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

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

The original of this mirror site is HERE. My Blogroll; Archives here or here; My Home Page. Email me (John Ray) here. Other mirror sites: Greenie Watch, Political Correctness Watch, Education Watch, Immigration Watch, Food & Health Skeptic, Gun Watch, Socialized Medicine, Eye on Britain, Recipes, Tongue Tied and Australian Politics. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this site. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing)

31 October, 2011

Tony Blair -- the Leftist fool who trusted an Arab dictator

A secret cache of Colonel Gaddafi’s chemical weapons has been found in Libya, the country’s new rulers announced yesterday.

The deadly arsenal proves the tyrant had refused to give up his weapons of mass destruction – despite promising Tony Blair he would relinquish them in the infamous ‘Deal in the Desert’.

The National Transitional Council said the chemical warheads had been secured and would be made safe by experts. A spokesman said: ‘They are from the Gaddafi era and are under guard until they can be handed over.’

To this day, Mr Blair defends his decision to embrace Gaddafi by trumpeting the idea that he forced the dictator to give up his WMD programme.

His spokesman said earlier this week: ‘Mr Blair, in office, had been responsible for getting Gaddafi to give up his chemical and nuclear weapons programme and renounce terrorism.’

Gaddafi agreed to destroy most of his weapons of mass destruction in 2003 as part of moves to bring Libya, then a pariah state, in from the cold. The agreement was sealed in 2004 when Mr Blair shook hands with Gaddafi in a tent outside Tripoli.

The disarming process was being overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but was never finished because of the outbreak of war.

It meant the dictator retained around ten tons of deadly mustard gas and other chemicals. Throughout the uprising, rebels feared vengeful Gaddafi – who warned they faced the ‘fires from Hell’ – would unleash WMD on his own people. In Misrata, panic gripped the population when forces loyal to Gaddafi were seen wearing gas masks.

Nato spy planes and satellites monitored suspected chemical weapons dumps at three separate locations, including the Rughawa site some 130 miles south of the tyrant’s birthplace Sirte.



Never have so few been blamed for so much by so many

by Spengler

Here's your final exam question in Middle Eastern studies:

A mass of Coptic Christians marches through Cairo to protest the military government's failure to protect them from Muslim radicals. They are attacked by stone-throwing, club-wielding rowdies. Armed forces security personnel intervene, and the Copts fight it out with the soldiers, with two dozen dead and scores injured on both sides. Who is to blame?

The full credit answer is: Benjamin Netanyahu, for building apartments in Jerusalem. If that's not what you wrote, don't blame me if you can't get a job at the New York Times.

Rarely in the course of human events have so few been blamed for so much by so many. There are precedents, for example, when Adolf Hitler claimed that a Jewish "stab in the back" lost World War I for Germany. The notion that the problems of three hundred million Arabs revolve around the governance of a few million Palestinians has the same order of credibility.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations always presumed that Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan would remain intact - that Egypt would interdict terrorists infiltrating Israel from the Sinai, stop weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza, and otherwise fill its obligations. But Egypt is dissolving. The Egyptian army crossed a red line on October 9, according to Egyptian blogger Issander al-Armani. [1] Soldiers attacked Coptic demonstrators who were demanding protection from the army, The military not only shut down news coverage of the massacre, but used state television to call on Egyptian Muslims to "defend the army from the Copts".

On September 19, the Egyptian army showed that it could not protect Israel's embassy in Cairo; on October 9, it showed itself ready to murder members of the country's Christian minority. Egypt is dissolving because it can't feed itself, and it can't feed itself because it is going bankrupt. Former International Atomic Energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei, now a candidate for Egypt's presidency, warned last week that Egypt would run out of money within months, according to the English-language edition of Almasry Alroum:
Egypt might face bankruptcy within six months, Egyptian reform advocate and presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei warned on Monday. During a meeting with labor leaders at the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) in Helwan, south of Cairo, ElBaradei attacked the "failing" policies of Egypt's ruling military council.He criticized the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for what he called incompetence and lack of experience, saying that experienced government officials don't have enough power. Egypt is currently relying on its cash reserve with no gross domestic product, he said [2].

ElBaradei, the undeserved winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize (he helped Iran cover its tracks en route to enriching uranium to near weapons grade), nonetheless is the closest thing to a responsible figure in Egyptian politics. His warning that Egypt is burning its cash reserves is accurate. On October 5, the Financial Times reported that Egypt's foreign exchange reserves had fallen from $35 billion in January to only $19.4 billion, [3] enough to cover less than five months' worth of imports.

The central bank had reported $25 billion of reserves in August, [4] so the monthly decline appears to be around $6 billion; it is hard to tell precisely because the Egyptian central bank publishes contradictory data about its reserve position. The earlier $25 billion figure might have counted loans expected from the Gulf states, but as the FT explains, "Only $500m of some $7bn of promised aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have arrived so far."

Almost 60% of Egyptians live in rural areas, yet the country imports half its caloric consumption and spends $5.5 billion a year in food subsidies. When it runs out of money, millions will starve. Many already are hungry. The state-controlled newspaper al-Dostour warned on October 9 that an "insane" increase in the price of food - up 80% so far this year - has left citizens "screaming". [5]

The newspaper added that the "current state of lawlessness has left merchants and businesses with no supervision", leading to hoarding, price-gouging and shortages. This was evident at the outset of the uprisings, [6] and a breakdown of the country's food distribution system was evident by May, as I wrote at the time. [7]

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces appears baffled. Its leader, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, does not appear in public. Previously he ran Egypt's military industries. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was briefly transportation minister, having taught highway engineering for most of his career.

He has spoken publicly about only one topic of political importance, namely the peace treaty with Israel, which he proposes to change, as he told Turkish television on October 8. [8] Egypt's leaders face a crisis brewing for two generations in which the Egyptian government kept half of its population illiterate and mired in rural poverty as an instrument of social control. As ElBaradei warns, they have no idea what they are doing.

Syria, meanwhile, is in civil war, which may turn into a proxy war between the Sunni powers and Iran. And Iraq's leader Nuri al-Maliki, the leader of the supposed Iraqi democracy we spent a trillion dollars and 4,000 lives to put in place, is backing the Bashar al-Assad regime in alliance with Iran. [9]

Turkey, the self-styled rising power in the region, is about to get its come-uppance in the form of a nasty economic downturn. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's belligerence has risen in inverse proportion to the market price of the Turkish lira:

I warned in August of the "instant obsolescence of the Turkish model" as the credit bubble engineered by the ruling party explodes. [10] Markets have already anticipated a sudden turnaround in the Turkish economy. The lira fell by a quarter between November 2010 and September 2011, making it the world’s worst-performing emerging market currency. The stock market has fallen in dollar terms by 40%, making Turkey the worst performer after Egypt among all the markets in the MSCI Tradable Index during 2011.

In short, there is not a patch of ground in Israel's proximity that is not roiling and boiling with political and economic turmoil. Echoing in the ears of Israel's leaders are the words of Isaiah (57:20-21), which Jews around the world read on October 8 on the Day of Atonement: "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

Spengler's corollary states: Neither is there peace to the stupid. We have Nicholas Kristof writing in the October 6 New York Times: "Now it is Israel that is endangered most by its leaders and maximalist stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolating his country, and, to be blunt, his hard line on settlements seems like a national suicide policy. Nothing is more corrosive than Israel’s growth of settlements because they erode hope of a peace agreement in the future."

Kristof is talking about the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which was undeveloped land before 1967 and which every conceivable peace agreement would assign to Israel.

Nothing will appease the liberals, because if liberal social engineering can't fix the problems of the Middle East, the world will have no need of liberals. The New York Times will demand [14] that Israel concede and apologize, as surely as a gumball will roll out of the machine when I crank in a quarter. Existential need trumps rationality, most of all among the self-styled priesthood of rationality.



Losing the peace in Iraq?

BY NEW YEAR'S DAY, the US military presence in Iraq will be history. President Obama has made it official, announcing last week the fulfillment of his campaign pledge to end the Iraq war and bring the troops home. Senior American commanders in Iraq had recommended keeping up to 18,000 servicemen there, and even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wanted around 4,000 to remain. But Obama, whose meteoric rise to power was fueled by opposition to the war, overruled them. "The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," he told reporters. "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."

And what happens then? The president asserts that American soldiers will "cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success" and that the US withdrawal will "strengthen American leadership around the world." But that's only bluster. Obama has never shown much interest in the fate of Iraq after American forces leave. As a candidate for president he insisted that even preventing a potential genocide wasn't a good enough reason to keep US forces in Iraq, and long after it was clear that President Bush's "surge" had led to dramatic progress in the war, Obama continued to claim that it was making the situation worse.

In fairness, elections have consequences. Obama has never made a secret of his determination to pull American troops out of Iraq; certainly he has been more passionate on that subject than on the importance of securing Iraq's long-term viability as a stable, pro-American oasis in the Arab world. As a matter of short-term political calculus, presidents rarely go wrong when they "bring the boys home for Christmas." Indeed, a New York Times/CBS poll taken immediately after Obama's announcement found a significant upward bump in his approval rating on Iraq.

But what is good for the Obama re-election effort may be calamitous for Iraq and for US interests in the Middle East.

Retired Army General John Keane, an architect of the 2007 surge and former adviser to General David Petraeus when he served as US commander in Iraq, describes the year-end withdrawal deadline as "an absolute disaster." Iraq's fractious, fragile democracy is still little more than a multitude of factions capable of backsliding into violence without an American presence to keep the peace. Right next door is Iran, which already operates terror squads in the country and will now intensify its bid to dominate Iraq and use it as a base to spread Islamist theocracy to the Persian Gulf. And after such a hard-won victory over al-Qaeda in Iraq -- a victory that cost so much blood and treasure -- America's departure throws open the door to a return of the jihadists beginning in 2012.

"We won the war in Iraq," Keane told The Washington Times, "and we're now losing the peace."

A similar sense of foreboding comes from John Burns, the highly-regarded New York Times correspondent who spent more than five years covering Iraq. "I have very little confidence that the center can hold there without the tripwire that American troops represent," Burns said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. "When they're gone, I think all bets are off . . . . A lot of groups of ill intent have been waiting for the Americans to go."

Perhaps everything will turn out fine. Perhaps Iraq's constitutional system will prove more durable than Keane and Burns fear. Perhaps, as the president tells us, quitting Iraq will in some way actually "strengthen American leadership around the world."

That isn't, however, what history suggests. To this day, the United States maintains a substantial military presence in Italy (approximately 11,000 active-duty personnel), South Korea (28,500), Japan (40,000), and Germany (54,000). When US forces settle in for the long haul after fighting and winning bloody wars, the results have generally been decades of peace and progress. But when the United States bugs out -- as it did in Vietnam after 1972, or in Germany at the end of World War I -- the results have been disastrous, both for the nations we walked away from and for American influence worldwide.

In pulling the US military out of Iraq, the president is doing what he said he would do. If it all works out, he will be able to trumpet his success in safely bringing the troops back. But if he turns out to have squandered the peace after so many sacrificed so much to win the war, there won't be much doubt about who lost Iraq.




Hamas boosting anti-aircraft arsenal with looted Libyan missiles: "The improved quality of anti-aircraft missiles held by Hamas in Gaza is increasingly worrying the Israeli defense establishment. Hamas recently managed to smuggle relatively advanced Russian missiles, which were looted from Libyan military warehouses, into the Gaza Strip. Israel is worried about the presence of the missiles, both because they curb the air force's almost unlimited freedom of movement over Gaza today, and because of their possible use against civil aviation in Eilat. Shoulder-fired anti-aicraft missiles have been smuggled into Gaza in recent years at Iran's initiative. But the fall of Muammar Gadhafi's regime has enabled Hamas to bring in much higher quality missiles - and in much larger quantities."

Another A380 grounded: "China Southern Airlines first Airbus A380 remained grounded after a mechanical failure forced the cancellation of a flight on Saturday, less than two weeks after its maiden flight. "We are not sure when the A380 flights can be resumed at the moment," Zou Yingping, a press officer of the Guangzhou- based carrier, said by phone today. Zou said the problem was related to the super-jumbo's flap power and drive unit."

Robin Hood defamed again: "Once you boil away all of its high-sounding rationalizations, socialism is only a lame attempt to make stealing appear respectable. That's all it ever was, all it is now, and all it ever will be. ... Socialism pops up in some funny places. When the City Fathers -- Democrat or Republican -- steal your home or business to widen a road or build a park, or simply to give it to some other business that will probably pay higher taxes, that's socialism."

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

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

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


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


30 October, 2011

Government, not capitalism, should take blame

By Adam Creighton, commenting from Australia

As the public squares of Western capitals fill with angry crowds – self-appointed representatives of the ‘the 99%’ – it is easy to poke fun.

Railing against greed and inequality is akin to complaining about human nature. And far from being 21st century sans-culottes, these are mostly avec-ipods: relatively well-off, educated, and accessorised with the clothes and gadgets of the corporate culture they damn.

But their inchoate chants give vent to an increasingly widespread disgust with the economic status quo. Across the OECD the global financial crisis has thrown 15 million people out of work. Massive bank bailouts have triggered public debt crises in the United States and Europe that presage penal inflation and tax hikes.

In Britain, whose public debt has surged £1 trillion, GDP per person is now 13% lower than its pre-crisis trajectory. Ordinary taxpayers and voters are bearing these colossal costs, while those that abetted the crisis – bank staff, economic bureaucrats and politicians – remain and even prosper.

If this is not galling enough, the steady drip of obscene ‘bonuses’ and gargantuan pay cheques in the wider corporate world is Chinese water torture for disillusioned taxpayers and shareholders.

The public is not angry about inequality per se; they are concerned by an economic system that appears to be allocating rewards arbitrarily and unfairly.

They are rightly gobsmacked that the system’s shortcomings, starkly revealed, are being papered over, even exacerbated.
It is a public relations disaster for the intellectual ‘Right’ that vast swathes of voters worldwide are blaming capitalism for this offensive economic bog, and calling for greater government intervention.

It is not surprising, though. The International Monetary Fund, self-anointed ringmaster of ‘free markets’, repeatedly endorsed our economic system before 2008.

That people blame capitalism will be an economic disaster too, laying the groundwork for yet further shifts away from the ideals of a free society.

Indeed, the ‘occupying’ protestors should be agitating for more capitalism and less government.

Capitalism rewards talent and effort, and leaves the biggest rewards for those that risk their own money and time to produce goods or services that consumers can voluntarily buy – think Henry Ford or Lang Hancock or the late Steve Jobs.

Capitalism is not about giant corporations being able to dump their losses on taxpayers. It is not about allowing senior employees to feast with impunity on the profits of capital supplied by others simply because they can. Nor is it about armies of bureaucrats, corporate welfare, implicit guarantees for banks, or welfare states so pervasive and meddling they have sucked the appetite for individual responsibility out of their citizens.

Government has systematically shielded the biggest companies and their staff from the bracing but vivifying winds of ‘creative destruction’, what Joseph Schumpeter considered the hallmark of genuine capitalism.

Through direct spending and subtle regulations western governments have permeated almost every facet of the economy. In banking, governments and economic bureaucrats have acted as Dr Frankenstein, unwittingly facilitating monstrous growth in banks’ size, short-term profits and risk-taking with their implicit guarantees and feckless ‘Basel’ regulations.

Finally, despite patchy evidence, most economists agitate for Keynesian pump priming and artificially low interests rates to resuscitate economic growth. Yet their underlying models are often no less naive than the Leontief input-output tables that tried to animate the Soviet Union.

In short, Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek would recoil at the economic status quo. If genuine liberals want to maintain credibility, they need to distance themselves from corporatist and managerial rent-seeking as much as they do from the labour and bureaucratic kind.

Arguing for a greater role for owners of capital in our economy – shareholders – is one important way to encourage enduring support for capitalism. Adam Smith railed against the avarice and waste of the managers of the British East India Company. Indeed, economists have long recognised the gross inefficiencies that can arise when the link between ownership and control is severed, whether in government or private enterprise.

Limited liability companies are a gift and construction of the state. They came about to promote risky ventures whose success could bring wide benefits but the costs of whose failure would be borne by the owners. They have been a boon for western civilisation, but they require managers to exercise prudence and restraint, especially in the banking sector where limited liability for owners and no liability for bankers can and do have harmful social outcomes.

Even if the distribution of incomes and wealth is of no concern, how it comes to manifest itself is. If the current trend continues, whereby ever greater rent-seeking, bureaucratic and corporate parasitism contributes to ever greater disparities of wealth, our western democracies leave ourselves open to extreme elements that could remove the freedoms and liberties we still have.

As the Remuneration Tribunal is about to recommend massive pay increases for politicians and senior bureaucrats – justified by ‘market rates’ – consider whether corporate largesse is contributing to a creeping venalisation of the public service too, which will only erode further public support for our economic system.



Abortion coverup and Kathleen Sebelius

If a private health insurer had engaged in the kind of criminal obstruction that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been tied to in her home state of Kansas, it would be a federal case. Instead, it's a non-story in the Washington press. Nothing to see here. Move along.

On Monday, a district judge in the Sunflower State suspended court proceedings in a high-profile criminal case against the abortion racketeers of Planned Parenthood. World Magazine, a Christian news publication, reported on new bombshell court filings showing that Kansas health officials "shredded documents related to felony charges the abortion giant faces." World Magazine reported: "The health department failed to disclose that fact for six years, until it was forced to do so in the current felony case over whether it manufactured client records."

The records are at the heart of the fraud case against Planned Parenthood. Kansas health bureaucrats now shrug that the destruction of these key documents -- which they sheepishly admitted had "certain idiosyncrasies" -- was "routine." Who oversaw the agency accused of destroying the evidence six years ago? Sebelius.

As governor of Kansas, Sebelius fought transparency motions in the proceedings tooth and nail for years. Prosecutors allege a long-running heinous cover-up to manufacture false records of patients who had late-term abortions -- and to whitewash Planned Parenthood's systemic failures to report child rape.

Former GOP state Attorney General Phill Kline's investigation turned up massive discrepancies in reported child rape statistics compared to Planned Parenthood and the late late-term abortionist George Tiller's bogus claims. Planned Parenthood of Overland Park and Tiller together performed abortions on 166 girls aged 14 and under and only reported one each to authorities. So, 164 cases of underage rape or statutory rape went unreported and were not investigated by authorities.

Where is Joe Biden to decry actual rape atrocities and Nancy Pelosi to decry dire hazards to women's health when we need them?

A Kansas district judge found probable cause of criminality in the abortion providers' records; another district judge found probable cause to believe Planned Parenthood committed 107 criminal acts. Sebelius' response? A bloody ideological soul mate of Tiller's, she launched a vengeful witch-hunt against Kline. The state ethics board accused him of lying. The left-wing state Supreme Court Sebelius appointed stymied Kline's subpoenas and appeals.

Kline was cleared of all ethics violations. In fact, for 20 full months, the state's disciplinary board for lawyers suppressed an internal investigative report concluding there was zero probable cause to justify the ethics complaints.

Where there's obstructionist smoke, there's corruption fire. Under Sebelius' watch as governor, an inspector general also reported that her appointed health policy board had "applied pressure to alter an audit report, restricted access to legal advice and threatened to fire her for meeting independently with legislators," according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Entirely fitting, of course. The war on whistleblowers and inspectors general has been a hallmark of the current White House. And the radically pro-abortion rights Sebelius has ruled ruthlessly from her Beltway perch: policing citizen critics of Obamacare through a taxpayer-funded Internet snitch brigade; threatening private companies and insurers who have increased rates to cope with Obamacare coverage mandates; lashing out at newspapers who dare report on the costly consequences of the federal law.

As she bullies private companies to meet discriminatory and arbitrary disclosure demands, Sebelius has yet to be held accountable for overseeing state government agencies that conspired to hide the deadly truth about the Big Government/Big Abortion alliance from taxpayers. Like her boss in Washington, Sebelius' political playbook has a single page: Destroy the messenger.



Occupied with jobs, jobs, jobs

Has the country gone mad? No need to answer; the question is rhetorical. (In other words, I know the answer, too.) According to the Bureau of Labor, 14 million Americans together make up our dismal national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. That figure doesn’t include the 9.3 million who have uncomfortably settled into part-time work, or the million additional folks who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work altogether.

This is a depression. No doubt, some agency of government spares no expense cataloguing the psychiatric records needed to substantiate that diagnosis.

President Obama campaigns across the country for his jobs bill — or to get re-elected next year on the slogan, “Republicans are even worse than me.” Only one effort stands any chance of success.

This jobs bill is predicated on two central ideas: (a) drop-shipping crates of cash to state and local governments, tallying each tiny statistically detectable response to stimulus as credit to Mr. Obama’s heroism, audacity, and sagacity, and (b) when people decide whether or not to vote for him next year, he’d prefer they be employed (if they’re not too discouraged) or, at the very least, to blame Republicans.

Thankfully, the Obama Jobs Bill is fully paid for. How? By raising taxes in the future on rich people who can afford it and don’t pay their fair share.

So, what does that tax share look like now? America’s top ten percent of income earners pay 73 percent of all income taxes collected. The bottom 47 percent of Americans certainly pay plenty in many another tax, but pay nothing in federal income taxes . . . in many cases receiving money from Uncle Sam over and above what they’ve paid in.

Fairness has a whole new meaning.

A proposal by U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., makes more sense than Obama’s bill — if the goal is to make sure everyone has a job. It makes no sense at all, but Jackson’s idea is for the federal government to simply hire every unemployed American at roughly $40,000 a year.

That’s more than 15 million people.

But that’s not the half of it. Think of all the millions making less than $40K who will quit their jobs to take the sinecure with the salary bump.

Hmmm. Why didn’t we think of that?

But count on congressional Republicans to stand in the way of Obama and the Democrats. Not out of a principled belief in free markets and antagonism to government taking money from one person to give to another, mind you. Something else will be at play, here.

With all the jaw-boning over jobs, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s proud declaration that as governor he never created a single job is the only statement with any merit — proving he understands the difference between politically-created, walking-around-money jobs and productive private sector positions financed through profits earned.

Funny, unemployed Americans don’t want jobs badly enough to travel to Alabama to pick the crops not now being harvested by illegal immigrant labor. Obama’s administration doesn’t want Boeing to open up a plant in South Carolina. Even in my neck of the woods, in Arlington County, Virginia, the county board moved unanimously to prevent a Wal-Mart, Target or other big box store from opening for business.

The message is: We want jobs, but only the jobs we want. We want high-paying jobs, with lots of perks and lavish health benefits and a pension paying more in retirement than one makes while working.

These days you won’t find many of those jobs . . . outside of government.

Maybe the government will start growing money trees.



Barack Obama and the infantilization of America


Here's ABC News, reporting on the speech the president gave in Fog City: "At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America."

Oh no! Horror of horrors! Obama is the only thing standing between us and having to rely on ourselves! And do you know what they call people who rely on themselves?

Oddly, the White House website doesn't have the text of this speech, but here's a passage from ABC: "The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don't work even harder than we did in 2008, then we're going to have a government that tells the American people, 'you are on your own. If you get sick, you're on your own. If you can't afford college, you're on your own. If you don't like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you're on your own.' That's not the America I believe in. It's not the America you believe in."

Obama explicitly rejects the American ethos of self-reliance. He sees dependence on government not as an evil, if sometimes a necessary one, but as a goal to be pursued. It reminded us of Peggy Noonan's observation last week that there's something not fully adult about the president himself: "Sorry to do archetypes, but a nation in trouble probably wants a fatherly, or motherly, figure at the top. What America has right now is a bright, lost older brother. It misses Dad."

Perhaps Obama is eager to infantilize Americans precisely because he is not a fatherly figure--a man of unquestioned wisdom and maturity. A strong father continues to command his children's respect even as they too reach adulthood. As Mark Twain observed, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." The "bright, lost older brother," by contrast, can command the respect only of young children.


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

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


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


29 October, 2011

Finding Believers in Liberty in the Strangest Places

The image of the military as bloodthirsty authoritarians is just vicious Leftist propaganda

Most Americans believe in liberty. Even Washington can’t stamp out the commitment to individualism and independence that burns within most people.

On my latest trip to Afghanistan I spent a lot of time with military personnel, NCO and officer alike. Some on the Left believe that the military is filled with authoritarian automatons. Nothing could be further from the truth. Members of the military are just like the rest of us—indeed, every day they see and suffer through the failings of the U.S. government’s biggest and most expensive bureaucracy.

And they think for themselves. One young enlisted driver declared himself in favor of drug legalization. Having seen the problems created by attempting to stamp out opium production and distribution in Afghanistan, he realized the best response was to take the profit out of the drug trade, and the only way to do that was to stop treating drug use as a crime.

As far as I could tell, he wasn’t a member of the Libertarian Party, devotee of Ayn Rand, or even member of the Campaign for Liberty. He simply made the logical connection between drug prohibition and drug crime. In Afghanistan, opium production funds the Taliban insurgency and government officials alike. Here, as in several Latin American nations, Washington’s “war on drugs” has had catastrophic geopolitical consequences.

At another base I met a retired military man now serving as a civilian consultant helping to train Afghans. The problem, he declared, was their lack of understanding of the importance of liberty. Afghans are fiercely independent, but the allies were supporting creation of a centralized state in Kabul. He hoped American think tanks and organizations friendly to the ideals of liberty could help promote the principles of freedom here. He quoted Charles Murray’s In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government. I don’t remember ever meeting anyone in Washington who quoted Murray’s elegant defense of a free society!

A Marine Corps captain sidled up to me at another stop and said when he heard that I worked at the Cato Institute he wanted to meet me. He was no enthusiast for big, expansive government and saw the consequences of such policies on the ground. Serving in a combat command hundreds of miles from Kabul and thousands of miles from the U.S., he declared that he was a fan of Rep. Ron Paul.

So much for the Neocons’ claim that critics of the warfare state are anti-military and anti-military personnel.

None of this surprised me. My father was career Air Force, so I grew up on military bases around the world. Many other family members and friends serve in or were in the military. Through my policy work I meet a lot of the upper ranks, while excursions like my trip to Afghanistan bring me into contact with members of the enlisted force, the backbone of the U.S. military. I’ve found service personnel to be a uniformly impressive lot, independent thinkers with no illusions about the efficiency of their own institution or the judgment of the politicians who send them off to war.

The fact that members of the military need little prodding to support political freedom should remind us to promote the principles of liberty to everyone everywhere. No one is beyond liberty’s reach. Often those in the most flawed government institutions have the best understanding of the benefits of freedom and failures of bureaucracy. And despite its best efforts, the government has never been able to destroy people’s innate desire for liberty.

Equally important, we should remember that the principles of limited government, including a restrained, defensive foreign policy, are for everyone, including those serving in government bureaucracies. Most people join the military to defend their nation, not to fight unnecessary wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. However, that doesn’t stop politicians from sending personnel into harm’s way for no good reason. Limiting government intervention would benefit all of us, from Americans at home who pay the bills to military personnel abroad who do the fighting (and dying).

Indeed, the latter is one of the main arguments for international restraint. There are a lot of ivory tower hawks in Washington, warrior wannabes prepared to fight to the last volunteer in an attempt to transform the rest of the world. A policy of empire inevitably treats military personnel as dispensable, a replaceable means to one or another glorious end.

Afghanistan is a good example of the sheer madness of American foreign policy. There was a strong argument for targeting al-Qaeda and ousting the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11. There is a plausible argument today for trying to tailor a speedy withdrawal to maximize the chance, however small, that a liberal, democratic system might evolve in Afghanistan.

But what conceivable argument was there for ever moving from immediate retaliation to long-term nation-building?

In a decade of fighting nearly 2000 Americans and 1000 coalition personnel have died. Thousands more have been wounded, many severely. The U.S. has spent more than $464 billion on the Afghan war. Vast bases have risen out of nothing in nowhere to be filled with runways, offices, fences, barracks, supplies, chow halls, vehicles, guns, and people. Operations consume oceans of fuel and break down equipment. Money flows to train and equip the Afghan security forces. And Americans will continue to pay for the war for decades to come, caring for service personnel who have suffered debilitating injuries.

Not just the fighting is costly. Since counter-insurgency operations are based on winning support from the population, the U.S. government is dedicated to utterly transforming an impoverished rural and tribal society. The Pentagon, not to mention civilian “aid” agencies, is supporting better governance, freer elections, and expanded education of girls; underwriting construction of additional schools, hospitals, roads, electricity projects, paying to train police and “build capacity” in the Afghan government, and even helping to expand cell phone coverage and internet access. Worthy endeavors all, but matters for America’s Department of Defense?

Indeed, “Transition” is all the rage. Allied troops are supposed to come out by 2014, but the respective governments insist that the “international community” must remain involved for as long as necessary. That means more equipment, training, advice, mentoring, and money, lots of money. At least until Afghanistan is able to pay the costs, which essentially means the U.S. and Europeans will be writing checks forever.

This from heavily indebted states running deficits today and facing huge financial challenges tomorrow.

Even if a competent, honest, effective government ultimately arises in Kabul, which today looks to be the stuff of fantasy, Afghanistan should be America’s last nation-building venture. Afghans have faced far more than their share of tragedy after more than three decades at war, but there is little reason to believe that the coalition can deliver permanent peace, prosperity, and modernity no matter how much it spends. America does not have the resources to engage in social engineering in the many other poor, war-torn nations around the globe. It isn’t in the interest of Americans generally. It certainly isn’t in the interest of members of the military.

Liberty is the most important political end. There are other, higher human ends. But liberty allows us to pursue our ultimate purpose. No matter who or where we are.



More Leftist disconnection from reality

Biden's audience whooped and applauded last week in Flint when he said that without Obama's jobs bill, police will be "outgunned and outmanned." (Wild applause!)

I suppose liberals would claim they were applauding because they believe Obama's jobs bill will prevent these murders. Which reminds me: Republicans believe the death penalty prevents murders! Which belief bears more relationship to reality?

In a case I have previously mentioned, Kenneth McDuff was released from death row soon after the Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in 1972 and went on to murder more than a dozen people.

William Jordan and Anthony Prevatte were sentenced to death in 1974 for abducting a teacher, murdering him and stealing his car. They came under suspicion when they were caught throwing the murder weapon from the stolen vehicle in a high-speed car chase with the cops and because they were in possession of the dead man's wallet, briefcase and watch.

The Georgia Supreme Court overturned their capital sentences in an opinion by Robert H. Hall, who was appointed by Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Hall said that the death sentences had to be set aside on the idiotic grounds that the jurors had overheard the prosecutor say that the judge and state supreme court would have the opportunity to review a death sentence, which might have caused them to take their sentencing role less seriously.

(If the facts had been the reverse, the court would have overturned the death sentences on the grounds that the jurors did not take their sentencing decision seriously, under the misapprehension that no judge or court would second-guess them.)

Prevatte was later released from "life in prison" and proceeded to murder his girlfriend. Jordan escaped and has never been found.

As president, Carter appointed Hall to a federal district court.

Darryl Kemp was sentenced to death in California in 1960 for the rape and murder of Marjorie Hipperson and also convicted for raping two other women. But he sat on death row long enough -- 12 years -- for the death penalty to be declared unconstitutional. He was paroled five years later and, within four months, had raped and murdered Armida Wiltsey, a 40-year-old wife and mother.

Kemp wasn't caught at the time, so he spent the next quarter-century raping (and probably murdering) a string of women. In 2002, his DNA was matched to blood found on the fingernails of Wiltsey's dead body. Although Kemp was serving a "life sentence" for rape in a Texas prison, he was months away from being paroled when he was brought back to California for the murder of Wiltsey.

His attorney argued that he was too old for the death penalty. He lost that argument, and in 2009, Kemp was again given a capital sentence. He now sits on death row, perhaps long enough for the death penalty to be declared unconstitutional again, so he can be released to commit more rapes and murders.

Dozens and dozens of prisoners released from death row have gone on to murder again. No one knows exactly how many, but it's a lot more than the number of innocent men who have been executed in America, which, at least since 1950, is zero.

What is liberals' evidence that there will be more rapes and murders if Obama's jobs bill doesn't pass? Biden claims that, without it, there won't be enough cops to interrupt a woman being raped in her own home -- which would be an amazing bit of police work/psychic talent, if it had ever happened. (That's why Americans like guns, liberals.)

Obama's jobs bill tackles the problem of rape and murder by giving the states $30 billion ... for public school teachers.

Only $5 billion is even allotted to the police, but all we keep hearing about are the rapes and murders that Democrats are suddenly against (as long as being "against" rape and murder means funding public school teachers and not imprisoning or executing rapists and murderers).

Finally, did Flint use any money from Obama's last trillion-dollar stimulus bill to hire more police in order to prevent rape and murder? No, Flint spent its $2.2 million from the first stimulus bill on buying two electric buses.

Even if what Flint really needed was buses and not cops, for $2.2 million, the city could have bought seven brand-new diesel buses and had $100,000 left over for streetlights.

Rather than reducing the rate of rape and murder, blowing money on "green" buses is likely to increase crime, since people will be forced to spend a lot more time waiting at bus stops for those two buses.

It's going to be a long wait: The "green" buses were never delivered because the company went out of business -- despite a $1.6 million loan from the American taxpayer.

But if I were a liberal, I wouldn't acknowledge these facts, or any facts. I would close my eyes, cover my ears, demand that MSNBC fire Pat Buchanan and the FCC pull the plug on Fox, and pretend to believe that taxpayer-funded "green" projects and an ever-increasing supply of public school teachers were the only things that separated us from Armageddon.



Pay no attention to the inflation behind the curtain

According to legend, in Czarist Russia, Grigory Potemkin constructed fake villages to make Catherine the Great believe that the countryside was tranquil and prosperous, when in fact it was chaotic and stricken with poverty.

Such it is with government economic statistics, as evidenced by the latest release of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showing a 2.5 percent increase for the third quarter of 2011. “U.S. Economic Growth Accelerates,” blared one media headline. “Economy expands 2.5 percent in the third quarter,” heralded another.

But below the headlines, one finds the spin. The Bureau of Economic Analysis claimed the increase “primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures”.

To be certain, consumption increased by $127.4 billion out of the $185 billion increase, a peak behind the numbers finds that only $10.1 billion was for durable goods. $28.9 billion was for non-durable goods: $8.1 billion was increased gas and energy consumption, $9.6 billion for food and beverages, and $3.1 billion for clothing.

The lack of increased good purchases is also indicated by the $24.3 billion shrinking trade deficit. While exports increased $31.6 billion, imports only increased by $7.3 billion. Slower imports indicates slowing consumer spending on actual goods, not accelerating.

Another portion of the increase was $88.4 billion for services. But, again, the increases come in necessities: $25.2 billion for housing and utilities, $31.2 billion for health care, $11.5 billion for food services and accommodations, and $6.7 billion for financial services and insurance.

With existing home sales taking a plunge and prices flat to falling, the increase for “housing and utilities” can largely be attributed to the increased cost of utilities. The same can be said for the $8.1 billion increase for gas and energy, and the overall $21 billion increase for food and food services. In short, prices are increasing.

Other data bears this out. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is up 3.9 percent at an annualized rate overall for all items, including food by 4.7 percent and energy by 19.3 percent. If one takes out food and energy, the CPI is only growing annualized by 2 percent.

As for producer prices, those have been way up, too, growing at an annualized rate of 6.9 percent in September — it was 7 percent and 6.5 percent in July and August, respectively. All of which accounts for the $46.1 billion increase for equipment purchases.

Meanwhile, when government reports “core” inflation, they leave out food and energy price increases, and as a result, when it reports GDP it leaves those numbers in. This results in prices appearing to be relatively “stable” while the economy is “growing,” when in fact, prices are fluctuating and growth is slowing.

That is the real story behind the numbers that will go underreported in the mainstream media. This is not growth accelerating at all. It’s inflation.

America’s equivalent of the Potemkin Village was L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” tale criticizing monetary policy, in which famously the “Wizard” urges Dorothy and her friends to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

True to form, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is probably hoping nobody peaks behind the GDP press release curtain.


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

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


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


28 October, 2011

Conservatives ARE more squeamish than liberals: Study finds right-wingers are more easily disgusted

This is a good confirmation of Haidt's research about the greater moral complexity of conservatives and shows why Leftists are unmoved by such things as abortion and Communist mass-murder. They really are emotionally deficient. Like psychopaths, their only real emotion is hate

How easy do you find it to look at revolting images such as a man eating worms? If the answer is 'difficult', it might offer an insight into your politics.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln showed 50 volunteers a series of 38 disgusting images - including one of a man eating worms (the actual image is pictured, right).

Others included an incredibly emaciated body, a bloody wound and an open sore with maggots in it, as well as human excrement floating in a toilet.

The researchers then measured the electrical 'disgust' response in the skin of their 50 volunteers. When people are disgusted, their reaction causes a measurable change in the electrical conductivity in their skin. It's a 'disgust' response that cannot lie.

They found, as they had predicted, that people who expressed strong conservative political views had a far stronger disgust response. People who were repulsed by the images were particularly likely to disapprove of gay marriage.

The researchers accept that people of all political hues are unlikely to accept their ideas - people like to imagine their political views are rational, rather than physical.

But they pointed out that it's far more likely that the disgust response could influence a person's politics than the other way round.

The researchers wrote, 'Individuals with marked involuntary responses to disgusting images, such as of a man eating a large mouthful of writhing worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative and, especially, to oppose gay marriage than are individuals with more muted physiological responses to the same images.'

Sex-related issues appeared to be most strongly influenced by the 'disgust' response - a primitive instinct designed to protect people from disease.

The researchers suggest that basic, physical responses might be closely tied to our politics. Interestingly, that suggests that politics could be influenced far more strongly by genetic factors than previously believed. [That is already well-confirmed]

'Mounting evidence points to the relevance of subconscious factors in political decision-making situations,' wrote the researchers.


In the evolutionary scheme of things, disgust about homosexuality and incest obviously has survival value as both are detrimental to reproduction. As Haidt has shown, conservatives have the full set of emotional responses; Leftists do not


Romney's brainless threat to China

Jeff Jacoby points out that China benefits all Americans, but particularly the poor. He might also have added that it is utter lunacy to deliberately attack such a large and important country as China

IN HIS 2010 BOOK No Apology, Mitt Romney has a lot to say about China, much of it unfavorable. He writes of Beijing's "brutal repression and incarceration of dissidents." He decries the brazenness of Chinese enterprise, with its "rampant theft of intellectual property from Western businesses." He warns that China's "aggressive pursuit" of cyber-warfare capabilities has made it "the most active cyber-combatant in the world." He details the ominous Chinese military buildup in combat aircraft, submarines, and ballistic missiles. He laments the communist government's willingness to shield the odious regimes in Iran and Sudan from international sanction.

Nevertheless, Romney's criticism of China has its limits. Nowhere in his book does he characterize China as a hostile trade foe, or condemn its currency policies as "cheating," or call for the imposition of protectionist tariffs.

Yet on the presidential campaign trail these days, the former Massachusetts governor routinely slams the Chinese government, vowing that on "Day One" as president he'll designate China a "currency manipulator" and impose tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States. "We've allowed China to just walk all over us," Romney fumed during an interview with Sean Hannity the other day. He dismisses concerns about starting a trade war with America's largest foreign creditor. The only "alternative to confronting China," he wrote this month, "is allowing the Chinese to take by trade surrender what we fear to lose in a trade war."

Whipping up resentment against foreign trading partners is a time-honored way for candidates of both parties to score cheap political points. Romney's China-bashing today is reminiscent of the Japan-bashing that candidates like Pat Buchanan and Dick Gephardt sought to ride to the White House a generation ago. What makes this candidate's protectionist rabble-rousing so disappointing is that he knows perfectly well how superficial and spurious it is.

The vehement line of attack Romney keeps up against China today is absent from the manifesto he published last year. In No Apology, Romney emphasized protectionism's self-destructiveness. "US companies faced with … less costly products from overseas have to make one of two choices," he wrote. One is to improve their own technology and productivity; the other is to "argue for protection, hold on as long as possible, and slowly watch their market share wane." Far from endorsing vigorous presidential action against foreign competitors, he faulted George W. Bush and Barack Obama for yielding to protectionist special pleading. The Obama administration's punitive tariffs on Chinese tires may have been "good politics," Romney declared, "but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity."

It may be true, as Romney and others claim, that China artificially undervalues its currency, thereby making Chinese goods less expensive to import than they otherwise would be. It's easy to understand why some manufacturers might not happy about that, but for US consumers generally China's policy is a blessing. "By keeping the value of its currency low, Beijing enables Americans to stretch our dollars farther," economist Donald Boudreaux remarks. "This results in significant improvements in living standards" -- especially for poor and working-class Americans. Does Romney really think that's a bad thing?

And does he really believe it's in the US interest to hold the threat of new tariffs over the heads of Chinese manufacturers? Romney's "Day One" threat to slap higher duties on Chinese imports is just another way of saying that if China doesn't force Americans to pay more for made-in-China products, Washington will. Tariffs are taxes, and they will do more than hurt millions of American shoppers for no good reason. They will also penalize innumerable businesses that rely on imported goods and materials, and the myriad of employees, managers, and shareholders whose economic welfare is linked to those businesses' success.

As it happens, the value of China's currency has appreciated by around 30 percent in recent years and is likely to keep climbing. But from an American perspective, it shouldn't matter whether imports from China cost less because Beijing manipulates the yuan, because Chinese manufacturers have access to abundant raw materials, or because of a new technology that turbocharges Chinese productivity. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is the same: lower prices for US consumers. And lower prices aren't something from which Americans need to be rescued by politicians.

"When I see an American company challenged by a foreign competitor," Romney wrote in his book, "I don't look for protectionist policies as an answer to the company's problems." If only that Romney were the one running for president.



Obama Rules, Budget Woes Spur Medicaid Benefit Cuts‏

A medical student checks on a patient in the hallway of the emergency room at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Washington state changed its... View Enlarged Image
Critics who worried ObamaCare would lead to rationing may be seeing their fears realized sooner than they expected. Recently, Washington state changed its Medicaid program so that recipients may only go to the emergency room three times per year for "nonemergency" conditions.

The initiative is expected to save about $72 million over two years. Yet the conditions that are considered nonemergent under the program include chest pains, asthma and abdominal pains.

"Many of the people who exceed the three-visit limit are people with chronic conditions or generalized complaints who are going much more often to the emergency room and are clearly aware that it is not an emergency," said Jim Stevenson, communications director for the Health Care Authority, which oversees Medicaid in Washington. "The hope is to move them into primary care."

State Medicaid recipients can still go to the ER after three visits, but could be charged if it's nonemergent.

Dr. Nathan Schlicher, spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, worries that "patients who have hit the three-visit limit could be discouraged from going to the emergency room when they have something serious. We're talking about some pretty serious medical conditions."

ACEP has filed a lawsuit to block the three-visit limit.

But the simple fact is that Medicaid is an ever-growing share of state budgets. With budgets strained, governments have sought ways to reduce expenses.

Earlier this year, Washington reduced the rates that Medicaid pays to providers. Thirteen other states have also cut rates: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

California cut rates 10%, but that's been suspended pending a legal challenge. The Golden State also limited Medicaid recipients to seven doctors visits per year.

Late last year Arizona stopped letting Medicaid pay for certain transplant surgeries.

Expect more rationing to sicker patients because doing so poses few risks to politicians, one analyst suggests.

"When health care systems are politically controlled, politicians direct resources away from the seriously ill who need expensive advanced medical care, to the healthy voter," said Linda Gorman, a senior fellow at the conservative Independence Institute. "Relatively few voters need advanced care, so catering to the healthy makes political sense."

Since 2009, states have faced new rules that prevent them from reducing their Medicaid eligibility standards. The 2009 stimulus provided short-term cash to shore up Medicaid, but states had to agree to never cut their eligibility levels or risk losing the federal funding. And when ObamaCare fully kicks in, states will have to expand Medicaid to 133% of the federal poverty level.

Also, the congressional deficit "supercommittee" may be looking at ways to cut Medicaid.

So states can't lower eligibility rates and many have cut already-low Medicaid reimbursements. As a result, they increasingly are turning to slashing benefits.

Washington state says it doesn't want Medicaid patients to feel they can't get emergency care.

"If Medicaid clients feel they are having an emergency, they should go to the ER," said Stevenson, adding, "If a patient has a nonemergent condition but the ER physician feels there was a strong reason for it to be an exception to the rule, there is a process in place so it can be challenged."

Schlicher replied, "There is very limited criterion under which physicians can do that. There is no check box that says, 'I think this was this was a reasonable emergency.'"




The euthanasia of the saver: "Given that the Fed’s official policy is to drive all interest rates to near zero, one may conclude that the Fed seeks to impoverish the widows, orphans, retired people, and all other financially untutored people who rely on interest earnings to support themselves in their old age or adversity. Can a crueller official policy be imagined, short of grinding up these unfortunate souls to make pet food or fertilizer?"

