfortunately he was spewing fiction. However, I never heard a word about the most damaging thing he had to say. No one apparently caught it or if they did I didn't catch it.

He said the bankruptcy courts should be able to readjust not just the interest rate on your home (in default) they should be able to adjust the principal. For example your $500,000 mortgage now is supported by a $250,000 house. He and Obama want taxpayers or the lender to foot the bill for the $250,000 loss. They support having taxpayers footing the $250,000 bill (or the lender) so the homeowner could keep their home.

That is communism. Taking property by government fiat. It is most surprising that Democrats have become so comfortable with Karl Marx that a vice-presidential candidate would espouse confiscation of private property on national TV in a presidential debate. However, if Barrack Obama and the Democrats take over the administration and the Congress I guess we need to get a copy of Das Capital to discover the many ways the American culture will be undermined and our sovereignty stolen

Comment from Dick McDonald, not online elsewhere


Senator Joe Biden lied at least 14 times during the vice presidential debate according to those counting at John McCain's presidential headquarters. Tucker Bounds, a spokesman from GOP presidential candidate John McCain's campaign said in a statement, ""Joe Biden graduated from his trademark verbal gaffe to outright lie in tonight's debate." McCain's blogger-in-chief Michael Goldfarb chronicled the 14 lies HERE.

On the foreign policy front, Biden challenged Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin when she said Barack Obama's pledge to meet with any foreign leaders, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without precondition "goes beyond naivete and goes beyond poor judgment." Biden lectured Palin, "That's just simply not true about Barack Obama. He did not say he'd sit down with Ahmadinejad." During the YouTube Democratic primary debate last July Obama was asked if he would meet the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea without "precondition" during his first year in office. "I would," he replied.

Biden appeared to attack Obama for making that very statement in August 2007. While Biden was challenging Obama for the Democratic nomination for president Biden said he would not support such a pledge. "Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected president?" he said in an appearance at the National Press Club. "Absolutely positively no."

Five of the lies Biden told were related to tax and energy votes. During the debate Biden adamantly claimed McCain voted the same way as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama did on a vote to raise taxes on those making $42,000 a year. The legislative record shows McCain was not present in the Senate for either of those votes and is recorded as "not voting."

More here


Sarah won this by a mile. This was her first unscripted moment on national stage and she proved herself. This makes me wonder how many good answers Gibson and Couric left on the cutting table. It would be interesting to see how the MSM spins their insistance that Palin is dumb.

Was Biden better with points? Maybe. But who in the audience noticed that? Biden mostly made wonkish points that will give boners to Washington insiders. Sarah talked in a language ordinary Americans understand.

Even fluffy Plouffe agreed (sort of) that Sarah did good. McCain's chances just went way up. McCain has taken a big hit by suspending his campaign to work on the economic crisis. This debate makes up for that.

More here


Kos: "Sarah Palin won!" He tried to be sarcastic, he tried to spin it, but he had to admit it.

And this was the most telling part of his post: "So who won? Who cares. Nothing happened to change the dynamics of this race. Palin proved that she's still unable to answer the questions posed to her, but she also didn't fall flat on her face. And in the ridiculously depressed expectations for the governor of Alaska, she didn't crash and burn. But she didn't need to maintain the status quo. That's toxic territory for her. She needed to prove that she could get beyond pre-packaged talking points to demonstrating some capacity for analytical thought. In that regard, she failed."

Those grapes are sour.



Republican Sarah Palin flicks off Democrat Joe Biden's talking points. The moose hunter bags another one.

Biden has veered off the facts into Daily Kos land. Biden saying Republican John McCain was wrong on the war. Two words: The Surge. Palin has sliced this guy bad. She shows he knows nothing about energy, the economy and the war. Every answer he has is Bush, Bush, Bush. He's scripted. She's not. Biden's lying. She's not.

I don't know if she can still save McCain, but she got game. Line of the night: Doggone it, Joe. : The shot of the night, after the debate, she took a sleeping Trig and perched him on her shoulder. Not fair but them's the breaks.



