DISSECTING LEFTISM MIRROR ARCHIVE
Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

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

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31 October, 2013

The Chicago way

A US politician is to serve more than two years in jail after lashing out on an elk head, guitars and a gold watch - with money earmarked for his campaign. Former US Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr has been found guilty of spending almost $800,000 in campaign funds on himself during the 2008 presidential race.

Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, is in federal custody today as Inmate No. 32451-016 at the Butner Correctional Centre, North Carolina. Federal prison guidelines indicate the former legislator with a fondness for luxury will be assigned a cell - possibly sharing a room with other convicts - and a menial job working for less than a dollar an hour. His fellow inmates include Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff.

Jackson's wife, Sandi, was given a yearlong sentence for filing false tax returns. In a concession to their two school-aged children, the judge allowed the Jacksons to stagger their sentences.

Jackson used campaign money to buy a $US43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch and $US9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court papers filed in the case. His wife spent $US5,150 on fur capes and parkas, according to court documents.

Jackson represented his Chicago-area constituents in the House from 1995 until he resigned last November following months of speculation about his health and legal problems.

Jackson, 48, was once a rising star in the Democratic party and an early supporter of President Barack Obama, who served the Illinois state Senate and then represented the state in the US Senate.

SOURCE

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Feds Stage Pre-Dawn Raid for Potato Gun

Audrey Hudson’s husband had just left for work on August 6 when suddenly, her dog began barking. The nationally-known journalist walked over to the curtains and peeked outside to discover her Chesapeake Bay home was surrounded by law enforcement officers wearing full body armor.

The phone rang. It was her husband. “I’m in the driveway,” he said. “The police are here. Open the door.”

And so began Hudson’s nightmare – held captive by armed agents of the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security as they staged a pre-dawn raid in search of unregistered firearms and a “potato gun.”

But instead of taking the potato gun, agents seized unrelated government documents and notes from the former Washington Times journalist.

Agents took Hudson’s records during a search for guns and related items owned by her husband, a civilian Coast Guard employee. They also confiscated her legally registered firearms, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The armed agents held Hudson and her husband in the kitchen as they searched their home. At some point, one of the agents asked if she was the same person who had written a series of stories critical of the Federal Air Marshal program in the mid-2000s.

Hudson did indeed author those stories for The Washington Times. “Those stories were embarrassing to the agency,” she told me.

It wasn’t until five weeks after the pre-dawn raid that Hudson realized agents had taken her private documents – documents that were not listed on the search warrant. At the time she was told that “miscellaneous documents” had been taken.

“I got a call from Homeland Security and they told me I could come pick up the documents,” she said. “The search warrant did not allow them to walk out with those documents. They clearly violated the search warrant.”

It appears the agents were on a fishing expedition. Hudson tells me her home is filled with boxes and boxes of files.

“But they only took five files – and all five had to do with the Federal Air Marshal stories,” she said.

The Coast Guard told The Associated Press its investigator was suspicious that the government documents in her possession were labeled “law enforcement sensitive.” However, they were returned after concluding Hudson had obtained them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

But that doesn’t explain why the Coast Guard took her personal, handwritten notes. Nor does it explain why the Coast Guard accessed her personal Facebook page.

“I think they found a great way to get into my house and get a hold of my confidential notes and go through every other file in my office,” she said.

The Washington Times said Friday it is preparing legal action to fight what it called an unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.

“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon said.

The Coast Guard defended their actions. A spokesman said the warrant authorized police to search the family’s home for guns, ammunition, records of gun purchases, gun cleaning kits and other gun-related documents.

It should be noted that neither Hudson nor her husband have been arrested and no charges have been filed. “We have absolutely no idea what this is all about,” Hudson told me.

I’ve got a pretty good idea. It’s about the federal government trying to intimidate an American journalist.

The Obama administration has a history of targeting journalists in their effort to root out leaks. The Associated Press noted that the raid on Hudson’s home came one month after Attorney General Eric Holder toughened the Justice Department’s rules for seizing reporters’ phone records, notes or emails using federal subpoenas or search warrants.

“This really can’t stand,” Hudson told me. “You cannot come into a journalist’s home under false pretenses with a bogus warrant and just waltz out with confidential files.”

So if you’re doing the constitutional math, I’d say the Obama administration has violated the Hudson family’s first, second and fourth amendment rights.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that state police and federal officers would come into my house at 4:30 in the morning to take my files without a federal subpoena,” she said.