The TSA’s gingerbread man: "Yet now the agency’s adding software to protect privacy it swears didn’t need protecting. The software supposedly substitutes a generic figure that resembles a genderless gingerbread-man for the picture of our naked bodies the scanners produced -- pictures the TSA’s 'area director' in Denver, Colorado, admitted 'were graphic, no doubt about it.' Mr. Gingerbread appears on the monitor as a stand-in for all passengers, or so claims the TSA, which lies about everything, all the time; yellow boxes highlight any contraband. If you leave your cell-phone in your hip pocket, Mr. G blushes yellow there."

It’s 100% certain that OWS don’t represent 99%: "The claim ‘we are the 99%’ really represents the renunciation of politics and an embrace of cheap moralising. And what is even more disturbing than the protesters’ claim to represent 99% of people is the credibility given to it by the media."

The real Solyndra scandal: "The unfolding collapse of solar cell maker Solyndra surely reflects poorly on the Obama administration and its drive to build a 'green economy.' That said, many media reports have made both too much and too little of Solyndra. The real scandal is the general propensity of politicians to hand out subsidies to favored interests. Any honest look at the facts reveals plenty of political blame to go around."

Ten years of trading liberty for security: "Today the Patriot Act is hardly controversial. In an era of detentions without trial, assassinations of American citizens without due process, enhanced interrogation techniques, perpetual and expanding wars, unchecked executive surveillance, and federal officials groping and irradiating passengers by the many thousands every day, it even seems a bit quaint, perhaps, to reflect on the Patriot Act, many of whose worst provisions have now become sewn into the unquestioned tapestry of American governance." (10/26/11)

Student loans: "If we were searching for cosmic justice, who should suffer? I guess a lot of people are saying that the students who took out loans should not suffer. For now, let's assume that this is correct. Should the lenders suffer? It's popular to hate banks, but it's hard to see what they did wrong here."

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

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


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


27 October, 2011

Obama uses executive powers to get past Congress

For President Obama, it was something akin to a public policy hat trick. "We can't wait for Congress to do its job. So where they won't act, I will," President Obama told students at the University of Colorado-Denver.

During a three-day Western trip that ended Wednesday, Obama announced initiatives that could help 1.6 million college students repay their federal loans, 1 million homeowners meet their mortgage payments, and 8,000 veterans find jobs.

The Democratic president did this with nary a negotiation with congressional Republicans. Like many of his predecessors in the White House, he got past Congress the old-fashioned way: He spurned it.

"We can't wait for Congress to do its job. So where they won't act, I will," Obama told students at the University of Colorado-Denver. "We're going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress."

On all three initiatives, Obama used his executive authority rather than seeking legislation. That limited the scope of his actions, but it enabled him to blow by his Republican critics.

"It's the executive branch flexing its muscles," presidential historian and author Douglas Brinkley says. "President Obama's showing, 'I've still got a lot of cards up my sleeve.'"

The cards aren't exactly aces, however. Unlike acts of Congress, executive actions cannot appropriate money. And they can be wiped off the books by courts, Congress or the next president.

Thus it was that on the day after Obama was inaugurated, he revoked one of George W. Bush's executive orders limiting access to presidential records.

On the very next day, Obama signed an executive order calling for the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility in Cuba to be closed within a year. It remains open today.

Harry Truman's federal seizure of steel mills was invalidated by the Supreme Court. George H.W. Bush's establishment of a limited fetal tissue bank was blocked by Congress. Bill Clinton's five-year ban on senior staff lobbying former colleagues was lifted eight years later — by Clinton.

"Even presidents sometimes reverse themselves," says Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University. "Generally speaking, it's more symbolic than substantive."

Not in all cases. Executive orders have been used to make major policies since George Washington's first order in 1789. Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. Theodore Roosevelt protected 130 million acres of land and created five national parks. Franklin Roosevelt established internment camps during World War II. Gerald Ford used a presidential proclamation to pardon Richard Nixon in 1974.

They're also used in situations such as the one Obama faces today, with a contrarian Congress blocking legislation. Truman foresaw that trouble for his Republican successor, Dwight Eisenhower, who was coming to the Oval Office after having served as a five-star Army general. "He'll sit here, and he'll say, 'Do this! Do that!' And nothing will happen," Truman said.

Clinton used the tactic in 1998 during the Whitewater scandal, which was crippling his chances of moving legislation through a Republican Congress. His emphasis on executive orders led White House aide Paul Begala to quip in The New York Times: "Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kind of cool."

Obama's latest strategy serves as a way to take what limited actions he can while putting pressure on Congress to go further and pass pieces of his $447 billion jobs bill. Senate Republicans have blocked such action, and the House won't consider it.

"Rarely have we had a greater temptation or need or desire to do this," says congressional scholar Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, pointing to Republicans' efforts to stop Obama's agenda.

"It shows a strong, vigorous president," says David Abshire, a former counselor to Ronald Reagan who heads the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. "From a leadership point of view, it's a win-win."

Others see the move toward executive orders as blatantly political. "If they are valuable and they are legal, why didn't he do this two years ago?" says Todd Gaziano, director of legal and judicial studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The White House says there's more to come. "This president is not going to sit around," says communications director Dan Pfeiffer. "You're going to see the administration pick up the pace."

Obama has used executive orders to set ethics rules, clarify labor laws, promote diversity in the workplace and discourage texting while driving. He's also frozen foreign assets invested in the U.S. from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia and Syria.

This week's actions came in areas controlled largely by Congress, such as housing and education. As a result, their impact will be more limited. The veterans employment initiative, for instance, amounts largely to challenging community health centers to hire them.

"You can cajole, you can encourage, you can do anything you want," Light says. "You can encourage the Washington Redskins to win, but that ain't going to do it."



Obama's Great Depression

The president is following in Herbert Hoover's footsteps

Last week the White House picked a Virginia fire station as the venue for the president's principal campaign stop—er, legislative sales pitch. The choice was apt. At roughly the same time the president was lamenting how "cities and states like Michigan and New Jersey . . . have had to lay off big chunks of their forces," Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid declared, "It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers."

Oh. Guess you can go home now, Wall Street occupiers! All those unemployment reports? False alarms.

To be fair to Reid—which may be more than he deserves—he was defending the part of the American Jobs Act that would appropriate $35 billion for state and local government hiring. That might help offset the savage cuts of the past year, except for one thing: The cuts have not been that savage. From September of last year to this past month, state and local payrolls have shrunk by 260,000 positions out of more than 20 million. That comes to roughly 1 percent of the work force.

The situation looks much worse for the private sector. It has added jobs at an anemic rate in the past few months, but it still has far to go before it claws its way back to the employment peak of November 2007. At that time total non-government employment stood at 124 million. It's now 109 million. Barack Obama has joined George W. Bush in a dubious category. They are the only two presidents besides Herbert Hoover to see the number of job-holding Americans decline on their watch.

The parallels with Hoover don't end there. It's commonly believed Hoover took a hands-off approach to the country's economic distress, and that his administration's tight-fisted refusal to spend prolonged the misery. But Hoover was about as stingy with a government dollar as "Jersey Shore" is with hairspray.

Hoover increased federal spending by more than 50 percent, signed the biggest peacetime tax increase to that point, lavished money on public works, and signed the disastrous Smoot-Hawley protectionist tariff. FDR slammed Hoover's "reckless and extravagant" spending and accused him of wanting to "center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible." Roosevelt's running mate, John Nance Garner, denounced Hoover for "leading the country down the path of socialism."

Hoover's massive government interventionism did not end the Great Depression. George W. Bush's rapid spending increases did not forestall the current malaise. And the massive government outlays of the past three years—federal spending has increased 30 percent; despite layoffs, state and local spending has grown, not shrunk—have not cured the country's economic ills, either. Yet the answer, say countless voices in the prestige press, is to stop Washington's ruinous "austerity" and start spending.

How many moons orbit the planet they're living on? If a $900 billion spending hike is austerity, what in the world does extravagance look like?

Actually, it looks something like the $440,000 Washington spent on a museum for antique bikes. Or the half-million-dollar federal outlay for beautifying decorative rocks. Those are some of the things Sen. John McCain recently urged Congress to stop using tax dollars for—along with the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky and a giant coffee pot in Pennsylvania—on the theory that maybe the money could be used better elsewhere. The Senate didn't buy it, and last Wednesday his colleagues shot down his proposal 59-39.

This kind of thinking shows why the congressional super-committee has deadlocked. The super-committee is supposed to hash out a deal by Thanksgiving to reduce the deficit. According to the narrative in the prestige press, blame for the impasse falls on the GOP's tax intransigence. Democrats won't agree to spending cuts until Republicans agree to revenue hikes, goes the story, and Republicans are fanatical. But that narrative—like Hoover's austerity and the austerity of this summer's recent budget deal—is a myth. Given the recent spending explosion, blaming the GOP for not meeting Democrats halfway is like blaming the victim of a mugging who hands over 95 dollars and then refuses to go halfsies on the last five bucks. Man, what kind of selfish jerk isn't willing to meet his opponent halfway?

As even The New York Times conceded a couple of months ago, "There is something you should know about the deal to cut federal spending that President Obama signed into law on Tuesday: It does not actually reduce federal spending. By the end of the 10-year deal, the federal debt would be much larger than it is today. Indeed, both the government and its debts will continue to grow faster than the American economy."

That story also noted, "The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal debt is likely to exceed 100 percent of the nation's annual economic output by 2021." Well. According to the latest figures, U.S. debt is on track to exceed GDP by Halloween—this Halloween.

Herbert Hoover would be proud.



Secret ballot elections? Not if the NLRB has its way

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finds itself in the news again as a federal court ruled that its lawsuit against the states of Arizona and South Dakota can move ahead.

The heinous crime committed by these states (along with South Carolina and Utah, which are not being sued) that drew the ire of the NLRB? The people of these states had the audacity to overwhelmingly vote in favor of state constitutional amendments last November that ensures workers secret ballot union elections.

That’s right; our federal government is suing states because they want to protect their citizen’s right to one of the most fundamental of all American principles — the ability to keep their vote secret.

In the what’s-up-is-down world of the Obama Administration, protecting the secret ballot election when deciding whether workers want to unionize brings the hammer of an NLRB lawsuit down upon you.

After all, their Big Labor political allies just spent hundreds of millions of dollars seeking to convince Congress to allow them to shelve secret ballot elections all together, so after failing that, it is only logical that the Obama NLRB would sue states that protected them.

Now, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) has stepped into the fray introducing legislation that would specifically allow states to protect their resident’s secret-ballot rights. The Duncan bill already has 38 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives is designed to protect workers right to choose whether to join a union or not.




More fool them: Banks lose 50% of what they lent to the Greeks: "Eurozone leaders have sealed a three-part deal, which they hope will convince markets they have an effective response to the growing economic crisis. In the early hours of this morning, officials in Brussels said an accord had been reached with banks on a 50 per cent write-off of Greek debt, and they had also approved a complex mechanism for 'leveraging' an existing bailout fund to boost its firepower. It means that, coupled with an earlier decision to recapitalise vulnerable banks, the summit has delivered on the package it promised.

DC: “Lemonistas” charges dropped: "Three people arrested in August for selling lemonade on U.S. Capitol grounds were set free after the charges were dropped Monday in D.C. Superior Court. Blogger Meg McLain, one of the women arrested at the Aug. 20 lemonade stand, along with New Hampshire activists Will Duffield and Katherine Dill, said they were facing up to a year in jail when the judge told the group the case was dismissed."

Krugman’s space aliens won’t create jobs, repealing health control law will: "What do you think will help decrease unemployment and underemployment? What role do you think the government can, or should, play in encouraging job growth? Space aliens attack! Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman says we need scientists to 'fake an alien threat.' 'A massive buildup to counter' the threat, real or not, would end the economic slump 'in eighteen months,' he said. Dr. Krugman unwittingly shows how loony Keynesian economic 'stimulus' schemes are."

US government getting snoopier and snoopier, says Google: "Government authorities in the United States showed an increased interest in Google account holders in the first half of 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the search giant. The report showed that 5,950 requests for information were made by U.S. government authorities during the first six months of this year, compared to 4,601 requests during the last six months of last year -- an increase of 29 percent."

Report: DoJ could ignore FOIA requests: "A longtime internal policy that allowed Justice Department officials to deny the existence of sensitive information could become the law of the land -- in effect a license to lie -- if a newly proposed rule becomes federal regulation in the coming weeks. The proposed rule directs federal law enforcement agencies, after personnel have determined that documents are too delicate to be released, to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests 'as if the excluded records did not exist.' Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, says the move appears to be in direct conflict with the administration's promise to be more open"

Why I decided to publish directly through Amazon: "Amazon’s print-on-demand service (through subsidiary CreateSpace) assures that supply always meets demand by eliminating the guesswork inherent in legacy publishing and thus the risks associated with printing thousands of copies of something that might not sell and could be left to rot away in a warehouse. Amazon brings to market good books that might otherwise be left to rot away on a hard drive because the market for them was considered too small (or nonexistent) or they were considered too risky. By doing so, Amazon encourages writers to write what they want to write, not what the publishers think they can sell to the most people"

Stopping the HHS database!: "Another ObamaCare abomination has recently come into light. I know, I know, you're as surprised as I was. This time, it's a rule that allows Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services to create a national database by forcing insurance companies to turn over YOUR private health records. ... This breach of doctor-patient confidentiality puts your information at risk."

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

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


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


26 October, 2011

Profits Are for People

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are demanding "people before profits" -- as if profit motivation were the source of mankind's troubles -- when it's often the absence of profit motivation that's the true villain.

First, let's get both the definition and magnitude of profits out of the way. Profits represent the residual claim earned by entrepreneurs. They're what are left after other production costs -- such as wages, rent and interest -- have been paid. Profits are the payment for risk taking, innovation and decision-making. As such, they are a cost of business just as are wages, rent and interest. If those payments are not made, labor, land and capital will not offer their services. Similarly, if profit is not paid, entrepreneurs won't offer theirs. Historically, corporate profits range between 5 and 8 cents of each dollar, and wages range between 50 and 60 cents of each dollar.

Far more important than simple statistics about the magnitude of profits is the role played by profits, namely that of forcing producers to cater to the wants and desires of the common man. When's the last time we've heard widespread complaints about our clothing stores, supermarkets, computer stores or appliance stores? We are far likelier to hear people complaining about services they receive from the post office, motor vehicle and police departments, boards of education and other government agencies. The fundamental difference between the areas of general satisfaction and dissatisfaction is the pursuit of profits is present in one and not the other.

The pursuit of profits forces producers to be attentive to the will of their customers, simply because the customer of, say, a supermarket can fire it on the spot by taking his business elsewhere. If a state motor vehicle department or post office provides unsatisfactory services, it's not so easy for dissatisfied customers to take action against it. If a private business had as many dissatisfied customers as our government schools have, it would have long ago been out of business.

Free market capitalism is unforgiving. Producers please customers, in a cost-minimizing fashion, and make a profit, or they face losses or go bankrupt. It's this market discipline that some businesses seek to avoid. That's why they descend upon Washington calling for crony capitalism -- government bailouts, subsidies and special privileges. They wish to reduce the power of consumers and stockholders, who hold little sympathy for blunders and will give them the ax on a moment's notice.

Having Congress on their side means business can be less attentive to the will of consumers. Congress can keep them afloat with bailouts, as it did in the cases of General Motors and Chrysler, with the justification that such companies are "too big to fail." Nonsense! If General Motors and Chrysler had been allowed to go bankrupt, it wouldn't have meant that their productive assets, such as assembly lines and tools, would have gone poof and disappeared into thin air. Bankruptcy would have led to a change in ownership of those assets by someone who might have managed them better. The bailout enabled them to avoid the full consequences of their blunders.

By the way, we often hear people say, with a tone of saintliness, "We're a nonprofit organization," as if that alone translates into decency, objectivity and selflessness. They want us to think they're in it for the good of society and not for those "evil" profits. If we gave it just a little thought and asked what kind of organization throughout mankind's history has accounted for his greatest grief, the answer wouldn't be a free market, private, profit-making enterprise; it would be government, the largest nonprofit organization.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are following the path predicted by the great philosopher-economist Frederic Bastiat, who said in "The Law" that "instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general." In other words, the protesters don't want to end crony capitalism, with its handouts and government favoritism; they want to participate in it.



American Imperialism... Please

Jonah Goldberg

And so it ends. The United States is leaving Iraq.

I'm solidly in the camp that sees this as a strategic blunder. Iraqi democracy is fragile and Iran's desire to undermine it is strong. Also, announcing our withdrawal is a weird way to respond to a foiled Iranian plot to commit an act of war in the U.S. capital. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong and President Obama's not frittering away our enormous sacrifices in Iraq out of domestic political concerns and diplomatic ineptitude.

Still, there's an upside. Obama's decision to leave Iraq should deal a staggering blow to America's critics at home and abroad.

After all, what kind of empire does this sort of thing?

Critics of U.S. foreign policy have long caterwauled about American "empire." The term is used as an epithet by both the isolationist left and right, as a more coldly descriptive term by such mainstream thinkers as Niall Ferguson and Lawrence Kaplan, and with celebratory enthusiasm by some foreign policy neoconservatives like Max Boot.

The charge in recent times has centered on the Middle East, specifically Iraq.

The problem is, contemporary America isn't an empire, at least not in any conventional or traditional sense.

Your typical empire invades countries to seize their resources, impose political control and levy taxes. That was true of every empire from the ancient Romans to the Brits and the Soviets.

That was never the case with Iraq. For all the blood-for-oil nonsense, if America wanted Iraq's oil it could have saved a lot of blood and simply bought it. Saddam Hussein would have been happy to cut a deal if we only lifted our sanctions. Indeed, the U.S. oil industry never lobbied for an invasion, but it did lobby for an end to sanctions. We never levied taxes in Iraq either. Indeed, we're left holding the tab for the liberation.

And we most certainly are not in political control of Iraq. If we were, we wouldn't have acquiesced to the Iraqi government's desire for us to leave. Did Caesar ever cave to the popular will of Gaul?

Some partisans will undoubtedly say that the key difference is that Barack H. Obama, and not George W. Bush, is president.

But this lame objection leaves out the fact that Obama acceded to a timeline drafted by the Bush administration. Moreover, Obama has moved closer to Bush than anybody could have predicted.

Consider Libya. Obama pursued exactly the same policy goal -- forcible regime change -- that critics of the Iraq war routinely denounced as the heart of American imperialism. There are significant differences between the two adventures, to be sure, but at the conceptual level there's little difference at all, and neither has much to do with imperialism.

More important, for the imperialism charge to mean anything it needs to describe something larger than mere partisan policy difference. If our imperialism can be turned off and on like a light switch with the mere change of parties, then how imperialistic could we have been in the first place?

The word "regime" has been defined down in recent years to mean nothing more than presidential administrations. "What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States," Sen. John Kerry said in 2003.

Regime actually describes an entire system of government. And if the American regime is imperial only when Republicans are in power, then it's not a serious claim, it's just a convenient and partisan slander.

In many quarters of the Middle East, the war on terror is cast as a religiously inspired front for crusader-imperialism. This nonsense overlooks the fact that America has gone to war to save Muslim lives more often than any modern Muslim country has. Under Democrats and Republicans we've fought to help Muslims in Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya. We've sought the conversion of no one and -- with the exception of Kuwait -- we've never presented a bill. When asked to leave, we've done so.

To say we did these things simply for plunder and power is an insult to all Americans, particularly those who gave their lives in the process.



The Shocking Trend In U.S. Individual Income Inequality 1994-2010

Perhaps the most common measure of income inequality in a nation is the Gini Coefficient (aka the "Gini Ratio"), which ranks the amount of inequality there is in a country on a scale from 0, which represents perfect equality, where everyone would have an equal share of the nation's income, to a value of 1, which represents perfect inequality, where one person would have all the income, but everyone else has none.

So now, thanks to so much media attention being focused on the Occupy Wall Street "movement" (aka "politically-oriented publicity stunt"), where many activists (aka "not-too-bright people") appear to be upset at "the Top 1%" (aka "really high income earners"), who they claim have "gotten too rich" (aka "earned a high income by doing things that satisfy other people's needs"), we thought we'd use the "Gini coefficient" (aka "a well-established mathematically-based method for measuring inequality") to find out how out of whack things have become in the United States over the years.

Or more specifically, the years from 1994 through 2010, for which the U.S. Census has published detailed data related to the incomes earned by Americans based on their annual surveys of the U.S. population. Our chart showing the trend in income inequality for all individuals as measured by the Gini ratio for these years is below:

Gini Coefficient for the U.S. Population, 1994-2010

We were shocked to see the overall trend from 1994 through 2010 take the path it has, because it's so completely contrary to what we keep hearing in the news.

We only ask that someone ask the media for their reaction to this disturbing data!



DOJ Tips The Scales Of Justice For Muslims Again

The head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez, is taking strong steps to protect the rights of Muslims in America “because they are being targeted for abuse.” A new alliance between the DOJ and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is apparently giving him firepower to do just that.

First-year Muslim math teacher Safoorah Khan of the Berkeley School District in Illinois, insisted on 19 days off during grading period to go on hajj, or pilgrimage – and she has won her case without ever having to go to court. The small-town school district “cried uncle” after a three-year fight with the combined forces of the DOJ and the EEOC. Khan, who had resigned her position when both her requests for unpaid leave were denied by the school district, received $75,000 in back pay, compensatory damages and court costs. The settlement, which is subject to federal court approval, poses many disturbing questions for a society based upon rules and processes of law - rather than government-selected minority causes.

First, this extraordinary result suggests a new standard for other government workplace religious observance requests, since the longest religious leave previously championed by the EEOC and the DOJ was a 10-day period for the Worldwide Church of God. The Supreme Court has generally been unsympathetic to these employee petitions, denying them as demanding too much of employer business considerations. As these cases have had full hearing in the courts - rather than being hammered out between behemoth government agencies and a village school district - respect for the employer’s right to deny requests that impose “undue hardship” on business operations are factored into the legal determination.

Another critical legal consideration that this settlement seems to have skipped over is the necessary test as to whether the employee request is a reasonable one. Judicial deliberations over how to apply the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act anti-discrimination provisions turn on what is deemed a reasonable balancing of the employer concerns and employee’s “sincerely felt religious obligations.”

This DOJ-driven settlement fails both legal and sociological reasonableness tests on grounds other than Khan’s lack of tenure and her request to leave during grading period. First, her demand of 19 days for hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and obligatory just once in the lifetime of most Muslims, was excessive according to Islamic website guidance suggesting a minimum of eight days vacation period for the four to five day ceremonial rituals in Mecca, with an outside recommended time off of two weeks.

Second, the hajj is observed during the last month of Muslim lunar calendar, so hajj rituals would have occurred during summer vacation approximately a decade from now. There was no reason that Khan had to go during her first year of teaching.

However, what is most disturbing about this case and its portent for preferential treatment of Muslims under Attorney General Eric Holder’s DOJ is the degree to which the federal government’s heavy hand is seen tipping the scales. This unusual DOJ intervention on behalf of a Muslim complainant fits right into the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s official Muslim outreach program. As featured on the DOJ website, the program is described as placing “a priority on prosecuting bias crimes and incidents of discrimination against Muslims” and others “perceived to be members of these groups.”

Even the fact that this was the first partnership demonstrating “closer collaboration” between the EEOC and the DOJ “to vigorously enforce Title VII anti-discrimination laws against state and local governmental employers” is an ominous development. When two fully funded federal agencies staffed with armies of the nation’s most zealous attorneys land on local agencies waving this settlement as the prototype for Muslim religious accommodation, the results will likely be driven by placating the Justice Department, rather than a pursuit of legal processes designed to provide justice.

It is even more alarming to consider that this official outreach program specially recognizing Muslims is overseen by a spokesperson for Khan’s hajj case, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ Thomas Perez. Perez’s potential for activism is underscored by former voting rights section DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams’ account of the Assistant AG’s role in burying the Black Panther voter suppression scandal.

In fact, just days ago, Perez and other DOJ officials dialogued with Islamist activists who lobbied “for cutbacks in anti-terror funding, changes in agents’ training manuals, additional curbs on investigators and a legal declaration that U.S. citizens’ criticism of Islam constitutes racial discrimination.” Perez notably ignored the call for restraint on First Amendment free speech rights and was quoted as saying, “There will be times where we have honest differences of opinion, but if we don’t talk and don’t actively listen and if we don’t reflect and recalibrate where necessary, then we won’t be doing our job, and you have our continuing commitment to that end.” At the end of the session, Perez is said to have “climbed the stage to embrace Imam Magid, who was born in Sudan and trained at a Saudi fundamentalist seminary.”

Another exhibit in this demonstration of agenda-driven DOJ priorities, is the explosive revelation earlier this year detailing whistleblower reports that political appointees at the DOJ were responsible for nixing the prosecution of CAIR and other un-indicted co-conspirators implicated in the government’s successful case against Hamas financiers in the Holy Land Foundation trial.

When the top government law enforcement agency becomes a lobbying arm for grievance factions, the rule of law takes second place to the pursuit of political ends and social justice agendas. Holder’s DOJ seems to have been captured by ideologues who best serve aggrieved minority Americans. It is beyond time for President Obama to fulfill his duty to restore the DOJ’s stated mission of “ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”


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

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


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


25 October, 2011

You Can't Wait? Neither Can We

President Obama couldn't have chosen a more fitting slogan than "We can't wait" to promote his latest legislative elixir for our ailing economy. What could be cleverer than to employ double meaning in aid of doublespeak?

CBS News reports that Obama will use the phrase to sell his jobs bill and to justify his plan to take unilateral executive action on the economy.

Obama has enlisted the phrase to argue that America can't wait on the private sector to generate economic growth. He can't wait on the people to get up to speed with his superior wisdom or for Congress to rubber-stamp his latest destructive scheme. He will not be denied; he will not be delayed; he will not wait.

So he "is going to begin a series of executive branch actions that will not require action from Congress -- or the assent of Republicans," including a "major overhaul" of the government's refinance program for federally guaranteed mortgages to assist homeowners who haven't been able to secure refinancing.

How many times do we have to go through this song and dance, in which the executive branch arbitrarily alters already-existing contracts? How many times will this policy have to fail before Obama quits trying it?

This is a perfect scam for Obama. Just as we watch the Occupy Wall Street protesters condemning the banks for actions forced on them by liberals, Obama is again forcing them into similar actions so that the protesters will have something to protest next year.

Audacious is no longer an adequate word to describe this president. He forced through his first stimulus through crisis-leveraged fear-mongering and then never really used but a fraction of that money for so-called stimulus purposes. Why would anyone still believe a thing he says?

Who is he to tell us "we can't wait" on the proper constitutional safeguards against such precipitous executive action? He is not America's king. The Framers deliberately placed safeguards in our system to prevent such capricious executive action.

Where does Obama get the authority to force banks to make loans on terms he prefers, irrespective of the sound banking practices that guide such decisions? The answer is that he doesn't believe he needs authority, only "noble" intentions.

Just like the liberals who crammed through their affordable housing policy, he believes that people ought to get a break. It doesn't matter that most of them won't be able to pay back these loans. What matters is that Obama wants to take money from people who he believes have too much and give it to those who he believes don't have enough. To him, that is the highest purpose of government. Call it "economic justice," because that's what he and his fellow radicals call it.

The concept of "We can't wait" is nonsensical on its face -- not that the absence of reason and common sense is any deterrent to such emotion-driven policies. He is implying that because we can't wait for the private sector to create jobs and he can't wait on Congress to pass his jobs-destroying jobs bill, he must order banks to make their loans less creditworthy. It's a classic non sequitur.

He's using the phrase as a ploy to deceive us into believing that his regulatory action would also help the economy when the only thing it would do is shift money around. This is no more about creating jobs than was his stimulus bill, but like the stimulus bill, it would be a lawless, unconstitutional redistribution of wealth.

It's true; Obama can't wait for Congress to sign on to his insane plans, because it won't, and he can't wait on the will of the people to embrace his patent statism, because they won't.

What we really can't wait on -- what America can no longer wait on -- is for this president to quit spending more money than we take in. We can no longer wait another 900 days on the Senate to produce a budget. We can no longer wait on structural reform to our entitlement programs. We can no longer wait for the Supreme Court to nullify Obamacare or for Congress to repeal it. We can no longer wait for Obama to quit behaving like an absolute monarch with no accountability.

But sadly, we have to wait on these things -- until 2012, when we can throw out of office those who refuse to obey the law by waiting to act until they have the constitutional authority to act.



The importance of destruction

By Martin Hutchinson

The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in his 1942 masterpiece “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” described the process of capitalist wealth creation as being one of “creative destruction.” It’s a lesson that policymakers have not taken sufficiently to heart, largely because they have to answer to sentimental democratic electorates. Creation sells well to an electorate whose instincts, as demonstrated by the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, are largely socialist. But destruction doesn’t poll well. It is therefore ignored, not only in the bloviating speeches of politicians seeking election, but also in their policies when they have taken office. Throughout the world, the lack of sufficient attention to destruction is a major part of today’s economic problem.

The late lamented Steve Jobs exemplified this principle perfectly. While his succession of Apple products exemplified creativity at its finest, he was never afraid to destroy previous generations of hard-won product territory. Each generation was engineered for its own sake, not for compatibility with previous generations. Thus while Microsoft’s Windows and Office software was engineered so that it could cope with programs derived from previous generations, no such attempt was generally made at Apple. The result was a Windows sequence that by the Vista generation was vast and buggy compared to Apple products that remained slim, both physically and intellectually.

Truly free market capitalism involves a considerable amount of destruction along with the creativity. When new businesses arise, old ones are killed. In the tech sector, the Palm Pilot was a decade ago the gadget everybody had to have, then it became RIM’s Blackberry, then Apple’s IPhone and now the iPad. Thus in this sector, the multiples of 30, 40 and even 100 times earnings that gullible investors award their favorite companies are absurdly high. Because of the pace of creative destruction, tech sector companies should sell on four or five times earnings, reflecting their likely lifespan plus possibly a modest residual value at the end from the patents.

New products very often involve the destruction of their slightly inferior predecessors, as Henry Ford discovered when his Model T became obsolete and RIM is now discovering to its cost. Sometimes the destruction can be encompassed within one company, as Ford was able to do by shutting down his production line for a year and re-tooling to make the Model A. Sometimes the destruction involves the entire enterprise, as happened to Polaroid and may now be happening to Kodak.

Two forces have in recent years hampered this necessary process of destruction, loose money and governments.

Loose money prevents destruction, because there is no force forcing bankruptcy. Companies can run for years increasing their borrowings, repaying them with the occasional stock issue if they can find a compliant accountant. The premier example of this is Japan in the 1990s, where banks continued increasing their loans to real estate companies that were hopelessly insolvent, given the 70% drop in real estate prices from their 1990 peak. For a few years under Junichiro Koizumi (2001-06), rates were tightened and the banks were made to write off the worst of their bad debts, as a result of which Japanese economic conditions began to improve. Since Koizumi’s departure however, incipient recessions have been met with public spending sprees and further monetary easing, with the result that the Japanese “zombie companies” have proliferated and economic recovery has gone into reverse.

Now following the Fukushima reactor disaster we learn that its owner Tepco is also to be kept in operation through a banking system bailout, with no attempt made to liquidate its vast collection of “non-core assets” and ensure it is efficiently run which, given that Japanese utility tariffs are set on a “cost-plus” basis, it most certainly is not.

Europe has always been bad at allowing destruction, but in this recession it has got even worse. The Belgian bank Dexia was a model of sleepy inefficiency when I used to visit the Belgian savings banks from which it was formed in the 1970s and early 1980s. Since they had excessive ability to leverage and no proper asset generating capability, we made very nice money arranging Belgian Franc private placements for foreign government borrowers, all of which were placed with the same half dozen institutions. As it has since proved; our fees were well earned since we exercised a modest quality control on the borrowers – if we had provided them with duff paper our nice Belgian Franc placement business would have been kaput!

Merging these banks, giving them an expensive new headquarters and allowing them to compete for the dozier forms of lending with much sharper-clawed banks in the rest of the EU, without friendly merchant banks exercising quality control, was a recipe for disaster, and disaster has duly occurred. EU government paper was readily available – Greece would take any money you could lend it, at the low rates prevailing – and naturally Dexia filled its boots. The bank serves no useful purpose and while very large is should certainly not be regarded as central to the European financial system. Belgium, a gigantic beneficiary of the EU’s Brussels headquarters with vastly excessive public debt and not much of a non-bureaucrat economy except for some nice restaurants, certainly does not need its own banking system and Belgian taxpayers should not be milked to subsidize one.

The central cause of the EU debt problem, as of the U.S. subprime loan problem, is of course government regulation. In this case the regulation concerned is the monstrous Basel Committee regulation that says that holdings of OECD government paper could be weighted at zero when calculating banks’ capital requirements. Naturally, overleveraged banks in Europe have taken advantage of this provision to fill their balance sheets to the gunwales with dodgy government paper. The OECD membership requirement imposes a little quality control, but as Greece has shown, not much – without it, we would have doubtless seen massive multi billion dollar financings replicating the notorious 1822 bond issue for Poyais, a country that did not exist.

This absurd subsidy to the public sector (because holding capital costs money, and is priced into the cost of loans that require it), has been increased with the recent central bank requirements to raise extra capital, against which government debt is STILL not counted. It is the principal cause of the PIIGS government debt glut. Without it, bank appetite for the paper of gluttonous governments would have been far less, and interest rates on that paper would have soared even before the 2008 crisis.

The solution is to reduce or ideally eliminate the preference for government paper in calculating bank capital requirements, while throwing Greece, entirely uncompetitive at its current wage rates, out of the euro altogether. Banks will be forced to take writedowns against their holdings of Greek paper, and, in order to satisfy the new capital requirements, to sell other countries’ paper to institutional buyers. (Their immoral threats to stop lending and crater the European economy if forced to hold more capital should be treated with the contempt they deserve.) The banks that thereby become insolvent should be liquidated forthwith.

Thus the necessary destruction will be accomplished. Witterers who moan about “contagion” to other PIIGS or other banks should be quelled; one of the saddest results of the current attempts to pour yet more money into the Greek rathole has been the collapse of the fine Slovakian government, and its likely replacement by the bunch of not-very-ex Communists and kleptocrats that form the opposition. As Ireland has shown, it is possible to climb out of a banking crisis hole in a remarkably short space of time – and Ireland would have still fewer problems if it hadn’t foolishly guaranteed bank obligations in the first place. An equivalent austerity, perfectly possible under the capable Silvio Berlusconi and the incoming Spanish government would save Italy and Spain, although alas possibly not Slovakia, where the damage is probably done. Portugal also seems likely to save itself, but if not, it must share the fate of Greece.

Finally, here in the United States, bank balance sheets are endangered by the failure of the foreclosure process on underwater homes to proceed as it should and, still worse by the government’s conspiring with the trial lawyer lobby to make the banks responsible for a problem that was largely the fault of the government and the witless borrowers themselves. Instead, the government has kept the utterly damaging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in business and has attempted to force still money to go into the over-invested U.S. housing sector.

The great Andrew Mellon in December 1929 is alleged to have said “Liquidate, liquidate, liquidate.” With the statist Herbert Hoover in the White House, they didn’t do it then, and suffered a decade of depression as a result. We should be wiser now, in Japan, the EU and the United States. Subsidizing failure should no longer be an option.




FL: Court halts drug testing for welfare recipients: "A federal judge in Orlando on Monday temporarily blocked Florida’s controversial law requiring welfare applicants be drug tested in order to receive benefits. Judge Mary Scriven issued a temporary injunction against the state, writing in a 37-page order that the law could violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on illegal search and seizure." [????]

Libya: Interim ruler unveils Sharia agenda: "Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact[o] president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its 'basic source.' ... Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi's era that he said was in conflict with Sharia -- that banning polygamy. ... he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia."

TSA releases VIPR venom on Tennessee highways: "If you thought the 'Transportation Security Administration' would limit itself to conducting unconstitutional searches at airports, think again. The agency intends to assert jurisdiction over our nation’s highways, waterways, and railroads as well. TSA launched a new campaign of random checkpoints on Tennessee highways last week, complete with a sinister military-style acronym -- VIP(E)R -- as a name for the program."

Hitler can happen here, and so can Stalin: "When dictatorship comes to America it won't come from left or right, it will come from both, together, as a welfare/warfare corporatist state. We already have most of it in place."

Is a large proportion of American adults stuck in poverty-level jobs?: "As workers age and, hence, gain experience, they are more and more likely to earn wages higher than the minimum. For example, in 2010 24.9 percent of workers aged 16-19 earned no more than the minimum-wage. But in that same year only 11.3 percent of workers aged 20-24 earned so little. The figure for workers aged 25-29 earning these meager hourly rates was lower still, at 5.5. This falling trend continues as workers age, so that the percentage of workers aged 60-64 earning wages no higher than the federal minimum was a mere 1.7."

With the rise of militant secularism, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy make common cause: "A few short years ago a visit between Pope and Patriarch seemed impossible because of lingering problems between the two Churches as they reasserted territorial claims and began the revival of the faith in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The relationship grew tense at times and while far from resolved, a spirit of deepening cooperation has nevertheless emerged. Both Benedict and Kyrill share the conviction that European culture must rediscover its Christian roots to turn back the secularism that threatens moral collapse."

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

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


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


24 October, 2011

Origin of the term "Nazi"

A recent book born of research in the British library gives the following nonsensical explanation:
Nazi - an insult in use long before the rise of Adolf Hitler's party. It was a derogatory term for a backwards peasant - being a shortened version of Ignatius, a common name in Bavaria, the area from which the Nazis emerged. Opponents seized on this and shortened the party's title Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, to the dismissive "Nazi"

I think that explanation shows that you can't always look things up. The author obviously knows little of German pronunciation.

"National" is the same word with the same meaning in both English and German. The difference is in the pronunciation. In German it is pronounced (approximately) as "Nartsiohnahl". But in German the letter "z" is pronounced as "ts". So substituting "z" for "ts" in "Nartsiohnahl" gets us "Nazionahl". And "Nazi" is simply an abbreviation of that. Any nationalist would therefore tend to be called a "Nazi". I suppose an equivalent process in English would be to call any nationalist a "Nasho". But nationalism was never popular in the Anglosphere so that didn't happen. In time, of course, the prominence of Hitler's party made the term specific to members of Hitler's party rather than being applicable to nationalists generally.

For what it's worth, Friedrich Engels (Karl Marx's co-author) was a fervent German nationalist so he could theoretically be termed a Nazi, but I don't know that he ever was described that way.


Perry hedges on Obama's birth certificate

TEXAS Governor Rick Perry expressed some uncertainty about the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate in an interview with Parade magazine published Sunday.

When asked directly if he believes Obama was born in the US, the candidate responded, "I have no reason to think otherwise" before hedging that he does not have "a definitive answer."

When Parade interviewer Lynn Sherr noted that Perry has seen Obama's birth certificate, Mr Perry said, "I don't know. Have I?"

Mr Perry noted he recently had dinner with Donald Trump, whose repeated questions about Mr Obama's place of birth helped push the president to release his long-form birth certificate in April.

"He doesn't think it's real," Mr Perry said about Mr Trump's view of the president's birth certificate.

"I don't have any idea," Mr Perry added. "It doesn't matter. He's the president of the United States. He's elected. It's a distractive (sic) issue."

Later, Mr Perry said he would like to have Mr Trump's endorsement for his presidential candidacy. "He is a job-creating machine, and that's what I'm all about," Mr Perry said.



Obama's show trials deflect blame from where it really belongs

The Department of Justice is not in the sales industry. Yet the DOJ appears hell-bent on prosecuting provocative cases that deflect responsibility for the financial crisis away from the government and onto the private sector.

A recent Gallup poll reveals that most Americans blame the government, not Wall Street, for the economic downturn. Americans are fed up with disgraces like Fast & Furious, Solyndra and high unemployment. Now, it appears that President Obama may be relying on the DOJ to help him regain public approval for his collectivist policies.

Preet Bharara is the man President Obama nominated as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, headquartered in lower Manhattan.

With impeccable timing, Bharara is delivering the Occupy Wall Street progressives (potential Obama 2012 campaigners) exactly what they are clamoring for by prosecuting sexy, high profile cases that send an anti-wealth, anti-capitalism and anti-Wall Street message. Here is a timeline:

* September 17: Occupy Wall Street protest begins.

* September 21: Bharara announces that former Galleon Group LLC trader Zvi Goffer will serve 10 years in prison, the longest prison term on record for insider trading.

* October 7: Bharara announces that Emanuel Goffer will serve three years for acting on "inside information" that he received from his brother Zvi.

* October 12: Bharara announces that former attorney Michael Kimelman will serve 30 months for his involvement with the Goffer brothers (despite a very close jury and no clear evidence that Kimelman knew the he was acting on illegal information).

* October 13: After utilizing admittedly "aggressive prosecutorial methods and unprecedented tactics," Bharara announces that billionaire and Galleon Group LLC hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam will serve 11 years in prison, setting a new record for insider trading prison terms.

FBI press releases state that these cases were "brought in coordination with President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which U.S. Attorney Bharara serves as a co-chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group." Government records indicate that President Obama created this tax force to "hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis."

The obvious problem with this task force is that shady Clinton-era government housing policies initiated the financial crisis, not Wall Street. So, how can a government task force hold the government accountable?

The government's Wall Street "watchdogs" are particularly tainted. The DOJ has notoriously blown taxpayer funds on extravagant conferences featuring $16 muffins, and, last spring, 33 Congressional probes uncovered high-level SEC employees using taxpayer time and equipment to indulge their addiction to porn.

Furthermore, economists including the widely recognized founder of the economic analysis of law, Henry Manne, argue that deregulating insider trading would benefit both the economy and society. UCLA School of Law Professor Stephen M. Bainbridge writes: "Insider trading is one of the most controversial aspects of securities regulation, even among the law and economics community. . Deregulatory arguments are typically premised on the claims that insider trading promotes market efficiency or that assigning the property right to inside information to managers is an efficient compensation scheme."

The New York Times has reported that, "Insider trading does not appear to have any appreciable effect on the markets, at least as measured by the volume of trading that occurs." The Guardian also reports that many insider prosecutions do little to anything to stop the practice, and, more importantly, the trading itself may not be inherently destructive to the market.

Bharara genuinely seems to think he's whipping horrific crimes. But what is more scandalous? To threaten America's food supply by ignoring and even facilitating drug cartel border violence (think Fast & Furious)? Or, to leverage your connections and cut backdoor deals on Wall Street-when there is no evidence that such trades hurt the economy?

Government waste and corruption is a far greater threat to the economy and society than insider trading. But when was the last time you saw a government regulator get perp-walked? I think the President's task force could send a superior anti-corruption message by securing the border and attacking government waste.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan in Manhattan suggested that historically high prison terms like Goffer's and Rajaratnam's: ".will be used to send a message to Wall Street." And Wall Street represents capitalism. So, these men appear to be sexy scapegoats serving drawn-out prison terms to send an anti-capitalism message to the progressive mob.



All sides should agree: down with the Big Banks

They mainly support Democrat candidates anyway. They know who can be bought. And Obama definitely was a bargain for them

Liberal protesters "occupying" Wall Street hate the big banks, which they see as the engine of capitalism. But conservatives ought to hate the big banks because they are the enemies of capitalism.

Three events last week cemented how the bailed-out subsidy sucklers of Wall Street continue to profit, not from the free exchange and risk-taking that embodies the market, but from cronyism and offloading their risk onto the taxpayer.

First, Bank of America, which would have collapsed if not for the 2008 taxpayer-funded bailout, moved a reported $55 trillion in derivatives from its investment banking arm, Merrill Lynch, to a subsidiary that is backstopped by taxpayers through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Bloomberg news reported that FDIC officials don't like the move, which puts depositors' money at risk and taxpayers ultimately on the hook if risky derivatives blow up. But Wall Street insiders like the move for precisely that reason: If Bank of America melts down, these hedge fund managers or other big-time investors want their money in a division of the bank propped up by government. In short, big-time investors in risky financial products want taxpayers to bear some of their risk, and Bank of America has come up with a clever way to do that.

Banks play the same public-risk-private-profit game in the mortgage industry, where lenders and Realtors have successfully pushed a measure to expand taxpayer insurance for mortgages to include big-dollar homes. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., last week passed through the Senate a measure to expand the size of a loan that the federal government can insure, up to $729,750.

The Menendez-Isakson measure would allow government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy loans of that size off of lenders, and the Federal Housing Administration could insure loans that big. If a loan owned by Fannnie or Freddie (or insured by the FHA) fails, taxpayers take it on the chin while banks still get paid.

Assuming a 20 percent down payment, this proposed new bailout limit would have taxpayers subsidizing homes worth more than $910,000. Even in pricey Potomac, Md. -- plush with the wealth of lobbyists, government consultants and dual GS-15 incomes -- that sum could buy you a five-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home with a two-car garage on a cul-de-sac.