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


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


Friday, October 3, 2008

There are TWO ways the U.S. government has destroyed the financial system

The email below from someone in the system (Steve Goodman of Voorhees, NJ) explains all. Not only did the government cause the problem with its insistence on lending money to anybody capable of staggering into a bank but it is now preventing any recovery of the system with its "mark to market" regulation. The essential point is that most sub-prime borrowers are in fact making their payments but the regulations not only ignore that but force the financial system to treat the mortgages concerned as worthless

I am an attorney and have spent most of my career advising banks and other lenders on compliance with the many laws and regulations that govern loans to consumers and businesses.

I think that the culprit behind this mess is fast coming to light. It is our government. In part the crisis is a runaway subprime loan giveaway foisted on regulated lenders by the government. Banks and other mortgage lenders were required by federal law to make and invest in mortgages made to persons who could not afford to borrow, or they would be in violation of the federal 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Over the years, consumer activist groups, such as ACORN (but there are others), used the CRA to interject themselves in the regulatory process regarding requests by banks to open new branches or to merge with other institutions. Initially, the Federal Reserve Board gave little weight to these activist claims but, as the Congress criticized the Fed to enforce the CRA (and thereby to STOP discrimination in home lending, of which there was little or no evidence), banks were forced to enter into contracts with ACORN and other activist groups under which they committed to make billions of dollars of subprime loans.

The CRA was used more recently as a cudgel to force banks to make loans the banks would not make on their own. How could a bank refuse to make a loan if it would be approved by applying the very low approval standards adopted by the gse's (Fannie and Freddie)? And, under Andrew Cuomo, the Chairman of HUD in the 90's, the then "normal" rules for rejecting loans were replaced by very lax standards intended to rapidly increase home ownership by those persons who could not afford to buy homes under the old rules. HUD permitted the charging of broker's fees, ALT-A loans, interest only, and whatever the market would bear. It created the subprime market we know today and induced lenders to participate. States and localities are adopting laws and ordnances to regulate the practices of mortgage lenders and brokers, with no real understanding of how the market got to this point.

The majority of CRA (subprime) loans are now performing. But, that fact seems to have no impact on their "market" value, at least to regulators, auditors and accountants. The market for subprime loans has quickly dried up because the "mark to market" rule adopted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board requires that all assets be valued and revalued based on their current market worth. If the secondary market for any financial product (such as a loan) tends to dry up, the mark to market rule comes into play to further devalue those products traded in that market. Thus, fairly quickly, an otherwise performing subprime loan secured by residential real estate collateral has a near zero market value. Even if a buyer wanted to purchase the subprime mortgage for what the buyer deemed its worth based on the performing stream of payments. interest rate, and the like, the buyer would be required to immediately mark the asset value down on its books and undermine its own stock market value.

So, if a buyer purchased a mortgage that, based on the likelihood of payment, remaining payments, interest rate, and credit worthiness of the borrower it valued at $100,000, it would then have to apply the mark to market rule to value the loan at near zero on its books. No publicly traded or regulated company or bank can do that. Moreover, in my experience, the bank regulators will soon demand that other loans, such as prime mortgage loans, car loans, installment loans, and the like, be written down as their marketability will come into question. The regulators can themselves bring a loan market to a standstill. They did it before and will do it again.

Thus, the net effect of the mark to market accounting rule is to create a downward spiral in valuation of all loans, without regard to their true worth. And, while the mark to market rule was supposed to create a better understanding of a company's (or bank's) value, which the cost basis somehow did not do (although it worked for a long, long time and there was no perceived need to change it), it has quickly been found to artificially undermine that net worth.

So, instead of throwing $700 Billion into a black hole, to be doled out at the discretion of some bureaucrat who will have no idea what he or she is doing, and thereby prolonging instability in the market and inviting a depression, we should simply rescind the mark to market rule and let buyers and sellers reach the price for loans that would allow them to value loans in the real world and use that cost or historical value for bookkeeping purposes. To do so will keep bank regulators, accountants and auditors at bay and open the market to market trading.