It’s really not all that surprising the Obama administration would use a potato gun to trample the constitutional rights of an American citizen.

It’s a perfect tool for shredding potatoes – and the U.S. Constitution.

SOURCE

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A quiz



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More on the Left/Right difference

I have been updating my big article on the history and psychology of conservatism and I present below my new introduction to it:

Left-leaning psychologists and other Leftist "thinkers" sometimes "study" conservatism -- usually with the obvious motive of proving a theory which discredits conservatives in some way. But the shallowness of their actual knowledge of conservatives is shown when they feel the need to consult dictionaries just to find out what conservatism is (e.g. Altemeyer and Wyeth). That is a remarkably desperate recourse. Dictionaries record usage but they cannot tell you whether the usage is right or wrong, shallow or profound. They even record mistaken usages.

The problem underlying the recourse to dictionaries is that the Leftist wouldn't know conservatism if he fell over it. His only concept of conservatism is the caricature of it that circulates in his own little Leftist bubble. But he does realize dimly that he doesn't know what it is. So with a schoolboy level of sophistication, he turns to his dictionary to find out what it is!

By contrast, in my studies of Leftism, I feel no need to rely on dictionaries. From many years of reading Leftist writings, I can tell you what Leftism regularly is. What the Leftist does or tries to do is to stop people doing what they want to do and make them do things that they don't want to do. They are not alone in that but that underlies all that they do and say. What changes they want and why they want them I consider in detail elsewhere. So conservatives tend to allow the natural world to continue on its way while Leftists forge an inherently unstable world that can be held together only by coercion. Leftism is quintessentially authoritarian.

The redirection of a large slice of people's spending power via compulsory taxation is only one part of the coercion. There are also many direct commands and prohibitions. The very expensive "mandates" of Obamacare were under much discussion at the time of writing. Only a Leftist would think that old ladies should be forced to pay for obstetric care.

It may be noted that some people with strongly-held religious views tend to be like Leftists in trying to forge an unnatural world. That helps to explain why Leftists are infinitely tolerant of Muslim Jihadis and why the major churches tend to support the Left, some of them being very Leftist. In the 2004 Australian Federal elections, the leaders of ALL the churches came out in favour of the (Leftist) Australian Labor Party. The only exception was a small Exclusive Brethren group in Tasmania who supported the conservative coalition -- and their "intervention" sparked huge outrage in the media and elsewhere. (The conservatives won that election in a landslide).

And in England it is sometimes now held that "C of E" stands for "Church of the Environment", because of the Church of England's strong committment to Greenie causes. Cantuar Welby's scolding of business might also be noted. And a previous Cantuar (Carey, a generally decent man) called his little grandson "pollution" on Greenie grounds. Pity the children! And, in stark contrast with the Bible, a senior Anglican cleric has called "homophobia" a sin. The C of E and most of its First World offshoots no longer have strong feelings about salvation but they have strong feelings about Green/Leftist causes.

Because they focus so much on personal feelings and the promise of salvation rather than on "the world", American evangelicals are something of an exception but, even there, 10 million evangelicals voted for Al Gore in the year 2000 American Federal elections.

But back to conservatism: While conservatives tend to let the natural world run its course, that is not a defining characteristic.

What Leftists find in their dictionaries is that conservatives are opposed to change. That is indeed the prevailing Leftist conception of conservatives but it ignores one of the most salient facts about politics worldwide -- that conservative governments are just as energetic in legislating as Leftists are. Both sides busily make new laws all the time. And the point of a new law is to change something. The changes that Left and Right desire are different but both sides push for change. On the Leftist's understanding of conservatism, a conservative government that wins an election should do no more than yawn, shut up the legislature and go home until the next election!

So in a thoroughly anti-intellectual style, the Leftist ignores one of the most basic facts about politics. That sure is a weird little intellectual bubble that he lives in. EVERY conservative that I know has got a whole list of things that he would like to see changed -- usually reversals of Leftist changes. But Leftist intellectuals clearly just doesn't know any conservatives. Conservatism is NOT a rejection of change, though it may be a rejection of Leftist change.

So what really is conservatism? I have taught both sociology and psychology at major Australian universities but when it comes to politics my psychologist's hat is firmly on. One can understand conservatism at various levels but to get consistency, you have to drop back to the psychological level. And at that level it is as plain as a pikestaff.Conservatives are cautious. And that is all you need to know to understand the whole of conservatism.