Finally, last week we learned how much self-dealing was involved in the 2008 bank bailouts. A Government Accountability Office report highlighted plenty of conflicts of interest at the Federal Reserve. New York Fed official Stephen Friedman was on the board of Goldman Sachs and actively buying up shares of Goldman while the Fed moved to give Goldman special access to its lending windows.

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon sat on the New York Fed's board while the Fed was pouring billions of bailout dollars into JP Morgan and granting JP Morgan special regulatory exceptions.

Meanwhile, the banks keep hiring the "public servants" who help steer bailouts their way, further corrupting both the market and the government. Fed bailout honcho Brian Madigan, who, according to the New York Times, "played a leading role in the emergency lending programs during the financial crisis," cashed out to Barclays this year.

Senate Banking Committee counsel Amy Friend, who helped pass the summer 2008 housing bailout (dubbed the "Bank of America Bill"), now works for a leading financial consulting and lobbying firm. And FHA Commissioner David Stevens, who helped craft a handful of mortgage bailouts, cashed out to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That's just naming a few.

And all of these big banks still profit from an implicit bailout. The credit ratings agency Moody's recently downgraded Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup because the agency saw the likelihood of a bailout decrease from certain to "very high." These banks' credit is rated higher than they would be in a free market, meaning they profit from the expectation of a bailout, if necessary.

So banks profit largely through activities that do not create value or efficiencies. They profit through financial games that rest on government favors. Many Occupy Wall Street protestors demonize all profit. Conservatives defend profit-seeking as the engine that creates prosperity for all of society.

But the big banks have rigged the game so that they profit without creating value. In fact, they profit from activities that weaken the economy by creating instability. Today, big banks give capitalism a bad name. Believers in the free market should stop giving banks cover.




Jindal reelected by nearly 2-1 in Louisiana>: "In an election scarcely noticed by national political reporters, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was reelected yesterday with 66% of the vote-far more than the absolute majority needed for victory in this multicandidate election. In second place with 18% of the vote was Democrat Tara Hollis; three other Democrats got 10% of the vote. Jindal carried every one of Louisiana's 64 parishes (the equivalent of counties in other states) and got less than 50% in only five of them, including Orleans who is coextensive with the city of New Orleans, and four small rural parishes with large black percentages. Jindal was elected in 2007 with 54% of the vote; he improved his percentage in all but one parish (East Baton Rouge, which includes the state capital of Baton Rouge) and made especially big gains in the Cajun country along the Gulf coast.

Wholesale deception: "Beer wholesalers contend that alcohol legislation they are pushing on Capitol Hill would safeguard state and local rights -- but in reality, it is designed to simply serve the wholesalers' special interests. Wholesalers crafted the text of the Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act (H.R. 1161, aka, the CARE Act) to appear very similar to language in a 2005 Supreme Court case, Graholm v. Heald, which addressed direct shipping of wine from wineries to consumers and retailers"

No doubt about what Occupy Wall Street believes: "Since I wrote my op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, arguing that the Occupy Wall Street protestors believe in redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, and largely reject the basic tenets of the capitalist system, many have come to question the research that my firm did. ... But right now, a validation of the survey has come from Occupy Wall Street itself. Their Demands Group has put forward their agenda, subsequent to the publication of my poll. And their demands closely mirror what my survey showed they want."

Let sleeping failures lie: The reconstruction finance corporation: "As the signs of the faltering economy become ever more manifest, some prominent businessmen and others are seeking solutions in the recent past. Believing that the present crisis is comparable to that of the Great Depression, they are showing interest in discarded economic strategies. The bygone getting the most attention is the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). Created in January 1932, the RFC extended loans and guarantees to industries, banks, railroads, mortgage companies, farmers, and state and local governments in the name of economic recovery."

Yes, let's have real localism: "Let's have a national income tax rate of 3.76%. OK, if you really insist we'll have a top national income tax rate of 15% as well. That's plenty to pay for the things that the national government really does have to do, defence, the higher courts systems and so on. Everything else we'll raise the money for and pay for at the lowest political level possible."

Infrastructure projects to fix the economy? Don't bank on it: "Increased infrastructure spending has bipartisan support in Washington these days. President Obama wants a new federal infrastructure bank, and members of both parties want to pass big highway and air-traffic-control funding bills. The politicians think these bills will create desperately needed jobs, but the cost of that perceived benefit is too high: Federal infrastructure spending has a long and painful history of pork-barrel politics and bureaucratic bungling, with money often going to wasteful and environmentally damaging projects."

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

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

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


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


23 October, 2011

Progressive America

Derek Hunter

Unemployment stands at 9.1 percent, with real unemployment closer to 20. Nearly 50 million Americans are on food stamps. We’ve added $4 trillion in new debt in less than three years. And there’s no sign any of this will change soon.

The seriousness of the times require serious leaders...and all we have is Barack Obama, Congressional Democrats and a sea of unwashed “gimmie-crats” sleeping in parks demanding more. Welcome to Progressive America.

As more “Green” scandals involving “friendly” treatment of friends and fundraisers for the president emerge, no one with a “D” after his or her name seems to give a damn. Why would they? It’s not their money. Spending other people’s money is fun. Spending two as-yet-unborn generations’ money is even more fun because you won’t be around when they realize what you’ve done to them. It’s the progressive way.

Not all our problems are Obama’s fault, of course. But his progressive “solutions” to the problems he inherited amount to blowing a hole in the side of a sinking ship in hopes of letting the water out. It might seem like a good idea on paper but only if you don’t actually consider the problem in the solution.

In Progressive America, hatred and anger rule. Does someone have more than you do? Protest that outrage. Remember, after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., by the anti-Bush lunatic, when President Obama gave that speech calling for a “new tone” in politics? It was a hopeful moment for a nation reeling from tragedy and sick of name calling. It lasted five minutes.

The failure of progressives to control their tongues, to resist spewing such “tolerance” as “The Tea Party are terrorists,” “Republicans are hostage takers” and of talking-head goons from calling conservative women “whores,” is surprising only if you haven’t been paying attention. You can’t stop hateful rhetoric when it’s who you are.

You don’t even have to be conservative to be on the receiving end of an attack from the progressive mob. Wall Street gave more money to Barack Obama than any other candidate in history, yet the aromatically challenged mob isn’t camped outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.; it’s drum circling on Wall Street.

If the protesters truly are angry about bailouts, shouldn’t they protest those who gave them rather than those who took them? If they equate money in politics with bribery, shouldn’t they take issue with those accept the bribes as well as those who give them? After all, it’s only an attempted bribe until it’s accepted.

Progressives tell you the system is corrupt, yet never mention Solyndra, Fisker, et. al. The system isn’t corrupt. A system can’t be anything other than a system. It’s the people who are corrupt. This doesn’t fit the progressive agenda, so you’re not likely to hear much about it. But this is, in fact, the heart of the problem.

The progressive agenda is about control – over everyone and everything. The movement was born of arrogance from people who thought they knew better, thought they were better. They were racists who once looked to eugenics to rid the world of “undesirables.” They were superior in thought and deed – and thus uniquely qualified to determine who was worthy of what in society. That mentality, that profound arrogance, continues to form the basis of modern progressivism.

The United States was founded by and for people who believed in the individual. But to be a progressive is to have zero faith in your fellow human beings, to look down on them. This was exemplified by Vice President Joe Biden this week when he doubled down on his “if Republicans don’t pass the president’s ‘jobs’ bill, rapes and murders will increase exponentially” vitriol.

He, the White House, which publicly stood behind his comments, and progressive talking heads all seem to believe Americans refrain from raping and murdering each other solely because there are police around. They believe we’re all animals, and only a powerful government can protect us from ourselves and each other.

Given that Republicans swept the 2010 elections and President Obama’s approval ratings are fast approaching his waist size, you’d expect reality to set in soon and for him to move to the political center. You’d be wrong. He is so insulated from reality and entrenched in the progressive philosophy that when he told ABC’s Jake Tapper “I believe all the choices we've made have been the right ones...” on the economy, he truly believed it.

As the election approaches, and if his poll numbers continue to fade, expect President Obama to redouble his efforts to implement as much of the progressive agenda through executive orders as possible. Expect Democrats in Congress to cheerlead the usurpation of their power and their media allies to cheer his actions when they can and ignore them when they must.

Some say progressives disrespect the Constitution, but you can’t disrespect what you never respected in the first place. The concept of limited executive power is foreign to them...when they’re in power. Should a Republican win next November and try to do half the things President Obama has done through executive order, the outrage from progressives will be, well …fun to watch.



Has Our "System" Failed, Or Has Our President

“The system has failed.” Have you heard this comment lately? Does it express how you feel about America? This one sentence, vague as it is, nonetheless captures a common sentiment about the current condition of the United States.

With the “occupy” protesters disrupting civic life around the country and President Obama publicly bonding with them, we’re seeing that magical phrase – “the system has failed” – being used in increasingly ambiguous ways. So it makes sense that the rest of us should ask a couple of important questions: What “system” are they talking about? And in what sense has that system “failed?”

At times it would appear that the occupiers are decrying our American system of constitutional, elective and representative government. “Our voices aren’t being heard,” many of them will say, implying that they are being trampled-upon by an abusive dictatorial regime.

But if you probe deeper and ask “what do you mean by that?,” it often becomes apparent that what the occupiers are really saying is “my policy ideas were rejected,” “the election didn’t turn out the way it should have,” or “I disagree with the outcome of the legislative vote (the congressional rejection of the Obama tax hikes is a perfect example of this).”

Thus, the claim that “the system has failed” implies a very self-centered, narcissistic view of the world – “the system is not producing the policies that I want, so therefore the entire system is wrong.”

Another component to the “not being heard” claim is the fact that many of the occupiers seem disinterested in participating in the processes of making public policy. Pollster Doug Schoen recently noted in the Wall Street Journal that while an overwhelming majority of the occupiers voted for President Obama in 2008, less than half will vote to re-elect him and at least 25% won’t vote at all in 2012.

Similarly, in a recent interview I did with occupier “Christine,” the intelligent and articulate 25 year old gushed on my daily talk show about how the movement signals a “new awakening” where people are “letting their voices be heard.” Yet when I asked, she couldn’t name any elected official who represents her in the U.S. Congress, her state legislature, her city council or school board, and she openly admitted that she did not vote in the 2008 presidential election.

At other times, the occupiers seem to be saying that our free-market economic system has failed. Some of this rhetoric implies a very simple, socialistic, “it’s unfair if one person achieves more than the other” type of mindset. Other occupiers present more complex concerns, as does the unnamed Los Angeles occupier who appears in the now-famous “WTF is going on?” Youtube video.

“I’ve been an electrician for ten years,” the man in the video shouts into a bullhorn. “My wife is a nurse….we both have good jobs…and we can’t afford a house…That aint right!...What is going on?” he cries.

These types of frustrations are real and common. But the angry outbursts suggest a lack of interest in understanding important economic concepts like the relative worth of “things” – the value of labor, and durable goods, for example – and the variable value of the currency.

Perhaps most noteworthy about our alleged “system failure,” is President Obama implying that he wants to replace it. Most of the reaction to the President’s recent interview with ABC News focused on the fact that he said, in no uncertain terms, that he is “on their side” – on the side of the occupier protesters, that is, and apparently not on the side of the rest of us Americans.

However the more intriguing comments from the President were mostly un-noticed. “We want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded,” Mr. Obama stated, “and that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers, that those folks aren’t rewarded.”

The President and the protesters may be shocked to learn this, but our free-market, capitalist economic system is already designed to accomplish this, and it does so pretty well – when it is truly “free” and competitive. When government refrains from punishing success with threats of ever-increasing taxation and regulation, people get rewarded for their hard work and responsibility and they’re incentivized to continue achieving. And when government allows businesses to compete with each other, excellence rises to the top and inferiority is allowed to fail.

President Obama has pursued policies that move us in the exact opposite direction. High-achievers are maligned in the President’s rhetoric and policy proposals. Mis-managed companies – failed banks and car companies in particular – are given “government bailouts.” And businesses that meet Barack Obama’s individual, political needs – G.E., General Motors, Solyndra, and Fisker Automotive of Finland, to name a few - are granted special privileges and waivers so as to become pre-determined successes.

The American “system” has not failed – not our economic system, nor our political system. But many of our currently elected government officials need to be replaced, along with many of their policies.



Government makes poverty much worse than it needs to be

If you live in a middle-class household, you generally expect your needs to be met through the marketplace. You buy or rent housing in the real estate market. When you aren't driving your own car, you catch a taxicab or maybe even hire a limo. You or your employer buy health insurance, and you choose your doctor in the medical marketplace.

For most poor families, the experience is very different. Regulations designed to protect entrenched special interests have succeeded in raising the costs of basic services so much that low-income families have been priced out of the market for many essential services. Middle-class and poor communities differ not just by income. For the middle class, basic needs are met by markets and they benefit from the customer-pleasing innovations that competition produces. All too often, the poor must turn to public programs with all of the customer-pleasing attributes of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Take housing, for example. The cheapest form of housing is small, prefabricated homes for zero-lot developments. However, zoning regulations in most cities outlaw them — an act that effectively doubles the price of the cheapest housing. There are also other expensive restrictions on new housing, such as forcing builders to build on bigger lots and mandating specific types of materials and construction methods. Regulations vary widely across the United States. In Houston, a less restrictive city, regulatory costs add about $13,200 to the price of an average home. In San Diego, a multitude of regulations add $240,000. These cost-increasing regulations have essentially priced many low-income residents out of the market for a private home, forcing them to turn to public housing instead.

Then there is transportation. Did you know that people in the bottom fifth of income distribution take more taxicab rides than middle-income families? The reason: a lot of poor people don’t own automobiles. Taxi fares are far higher than they need to be, however, because local governments tightly control entry into the taxi market. There is no reason in principle why someone with a van couldn’t pick up workers in a low-income neighborhood and transport them to a jobsite, charging each passenger a few bucks. The problem: Most cities make this activity against the law.

When low-income families are priced out of the market for private transportation, they must turn to public transportation. Since only a few cities have subways, that means turning to buses. Yet, even a simple trip to work or a supermarket can be a logistical nightmare if you have to follow city bus schedules.

And consider health care. Sad to say, but the paramedics who treat our soldiers on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan are not allowed to provide the same services back home for people who can’t afford, and perhaps don’t need, the attention of a physician. Although the restrictions differ from state to state, laws everywhere “protect” patients from care delivered by anyone other than a physician. This is despite studies showing that non-physician clinicians can competently provide from 60 percent to 90 percent of all primary care.

In some parts of the country, walk-in clinics in shopping malls allow nurses to give flu shots, take temperatures, prescribe antibiotics and deliver other timely, inexpensive care. But even these innovative services are often saddled with burdensome regulations. For example, in Massachusetts, regulations for clinics have such cost-increasing requirements as a separate entrance for patients, minimum size requirements for exam rooms, and a separate reception desk. When low-income families find they cannot afford private care, what’s the alternative? Community health centers and the emergency rooms of safety net hospitals. Yet these care sites often involve crowding and waiting, which limits access to care.

Child care is another basic service needed by many low-income families. In fact, low-income families spend about a third of their income on child care, as much as a typical middle-income family might spend on a home. In recent years, state and local governments have been making child care ever more costly, however. All manner of regulations are emerging, including the licensing of day care workers. Did you know that in most places, it’s illegal for a neighbor down the street to oversee children from the neighborhood for pay? Again, what’s the alternative? Low-income mothers must seriously consider abandoning the labor market altogether and rely solely on the welfare state.

Even a basic activity like keeping the neighborhood safe runs into regulatory barriers. In response to inadequate public police protection, an increasingly popular alternative is private police. In the United States, private security guards actually outnumber public police officers by a ratio of three to one; and they can perform most, if not all, of the necessary law enforcement tasks. Yet, government regulation has created substantial barriers for would-be security firms, including criminal background checks, examinations, training requirements, and insurance and bonding minimums.

A task force report produced by the National Center for Policy analysis calls for an end to these senseless policies, and advocates allowing our lowest-income citizens access to the benefits of the free market.


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

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


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


22 October, 2011

Occupy what?

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, a conservative German economist, sees some just cause for the OWS movement

The Occupy Wall Street movement has polarised public opinion: Either you regard the protestors as the new political avant-garde or as just plain silly. Either you believe they have a serious message or you think they are a bunch of nutters.

But what if the truth is a bit more nuanced than that? Perhaps the nutters have a point?

The silly stuff first: The protesters seem rather confused about what they are protesting against. They camp at Wall Street, which is fair enough if you want to object to financial capitalism. But they also protested in front of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the European Central Bank – not the usual suspects for financial excess.

It is also difficult to overlook some nasty anti-Semitic undertones in the rallies. One placard in Martin Place read ‘Occupy Sydney, not Palestine.’ From there it’s just one small step to claim that the financial crisis is the result of a Jewish conspiracy. In any case, what’s the link between Israel, Greece and Lehman Brothers?

Behind all this silliness, and frankly the utter nonsense, is a serious message: Corporatist capitalism has become a threat to prosperity, democracy and the free market itself.

The protesters no doubt exaggerate when they claim to represent 99% of the people worldwide. However, there really is public unease about the way the financial system works.

This week, I heard a representative of an anti-globalisation network complain that banks speculating in euro periphery debt should not be bailed out by the taxpayer when their investments go pear-shaped. It must have been the first time I was in complete agreement with the radical left.

There is something very wrong in a world in which heavily indebted governments have to take on yet more debt to save banks from the fallout of other governments collapsing under their debt burdens.

This is not a free market anymore. In a free market, banks have a right to speculate – and a right to go bankrupt.

What we are seeing instead is casino capitalism with a taxpayer provided safety net.

Acceptance of liberal economic policies suffers if good liberal principles can be suspended by powerful vested interests. The Occupy movement, silly as it looks, is a timely reminder of that.



The world according to Jack Wheeler

I think he's mostly right

Russia. Putin is an ersatz macho-man, all hat and no karovi. Russia's navy is made of rust. Russia's ill-trained army of drunkards couldn't conquer Romania. Russian male life expectancy is lower than that of Bangladesh. Russia is a mafiacracy with a doomed economy dependent on oil & gas exports that fracking in Europe & the US will make uncompetitive. Do svidanya.

China. No wives, no water, no banks - and a hyper-dangerous military. Much of China is uninhabited - deserts, mountains, and wastelands. Habitable China is about the size of the US east of the Mississippi, with over a billion people squeezed into it. Northern China is turning into a waterless dust bowl. Scores of millions of Chinese men will never get married due to the Chicom's idiotic one-child policy and resultant mass female infanticide.

100 million bachelors are explosively dangerous. Chinese state banks are insolvent after going on a post-2008 loan binge with debt and credit in China now (according to the IMF) above 200% of GDP. A sharp economic contraction (increasingly likely) plus all those angry unmarried men equals war, the history-honored scapegoat diversion of tyrants.

The obvious Chicom choice for war would be Taiwan. But the Formosa Strait is 100 miles wide and China has no amphibious capacity. Taiwan is on the northern rim of the South China Sea, rapidly becoming one of the most jeopardous flash points in the world. Bordered by Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and China, over 50% by value of the world's shipping traverses it - and China claims all of it, the entire South China Sea, as its own territorial waters.

This cannot stand. China must be publicly informed by the next president that the South China Sea is international waters, period, there will be no discussion or negotiation. What is to be negotiated is the cooperative exploitation of what resources, such as oil, it may contain. No amount of Chicom bullying and saber-rattling will do any good. Every other country on the sea will join the US in this - and so will India and Japan.

Further, the Chicoms need to grasp that any aggression of theirs in the South China Sea will be naval only, and thus does nothing to occupy all their angry young bachelors. They need to go some place, a place with lots of water and lots of room for them, a place where the women prefer them to the local men who are drunks and beat up their wives, ideally a place once belonging to China but stolen by a foreign aggressor - so to get it back would give them a mission. Maybe even a wife.

There is such a place. It's called Siberia - specifically what China called its Maritime Provinces and Russia, after it seized them in 1860, calls the Russian Far East.

It's only a matter of time, at most a decade or two, before Beijing converts most all of eastern Siberia into Chinese Siberia. There is simply no way a dying Russia can hold on to it. Might as well divert the Chicoms toward it and away from Taiwan and the South China Sea.

North Korea. The Norks have no nukes. The half-kiloton yield in their tests means they failed to make weapons-grade plutonium. So they are no threat to us. They are a threat to South Korea with 11,000 artillery tubes aimed at the 17 million people of Greater Seoul. There is no need for American soldiers to be hostages to this. South Korea is a rich country with a powerful military capable of taking care of itself. We do not need to be there any longer.

India. The world's largest democracy is prickly, but the only country in Asia capable of standing up to China. The Chicoms are building naval bases in India's Indian Ocean neighbors such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Burma, which they call their "String of Pearls" around India's neck. India is countering with a growing alliance with China's ancient neighbor enemy, Vietnam.

The next president should build on President Bush's initiative for military and economic ties between the US and India. That could include a joint India-US naval base in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam on the South China Sea. The Vietnamese would welcome us. Among nations, there are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

The Great Game of the 19th century was between the Russian and British Empires colliding in Asia. The 21st century players of this game are China and India. It's in our interests to be on India's side.

Pakistan/Afghanistan. Both are make-believe countries with no legitimate rationale for sovereignty. The key problem in both is Pakistan's "government within a government" spy agency, the ISI - Inter-Services Intelligence. It is radical hate-America jihadi Islamist. It created and is in the heroin business with the Taliban. The first necessary condition towards any solution in this region is its dismantlement.

The other key problem is our State Department's anaphylactic allergy to regime and border changes. The best solution for Afghanistan would be for it to cease to exist as presently constituted. Actually, the same for Pakistan.

The Baluchis of southern Afghanistan and southwest Pakistan want their own Baluchistan (they have a marvelous harbor and the biggest gold deposits in the world according to BHP Biliton). They'd be joined by the Baluchis of southeast Iran and most likely by the Sindhis of adjoining Sind in southern Pakistan with the big city of Karachi.

The Tajiks of northern Afghanistan do not want their lives run by Pushtuns. They'd much rather secede and join Tajikistan - which wants our help to stabilize and protect it from Russia. The Pushtuns straddle the Af-Pak border. They dream of being united in a separate Pushtunistan. Pakistan's ruling group, the Punjabis, would retain the Punjab.

But basically, as with the Koreas, this no longer should be our problem to solve. Af-Pak should be India's problem to solve - Pak nukes, after all, are aimed at India, not us. There is no real nation to build in Afghanistan, and our troops have no purpose dying for it. Terrorist threats are the business of the CIA and spec-ops teams, not the Marines or Army.

Again, we need to ally with India and assist them in what is their problem, not ours, to solve.

Iran. This week we learned that Iran's government planned an act of war against us in our own capital. It is hard to overestimate the number of problems in the world that would be solved with this government gone. And that's the solution: regime change. Apply a straightforward Reagan Doctrine strategy to overthrow Iran's mullah regime by sponsoring - with money and weapons - insurrections throughout the country.

Of Iran's 78 million, over 20 million are ethnic Azeri - almost three times the number of Azeris in Azerbaijan next door, whom they would love to join in a Greater Azerbaijan. There are at least eight million Kurds, who would fight tooth and nail against their Tehran oppressors if we gave them support. There are three million Ahwazi Arabs who populate Iran's oil patch, Kuhzestan, across the border from southern Iraq.

And of course there are the Persians themselves, some 33 million, whose mass street protests have been so brutally suppressed (and which the current president did not lift a finger or say a word to support).

A president determined to effect regime change in Iran would succeed quickly. The world's main state sponsor of Islamic terrorism would be no more. Iraq would be free to flourish, Syria would be quickly liberated, the threat to the Saudi and Gulf oil fields would be removed, and of course, Iran's nuclear program would be destroyed in the process (Israeli spec-ops would see to that).

It's a long list of positives and few if any negatives. All it needs is a president with the courage of Ronald Reagan.

Israel. The pre-1967 demarcations our current president demands Israel return to were not borders - they were cease-fire lines where Israel was able to stop the Arab invasions after declaring its independence in 1948. The Six-Day War recaptured Israel's legitimate territory, and that territory, including Golan and Judea-Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") should remain so.

The Palestinians need to be told to STFU, that they no longer will be coddled and treated like spoiled children. They will recognize the state of Israel as legitimate and Jewish, or they can move to the Sinai, where Egypt will give them a Palestinian State since the Egyptians love Palestinians so much (the dirty secret is that the rest of the Arab world despises Palestinians and calls them rafida, Arabic for the N-word). Arabs and Euroweenies who object can shove their Nazi Anti-Semitism up their noses.

That's the way a pro-American pro-Israel president would deal with Israel and the Arabs. Then there's Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (air-doh-wan) is an Islamist megalomaniac fantasizing about recreating the Ottoman Caliphate. He is constantly threatening Israel, pretending his high school navy is a match for Israel's NFL navy. Yet he has gutted the Turkish officer corps and filled it with incompetent stooges.

Erdogan needs a US president to explain to him that any duke-out between Turkey and Israel will result in his total humiliation, causing his overthrow and Turkey's expulsion from NATO.

Europe. It's Old Europe, now known as the Eurozone, serving as an object lesson of the scam of the welfare state versus New Europe, the liberated former colonies of the Soviet Union who learned the hard way the evils of socialism and the virtues of capitalism.

A new president would focus attention on the Baltics, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia. And he would politely educate the lands of Old Europe on welfare state socialism as a religion of envy. Ireland is already figuring this out and is recovering thereby.

Mexico. As Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty significantly helped bring freedom to Soviet Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the next president could institute a Radio Free Mexico (including satellite television and web sites) teaching free market and small business economics to Mexicans.

Mexico is the land of crony corrupt corporate fascist capitalism. As a result, most Mexicans live in medieval poverty while the richest man in the world is a Mexican - Carlos Slim - whose wealth was gained with state-protected monopolies. A true free market economy would enable Mexicans to become prosperous in their own country.



Ron Paul shows that spending cuts ARE possible

Paul's plan not only extends the tax cuts enacted under the Bush administration; it reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent while abolishing taxes on inheritances, capital gains, and personal savings. It nevertheless manages to eliminate the budget deficit within three years, largely by reducing military spending, capping most programs at 2006 spending levels, converting Medicaid and other welfare programs into block grants, and eliminating five cabinet-level departments: Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior.

As USA Today noted, Paul is "a longtime critic of federal spending not authorized by the Constitution"—a description that applies to sadly few members of Congress, all of whom take an oath to respect the limits imposed on the federal government by the document that created it. Yet Paul's plan would not return the country to the 1990s, let alone the 19th century. It calls for total outlays of $2.9 trillion in 2015, which is about as much as the federal government spent as recently as 2003, adjusted for inflation.

You may not agree with Paul's priorities, but at least he has laid them out for everyone to see. Meanwhile, the vast majority of his fellow legislators continue to pretend there is no need to prioritize at all.

Consider military spending. Counting savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul calls for $832 billion in cuts over four years, which would leave the Pentagon's base budget in 2016 about 2 percent lower than it is now.

Indiscriminate cuts may be undesirable, but so is indiscriminate spending, which is what we have now, with the United States accounting for more than two-fifths of the world's military outlays. Budget choices should drive strategic choices, since we can no longer afford to squander defense dollars on projects that have little or nothing to do with defense, whether it's launching optional wars across the globe or protecting rich allies that are perfectly capable of protecting themselves.

Paul's proposed abolition of various departments, agencies, and programs likewise should stimulate debate about the federal government's priorities. Aside from carrying out the decennial "enumeration" mandated by Article I, Section 2, does the Commerce Department do anything that is constitutionally authorized, let alone essential? What about HUD? Why should education be a federal responsibility at all, let alone one that requires an entire department? Is transportation security properly handled by the federal government or, as Paul argues, by the property owners whose interests are at stake?

These are the sort of questions presidential candidates would try to answer if they were truly determined to get our fiscal house in order.


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

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


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


21 October, 2011

A long, steep drop for Americans' standard of living

Not since at least 1960 has the US standard of living fallen so fast for so long. The average American has $1,315 less in annual disposable income now than at the onset of the Great Recession.

Think life is not as good as it used to be, at least in terms of your wallet? You'd be right about that. The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago.

Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant.

In short, it means a less vibrant economy, with more Americans spending primarily on necessities. The diminished standard of living, moreover, is squeezing the middle class, whose restlessness and discontent are evident in grass-roots movements such as the tea party and "Occupy Wall Street" and who may take out their frustrations on incumbent politicians in next year's election.

What has led to the most dramatic drop in the US standard of living since at least 1960? One factor is stagnant incomes: Real median income is down 9.8 percent since the start of the recession through this June, according to Sentier Research in Annapolis, Md., citing census bureau data. Another is falling net worth – think about the value of your home and, if you have one, your retirement portfolio. A third is rising consumer prices, with inflation eroding people's buying power by 3.25 percent since mid-2008.

"In a dynamic economy, one would expect Americans' disposable income to be growing, but it has flattened out at a low level," says economist Bob Brusca of Fact & Opinion Economics in New York.

To be sure, the recession has hit unevenly, with lower-skilled and less-educated Americans feeling the pinch the most, says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com based in West Chester, Pa. Many found their jobs gone for good as companies moved production offshore or bought equipment that replaced manpower.

"The pace of change has been incredibly rapid and incredibly tough on the less educated," says Mr. Zandi, who calls this period the most difficult for American households since the 1930s. "If you don't have the education and you don't have the right skills, then you are getting creamed."

Per capita disposal personal income – a key indicator of the standard of living – peaked in the spring of 2008, at $33,794 (measured as after-tax income). As of the second quarter of 2011, it was $32,479 – almost a 4 percent drop. If per capita disposable income had continued to grow at its normal pace, it would have been more than $34,000 a year by now.

The so-called misery index, another measure of economic well-being of American households, echoes the finding on the slipping standard of living. The index, a combination of the unemployment rate and inflation, is now at its highest point since 1983, when the US economy was recovering from a short recession and from the energy price spikes after the Iranian revolution.



Obamacare Will Price Less Skilled Workers Out of Full-Time Jobs

President Obama’s health care law requires employers to offer health benefits to full-time employees. This employer mandate will price many unskilled workers out of full-time employment.

After paying the new health premiums, the minimum wage, payroll taxes, and unemployment insurance taxes, hiring a full-time worker will cost employers at least $10.03 per hour. Full-time workers with family health plans will cost $13.75 per hour. Employers who hire workers with productivity below these rates will lose money. Businesses employing less skilled workers will probably respond by dumping their employees onto the federally subsidized health care exchanges and replacing full-time positions with part-time jobs.

Employers cannot reduce cash pay below the minimum wage. However, employers will not pay workers more than their productivity. No businesses will pay $14 per hour to employ a worker whose labor raises earnings by just $9 per hour. Businesses that pay workers more than their productivity quickly go out of business.

Employers hiring unskilled workers will respond to these higher costs in two ways. Many employers will forgo providing health benefits and dump workers onto the government health care exchanges. Doing so will incur a $2,000 penalty per full-time worker—far less than the cost of health premiums but still a $1 per hour increase in full-time employment costs.

The employer mandate will also encourage employers to replace full-time jobs with part-time positions. Obamacare does not penalize employers for not providing health benefits to part-time employees, so part-time positions will cost much less to fill than full-time positions.

Federal law gives employers a further incentive to hire unskilled workers only part-time. The law requires employers to offer the same health benefits to all full-time employees. If employers dump their less productive full-time employees into the government exchanges, they must dump the rest of their employees as well. However, hiring less skilled workers for part-time jobs does not restrict employers’ ability to offer health benefits to other workers. Many unskilled and inexperienced workers—those who produce less than $10.03 per hour—will find that employers will only offer them part-time jobs.

Obamacare hurts less skilled workers. It raises the minimum productivity required for them to hold a full-time job, particularly workers with families. Workers who cannot produce at least $20,000 per year (single plan) or $27,500 per year (family plan) of value to employers will have serious difficulty finding full-time jobs. Many of these workers will have to either live off reduced income from part-time hours or juggle the schedules of multiple part-time jobs.

Workers with productivity near this minimum will also face challenges. The law forces them to consume a substantial portion of their income as health benefits whether they want to or not. Take a full-time worker in Delaware with a family health plan earning the federal minimum wage. The employee and employer share of health care premiums for that plan will cost an average of $6.41 per hour. After paying the employee share of premiums, that worker will earn $6.56 per hour in cash wages. The law requires unskilled employees who do not get dumped into the exchanges to receive almost half of their compensation as health benefits. Workers who would like higher wages and less expensive health coverage do not get a choice.



Murders, Rapes, Falling Bridges and Phantom Jobs

David Limbaugh

What are we to think about a president and vice president who blow nearly a trillion dollars in borrowed money, accept no responsibility for it and then traverse the nation trying to convince Americans that if we don't spend half that much again, people will die from dilapidated bridges and women will be raped because we can't afford cops?

What business do these two have lecturing anyone about anything, much less the conditions that might ensue if we were not to spend more printed money to pay for things they failed to finance the first time because they misappropriated the funds?

Last month, Obama, stumping for his misnamed "American Jobs Act," told his AstroTurf audience in Raleigh-Durham that "in North Carolina alone, there are 153 structurally deficient bridges that need to be repaired. Four of them are near here, on or around the Beltline. Why would we wait to act until another bridge falls?"

After attempting to scare those in the crowd into believing they were one pylon away from being crushed by a fallen bridge, Department of Transportation engineers and administrators had to mollify residents about the safety of the area's bridges.

Wally Bowman, DOT's division chief for Wake County and six neighboring counties, said, "The key thing is: We don't have any bridges that are about to fall. We don't have any bridge out there that is structurally inadequate, where it cannot handle the traffic. We make sure those bridges stay in a good state of repair."

Obama obviously hadn't bothered to do his due diligence; he just made a false assertion to gin up support for legislation that a number of high-profile congressmen in his own party even reject.

Where's the outrage? Where are the media? Why don't they ask Obama why he's proposing to spend $447 billion on projects that aren't even necessary and trying to scare the public into supporting them?

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously said that "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste," but Obama has taken the maxim to a new level. The enhanced version is: "When all else fails to convince the electorate, fabricate a phony crisis, and fuel it with fear based on lies. Then re-present your proposal as the only antidote."

Obama has used this tactic with almost every major agenda item -- the stimulus package, Obamacare, the financial regulation bill, cap and trade, the federal takeovers of General Motors and Chrysler, all the debt ceiling skirmishes and his demagogic opposition to entitlement reform. Obama deliberately created a panic atmosphere based on an illusion of urgency so intense that even lawmakers wouldn't have time to read the bill, much less debate it, let alone post the bill online sufficiently in advance of congressional floor debate to allow public comment as he promised in his campaign

. Though the underlying problems he portrayed as crises were rarely urgent, his legislative "solutions" converted serious national financial problems into ones that present an existential threat to the nation.

Obama is not alone. His chief deputy, Vice President Joe Biden, has ratcheted up the administration's jobs bill rhetoric another decibel. In Flint, Mich., Biden intimated that the city will have more rapes and murders unless the jobs bill is passed.

"In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city," Biden said. "In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65, and rapes -- just to pick two categories -- climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don't rectify it."

Do these people have no shame?

Didn't they assure us that Biden would be our national stimulus cop, someone who would make sure that not a dollar of stimulus money would be wasted? And now they have the audacity to invoke the specter of rape and murder unless more federal money is thrown down ratholes, sent to nonexistent locations with phantom ZIP codes, allocated to ostensibly shovel-ready jobs that do not exist, used as slush money for their political benefactors and union cronies, and spent on research to inquire into the mating habits and sexual preferences of the Borneo walking stick?

It's time these two answered some questions themselves about the colossal waste of federal money they've directed toward the stimulus package, Obamacare, Solyndra, other green projects and scores of other boondoggles.

Until they can give us an honest accounting for their recklessness, they have no standing to be demanding more.



Is America Disintegrating?

Pat Buchanan

In Federalist 2, John Jay looks out at a nation of a common blood, faith, language, history, customs and culture.

"Providence," he writes, "has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people -- a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion ... very similar in their manners and customs ..."

Are we still that "one united people" today? Or has America become what Klemens von Metternich called Italy: "a mere geographical expression"?

In "Suicide of a Superpower," out this week, I argue that the America we grew up in is disintegrating, breaking apart along the fault lines of politics, race, ethnicity, culture and faith; that the centrifugal forces in society have now become the dominant forces.

Our politics are as poisonous as they have been in our lifetimes.

Sarah Palin was maligned as morally complicit in the murder attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Terms like "terrorists" and "hostage-takers" are routinely used on Tea Party members who one congressman said want to see blacks "hanging on a tree."

Half a century after the civil rights revolution triumphed, the terms "racist" and "racism" are in daily use. We remain, said Eric Holder in calling us a "nation of cowards," as socially segregated as ever. "Outside the workplace, the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays, America ... does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago."

He is not altogether wrong in that. In California's prisons and among her proliferating ethnic gangs, a black-brown civil war has broken out.

Yet, by 2042, there will be 66 million black folks and 135 million Hispanics here, the latter concentrated in the states bordering Mexico. What holds us together, then?

We are not now and will not then be "descended from common ancestors." We will consist of all the races, cultures, tribes and creeds of Earth -- a multiracial, multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual stew of a nation that has never before existed, or survived. The parallels that come to mind are the Habsburg Empire that flew apart after World War I, and the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia that disintegrated after the Cold War.

No more will we all speak the same language. We will be bilingual and bi-national. Spanish radio and TV stations are already the fastest growing. In Los Angeles, half the people speak a language other than English in their own homes.

As for "professing the same religion," where 85 percent of Americans were Christians in 1990, that is down to 75 percent and plummeting. The old Christian churches -- Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and especially Episcopalian -- are splitting, shrinking and dying.

Where three in four Catholics attended Sunday Mass in 1960, it is now one in four. One in three cradle Catholics has lost the faith. The numbers of priests and nuns are plummeting; religious orders are dying; Catholics schools are closing.

The moral consensus and moral code Christianity gave to us has collapsed. Since the great cultural-social revolution of the 1960s, there has occurred what Nietzsche called the "transvaluation of all values." What was morally repellent -- promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion -- is now seen by perhaps half the nation as natural, normal, healthy and progressive.

Socially, too, America is breaking down. Where out-of-wedlock births in the 1950s were rare, today, 41 percent of all American children are born out of wedlock. Among Hispanics, it is 51 percent; among blacks, 71 percent. And the correlation between the illegitimacy rate, the drug rate, the dropout rate, the crime rate and the incarceration rate is absolute.

This helps to explain the four decades of plunging test scores of American children and the quadrupling of the prison population.

And while all this is happening, the state is failing. We cannot control our borders, win our wars or balance our budgets. In three consecutive national elections -- 2006, 2008 and 2010 -- the incumbents have been repudiated. Confidence in politics, politicians and the future of the country has never been so low in our lifetimes.

There was a time not so long ago when the nation was united on a common faith, morality, history, heroes, holidays, holy days, language and literature. Now we fight over them all.

Neocons says not to worry, the Constitution holds us together. Does it? Do we all agree on what the First Amendment says about the freedom to pray in school and celebrate Christmas and Easter? How can we be the "one nation, under God" of the Pledge of Allegiance, or the people "endowed by their Creator" with inalienable rights, if we cannot even identify or discuss or mention that God and that Creator in the schools of America?

Do we agree on what the Ninth Amendment says about right to life? What about what the 14th Amendment says about affirmative action? What the Second Amendment says about the right to carry a concealed gun?

The new secession that is coming, Rick Perry notwithstanding, is not like the secession of 1861. It is a secession of the heart from one another.


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

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


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


20 October, 2011

Washington, D.C. Becomes America’s Richest City

Obama’s $4 trillion army settles into its barracks

Things are tough all over… except for Washington, D.C. By vacuuming four trillion dollars out of the private economy, President Obama has brought a deficit-fueled boom to the seat of the national bureaucracy he loves. Bloomberg News does the honors as Silicon Valley is dethroned, and America’s new richest city is crowned:

Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.

The U.S. capital has swapped top spots with Silicon Valley, according to recent Census Bureau figures, with the typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year. The national median income for 2010 was $50,046.

This has not escaped the notice of those who concern themselves with income disparity, and they’re feeling a bit queasy about it:

The figures demonstrate how the nation’s political and financial classes are prospering as the economy struggles with unemployment above 9 percent and thousands of Americans protest in the streets against income disparity, said Kevin Zeese, director of Prosperity Agenda, a Baltimore-based advocacy group trying to narrow the divide between rich and poor.

“There’s a gap that’s isolating Washington from the reality of the rest of the country,” Zeese said. “They just get more and more out of touch.”

I’m all in favor of narrowing the divide between rich and poor myself, provided it’s done by making the poor richer. Flooding D.C. with six-figure bureaucrats until it turns into El Dorado is the exact opposite of that. The very policies that helped Obama surround himself with a suitably magnificent aristocracy are killing the poor. As money is siphoned out of the private sector, and the national debt accumulates with staggering interest payments, opportunity withers. Not coincidentally, Obama has brought the number of people living in poverty to record highs.

There is no more concise, and devastating, symbol of Obama’s failure than watching Washington, D.C. become the richest city in the nation, while Gross Domestic Product flounders and 9% unemployment drags on for years. Worst of all, whoever gets the job of cleaning up this mess will be accused of wanting to make unemployment worse, when they start sending those surplus $126,000 bureaucrats home.



Big-government economic policies are impoverishing America

A majority of Americans disapprove of what President Obama has done in office. He promised hope and change but delivered disappointment and stagnation. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent. The poverty rate is at 15.1 percent, tied for the worst performance since the Census started tracking numbers in 1959. White House policies of class warfare and redistribution are impoverishing America, and the public is starting to feel worked over.

While economic scorekeepers say the recession officially ended in June 2009, few Americans would say they’ve felt much relief. A new study by Gordon Green and John Coder of Sentier Research explains this phenomenon. They found inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent from $53,518 in June 2009 to $49,909 in June 2011. That’s on top of the 3.2 percent drop that took place during the official recession period from December 2007 and June 2009. Altogether, the average household lost $5,400 in spending ability - a near 10 percent drop in the standard of living.

One reason for this is that people who have found jobs have had to settle for a pay cut. Princeton University’s Henry Faber found that, on average, when an employee lost a job and then got rehired during the recession, the new position paid 17.5 percent less than the old one. It’s no wonder that confidence levels are low, and Americans, even those with jobs, are being careful with spending.

Not surprisingly, the biggest decline was found in households where the head is unemployed. Their income fell more than 18 percent. During the recession, the average duration of unemployment increased from 16.6 weeks in December 2007 to a shade over 24 weeks by June 2009. That figure is now 40.5 weeks, the longest it has been in more than six decades. The longer a person is unemployed, the harder it is for him to find a job, as job skills erode and potential employers question whether it might be more prudent to hire someone else without big gaps in their work history.

Mr. Obama’s solution involves having the federal government declare the long-term unemployed a legally protected class. His American Jobs Act would subject businesses to frivolous lawsuits if they decide against hiring someone who has been jobless for an extended time. Doing so would serve as one more disincentive for companies to hire or hold interviews for open positions, making it even harder for the jobless to find work.

By passing the long-pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama this week, Congress took the first small steps toward improving the U.S. economic predicament. American agricultural exports are likely to be the largest beneficiaries, but various service sectors would also see a boost. The South Korea deal alone is expected to generate an increase in U.S. gross domestic product of $10-12 billion. That means more job creation.

Ultimately, Americans will not find their pocketbooks thickening so long as Uncle Sam strangles entrepreneurs with regulatory red tape. Companies need to have certainty that they will be able to keep the proceeds of their investments in the future before they will start hiring again and pay their employees more.



So much for Obama's 'new era of open government'

A secret meeting on transparency in government was held by the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by the President’s attorney general, Eric Holder.

Justice Department documents made public Tuesday by Judicial Watch exposed an "accomplishment" of President Obama that his many admirers and enablers in the liberal mainstream media likely don't want to talk about: a secret meeting on transparency in government. It happened on Dec. 7, 2009, and was convened by the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder. The meeting's purpose was to train Freedom of Information Act officers from federal agencies how to respond to FOIA requests, including tips on resolving disputes over what government documents can be made public.

Judicial Watch obtained a series of pre-conference emails in which Justice Department officials sought approval from White House media officials for closing the meeting to reporters. That the December meeting was closed was no isolated incident. In one of the emails, Melanie Pustay, OIP's director, said she has "always held parallel meetings, one for agency 'ees [i.e. government employees] and then one that is open." We can only wonder what Pustay tells government FOIA officers that she doesn't want journalists to hear.

It was Obama who said on his first day in the Oval Office that he wanted his subordinates in the executive branch to respond to FOIA requests "with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails." Apparently that memo didn't make it to the Justice Department's OIP, which oversees executive branch compliance with the FOIA. As Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton said, "only in Washington would political appointees think it appropriate to keep secret a government workshop on transparency."