(It would be a positive on public confidence in the banking system to raise the cap on deposit insurance, too but, in my opinion, that is not as essential as rescinding the mark to market rule.)

Note that by requiring the use of the mark to market rule, the government that required that subprime loans be made, is now requiring that they be written down to near zero values that Secretary is advising the Congress are much less than their real worth. After all, his argument in selling his plan to the Congress is that the government can hold the loans for a short while and then sell them into the market for large profits. But, unless and until the mark to market rule is rescinded, The government will be able to sell subprime loans only to nonpublicly traded companies. So, to unload these loans for the promised profits, the mark to market rule will rescinded when it is in the interests of our government to do so.

In essence, the U. S. Government has required banks and other mortgage lenders to make imprudent subprime loans and, under Paulson's plan, gets to steal them and later sell them for a profit. This is not a bailout. It is highway robbery. And, we are now getting to see the Paulson plan for what it is. This is a very incompetent man who rose far above his capabilities.


On Jews and the Left and the Book of Job

A couple of days ago I wrote "A small meditation for the Jewish New Year", in which I commented on a possible lesson to be learnt from the book of Job. I expected that I might hear from one or two of my Jewish readers about it and I am pleased to say that I have. Because of my strange combination of utter atheism and great respect for Judeo-Christian religion, I get a fair bit of correspondence from religious people and I appreciate it all. I reproduce below an email from a religious Jewish reader that comments further on the issues I raised earlier:

The book of Job is a profound book; we read it on Tisha B'av, the commemoration of the destrruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. The main thrust of it is that one has to have faith, ultimately, that God has reasons for what he does. While God does "attack" Job, He later gives back everything, but the story really speaks to the problem of theodicy, trying to explain the existence of evil in a world we believe is run by a benevolent God. Of course, there ARE no answers that make sense, and one either takes it on faith that it is so, or goes the way of atheism. And I am not condemning the latter at all!

But I began being a religious Jew in part because I loved the "non-answer" of Job, that there ARE no real answers. Job's friends try to make sense of what is going on, but they can't persuade Job, and that is because, philosophically and superficially, there ARE no answers that make sense. I fell in love with my own religion because it recognized that, even as the rest of the time, it acts as if it does know the answer.

Same thing in that on the day of a funeral for a close relative, there are certain prayers and things not done by the mourner. Why? Because Judaism realized it is impossible to fully accept the idea of a god or benevolent deity in the face of grief. And the rest of it may seem pretty crazy, the stuff we do (and I can step into an outsider's shoes and understand that!), and as always, this is not an attempt to persuade towards Judaism...we don't do that...but I loved these couple of things that I wrote about above.

As to Jews and evangelical Christians...I AGREE WITH YOU 100%. During the intafada, the only ones who supported Israel were Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians. The lack of brains on the part of Jews concerning this, as well as them voting Democratic, has nothing to do with anything from Heaven! More like some suicidally stupid something from Hell.

Part of the problem is that the Nazis were labeled as "right wing", which is a perversion of what they really were. But I didn't learn or understand that until a number of years ago either. And to this day, nationlistic movements, especially in Europe, SOME (and some mistakenly) are labeled anti-Semitic AND are termed "right wing". In my father's time, in Europe, prior to the Holocaust, the anti-Semites were the Hungarian and Romanian "right-wing" nationalistic groups that allied with the Nazis, and many Jews still equate the terms.

It's wrong, but it's almost an educational problem, plus a blind spot on even the idea of learning anything new. It's the same thing of Jews voting Democratic. They still refuse to accept that FDR was an anti-Semite, or at least no friend of ours...that all the totems of the early Left that were supported by Jews were WRONGLY supported by Jews...but we have this weak spot in our hearts..and brains..that buys into the same crap, excuse the expression, that the Left is always the side of good intentions and caring about the "forgotten man"..but as has been pointed out, the very idea of that phrase was PERVERTED by FDR for political use, just as the very word "liberal" came to be coopted into something it wasn't meant to be.