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

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

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30 October, 2013

"Do it yourself" socialism

An illegal Chinese immigrant, bitter over his failure to achieve the American dream, repaid his cousin’s kindness by butchering the man’s wife and four young children, cops said Sunday. Mingdong Chen, 25, showed no remorse when he confessed to slaughtering the family that allowed him to live in their Brooklyn apartment and admitted that he committed the atrocity because he envied their way of life, a police source told The Post.

“The family had too much,” the source quoted Chen as saying. “He meant that the family had better income and a better lifestyle than him ..... He was jealous and just killed them.”

Chen was charged Monday but did not enter a plea. NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III said Chen had cited his inability to make it in America as his motive for the slayings, which apparently took place while the victim’s husband Yi Lin Zhuo was at work.

“Everyone here is doing better than me,” Banks quoted the suspect as saying during a confession in Mandarin Chinese, the only language Chen speaks.

Sources said Chen, who came here illegally from China and worked as a cook, used a butcher knife to slash and stab Li in the face — lopping off several of her fingers when she tried desperately to protect herself.

Cops found Li, 37, in the kitchen with her son Kevin Zhuo, 5. Both were alive but died a short time later at hospitals. The other children — William Zhuo, 1, Amy Zhuo, 7, and Linda Zhuo, 9 — were found slain in a rear bedroom.

Two of the kids, including the baby, had been decapitated, and there was a trail of blood throughout the house, sources said.
“It’s just a scene you’ll never forget, I’ll just leave it at that,” Banks said.

A distraught cousin of the dead mom recalled having met Chen when he lived with the victims’ family in the past and said Chen had worked as a cook but couldn’t hold down a job.

“He’s lazy. He doesn’t work too hard,” Gao Yun, 29, said after stumbling upon the crime scene Sunday and breaking down in sobs when cops told her what had happened.

Yun said Chen most recently was working at a restaurant in another state but had been fired about two weeks ago.

Chen has no known history of mental illness and no arrest record in New York City, Banks said, adding that cops were checking to see whether he has ever been busted elsewhere in the country.

SOURCE

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Florida Woman's Insurance Rate Increases 10X Under Obamacare

"For many, their introduction to the Affordable Care Act has been negative: A broken website, and now cancellation notices from insurance companies, followed by sticker shock over higher prices for the new plans," says a CBS reporter. "It's directly at odds from repeated assurances from the president."

Obama is quoted as saying, "If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you."

"But people across the country are finding out they're losing their existing insurance plans under Obamacare," says the reporter. "In Florida, at least 300,000 people are losing coverage."

"When I got this bill, I was outraged," CBS quotes a 56-year-old Florida resident who got dropped from her health care plan.

Her new plan will be 10 times higher than what she's paying now, jumping from $54 a month to $591.

"What I have right now is what I'm happy with, and I just want to know why I can't keep what I have," says the woman. "Why do I have to be forced into something else?"

SOURCE

Why? Because lots of do-gooder Americans voted for a nonentity on the basis of his skin-color

Another unwelcome letter below:



SOURCE

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Obama Knew Promise You Could Keep Your Insurance Was A Lie

"If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period." (Pause for applause.) "No one will take it away. No matter what." - President Barack Obama

That was one of President Obama's signature promises that he made when selling his health reform plan. Critics said it was unlikely to be true at the time. Americans are now seeing plainly that it was not true. And now, NBC News reports, the Obama Administration knew this was a lie based on how the Obamacare regulations were written and revised.

The Obama Administration changed a "grandfathering" provision that would have allowed most Americans to keep their insurance and, as a result, estimated that 40% to 67% of all members of the individual health insurance market would lose their plans.

The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date -- the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example -- the policy would not be grandfathered.

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

It was hard to believe that the Obama Administration believed their own rhetoric about "keeping your health insurance plan" under Obamacare, and we now know that they didn't believe it either. But President Obama kept on making that same promise to Americans, over and over, even as recently as in last year's debates with his rival Mitt Romney.

The reason that insurance plans are getting canceled and new plans are more expensive is due to the Obama Administration's new minimum guidelines for what insurance must cover. Their rhetoric is that the new insurance is better.