Unfortunately, keeping the meeting secret isn't the only area in which the Obama administration's record on this issue has proven to be woefully short of what the president promised. In both the Fast and Furious and Solyndra scandals, for example, Obama appointees have held back thousands of documents legitimately sought by congressional investigators while defending their refusal with arguments coined by President Nixon.

Similarly, Obama's secretary of labor, Hilda Solis, has gutted transparency regulations that required labor unions to disclose information about the organizations' financial health, including union officers' total compensation packages. Also killed was a requirement to report on union trusts, which often function like offshore accounts for corporations in providing a means of hiding assets. And gone is a requirement that would have made unions report on "no-show" jobs -- positions for which the union is paid but nobody actually does the work. The biggest losers when unions are able to conceal such information are union members.

That is likely why, as The Washington Examiner reported Tuesday, a recent survey of union households for Americans for Limited Government found that "94 percent of the respondents agreed that 'union officials and executives should have to disclose their salaries and benefits connected to their official union office as a way of making them accountable to their members.' " When it comes to transparency, Obama sides with bureaucrats against taxpayers and union bosses against union members.



How California Drives Away Jobs and Business

The Golden State continues to incubate cutting-edge companies in Silicon Valley, but then the successful firms expand elsewhere to avoid the state's tax and other burdens.

California has long been among America's most extensive taxers and regulators of business. But it had assets that seemed to offset its economic disincentives: a sunny climate, a world-class public university system that produced a talented local work force, sturdy infrastructure that often made doing business easier, and a record of spawning innovative companies.

No more. In surveys, executives regularly call California one of the country's most toxic business environments, while the state has become an easy target for economic development officials from other states looking to lure firms away.

In a 2004 survey of California executives by the consulting firm Bain & Company, half said they planned to halt job growth within the state. By 2011, according to a poll by a California coalition of businesses and industries, 84% of executives and owners said that if they weren't already in the state, they wouldn't consider starting up there, while 64% said the main reason they stayed was the difficulty of relocating their particular kind of business. For several years in a row, California has ranked dead last in Chief Executive magazine's poll about states' business environments.

Labor groups, environmentalists and some politicians jeer at these surveys. But the hard numbers tell a disturbing story.

From 1994 through 2008, the latest year for which data are available in the National Establishment Time Series database (a joint project of Walls & Associates and Dun and Bradstreet), California ranked 47th among the states in net jobs created through business relocation, losing 124,000 more jobs to other places than it gained from other places. Meanwhile, it generated just 285,000 more jobs from new businesses than it lost to business failures, placing 29th in the country—while first-place Florida gained 2.4 million net jobs. Demographer Wendell Cox has noted that close to none of those 285,000 net jobs were created between 2000 and 2008, meaning that start-ups haven't contributed to California employment for more than a decade.

The state continues to incubate cutting-edge companies in places like Silicon Valley, where investment remains vigorous, thanks in part to the area's muscular venture-capital industry. Yet its successful firms increasingly expand elsewhere.

In 2007, Google built a new generation of server farms in Oregon; the following year, Intel opened a $3 billion production facility near Phoenix. Earlier this year, eBay, based in San Jose, Calif., said it would add some 1,000 back-office jobs in Austin, Texas, over the next decade. Hank Nothhaft, former CEO of the San Jose-based micro-electronics firm Tessera, has estimated that Silicon Valley lost one-quarter of its computer, microchip and communications-equipment manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2008.

A suffocating regulatory climate has a lot to do with the state's bad business numbers. Writing in the California Political Review this summer, Andrew Puzder, chief executive of California-based CKE Restaurants—which operates 3,000 eateries nationwide—called his company's home state "the most business-unfriendly state we operate in."

CKE, which runs Hardee's and Carl's Jr., has stopped opening restaurants in California, where the regulatory process can take up to two years. But it plans to open 300 in Texas, where the start-up time can be six weeks and opening costs $200,000 less than in California.

A 2009 study by two California State University finance professors estimated that regulation cost the state's businesses $493 billion annually, or nearly $135,000 per company. Sanjay Varshney and Dennis Tootelian estimated that the burden pushed California's overall employment down by 3.8 million jobs.

Ironically, green-promoting California is now even losing green manufacturing jobs.

Earlier this year Bing Energy, a fuel-cell maker, announced that it would relocate from Chico in San Bernardino County to Tallahassee, Fla., where it expected to hire nearly 250 workers. Solar Millennium, an energy company, canceled plans to build a facility in Ridgecrest, Calif.—an undertaking that would have created 700 temporary jobs and 75 permanent ones—after lengthy delays caused by state environmental reviews, including one on the project's impact on the Mojave ground squirrel. AQT Solar, an energy-cell maker based in Sunnyvale, will employ 1,000 people at a new 184,000-square-foot manufacturing plant—in South Carolina. Then there's Biocentric Energy Holdings, a Santa Ana energy company that moved to Salt Lake City; and Calisolar, a Santa Clara–based green-energy company building a factory in Ontario, Canada, that will employ 350 workers.

Again, no wonder: California taxes are high and hit employers and employees hard. While the highest individual income-tax bracket, 10.3%, applies to million-dollar earners, the second-highest, 9.3%, kicks in at $47,000. Even in high-tax New Jersey, the top bracket of 8.97% doesn't kick in until filers hit $500,000 in income. California also has a high corporate tax rate of 8.84%.

The state's legal environment is a mess, too. A so-called consumer rights law allows trial lawyers to sue firms for minor violations of California's complex labor and environmental regulations. After lawyers kept sending out threatening letters in mass mailings to thousands of small businesses, demanding payments in return for not suing over purported minor paperwork violations, outraged voters passed the Prop. 64 reform initiative in 2004. Yet that only forced suing attorneys to first show that they were representing plaintiffs who claimed to have been harmed.

California also allows plaintiffs to sue for damages over even minor violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act's architectural guidelines for accommodating the disabled. One plaintiff alone has sued 1,000 businesses, mostly restaurants, and won an average settlement of $4,000. Using an obscure provision of California labor law that requires stores to have enough seats for all employees, trial attorneys have filed about 100 lawsuits, claiming damages of up to $100 per employee, against chain retailers.

Today, California seems to be following the path first trod by New York state, which dominated the nation's economy through the early part of the 20th century, only to see massive outmigration of jobs and people, and subpar employment growth as its taxes and regulations rose.


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

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


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


19 October, 2011

Pitting us against each other


President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have led increasingly successful efforts to pit Americans against one another through the politics of hate and envy. Attacking CEO salaries, the president -- last year during his Midwest tour -- said, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

Let's look at CEO salaries, but before doing so, let's look at other salary disparities between those at the bottom and those at the top. According to Forbes' Celebrity 100 list for 2010, Oprah Winfrey earned $290 million. Even if her makeup person or cameraman earned $100,000, she earned thousands of times more than that. Is that fair?

Among other celebrities earning hundreds or thousands of times more than the people who work with them are Tyler Perry ($130 million), Jerry Bruckheimer ($113 million), Lady Gaga ($90 million) and Howard Stern ($76 million). According to Forbes, the top 10 celebrities, excluding athletes, earned an average salary of a little more than $100 million in 2010.

According to The Wall Street Journal Survey of CEO Compensation (November 2010), Gregory Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, earned $87 million, Oracle's Lawrence Ellison ($68 million) and rounding out the top 10 CEOs was McKesson's John Hammergren, earning $24 million. It turns out that the top 10 CEOs have an average salary of $43 million, which pales in comparison with America's top 10 celebrities, who earn an average salary of $100 million.

When you recognize that celebrities earn salaries that are some multiples of CEO salaries, you have to ask: Why is it that rich CEOs are demonized and not celebrities? A clue might be found if you asked: Who's doing the demonizing? It turns out that the demonizing is led by politicians and leftists with the help of the news media, and like sheep, the public often goes along.

Why demonize CEOs? My colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell explained it in his brand-new book, "The Thomas Sowell Reader." One of his readings, titled "Ivan and Boris -- and Us," starts off with a fable of two poor Russian peasants. Ivan finds a magic lamp and rubs it, and the jinni grants him one wish. As it turns out, Boris has a goat, but Ivan doesn't. Ivan's wish is for Boris' goat to die. That vision reflects the feelings of too many Americans. If all CEOs worked for nothing, it would mean absolutely little or nothing to the average American's bottom line.

For politicians, it's another story: Demonize people whose power you want to usurp. That's the typical way totalitarians gain power. They give the masses someone to hate. In 18th-century France, it was Maximilien Robespierre's promoting hatred of the aristocracy that was the key to his acquiring more dictatorial power than the aristocracy had ever had. In the 20th century, the communists gained power by promoting public hatred of the czars and capitalists. In Germany, Adolf Hitler gained power by promoting hatred of Jews and Bolsheviks. In each case, the power gained led to greater misery and bloodshed than anything the old regime could have done.

Let me be clear: I'm not equating America's liberals with Robespierre, Josef Stalin and Hitler. I am saying that promoting jealousy, fear and hate is an effective strategy for politicians and their liberal followers to control and micromanage businesses.

It's not about the amount of money people earn. If it were, politicians and leftists would be promoting jealousy, fear and hate toward multimillionaire Hollywood and celebrities and sports stars, such as LeBron James ($48 million), Tiger Woods ($75 million) and Peyton Manning ($38 million). But there is no way that politicians could take over the roles of Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and LeBron James. That means celebrities can make any amount of money they want and it matters not one iota politically.

The Occupy Wall Street crowd shouldn't focus its anger at wealthy CEOs. A far more appropriate target would be the U.S. Congress.



Wall Street Protesters Half Right

John Stossel

What's there to say about Occupy Wall Street? The answer isn't so simple. Some complain about taxpayer bailouts of businesses. Good for them. In a true free market, failing firms would go out of business. They couldn't turn to Washington for help.

But many protesters say they're against capitalism. Now things get confusing. What do they mean? If by "capitalism" they mean crony capitalism (let's call it crapitalism), a system in which favored business interests are supported by government, I'm against that, too.

But if they mean the free market, then they are fools. When allowed to work, the market has lifted more people out of the mud and misery of poverty than any government, ever.

The protesters are also upset about income disparity. Here again we should make distinctions. To the extent the country's income disparity is the result of crony capitalism, it's bad.

Yet even if America had a true free market, there would be income disparity. It's a byproduct of freedom. Some people are just more ambitious, more energetic and more driven, and some have that ineffable knack of sensing what consumers want. Think Steve Jobs.

But it shouldn't matter if the income gap between you and rich people grows. What should matter is that your living standard improves.

Your living standard many not have improved lately. Over the past decade, median income fell. But that's an aberration largely caused by the bursting of the real estate bubble. Despite Wall Street protesters' complaints about rich people gaining at the expense of the poor, the poorest fifth of Americans are 20 percent wealthier than they were when I was in college, and despite the recession, still richer than they were in 1993.

And income statistics don't tell the whole story. Thanks to the innovations of entrepreneurs, today in America, even poor people have clean water, TV sets, cars and flush toilets. Most live better than kings once lived -- better even than the middle class lived in 1970.

Some protesters say they hate the market process that makes that possible. They call rich people "robber barons." That term was used by American newspapers to smear tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. But Vanderbilt and Rockefeller were neither robbers nor barons. They weren't barons because they weren't born rich. They weren't robbers because they didn't steal. They got rich by serving customers well. As Burton Folsom wrote in "The Myth of the Robber Barons," there were political entrepreneurs, who made their fortunes through government privilege, and market entrepreneurs, who pleased consumers.

Rockefeller and Vanderbilt were market entrepreneurs. Vanderbilt invented ways to make travel cheaper. He used bigger ships and served food onboard. People liked that, and the extra customers he attracted allowed him to lower costs. He cut the New York-Hartford fare from $8 to $1. That helped people.

Rockefeller was called a monopolist, but he wasn't one. He had 150 competitors -- including big companies like Texaco and Gulf. No one was ever forced to buy his oil. Rockefeller got rich by finding cheaper ways to get oil products to the market. His competitors vilified him because he "stole" their customers by lowering prices. Ignorant reporters repeated their complaints.

In truth, Rockefeller's price cuts made life better. Poor people used to go to bed when it got dark, but thanks to Rockefeller, they could afford fuel for lanterns and stay up and read at night. Rockefeller's "greed" may have even saved the whales. When he lowered the price of kerosene, he eliminated the need for whale oil, and the slaughter of whales suddenly stopped. Bet your kids won't read "Rockefeller saved the whales" in environmental studies class.

I have at least found some common ground with some Wall Street protest supporters. Joe Sibilia, who runs the website CSRWire (Corporate Social Responsibility), told me, "You can't have an environment where people are betting on financial instruments with the expectation that the government is going to bail them out."

So we agree that Wall Street bailouts are intolerable. Now we just have to teach our progressive friends that truly free markets work for the benefit of all.



Obama does something right

The White House announced we're putting boots on the ground in sub-Saharan Africa. President Obama notified Congress that he's sending about 100 combat-equipped troops to advise African forces on how best to kill or capture (but hopefully kill) one of the truly hideous villains breathing today, Joseph Kony, and destroy his militia cult, the Lord's Resistance Army.

And Obama is absolutely right to do it.

The news was so sudden, unexpected and just plain odd that the reaction from both left and right has been hurried and confused. Many claims are simply wrong. For instance, the LRA is not a "Christian" militia. The LRA routinely burns down churches and slaughters the congregants, but usually not before raping and mutilating them.

Kony is a classic example of the charismatic terrorist cult leader. He blends indigenous witchcraft with bits of Christianity and Islam (soldiers pray the rosary and bow to Mecca) to brainwash his uneducated, terrified flock of hostages and child soldiers, many of whom were forced to murder their own parents.

Here's a graphic passage from a 2006 report from Christianity Today on the LRA:

"Under threat of death, LRA child soldiers attack villages, shooting and cutting off people's lips, ears, hands, feet, or breasts, at times force-feeding the severed body parts to victims' families. Some cut open the bellies of pregnant women and tear their babies out. Men and women are gang-raped. As a warning to those who might report them to Ugandan authorities, they bore holes in the lips of victims and padlock them shut. Victims are burned alive or beaten to death with machetes and clubs. The murderous task is considered properly executed only when the victim is mutilated beyond recognition."

It's also worth noting that Obama is acting in compliance with a bill unanimously passed by both houses of Congress in 2009, which called for the president to take steps to "mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord's Resistance Army."



A Soviet future is closer than you might think

The most amazing aspects of the accelerating American submission to the state are: 1) how matter-of-fact we are in contemplating massive government interventions, such as President Barack Obama's latest stimulus "jobs" plan, and 2) how virtually no one notices the blatant Marxist overtones. When someone does, a la "Joe the Plumber" at the end of the 2008 campaign season, he or she is mocked off the stage.

President Obama demonstrated how this is done in January 2010 when, during an unusual White House meeting with congressional Republicans about his pending health-care legislation - another massive government intervention into the private sector - he declared: "If you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think this thing was some Bolshevik plot."

I remember cringing when a smattering of applause arose from the GOP ranks, as though some Republicans actually believed the president had delivered a punch line revealing the absurdity of considering "Obamacare" a government apparatus for seizing control of the lives of citizens - which it is. And that's no joke.

I wish any Republican had replied: "Not necessarily a 'plot,' sir, but a program that is indeed 'Bolshevik' in conception, design and purpose nonetheless. Government control of private sector activity, as the American people well know (or should), is aptly described as 'Bolshevik' - or Marxist, socialist, collectivist, statist and, for that matter, fascist, too. Indeed, nationalized health care was one of the first programs enacted by the Bolsheviks after they seized power in 1917."

But, no. Among the many deep psychological factors repressing such a factually devastating response is pure historical ignorance. This isn't entirely our fault. That is, the truth about Bolshevism and closely related creeds barely makes it into our curricula - another Bolshevik plot, if you ask me. Indeed, the shocking intelligence history of communist plotters who secretly sabotaged our government barely dents our understanding of history even now, some 20 years after secret archives in Moscow and Washington opened, somewhat, to disgorge incontrovertible proof of pro-Soviet agents operating in the highest reaches of power.

But if nationalized health care is a demonstrably Bolshevik program, "stimulus spending" is what you might call a genuine Bolshevik plot. Why? One of the Kremlin's greatest agents you probably never heard of played a leading role in introducing stimulus spending as a macroeconomic policy for the first time in U.S. history during the Franklin D. Roosevelt years.

The agent's name was Lauchlin Currie, and, as M. Stanton Evans writes in his indispensable 2007 book "Blacklisted by History," he ranks "among the most influential Soviet agents ever in the U.S. government, if only by virtue of his portfolio in the White House dealing with affairs of China." Currie, an administrative assistant to FDR, was instrumental in the U.S.-government-wide communist plot to turn China red.

But that's not all he did. Currie pops up in nine KGB cables translated by American cryptographers in what is known as the Venona Project, which became public in 1995. From these and other archival sources we have learned that Currie passed secret documents and shared sensitive political intelligence with Soviet spymasters. Equally as damaging, Currie used his stature as a senior Roosevelt aide to shut down investigations into the activities of other American traitors operating inside government.

While I haven't seen mention of Currie's economic activities in KGB documents, how does stimulus spending sound now on discovering that this bona fide Soviet agent was its leading proponent? In "Roosevelt, the Great Depression and the Economics of Recovery" (University of Virginia Press, 2005), Elliot Rosen, professor emeritus of history at Rutgers, writes: "The initial rationale for public expenditure as a stimulus to the economy was provided by Currie, who won a wide and influential audience in the Roosevelt administration." As assistant research director for the Federal Reserve, his position before moving to the White House, "Currie provided an economic rationale" for deficit spending. "Wartime aside," Rosen writes, "no precedent existed for budget unbalance." Not surprisingly, another Currie project was to push for the "abandonment of the concept of annual budget balance."

So that's where balanced budgets went, and stimulus spending came from. Think of it: One agent of communist influence in high places, and the U.S. economy was revolutionized.

If only Americans could learn to recognize a Bolshevik plot when they see one.



Mormons and evangelicals getting on better these days

The newfound dialogue between Mormons and Evangelicals has left the melee in favor of the gentleman's war. While it can get messy and sticky at times, the general tenor of the battle seems wholly improved and marks a significant thaw in their relations.

For example, in his chapter on Mormon theology, Mosser notes: "One has failed to appreciate Mormonism's distinctiveness if one can classify it as Christian without qualifications." I believe this is a definition that most Mormons would agree with.

And the dialogue continues. Just this month, Stephen Webb, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College published an extraordinary article examining the Mormon faith. He writes: "Mormonism can be a controversial topic for many non-Mormon Christians, but I have come to the conclusion that no theology has ever managed to capture the essential sameness of Jesus with us in a more striking way."

Much more HERE

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

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


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


18 October, 2011

More skepticism about the death of Hitler

You can read here an overview of another book that claims Hitler did not die in Berlin but escaped to Argentina. I said in my previous post on the subject that I have my own reasons -- founded on my own close study of Hitler's history and psychology -- for not believing that.

I am beginning to wonder however -- not because of the new book but because of the response to it. The critics of the book say that it is a "consensus" of the experts that Hitler died in Berlin and the publisher should be ashamed for publishing such a book. That is so close to what defenders of the global warming hoax say that my skeptical antennae begin to twitch.

Moreover they admit that the alleged fragment of Hitler's skull held by the Russians is not in fact Hitler's and that there was a great deal of confusion in Hitler's bunkler at the time of the Russian surge into Berlin.

The only "proof" they offer that Hitler died in his Berlin bunker is the testimony from one of Hitler's closest aides who says that he saw Hitler dead there. The possibility that one of Hitler's aides might have lied to protect his boss has apparently not occurred to them.

I think I will now have to say that I am agnostic on the matter.


Occupy This!

Hey Wall Street “occupiers.” What do you suppose would happen to the United States if the rest of us – I’ll call us “the other 99.99%” – started behaving like you?

Will you allow this question to “occupy” your minds for a moment? Seriously, what would happen to our country if we all chose to do nothing but take up space on “public” property (or even on other people’s private property as some of you have done), consume resources at other people’s expense, and spend several days in a row not producing things? Have you even thought of what might happen, if the rest of us followed your “example?”

Participants in the nationwide “occupy” movement would probably be shocked to know this. But the fact is, their oh-so-important demonstrations are able to occur as they do because the majority of us in America do not think and act the way they do. In fact, to be even more precise, their choices are enabled in no small part by – gasp!- American-styled Capitalism! Yet just as those who burn the U.S. flag fail to understand that the object they desecrate is emblematic of the freedom they exercise, the occupiers fail to see that the “C-word” which they loathe is precisely what makes their occupying possible.

Consider the property on which the demonstrations are occurring. Most of them have happened on public property – city streets, public parks, and so forth – while some of the protestations have migrated on to privately-owned commercial and residential property. In either case, the demonstrations have occurred on property that belongs to somebody - property that has been purchased with money, and that is “owned” by some group or individual.

The occupiers seem to convey a vague belief that land just simply “exists,” and it rightly belongs to “everybody.” Yet if they were only interested in “land” on which to hang-out, then they could just as easily gather in the virgin forests of upstate New York or the un-refined terrain of the rural Nevada desert.

But that’s not what the occupiers are doing. Oh, no, they’re enjoying the modern comforts and conveniences of developed land – land entailing well-built and maintained streets and sidewalks, and nicely manicured lawns – all of which were created by somebody else’s labor and purchased with that dreaded thing called money.

And guess what, occupiers? The labor that built the streets and walkways, the education that prepared the laborers, and the capital that purchased the land and paid for the labor, were all brought about by capitalism and our free-market enterprise system. Even if you’re on “government property,” the government bought it with tax dollars that were generated in our free-market economic system.

Speaking of labor - how would you like it, occupiers, if both government and private-sector workers in and around your demonstrations chose to join you, rather than to continue working at their jobs and continue serving you? Imagine, for example, if the NYPD officers assigned to patrol Wall Street – no doubt dismissed as “oppressors” or “the man” by the occupiers but who nonetheless keep the demonstrators safe – were to stop working at their jobs, and chose instead to become occupiers themselves. Might you, occupiers, become a bit inconvenienced, or maybe even endangered?

And what if the workers and managers at the local Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other service businesses chose to protest with you, and allowed their stores to remain closed? Might that create a little problem, occupiers?

Or what if the owners and operators of these for-profit capitalistic enterprises actually became as greedy and evil as you characterize them to be, occupiers, and they started denying you entrance in to their facilities? What if you could no longer do your potty breaks and your after-the-overnighter-in-the-park wash ups in their restrooms that are paid-for with the wealth of the business owners?

The occupy movement appears as though it will be with us for the foreseeable future. And perhaps the only thing worse than the selfish, narcissistic, vacuous behavior and rhetoric of the occupiers is the fact that our President and members of his party in Congress have given their blessing to it all.

The good news is that a majority of us Americans do not speak and behave as the occupiers do. We choose to both consume, and to produce, and we choose to think as well as to feel. We understand the basic tenet of capitalism, that one earns a day’s pay by doing a day’s work.

We also realize that if too many people choose only to consume and live off the largesse of others, then our nation is doomed. And as the late, great “one percenter” Steve Jobs might say, a majority of us choose to “think different.”



Tea Party Represents America, Not Occupy Wall Street

For years, I have been impressed with this young man I see working at Walmart retrieving shopping carts in the parking lot. He is challenged, I suspect from birth, with physical issues involving an arm and a leg. I saw him leaving work one evening in his car. While I do not know his living situation, I do know he has a job and drives what I assume is his own car.

Looking at this young man hobbling around doing his job, one could think, “Why isn't this poor soul home collecting disability?” He obviously prefers the dignity which accompanies earning his own money. Thus, the reason for my utmost respect for him.

Then, I look at the Occupy Wall Street despicable mobs; spoiled brat college students, America hating Marxists, paid professional protesters and plain old lazy bottom feeders, all demanding freebies while claiming ownership of the fruit of other folk's labor. And the left expects me to respect and sympathize with these parasites.

The liberal media, the left and the Obama administration are trying to convince us these ignorant arrogant Occupy Wall Street knuckleheads represent the thinking of most Americans. If their premise were true, we would be in deep, deep trouble as a nation. Fortunately, these mobs are NOT a majority.

Like parents who are in denial protecting a juvenile delinquent child, the left is doing everything in their power to portray these violent, destructive, anti-Semitic and ungodly Occupy Wall Street thugs in a positive light. Meanwhile, the left remains relentless in their quest to slander the tea party with false undocumented accusations of racism and violence.

The Tea Party movement which is driven by “We The People” is the polar opposite of the George Soros and far left organizations funded Occupy Wall Street assault on Capitalism and America. How dare they compare their low rent “trashy movement” to the dignified Tea Party.

As a Tea Party activist/performer who has traveled on five Tea Party Express national bus tours, I have attended over 300 tea parties. I can assure you the well-informed, hard working and decent people who attend tea parties represent the thinking of a majority of Americans, not the Occupy Wall Street mobs.

While Occupy Wall Street participants trash, vandalize and disrespect public parks and government buildings, we tea party patriots leave our rally sites the way we found them or cleaner. The Tea Party is inspired by love for America and a desire to follow our Constitution. It is also in rebellion of political correctness and about restoring values and principles which have made America great. Tea Party goals are far superior to Occupy Wall Street which proclaims, “You rich guys have too much and we're takin' it!”

Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than a vile orgy of class envy, covetousness and hatred of achievers. You Occupy losers need to get a clue, a life and a job!



Hitler's predecessors were American do-gooders and "scientists"

Below is an editorial from the 1911 "Scientific American". It sounds very reasonable but that makes it an even better example of the deplorable "unintended consequences" of government interventionism

ADA JUKE is known to anthropologists as the "mother of criminals." From her there were directly descended one thousand two hundred persons. Of these, one thousand were criminals, paupers, inebriates, insane, or on the streets. That heritage of crime, disease, inefficiency and immorality cost the State of New York about a million and a quarter dollars for maintenance directly. What the indirect loss was in property stolen, in injury to life and limb, no one can estimate.

Suppose that Ada Juke or her immediate children had been prevented from perpetuating the Juke family. Not only would the State have been spared the necessity of supporting one thousand defective persons, morally and physically incapable of performing the functions of citizenship, but American manhood would have been considerably better off, and society would have been free from one taint at least.

Instances such as these are not isolated. Ever since the late Sir Francis Galton? gave us his science of Eugenics, which in its most literal sense means "good breeding," the scientific students of mankind, the directors of insane asylums and hospitals, criminologists the world over, have been compiling statistics to show not only the danger of permitting the marriage of criminals, lunatics, and the physically unfit, but the effect upon" mankind. Thus, Prof. Karl Pearson?, Galton's ablest disciple, has driven home the necessity of the scientific study of the human race in many a telling statistical comparison and monograph. He has shown that in Great Britain 25 per cent of the, population (and that the undesirable element in England) is producing 50 per cent of English children, and that if this goes on unchecked, national deterioration and degeneracy must inevitably result.

Galton originally worked only with statistics, and in his capable hands, they proved a powerful weapon. After he had enunciated the principles of Eugenics, Mendel's law of heredity was revived and applied to the problem. Imperfectly understood as that law may be as yet, nevertheless it enables us to prophesy with considerable accuracy what the offspring of animals, plants and human beings may be, not only in the next generation, but in generations to come. Mendelian principles have no doubt long been followed by professional animal breeders in an empirical way, but only within recent years have enough data been accumulated to show that they apply with equal force to human beings.

We know enough about the laws of heredity, we have enough statistics from insane asylums and prisons, we have enough genealogies, to show that, although we may not be able directly to improve the human race as we improve the breed of guinea pigs, rabbits or cows, because of the rebellious spirit of mankind, yet the time has come when the lawmaker should join hands with the scientist, and at least check the propagation of the unfit. Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

Fortunately the need of intelligent legislation on the subject is being driven home by scientific men and Eugenic associations here and abroad. The Eugenics laboratory founded by Sir Francis Galton and the American Breeders' Association have done much to clear away the popular prejudices inevitably encountered in such educational work and to prepare the ground for legislative action. Some States have already passed laws that show an appreciation of the situation.

The proper attitude to be taken toward the perpetuation of poor types is that which has been attributed to Huxley. "We are sorry for you," he is reported to have said; "we will do our best for you (and in so doing we elevate ourselves, since mercy blesses him that gives and him that takes), but we deny you the right to parentage. You may live, but you must not propagate."

The absurdity of legislation to cure social evils without scientific facts to base that legislation upon, is no more apparent than in the disposal of the insane. In Wethams's "Family and the Nation," it is stated: "According to the mid-Victorian concept, a man was either sane or insane-quite mad or completely cured. How he became mad, how completely he was cured, were not taken into consideration." It is not enough to take care of an insane man. To discharge him after a period of a few months or a few years and brand him as cured, when his whole family history points to the fact. that he is a hereditary epileptic or lunatic, and to place no barriers in his path when he attempts to marry, is statesmanship of the poorest order.

If the Eugenist has his way, "well-born" will acquire a new meaning. It will not cease to mean descent from a proud and noble race that has accomplished great things in the past, but it will also mean that the stock descended from that race is composed of men and women who will live up to its traditions, who will have that perfect physique and stable mental organization which Maudsley, that most literary and philosophical of psychiatrists, calls "the highest sanity."



Some "civilty" from an aging Leftist film-star

Susan Sarandon has been slammed for calling the Pope a Nazi. The 65-year-old American actress made the comment about Pope Benedict XVI over the weekend during an appearance at the Bay Street Theatre in New York while talking about her 1995 film Dead Man Walking. She said she had sent a copy of the book it was based on to the Pope, but then clarified which one she was talking about.

"The last one, not this Nazi one we have now," she told interviewer Bob Balaban. When he showed his disapproval of her comments Sarandon allegedly then repeated the comment drawing laughter from the crowd.

But Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League told TMZ that the comments made by the Thelma & Louise star were "obscene". "Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) was conscripted into the Nazi Youth the way every other 14-year-old German boy was at the time," Donohue explained. "Unlike most others, he not only refused to go to the compulsory meetings - he actually deserted the Hitler Youth. Which is precisely why Jews today regard him as a friend, not as an enemy. "In short, what Sarandon said is positively obscene."


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

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


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


17 October, 2011

More academic evidence of the importance of genes and the UNIMPORTANCE of your home environment
"Human values: Genetic and environmental effects on five lexically derived domains and their facets"

By Walter Renner et al.


Whereas a substantial genetic component of Conservatism and Religiosity is well documented, there is little evidence with respect to the behavior genetics of other aspects of human values. A sample of 157 monozygotic and 74 dizygotic twins reared together received the Austrian Value Questionnaire (AVQ), which measures a broad variety of value domains and their facets, found by the lexical approach in the German language. Family resemblance of Intellectualism, Harmony, Materialism, and Conservatism was best explained by additive or dominance genetic and non-shared environmental effects, whereas the influence of the environment shared by twins was negligible. In contrast, Religiosity was transmitted by additive genetic, shared and non-shared environmental influences. At the level of facets, the Intellectualism and Harmony showed a homogenous etiology while Religiosity, Materialism, and Conservatism were etiologically heterogeneous.

Personality and Individual Differences. In Press, Corrected Proof - doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.09.003

Aren't you glad that there's someone around to translate that academic Double-Dutch for you?

Note initially that after decades of research it is now generally accepted that both political and religious ideology is substantially determined by your genes. You didn't CHOOSE to be a Conservative or religious: You were BORN that way. That still grates on the teeth of most people but that is what the inheritance research has repeatedly shown. Exactly WHAT is inherited which makes you a Leftist is still not pinned down but my bet is that it is a tendency to be miserable. Happiness is definitely a stable trait and conservatives are certainly happier, which again shows up repeatedly in research.

But that is all prelude. The reseachers above werre looking for OTHER things that might be genetically inherited. They found that traits of Intellectualism, Harmony, Materialism, and Conservatism were all determined heavily by genetics but hardly at all by the environment. Religiosity, however, was to a degree influenced by your environment. Pretty simple, really -- even if runs against almost everybody's preconceptions.

You now see why elections are won or lost according to how well the candidate appeals to the voter in the middle. Most of us are born conservative (happy) or Leftist (miserable) and can't be changed from that. It's only the minority who are half way between happy and miserable who can be swung. Background on previous research in the area here

Clarifying note: It is your tendency to be religious in general that is inherited, not your particular religion.


ObamaCare Starts to Unravel

The real story behind the Class program failure, and what to do now

Now that one of ObamaCare's major new benefit programs has been scrapped, liberals are trying to make stone soup by claiming that the Obama Administration merely committed an act of "good government." They claim that when this long-term care insurance program proved to be unworkable, the Administration conceded as much, and now it's gone. So let's review the evidence, not least because it so perfectly illustrates the recklessness that produced the Affordable Care Act.

When Democrats were pasting it together in 2009 and 2010, the immediate attraction of the program known by the acronym Class was that its finances could be gamed to create the illusion that a new entitlement would reduce the deficit. Ending the complicated Class budget gimmick erases the better part of ObamaCare's purported "savings," but it's also worth focusing on the program's long-run political goals.

For decades Democrats have been trying to put government on the hook for middle-class costs like home health services ($1,800 a month on average) and nursing homes ($70,000 to $80,000 per year). On paper, Class was supposed to be like normal insurance, funding benefits through premiums with no subsidy. But since the budget gimmick and the program's larger structure meant that premiums could never cover benefits, Democrats were trying to force a future Congress to prevent a Class bankruptcy using taxpayer dollars.

As the costs to the federal fisc continued to climb, the Democratic gambit was that Class would gradually morph into another part of Medicare. Insurance depends on younger, healthier people signing up to cross-subsidize the older and sicker, but under the Class program as written almost all of its enrollees would soon also be beneficiaries.

So to fix this "adverse selection," the plan was for Congress to eventually make participation mandatory, with the so-called premiums converted into another payroll tax and the benefits into another entitlement. Former White House budget director Peter Orszag has been writing that the long-term care insurance market can't function without a mandate, while HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declined to rule one out at a Senate hearing in February. Now they tell us.

The only reason the Health and Human Services Department pre-emptively called off this scheme is that former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg succeeded in inserting a proviso that required the Class program's reality to match Democratic promises as a matter of law. If HHS couldn't provide "an actuarial analysis of the 75-year costs of the program that ensures solvency throughout such 75-year period," it couldn't be legally implemented.

In other words, HHS had to prove that the Class program wouldn't go broke the way it was designed to—and actuarial analysis is a matter of math, not politics. In a 48-page report that HHS submitted to Congress Friday, the department concedes that it is literally impossible to create any kind of long-term care program under the law's statutory text in which revenues match expenditures. Such a plan would cost as much as $3,000 per month, which no one would ever buy.

The HHS gnomes even considered "features deviating from or going beyond a plain reading of the statutory language" that its lawyers didn't think could pass legal muster, and they still couldn't avoid violating the known laws of mathematics despite 19 months of trying. HHS lawyers also said the government would have to warn enrollees that the promised benefits weren't contracts and could be abrogated to "dispel any claims that the Class program had misled the public or had encouraged reliance on its programs under false pretenses."

Those pretenses have been obvious all along, with outside analysts and internal Administration experts saying Class wasn't viable. President Obama was a mask of indifference with no response when Paul Ryan took Class apart at the 2010 White House health summit. Democrats included it anyway, but now that the Administration itself has vindicated its critics, Republicans have a new political opportunity to make real health-care legislative progress.

At a minimum the GOP could begin by repealing the Class program altogether, since its legal authority is still intact. "One should never leave a partly loaded gun on the table, even if most of the chambers are empty or just house blanks," writes the American Enterprise Institute's Tom Miller. He also suggests attaching a few of the more destructive provisions and forcing Democrats to defend them, such as Mr. Orszag's Independent Payment Advisory Board of 15 political appointees who have broad unaccountable powers to control health-care markets and health care.

Our suggestion is for a Gregg-like amendment that applies to the entire health law and not simply Class. If reality can't match the rhetoric that accompanied the bill—about fiscal responsibility, bending the cost curve, keeping your health care if you like your health care and all the other false promises—then, legally, it should be repealed like Class. Call it a truth-in-advertising clause. ObamaCare would collapse in a heartbeat.



Change at the Top Creates Jobs at the Bottom

“When paperwork gets in the way of benefits, that’s a problem.”

So said John Bemis, Secretary-designate of New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, appointed by Governor Susana Martinez. What is significant about Bemis’ comment, made during a presentation in front of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s Annual meeting on October 3, is that it represents a total change in attitude from the previous administration and is indicative of the difference one person—at the top—can make.

The change in attitude in NM presents a case study from which the rest of the US would be wise to learn.

Governor Richardson’s approach was very much like President Obama’s. He added regulations and appointed people to positions of leadership who made doing business in the state difficult—especially in regard to natural resource management. As a result, businesses moved to other states and revenues suffered.

While some people think one person can't make that much of a difference, NM is proving that couldn't be farther from the truth. A culture of growth and prosperity starts with attitudes at the top.

Governor Martinez was elected in 2010. She appointed her people to head up the various agencies—including John Bemis at the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The rules didn’t change; instead the new leadership reevaluated their application. Rather than dictating just because she can, Governor Martinez has chosen to focus where she can get the most bang for the buck. For example, the limited resources of the Oil Conservation Division can now be directed toward actual environmental issues, rather than enforcing paperwork.

As a result of the change in attitude at the top, industry is more enthusiastic about doing business in the state. As I usually do during August, September and October, I participated in three state-wide events; the annual meetings of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, New Mexico Mining Association, and New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. The contrast from previous years in the outlook of the participants was startling. They are excited about the possibilities! Instead of the regulations being used like a hammer to beat down all development, departments are now looking to help folks work within the regulations. If the regulations are excessively punitive or inappropriate, industry is encouraged to submit proposed changes—which they’ve done and which are being considered. Things are picking up in New Mexico.

Across the US, we have much the same problem as New Mexico did. We have excessive regulations, businesses are leaving, and revenues are suffering. The leadership has the power to reverse the trend. We’ve seen it in New Mexico. We saw it in August when President Obama instructed the EPA to delay the ozone regulations—which would have been one of the costliest in the history of the US as hundreds of counties would be instantly out of compliance for things as simple as fireworks displays.

The EPA has more tricks up its sleeve, and President Obama’s pick to head up the EPA, Lisa Jackson, has no intention of slowing down.

On October 10, an unprecedented group of Attorney Generals from 25 different states, joined together to ask Secretary Jackson to postpone implementation of the Utility MACT rule because it threatens to endanger electric reliability, eliminate jobs, and saddle consumers with significantly higher costs. The next day, the EPA issued a statement declaring that the rule would be implemented as planned on November 16. The MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule condenses potential future coal-fueled power plant improvements and upgrades into an unachievable timeline. As a result of the Utility MACT rule, electricity providers already have outlined which coal-fueled power plants will be shut down. The remaining plants will have to spend billions for the required overhauls for marginal or questionable benefits to public health.

As he did in early September with the ozone regulations, President Obama has the power to tell Secretary Jackson to slow down, delay, or stop altogether. However, without intense public pressure, he is unlikely to do anything. The Utility MACT rule is just one of the expensive rules flowing down from the EPA that will cause America to lose important and cost-effective energy that is essential to economic growth. The higher costs will be passed on to the already struggling businesses and households.

It is actions like the EPA’s complete disregard for the public’s outcry, as expressed by the 25 attorney generals, that has pushed Congress to attempt to limit these excessive regulations through the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (HR 2250) passed by the House on October 13—which President Obama says he’ll veto should it make it through the Senate.

The one person at the top makes the difference.

Another example is the Wilderness and Roadless Area Relief Act (HR 1581), which aims to legislatively push what the one person at the top won’t do.

There are 43 million acres of federal lands that for decades have been managed as “wilderness”—meaning that potential grazing and resource development is limited, firefighting efforts are thwarted, and recreation and tourism are restricted—despite the fact that these areas have already been studied and determined to be unsuitable for wilderness. The BLM and the Forest Service has recommended that the restrictive management practices be lifted. Instead of encouraging Congress to do so, President Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order to lock up more lands with a new label: “Wild Lands”—conflicting with the Wilderness Act which states that only Congress has the right to designate wilderness areas.

The Wilderness and Roadless Area Relief Act will remove these lands from limbo and opens them up for multiple uses, while giving local communities a voice in how the lands are managed. Unfortunately, based on their record, the people at the top are unlikely to support the recommendations of the BLM and Forest Service. They will probably choose to keep these lands locked up, blocking economic development and job creation.

However, remember, President Obama did order Secretary Jackson to delay implementation of the ozone rules. We can be confident that he didn’t do this because he one day had an epiphany and realized that the regulations were too harsh. He backed down because public pressure was so intense that it became clear his support of the expensive rule threatened his re-election.

Ideally, the public pressure changes the behavior of people at the top—absent that, like we did in New Mexico—we change the people at the top.

Because, one person can make a difference.




NASA buys flights on Virgin Galactic’s private spaceship: "The space tourism company Virgin Galactic has struck a deal with NASA worth up to $4.5 million for research flights on the company's new private spaceliner SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic officials announced Oct. 13. Under the deal, NASA will charter up to three flights on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched spacecraft designed to carry eight people on trips to suborbital space."

How to lie with statistics: Tax rates: "A good deal of the recent rhetoric in support of Democratic proposals for raising taxes is designed to make it sound as though rich people pay federal taxes at a lower rate than everyone else. That, as one can easily check by looking at the published figures from the Congressional Budget Office, is not only false but wildly false."

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

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

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


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


16 October, 2011

Democrats, the Media and the Heart of the "Occupy" Movement

The OWS movement seems to have at its heart old-fashioned Leftist ideas of class war and anti-capitalism -- indicating the intellectual poverty of the protesters. They did have a perfectly reasonable starting point for their anger -- the huge sums that have been taken home by bankers and Wall St operators even while America as a whole was falling into an economic pit. The protesters seemed to see that as a failure of capitalism.

It is the opposite. The cause is a refusal of government to let capitalism do its work. Most of Wall st would be bankrupt and unable to pay millions to anyone if George Bush and particularly Obama had simply sat on their hands and let the whole gang of crooks go broke. Instead they provided gargantuan handouts to rescue these failed capitalists. It is at the White House that the protesters should be congregating. Sadly, a movement that at first seems to have had an element of sponaneity is now firmly in the grip of the far-Left so there is little hope of that

"What do they want?" is a common refrain in the media these days. Left-wing talking heads and progressive TV hosts are still scrambling to figure out exactly what the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd is up to. But this lack of knowledge hasn't stopped nearly every person on the Left of the political spectrum from offering full-throated support for the unwashed, unruly rabble. But who, or what, are they supporting?

It's been a month since the first group of professional protesting leftists squatted on a patch of private property in lower Manhattan, pitched a tent and started their drum circle. What we knew about them then is about what we know about them now - they're angry.

There has been no mainstream media investigation of who these people are, how this came about or what they want beyond the superficial "They're young, disaffected and worried about the future." That's all well and good, but it's not even in the same ZIP code as reality.

Normally, politicians would have to vet a potential endorsee before they'd ever consider offering anything beyond tepid support. Such is not the case here. In a press conference, President Obama sympathized with the protestors and said he understood their frustration. Exactly what frustration remains encased in a thicker fog than the cloud of body odor hovering over Zuccotti Park.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi understands them too. She took her support a step further by offering a "God bless them" when asked what she thought. But what was she blessing?

Any look at this mob from anything lower than a helicopter flyover reveals a dark, dangerous, radical and anti-Semitic side. Meet "occupier" Patricia McAllister. Patricia works for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She also hates Jews. She told Reason.tv, "I think that the Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, which is not run by the federal government, they need to be run out of this country."

Even more disturbing than what Patricia said was the calm demeanor in which she said it. Anti-Semitic hatred flows casually, openly and freely at these events. She seemed somewhat concerned she might be overheard by someone who would take offense, that the person interviewing her might have a problem with it. But she had no worry whatsoever what she was saying might be anything other than fact. This woman is involved in some way with educating children.

Former Obama administration "Green Jobs" czar Van Jones, who resigned after his 9/11 truther and communist sympathies came to light, called for the American people to "stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street." Would you stand with Patricia McAllister? Apparently Mr. Jones would.

But Jones and McAllister won't be alone. There are plenty of radicals and racists willing to stand up and be counted because they're safe in the knowledge the hatred they exhale will not be covered by their fellow travelers in the media. Did you hear about Democrat Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky marching with communists? The pamphlets being passed out with calls to destroy Israel? The speaker decrying calls for non-violence, calling for French Revolution-type actions to cheers?

No? Weird. How about Lisa Fithian, the professional radical anarchist who is helping run these events? No? Seriously?

That's because, aside from a few brave souls like my friend Andrew Breitbart and his "Big" websites, no one is covering these people the way they did the Tea Party. Reporters were dispersed into the massive crowds to find the most absurdly dressed people carrying fringe signs, then presented them as the norm. In any large group you're going to find some kooks-that's just the law of averages. But the media willingly portrayed them as representative of the whole.

Remember the Obama-with-Hilter mustache pictures from the Tea Party events? It was clear they belong to left-wing fringe perpetual candidate Lyndon LaRouche's supporters, yet they were portrayed as Tea Party members. Even LaRouche supporters admit they found that odd.