Does this mean I give my fellow Jews a pass? NOPE. I am livid that we don't learn the truth, that we can't even bother to look into it (though I go to a small congregation where 90% will vote for McCain/Palin and the Republicans!). It's not just Abe Foxman, either. He's but one of many.

Finally, the other problem is that the biggest proportion of Jews in the United States are anti-religious, not just not religious. They are more concerned about "gay" and "abortion" rights than protecting Israel (or themselves, in my opinion, since they don't see the damage this does to our own people). It makes me sick, truthfully, but there it is. The irony is that most Jews are afraid of the Christian Right because of those kinds of issues, but will also say "but they are trying to convert us!". It's true, but so the hell what?! 75% of the Jewish religious Left intermarries out and loses connection to Judaism anyway, plenty getting married in churches. So what are they really worried about?

Religious Jews vote increasingly for Republicans, and though we tend to not like conversion efforts directed our way, realize we have commonalities with the Christian Right. We can still be friends...maybe not the closest, but we can certainly be allies to a point, because we absolutely believe in Israel and even many social issues.


Desperate dissing of Palin

A dispatch by Jason Szep of Reuters carries the headline "Palin's Troubles Mount for McCain in White House." What are these "troubles"? Here's the list:

An editor at Newsweek wrote a column saying that Palin is "unqualified."

Palin's interviews with CBS, Fox News and ABC "raise questions over her nomination and dealings with the media."

Palin faces "a stubborn investigation into charges that as governor she abused her power by firing a public safety commissioner."

A conservative columnist "called on Palin to step down ."

Palin has been mocked on "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Show With David Letterman."

A "conservative New York Times columnist . . . called her candidacy 'embarrassing.' "

Mitt Romney "questioned the campaign's strategy of restricting Palin's media exposure."

Except for the "stubborn investigation," all of these "troubles" are troubles with the media. One wonders why Szep did not include his own article in the list.



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


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


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bailout nonsense

By Steven E. Landsburg, a professor of economics at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York

We are embarking on the most radical transformation of the American economy since the New Deal, committing hundreds of billions in taxpayer money to save banks and other financial institutions from the consequences of their own bad investments. This, we are told, is the cost of averting a crisis. But I sure wish someone would explain to me exactly what crisis we're trying to avert.

What's clear is that a bunch of financial institutions have made mistakes and lost money. What's unclear is why anyone (other than the owners and managers) should care. People make mistakes and lose money all the time. Restaurants fail, grocery stores fail, gas stations fail. People pick the wrong stocks, they buy the wrong cars, and they marry the wrong spouses without turning to the Treasury for bailouts.

So what's special about banks? According to what I keep reading, it's that without banks, nobody can borrow, and the economy grinds to a halt. Well, let's think about that. Banks don't lend their own money; they lend other people's (their depositors' and their stockholders'). Just because the banks disappear doesn't mean the lenders will. Borrowers will still want to borrow and lenders will still want to lend. The only question is whether they'll be able to find each other.

That's one reason I feel squeamish about the official pronouncements we've been getting. They tell us bank failures will make it hard to borrow but never that bank failures will make it hard to lend. But every borrower is paired with a lender, so it's odd to state the problem so asymmetrically. This makes me suspect that the official pronouncers have not entirely thought this thing through.

In the 1930s, a wave of bank failures did make it hard for borrowers and lenders to find each other, and the consequences were drastic. But times have changed in at least two relevant ways. First, the disaster of the 1930s was caused not just by bank failures, but by a 30% contraction of the money supply, which is something today's Fed can easily prevent. Second, as any user of can tell you, the technology for finding partners has improved since then. When a firm wants to raise capital, why can't it just sell bonds over the web? Or issue new stock? Or approach one of the hedge funds that seem to be swimming in cash? Or borrow abroad?

I know, I know, the rest of the world is in crisis too. But surely in the vast global economy, it should be possible to find someone capable of introducing a lender to a borrower. (Note that I'm not talking about going to foreign lenders, though that's another option. I'm just talking about the same American borrower and American lender who would have found each other through Bear Stearns finding each other through Barclays instead.)