Tell that to Jacqueline Proctor, the 60-year-old Californian whose new insurance must cover childcare and maternity care. Her insurance will cost "more than twice as much" as her old insurance and is mandated that she purchase insurance for services that she will never use.

SOURCE

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I Lost My Health Insurance Because Of Obamacare

Originally, my health insurance provider told me that my plan wasn't going to be canceled. The agent just said it wouldn't qualify under Obamacare and so, I'd have to pay a tax to keep it. That tax is a bit more substantial than you may have heard. If you don't have health insurance that meets the standards of Obamacare or isn't covered at all, the tax isn't just $95 next year; it's $95 or 1% of your income -- whichever is higher. Of course, that's just what it costs on year one. By 2016, the tax will be $695 per person or 2.5% of your income, whichever is higher.

Incidentally, that breaks another famous promise that Barack Obama made when he was originally running for office. Back then, he said, "I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

It's also worth noting that tax wouldn't be what I would pay for refusing to buy insurance; that's the tax I would pay to continue being insured under a plan that doesn't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, I didn't even have that option. A few days ago, I received a robo-call from my health insurance provider telling me there are going to be changes to my health care plan beginning at the start of the year because of the Affordable Care Act. After calling in, I found that the "change" is that my plan is being cancelled.

It's difficult to blame my insurance company for that. After all, it's hard for a service to be viable when the government forces consumers who buy it to pay a massive new tax for the privilege.

So, since my old plan is going away, I asked what the cheapest comparable plan that meets the standards of the Affordable Care Act will be. As you might suspect, there is a substantial price increase involved.

Currently, I pay $191 per month. That will go up to $274. That's nearly $1000 a year more for a service that I already have. In addition, the deductible on my current plan is $200 and that will be going up to $6000.

That breaks yet another famous promise that Barack Obama made, "I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year."

Setting aside the fact that it's projected that more than 30 million Americans won't be covered under Obamacare, most Americans will be paying more. Insurance premiums are going up under Obamacare in 45 out of 50 states. As bad as that sounds, I still feel fortunate after some of the stories that have been in the news. When you hear about people who are going to be paying an extra $6000 a year out of $47,000 in income or people whose rates are going up tenfold from $54 a month to $591, it's hard to complain.

Yet and still, the high prices people are being asked to pay today are just the beginning. The massive new bureaucracy, reams of red tape, and reduced competition caused by Obamacare are going to cause insurance costs to soar into the stratosphere over the next few years. In return for unnecessarily throwing away more of our income on health insurance, we'll face doctor shortages, a reduced quality of care, and death panels arbitrarily cutting off and delaying effective treatments to save the government money. Meanwhile, the government workers implementing the plan don't have Obamacare while Congress and its aides are illegally getting a 75% subsidy that the rest of us are being forced to pay for on top of the higher costs created by the law.

Tens of millions of Americans are losing their insurance, paying more out of pocket, and being forced to buy plans they never wanted in the first place by people who are exempt from the law they're forcing on the public. The law couldn't pass today and had Obama told the truth instead of lying shamelessly, even Democrats would have never voted for this law in the first place. A law built on lies that hurts tens of millions of Americans just to further Barack Obama's political goals is immoral, unjust, and should not be allowed to stand.

SOURCE

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Fact Check: Sebelius is Lying About Obamacare

Sebelius? Being untruthful about Obamacare? Perish the thought. Alas:

"Misstating the health care law she is responsible for administering, Kathleen Sebelius has asserted that the law required health insurance sign-ups to start Oct. 1, whether the system was ready or not. In fact, the decision when to launch the sign-up website was hers. The troubled debut of the government's health insurance enrollment website has raised questions about whether its start date should have been delayed to allow testing and repairs before it went live. Asked last week whether that might have been the wiser course, Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, said that wasn't possible because the law required an Oct. 1 launch."

To deflect criticism about the law's woeful roll-out, Kathy's both blaming Republicans and pretending that October 1 was a locked-in, legally-mandated deadline. My hands were tied, she protests. But who did the tying?

"In a visit to a community health center in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Sebelius acknowledged more testing would have been preferable. "In an ideal world there would have been a lot more testing, but we did not have the luxury of that and the law said the go-time was Oct. 1," she said. But the law imposed no legal requirement to open the website Oct 1. The law says only that the enrollment period shall be "as determined by the secretary." The launch date was set not in the law, but in regulations her department had issued. Agencies routinely allow themselves flexibility on self-imposed deadlines. Officials could have postponed open enrollment by a month, or they could have phased in access to the website."