Or the bogus charge that the N-word was hurled at black Members of Congress as they walked through a crowd on their way to cast their ObamaCare vote? That's still accepted as gospel to the Left despite the fact that a $100k reward for proof it happened remains unclaimed.

Instead of the truth, instead of questions, we get cheerleading and cherry-picked camera angles showing perfectly lit, perfectly well behaved, smiling people. You'll never see the fringe, the loons and the unstable on CNN or MSNBC, aside from the hosts. They're too busy demanding conservatives admit these protests are "resonating" with people (in the newsroom at least) or saying they need another "Kent State moment," only this time without the deaths. These are paid professionals.

The Media Research Center did a study of the "Big Three" networks and found that in its short life, not only did the "Occupy" crowd get more coverage over a two-week period than the Tea Party did over a nine-month period, but that coverage was significantly more positive.

Not being content with owning the spin machines, they've even cooked up flawed polling to bolster their case. Shocking, I know.

The best thing about the Internet is that we are no longer dependent upon these corrupt information brokers to be informed. Not to sound all X-Files-y on you, but the truth is out there...you just have to find it. Unfortunately, far too many of our fellow citizens still receive their "news" through the filter of this corrupt machine. But that number is shrinking every day. If this "occupation" has any redeeming quality, perhaps it will be to force even more people who seem willing to take the "Red Pill" to, instead, see the world for what it really is.



Damn Those Stubborn American Consumers!

Here I shamelessly, again, steal a brilliant tactic from Carpe Diem‘s Mark Perry: I edit what is roughly the first half of a news report in ways that do not alter its factual accuracy but, hopefully, that reveal the dangers lurking in familiar yet flawed modes of thinking. This report is on Americans’ trade with the Chinese:

The Obama administration, under fire for not taking a harder line on China over its currency on American consumers who stubbornly take advantage of good deals offered by Chinese sellers and, allegedly, made even more attractive by Beijing’s monetary policy appears set to move against the Asia export powerhouse on other fronts these politically unorganized Americans as next year’s U.S. elections approach.

The United States is likely to launch fresh challenges against China American consumers at the World Trade Organization, probably stoking tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

“I expect the United States will be bringing more cases against China in the coming year,” said James Bacchus, who as a former WTO appellate judge used to sit in judgment of international trade disputes.

Already firmly in campaign mode, President Barack Obama recently boasted of taking a tougher line on trade economic change, including consumers’ decisions to change how they spend their own money than his predecessors. In particular, American consumers’ voluntary choices to buy more goods and services from China, its currency and other trade issues have already become a big issue in the election campaigning.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has ratcheted up his criticism of China American consumers’ choices despite his party’s traditionally pro-free trade stance.

“If you are not willing to stand up to China, you will get run over by China, and that’s what’s happened for 20 years,” the former Massachusetts governor said on Tuesday – apparently suffering the bizarre delusion that lower-priced inputs and consumer goods and services harm the U.S. economy.

He was speaking shortly after the U.S. Senate passed legislation to crack down on Chinese currency American-consumers’ practices that U.S. lawmakers legislation-makers blame for millions of lost jobs.

Sensitive to how the criticism of China plays with U.S. voters, Obama has not yet explicitly said he would veto the bill. In any case, the legislation is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives where Republican leaders have voiced concern that it might breach WTO rules and could spark a trade war which would damage U.S. corporations. Even non-Romneyite GOP politicians remain oblivious to the fact that trade is ultimately to be judged by how well it promotes consumption opportunities and not by how well it does, or does not, enhance the bottom line of corporations.

But Obama is likely to want to show voters his mettle on trade issues consumer sovereignty and trade experts say he has plenty of options to pursue which, unlike the Senate currency bill, are likely to conform with WTO rules.

New government data on Thursday that showed the U.S. trade deficit capital-account surplus with China hit a record $29 billion in August and is also likely to set a record for the year could add to the pressure on Obama to act to stop the Chinese and other foreigners from investing so much in America.

Last week, U.S. trade officials notified the WTO of some 200 Chinese government subsidy programs and scolded Beijing for not halting its self-destructive actions of taxing its own people to make non-Chinese people, including Americans, richer. taking the action itself as required under WTO rules.

U.S. officials at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva also recently took China to task over agricultural policies much like the policies that Uncle Sam himself has hypocritically and harmfully employed for decades that they said unfairly discriminated against foreign suppliers.



Perry still in there fighting

MANCHESTER, NH - Rick Perry's Granite State headquarters has the feel of a typical campaign office: Red, white, and blue "Perry - President" placards line the walls, young staffers tap away incessantly on keyboards and Blackberries, and dry erase boards are crowded with maps of the state, important dates, and key endorsements. The Texas Governor may have just sustained a series of extraordinary blows in national polling, but you wouldn't know it from the demeanor of his staffers. The fight goes on, even in rival Mitt Romney's regional backyard.

Unsurprisingly, several staffers I spoke with are upbeat about Perry's latest debate performance at Dartmouth College. The word "solid" comes up more than once. "It's what we needed," one aide says, expressing relief that Perry "wasn't a pinanta this time," unlike in previous debates. They're also quick to point out that debates are only one small element of a candidate's overall appeal. Their man, they say, is much more dynamic in person and on the stump, which is why the campaign plans to get Perry in front of as many voters as possible before the first votes are cast in Iowa and New Hampshire. "We've adopted a marathon strategy," one staffer explains. They certainly have the resources to take the long view; Perry raked in over $17 million in under 50 days last quarter.

Paul Young, the former New Hampshire GOP chair who now works for Perry's campaign, says his team is fighting to overcome some distinct advantages enjoyed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney -- who leads comfortably in most statewide polls. "[Mitt] has been here campaigning for years, really. Compared to him, everyone else is getting in late. Especially us." Young echoes the sentiment that debates are not the end-all-be-all of a candidate's ability or electability. "Rick clearly connects in person. In that sense, he's Clintonesque or Reaganesque in his ability to work a room and make real, personal connections with people. We want to play to that strength," Young says, adding that Perry is "getting better" at debating.

Aside from an emphasis on retail politics, Team Perry continues to tout the Governor's record in Texas as a major selling point. "Every time [Gov. Perry] comes to New Hampshire and talks about what he's accomplished in Texas, we sign up literally hundreds of people to be part of this campaign," another aide explains. Asked if Perry's thoroughly Texan flair might limit his appeal with infamously reserved New Englanders, Perry aides insist they aren't concerned. The real "uphill battle," they say, involves the calendar and basic logistical blocking and tackling. Revisiting a recurring theme, they outline the challenge of competing with Romney's campaign infrastructure that has been operating in one way or another for at least four years.

"It's August 13th 2011 (Perry's launch date) vs. 2007," Young says. Indeed. Every day counts, which helps explain why the Perry camp seems aggrieved by rumors that New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary could vault ahead to as early as December 6th. "That wouldn't be ideal," Young deadpans, in a piece of classic New England understatement.

Nevertheless, Perry's campaign professes optimism in the face of multiple state polls showing Romney holding dominant leads. Staffers direct me to a recent WMUR poll, which put Romney ahead of his closest rival (Herman Cain) by 25 points. "The numbers look great for Mitt, but if you look a little closer, you'll notice that 89 percent of respondents say they're not `dead set' on their pick," an aide notes. "[Romney] has been here for five years. Why is his support so soft?"

Prior to the Dartmouth debate, the Romney campaign got a boost by unveiling a marquee endorsement from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Perry's New Hampshire team seems neither surprised, nor impressed, by the alliance. "Endorsements only go so far," Young says. "Policy positions and results matter more." Another staffer shrugs, "Romney and Christie are both Northeastern moderates. Christie could end up being a liability [for Romney], actually. He's soft on guns, soft on life.the only thing he's strong on is his own voice."

Perry aides say they're not interested in sweating day-to-day horserace developments, and vow not to fall victim to media pressure. Some pundits wondered if Perry would reveal his own big-name endorsement to counter Romney's Christie nod. Others have asked why Perry hasn't released a specific jobs plan yet. "We're rolling out the features of our campaign on our own terms," I'm told. "We don't need the media telling us how to run our campaign - no offense to your profession." In other words, more endorsements are in the pipeline, and the jobs plan will be introduced on the campaign's preferred timetable. "We're going to have our economic plan out faster than it took Romney or Cain from the time they announced," Young confirms. He says phase one of Perry's jobs plan will be released next week, and the full package will be made public by the end of the year.



Obama's Pennsylvania Problem

Obama has a Pennsylvania problem, particularly with working-class Democrats and women who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008’s primary. He eventually won them over (along with young people and blacks), beating Republican John McCain by nearly 10 points.

Today, not so much – and much of that is based on trust. Candidates know they can evoke strong negative feelings and still win back voters. But lose the voters’ trust, and that is nearly impossible to recover.

“A lot of working-class and middle-class Democrats in Pennsylvania see candidates through the prism of their values,” said one party strategist who is working to win back distrustful voters for Obama. This time, he admits, the task “is more of a challenge.”

Actually, Obama has trouble all around, according to Mark Rozell, public policy professor at George Mason University: “The liberal core is unhappy with his policies and won't turn out for him as solidly as in 2008, and … independents and so-called Reagan Democrats are abandoning him in large numbers.” Signs of discontent are seen even among African-Americans.


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

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


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


15 October, 2011

The Jobs/Apple religion

It had a lot in common with Leftism and Environmentalism: It allowed undistinguished people to feel superior. But it was much preferable to Leftism and Environmentalism. I much prefer Steve Jobs to Al Gore or Barack Obama. Jobs DID create things while Gore is just a fat parasite and Obama is just a numbskull with a nice voice and a dark skin -- JR

By Wesley Pruden

Steve Jobs was a genius. No one could doubt that. His genius lay not in technology, as most of the obituaries and eulogies reckoned, but as master of hype, hope and marketing.

He was the secular prophet for the secular age, preaching the gospel of the technology that offers salvation, but only a salvation of better and more beautiful machines. The only higher power he believed in lies hidden somewhere in the power of more RAM, more powerful chips and in the perfectibility of an earthly operating system.

Atheist he may have been (though no one knows what he thought in the moments just before he slipped quietly into the awful and infinite mystery of death), but the mystique of Apple, which he never quit trying to perfect and extend, had all the trappings of religious faith for a secular age.

He thought about faith a lot. Shortly after he was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003, he was invited to give the commencement address at Stanford. Mortality was much on his mind, as such thoughts naturally are for an ailing serious man. "No one wants to die," he told the students assembled on the lawn at Palo Alto. "Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new."

This was not new stuff, not even from the oracle of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Socrates and Buddha said it better. But when he died at 56, the full force and appeal of an organized religion spread across the land. Thousands of iPod and iPad owners descended on Apple stores to turn them into sidewalk shrines and temples. Many dropped to their knees, some folding their hands in the universal pose of supplication to the heavens, to offer prayers to . . . well, it wasn't quite clear to whom. Perhaps to an unseen motherboard.

Wondrous as Mr. Jobs' machines are, there's an arrogance about Apple that turns infidels -- the unfortunate skeptics armed only with a PC from Dell or Sony -- into puzzled seekers, like curious Christians trying to plumb the violent contradictions of the Koran.

A customer puts down his $500 for an iPad and the only instructions he gets is the assurance that "it's intuitive, you'll understand how to use it." Nobody gets an owner's manual, and unless the customer has been using one of the wondrous machines that preceded his iPad -- someone who already knows the rituals of the tribe, the secret handshakes, the words to the strange hymns, the baptismal rites -- he'll want to throw his new toy into the street to be punished under the wheels of traffic. Only slowly, like a Mason suffering through 33 degrees, does Mr. Jobs' wondrous machine reveal its riches.

Nevertheless, it's difficult to argue with success, and Steve Jobs won his success the hard way, by giving his vision its working clothes and protecting it from the hewers of wood and chippers of stone who couldn't understand what Mr. Jobs was talking about when he described the destination of his machines as "the place where technology meets art."

He recognized the Internet for what it is, an "amazingly efficient distribution system for stolen property," and figured out how to exploit it all with the personal computer and the machines that flowed afterward from his amazing imagination.

He was the ultimate capitalist, driven to get all the profits that his imagination, vision and business smarts entitled him to, but his legacy to the corporate world is limited. Without the vision, the value even of hard work is limited. He was contemptuous of the toys of the mind so precious to the graduate of the business school.

He regarded consultants and focus groups as well-meaning wastes of time and money. Or worse. "We figure out what we want," he told Rolling Stone in 2003. "And I think we're pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That's what we get paid to do. So you can't go out and ask people what's the next big thing."

He was fond of recalling Henry Ford's story of inventing the automobile: "If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me 'a faster horse.'" He understood, and exploited, the moral of the story.



A Leftist Creation Myth

Governments are worse than no good at “creating jobs.”

A week before President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver yet another big-think proposal to Get America Working Again, reality intervened with a well-timed smack upside the head: Solyndra, a California solar panel company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Back in May 2010, as part of the run-up to what the administration was then touting as “Recovery Summer,” Obama used Solyndra as a poster child for both the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and his long-stated promise to create millions of “green jobs.” During a visit to the company’s factory in Fremont, he declared: “We invested…in clean energy because not only would this spur hiring by businesses but it creates jobs in sectors with incredible potential to propel our economy for years, for decades to come. And we can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra. Less than a year ago, we were standing on what was an empty lot, but through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations. This new factory is the result of those loans. Since ground was broken last fall, more than 3,000 construction workers have been employed building this plant.…When it’s completed in a few months, Solyndra expects to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across the country and around the world. And this in turn will generate business for companies around our country who will create jobs supplying this factory with parts and materials.”

Or not. Solyndra’s $535 million failure was not an unlucky one-off. According to Environmental Protection Agency numbers cited by Investor’s Business Daily in August, the Recovery Act’s $7.2 billion in “clean tech” money had “created or retained” a pathetic 7,140 jobs, at a cost of about $1 million each. According to the Department of Energy’s inspector general, one reason for this paltry payoff is the wage and regulatory provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Buy American Act.

In sum: The government scooped up hundreds of billions from taxpayers, redistributed it in the name of creating jobs, then attached a series of requirements that made job creation much more expensive and therefore unlikely. The predictably miserable results (go to reason.com and conduct searches on “green jobs” and “multiplier” to see just how predictable they were) should have, but did not, shame a broad swath of the political class into a long-overdue facing of facts: Governments the world over are worse than no good at “creating jobs.”

That much is clear when we compare the job creationists’ rhetoric to their results. Every day on the campaign trail, then-candidate Obama promised to create 5 million “green jobs” during the next 10 years. In January 2009, the White House predicted that the stimulus it was finalizing would create up to 4.1 million jobs. (In a depressing bit of symmetry, the economy ended up losing 4.7 million nonfarm payroll jobs in 2009, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, representing the greatest rate of decline since 1945.)

In February 2010, then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed that the soon-to-pass Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would “create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately.” The last time Washington, D.C., was in a frenzy to “create jobs,” while passing an already-forgotten jobs bill in the summer of 2010, Pelosi promised this latest dollop of $26 billion would create or save 300,000 more.

And these are just the job-focused bills. The general idea of using government spending to stimulate aggregate demand, particularly during economic down times, ruled official Washington for a solid decade, starting with George W. Bush’s inauguration and ending last summer with the Tea Party–influenced debt ceiling deal, which marked the first time in recent memory elected officials stood athwart spending and yelled “stop!” The results of this Keynesian stimulus (and anti-Keynesian profligate spending during good times) should speak for themselves: Fewer able-bodied Americans are employed as a percentage of the potential work force than at any time since 1983.

Such persistence in the face of repeated failure suggests that some powerful myths continue to hold sway among politicians and many of the people they represent. Among the most stubborn of these is the notion that passing a bill to fix a problem is the same as actually fixing the problem. This assumption—which reaches its illogical conclusion during times of national panic, when do-something busybodies like Michael Bloomberg will say that it doesn’t matter what Washington does, it just needs to do something—is oblivious to the law of unintended consequences, to the reality of corporatist lobbying, and to the limitations of government power.

The 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in the name of ending “too big to fail,” actually paved the way for the next round of financial bailouts. Obama-Care, supposedly rammed down the throats of health care “special interests,” was actually rammed down the throats of Americans at the behest of those special interests. The Troubled Assets Relief Program, sold by then-President George W. Bush as a way to prevent bank failures, stock market losses, housing devaluations, home foreclosures, credit tightness, business failure, job losses, and recession, failed utterly at preventing anything on that list.

A curious flip side to the myth of government omnipotence is near-complete incuriosity about government side effects. That is, people remain convinced that the state can and should look a problem squarely in the eye and fix it, but they are rarely moved by daily examples of the harm caused by earlier fixes.

Just before Solyndra announced its bankruptcy, armed federal agents stormed three factories and the corporate headquarters of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, seizing guitars and raw materials, forcing employees out into the street, and shutting down production for a day. Why? Because of a century-old law called the Lacey Act, which prohibits the import of wildlife and plant products that were obtained illegally overseas. India, where some of Gibson’s raw materials originate, bans the export of unfinished wood.

Overzealous enforcement of job-killing laws is the rule, not the exception, under Obama. His Department of Justice has shown much more enthusiasm than his predecessor’s in conducting workplace raids to enforce immigration, drug, and even milk pasteurization laws. Politicians and the public support such relentless meddling without pausing much to consider the deleterious effects on employment. As I write, the California Senate is on the verge of passing a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights that would, among many other onerous things, require parents to provide nannies with breaks every two hours and fill out ridiculously complicated time cards for the government to peruse.

In a sense, every bill is a jobs bill, except for the ones labeled as such. Every business regulation, every intrusion between employer and employee, dampens the incentives to create more jobs. Sucking up tax money and spitting it out at politically chosen recipients is another net drag on the economy.

‘Jobs’ are deals between workers and employers, and so ‘creating’ them out of unwilling parties is impossible. The state, though, can outlaw deals, and has.”

Until that insight sinks in, it will be a long time before America gets back to work.



Obama’s Solyndra Talking Cure Fails

The scandal over Solyndra, a Fremont, California-based maker of tube-shaped solar panels, has only gotten worse since President Barack Obama tried to defend his command-economy principles to a polite press corps last week. Shortly after Obama's lackluster press conference on Thursday, Jonathan Silver, administrator of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, announced he was leaving his powerful and prestigious federal government job for the opportunity to become a “distinguished visiting fellow” at the Third Way think tank.

Human sacrifice is the food of politics, so career crashes like these are to be expected. Note that Silver has now been sacrificed twice—first in having to testify over a loan that was made two months before he took office, and now as the preliminary to Chu’s highly probable departure.

But Solyndra has been remarkably lethal for a hubbub that only surfaced because House Republicans made an issue of it. Whether you believe Americans are not interested in Solyndra, have not heard enough about it from the establishment media, or are too smart to be fooled by a “faux scandal,” one thing stands out: Like the originally marginal Occupy Wall Street movement, Solyndra keeps getting bigger the more it is belittled.

It also continues to generate side troubles. Human Events' Neil W. McCabe reported Wednesday on another green energy company with close ties to Golden State Democrats that has lately come into a big federal loan. You may not share McCabe's judgment that San Jose-based SunPower will be "twice as bad" as Solyndra or his confidence that the company is doomed. But the drumbeat of publicly funded green-job disappointments is turning what had been the president's signature industrial policy into a grinding, extended walk of shame.

As the bad news continues to pile up, Obama is consistent in his notion that it's possible to make the problem go away with sugary words. At his press conference last week, the president gave his most complete response on Solyndra to date, but the responses were nothing new

Obama’s speech misfired in other ways. His jingoistic jabs at Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Florida), who heads up oversight for the Energy Committee, set Stearns up for an obvious rejoinder.

“If President Obama believes that we should borrow billions of dollars from China to subsidize American businesses trying to compete with China then he doesn’t understand this country’s economic system,” Stearns said in a statement. “We should not be picking winners and losers, which is a fundamental flaw in his stimulus scheme.”

Obama also tried to create distance between himself and the company by saying the loan guarantee program “predates” him. This is unlikely to stick given Obama’s famous photo opp at Solyndra’s swanky headquarters and the Bush Administration’s decision to pass on the company’s loan application.

This was the special weakness of Obama’s explanation. In nearly 1,300 words [pdf] he barely went beyond the widely ridiculed couple of sentences he muttered in an earlier Good Morning America appearance. The content merely reiterated a month’s worth of unsuccessful efforts to blame Bush, China, and capitalism. If he thinks creatively enough, Obama might find some new targets: The recent revelation of how much money California green energy companies have managed to grab from the loan program at least holds out the possibility of claiming it was all Prop 13’s fault. But the stubborn fact remains that the Nobel-winning president’s Nobel-winning energy secretary chose to throw $528 million at a company closely tied to one of his billionaire campaign donors.

If that were the sum of the troubles—or if Obama had launched this charm offensive a month ago—the cloud might have passed with only a loss of a few kW in output. But the president has been relentlessly evasive. He has deployed his police in a manner that obstructs the Congress in its own investigation. He ignored his own staffers who doubted both the viability of the company and the public relations “optics” of an abundantly photographed presidential visit to Solyndra last year. Prior to the company’s implosion, the president’s Energy Department was on track to lend it another $469 million, and his minions showed an outrageously cavalier attitude toward the stewardship of your tax money.

In a perverse way, Obama might be better off if the second loan of $469 million had gone through. At a billion dollars the Solyndra loss might have become just another unfathomable statistic to a nation already dazed by the many trillions that have been wasted in the past few years. But when it’s half a billion, you can almost get your mind around it. Solyndra continues to grow as a scandal not because the stakes are high but because they are revealing. It will also continue to radiate political obstructions to whatever Obama's agenda is these days.


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

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


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


14 October, 2011

The strange mind of a veteran British socialist politician

She even defends Britain's deplorable National Health Service (socialized medicine)

What a stroke of bad luck for Shirley Williams. At the very moment when the Lib Dems’ ‘Shirl the Pearl’ was on her feet in the Lords this week, mounting her dewy-eyed defence of the ‘altruistic’ NHS against the Government’s planned ‘money-based’ reforms, the Care Quality Commission was publishing the truth about what all this altruism actually means for patients.

The document makes horrifying reading. As this paper reported yesterday, in one in five of the hospitals they visited unannounced, the Commission’s inspectors found neglect of the elderly so serious that it breaks the law, while in nearly half of them staff were not doing enough to ensure patients didn’t go hungry or thirsty.

On some wards, they saw frail patients rattling their bedrails or banging on water jugs to try to attract the attention of staff. On many others, elderly invalids were forced to undergo the indignity of using commodes next to their beds, because staff were too busy to take them to the lavatory.

At Alexandra Hospital in Worcester, meanwhile, they found that some dehydrated patients hadn’t been given anything to drink for more than ten hours. Imagine that, Shirl the Pearl — and then tell us about the altruism that underpins the good old NHS.

In the words of the CQC’s chairman, Dame Jo Williams (no relation, as far as I’m aware): ‘Time and again, we found cases where patients were treated by staff in a way that stripped them of their dignity and respect.

People were spoken over, and not spoken to; people were left without call bells, ignored for hours on end, or not given assistance to do the basics of life — to eat, drink or go to the toilet.’

Meanwhile, over in the Lords, Dame Jo’s namesake, the bluestocking baroness, was burbling on in that deep, bossy voice of hers about the sacred founding principles of the NHS and this wicked Government’s attempts to dismantle what she described last month as ‘one of the most efficient public services of any in Europe’.

Before I explode with rage, I must acknowledge that, of course, there are thousands upon thousands of hugely dedicated doctors and nurses in the NHS, who are as angry as any of us about the unnecessary suffering they so often see around them, and who do what they can to relieve it.

Indeed, if there were an index of the milk of human kindness, graded from one to ten, I would guess the medical profession would top most, if not all, other occupations, with an average score of perhaps seven. I must also make it clear that I am not saying Lady Williams is a cruel woman. On the contrary, she has always struck me as very well-meaning. Give her a six-and-a-half on the scale....

For what has always struck me about Shirley Williams, and never more so than this week, is that like so many intellectuals, she is profoundly silly.

And although she is neither cruel nor ruthless herself, she has clung doggedly throughout her life to a Socialist belief system that taints everything it touches with cruelty and ruthlessness, causing misery to the very people she most wants to help.

The most maddening thing is that even when the evidence of Socialism’s failure is all around her — whether in the poverty of Soviet Russia in her youth or the black and white print of this week’s CQC report on the state of the NHS — she refuses to see it. In her eyes, it’s never the theory itself that’s wrong, it’s just the way that people have put it into practice.

So what if the health service, as it is presently constituted, cannot manage on £2billion a week of taxpayers’ money without subjecting old ladies to torture?

The answer’s simple, say the Williamses of this world. Just give it £4billion a week. Or if that doesn’t work, try £8billion. But don’t, whatever you do, whisper the blasphemies ‘private enterprise’ or ‘market economics’, or else the poor baroness will fall into a swoon.

Witness her horror over the Health Secretary’s plan to allow ‘any willing provider’ to supply services to the NHS. This is ‘stealth privatisation’, she says, as if no worse crime could be imaginable. ‘The NHS was always seen as the preferred provider. That is swept away.’ Can’t she see that those cruelly-abused patients, parched with thirst and rattling their bedrails to try to attract attention, would count it the greatest blessing on Earth if only a willing provider would hand them a glass of water?

Or take that entirely false contrast she seeks to draw between an ‘altruistic’ and a ‘money-based’ NHS. Doesn’t she remember what happened when the last government gave GPs hugely generous new contracts, with the option of skipping work in the evenings and at weekends? In their droves, they headed for the golf-course, abandoning their patients to strangers —some of whom couldn’t even speak English. Where’s the altruism in that?

And where’s the sense in Lady Williams’s ideological horror of a money-based health service? Leave aside that under the health reforms, care would remain free at the point of delivery. Forget, too, that much of the NHS has been money-based since its foundation, with drug companies and equipment suppliers selling their wares for hard cash.

Imagine that our bread was funded by general taxation and supplied to us on prescription, under the altruistic health service model. Does Lady Williams honestly believe, in her heart of hearts, that it would be cheaper, fresher, better than the bread we buy now, under the wicked money-based system operated by the supermarkets? Come off it! There would be queues round the block for a week-old, £10 bread roll.

But it’s not for her failed attempt to sabotage the NHS reforms that this well-meaning old biddy deserves a special place in the hottest circle of Hell. In my book, her greatest crime was to press ahead with the destruction of grammar [selective] schools in her days as Education Secretary (and yes, I know, though it grieves me to say it, her successor Margaret Thatcher was also guilty there).

The difference is that Lady Williams was driven by a blind ideological faith in the new comprehensive school system (though it was not so blind as to prevent her from sending her own daughter to a fearsomely selective London state school. Comprehensives may have been good enough for other people’s children, but not for hers).

So it is that she bears a large part of the blame for depriving bright working-class children of their surest chance of a leg-up in life, while condemning the not-so bright to empty lives in a new, unemployable underclass.

But of course she wouldn’t see it that way. Never mind the evidence of all our eyes. As far as she’s concerned, Socialist theory is never wrong. It’s just the facts that tend to be a bit awkward.



Two similar capitalists get very different treatment

Both provided popular products but one provided an ego boost and one did not. I am pleased to say that I have never owned an Apple product, never regretted it and never lacked any phone or computer capability I wanted -- JR

The passing of Steve Jobs saw a remarkable outpouring of appreciation for the man and the company he founded, and its many innovative products. The quality and user-friendliness of the products, combined with outstanding brand management and marketing, explain Apple’s loyal, even sectarian, following.

It is unusual for an entrepreneur to be appreciated this way. The obvious comparison is with Bill Gates. Gates and the company he founded have also had a profound impact on our everyday lives. Yet if Gates were to die tomorrow, it is hard to imagine people lighting candles outside computer stores. Gates is still seen as the grasping robber-baron of computing, even though his business strategies have been no more anti-competitive than Apple’s iTunes store. Gates’ success earned him prosecution by the US Justice Department and EU competition authorities for supposedly harming consumers.

Microsoft has bestowed benefits on the world rivalling those of Apple, but to the extent that Gates earns plaudits, it is mainly for his philanthropic efforts. Gates’ philanthropy is likely motivated, at least in part, by the desire to win the respect and appreciation he never found as an entrepreneur. Gates is a member of a group of billionaires who have signed up to the notion that they must give away the majority of their wealth. In Australia, Dick Smith threatens to ‘out’ the wealthy who fail to give, treading a fine line between moral suasion and public intimidation. Yet Gates has done more for humanity as an entrepreneur than he is ever likely to achieve as a philanthropist. It is only the entrepreneurship that made the philanthropy possible.

This is something Jobs understood very well. He showed little interest in philanthropy, not because he was uncharitable but because he recognised that it was not his comparative advantage. Jobs was consequently ‘named and shamed’ by the US philanthropic sector. This did not dent his reputation, perhaps because the public also recognised they were better served by his relentless focus on Apple’s product.

Adam Smith famously observed that ‘it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’ In 1985, Jobs told Playboy magazine ‘we think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves.’ Like Gates, Jobs was a self-interested and self-serving businessman and yet we are all much richer for their efforts.



Occupy Wall Street’s ACORN-related Rent-A-Mobs

by Matthew Vadum

Evidence suggests that ACORN, the Left’s premiere astro-turfing organization, has been paying people to participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Astro-turfing campaigns can generate big money, and ACORN’s lucrative protest-for-profit program is nothing new. As I note in my book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, ACORN has acquired great expertise in manufacturing so-called grassroots protests.

Left-wing loan sharks Herb and Marion Sandler​, the founders of World Savings Bank, gave ACORN affiliates close to $11 million to manufacture mobs to protest their competition in subprime mortgage lending. The United Federation of Teachers paid ACORN $500,000 to create a spontaneous uprising against charter schools in Manhattan.

The sleazy, SEIU-funded Working Families Party, a front group for ACORN, placed a want ad on the Craig’s List website dated Sept. 26. The ad indicates that WFP was recruiting activists to carry out “direct action,” leftist argot for a variety of activities aimed at forcing sociopolitical change. The line between direct action and violent terrorism can become blurry. Extreme forms of direct action can lead to bodily injury and sometimes death. The labor movement is no stranger to assault and killings. Left-wing activists David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin participated in an attack on an armored car that left two police officers and a security guard dead. Two anarchists tried to disrupt the 2008 GOP convention with Molotov cocktails. The eco-terrorist Sea Shepherd Conservation Society admits both to attacking whaling ships with acid and sinking them.

The WFP is seeking immediate hires.

You must be an energetic communicator, with a passion for social and economic justice.

Only outgoing, articulate dedicated, determined candidates will be considered for the positions.

For those candidates that qualify WFP offers substantial paid-training provided by senior leadership, on varied issues such as: advocacy, public speaking, mobilizing, fundraising, networking and organizing. We invest in passionate people with excellent communication skills and a full benefits package is offered to those candidates that qualify. In addition, there is opportunity for advancement and travel to our satellite chapters and out of state affiliates.

This is not a policy job! Through direct action you will be shaping NY state politics for the next 20 years.”

As previously reported, WFP has been involved in organizing the Occupy Wall Street protests since the beginning.

As radical journalist Laura Flanders reported, WFP organizer Nelini Stamp has “been here since day one and she is part of the organizing team and the outreach team that has managed to bridge the distance between that first day and this day and between the grassroots folks here and the labor movement.” Stamp said the protests are aimed at “trying to change the capitalist system” and bringing “revolutionary changes to the states.”

WFP organizer Matthew Cain also acknowledged the party’s involvement Oct. 5 and helpfully provided a photograph of party staffers bearing a blue and white WFP banner during a march in lower Manhattan. Across from Foley Square,
several WFP field staff were standing on the steps. For some of the staffers, it was their first time at the square, but for many others they had already spent nights sleeping in the park. Even those who have been there for two weeks or more have not seen their spirits diminished – they’re every bit as committed as they were when they first showed up.

Of course WFP executive director Dan Cantor, a longtime ACORN operative, is pleased with Occupy Wall Street so far. Cantor told supporters in an email that “the spirit of Wisconsin and Tahrir Square is alive and well in New York City.”




US Congress passes three trade agreements: "Congress approved free trade agreements Wednesday with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, ending a four-year drought in the forming of new trade partnerships and giving the White House and Capitol Hill the opportunity to show they can work together to stimulate the economy and put people back to work. In rapid succession, the House and Senate voted on the three trade pacts, which the administration says could boost exports by $13 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs."

Free vs. stealing: Do students know the difference?: "'Free,' as a grossly distorted concept, is not indigenous to the US but crosses international borders like any other disease. Exhibit A is a Yuma Sun article with a lead paragraph that begins, 'Chilean police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a student march for free public education ...'"

TN: TSA molestation victim’s mom’s case goes to Nashville grand jury: "A Nashville judge decided today that a grand jury should hear the case of a Clarksville mother who was arrested for disorderly conduct in July after a confrontation with security officers at Nashville International Airport. Senior Judge John P. Brown made his decision after a fiery preliminary hearing in Davidson County General Sessions Court to determine if there was probable cause for the charges. Officers said Andrea Abbott, 41, yelled and swore at Transportation Security Administration officers and airport police after her 14-year-old daughter was selected for a full-body scan."

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

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


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


13 October, 2011

Spot the difference


2012: Time for a common sense election

Want to annoy a liberal? Tell one that America needs a business-person as president to put our economic house in order. Most libs will, however subtly, react defensively, given that their experiment in “transforming” America has turned out — how to put it mildly? — disastrous, with even Democratic campaign officials using Titanic metaphors.

The standard reply (and we’re hearing it more and more) is that running the country and running a business are two different things. The responsibilities and consequences of leading a nation can be, and usually are, far graver than those of, say, running a fast-food empire.

There is some truth to that. As we are reminded, the president doesn’t enjoy the luxury of firing members of the opposing party. But the significant advantage of electing a business leader — or, at the very least, one who appreciates the dynamics of a free economy — is having someone who has been held accountable. Accountability, providing goods and services that people want, satisfying stockholders are the defining traits of a free economy. It isn’t complicated nor is it just one of many competing economic theories out there. It’s common sense.

That, in part, explains the appeal of Herman Cain. And the GOP’s flirtation with Donald Trump a few months back. And why Mitt Romney, a mere one-term governor, remains a front-runner. It’s his life-long devotion to business where common sense can mean the difference between solvency and shutting the doors for good.

Contrast Cain, Trump and Romney to Barack Obama in 2008. Our 44th president sailed into office on charisma, platitudes, an activist media, a GOP in ruins and a wafer-thin resume. Soon, he and his cabinet were lauded for their intellectual heft.

Today, by contrast, the American electorate expects reason over rhetoric and solutions over academic pedigree. One of our great common-sense presidents, Calvin Coolidge, said of experts that, “Whoever deals with current public questions is compelled to rely greatly upon the information and judgments of experts and specialists. Unfortunately, not all experts are to be trusted as entirely disinterested.”

Indeed, common sense forged this nation from the beginning. In his aptly titled essay Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote that the crises of his day served some good, in that “the mind grows through them and acquires a firmer habit than before.” Also, they “bring things and men to light which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. . . they sift out the hidden thoughts of man and hold them up in public to the world.”

Our founders knew that great leaders derive their power and inspiration from the common sense and goodwill of everyday Americans. They knew that it takes all of us to make this country work: labor and management, urban and rural, all races, creeds and colors. We now know that economic class is not set for life, with workers rising above their lowly circumstances even in the toughest of times.

A majority of Americans can easily discern the current Occupy Wall Street protests for the turgid, disjointed people’s-movement-wannabe that it is. Common sense values can easily contrast the rank class envy masquerading as discourse, and the moral (and physical) sloth disguising itself as a helpless victim of economic injustice.

2012 is all but crying out for an antidote to fear, pessimism and resentment — and to the politicians stoking the flames to fuel their own ambitions. Calm, cool reason, along with a passionate love for America’s founding ideals can rule the day, and common sense voters can well define 2012 the way values voters and soccer moms seemed to capture more recent elections.

The raucous leftists always fashion themselves the starry-eyed idealists, but we can’t even give them that one, for Calvin Coolidge also remarked that “economy is idealism in its most practical form.”



Notes on Sweden's welfare state

Most people are familiar with what I call the Swedish Fallacy – the reliance on Sweden by people on all sides of the spectrum to back up whatever policy proposal they're making, as if Sweden is a paradise on earth that everybody can emulate by adopting the same policies. It's especially common on the left: they have high taxes and a dynamic economy, so higher taxes must not be a bad thing! A new report from the Libera Foundation, a Finnish think tank, throws a spanner into those works:
One should remember that the golden age of Swedish entrepreneurship, where one successful firm after another was founded in the small country and gained international renown, occurred during a time where taxes and the scope of government were quite limited. Sweden shifted to radicalized social democratic policies in the 1960s, 1970s, and the 1980s. . . .

It is, however, important to remember that Sweden, like other Nordic nations, has compensated for these policies by improving economic liberty in other fields. Some reforms, such as the partial privatization of the mandatory pensions system and voucher systems in schools and health care surpass what has been possible to implement in most developed nations.

Swedish society is not necessarily moving away from the idea of a welfare state, but continuous reforms are implemented towards economic liberty within the scope of welfare. The rise of government has been stopped and even reversed in recent years. The nation is again returning to the free market policies which served it so well in the past.

This is a point that Tim Worstall has made in the past as well. The report also discusses the cultural factors that make such high taxes tolerable. Yes, Sweden is a high tax, high welfare country, but it's also remarkably free market by most other measures. Indeed, it might be that the only way they're able to pay for so much welfare is because in many other respects they take a more laissez-faire approach to their economy than we do.

That should be food for thought for socialists who want to take from the rich to give to the poor – if a free market maximises the money they have to redistribute in the medium-term, the most sincere socialist position might be to favour fairly high taxes and low regulation. It's not something I'd support – high taxes are still bad news for lots of reasons – but I'd prefer it to the primitive central planning that many on the left still favour. I don't think Sweden's a paradise, but it might still be able to teach the left a thing or two about how to pay for the welfare state they want.



SunPower: Twice As Bad As Solyndra, Twice As Bad For Obama

Congressman's son lobbied for failing solar panel company

How did a failing California solar company, buffeted by short sellers and shareholder lawsuits, receive a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project—three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico, to build the panels for the project.

The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization. If SunPower was a bank, the feds would shut it down. Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain.

Two men with insight into the process are SunPower rooter Rep. George R. Miller III, (D.-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and his SunPower lobbyist son, George Miller IV.

Miller the Elder is a strong advocate for SunPower, which converted an old Richmond, Calif., Ford plant in his district to a panel-manufacturing facility.

The congressman hosted an Oct. 14, 2010, tour of the plant with company CEO Thomas H. Werner and Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar to promote the company’s fortunes.

“The path to a clean energy economy starts here, in places like SunPower’s research and development facility,” said Salazar during the tour. “The work that comes from these facilities transforms renewable energy ideas into a reality. When renewable energy companies continue to invest in places like California, the realization of a new energy future is within our reach,” he said.

Miller the Elder said he was grateful for Salazar's interest. “We’ve worked hard to make renewable energy a priority because it represents America’s future economic growth. Today, businesses like SunPower are moving forward, hiring 200 people for good clean energy jobs in the East Bay,” he said.

“By fostering a business climate that encourages companies like SunPower, even more good jobs will be created locally, we’ll reduce demand for dirty energy sources, and we’ll cut customers’ utility bills. That’s the right direction,” he said.

SunPower’s political action committee (PAC) was not shy about participating in the political process either.

According to the SunPower PAC filings for its activities in the 2010 midterm election campaign cycle, it donated more than $36,000. Of the $15,650 donated to House and Senate candidates, $14,650 went to Democrats, with these top recipients: $4,000 to Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), $3,000 to Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D.-Ariz.) and $2,900 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.).

The congressman was not forgotten either. The SunPower PAC remembered him with $500 for his 2010 campaign. While SunPower was a financial partner in the congressman’s reelection campaign, it straight-out hired his son.

Miller the Younger is not registered to lobby in Washington, but he is a member of its bar. He is not a member of the California bar, home of his lobbying firm, Lang, Hansen, O'Malley and Miller (LHOM), of which he is a founding partner.

According the firm's website LHOM specializes in providing advice to clients on larger macro political issues trends. “Utilizing our broad experience in California and Washington, D.C., we can furnish 'big picture' analysis of developing political and policy trends which may affect client interests and goals.”

What does Miller the Younger bring? Read here: “George Miller brings a lifetime of friendships, relationships, and contacts together with over 15 years of front-line advocacy experience. He’s an attorney with expertise that ranges from insurance and banking to transportation, taxation and gaming law,” according to the website. “Unlike most advocates, George is at ease working both the corridors of Sacramento power or the halls of Congress.”

What is the stated purpose of the SunPower’s DOE 1705 program loan guarantee?

SunPower has different lines of business. In addition to manufacturing solar panel and roof tiles, it builds solar panel ranches, which it then sells off, but retains the services contract.

The loan guarantee is earmarked for the job numbers for the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County, which it has already sold to NRG Solar, but will continue to maintain.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE) website, the CVSR project will create 350 construction jobs during the two-year build and 15 permanent jobs—presumably those are the squeegee men for keeping the panels clean.

Capitol Hill powerbroker Rep. George Miller (D.-Calif.), center, hosted Interior Sec. Kenneth L. Salazar, left, on an Oct. 14, 2010 tour of SunPower's Richmond, Calif., plant. During the tour, Salazar said plants like SunPower's transform renewable energy ideas into reality. One month later, the company announced it had restated its 2008 and 2009 financial filings to correct for unsubstantiated accounting entries.

If $80 million per permanent job seems a little high, even for the current Obama administration, you are correct. In addition to the 350 construction jobs and the 15 squeegee men, there will an as-yet-undetermined number of jobs created building the panels for the CVSR—in Mexicali, Mexico.

The company is looking for a facility of up to 320,000 square feet, where it will build three different solar panel models and its solar roof tiles, according the company’s Aug. 5 statement.

Marty T. Neese, the company's chief operating officer, said, “Establishing our own manufacturing facility in Mexicali means we will be positioned to quickly deliver our high-efficiency, high-reliability solar products to a growing North American solar market.”

Mexicali Mayor Francisco Perez Tejada Padilla said he was thrilled. “Mexicali is rapidly becoming an industrial hub for high-tech companies, offering an educated workforce and a growing manufacturing area,” he said. “We welcome SunPower to our city and are pleased that they have chosen Mexicali to establish its solar panel manufacturing facility.”

The good news for Mexican jobs seekers did not affect the DOE's loan guarantee to SunPower. Hours before the DOE 1705 loan program expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011 on Sept. 30, the $1.2 billion in loan guarantees was approved for the company.



Panderer in Chief: What would a Mitt Romney presidency look like?

Romney brazenly proclaimed, "One reason to elect me is that I know what I stand for, I've written it down. Words have meaning."

"I've written it down"—I love that. I'm put in mind of the great New Yorker cartoon, featuring a Washington bigwig behind an enormous desk, the Capitol looming through his office window. "I keep my core beliefs written on the palm of my hand for easy reference," he tells his visitor.

With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie out and Perry floundering, it's looking ever more likely that the alternative to President Obama will be a candidate who needs a cheat sheet to remember his core beliefs.

Taking to heart the Stoic principle that we shouldn't lament what we can't control, I'm going to try to convince you—and myself—that things could be worse.

In their 2007 editorial endorsing Romney, National Review argued—hilariously—that the former Massachusetts governor was a "full-spectrum conservative."

But if there's any case to be made for Romney, it's that he's a full-spectrum panderer. Paradoxically, Romney's faults—his incessant flip-flopping and desperate quest for approval—might make him a less-dangerous-than-average president.

On the campaign trail, Romney has savaged Obama's proposed Medicare cuts—the sign "keep your hands off our Medicare" is "absolutely right," he insists—and he has attacked Perry for questioning the constitutionality of Social Security.

The good news, I suppose, is that there is no better reason to take Romney at his word here than there is anywhere else.

Romney's strategically timed ideological conversions are well-known. On the road to the presidency, he's had convenient epiphanies about stem-cells, gay rights, and immigration, and gone from being a staunch gun-controller to, in 2007, buying a lifetime NRA membership and awkwardly bragging about blasting rabbits with a single-shot .22 rifle (do those come with laser sights?).

But, having suffered through two ideologically charged presidencies in a row, to many Americans the poll-tested pandering of the Clinton era doesn't look so bad by comparison.

Our 42nd president wanted national health care, but the country wanted welfare reform and prosperous normalcy—and the country got what it wanted.


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

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


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


12 October, 2011

Did Hitler escape to South America?

I am inclined to think that he didn't but the case is not as open and shut as you might imagine. Consider two things:

1). We only have the word of the Red Army for what they found in Hitler's bunker and the old Soviet apparatus told lies as easily as some people tell the truth. They even had a word for such lies: "Disinformation" -- with one of its more successful examples being the demonization of that great man of God, Pope Pius XII.