In other words, I'm not sure these big Wall Street banks are really necessary, and I'm not sure we'd miss them much if they were gone. Maybe there's something I'm missing, but if so, I think it should be incumbent on Messrs. Bernanke, Paulson and above all Bush to explain what it is.




Bailout marks Karl Marx's comeback : "In his Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, Karl Marx proposed 10 measures to be implemented after the proletariat takes power, with the aim of centralizing all instruments of production in the hands of the state. Proposal Number Five was to bring about the `centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.' If he were to rise from the dead today, Marx might be delighted to discover that most economists and financial commentators, including many who claim to favor the free market, agree with him."

Why I oppose the bailout, by US Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): "Economic freedom means the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail. The decision to give the federal government the ability to nationalize almost every bad mortgage in America interrupts this basic truth of our free market economy. Republicans improved this bill but it remains the largest corporate bailout in American history, forever changes the relationship between government and the financial sector, and passes the cost along to the American people. I cannot support it."

A damn good defeat: "There is no disputing that financial firms have too much unidentified and unpriced, semi-performing assets on their books. To regain access to the credit and capital markets, all these firms have to do is identify and price those assets. The resulting write-downs will trim the share price and capital will once again flow in. It's that simple, kind of. You see, these firms don't just want access to the capital markets again, they want it at the share price they can command with those overvalued assets on their books. Hey, I want $30K for my `92 Accord with 200k miles on it, too, but I'm not holding my breath. The Billionaire Bailout scheme, in a round-about fashion, is to force you to take on these overvalued assets at book value or, in most cases, higher thus replacing ??? with cash on the books of financial firms. When the scheme fell apart this afternoon, the stock market resumed its one-and-only function: discovering the share price at which firms can access capital markets."

Economic laws of conservation: "One of the economic broad principles that I am familiar with is that, while the market can be wrong, you (whoever you are) are almost certainly unable reliably to do better than the market. Claims that the government will probably recoup its investment and even profit violate this principle. Another of the economic broad principles that I am familiar with is that the market works by no other means than rewarding wise investment and punishing foolish investment. That is how it works. A more general broad principle, upon which this relies, is that you get more of what you reward. The bailout violates this principle as well. Miron, and other economists who have spoken out against the bailout, have tended to make arguments that I find comprehensible and persuasive, because they appeal to broad economic principles that I am familiar with and have long since accepted. Those who have spoken out in favor of the bailout - well, for one thing, rather than see actual arguments from them I have seen appeals to authority, appeals to hidden knowledge, sky-is-falling warnings that have no actual content but serve merely to shift the reader into panic mode, vehement attacks on those who disagree, and the like".

If you're going to bailout anybody... : "It is not clear whether there would be a financial catastrophe if the bailout were not passed. Credit is still available; millions of people are still using their credit cards. Businesses are still getting loans. However, it is true that many firms can't obtain funds except at quite high risk premiums, or not at all. The credit markets are somewhat stuck, but maybe that is because lenders are waiting for the government to act. Any plan that bails out banks and mortgages is going to favor some at the expense of others. Many who have been dutifully paying their mortgage payments, or fully own their homes, will not get any aid. If there is a major liquidity problem, and if government has to step in to prevent financial chaos, the egalitarian solution would be to provide money to everyone equally. Money to the people!"

The end of the US financial system as we know it? : "A number of Republican House members and staff, along with others who are plugged in, are telling me that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats will come back with a new bill that includes all the left-wing stuff that was scrubbed from the bill that was defeated today in the House. . Of course, this scenario will lose more Republican votes. But insiders tell me President Bush will take Secretary Paulson's advice and sign that kind of legislation."

Bush signs sprawling spending bill: "President Bush on Tuesday signed a sprawling, stopgap spending bill to keep the government running for the next 12 months. The president's move, which came on the last day of the government's budget year, was expected even though the measure spends more money and contains more pet projects than he would have liked. The legislation is one of the few bills this election year that simply had to pass. The $630 billion-plus spending bill wraps together a record Pentagon budget with aid for automakers and natural disaster victims, and increased health care funding for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure also lifts a quarter-century ban on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, a victory for Bush and fellow Republicans."

UK: We'll protect bank savings: "`Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told the BBC that he will do "whatever it takes" to protect people's savings.Moves to guarantee bank deposits up to 50,000 pounds - compared with the current 35,000 limit - are expected shortly.He declined to offer an unlimited guarantee, as has happened in Ireland, but pointed out the government had not let any UK depositor lose out. .. The Irish government has made an emergency decision to guarantee the safety of all deposits in six of its main savings institutions for two years."

You can trust us with your personal data? "Britain's MI6 intelligence service is investigating how a camera holding sensitive information about al-Qaida suspects came to be lost by one of its agents and then sold on eBay, police said on Tuesday. `We can confirm we seized a camera after a member of the public reported it,' said a statement by police in Hertfordshire, north of London, after the camera was handed into a police station."


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


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


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A small meditation for the Jewish New Year

Although I am an atheist, I am acutely aware of the vast influence that the New Testament has had on my thinking. And I regret not one jot or tittle of that. Whenever I follow the teachings of Christ (alas far too seldom) I get a blessing -- sometimes very rapidly.

I also however have great respect for the Old Testament and often read it with pleasure. One book however stands out for its difficulty: The book of Job. However you explain it, the fact of the matter is that the God of Israel placed great burdens and afflictions on a good and holy man.

If I were a Rabbi, I would see that as a metaphor for the relationship between the God of Israel and his people as a whole. The God of the Jews has given his chosen people enormous gifts but in his wisdom he has also given them one enormous handicap: political stupidity. Israel and the Jews have only ONE powerful friend in the world: American evangelical Christians. And yet Jews generally despise them. Through the despicable Abraham Foxman, they do all they can to thwart evangelical Christians and they vote in droves for the antisemitic Democratic Party, the party that also despises evangelical Christians.

Now that seems to me to be a curse from on high but I speak from a particular perspective. What Jews do politically is virtually inexplicable from an Anglo-Saxon viewpoint but to the rest of the world it may not be so at all.

This is not the time or place to spell it out in historical detail, but a large element in Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism is the way they value alliances. When Anglo-Saxons go to war they generally do so as "Allies". They in fact refer to their side of a conflict as "the Allies" or "Allied forces". They have an instinctive appreciation of the importance of friends, banal though that may seem. There is much egotism in the world that causes both people and nations to "go it alone" at times but that is something that seems to be missing in Anglo-Saxon thinking.

And that seeking of alliances even overcomes old wounds. There is only one country that has burnt Washington to the ground and that is Britain -- in 1812. But, despite that bad start, the commonality of attitudes and values has prevailed and the USA and Britain have fought alongside one-another repeatedly since then.

Why cannot Jews do the same? Christians were once a plague upon Jewry but they are not so now. Both fundamentalist Christians and Jews want to see Jews in Zion but very few Jews will grasp the hand of friendship that is held out to them by the Christians. That blindspot does seem to me very much like a curse from on high.

There are of course some Jews who fight the good fight: Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Jeff Jacoby, Dennis Prager etc. But on some accounts 88% of Jews voted for the Islam-loving Democratic party at the 2006 mid-terms -- so the curse is pervasive despite that.

There has always been antisemitism on both sides of politics but at least since Karl Marx it has always had its principal home on the Left. Jews can remember conservative businessmen keeping them out of country clubs but forget that Hitler was a socialist. One should be able to expect better than that from a generally clever people. In the late 19th century, the British Conservative party made a Jew (Disraeli) their Prime Minister. About 50 years later the socialist Hitler incinerated 6 million Jews. Can anybody see a difference there?

In 1939 Germany went to war with a powerful ally on its side: Soviet Russia. The German Panzern that stormed through France were powered by Soviet fuel. Germany later however turned on its ally, with disastrous results for itself. One hopes that Jews will not similarly antagonize THEIR best ally. Abe Foxman, take note.