And it would have been a great disgrace for the Soviets if they had let Hitler slip through their fingers. So they would have claimed to have got him even if they had not -- reasoning quite cogently that Hitler would not blow the cover that they had conveniently provided for him.

2). It is undisputed that many Nazis, including some senior ones, DID escape to South America. So if them, why not the Leader himself? He would only have had to manage a night flight from somewhere in the Reich to Fascist Spain and all his troubles would be over. A transfer from there to one of the South American dictatorships could have been arranged in a variety of ways. And the Latin American elite were at that time (and to a considerable extent still are) apostles of Bolivarism -- which is just Fascism by another name, Fascism complete with a Fuehrerprinzip of course. So Hitler's welcome would have been warm, though secretive.

And a night flight would not even have been particularly dangerous. It would be assumed by all concerned that only Allied aircraft would be in the air by that time and the profile of some German military aircraft was similar to the profile of some Allied aircraft (e.g. the Junkers 88 could be mistaken for a Mosquito bomber) so any challenge would be unlikely.

But the reason I doubt that Hitler escaped is that I cannot see him ever shutting up for long. The man was a born preacher so I am sure that if he had survived we would have eventually heard something from him in some way.

But if you want to read an interesting article offering evidence that he escaped, see here or here


Government the Job Killer

John Stossel has some good stories:

President Obama says government will have to build the nation out of the economic trough.

"We're the country that built the intercontinental railroad," Obama says. "So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads?"

Ironic that he mentions the Chinese. Progressives used to complain that to build the railroad, bosses abused Chinese workers -- called them "coolies" and treated them badly. Now this is big success?

I guess Obama doesn't know that the transcontinental railroad was a Solyndra-like Big Government scandal. The railroad didn't make economic sense at the time, so the government subsidized construction and gave the companies huge quantities of the best land on the continent. As we should expect, without market discipline -- profit and loss -- contractors ripped off the taxpayers. After all, if you get paid by the amount of track you lay, you'll lay more track than necessary.

Credit Mobilier, the first rail construction company, made enormous profits by overcharging for its work. To keep the subsidies flowing, it made big contributions to congressmen.

Where have we heard that recently?

The transcontinental railroad lost tons of money. The government never covered its costs, and most rail lines that used the tracks went bankrupt or continued to be subsidized by taxpayers. The Union Pacific and Northern Pacific -- all those rail lines we learned about in history class -- milked the taxpayer and then went broke.

One line worked. The Great Northern never went bankrupt. It was the railroad that got no subsidies.

We need infrastructure, but the beauty of leaving most of these things to the private sector -- without subsidies, bailouts and other privileges -- is that they would have to be justified by the profit-and-loss test. In a truly free market, when private companies make bad choices, investors lose their own money. This tends to make them careful.

By contrast, when government loses money, it just spends more and raises your taxes, or borrows more, or inflates. Building giant government projects is no way to create jobs. When government spends on infrastructure, it takes money away from projects that consumers might think are more important.

When government isn't killing jobs by sucking money out of the private sector, it kills jobs by smothering the private sector with regulation. I talked to Peter Schiff about all this. Schiff is a good authority because he was one of the few people to warn of the housing bust. Now he's had a run-in with the federal government over job creation.

Schiff, who operates a brokerage firm with 150 employees, recently complained to Congress that "regulations are running up the cost of doing business, and a lot of companies never even get started because they can't overcome that regulatory hurdle."

Schiff claims he would have hired a thousand more people but for regulations. "I had a huge plan to expand. I wanted to open up a lot of offices. I had some capital to do it. I had investors lined up. My business was doing really well. But unfortunately, because of the regulations in the security industry, I was not able to hire."

So if he wants to hire an analyst, he can't just hire him? "I had to get permission to publish their research, which I didn't get for years. And so I can't pay analysts if I can't sell their research.

People don't appreciate the number of regulations entrepreneurs face. Schiff pays 10 people just to try to figure out if his company is obeying the rules.

"You can't just act very quickly, because everything has to be done through this maze of compliance. Even my brokers ... find out that maybe 20 percent, 30 percent of their day is involved in compliance-related activity, activity that is inhibiting their productivity. ... All around the country, people are complying with regulations instead of producing, instead of investing and growing the economy. They're trying to survive the regulations."

This is no way to create jobs or wealth. Keynesian pundits and politicians can't understand why businesses sit on cash rather than invest and hire unemployed workers. It's really no mystery. Government is in the way.



Morality, Not Theology

Jonah Goldberg

Robert Jeffress introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit on Friday. He started a great big hullabaloo by asking, "Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person, or one who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?"

Before we go on, let me just say, I'd probably go with curtain No. 1. Don't get me wrong -- I've got no problem with a born-again Christian being my president, my pilot or my chiropodist. But saying someone is a born-again Christian, for me at least, is not inherently synonymous with being a "good, moral person," never mind being transparently preferable to one.

In other words, I might vote for a born-again Christian on the assumption that his professed faith makes it more likely he's a good person. But if the choice is between someone we know is a good person and someone who just might be, why take the chance?

Jeffress was practicing "dog whistle politics" -- a term of recent Australian vintage that has caught on here and in Britain and that simply means trying to send a message to a certain constituency that the dog-whistler hopes won't be heard by anyone else. In this case, Jeffress wanted evangelical Christians to decode his remarks as an attack on Mitt Romney's Mormonism. And they got it. Alas, so did everyone else.

But apparently Jeffress couldn't take any chances. So after Perry's speech, Jeffress blew the dog whistle hard enough to give himself a hernia, telling reporters that Mormonism is a cult and that "every true, born-again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian."

It's difficult to parse what's the most annoying thing about all this. Is it the bigotry, the intellectual incoherence or just the incredible lameness?

According to Jeffress, Mormonism's cult status merely disqualifies Romney when the rest of the field is evangelical Christians. "The reason I would probably select Mitt Romney over Barack Obama is, I do think being an evangelical, or Christian, is important, but it's not the only criteria by which we select a leader," he told Fox News. "I personally would rather have a non-Christian like Mitt Romney who embraces [my] principles than Barack Obama."

So why is he wasting everyone's time?

Just in case Jeffress still doesn't get it: It's not called the Christian Voter Summit but the Values Voter Summit. And yet Jeffress doesn't claim Romney doesn't share his values, only that he doesn't share the same theology.

Is Mormonism a cult? Yes, no, maybe, who cares. From a Jewish perspective, you could say that Mormonism is simply one of the more recent additions to a very long line of cults. From an atheist perspective, it's cults as far as the eye can see.

But from a moral perspective, contemporary Mormonism is squarely within the Judeo-Christian tradition, promoting decency, self-restraint, family values, etc.

The old Moral Majority had its flaws, but its core mission was admirable: to promote moral unity under the banner of theological pluralism. However you worship, if you shared the same "traditional values" you could work together. Jeffress turns all that on its head.

He also plays into the worst stereotypes about the Republicans as a bigoted and theocratic party for evangelical Christians alone. And that's ironic, too, because anti-Mormon prejudice is not a particularly acute problem on the right.

According to Gallup, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they'd never vote for a Mormon presidential candidate (27 percent compared with 18 percent). Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac poll of voters taken earlier this year says 68 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of independents are comfortable with a Mormon president, while only 49 percent of Democrats are.

It's good and right that Perry is distancing himself from Jeffress. Then again, maybe he put Jeffress up to this stunt in the first place so the idea would get out without him taking the heat for it.

Ironically, if Perry did goad the Dallas-based pastor to blow the Mormon dog whistle, or if he picks it up himself, it would only lend credence to Jeffress' insinuation that a choice between Romney and Perry is a choice between a "good, moral person" and "a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ."


Jonah might have added above that it takes a "broad tent" person to win elections and the good pastor was advocating a very narrow tent. Strait and narrow may be the way to salvation but it is not the way to win American Presidential elections -- JR


Protesters Occupy the Liberal Media

When the Tea Party movement erupted in the spring of 2009, the media elites dismissed them as corporate-generated "Astroturf" noise. They found them barely worth covering, even to besmirch them.

But when the Occupy Wall Street protests began on Sept. 17, the liberal media was quickly bombarded with complaints from the left that the media were ignoring this massive "news" story. NPR Executive Editor Dick Meyer said the early protests "did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption, or an especially clear objective." So the protesters went out and blocked the Brooklyn Bridge and drew 700 arrests -- voila, a national story.

Contemplate this: The Occupy Wall Street folks drew more broadcast network stories in the first nine days of coverage (with 24 stories) than the Tea Party drew in the first nine months(with 19 stories).

NBC's Michelle Franzen was the first promoter - OK, she calls herself a reporter -- on the scene. "Protesters fed up with the economy and social inequality turned out en masse over the weekend," she announced on "Today" on Oct. 3. "Voicing their discontent and marching for change." Her expert source, Columbia professor Dorian Warren, dutifully proclaimed the Wall Street protests were "a liberal version of the Tea Party" that "could potentially carry over into the 2012 elections and get people to the polls."

So let's get this straight. The protests were like a stumbling little fawn trying to find its legs. They'd been in existence for about two weeks, and NBC was already suggesting the "potential" for what the Tea Party achieved in 2010 -- a massive Democratic wave election in 2012. Journalists are either easily impressed or very energetic practitioners of wishful thinking.

ABC's Dan Harris followed that night to offer his tributes. "This past weekend, 700 people were arrested when they stormed the Brooklyn Bridge. Now major unions are joining in, as are celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin, and similar protests are popping up across America." It might seem a little funny -- and noteworthy -- to have a protest against the mega-rich with mega-rich movie stars standing around, but it fits the media's "prominent people" standard, so never mind.

This provides a crystal-clear contrast with the first Tea Party events in 2009. "There's been some grassroots conservatives who have organized so-called Tea Parties around the country," NBC's Chuck Todd noted on the April 15, 2009, "Today," but "the idea hasn't really caught on." On ABC, Dan Harris warned viewers that "critics on the left (wonder who?) say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests."




Temporary employment: The new permanent?: "Uncertainties about future tax and health care costs could be inhibiting permanent job growth, shifting more of the labor force to temporary and part-time employment, say Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow, and Peter Swanson, a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar, with the National Center for Policy Analysis. In 1956 there were only 20,000 temporary employees. By the early 1970s, there were 200,000 temporary employees, representing 0.3 percent of U.S. employment."

President Obama’s attack on the oil companies: "A widely recognized economic principle is that when you subsidize something, you get more of it, and when you tax it, you get less. Unfortunately President Obama's guiding economic principle is to impose more taxes on profitable companies and subsidize those that can't make a dime. It's no wonder the economy is struggling"

Hilda Solis, Secretary of Unions: "Lenin argued that communism is so obviously virtuous that any worker who resists it must be a victim of 'false consciousness.' He cannot think straight because his oppressors have muddled his brain. Hilda Solis, Obama’s secretary of unions -- oops, labor -- thinks a bit like Lenin. She thinks labor unions are so obviously virtuous that any worker who votes against unionization does so only because evil labor relations consultants have conspired with the worker’s malevolent employer to muddle the worker’s brain."

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

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


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


11 October, 2011

The miracle of iCapitalism

By Michelle Malkin

Here is your high-resolution teachable moment of the week: anti-capitalist, anti-corporate extremists of "Occupy Wall Street" mourning Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs without a trace of irony. While the Kamp Alinsky Kids ditch school to moan about their massive student debt, parade around in zombie costumes and whine about evil corporations over poached Wi-Fi connections, it's the doers and producers and wealth creators like Jobs who change the world.

They are the gifted 1 percent whom the "99 percenters" mob seeks to demonize, marginalize and tax out of existence.

Inherent in the American success story of the iMac/iPhone/iPad is a powerful lesson about the fundamentals of capitalism. The "Occupiers" chant "people over profit." They call for "caring" over "corporations." But the pursuit of profits empowers people beyond the bounds of imagination.

I blog on an iMac. When I travel, I bring my MacBook Pro. I Tweet news links from my iPhone. My kids are learning Photoshop and GarageBand on our Macs; they use metronome, dictation, video and camera apps daily. I use the technology for business, pleasure, social networking, raising awareness of the missing, finding recipes and even tuning a ukulele.

None of the countless people involved in conceiving these products and bringing them to market "care" about me. They pursued their own self-interests. Through the spontaneous order of capitalism, they enriched themselves -- and the world.

One of my favorite economics essays from which I've drawn bottomless inspiration is Leonard Read's "I, Pencil." He turned a mundane writing instrument into an elementary study of free-market capitalism. What goes for the pencil goes for any of the products Jobs introduced.

"I have a profound lesson to teach," Read wrote in the voice of a metaphorical lead pencil. "I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because -- well, because I am seemingly so simple. Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me."

Read traces the family tree of the pencil from the Oregon loggers who harvest its cedar wood, to the California millworkers who cut the wood into thin slats, to Mississippi refinery workers, to the Dutch East Indies farmers who produce an oil used to make erasers. All of these people, and many more at the periphery of the process, have special knowledge about their life's work in their separate corners of the earth. But none by himself has the singular knowledge or ability to give birth to a pencil. Few will ever come in contact with the others who make the production of that pencil possible.

It's not because they "care about each other" that they cooperate to deliver any one good. It's the result of self-interest, multiplied millions of times over.

Read illuminates: "There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work." This spontaneous "configuration of human energies" is repeated endlessly in our daily lives. Think of the countless and diverse people involved in producing a Slinky, jump rope or baseball, a diaper, refrigerator or Boeing 747. And, of course, an iMac, iPhone or iPad.

Appreciating this voluntary configuration of human energies, Read argued, is key to possessing "an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith." Indeed. Without that faith, we are susceptible to the force of class-warfare mobs and the arrogance of command-and-control bureaucrats in Washington who believe the role of private American entrepreneurs, producers and wealth generators is to "grow the economy" and who "think at some point you have made enough money."

The progressives who want to bring down "Wall Street" will snipe that Jobs was one of "theirs," not "ours."

He belonged to no one. He was transcendently committed to excellence and beauty and innovation. And yes, he made gobs of money pursuing it all while benefiting hundreds of millions of people around the world whom he never met, but who shed a deep river of tears upon learning of his death this week.

From "I, Pencil" to iPhone, such is the profound, everlasting miracle of iCapitalism -- a triumph of individualism over collectivism, freedom over force and markets over master planning. To borrow an old Apple slogan: It just works.



Reverse Racism

Thomas Sowell

Among those who have been disappointed by President Barack Obama, none is likely to end up so painfully disappointed as those who saw his election as being, in itself and in its consequences, a movement toward a "post-racial society."

Like so many other expectations that so many people projected onto this little-known man who suddenly burst onto the political scene, the expectation of movement toward a post-racial society had no speck of hard evidence behind it -- and all too many ignored indications of the very opposite, including his two decades of association with the egregious Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Those people of good will who want to replace the racism of the past with a post-racial society have too often overlooked the fact that there are others who instead want to put racism under new management, to have reverse discrimination as racial payback for past injustices.

Attorney General Eric Holder became a key figure epitomizing the view that government's role in racial matters was not to be an impartial dispenser of equal justice for all, but to be a racial partisan and an organ of racial payback. He has been too politically savvy to say that in so many words, but his actions have spoken far louder than any words.

The case that first gave the general public a glimpse of Attorney General Holder's views and values was one in which young black thugs outside a voting site in Philadelphia were televised intimidating white voters. When this episode was broadcast, it produced public outrage.

Although the Department of Justice's prosecution of these thugs began in the last days of the Bush administration, and the defendants had offered no legal defense, the case was dropped by the Justice Department after Eric Holder took over. One of the lawyers who were prosecuting that case resigned in protest.

That lawyer -- J. Christian Adams -- has now written a book, titled "Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department." It is a thought-provoking book and a shocking book in what it reveals about the inner workings of the Department of Justice's civil rights division.

Bad as the Justice Department's decision was to drop that particular case, which it had already won in court, this book makes painfully clear that this was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Despite the efforts of some in the media and in politics to depict the voter intimidation in Philadelphia as just an isolated incident involving a few thugs at one voting place, former U.S. Attorney Adams shows that these thugs were in fact part of a nationwide organization doing similar things elsewhere.

Moreover, the civil rights division of the Justice Department has turned the same blind eye to similar voter intimidation and corruption of the voting process by other people and other organizations in other cities and states -- so long as those being victimized were white and the victimizers were black.

This is all spelled out in detail, naming names and naming places, not only among those in the country at large, but also among those officials of the Justice Department who turned its role of protecting the civil rights of all Americans into a policy of racial partisanship and racial payback.

The widespread, organized and systematic corruption of the voting process revealed by the author of "Injustice" is on a scale that can swing not only local but national elections, including the 2012 elections. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder has not only turned a blind eye to blatant evidence of voter fraud, it has actively suppressed those U.S. Attorneys in its own ranks who have tried to stop that fraud.

Even in counties where the number of votes cast exceeds the number of people legally entitled to vote, Eric Holder's Justice Department sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil -- if the end result is the election of black Democrats. It has become the mirror image of the old Jim Crow South.

This is an enormously eye-opening book which makes painfully clear that, where racial issues are concerned, the Department of Justice has become the Department of Payback. A post-racial society is the last thing that Holder and Obama are pursuing.



Obama Is Occupying America

David Limbaugh

Rational people realize that President Obama's policies have been an abysmal failure, which is why his only hope for re-election is to try to sow confusion among the voters, such as those populating "Occupy Wall Street."

People often say the success of democracy depends on an informed electorate. Given his record, that's the last strategy Obama can afford to embrace. Short of a fortuitous economic miracle falling into his lap, his only hope for re-election is that enough voters are misinformed.

From day one, Obama has been savaging George W. Bush for bequeathing him "the worst economy since the Great Depression." But he hasn't scapegoated Bush alone. He also impugned "fat cat bankers" on Wall Street and other evil corporations for "creating the mess" and for being its primary beneficiaries while everyone else was hurting. Conveniently, he didn't point his accusing finger at the real culprit, the liberal affordable housing policy that he supported.

He leveraged his vague slander against Wall Street to bolster his case against free markets and "crony capitalism" and to lubricate the public for his statist remedies across the board.

His goal was to fundamentally change America -- almost overnight -- with an accelerated push toward socialism, all while insisting he was a "fierce advocate of the free market" and committed to the American ideal. He just loved capitalism, but it couldn't possibly work when all the powerful and moneyed interests were loading the dice.

The scope of Obama's undertaking has been breathtaking, as has been his level of deceit in promoting and implementing it. Borrowing from both the Saul Alinsky and Cloward-Piven models, he excused the real culprits and demonized false ones to saddle the nation with historically reckless spending programs.

He didn't just give us his stimulus bill on the heels of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which he decried despite having his fingerprints all over it. He loaded his omnibus spending bill with earmarks after promising he'd radically reduce them, took over auto companies, crammed through socialized medicine and pushed through a staggeringly problematic financial reform bill that further empowered the government to engage in the same types of tyranny that led to all this. Though he failed to pass his cap-and-trade measure, his Environmental Protection Agency has engaged in a systematic pattern of circumventing Congress to impose further smothering regulations on American businesses.

Despite his profound incompetence on many levels, Obama has been an adept propagandist who has blamed capitalism for problems caused and magnified by socialist remedies to justify further socialist solutions. He's now doing the same thing all over again as his new socialist solutions are failing.

Obama not only eschews responsibility for his primary role in the nation's economic and debt catastrophes but also is using class warfare to foment unrest in his malcontent leftist base and marshaling union thug muscle to attach a veneer of authenticity to Occupy Wall Street, a largely AstroTurf-like phenomenon. Indeed, Obama practically expressed common cause with the protesters at his recent presser and certainly did nothing to calm their ostensible fears.

To appreciate the surreal nature of Occupy Wall Street, you have to watch a few video interviews of some of the protesters and review a laundry list of their complaints. These misguided people are like probation violators castigating their probation officers for catering to their pleas for leniency.

They are taking up all the popular causes of liberalism as they protest against problems spawned by those very causes. They shake their fists at Wall Street, banks, corporations and the wealthy "1 percent," which had little to do with our national nightmare. But they give a complete pass to government and even demand that it be given more power to further destroy what still does work in America.

Nothing illustrates their collective cluelessness more than their fulminating against the national debt while demanding a redoubling of the policies and programs that caused it and will make it immeasurably worse.

Obama is laughing all the way to the evil bank, hoping he can continue to capitalize on this very type of chaos and class envy to eke out re-election in 2012. Obama's protesters are occupying Wall Street while he is occupying America.



Occupy Wall Street is a Misinformed Fraud

Am I pissed off about executives of banks walking away with golden parachutes and huge bonuses after running banks into the ground? You bet. But I am smart enough to realize that the Federal Government gave them the ammo to kill their companies via Fannie and Freddie, and then saved them with TALF and TARP. You might also remember that government forced companies like Bank of America ($BAC) to merge with Merrill Lynch ($ML), and that going back to 1998, it was President Clinton and Treasury Secretary Rubin that pushed hard for ending Glass-Steagall.

So yeah, I wouldn’t have bailed out the banks. I doubt many Tea Partiers would have. We aren’t happy about the outcome either. We don’t like Dodd-Frank and think it should be repealed. But it doesn’t mean we should nationalize and socialize the entire banking system. That would cause a worse train wreck than we already have.

The OWS crowd is really ticked off about education and student debt. So am I. Why the heck do we have so many subsidies for education? It simply drives up the cost. Education is one gigantic bloated bureaucracy. However, the OWS answer is “free education and forgiveness of student loans.” Well, screw that.

Why not offer competition in education? By the way, no one put a gun to your head an told you to borrow massive sums of money for school. You could have worked your way through, went to a community college the first two years and then a four year school. Did it occur to any of you to check out how much money a typical sociology graduate degreed person made before you ponied up more than 100K to get that sociology masters? Economics work. Used correctly, they help you make good decisions. Used poorly, you do stupid things.

Which politicians are using bigotry and hate? It’s not the right that is consistently playing the race card. Right now it’s the man in the oval office. He plays it as much as he can. I don’t hear cries of racism coming from the right. Were the OWS people in Atlanta racists for not letting a former civil rights activist turned Congressman speak? Just asking.

You guys embrace Obamacare. Yet, you don’t look at how other countries have fared with socialized medicine. Canada is starting to scrap it. England is considering it too. Entitlements eat up our budget. Why not more transparency and a free market targeted to individuals in health care?

OWS wants organic produce. They want green farming. No one takes better care of their land than the guy who owns it. We also can’t feed the world using organic means. OWS would rather see children starving than people eating. There is plenty of organic produce out there. All you have to do is buy it. Why take away freedom from people that don’t want to pay for it?

On energy policy you want green energy. Don’t we all. Problem is, the stuff doesn’t work and its too expensive. The greenest, most powerful energy source out there is nuclear and I don’t see you guys campaigning for more nuclear plants. Have you seen the damage to wildlife that wind energy has created? Energy is about economics. Increase the supply of energy and all prices will come down. But, from your statements I don’t think anyone from OWS spent a lot of time in a free market economics lecture. Google this, TINFL. Understand it. Live it.

You OWS people seem to be upset at corporations that pay no tax. Me too! But, you want to tax them more. I got news for you. Corporations never pay taxes. They are simply tax aggregators. They pass the cost to their consumers. We would be better off charging companies 0% in corporate taxes and incenting them to create jobs here in the US. Then you guys could go to work, pay off your student loans and stay out of the parks so everyone could go and enjoy them.

Most of the problems in the US stem from bad public policy and big government. Governments are awfully hard to put out of business. But it’s easy to put companies out of business. Don’t buy their product. Don’t use their services. Elect Tea Party people, they’ll shrink the size of government and give you more freedom.

We can disband all the companies if you want. We can blow up Wall Street and the capital markets. We can round up all the capitalists and send them to a camp. But, sooner rather than later the totalitarian paradise you envision will be ripped apart by economics. Black markets will tear at the fabric of your structured society. Markets eliminate transaction costs, increase transparency and make things cheaper!

Why? Because earning a profit and building economies of scale and scope are part of the human condition. Mankind has done it since the beginning of time. Our lives are easier, better and our standard of living is raised. All we really need is to get big government out of the way. The sooner you embrace that the better off you will be.


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

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


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


10 October, 2011

The left, the race card, and Herman Cain

by Jeff Jacoby

THE DAY AFTER Herman Cain's dazzling victory in the Florida straw poll, I commented to a Republican neighbor -- and where I live, there aren't many of those -- that with Cain as a GOP rock star, liberals who have been so ready to smear President Obama's critics as racist would have to come up with a new shtick.

What was I thinking? Racial McCarthyism has been a staple of left-wing political rhetoric for years, but it went into overdrive with the rise of Barack Obama. Former president Jimmy Carter, for example, claimed that much of the backlash to the president's policies was explained by "the fact that he is a black man." Janeane Garofalo, the movie actress and liberal activist, called Tea Party protesters "racist rednecks" with one motivation: "This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up." Obama himself has sometimes played the race card; as a candidate in 2008 he predicted that Republicans would "try to make you afraid of me" by focusing on his color: "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

Of course such accusations are grotesque canards. But cynics and partisan ideologues have never been terribly squeamish about trafficking in ugly innuendoes to win votes, especially when a complacent media lets them get away with it. Still, you might have thought that surging Republican support for a proud black entrepreneur -- an up-from-segregation business star who summarizes his identity as "ABC: American first, black second, and conservative third" -- would make it tough even for cynics and ideologues to keep singing from the same racial hymnal.

Not a chance. "Herman Cain is probably well-liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party, conservative movement, and tea party movement," Garofalo theorized in a recent a TV appearance. "Cain provides this great opportunity so [Republicans] can say, 'Look, this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look, we have a black man.'"

In other words, if Republicans or conservatives oppose a public figure who happens to be black, it's because they're racists. And if they support a public figure who happens to be black? That's also because they're racists.

Needless to say, there is no point arguing with such "logic." If Garofalo discovered that Tea Partiers are inordinately fond of applesauce, she would presumably attribute that to racism as well. It would almost be funny, except that there is nothing funny about racial calumny.

Four years ago, the emergence of the Democratic Party's first charismatic, credible black presidential candidate was regarded across the political spectrum as something to celebrate. Even Republicans who strongly opposed Obama because of his positions and outlook -- even John McCain! -- rejoiced in what Obama's success said about America's capacity for self-redemption.

Shouldn't the emergence of Herman Cain -- potentially the GOP's first charismatic, credible black presidential candidate -- evoke similar feelings? Especially if you think the Republican Party has a poor racial record, shouldn't you be encouraged that so many Republicans are excited about Cain? (As a matter of brute historical fact, it was the Democratic Party, not the GOP, that used to be the racist stronghold of American politics. But that's a separate column.)

Whatever his political prospects, Cain's story is exhilarating. Born into poverty in the Jim Crow South, where his mother was a maid and his father a janitor and chauffeur, Cain rose to become a mathematician in the US Navy, a successful business executive, the chairman of a federal reserve bank, and now a Republican star. Liberals should rejoice in his success, even if they disagree with his politics.

Yet on AlterNet, a prominent left-wing website, Cain is jeered as a "black garbage pail kid," a "monkey in the window," and a minstrel performer playing to "white conservative masters." Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist who polled for the Obama campaign, blasts Cain as "racist and bigoted" for saying that many black voters have been "brainwashed" into rejecting conservatism. In a new memoir, Cain writes of being slurred as an "Oreo" and an "Uncle Tom" because he is an unabashed Republican conservative.

Love Cain or loathe him, it should be possible to talk about his candidacy without resorting to racial pejoratives. Like Lester Maddox's axe handle, the political race card ought to be by now nothing but an ugly memory -- something no decent voter, activist, or candidate would dream of brandishing.



More From the Culture of Narcissism

I wouldn’t think it would be worthwhile to draw attention to the Occupy Wall Street “movement,” or its list of demands that wouldn’t pass muster in an average kindergarten class. But if America’s president and vice president choose to talk about it, and give it credibility, then it’s news.

According to VP Joe Biden, demands such as free college, pay independent of work, a $20 minimum wage (why not $100 or $1000?), and a nation with open borders have legitimacy and “a lot in common with the tea party movement.”

President Obama sees these demonstrations against corporate America as reasonable protest toward “the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this situation to begin with.”

This should provide perspective to what our most fundamental problem is today. We have an endangered species in America whose loss threatens our future. That species is called the American adult.

Can someone please explain to our vice president the difference between a screaming infant not getting what he wants, when he wants it and an adult who understands personal responsibility, humility, work and service to others?

A functioning free society requires citizens who are adults capable of overseeing and administering a government which enforce laws that protect life and property.

Once government simply becomes a playpen for those who believe they run the universe and make its basic laws, and that the rest of us must submit to their hallucinations about what is just, we wind up where we are today.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that, according to the latest census data, 48.5 percent of American families now are on the receiving end of some sort of government program, the highest percentage in our history. To provide some perspective, this figure was 10 percent in the 1920’s and a little over 30 percent in 1980.

During the 1960’s, a watershed decade when the infantile culture of narcissism began to subsume free adult culture in America, more government programs were born than in any other period. By 1980, four of these programs of the 1960’s – food stamps, Pell grants, Medicare, and Medicaid – accounted for 164 billion dollars in annual spending. Today these four programs swallow almost an additional trillion dollars.

In all our history, there is only one instance of major reform of a government spending program and that was the welfare reform that was passed in 1996.

These government programs are pure monopolies driven by political power, not efficiency or whether they are serving the real needs of citizens. They don’t change, they only grow.

This contrasts with America’s corporations, who Wall Street protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge, and America’s president and vice president, would like us to believe control everything.

But if big corporations did control everything, they would, like government programs, never change or lose power. But large firms regularly come and go, because, in contrast to government programs, they only remain powerful as long as they are serving consumers.

Of today’s list of 30 major corporations that constitute the Dow Jones Industrial Average firms, only 8 of them were on the list in 1980. The 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average firms have changed 45 times since the average was started 115 years ago.

No, Mr. Biden. Occupy Wall Street has nothing in common with the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party Movement is protest against abuse of political power and the increasing marginalization and disrespect for truths, such a protection of life, liberty, and property, that define American freedom.

Occupy Wall Street is about lust for political power, about defining what others should have, and redistributing and spending what belongs to some else.



The Real Problem with Solyndra

Sifting through the Administration-Solyndra emails it is clear that President Obama’s taxpayer investment in Solyndra was not random. Bureaucrats and political appointees spent significant time evaluating the company and debating the merits of the soon-to-be-wasted taxpayer guarantee. And that is exactly the problem!

Thanks to the diligence of various House committees, we now have an inside look at the decision-making process and ongoing conversations related to the Solyndra loan guarantee. Much of the reporting has focused on the political motivations behind the boondoggle, but the real focus should be on the email threads that are more suited for a private corporation than the Executive Branch of the United States.

Vice President Joe Biden’s then-chief of staff Ronald Klain emailed, “Putting my oId private equity hat on, I would say that these guys [Solyndra] are no different than a lot of stage two companies: they are burning capital, perhaps a bit fast, and are dependent on a break or two to be viable outside of the 18 - 24 month window.”

Mr. Klain’s analysis may be fine in the private equity world – you take calculated risks with private money expressly for that purpose. But in government, that is not the case. Americans do not work so their government can take risks, calculated or otherwise, with their tax dollars and discuss burn rates and business development stages.

Another email took a deep dive into Solyndra’s economics: “While debt coverage is robust under stress conditions, the project cash balance goes to $62,000.00 in September 2011.” The email went on to discuss “working capital,” a “funding shortfall” and a “negative cash balance.”

Taken in isolation, you would be tempted to think the email was from an investment advisor. Of course, any investment advisor worth his salt would warn you to stay far away from a company is such a downward spiral.

Matt Rogers, a senior advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, seemed to understand the dire warnings. About the future of the Solyndra, he emailed, it “needs more capital to keep going long-term, which is why they are planning to tap the public markets.”

In email after email, we can find the same thing, bureaucrats and political appointees “putting on hats” and analyzing a private company’s economic viability to determine if they should invest taxpayer money into that company.

This is not the government our founders intended, nor the one we learned in civics class. Rather, this governing style is more suited for a bad Hollywood movie depicting incompetent crony capitalism in a country on the decline.

Ironically, the absurdity of the entire “green jobs” investment scheme was pointed out in an email to Larry Summers, who was the director of the National Economic Council. The snippet is a bit long, but instructive:

The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much. That is, after all, what my industry does, and there are lots of mechanisms in place to see that it is done right. One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million; while that is good for us, I can't imagine it's a good way for the governement (SIC) to use taxpayer money (I'd prefer my opinion about that specific company be between us). Every administration seems to feel like it knows better than the private markets how to allocate capital, and I've just never seen that be true.

That email was from Brad Jones, the founding partner of Redpoint Ventures, and the company he referenced was Solyndra. Amusingly, in subsequent emails, Mr. Summers appeared to agree with him, emailing, “I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc [venture capitalist] and if u were closer to it you'd feel more strongly."

Another blacked out email warned that the Energy Department’s “‘system’ for monitoring loans is quite problematic…and does not seem to be a program priority.” So, not only were bureaucrats and political appointees acting like investors with our money, they knew they were doing a “crappy” job of it all.

Americans understand that Solyndra is just the most tangible symptom of a much deeper problem. The Washington Establishment’s faith in the power and expertise of government knows no limits. When given nearly unchecked power and money, bureaucrats and political appointees will use taxpayer money however they please, even if they recognize they do it poorly.

Right now, it is Solyndra. But until we get our government out of the daily ins-and-outs of the private sector, we can expect similar boondoggles.




Insurance is the cause — not the cure: "Insurance providing full coverage for every ailment and every medical procedure is the main reason why the cost of healthcare is spiraling out of control. Obamacare will only add to the rising costs by mandating that everyone have full coverage benefits. When everyone has full coverage without exclusions the costs can only go up."

Obama, the soaring sofa: "Cliches are an inexhaustible subject. I’ll always have more to say about them. It’s interesting to watch them come and go -- preferably go. Take 'soaring rhetoric.' (Please!) I don’t know who started that, but once somebody did, it became the phrase almost universally employed in speaking of Candidate Obama’s speeches. I could never understand this phenomenon. His speeches sounded to me like nothing but a tissue of ... well, cliches. And not very good cliches."

The thief of Caracas: "No nation dominated by the politics of socialism has long endured. After an initial frenzy of pillage and theft the inhabitants slide into an inevitable condition of apathy, poverty, and despair. There is no incentive to produce, no private property, no competition, no reason to get ahead of the next fellow. All fruits of effort beyond the minimal are quickly confiscated for consumption by others. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is once again proving the point."

Important new evidence on regime uncertainty: "The idea of regime uncertainty had sound economic theory and substantial empirical evidence to support it from the beginning, and a great deal of additional evidence has accumulated over the past three years. Yet critics have continued to dismiss it either as Republican bunk bought and paid for by Obama-hating billionaires or as a sort of 'just so' story concocted by flaky think-tank nobodies, such as yours truly. Now, however, the research reported by Baker, Bloom, and Davis knocks the ball firmly back into the critics’ court."

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

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

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


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


9 October, 2011

Elizabeth Warren and liberalism, twisting the ‘social contract’

Batty Elizabeth Warren thinks the government builds America's roads. Roads are in fact built by American workers who are paid by the American taxpayer. The government is merely a ham-fisted intermediary. And almost all income taxes are paid by "The Rich" -- defined as the top 50% of income earners. So it is in fact "The Rich" who have built the roads! -- JR

By George F. Will

Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and former Obama administration regulator (for consumer protection), is modern liberalism incarnate. As she seeks the Senate seat Democrats held for 57 years before 2010, when Republican Scott Brown impertinently won it, she clarifies the liberal project and the stakes of contemporary politics.

The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty. The regulatory state, liberalism’s instrument, constantly tries to contract that zone — for the individual’s own good, it says. Warren says:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.... You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Warren is (as William F. Buckley described Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith) a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds.

In “The Affluent Society” (1958), modern liberalism’s symptomatic text, Galbraith, a Harvard economist, baldly asserted that corporations’ marketing powers — basically, advertising — are so potent they can manufacture demands for whatever goods and services they want to supply. Corporations can nullify consumer sovereignty and vitiate the law of supply and demand. Galbraith asserted this while Ford’s marketers were failing to create a demand for Edsels.

Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by people drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.

Because such tutelary government must presume the public’s incompetence, it owes minimal deference to people’s preferences. These preferences are not really “theirs,” because the preferences derive from false, meaning imposed, consciousness. This convenient theory licenses the enlightened vanguard, the political class, to exercise maximum discretion in wielding the powers of the regulatory state.

Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable — that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others — misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity.

Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. — and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous society’s “underlying social contract.”



The ‘Injustice’ Department: J. Christian Adams’ New Book Exposes DOJ Defending Racism, Islamic Extremism

There is something terribly wrong with our Justice Department. Under Barack Obama, it is no longer interested in justice at all but instead has become a base used by far-left ideologues and race baiters to destroy the American idea of the equality of rights of all people before the law.

J. Christian Adams is the heroic former election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights section at the U.S. Department of Justice. He blew the lid off the Black Panther case of voter intimidation that Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder refused to prosecute. Now he is exposing the Obama administration’s secret (or not-so-secret) race war and complete abandonment of individual rights.

In his new book, Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department (Regnery), Adams, who worked inside the DOJ for five years, tells the whole shocking story about how Obama has allowed – or commanded – the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department to be politicized. For his efforts to expose the corruption of the Obama Justice Department, Adams was my co-recipient of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Annie Taylor Award for Courage in 2010. And that honor was richly deserved. As Adams shows in this book, if you’re not a member of one of the groups that the Obama administration considers to be its constituency, there’s no justice for you. But if you are a black militant or a member of one of Obama’s other favored groups, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done: you won’t pay any penalty, no matter how serious your crimes.

Adams resigned from the DOJ after Obama’s cronies in the Justice (!) Department dropped the charges against the New Black Panther Party for its violation of voters’ rights on Election Day 2008, when menacing and threatening Black Panthers patrolled polling places in Philadelphia. During the actual voting, New Black Panther Party members threatened voters at the polls with deadly weapons and blocked poll and campaign workers from polling places with threats. Despite that, Obama, our Chicago political boss-in-chief, refused to prosecute the Panthers with their nightsticks and billy clubs.

In Injustice, Adams tells the whole story of that sorry episode for the first time and provides details of Obama’s public appearance with the Panthers in 2007. The New Black Panther Party offered Obama vocal support. New Black Panther Party support for Obama’s candidacy was posted loudly and proudly on Obama’s website back in March 2008, as I showed at the time at my website. Blogs like Atlas Shrugs that shined the light on the ugly underbelly of Obama’s campaign of race baiting and anti-semitism got the Obama campaign to take down a Panther-created support page. Nevertheless, as Adams shows in Injustice, their support for Obama has paid off big-time.

If the politicization and corruption of the Justice Department were limited to this one incident, that would be bad enough. But Injustice shows that the rot has spread much farther. Adams reveals how Obama and Holder have actually changed the hiring standards at the DOJ so they could pack the department with more radical leftists.

Adams also sheds new light on the case of Safoorah Khan, the Muslim teacher in a Chicago middle school who demanded three weeks off to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and whose case was taken up by Obama’s DOJ. Who starts a teaching job and demands close to a month off for hajj? What teacher would leave her students in the lurch for a month? And who pushed a Justice Department to “examine” the case of this hajj pilgrim in a move completely at odds with its goals and objectives? Islamic supremacists seeking to impose religion on the public square, that’s who.

And what Justice Department would sue on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood-tied Islamic supremacists? That of Iran? Malaysia? Egypt? No, the one in Obama’s America. Obama has made this the mission of his presidency. This was hardly the first case of the DOJ suing to impose Islam on the secular arena.

Obama’s attempts to mine America’s racial divide and pander to Islamic supremacists, and his use of the Department of Justice to do it, are despicable. This ugly racism and shilling for Islamic extremism ought to be obliterated and shunned by society. Instead, this man revels in it. Obama’s ties to radicals and seditious, America-hating groups is disturbing and dangerous. And as J. Christian Adams shows in this essential new book, those ties have now thoroughly corrupted the Justice Department.



"Mandates" to be trimmed back under Obnamacare?

At last a still, small voice of reason: Health-care law benefits must be limited to ensure affordability, panel says

An advisory panel of experts on Thursday recommended that the Obama administration emphasize affordability over breadth of coverage when it comes to implementing a key insurance provision of the 2010 health-care law.

Obama officials charged with stipulating what “essential benefits” many health plans will have to cover should make it a priority to keep premiums reasonable, even if that means allowing plans to be less comprehensive, counseled the committee of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM).

“The question is what is the fairest, most transparent way to get a reasonable set of benefits and still keep it affordable for both the user and for the taxpayers,” said committee member Marjorie Ginsburg. “We don’t want to say that one is more important than the other..... But the limiting issue obviously is affordability.”

The findings highlight the difficult balancing act the administration faces in carrying out one of the the health-care law’s most sweeping, yet ambiguous, mandates. The statute sets out 10 general categories — ranging from hospitalization to prescription drugs — that all new insurance plans for individuals and small businesses must offer starting in 2014. It also states that the scope of the essential benefits package should be equal to that of a “typical employer plan.”

But Congress did not specify whether this referred to the more generous plans sponsored by large employers or the more minimalist versions bought by many small businesses. And it gave Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius ultimate authority to decide both how much more detailed to make the package and what to include in it.

If she adds little to the legal requirement, the market could end up split between cheap, bare-bones plans of use only to the healthy, and exorbitantly priced full coverage plans financially out of reach of many sick people who need them most.

If she adds too many requirements, premiums for all plans could soar — with consequences for not just individuals but the success of the law as a whole. That’s because many healthy people could decide to pay a penalty instead of buying pricey insurance, skewing the risk pool toward the sick and causing premiums to spiral higher.

That would also cause a spike in the subsidies for health insurance premiums, which the law requires the federal government to offer low-income people, hammering the national budget.

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, said the recommendations were “very helpful to the discussion.”



The Power of Civil Society

Conservatives and liberals clash frequently on a wide array of issues, from taxes to trade, from deficits to defense. But their greatest conflict may lie in their contrasting attitudes toward civil society.

Conservatives regard the institutions of civil society -- families, churches and communities -- as sources of hope and renewal. Self-styled "progressives" see these institutions as seedbeds of prejudice and ignorance.

Conservatives believe that poverty stems largely from a lack of spiritual resources, resources that are typically transmitted through private, voluntary groups. Progressives view poverty as a simple lack of resources.

Conservatives believe that social justice is best pursued through the restoration of community, familial love, self-respect and responsibility -- all products of a robust civil society. Progressives believe that social justice requires that we redistribute material wealth.

Consider, too, how both groups react to the Tea Party movement.

For conservatives, this movement is a classic example of civil society in action: Ordinary Americans, appalled by the sudden, massive expansion of Big Government, and by the equally sudden, explosive growth of the national debt, have spontaneously organized into associations demanding change.

The great French author Alexis de Tocqueville would surely applaud the Tea Party movement. He would see in it an example of how a vigorous civil society, by serving as a check on the centralizing ambitions of the state, is vital to the health and well-being of democracy.

But progressives support the centralizing ambitions of the state. Thus, they've attacked the Tea Party movement with a fury that might have reminded Tocqueville of the French Revolution's hatred of religion. Prominent progressives have denounced Tea Party members as "terrorists," "racists" and "Nazis" who deserve to be "taken out."

The depth of progressive hatred of the Tea Party movement is startling. But I suppose this is how the "ruling class" invariably reacts whenever the "lower orders" start acting uppity.

Make no mistake: although today's "ruling class" calls itself progressive, it is in fact profoundly reactionary.

By undermining civil society, strengthening the state, and even trying to pin a smiley face on Big Government by renaming it "the federal family," it is laying the groundwork for the democratic despotism that Tocqueville foresaw, and warned against in his landmark book, Democracy in America.

Progressive hostility to the Tea Party movement has reinforced my conviction that strengthening civil society is more urgent today than ever before. We Americans need to regain something of Tocqueville's sense of awe and wonder at the power, ingenuity and creativity of those vital institutions.

Several years ago, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a Heritage Foundation audience how a vibrant civil society contributed to a more just society in the rural Georgia of his youth:

"When someone down the road fell upon hard times," Justice Thomas recalled, "or when sickness beset a family, or when a hurricane or fire destroyed or damaged someone's house, people instinctively helped in whatever way they could. Not helping was unthinkable."

We need to remember that we are not helpless, ignorant masses desperately clinging to our guns or religion, as President Obama once said on the campaign trail. Nor are we anxiously awaiting the arrival of a messiah-president to deliver us from what Tocqueville called "the trouble of thinking and the cares of living."

Rather, we are the American people. We remain strong and resourceful. And we must open our minds to the untapped potential of freedom, to the hidden strengths of civil society, and to the indomitable power of the American spirit.


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

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


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


8 October, 2011

The union of concerned Frauds

Anthony Watts, a prominent climate skeptic, has been having some fun:

Reader DJ writes in Tips & Notes: "Since becoming a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists when I found out all you needed was a valid credit card, my curiosity about who and what they really are has spiked."