Jewish Left Wins, Jews and Israel Lose

by Dennis Prager

For decades most of the organized left has fought against Republicans and conservatives more than against the world's greatest evils. During the Cold War, starting in the late 1960s, one heard little if anything from the left about the evils of Communism or of Communist societies such as the Soviet Union or Communist China. But one heard a great deal about the evils of American anti-Communists; Ronald Reagan was vilified much more than Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

But last week, a new line seems to have been crossed. The organized Jewish left -- i.e., left-wing Jewish organizations that claim to be committed to the welfare of Jews -- made it clear that even in the fight against the greatest enemy of the Jewish people, the Jewish left prefers to fight what it considers an even greater enemy -- conservatives and Republicans.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel and who denies the Holocaust, came to speak at the United Nations. The day before he was scheduled to speak, Jewish organizations across the religious and political spectrum had organized a "Stop Iran" rally at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the UN. They had invited Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and then invited Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The intent was to maximize publicity for the anti-Iran cause, the most important Jewish concern (and arguably the most important world concern) today. With Clinton and Palin present, the world press would cover the anti-Iran rally, and the Jewish community could show the world and America that this was one cause that knew no politics -- the most prominent female Democrat and the most prominent female Republican would both lend their names and prestige to this rally.

However, the moment that Clinton learned that the organizers had invited Palin, she withdrew. For Clinton, giving the other most popular woman politician in America publicity was unacceptable -- even among New York Jews, one of the steadfast liberal and Democratic groups in America. The near collapse of the Stop Iran rally was of less consequence to Clinton than denying Palin a public platform.

Not many were surprised by Clinton's action. What was alarming was the realization that for much of the Jewish left -- not leftists who happen to be Jews and for whom the welfare of the Jewish people is not particularly significant, but left-wing Jews who claim to care deeply about Jewish survival -- fighting Palin is of greater importance than fighting Ahmadinejad.

Left-wing Jews and Jewish organizations put intense pressure on the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to cancel the invitation to Palin. And the pressure worked. As the liberal editorial page of New York's major Jewish newspaper The Jewish Week put it: "But somehow, a big-tent cause like Iran as a terrorist power seeking nuclear arms has become so politicized within our community that Monday's rally was more about the non-presence of Gov. Sarah Palin than about the very real presence at the UN of a Holocaust denier whose goal is to destroy our way of life."

Yet, in a rare move, publishing an entire speech that was never given, Ha'aretz, Israel's equivalent to The New York Times in its prestige and in its liberal politics, published the speech that Palin would have given. In Israel, liberal and even many left-wing Jews know that Iran is a greater threat to Israel than American conservatives.

The Palin speech was so good it should be read by every American concerned with Israel's survival. And it was so nonpartisan that it praised Clinton for being at the rally. To say that Palin -- who has the American, Alaskan and Israeli flags in her Juneau office -- is a better friend of the Jews and Israel than much of the American Jewish left sounds odd only to Jewish leftists.

But the Jewish left acts as if it fears and hates her more than it fears and hates Ahmadinejad. That is why within days of her nomination Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., announced that "John McCain's decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for president in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans. Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel. . It is frightening that John McCain would select someone one heartbeat away from the presidency who supported a man who embodies vitriolic anti-Israel sentiments."

Wexler's statement was false: Palin supported Steve Forbes, not Buchanan. And associating Palin with Nazi or anti-Israel sympathies is morally loathsome, not to mention weakens the struggle against real anti-Semites.

For left-wing Jewish organizations and their supporters -- as opposed to many rank and file liberal Jews -- the real fight is against Republicans and especially Christian conservatives (as a community, the Jews' best friends) more than against a nuclear Iran.

After the cancellation of Palin, a left-wing Jewish organization that was influential in opposing Palin's appearance, an organization called J Street, on whose Board of Advisors sits the executive director of, headlined on its website: "We Won!" That is indeed the case. The Jewish left did win. Which is why the Jews and Israel lost.



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


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