I decided to put that theory to the test. I am very proud to announce that a member of my family has been accepted into this prestigious organization. With pride, I present new UCS member, Kenji Watts:

Yes, Kenji is our dog. Apparently, the claim is true, all that is required to be a member of the illustrious group of “concerned scientists” is a valid credit card. No discerning questions were asked of me when I prepared Kenji’s application and no follow up check after the application was done. I simply put in his name, address, and provided a valid credit card that matched the address.

So the real question is: How many real “concerned scientists” are there in UCS? Membership is apparently not any more discerning than the ability to send money.

I’m disappointed the Guardian hasn’t called for a quote on this story citing “leading U.S. Scientists”:



The 54 trillion dollar question: Is Obama on his way out?

As America approaches the third anniversary of Barack Obama’s historic election victory, the country is mired in economic gloom.

Expectations were absurdly high in the autumn of 2008, stoked up not least by the victor’s own campaign team. Yet Americans now seem bemused by how, exactly, it could all have gone so wrong.

In the run-up to his election victory, Mr Obama won praise for keeping quiet about the economy. It was the time of the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers, and the financial situation was shifting quickly: since it was hard for anyone to predict what would come next, silence seemed wise. However, some suspected that this reticence betrayed something worse than caution: cluelessness.

Installed in the White House, the new President chose Washington insiders such as Timothy Geithner (a former central banker) to be Treasury Secretary, and Larry Summers (who had held that post under Bill Clinton) to be his chief economics adviser.

Both men had, in different ways, been complicit in the policy mistakes that had devastated the U.S. economy. Their appointment suggested the Obama administration would have no new, radical ideas to improve the economy. That has turned out to be so. The old problems have persisted, and in some cases have become worse.

After three years, the U.S. national debt is a breathtaking $14.8 trillion. The total debt, including what households owe, is over $54 trillion.

Growth is negligible. Unemployment is 9.1 per cent, and the leading bank Goldman Sachs predicts it will rise to 9.5 per cent by the middle of next year — just as Mr Obama begs American voters to re-elect him.

There were 115,730 job cuts in September, double the number in August, and the highest monthly figure since April 2009. Around 70 per cent of those losses were from the U.S. Army, which cut 50,000 people, and the Bank of America, which shed 30,000.

The administration consoles itself that, on the other hand, 76,551 people obtained new jobs last month, but that was down almost 50,000 from the same month last year.

Few aspects of the economic disaster over which Mr Obama is presiding are more telling, or more tragic, than home repossessions. Foreclosures in August were 33 per cent up month-on-month, at 78,000. In 2010 there were 2.9 million, and another 1.2 million in first half of 2011.

Travelling this week around north-east America, between New York and Washington, I saw the unmistakable signs of poverty, industrial dereliction, social problems and decay all over the place.

Whole streets of houses are boarded up; factories closed; pawnbrokers flourish.

Ben Bernanke, head of America’s central bank, said this week that ‘the recovery is closer to faltering’. If this is how bad life is before it falters, God help America.

How have things come to this, after the ‘audacity of hope’ that accompanied the election of Mr Obama?

Quite simply, he and Mr Geithner (joined, until his resignation last year, by Mr Summers) have followed the wrong economic policy ever since they set foot in office.

Like socialists the world over, they believed America could spend its way out of recession. However, nothing has been done to improve productivity, or to assist the creation of wealth. In fact, much has been achieved in the opposite direction by making America a more regulated society, suffocating enterprise and discouraging work.

Their first plan was a stimulus package of $787 billion. It has not created a single job, but has simply added to America’s indebtedness. Its failure partly explains the political fight now raging over Mr Obama’s $447 billion jobs Bill — a desperate attempt to get unemployment down before next year’s presidential election.

While Republicans doubt it will work, there are widespread fears that it will increase the tax burden on those Americans most likely to create the wealth the country needs. For the President is proposing higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 in order to fund his job creation package, as well as extra taxes on the oil and gas industry.

These crippling tax rises are just part of a $1.5 trillion plan advocated by Mr Obama over the next ten years, which Republican critics say will fall on wealth creators and, therefore, on job creators.

The Right-of-centre Heritage Foundation says that the top 10 per cent (those earning more than $114,000 a year) already pay 70 per cent of all income tax while earning only 45 per cent of total income. Even Democrats in wealthier states are worrying about the negative effects.

The truth is that, like the Labour Party in Britain, Mr Obama can’t break his addiction to spending other people’s money. As a result, his policies are starting to hurt — without having any positive effect on the economy.

As for Mr Obama himself, he seems to be concentrating on fund-raising for his re-election campaign rather than endeavouring to rescue the country’s economy.

According to a new poll for the Washington Post, only 58 per cent of Democrats think he will be re-elected and 61 per cent of all voters disapprove of the way he is running the economy.

His only glimmer of hope is the weakness of his Republican opponents, with 76 per cent of Americans disapproving of the way they are conducting themselves. This is evidenced, for example, by the refusal of Republican Majority Leader in Congress, Eric Cantor, to hold a vote on the jobs Bill.

Worryingly for Mr Obama, many Democrats think he’ll be a one-term president. Some even wish he might stand aside and endorse Hillary Clinton as his successor — on the grounds that the economic crisis facing America is insuperable.



The wannabe tyrants of Wall Street

Disdainful and conspiracy-minded, the protesters claiming to speak for all Americans are acting like teenage despots

The Occupy Wall Street campaigners sure have a lot of attitude. Like self-victimising teenage tyrants, the protesters camped out in New York’s financial district for the past three weeks have spent much of that time complaining that nobody is paying attention to them, that they’re being bullied and that, when it comes to America’s future, it’s their way or the highway.

From the outset, the protesters complained about a ‘media blackout’ and ‘police brutality’. So keen are they to put themselves on a par with the revolts in the Arab world that they have convinced themselves that the US media is being kept away from the scene by powerful forces and that the cops are on standby for violent clampdowns on a regime-threatening protest movement.

True, the relatively small-scale protests have not warranted the NYPD’s ridiculously large deployments, and the cops’ nervous reactions have added fuel to the protesters’ victim-image. But it’s hardly been brutal. And contrary to the complaints of a lack of attention, no follower of the American ‘mainstream media’ could have avoided news of the protests in the past few weeks. A Google search on the very first day of the Wall Street Occupation (Saturday 17 September) brought up coverage from the New York Times, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, Fox and more.

Certainly, the media attention has not matched the protesters’ overblown sense of self-importance – that would be an impossible feat. Sure, the protest is gaining some momentum. There have been a number of copycat protests in other American cities and a march on Brooklyn Bridge last weekend led to hundreds of arrests. This was after a video of a policeman dousing two protesters in pepper spray went viral and garnered sympathy for the protesters. On Wednesday, several prominent unions announced their solidarity and marched together with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The demonstration attracted thousands. It was the biggest turnout so far.

Yet despite this dramatic scenery (widely covered by the mainstream press, one might add), what of the protesters’ slogan that ‘we are the 99 per cent’? Like any mantra, the more they repeat it, the more convinced they are that it is the truth. But in fact, this is simply the oldest despotic trick in the book: to take it upon yourself to define the interests of all citizens and then declare yourself their righteous protector.

The so-called General Assembly set up by campaign organisers issues decrees agreed on by whatever group of right-on radicals happens to be around at the time of the meetings in the Financial District. This is a ‘leaderless protest movement’, but those involved apparently see themselves as patrons of simpletons. ‘The working class in this country has been brainwashed by MSM, Fox News, and the right-wing propaganda machine’, says one writer on the protest movement’s website. ‘We need to de-programme people against the brainwashing they’ve experienced.’

In other words, the ‘99 per cent’ don’t know what’s good for them. Enter the MacBook-armed, middle-class warriors who want their student debt cancelled. Whether you know – or like – it or not, they know what you need. And anyone who doesn’t get their multifarious point has, we are told, clearly been brainwashed into robotic compliance with a society based on mass consumption.

To be fair, it really is difficult to grasp the protesters’ point. Since they have a commitment to drawing up endless lists of grievances (for instance the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City lists over 20 complaints and has a footnote that says ‘These grievances are not all-inclusive’), the protesters’ aims are indeed confounding. From the death penalty to the environment, from the arms trade to healthcare – the Wall Street Occupation has become a Movement Against Everything.

Rather than seeing their lack of coherence as a limitation, the protesters embrace it as a new form of enlightened ‘direct democracy’. Also, it allows the protesters to refuse to be held accountable for each others’ views. Instead, when one person uses the protest movement’s platform to insult the entire American working class, another can just turn around and say it’s ‘not representative of the whole’.

One recurring view, however, is that Everything is the Corporations’ fault – it’s that one per cent steering every element of society to their own advantage. Not only are corporations ‘holding students hostage’ with thousands of dollars in debt, they have also ‘perpetuated inequality in the workplace’, ‘poisoned the food supply’ and profited from animal torture. In the conspiratorial saga conjured up by the anti-capitalist Wall Street protesters, The Corporation is a faceless, evil force that puppeteers the government, citizens, the media, the legal system and just about any other social force.

The protesters’ wild imagination about the octopus-like Corporation spreading its tentacles into every sphere of life indicates that they have little belief in human agency. Instead we’re all in the grip of powerful forces and there’s little we can do about it. As one placard in Zuccotti Park read: ‘We are the stupid and ignorant nation.’ Thankfully, the Financial District campers have seen through the corporate BS and can now enlighten the rest of us.

For all their talk of anti-capitalism and promoting ‘workers’ solidarity’, the Wall Street protesters are only interested in commandeering the future of America according to their own narrow interests. And when the masses fail to join this attention-seeking movement, the new tyrants of Wall Street are not likely to be surprised: they’ll just figure it’s because Americans are in thrall of the Corporations.



The American economy is increasingly going underground

And that's most usually a Third world phenomenon

As some of you know, I own a 66 Dodge Polara that I've spent several years and several thousand dollars restoring.

Owning an old car like that requires a trustworthy, inexpensive mechanic to work on it. When I bought my old clunker I was referred to one in Hialeah. Over the years my mechanic did a lot of work on my cacharro, including rebuilding the engine. I became quite friendly with him and during my visits to his shop I passively observed the difficulty of running a shop like his. Permits, insurance, inspectors, certifications, etc. etc. All of that plus the usual overhead like rent and payroll.

Well, long story short, my old car was parked in the garage without moving for an extended period of time. I finally got around to calling the mechanic to let him know I was coming in and he told me he had closed up shop, he'd come to me instead.

Now, this is typical of what's going on with small business. It's being driven underground. The current business environment is prohibitive to set up and keep up a shop. This is not the first time I've seen this. The guy that sold me the audio system for the same car became a friend and he always complained about the same permitting and inspection issues. Last time I saw him he said, "it's not worth it, I'd rather just go mobile and drive around to referrals in an unmarked van."

As these businesses go underground the remaining above-ground bricks and mortar shops will bear an increasing burden and eventually more of them will go underground too. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're regulating commerce to death.


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

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


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


7 October, 2011

Distrust of intellectuals is not stupid

Hostility toward the philosophes is not unique to Americans, of course. It was the ancient Greeks, after all, who executed Socrates because his philosophy conflicted with their piety. Likewise, there is an element of fear among religious conservatives that the intellectual project as such—not any particular brand of intellectualism—is inherently subversive of their settled wisdom.

But the bigger reason for this anti-intellectual animus is that every time really smart people run the country, things go spectacularly wrong.

The team of the “best and brightest” that Lyndon Johnson inherited from John F. Kennedy embroiled America in an ignominy like Vietnam—not to mention Medicare, a fiscal quagmire that, unlike Vietnam, the country can neither exit nor fix without courting bankruptcy or seriously screwing over millions of seniors.

Moreover, George W. Bush’s failures resulted not from his alleged stupidity, as his most vitriolic critics believe, but the brainiacs in his Cabinet. Bush himself might have reveled in his Forest Grump image. But he assembled a team of intellectual stars including Dick Cheney, who was so smart that Beltway Republicans and Democrats wished that he had run for president; Paul Wolfowitz, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies; Condi Rice, provost of Stanford University; and Donald Rumsfeld, who made his mark in academia, politics, and military service. But this Mensa-worthy team, backed by Ivy League neocon intellectuals, left a legacy of Afghanistan, Iraq, and deficits as far as the eye can see.

The prize for discrediting intelligence, however, goes to President Obama. Unlike Bush, he wore his intellect on his sleeve, raising hopes that he could fix the country with sheer brainpower. But he has presided over a deterioration on every front: Deficits are worse, unemployment is higher, a double dip is imminent, and we have added another foreign misadventure.

So why do intelligent people consistently make such a hash of things? Because they are smart enough to talk themselves into anything. Ordinary mortals don’t engage in fancy mental gymnastics to reach conclusions that defy common sense. But intellectuals are particularly prone to this. Hence Bush’s brilliant foreign policy team used the apparatus of the state to search for evidence connecting Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 attackers, which its superior ratiocination told them had to exist.

The great hope from Obama was that he would be different. That his thoughtful, professorial demeanor would prompt him to look for policies that worked—not push a preconceived agenda. In fact, when he took office, I hoped that he would be an “empirical president” who dispassionately considered the evidence from all sides before making decisions. One’s preferred position might not win every time under such a president, but it would at least have a shot, something that people outside Bush’s ideological kin never felt they had.

But Obama has been infinitely worse. He has glibly cited Congressional Budget Office scores and stats to argue that extending government-subsidized health coverage to 30 million Americans won’t exacerbate the federal deficit; that a debt-ridden country can borrow its way out of the recession; that pumping tax dollars into pie-in-the-sky green technologies would stimulate growth and produce energy security, and so on.

Ordinary folks might be unable to marshal facts and figures to counter such ludicrous claims, but they know bullshit when they see it. This has two effects on them: One, they feel profoundly disempowered watching their leaders deploy their smarts not on their behalf but against them. And two, since they can’t become experts and academics, they resist by retreating into their own simple certitudes drawn from folk wisdom, faith and founding principles. Indeed, Sarah Palin is as much Barack Obama’s gift to America as she is John McCain’s.

The great political divide right now is not between eggheads and blockheads, as Maureen Dowd puts it, or intellectualism and stupidity, as other self-serving liberal pundits sneer. It is between two types of activism: an irresponsible, pseudo-intellectual one and a retrograde, folksy one. This divide will disappear when some genuinely smart and wise leader earnestly addresses the nation’s problems, instead of pushing his or her loopy program.



Some history: Stimulus Has Been a Presidential Job Killer

The political graveyards are full of politicians who thought that temporary, targeted economic policies would get them re-elected.

Temporary, targeted tax reductions and increases in government spending are not good economics. They have repeatedly failed to increase economic growth on a sustainable basis. What may come as a surprise is that such policies are not good politics either. Their inability to deliver promised economic benefits has invariably led disappointed voters to turn against those politicians, Democratic and Republican, who have supported them.

Consider the evidence. When President Gerald Ford entered office, the economy was in the midst of the serious 1974-75 recession. Responding to the popular clamor to "do something," he proposed a short-term stimulus plan in early 1975. The centerpiece was a temporary income-tax rebate. Congress added a one-time, $50 increase in Social Security benefits and, to bolster the sagging housing market, a one-time tax credit for new home buyers.

The rebate caused only a temporary blip in consumer spending. Economic growth rose to 9% in the first quarter of 1976 but then dropped to only 2% in the third quarter, and unemployment started rising.

Congress enacted a second stimulus plan in July 1976 over Ford's veto. It authorized grants to state and local governments designed to prevent layoffs of public employees or tax increases. This plan also failed to produce the promised stimulus. The economic pause of 1976 was enough to swing the election to Jimmy Carter and cause more incumbent senators to lose their seats than in any election in nearly 20 years.

President Carter took office and by the end of his first month proposed another stimulus plan, which he said would "restore consumer confidence and consumer purchasing power." His plan called for another round of one-time tax rebates and Social Security bonus payments, federal public infrastructure grants and countercyclical aid to state and local governments.

He also added a tax credit for small and medium-size employers hiring new workers. The fine-tuned plan, according to the chairman of Mr. Carter's Council of Economic Advisers, Charles Shultze, was "designed to tread prudently between the twin risks of over and under-stimulation."

In May 1977, Congress enacted the president's proposals in modified form. Although the pace of economic activity quickened for a while, subsequent studies by senior Carter administration Treasury official Emil Sunley and noted economist Ned Gramlich showed that the government-provided stimulus had little effect. The recovery was not sustained and the economy fell into recession in January 1980. The failing economy combined with rapidly rising inflation doomed Mr. Carter's re-election chances, along with the Democratic Party's control of the Senate and 33 Democratic seats in the House.

President Reagan rejected temporary stimulus measures and instead proposed permanent income-tax rate reductions. His tax program, in conjunction with steady monetary policy begun by Paul Volcker, produced the promised results.

By late 1982 the recession was over and in early 1983 employment and investment began to rise rapidly. In 1984, it was "Morning in America" and Reagan was overwhelmingly re-elected. Nearly two decades of strong, steady, noninflationary economic growth ensued.

The success of Reagan's permanent tax-rate reductions, juxtaposed against the clear failure of his predecessors' temporary Keynesian stimulus measures, put the Keynesian approach on the back burner. The extent to which temporary stimulus measures fell into disfavor is evident from President Bill Clinton's first year in office. That year he proposed a minuscule $16 billion stimulus plan. Congress rejected it and turned its attention instead to reducing the federal budget deficit by cutting the growth in spending and raising taxes.

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, his first priority was to put a broad-based, permanent reduction in tax rates into effect. But when the signs that the economy was weakening became apparent early that year, temporary stimulus measures were added to the president's plan. The final tax-reduction law included a temporary tax rebate and phased in the tax-rate reductions at a slower pace than he originally proposed. As with previous stimulus efforts, the rebates had little or no effect.

A combination of the economic impact of 9/11 and the failure of the 2001 Keynesian stimulus measure to have any lasting economic effect led Congress in 2003 to enact additional tax relief. In May of that year, at the urging of Mr. Bush, Congress sharply reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends and put the 2001 income-tax rate reductions in place immediately.

Within four months, employment began to rise and the unemployment rate began to fall. By 2004, the economic recovery was in full swing. President Bush was re-elected, along with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

In response to the recession that began in late 2007, both Presidents Bush and Obama chose to rely on Keynesian stimulus policies. President Bush's temporary tax rebate in 2008 had no discernible effect on the economy. The declining economy partially contributed to John McCain's defeat and played a crucial role in the Republicans' loss of seats in both the House and Senate.

Mr. Obama's $800 billion temporary, targeted stimulus plan took the same approach as Mr. Carter's more than three decades earlier. The February 2009 bill included temporary tax rebates, additional spending on federal programs, and one-time grants to state and local governments.

It had the same negligible economic impact as Mr. Carter's and, thus far, eerily similar political consequences. The plan's failure preceded a historic Republican electoral sweep in the 2010 House elections and significant Republican gains in the Senate. The continuing economic discontent has placed Mr. Obama's re-election in serious jeopardy.

That temporary tax reductions and increases in government spending can jump-start the economy and sustainably boost employment and personal income may seem like a politician's dream policy. But the repeated failure of these short-term interventionist policies to deliver the promised economic benefits should make politicians think twice. Reliance on them has already cost dozens of members of Congress their jobs and two postwar presidents a second term.



Dangerous lies about Herbert Hoover live on

Attacking the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment, “Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution,” issued a press release on October 4 promoting the falsehood that Herbert Hoover cut spending during the Great Depression, when in reality, Hoover more than doubled government spending as a percentage of GDP:
“Did Herbert Hoover win the last election?” asked Nadler. “If, in the middle of a recession, when tax revenues are down, and unemployment is up, we begin to slash the budget in ways my Republican colleagues are now suggesting, much less the far more draconian measures that this amendment would require, we will go from the Great Recession, right into another Great Depression. It’s been tried before, and if we want the Constitution to enshrine Hooverism for all time, we will get what we deserve.”

Nadler is wrong about the facts here, as he so often is. As I recently noted in the Edmonton Journal:
Former U.S. president Herbert Hoover did not practice austerity, so it is incorrect for politicians to claim that he “helped plunge his country into the Great Depression through austerity measures.”

Hoover’s administration increased federal government spending from three per cent of the U.S. economy in 1929, the year he took office, to eight per cent in 1933, the year he left office.

The U.S. budget deficit became so large as a result that by 1932, the country’s government was spending more than $2 for every dollar it took in.

It was not austerity that caused the Great Depression, but misguided government meddling in the economy, such as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930.

That increased tariff backed by Hoover ignited devastating trade wars between the U.S. and other countries that wiped out countless jobs.

Data from the White House’s own website shows that Hoover increased, rather than cut, spending in the Great Depression, and ran up deficits that were huge by historical standards.

That is illustrated in Table 1.1 on page 21 of a document on the White House’s website, a document entitled, “Historical Tables: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009.” It shows that Hoover increased the federal budget from $3.1 billion in 1929, the year he took office (and the Great Depression began), to $4.7 billion in 1932, his last full year in office, and $4.6 billion in 1933, the year he left office. The budget deficit went from a surplus in 1928 to a deficit of $2.7 billion in 1932. Table 1.2 on page 24 of that document shows that government spending and deficits rose considerably as a percentage of the economy under Hoover. (See Table 1.2, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (–) As Percentages of GDP: 1930-2013)” and Table 1.1, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (–): 1789–2013)”).

Newspapers like the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Washington Times also have noted that Hoover actually increased spending during the Depression. Financial writer Megan McArdle of The Atlantic noted that Hoover increased spending from 3.4 percent of GDP to 8 percent, increasing spending even as the economy shrank and deflation occurred. (Thus, government spending rose more rapidly as a percentage of the economy than in absolute terms.)

Recent massive spending by the Obama administration has similarly failed to stem rising unemployment, and some economists have argued that the $800 billion stimulus package actually wiped out hundreds of thousands of jobs.




Washington's Free Trade Adult: "President Obama is indulging Congress's protectionist elements as the price of moving three delayed free-trade agreements. Speaker John Boehner showed better judgment when he denounced such tactical domestic politics as "dangerous" on Monday night. Mr. Boehner's comments came after the Senate cleared with a 79-19 procedural vote a bill that would impose tariffs on China for supposed currency manipulation. Mr. Boehner was left to fill the Presidential vacuum, saying that "It's pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency." He added that "This is well beyond what Congress ought to be doing," and he hinted that he wouldn't bring the bill to the House floor."

What we don’t know about health insurance: "Despite the trillions of dollars we’ve spent on public health insurance programs, there’s very little strong evidence to suggest that subsidized health insurance actually improves health. Indeed, the push for universal coverage may be preventing other, more effective health measures. So here’s the question: Is the drive for universal health insurance actually making people worse off?"

Stifling medical device innovation: "The United States has long been the home to cutting-edge innovations in the medical device industry, a remarkable private enterprise success that has improved or extended the lives of millions of people. However, increasingly burdensome regulatory policy is driving pioneering research and development to Europe and to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and self-styled public health advocates are engaged in an assault on the primary regulatory pathway through which new products reach the market."

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

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


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


6 October, 2011

Obama's USDA running amok

USDA threatens $60,000 fine, federal raid against woman in legal possession of indoor lemon tree. Do Americans have ANY legal rights left?

The US government's assault against innocent American citizens continues to get more aggressive and just plain strange, with new reports of harassment against honest owners of ordinary lemon trees. Health Freedom Alliance (HFA) reports that officials from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are now spying on people whom they suspect are in possession of ordinary lemon trees, and threatening them with excessive fines and even federal raids if they refuse to surrender the plants on demand.

Several years ago, Bridget Donovan, who has now been dubbed "The Lemon Tree Lady," purchased a Meyer lemon tree from meyerlemontree.com. A resident of Wisconsin, Donovan purchased the tree legally and in full accordance with all federal and state laws regulating citrus transport, and had lovingly cultivated and cared for her indoor citrus plant for nearly three years.

Then, out of nowhere, Donovan received an unexpected letter from the USDA informing her that government officials were going to come and seize her tree and destroy it -- and that she was not going to be compensated for her loss. The letter also threatened that if Donovan was found to be in possession of "regulated citrus" again, she could be fined up to $60,000.

Donovan was shocked, to say the least, as her tree was not a "regulated citrus." The store from which she purchased it is fully legitimate, and she had done absolutely nothing wrong. But it turns out Donovan and many others who had also purchased similar citrus plants had faced, or were currently facing, the very same threats made against them by the USDA.

Most of those targeted simply surrendered their trees without trying to fight back, Donovan discovered. And while she, herself put up a hefty fight in trying to get honest answers in order to keep her tree, Donovan was eventually forced to surrender it as well. And worst of all, many of those who were told that a replacement tree would be in "compliance" later had those trees confiscated, too.

Why has the USDA been targeting lemon tree owners? The answer is unclear, other than that they are a supposed threat to the citrus industry. And a USDA official admitted to Donovan that the agency has been spying on those suspected of owning lemon trees, and targeting all found to be in possession with threats of fines and raids if they failed to give them up -- and the agency has been doing this without a valid warrant.

"I felt utterly violated, angry, and upset," Donovan is quoted as saying by HFA. "I pay my taxes, I obey the law, and this is how I was treated? I did nothing wrong. I would expect these action (sic) toward someone running a drug house, not someone who owned a lemon tree."



The 'hunger' hoax

By Thomas Sowell

Twenty years ago, hysteria swept through the media over "hunger in America." Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 declaring, "one in eight American children is going hungry tonight." Newsweek, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with or without that unsubstantiated statistic.

When the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels, however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from one income level to another.

That should have been the end of that hysteria. But the same "hunger in America" theme reappeared years later, when Senator John Edwards was running for Vice President. And others have resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day.

Ironically, the one demonstrable nutritional difference between the poor and others is that low-income women tend to be overweight more often than others. That may not seem like much to make a political issue, but politicians and the media have created hysteria over less.

The political left has turned obesity among low-income individuals into an argument that low-income people cannot afford nutritious food, and so have to resort to burgers and fries, pizzas and the like, which are more fattening and less healthful. But this attempt to salvage something from the "hunger in America" hoax collapses like a house of cards when you stop and think about it.

Burgers, pizzas and the like cost more than food that you can buy at a store and cook yourself. If you can afford junk food, you can certainly afford healthier food. An article in the New York Times of Sept. 25 by Mark Bittman showed that you can cook a meal for four at half the cost of a meal from a burger restaurant. So far, so good. But then Mr. Bittman says that the problem is "to get people to see cooking as a joy." For this, he says, "we need action both cultural and political." In other words, the nanny state to the rescue!

Since when are adult human beings supposed to do only those things that are a joy? I don't find any particular joy in putting on my shoes. But I do it rather than go barefoot. I don't always find it a joy to drive a car, especially in bad weather, but I have to get from here to there.

An arrogant elite's condescension toward the people -- treating them as children who have to be jollied along -- is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening a society.

Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax.

We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck.

Why are such people called "poor"? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality.

Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a large number of people in "poverty" to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going.

Politicians, welfare state bureaucrats and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes, whether about poverty in general or hunger in particular. The high cost to taxpayers is exceeded by the even higher cost of lost opportunities for fulfillment in their lives by those who succumb to the lure of a stagnant life of dependency.



Why Your Bank Is Charging More Fees

Obama favors retail millionaires and billionaires in the debit-card fight.

There are many observations that can be made about President Obama’s remark Monday to ABC News that businesses “don’t have some inherent right just to get a certain amount of profit if your customers are being mistreated.” In and of itself, this comment reveals much about his beliefs and knowledge (or lack thereof) on economics, consumer choice, and the private sector in general.

But in the context in which it was made — Bank of America, Citi, and other banks’ recently announced debit-card and checking-account fees for consumers, which they are charging to recoup losses from the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law’s price controls on debit-card fees charged to retailers — what must first be said is that he was lecturing the wrong set of Fortune 500 corporations. The price controls were added to the law by an amendment from Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.).

If he really wanted to point the finger at the big companies that have mistreated consumers and are reaping illicit profits, he should have addressed not Bank of America, but Walmart, Walgreens, and Home Depot. These big retailers are making a killing from the price cap — regulatory corporate welfare that they lobbied vigorously on behalf of — yet so far have not passed on any of their estimated $19 billion in savings to consumers. And even many Democrats can see what’s going on.

For example, consider this quote: “Consumers suffer when the government regulates interchange fees. . . . Merchants are able to offload their fees onto consumers[, and] retailers have no intention of passing along any savings to consumers. . . . We should not allow the federal government to dictate the terms of a private transaction — particularly in a case such as this, where government intervention would drastically harm [consumers].”

What firebreathing free-market zealot made these proclamations? None other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), the president’s own handpicked chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in a letter co-written with Rep. Kenny Marchant (R., Texas). Similar sentiments were reflected in a letter signed by 71 Democrats and 60 Republicans in June 2010 urging House-Senate conferees to strip the price controls from the final Dodd-Frank bill. Likewise, Dodd-Frank co-author Barney Frank (D., Mass.) has said repeatedly that this is the only part of Dodd-Frank he doesn’t like, and he’s offered to work with both parties to repeal it.

To be sure, there were defectors in the other direction, too: 17 Republican senators voted for the Durbin Amendment, though all but three of them would vote against Dodd-Frank at the end. And the GOP’s “Durbin Dozen” in June of this year voted against a measure by Jon Tester (D., Mont.) to delay the price controls, depriving it of the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

From the very beginning, Durbin tipped his hand that his efforts were on behalf of the retail fat cats. When he introduced his amendment to Dodd-Frank in May 2010, Durbin said on the Senate floor that his measure came about after Walgreens’s CEO called him to complain that the transaction fees the company pays to process debit and credit cards were “the fourth largest item of cost for their business.”

Yet in this era of the “Buffett Rule” and bashing “millionaires and billionaires,” Durbin and other liberal proponents of these price controls never quite explained why Congress should be concerned with the routine costs of doing business for a retail chain such as Walgreens, which makes $2 billion in annual profits. Or for that matter, other retail behemoths such as Walmart or Home Depot — or Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with retail units from Dairy Queen to Nebraska Furniture Mart — that will benefit from this regulation-driven corporate welfare.

Going back to the president’s remarks discussing whether there is an “inherent right to get a certain amount of profit,” it’s important to note that the Durbin Amendment does not give banks and credit unions the right to reap any amount of profit from the retail side of a debit card transaction, or even to cover their costs. Unlike price controls under utility-rate regulation that mandate a “reasonable rate of return,” Durbin’s provision in Dodd-Frank demands that interchange fees be “proportional to cost,” and that the Federal Reserve only consider “incremental costs” in setting the price caps.

Thus the Fed, concerned with stability of the banking sector, almost invited banks and credit unions to engage in cost shifting to consumers, “helpfully” pointing out that “the interchange fee standard would not limit the ability of an issuer to earn revenue from other sources, such as charging fees to cardholders.”




WV: Democrat wins special election for governor: "Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin overcame weeks of Republican attack ads to win the West Virginia governor's race Tuesday, successfully distancing himself from the Obama administration and the president's health care plan. Tomblin, who has been acting governor for the past year, will finish the final year of a term left vacant by Joe Manchin, a well-liked governor who stepped down after he won a U.S. Senate seat."

Land of the poor, home of the sick: "Thanks to a series of destructive government policies and incentives, a health care crisis has been steadily building in America for a generation or two. But the release yesterday of the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual survey reveals that the problem of unaffordable healthcare is becoming epidemic."

Government makes us poor: "Here's my fantasy: Libertarians are elected to the presidency and to majorities in Congress. What would happen next? Well, if libertarians were 'in charge,' you'd have more freedom and prosperity. Freedom frightens some people. ... If libertarians were 'in charge,' there would be laws to protect us from foreign enemies and those who would steal from us or injure us. Today, by contrast, under the rule of Democans and Republicrats, we're drowning in rules -- 160,000 pages' worth. Micromanagement kills opportunity and freedom"

Did hubris or ideological blindness inspire Obama on his Solyndra visit?: "In the face of these warnings, why did Obama and his handlers proceed unflinchingly to visit the company last year? I can think of two likely explanations. One is hubris: The president thought that these admonitions were insignificant compared to his capacity as a politician and central planner .... The other explanation is simply sheer ideological blindness ..."

The fascist threat: "Everyone knows that the term fascist is a pejorative, often used to describe any political position a speaker doesn’t like. There isn’t anyone around who is willing to stand up and say: 'I’m a fascist; I think fascism is a great social and economic system.' But I submit that if they were honest, the vast majority of politicians, intellectuals, and political activists would have to say just that."

Class warriors for big government: "Acting as unofficial scorekeeper, Sojourners Founder and CEO Jim Wallis recently declared, 'There really is a class war going on, and the upper class is winning.' However, many of the class warfare protesters who are taking to the streets to 'occupy' Wall Street and American cities are the disgruntled children of well-to-do parents. ... Such protestors are driven less by genuine economic hardship than by misguided animus toward the market system that has enabled the wealth from which they have benefited."

Occupy Wall Street — the real culprits: "True Capitalism is not the problem. The reason successful firms are successful is because they offer things we want. We can choose whether to give them our money -- Ronald McDonald has never coerced you into buying a Big Mac. If the government were a firm on the open market, it would go broke within milliseconds. But we haven't got true capitalism"

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

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


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


5 October, 2011

Unintended consequences of E-Verify?

Government surveillance and control of citizens in this country is something I have written about many times in this space, and something with which we should all be very concerned. It is not a trivial matter. Every infringement on our personal freedom means that we are that much less free.

Totalitarian states tend not to assume all power and hand it to a central authority all at once. More often, liberty is steadily chipped away, always with some “good” reason for prohibiting this or requiring that. And citizens go along because “it’s a small thing,” or because “I don’t mind cooperating with that if it makes us all safer,” or because they’re frozen by either fear or apathy… until one day they wake up and find themselves living in a cage – a totalitarian state.

The process has been on the move here in the US for decades now. Slowly, the police and politicians – backed by a shamefully spineless judiciary – have eviscerated a Bill of Rights that was once our crowning glory, a watershed document in human history that marked a turning away from the absolute rule of an elite and toward individual freedom. Now, sadly, we’re turning back.

There’s far too little space here to go into all the assaults that have been launched against our rights, both those specifically enshrined in the Constitution and other derivative rights that have become firmly entrenched over time. Let’s just examine the latest chapter in this sorry story: the debate over the E-Verify system.

Americans are a people apt to change their lives at any moment. We are free to work wherever and for whomever we choose. We can move to a different state, take a new job, or start a business and hire our own employees. The right to make what one wishes of one’s life is assumed, never really questioned.

Increasingly, this right is banging up against the desire of the state for more centralized control over the working population. And the state now has the perfect excuse to trigger that tightening: illegal immigration.

This issue is has become a hot political flashpoint, with passions running high over how to deal with the situation. One suggestion comes in the form of HR 2885, the Legal Workforce Act.

HR 2885, introduced in the House by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in June, sets the stupefying goal of verifying the identity of every job-seeker in the US. Let’s put that another way. If you apply for a job in the US, you will not be hired until you get a government stamp of approval.

Here’s how Smith would like it to work: The new law would require all employers to submit potential employees’ names, Social Security numbers, and such other data as the government may find pertinent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorization before an employee can start work. The data would then be vetted by E-Verify, a government-run database and employment identification verification system.

It’s impossible to overstate how deeply misguided this proposal is, nor in how many ways; that’s true no matter whether you think we should embrace undocumented aliens with open arms or believe they should all be shot. To have introduced it into an economy struggling to stay afloat is a near-criminal act.

To take the most obvious point first, job creation is a top priority in the country today. All politicians at least pay lip service to the need. Whether lawmakers can actually do anything to create jobs is debatable, but one thing is certain: It can destroy them. And that’s exactly what HR 2885 is – job killing legislation.

It manages to stifle job growth on two fronts. On one hand is the business owner, already staggering under a mountain of regulations. The additional cost of compliance this new law would impose will be the straw that breaks many an entrepreneurial back. Small companies will go bust.

On the other hand, there is the potential employee, perhaps desperate for work. Now he or she will have to wait for the bureaucratic wheels to grind (as will the employer eager to hire). What if there’s a tiny glitch in the process? Worse, what if the database has incorrect information on the applicant? Then the real nightmare begins.

Of course, there is one place where new jobs will be created: Washington, D.C. The bill will necessitate a whole new – and rather large – division of DHS to handle the workload. But anyone who reads the Daily Dispatch already knows how we feel about expanding the federal payroll.

Then, beyond the immediate practical considerations, there are any number of larger questions. For example, under what authority does the federal government think it can bestow upon itself the role of ultimate arbiter as to who does and doesn’t get hired by private businesses?

Additionally, many liberty lovers see this move as merely a back-door way of establishing what many in power really want – a universal surveillance database – to be followed soon by a national ID card (though the bill has a disclaimer on this). That database will likely not stop with name and SSN, but can be expected to expand to include fingerprints, retinal scans, and probably DNA descriptors.

It’s also a certainty that there will be mission creep. There always is. Private-sector employers will evolve into extensions of the government… a vast, national police force, if you will. It’s not much of a leap to see them eventually tasked with verifying whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list, or convicted or even accused of a crime.

Originally, HR 2885 had a prohibition against using the E-Verify database for anything other than employment verification, but that was replaced by a new section allowing it to be used to “protect critical infrastructure.” That could affect everything from your right to fly to your ability to access public buildings... not to mention that the information is sure to be shared throughout the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

Luckily, some substantial pushback has developed against HR 2885. Opposition is coming from within the GOP, among border-state governors and legislators, and from citizens across the political spectrum, from liberal immigration-rights groups and the ACLU to Tea Partiers.

However, whether the opposition is strong enough to counter politicians’ desire to curry votes with the stridently anti-immigrant crowd remains to be seen. The only certainty is that if this bill becomes law, it will radically change the way business is done in the US…. for the worse.



Looking back: Obama’s fatal missteps

It might be too early to start analyzing what went wrong with the Obama administration in its first three years, but I am going to do it anyway.

Here are seven turning points that led to the president’s decline and fall, seven places where Obama or his Democratic allies made critical errors that forever altered the course of his presidency. He hasn’t done everything wrong, but he has made enough mistakes to make his reelection extraordinarily difficult.

1. Failed to veto the initial stimulus package: Imagine for a moment if Obama had vetoed that initial stimulus package. Imagine if he insisted that Democratic leaders take out all the pork and cleanse the bill of unworthy projects. Imagine if he had insisted that congressional Democrats work with Republicans to include their ideas, because we are all in this together. He would have immediately branded himself as a different kind of president, as someone above the fray, as a leader who cares first about the country, not the Democratic Party. And if he had done that, he would have had the Republicans hopelessly divided. Of course, he didn’t take that step, congressional Democrats were able to walk all over him and Republicans stiffened up their resolve and presented a united front against the president and his plans.

2. Let Nancy Pelosi move cap-and-trade first: The then-Speaker insisted that the House move on an environmental bill that had absolutely no chance of becoming law. She made vulnerable Democrats walk the line on this bill that the energy sector successfully branded as a new tax on energy, and when the president needed many of those members to vote with him on healthcare, they simply couldn’t. It was an unnecessary and silly waste of political capital.

3. Called the cop stupid: At a press conference called to push his healthcare law, the president took the bait offered in a question from Lynn Sweet, the Chicago Sun-Times reporter, and opined on an incident involving a Boston-area police officer and Obama’s own friend, Skip Gates. He said that Sgt. Crowley acted “stupidly,” and created a firestorm that forever alienated white ethnic voters. He tried to recover with a beer summit, but the damage was done. The week before the president rose high in the polls, but after the Beer Summit, his rating steadily declined.

4. Failed to bring the Olympics home to Chicago: When the president hurriedly jetted off to Oslo to lobby the International Olympic Committee, he raised the stakes for America and for his own personal credibility. After all, Obama was elected ostensibly because he proved to be such a popular figure overseas. Well, the president’s personal charm didn’t pay off, and the Olympics went to Brazil. Coming home empty-handed proved to be a deep embarrassment.

5. Signed an extension of President Bush’s tax cuts: After campaigning against and complaining about George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, Obama meekly signed a two-year extension of those same tax cuts. By reversing course, Obama did three things. He exposed himself as a man who will blink when put to the test. He made the deficit situation much worse. He has not in any way, shape or form put himself in a stronger rhetorical position for his reelection. He is making the same ineffective arguments that he made last year, and it will likely yield the same result.

6. Signed ObamaCare: By pushing through an ungainly and unpopular healthcare law, with little if any support from the opposition party, the president gained little traction politically, and put his allies in the worst possible position on Capitol Hill. In fact, the anger stoked by passage of the bill led to one of the largest repudiations of any president, in the midterm elections of 2010.

7. Brought David Plouffe in-house: The president is now is full campaign mode, as evidenced by the fact that his top campaign person is now running the White House. It is clear that Plouffe, a hard-nosed partisan, is in charge, and not the more pragmatic chief of staff, Bill Daley, because the president has taken a hard turn to the left to energize his despondent base. But Obama is the incumbent, not the challenger. His job should be to first fix the country and then worry about the campaign later. Good policy translates into good politics.

President Obama might make a remarkable comeback if the economy suddenly roars back to life and he somehow governs as a centrist. But right now, that doesn’t seem very likely. When the history is written about what went wrong, these seven turning points are a good place to start looking.



Class war relies on a stack of lies

Deroy Murdock

It’s official: America is at class war, and President Barack Obama proudly leads the charge against this country’s wealthy.

“If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior -- a warrior for the working class -- I will accept that,” Obama shouted Tuesday at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School. “I will wear that charge as a badge of honor. Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires. A teacher or a nurse or a construction worker making $50,000 a year shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than somebody making $50 million.”

Obama’s assault on the affluent rests upon a sky-high stack of lies. Obama is too well staffed and too well informed not to know otherwise. So, maddeningly, he straight-out lies to the American people.

For days before Obama opened his mouth in Denver, multiple news accounts and opinion pieces annihilated the casus belli of his War on the Wealthy. Nonetheless, Obama keeps spouting falsehoods, perhaps hoping that his smooth voice will hypnotize Americans into believing his words.

“Fact check: The wealthy already pay more taxes,” read the headline above a September 20 Associated Press. “President Obama says he wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries,” Stephen Ohlemacher wrote. “The data say they already are.”

Nationwide, Ohlemacher and others dismantled Obama’s soak-the-rich thesis. The rich are soaked today.

In 2008, its latest data indicate, the Internal Revenue Service harvested $1.0315 trillion in income tax -- of which the top 10 percent of earners paid $721.4 billion. The top 5 percent shelled out another $605.7 billion, and the top 1 percent relinquished $392.15 billion. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent collectively paid just $27.9 billion. Thus, the top 1 percent of taxpayers furnished 14 times the income taxes that the bottom half of filers supplied.

In 2009, the IRS reports, those who made at least $1 million average 24.4 percent of adjusted gross income in federal income taxes. Those who scored $200,000 to $300,000 paid 17.5 percent. Between $100,000 and $125,000: 9.9 percent. From $50,000 to $60,000: 6.3 percent. Those who earned between $20,000 and $30,000 saw income taxes devour 2.5 percent of AGI.

Income, schmincome, Leftists chirp. What about payroll taxes that lower-income Americans pay? Counting other taxes still shows that higher earners pay more, Obama’s dark fantasies notwithstanding.

The Tax Policy Center -- a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution -- reported August 24 that Americans who receive $1 million or more will average 29.1 percent of earnings in 2011 federal income, payroll, corporate, and death taxes. Those clearing between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent, while those from $40,000 to $50,000 will average 12.5 percent. Those federal taxes will extract 5.7 percent from earners between $20,000 and $30,000.

Dry? Yes. But these figures demonstrate that Americans who earn more money pay more federal tax. Those who see less pay less. If Obama finds this unfair, he should define fairness.

True, the IRS notes, 1,470 households produced at least $1 million but paid no federal income tax in 2009. Still, this is just 0.62 percent of the 236,883 returns that millionaires filed. This reinforces the bipartisan idea of closing loopholes and lowering tax rates -- but not Obama’s crusade against “millionaires and billionaires” and his American Jobs Act’s tax hikes on people earning as little as $200,000.

When Obama accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination in Denver, he espoused national unity. The USA would “come together as one American family,” he declared. The nearby Continental Divide might become this republic’s only rift, if Barack Obama secured the presidency.

How disappointing that the eloquent man who millions hoped would heal this land now actively pits Americans against each other -- not by race or creed, but by income. As London’s arson-scorched victims of mob rule learned last August, there is nothing cute about class war.


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

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


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


4 October, 2011

The Chicago Way

Despite Rahm Emanuel’s departure from the White House, the coercive, dominating style of the Chicago Way is still infiltrating Barack Obama’s presidency. Americans for Limited Government (ALG) put together a report highlighting examples of the president and his team’s most egregious actions.


Recently, the Obama campaign set up the AttackWatch.com website. Essentially, this is a replay of the earlier Obama Administration project to have supporters inform the White House of attacks on Obama. That effort quickly failed amidst a firestorm of controversy. Of course, critics are ridiculing the new snitch website.


In 2008, George Kaiser raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama. Kaiser’s family foundation invested in Solyndra, a company that manufactured solar panels. Solyndra’s board members and executives also gave generously to Obama. After Obama’s Inauguration, Kaiser became a frequent White House visitor. Although Solyndra’s application was rejected by the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration gave over $500 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra as part of the “stimulus.” Emails have emerged revealing the White House pressured bureaucrats to decide quickly on the loan.

Vice President Biden appeared by satellite at a company groundbreaking event, and Obama even visited Solyndra’s plant. As the “green energy” company continued to lose money, the Obama Administration even changed the terms of the agreement to make them more favorable to Solyndra’s investors in case of the company’s default. Of course, the change in terms made the deal even more risky for taxpayers. Solyndra recently declared bankruptcy, and Congress is demanding answers.


There is concern among the military that LightSquared, a new wireless broadband company, would interfere with military GPS systems. Tests at White Sands Missile Range have confirmed these fears. The majority owner of LightSquared is Philip Falcone, a billionaire and Obama bundler. Billionaire George Soros, the generous funder of liberal causes, also invested in LightSquared, and organizations to which Soros has contributed have been supportive of LightSquared.

Recently, four-star Air Force General William Shelton testified before Congress about LightSquared. Shelton runs the North American Aerospace Defense Command. At the hearing, Shelton complained that the White House had pressured him to change his testimony to be more favorable toward LightSquared. The White House wanted him to claim that the military could adapt to LightSquared, an endeavor that could require billions of dollars and years of research.

Since then, Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, has come forward claiming that the White House wanted to make changes to his testimony as well. The White House wanted Russo to say that testing would be completed in 90 days, but Russo found that timeframe to be too optimistic and refused.

Fox News

Obama has long had a frosty relationship with Fox News. Now the Justice Department is investigating to see whether its parent company, News Corp., broke any laws by paying British police officers for information.

These few examples only scratch the surface.



The jobs plan that couldn’t

Even Donk legislators don't like it

“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. (Applause.)”

That’s what President Obama told lawmakers Sept. 8 in a hastily called joint session of Congress. But it was — and is — a flat-out lie, and Mr. Obama knows it.

He has since then traveled the country to pitch the plan, exclusively to partisan Democratic crowds that whoop and cheer at the brilliance of it all. He even got wealthy donors to chant “pass this bill!” even though it substantially raises taxes.

Now, however, we are beginning to see the truth behind the fiction. Not only is the president’s job bill not “the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it’s not even the kind of proposal that Democrats can currently support.

On Monday, senators passed a bill to keep the government open into the next fiscal year and then headed out on vacation for the rest of the week. Majority Leader Harry Reid said when they return they’ll get back to work — not on the jobs bill, but on a measure to punish China over its currency valuation. Mr. Reid said that bill is a bigger priority right now.

There’s a story making the rounds in Washington that explains Mr. Reid’s dyspeptic countenance. On a secret meeting at the White House after the debt-ceiling deal collapsed (mainly because Mr. Obama doubled the amount of taxes he wanted), the president sat with the top Republican and Democrat from both the House and Senate. They offered a deal, one that all four agreed on and that all four vowed could get through the two chambers.

Mr. Obama nixed it. In one version of the story, a peeved Mr. Reid said, “I’m not going to do anything for that [expletive] again.”

By the end of the week, Democrats were in open revolt. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked whether his party had the votes to pass the president’s bill, said flatly: “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do, but, uh, we can work on it.” He added: “We’re not going to have 100 percent of Democratic senators [support the bill], that’s why it needs to be bipartisan.”

The reason is simple: Democrats in the House and Senate stand for re-election in just 13 months, and their campaigns will be difficult enough without raising taxes just before voters go to the polls. Said a blunt Mr. Durbin: “There are some senators who are up for election who say ‘I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people.’”

Makes sense. It’s a hard sell for lawmakers if they pass the bill, which would raise taxes by $467 billion on wealthier Americans and corporations.

And Mr. Obama knew that when he delivered his big speech last month. His strategy is clear (if simple-minded): blame Congress for the mess America’s in. But in so doing, he has caught up his fellow Democrats who, pressed to the wall, are fully prepared to bail on him and save their own skins. They want no part of the amateurish strategy to try to blame Congress, half-controlled by Democrats.

In fact, even some of the most rabidly liberal Democrats are planning to abandon the president because they see he’s only interested in saving his job, not theirs. More, Mr. Obama is throwing his former Senate colleagues under the bus as he scrambles to win another term.

So, this jobs bill is dead. And no matter how many times Mr. Obama repeats the lie that his “is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it will be House Republicans who write a bill that can actually pass the Senate.



President Obama's Health Care Law Not Fulfilling Promise

The news that health insurance premiums are again rising rapidly is the latest reminder that President Obama's health care law is producing the opposite of what it promised.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Obama promised health care reform that would lower premiums for the typical family by $2,500.

That year, the average premium for an employer-based family plan rose 5 percent to $12,680. Premiums rose another 5 percent in 2009 and 3 percent in 2010.

But the first batch of Obamacare mandates didn't take effect until late 2010, so their impact wasn't felt until this year. What happened? Premiums surged by 9 percent to more than $15,000 per family.

Those figures come from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which supports Obamacare and estimates the law is contributing at most 2 percentage points to that increase. This estimate conceals the law's crushing impact on many households.

Just before the first batch of mandates took effect, insurers reported Obamacare would increase premiums for some consumers by up to 30 percent in 2011. But that was before the Obama administration accused carriers of "misinformation." Yet the truth has a way of stepping into the light.

Multiple reports show the news will get worse in 2014, when the waivers expire and the law takes full effect.

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber projects that six out of 10 consumers in Wisconsin's individual market will see their premiums go up by an average of 31 percent. Many will see much larger increases. Gruber is one of Obamacare's biggest supporters, and was even a paid consultant to the Obama administration. Will the administration now accuse him of spreading misinformation?

In Ohio, some consumers in the individual market will see their premiums rise by 55 to 85 percent. Young, healthy males could see their premiums rise by 90 to 130 percent. And some small businesses will see their premiums rise by 150 percent, according to the actuarial consulting firm Milliman, Inc.

These massive rate hikes will be inflicted by the same president who once described a 39 percent increase by Anthem Blue Cross of California as "jaw-dropping," and a secretary of Health and Human Services who wrote that Anthem's "extraordinary" increases could "make health care unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy." If that's true, then won't Obamacare's much larger premium hikes do the same?

Recent events have also belied Obama's reassurance that "no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise. ... If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

Principal Financial Group responded to the law by dropping out of the market, leaving nearly a million Americans to find new coverage.

In a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, University of Minnesota economists Jean M. Abraham and Pinar Karaca-Mandic estimated that Obamacare's "medical loss ratio" rule could throw more than 155,000 Americans with costly medical conditions out of their individual-market coverage.

Milliman projects the law will cause many who currently have employer-sponsored coverage to go uninsured when their employer drops coverage.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that many "children" have enrolled in their parent's coverage under Obamacare's mandate that plans with dependent coverage be open to children up to age 26. But Kaiser didn't even bother to ask whether any employers responded by dropping dependent coverage entirely, despite reports suggesting the law caused thousands of children to lose their dependent coverage this way.

There's no hiding it. Obamacare is delivering the opposite of what its supporters promised.

When Anthem officials re-examined their books, they admitted the 39-percent rate hike was an error and rescinded it. Here's hoping the Obama administration has at least as much integrity as an insurance company.



Misleading talk about extremism

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads," Woody Allen once said. "One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Americans face a similar crossroads now. On the one hand, they can vote for the most extreme, dangerous bunch of radicals ever to appear on a ballot in an election year. Or if they prefer, they could vote for the most radical, dangerous bunch of extremists ever to—well, you know.

The other day the Democratic Party of Virginia sent out an email blast with the subject line "The most extreme line up ever." It warned that Democratic candidates this year were "running against a slate of extreme tea party Republicans who want to drag this Commonwealth backward. This year the stakes are higher than ever." The email goes along with the party's new video condemning—yep—"the most extreme Republican ticket in history."

This is but the latest example in a long and richly bipartisan tradition of bashing opponents as the most extreme bunch of lunatics ever to spew from Satan's colon. And while the wording changes slightly, the message never does. A couple decades ago, state Democratic Party Chairman Mark Warner was declaring the GOP candidates "the most extreme right-wing ticket ever"—while 300 hundred miles to the north, Republican Rudy Giuliani was opining that "Democratic primaries are won by the most extreme candidate." (Namely his opponent, whoever that turned out to be.)

The next year, Oliver North challenged Chuck Robb for the Senate, denouncing the moderate Democrat as an "extremist." Robb returned the favor. In 2001, state GOP director Ed Matricardi excoriated the Democratic lineup as the "most liberal" in Virginia's history, while Democrats termed the GOP ticket "the most right-wing" in years.

Last year, Mass Resistance, a Massachusetts-oriented political group, lamented: "Mass GOP Convention Nominates Most Extreme Pro-Gay & Anti-Family Gov & Lt. Gov. Candidates Ever." Which was odd, because about the same time, the abortion-rights website RH Reality Check was warning, in "More GOP Candidates More Extreme Than Ever," that "the 2010 crop of GOP candidates" displayed "more extreme stances on reproductive-rights issues than we've seen in a long time." So apparently the GOP was nominating candidates who were virulently both pro-gay and anti-abortion. Inscrutable, those Republicans.

During the 2008 campaign, John McCain denounced Barack Obama for having "the most extreme" voting record in the Senate. Obama, McCain said, "is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont."

Likewise Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, who wrote a widely circulated piece contending that Obama was "the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. . . . Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress."

In some ways this amounts to nothing more than the silly hot air that all campaigns blow. It's pretty hard to get out the vote by saying, "The other guys? Ehhh, they're not so bad."

And in the heat of the campaign, many voters actually do convince themselves the other guys are the worst ever. The University of California's Jonas Kaplan studies the psychology of political affiliation. As he explains, "in the political process, people come to decisions early on and then spend the rest of the time making themselves feel good about their decision."

Many in the media are glad to help them do it, by serving up an endless train of alarmist articles about how one side or the other is chock-full of bug-eyed nut jobs pushing hidden agendas and radical ideas: Christian "dominionism" (Rick Perry), anti-colonialist Alinskyite subversion (Barack Obama), Straussian neoconservatism (George W. Bush).

Of course, it might be true that in some instances, a candidate really is the "most extreme ever" along some axis or another. But does this tell us anything important? Not so much.

Suppose that, in 1955, a Southern political candidate had declared segregation obscene, laws against ethnic intermarriage odious, and the notion of racial supremacy grotesque. Suppose he organized bus boycotts and lunch-counter sit-ins and marches for civil rights. Suppose he promised to overturn Jim Crow as soon as he took office. If any candidate had done that, he would have been widely denounced as the "most extreme" you-know-what-lover ever.

He also would have been right.


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

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


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


3 October, 2011

Britain waking up to the ill-effects of minimum wage laws too

The minimum wage may be pricing young people out of work because employers are finding it too expensive to give them their first job, Government pay advisers have said.

Firms may be reluctant to create jobs by recruiting inexperienced staff because they are put off by the increased wage bill, the Low Pay Commission has suggested.

The Commission’s intervention comes amid calls from businesses for minsters to freeze or even cut the rate to enable more young people to find work.

Conservative ministers meeting at the party’s conference are to promise a raft of measures to boost the stalling UK economy. The claims will add to pressure on the Government to go further.

New rates for the minimum wage took effect on Saturday. For 18-20 year olds, the minimum wage is now £4.98, up from £4.92. For 16-17 year olds, the new rate is £3.68, up from £3.64.

Tim Butcher, the commission’s chief economist told the Daily Telegraph that the body is launching a new investigation into the role the minimum wage has played in Britain’s growing youth unemployment problem.

Official figures last month showed that almost 1 million of the 2.5 million people officially counted as unemployed in Britain are aged between 16 and 24.

Almost 220,000 have been out of work for more than a year and some economists fear a "lost generation" of young people who never learn the habits of work and face a lifelong struggle ever to find employment.

In its official advice to the Government on this year’s pay rates, the commission raised concerns about younger workers, the first such warning since the introduction of the legal minimum rate in 1999.

The commission’s move is will put he minimum wage on the agenda as ministers search for ways to help companies prosper.... The British Chambers of Commerce said that the minimum wage should be part of the effort to reinvigorate the economy.

Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the BCC said that there should be a freeze in the minimum wage for younger workers, followed by a consultation with employers about a gradual reduction in the rate.

"The concern is that the current rate is discouraging some employees from taking on young people and giving them a chance to get into the workplace," he said. "Some companies are finding the rate is a real problem."

Under this year’s rates, workers over 21 must legally be paid at least £6.08 an hour, up from £5.93. That is a 2.5 per cent rise. By contrast, this year’s rise in youth rates is 1 per cent, reflecting the commission’s concerns about youth unemployment.



Bringing Selfish Back

Katie Kieffer

When politicians, journalists and college professors use words like “share,” “fair” and “redistribution,” they are trying to make socialist ideas sound sexy. Socialism isn’t sexy; it’s suffocating.

Here’s what’s sexy: “Selfishly” working hard to secure your own financial independence and making free choices with regard to your career, romantic relationships, children and estate. Let’s bring selfish back, y’all!

The problem with words like “share” and “fair”–words five-year-olds use when they want to play with their big brother or sister’s toys–is that they’re innocuous. They are inappropriate for describing government policies that ultimately replace freedom with thralldom.

Liberals will tell me things like: “Socialism is not communism. Socialism merely levels the playing field; it prevents rich people from creating monopolies and controlling everyone else.” My response is: “Have you read The Communist Manifesto lately?”

Marx believed that socialism was the natural first step toward its full realization, namely communism. When and if liberals actually read Manifesto, they’ll notice that Marx lays out ten steps that are “generally applicable” to establishing communist socialism. At least six of these steps look quite similar to current and pending U.S. polices.

1. “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” (we have this now and it will become even more progressive if the Buffett Tax is implemented).

2. “Abolition of all right of inheritance” (think excessive and duplicative estate and inheritance taxes).

3. “Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly” (think Frank Dodd and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s monopoly on guaranteeing mortgages).

4. “Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state” (think net neutrality regulations and the TSA).

5. “Establishment of industrial armies” (think labor unions).

6. “Free education for all children in public schools” (yep).

All I’m saying is that America succeeds when she plays to her proven strength, namely capitalism. Just as a football coach adjusts his game plan when his quarterback is repeatedly sacked, America should change things up when she begins following significant parts of Marx’s playbook.

My problem with socialism is that it takes the fun out of life. Many college professors won’t admit that by “sharing” all your private property with the state, you’d surrender your ability to freely choose. And when you can’t prefer one thing, person or activity to another, life becomes drudgery.

As socialism progresses it eliminates career preference. The state decides what career you will pursue from an early age. You pursue a role the state deems best, not the career you discover and prefer.

Socialism also nixes romantic preference. Radical socialists like Marx teach that capitalism leads to prostitution. Marx says capitalists instituted marriage to keep their capital within their own family by procreating and carrying on their family line. He thinks socialism removes the “claptrap” of love by freeing every woman from allegiance to one man and her biological children.

Marx also expunges parental preference. Manifesto directs parents to hand their children over to the state to be raised. This prevents capitalists from passing their capital along to their children and keeping their wealth within their family instead of sharing it with the nation.

I think we should be free to prefer and raise our own children. We should also be free to pass on the fruits of our labor to our own flesh and blood. There is nothing wrong with exclusive love. There is nothing wrong with inheriting your parents’ money.

Ayn Rand was a teenager in Soviet Russia. She wrote a short novel, Anthem, where she envisions what could happen to man when society fully embraces collectivism: Preference of any kind becomes evil.

Her nameless hero, “Equality 7-2521” relays how the law “says that men may not think of women, save at the Time of Mating. This is the time each spring when all the men older than twenty and all the women older than eighteen are sent for one night to the City Palace of Mating. And each of the men have one of the women assigned to them by the Council of Eugenics. Children are born each winter, but women never see their children and children never know their parents.”

Equality 7-2521 struggles because he prefers one woman (the Golden One). She also prefers him. They feel suffocated because they are unable to express their exclusive love within the socialist society.

I’d rather choose my own career than have the state decide how I can best serve the common good. I’d prefer to bequeath my estate to my family and my favorite charities than to the government. I’d prefer to love one person than to owe sexual allegiance to every man in the nation.

Bottom line, I cherish property rights and freedom; I am selfish.



The ACLU – A Change of Heart or Cowardice?

The ANC [American News Commentary] reported in its September 21, 2011 issue that the ACLU is defending the right of Muslims to exercise prayer in public schools in San Diego… Really?

Is that a change of heart or the expression of a cowardly and terrified heart? It is most likely the latter. Let me explain.

Over the last 40 years or so, the ACLU has terrified many school boards, school administrators, and school children by threatening to drag them into court if they pray in public.

A few years ago, they terrified many coaches and sporting event coordinators by warning them that if they dare pray in public, the ACLU would bring about the full weight of their false interpretation of the Establishment Clause.

For many years, they have sent their emissaries across the land, “Gestapo-like,” checking out every small city council, lest they open their meeting with prayer. But now they are coming out of their closets and are supporting Muslim students praying in public schools.

If you think that this defies every aspect of human logic, you would be right.

Fear is a powerful factor – fear devastates logical thinking, fear decimates consistency and their support for Islamic prayer in public schools in San Diego is a clear indication of that fear. They know all too well what will happen to them if they exercise their clever maneuvers on Muslims. They will not see the love and forgiveness they have received from Christians. Rather, they will see the end of the sword.

Surprise, surprise when Kevin Keenan, the spokesperson for the ACLU in San Diego, explained his enthusiastic support for Muslims praying in public schools, he said: “Performing these prayers is widely recognized as one of the five essential pillars of Islam.”

Really? Have they not heard, do they not know that Christians and Jews are also exhorted to pray?

Have they not heard, do they not know that for Christians, prayer is a life-line to their Savior, the God of the universe?

Have they not heard, do they not know that the prophet Daniel was thrown into the den of lions because he would not stop praying to the God of Heaven?

Have they not heard, do they not know that for Christians prayer is the foremost expression of their desire to commit themselves, their schools, their sporting events, and their public meetings to the Lord God Almighty?

Can one hope that appealing to the ACLU to be fair and just and not single out Christians, who are loving and forgiving, will make a difference? Meanwhile, they cower when it comes to Muslims, who may talk with the sword.

Can one appeal to them to see the light before it is too late for them as “infidels”—the first in line to face the sword under the Sharia?

Can one appeal to them to exercise even the most basic of human logic, let alone review history and truth? One can hope.



Black caucus bad for blacks

Black America suffers disproportionately today because its leaders – uniformly liberal Democrats like our president – have been peddling failed big government policies for almost half a century.

Now, in the words of Barack Obama’s former pastor, “The chickens are coming home to roost.”

Dr King stood before the nation in August 1963, in his “I Have a Dream” speech, and said “America has given the Negro people a bad check, which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

It is time for today’s black Americans to deliver this same message to their left wing black leaders. The promise of secular liberalism, of the fantasy of big government redemption, which blacks have been sold since 1964, is a bad check which is coming back today marked “insufficient funds.”

Today’s tragedy is the refusal to learn. Because we do know what works and we do know what doesn’t work.

And black leadership has continued, year after year, to embrace and sell what doesn’t work and black Americans continue to buy it and return these same individuals to power.

What does work? Let every black American read Dr. Ben Carson’s book Gifted Hands. Let them read how his illiterate mother, working as a domestic, told her two little boys to turn off the TV and made them read two books a week.

Let them read how a young black man from the ghetto became head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.

And let every black American read about Dr. Carson’s faith, which guides his life and how he raises his children.

Our president sends his two beautiful daughters to a fancy private school in Washington, DC. But why can’t every black mother send her son or daughter to whatever school she wants?

The black Caucus is not criticizing Barack Obama because his big government answers don’t work. They are criticizing him for not doing enough of it.




CA: Gov. Brown signs bill that allows for bans on circumcision: "California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Sunday a bill that prevents local governments from banning the practice of male circumcision. The legislation comes in response to an effort this summer by a San Francisco Bay Area advocacy group opposed to the practice to get a measure proposing a citywide ban added to the November 8 city ballot."

Nothing good grows at the Department of Agriculture: "People who are not farmers, or who don’t know any farmers, probably know very little about the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What most of us do know about USDA, other than the stamp it places on meat packages, is that it takes billions of dollars from taxpayers to pay farmers not to grow things. Basically it’s a large federal bureaucracy that pays productive people not to be productive."

Free trade without apology: "With the economy sputtering and unemployment still high, President Obama is looking for ways to jump start growth. He recently stated his intention to gain Congressional approval for free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. The president’s new stated commitment to free trade is welcome, but there was no need for him to wait this long."

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

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

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


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


2 October, 2011

It's liberals versus the rest

The prevailing notion — and conservatives fall for it, too — is that on one side of the ideological spectrum, you’ll find liberalism, on the direct opposite, conservatism, and directly in the middle is the mainstream of American thought. On the contrary, there is but one extreme in American thought, and that is liberalism.

Recently, a caller to a radio talk show opined that all effective leaders govern from the center. Liberals and conservatives both rouse their bases, lending a pep talk when needed, but even President Obama knows that leadership requires maneuvering from the middle. The caller’s ultimate model, however, was Bill Clinton.

The caller is correct — President Clinton recovered after his party was crushed in the 1994 mid-terms, and he took a giant step to the center (some would argue that he was dragged). Late in his presidency he even boldly declared that the era of big government was over. President Clinton, whether he believed his own words or not, saw the writing on the wall. Republicans, on the other hand, who cling to the center, including John McCain, Bob Dole, both Presidents Bush and numerous others, ultimately banish the GOP to the minority column. Funny how that works.

Whenever liberalism appears victorious, as in 2008, the likes of James Carville inform us that Republicans should prepare for at least 40 years in the political wilderness. With the ascendency of the Tea Party and the 2010 mid-terms, predictably, came word that sides and labels don’t matter, after all. A new group, No Labels, was founded upon that dreary, uninspiring notion and has excited about as many Americans as the Oprah Winfrey Network.

So, eschewing sides usually means that one side, liberalism, is losing. Therefore, if my side is bad, then both sides are bad, so let’s call it a draw. An interviewee on a recent CNN feature on job creation noted that the relevant argument of the day is not small government versus big government but rather SMART government. A vague concept, one that could conceivably work. On the other hand, does the free market demand more streamlined and efficient statism? Are we talking principle here or degree?

Typically, liberalism does well diluting itself and adopting the protective coloration of mainstream thought. According to a recent Gallup poll, 41 percent of respondents identify themselves as conservative, compared to just 21 percent liberal. Granted, poll numbers and trends remain fickle barometers of public thought, but it is liberalism that has been butting heads with the mainstream for at least 40 years.

Even conceding proper stances on civil rights, worker and child protection, etc., liberalism has been seeking to right America, not through our own corrective principles outlined in the Constitution and other founding documents, but through “transformation” and building “new foundations.”

In April 2009, President Obama delivered what is now known as his “New Foundation” address at George Washington University. Transformation has been a dominant theme of his political life, and he said that we need to become a nation where we “save and invest, where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.” Consume less? What are you willing to give up, Mr. President? Recently, in his insistence on higher taxes on the rich, he declared, “at a certain point, you made enough money.”

Conservatives are far less likely to impose limits on earning and consumption, but liberals recoil, like a vampire from a cross, from the crass, consumption-based lifestyles of ordinary Americans. Liberals have battled Wal-Mart, SUVs, flush toilets, light bulbs, oil exploration in the most God-forsaken outreaches of the country, Happy Meals, Oreos, federal recognition of the Boy Scouts, etc. A few nutjobs on the right notwithstanding, liberals will state, with even more conviction in their unguarded moments, their extreme views (such as candidate Obama’s opinion of Americans clinging to guns and religion) and goals for social transformation (raise your hand if you’ve ever been told that communist Cuba has a superior health care system).

Conservatives and Tea Partiers are rallying for fiscal sanity and Constitutional government. Radical stuff. While those principles are open to debate and discussion, they do not qualify as extreme. The predominantly liberal political-media culture tends to marginalize thought it doesn’t like.

Americans may not always vote conservative, but it doesn’t take an ideological litmus test to locate the nether regions of political thought. Common sense and everyday values will do. Whenever such all-American ideals as success and a fully-stacked pantry are stigmatized, we all know it is liberals wagging their fingers.



Obama-style Democracy: Bureaucrats know best

Most Americans complain that government is unresponsive to their wishes. But not everyone feels that way. In the space of two days, two prominent Democrats have called for less responsive government that ignores public input.

One of them, former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, penned a piece this week in the New Republic arguing, as the title says, "Why we need less democracy." Orszag wrote that "the country's political polarization was growing worse -- harming Washington's ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing." His solution? "[W]e need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic."

Orszag's view is typical of Obama White House alumni. Last year, former auto czar Steve Rattner wrote in his book, "Overhaul," "Either Congress needs to get its act together or we should explore alternatives. ... If our country wants to do a better job of solving its problems, it needs to find a way to let talented government officials operate more like they do in the private sector." True to the founding ideals of the progressive movement, both men are suggesting that enlightened technocrats who know best should be allowed to operate the federal government independent of popular will.

Perhaps know-it-all bureaucrats can be forgiven for harboring such contempt for the voting public. But elected officials cannot. That's why similar comments by Gov. Bev Perdue, D-N.C., are far more troubling. "I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover," Perdue told a Rotary Club gathering in suburban Raleigh this week. "I really hope that someone can agree with me on that."

Perdue's office at first claimed her comments were made in jest. The subsequent release of the audio conclusively demonstrates otherwise.

The federal government's legitimacy is based upon the consent of the governed. This nation's Founding Fathers would have had it no other way. Given Perdue's apparent disdain for the American constitutional system, she might be more comfortable in the private sector, where hierarchical management is the rule. And the voters in her state should remind her next November who's the boss.



The Feds Criminalize Ordinary Life

The overproliferation of federal criminal laws and regulations (the U.S. system was designed to keep most criminal statutes at the state and local level), combined with the extreme weakening of mens rea requirements, now means that ordinary Americans on average commit 'three felonies a day.'

Finally, some front-page attention to a major, and frightening, American problem!

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal featured an in-depth look at how federal laws increasingly apply criminal penalties for violations involving no mens rea, roughly translated as a “guilty mind.” The stricture against criminal penalties for unwitting violations is an age-old, bedrock legal principle. Alas, in today’s dangerously armed, bureaucratic super-state, ancient legal principles go by the wayside when politicians pretend to be “tough on crime” and when officious civil “servants” indulge their fetishes for power.

U.S. governments at every level these days are prone to “overcriminalization,” which means turning ordinary activity into violations of the law, turning what should be civil violations into criminal ones, and applying penalties far harsher than should be warranted.

On the mens rea front, the Journal explains: “In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them…. Today, there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, plus thousands more embedded in federal regulations.”

The Journal highlighted the case of Wade Martin, who legally hunted sea otters but then sold them to a person not qualified to buy them (Martin says he thought the buyer was legal). Another man was charged with illegal ownership of a firearm for keeping a single bullet (no gun) in a box in his room. Yet another, Robert Eldridge, accidentally caught a humpback whale in his fishing net, took care to free the whale, but was unable to remove about 30 feet of netting from the whale’s body. He was criminally charged because he failed to contact authorities to find a trained rescuer to finish removing the net.

These stories are just a microcosm of the problem. In 2010 I contributed a single chapter to the Heritage Foundation book, One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. I wrote of how Krister Evertson, an inventor trying to produce an environmentally friendly fuel cell, was first arrested for putting the wrong label on an otherwise perfectly legal mailing package – and then imprisoned for improperly “disposing” of an environmental hazard that he had not actually disposed of and that was stored in a non-hazardous fashion.

Other horror stories in the book included that of a 71-year-old imprisoned for importing otherwise legal orchids without proper paperwork, the honor student arrested for having a “weapon” on school grounds (while she moved into her own apartment, a kitchen knife had fallen behind the seat of a car she then parked on campus), the grandmother arrested because her bushes were too high and the seafood importer imprisoned for eight years because he packed lobster tails in plastic instead of cardboard.

The orchid and lobster cases involved violations of one of the most idiotic laws imaginable, the Lacey Act, aimed against “trafficking” in wildlife and plants in ways that – get this – violate not U.S. laws but the laws of foreign nations. This is the same law being used, and abused, by the crypto-criminal conspiracy known as the Obama/Holder Justice Department to conduct the now-infamous raid on Tennessee’s Gibson Guitar factory.

More often than not, these arrests are carried out by gun-wielding thugs in uniform, with the alleged violators treated like murderous madmen rather than ordinary citizens with weak record-keeping skills. Who knew, after all, that even the Small Business Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board need armed agents? That’s at the federal level. At the local level, oft-poorly-trained SWAT teams proliferate unnecessarily, leading to far too many stories like the notorious one of the small-town Maryland mayor whose dogs were killed and family abused in a mistaken drug raid.

The overproliferation of federal criminal laws and regulations (the U.S. system was designed to keep most criminal statutes at the state and local level), combined with the extreme weakening of mens rea requirements, now means that ordinary Americans on average commit “three felonies a day.” That is the conclusion of noted lawyer Harvey Silverglate, whose 2009 book of that title makes the point that all of us, without ill intent, act in our everyday lives in numerous ways that are “potentially criminal.”

Ordinary life should not be treated as a criminal conspiracy.

Former U.S. attorney generals Ed Meese and Richard Thornburgh asked Congress last winter merely to ensure that any bills carrying criminal penalties be referred to the Judiciary Committee for review. To their great discredit, the House GOP leadership failed to adopt such a rule.

In truth, Congress should do far more. It should undertake a comprehensive review of the federal criminal code – and perform some radical liposuction on it.



How Wilson Greatbatch 'Gave Back'

He invented the pacemaker. Wasn't he a benefactor of humanity even before he paid his taxes?

Wilson Greatbatch, 92, died this week a wealthy man. Investing $2,000 of his own money way back in 1958 and tending a garden to feed his family, Greatbatch invented the pacemaker. He licensed it to Medtronic, a company now valued at $36 billion that sells and continues to improve pacemakers and defibrillators. Greatbatch did his part to improve society, create wealth and increase, quite literally, our standard of living. But apparently that's not enough. President Obama suggested under a Cincinnati bridge this month that "if you've done well . . . then you should do a little something to give something back."

Give something back? Greatbatch did well specifically because he provided something that society needed. His and Medtronic's profits are what you and I are willing to pay above costs for these life-enhancing devices. This is true of Apple iPhones and Genentech Herceptin and Google Maps and Facebook Likes.

Ever since the mid-19th-century era of so-called Robber Barons, this country has had a philosophical divide over the role of business in a democracy. It's time to set the record straight.

History has proven that the road to increased standards of living and wealth was built on productivity—doing more with less. It was the Industrial Revolution that got us out of the growing fields and into factories, which allowed us to pay for roads and teachers and civil servants. And now the move out of factories into air-conditioned offices is creating anxiety. It shouldn't. Labor replacement is productivity. James Spangler's vacuum cleaner. The Walker brothers' dishwasher. Clarence Birdseye's flash freezing. DuPont's Kevlar. And John Simpson's guidewire catheter for angioplasty and heart stents—the list goes on. Each invention generated wealth because it improved our lives, not because someone "gave back."

Aside from outsized government-assisted profits (think telecom, asbestos removal and Derek Jeter), it is the delivery of these productive goods and services that increases our wealth. The inventors get wealthy but society gets wealthier. No forced giveback needed.

Steve Jobs gets taken to task for his lack of visible charitable giving—"no hospital wing or an academic building with his name on it," wrote the New York Times's Andrew Ross Sorkin recently. Never mind how much more productive and wealthy we all are because of Apple. Jeez. The old "I already gave at the office" has never rung truer. And don't get me wrong—I'm all for charity. I give, but those who collect it and spend it need to appreciate both where the money comes from in the first place and that they can never match the power of free enterprise to improve lives. Never.

Sorry, but the egg comes first. The welfare state doesn't exist without productive businesses and workers to pay for it. Yes, we need bridge builders, park rangers and even a few postal workers, but our economic policies need to encourage wealth-creating productive industries, not crush them with the burden of an unproductive state.

According to a 2004 MIT study, a modern worker needs to work 11 hours to produce as much as someone in 1950 working a 40-hour week. In other words, we could have knocked 30 minutes off the average work week every year since 1950 and still maintained our 1950 standard of living. But of course we don't run in place. Who wants black and white TV? And no Boeing jets? Nor do we want to be stuck in 1970 with three TV stations, or 1990 with 386 PCs, or even 2010 with the mere iPhone 3GS. So we work constantly to increase our living standards.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending billions to eradicate malaria and other diseases in Third World countries. I admire their work and hope they succeed. But note that Bill Gates's fortune came from Microsoft, whose software has done more to help bring Third World countries out of poverty than any charitable or government program.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin have saved all of us hundreds of billions of hours of research and driving around, far more value than their $20 billion each in wealth. They can give to whatever alternate energy project they want and it won't match the wealth they have already created for me and you. Same for Jeff Bezos at Amazon and the founders of Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and the rest. Will we soon disparage these Robber Geeks?

It's inevitable but wrong. Because they, like Wilson Greatbatch, have done their part to create wealth for society by inventing and being in business and investing their profits into even more productive products and services. That's "giving back." Taxes and charity are just gravy.


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

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


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


1 October, 2011

Debunking the Big Lie that American Conservatives are Like Fascists

This post is from a few months back but is worth re-posting here, I think

A popular narrative being promulgated in the left-wing blogosphere is that the terrorist who killed many innocent civilians in Norway is a “right-winger” who describes himself as a “Christian” and a “conservative” and thus shares many common characteristics with American conservatives.

This type of big lie has been a Stalinist smear of American conservatives since the end of World War II.It erects a false opposition between socialism and fascism that excludes the middle ground of Constitutional republican government and individual rights. Let’s debunk a few myths that drive this comparison.

1. American conservatives are for individual rights, not statism.

2. They believe individuals are ends in themselves, and not a means to an end.

3. They are for liberty, not totalitarianism.

4. They are for free markets, not corporatism or state capitalism.

5. They are for private property, not state property.

6. They are for a color-blind, legally equal society based on individual rights, not group rights.

7. They are for freedom of religion, not theocracy.

8. They are suspicious of government authority, not obeisant.

9. They tend not to deify political leaders, though they revere leaders like Ronald Reagan.

10. They are for less government intervention, not control over every aspect of life.

11. They are patriotic, not nationalist.

12. They are for federalism, not centralized government.

13. They are for checks and balances, not unification.

14. They support gun rights not because the seek to harm others, but to protect and defend themselves.

15. They display judgment in the context of moral and cultural relativism.

Not much “fascistic” about that, is there?



Liberal Myths

Did you know that Paul Krugman is more compassionate than you are? Or so he says. In fact, just about everybody who is left of center is more compassionate than everybody who is right of center, Krugman explained in a recent New York Times editorial.

“American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions,” he wrote. If you identify with Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” vision you are today part of the “free to die” crowd.

That last bit is a reference to Republican presidential candidates foolishly stumbling over a Wolf Blitzer question about what should be done with a man who willfully chooses to be uninsured and then discovers needs lifesaving medical care. No, in case you are wondering, none of them said “let him die.” But Krugman would like you to believe that is the position of the entire Republican Party.

[Democrats, by the way, would also have trouble with that question. In fact there is nothing in Obama Care that guarantees health care for someone who ignores the government mandate and remains uninsured.]

Krugman is not alone. Writing at Health Affairs the other day, Princeton University economist Uwe E. Reinhardt described the current budget impasse in Washington by declaring that this country has been in:
…a long ideological war fought over the distribution of economic privilege in this country, a war that has been raging unabated for over three decades now.

One side in this war believes that the current distribution of income and wealth in this country is fair, as it rewards generously those who contribute commensurately to the economy and properly gives short shrift for those who do not — e.g., unskilled workers…

The opposing faction believes that the current distribution of income and wealth no longer is the product of a genuine meritocracy, and even if it were, that health care, education and legal care are so-called social goods to which rich and poor should have access on roughly equal terms, regardless of their own ability to pay.

Although Reinhardt doesn’t engage in the kind of ad hominem personal character attacks that are Krugman’s stock in trade, the message is still the same: one side cares about the unfortunate and the other side doesn’t.

Before going further, there is something you should know. There is no evidence whatsoever – zero evidence – that liberals are more compassionate than conservatives. In fact all the evidence points in the other direction. More about that in a moment.

Since Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist, I would like to turn first to the science of economics, just as Adam Smith did more than 200 years ago. What Smith realized was that it’s not compassion, or any other feeling that is going to eliminate most deprivation and suffering around the world. It’s sound economic policies, produced by rational thought.

Several years ago, I was at a conference at the Vatican and I heard another Nobel laureate, University of Chicago economist Gary Becker, make a remarkable statement. Becker said, “I believe in capitalism. The reason: capitalism confers its greatest benefits on those at the bottom of the income ladder. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be a capitalist. And Milton Friedman thinks the same way.”

Non-economists are generally unaware of how much evidence there is in support of the Becker/Friedman position. If you look around the world, you will find that the bottom 10% of the income distribution gets about the same percent of national income in countries with the least economic freedom (2.5%) as they do in the countries with the most economic freedom (2.6%). Whether a country is capitalist or socialist doesn’t seem to matter. But there is a huge difference in the absolute level of income. In fact, the bottom 10% gets almost ten times more income ($8,474 per persons per year vs. $910) in capitalist countries than in non-capitalist countries.

Given that disparity, what is the most compassionate economic system? It is the system advocated by the University of Chicago economists and other classical liberals: a system that leaves people free to use their intelligence, their creativity and their innovative ability to pursue their own interests. In other words, it is a system in which people are “free to choose.”

That freedom and free enterprise are good for poor people is a fact of economic science. It has nothing in particular to do with compassion. But since the issue has been raised, who are the most compassionate people? It turns out, they are not liberals. In an exhaustive study of this issue American Enterprise institute president Arthur Brooks discovered that:
In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than households headed by a liberal ($1,600 to $1,227). This discrepancy is not simply an artifact of income differences; on the contrary, liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich…

The differences go beyond money and time. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservative, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.

What about Krugman, personally? I don’t know him. But the next time he is on television, mute the sound and focus on the image on the screen. Is there anything about Paul Krugman that seems to be the least bit compassionate? Not to me.



Unions: The Cause of Michigan's Malaise

The Great Lakes state's burgeoning right-to-work movement is a backlash against aggressive union demands

The Detroit Free Press’ front page a week ago was a rich display of irony. It featured two stories, one celebrating the quadrennial contract deal that GM and the United Auto Workers had reached, declaring that the “Deal Is a Victory for All.” And the other reported: “Right-to-Work Debate Fires Up in State.” That about sums up the state of the labor movement nationwide: Still a player, but no longer sacrosanct.

A right-to-work law, which would allow workers to join unionized companies without having to pay mandatory union dues, is far from a done deal in Michigan. But 22 states already have such laws, and that it is even on the table in the union capital of the country shows the new political reality confronting unions.

Union membership has dropped from 36 percent of the work force in 1945 to 11.9 percent now. To reverse this slump, unions pumped $400 million into President Obama’s campaign, hoping he would pass the so-called card check bill. This would allow labor bosses to avoid secret elections and unionize companies by getting a majority of workers to sign a card.

But Obama has proved a union dud, not a union dude: Far from pushing grand initiatives, his labor agenda has consisted of—in the words of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka—“little, nibbly things.”

This is not surprising. Aggressively pursuing a pro-union agenda with unemployment stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent would work if Obama wanted to be a kamikaze president, hell-bent on self-destructing. Unions protect wages at the cost of jobs—the main reason they are in trouble in Michigan.

Michigan’s unemployment rate, consistently higher than the national average, soared above 15 percent between 2009 and 2010. No state, not even Katrina-stricken Louisiana, had seen this kind of unemployment in 25 years. Not all of this is Big Labor’s fault—but much of it is.

Grand Valley State University economist Hari Singh found that if Michigan had been a right-to-work state, the auto industry would have seen a 25 percent gain in jobs since 1965. Instead, it lost 56.6 percent just between 2002 and 2009, shrinking its work force by 165,777. In a functioning market, high unemployment would lead to lower wages. But in Michigan’s auto industry, Singh found, wages actually rose 18.1 percent during that time.

Unions congratulate themselves for protecting workers’ wages, but they have imposed a heavy price on everyone else. Not a single foreign automaker has ever taken advantage of Michigan’s legions of out-of-work but highly trained employees, preferring to train novices in right-to-work states.

The upshot is that the economies of these states grew on average 18.1 percent between 2001 and 2006, according to Paul Kersey of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan’s? It grew too—a grand total of 3.4 percent over the same five years.

Since jobs can’t come to Michigan, Michigan residents have followed the jobs. Michigan lost 11.7 percent of its 25-34 age group between 1993 and 2003—while right-to-work states gained 3.8 percent. Indeed, the 2009 Census revealed that Michigan had experienced the third-highest emigration in the country. Otherwise, Michigan’s unemployment situation would be even grimmer.

But the hidden costs of labor unions have become impossible to ignore, partly because Michigan’s collapsing real estate market has made it hard for homeowners to sell and relocate. There is a new desperation to do something to jumpstart job growth, which is why unions are in the cross hairs.

Various polls have found that 50 to 60 percent of likely Michigan voters support a right-to-work law. Several Republican gubernatorial candidates in the last election openly discussed making Michigan a right-to-work state, something previously unimaginable. Tea party rallies increasingly tout right-to-work among the top items on their agenda. The Michigan Senate and House, both of which are under Republican control along with the Supreme Court and the governorship, have sponsored right-to-work bills.

The only weak link is Gov. Rick Snyder, who has declared that he won’t push such a divisive bill, but will sign it if it comes to his desk. But even Snyder, emboldened by Indiana and Wisconsin, wants a right-to-work bill for teachers unions (whose demands have made it difficult for him to balance the state budget). If this goes through, however, it will become hard to force private companies to operate under different labor rules than the public sector, opening the floodgates to wider reform.

Either way, Michigan’s efforts will encourage other Rust Belt states, all of which are grappling with moribund economies and high unemployment. Unions could stop the trend by radically scaling back their wages to spur job growth. But the new auto contract, which pretends to be all about creating “jobs, jobs, jobs,” doesn’t hold much hope for that. The UAW gave up mandatory raises and cost-of-living adjustments, but got hefty bonuses. More to the point, the compensation packages of older workers—95 percent of the work force—remain higher than competitors and almost certainly too high for another economic dip.

The Great Depression launched the labor movement, which promised prosperity and jobs. But the Great Recession might spell its end because it can’t deliver, the jubilation about the new contract notwithstanding.



Obama's Double Down on Stupid

Solyndra, the California energy company gone bust, was so cash strapped in December, 2010 that they defaulted on a loan payment to the government. That didn't bother the Obama Administration, though. In fact, DOE officials amended the loan agreement, allowing Solyndra to draw another $67 million, and subordinated the taxpayer's credit position to that of private investors.

There was an abundance of information and reasons why the Solyndra loan should never have been approved in 2009. But, the Obama White House rejected all the obvious warning signs preferring to pass out half a trillion dollars like party favors and to create campaign photo-ops.

The White House says this wasn't stupid. "That's just the way business works," according to the President's spokesman, Jay Carney. The next time Obama shows he understands how ANYTHING in business works, it will be the first time.

The White House still defends the $535 billion loan guarantee to Solyndra as an investment in "cutting edge technology." A less varnished assessment would conclude that it was a government investment in opulence designed to failed from the beginning.

The glitzy made-for-Hollywood 300,000 square foot plant, characterized by workers as the "Taj Mahal," had vastly greater manufacturing capacity than Solyndra ever commanded in market share and came with "robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms."

The Administration doubled down on stupid by not recognizing that failure was imminent by the end of 2010. In addition, the Energy Act of 2005 specifically prohibits subordination of the taxpayer's credit position – an apparently violation of federal law.

The DOE says it renegotiated the loan agreement and allowed Solyndra to draw down the additional $67 million because the government officials "thought it gave Solyndra a fighting chance to survive and the taxpayers their best chance to recover their loan."

What the DOE doesn't say is that the subordination of the taxpayer's position and the additional $67 million created an illusion of better financial condition than was reality. In other words, the DOE helped put a better-than-actual appearance on Solyndra, who then went to the private markets to raise additional investment capital. That prompted allegations that government officials may be guilty of fraud according to Andrew McCarthy, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney.

The Solyndra scandal has already prompted five high level investigations. What Obama thought would be government funded campaign props is likely to turn into a re-election season nightmare.


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

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among people who should know better, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I will attempt it: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"