Administration officials could have delayed this portion of the law, but that might have looked like a cave to Republicans, so that option was scratched off the list. Instead, they decided to cross their fingers, close their eyes, make a wish, and hope for the best. The best...hasn't panned out. (Remember, they've known this thing was on track to flop for months; as recently as very late September, a trial run of healthcare.gov went down in flames). What's ironic about Sebelius' erroneous comment is that her boss has displayed scant hesitancy in unilaterally delaying other portions of the law that actually are set in stone. In this case, the administration genuinely had some legal discretion to play with, but chose not to exercise it. Sebelius either doesn't realize this (head-spinning incompetence), or she's actively lying to cover her own ass. Neither infraction is worthy of firing, it would seem -- "full confidence," and all that. No, that level of accountability is reserved for the little people.

SOURCE

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

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

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29 October, 2013

So When did the Cuban Missile Crisis become Kennedy’s “Victory?”

That Khrushchev swept the floor with Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis was mainstream conservative conclusion throughout much of the Cold War. Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater, for instance, represented opposite poles of the Republican establishment of their time.... but:

"We locked Castro's communism into Latin America and threw away the key to its removal," growled Barry Goldwater about the JFK’s Missile Crisis “solution.”

"Kennedy pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory,” complained Richard Nixon. "Then gave the Soviets squatters rights in our backyard."

Generals Curtis Le May and Maxwell Taylor represented opposite poles of the military establishment.

"The biggest defeat in our nation's history!" bellowed Air Force chief Curtis Lemay while whacking his fist on his desk upon learning the details of the deal.

"We missed the big boat," complained Gen. Maxwell Taylor after learning of same.

"We've been had!" yelled then Navy chief George Anderson upon hearing on October 28, 1962, how JFK "solved" the missile crisis. Adm. Anderson was the man in charge of the very "blockade" against Cuba.

"It's a public relations fable that Khrushchev quailed before Kennedy," wrote Alexander Haig. "The legend of the eyeball to eyeball confrontation invented by Kennedy's men paid a handsome political dividend. But the Kennedy-Khrushchev deal was a deplorable error resulting in political havoc and human suffering through the Americas."

William Buckley's National Review devoted several issues to exposing and denouncing Kennedy's appeasement. The magazine's popular "The Third World War" column by James Burnham roundly condemned Kennedy's Missile Crisis solution as "America's Defeat."

Even Democratic luminary Dean Acheson despaired: "This nation lacks leadership," he grumbled about the famous “Ex-Comm meetings” so glorified in the movie Thirteen Days. "The meetings were repetitive and without direction. Most members of Kennedy's team had no military or diplomatic experience whatsoever. The sessions were a waste of time."

But not for the Soviets. "We ended up getting exactly what we'd wanted all along," snickered Nikita Khrushchev in his diaries, “security for Fidel Castro’s regime and American missiles removed from Turkey and Italy. Until today the U.S. has complied with her promise not to interfere with Castro and not to allow anyone else to interfere with Castro. After Kennedy's death, his successor Lyndon Johnson assured us that he would keep the promise not to invade Cuba."

In fact Khrushchev prepared to yank the missiles before any “bullying” by Kennedy. “What!” Khrushchev gasped on Oct. 28th 1962, as recalled by his son Sergei. “Is he (Fidel Castro) proposing that we start a nuclear war? “But that is insane!...Remove them (our missiles) as soon as possible! Before it’s too late. Before something terrible happens!” commanded the Soviet premier.

So much for the gallant Knights of Camelot forcing the Russians’ retreat. In fact, the Castro brothers and Che Guevara’s genocidal lust is what prompted the Butcher of Budapest to yank the missiles from their reach.

Considering the U.S. nuclear superiority over the Soviets at the time of the (so-called) Missile Crisis (five thousand nuclear warheads for us, three hundred for them) it's hard to imagine a President Nixon — much less Reagan — quaking in front of Khrushchev's transparent ruse a la Kennedy.

The genuine threat came --not from Moscow—but from the Castros and Che. “If the missiles had remained, we would have fired them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York. The victory of socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims.” (Che Guevara to Sam Russell of The London Daily Worker, November 1962.)

“Of course I knew the missiles were nuclear- armed,” responded Fidel Castro to Robert McNamara during a meeting in 1992. “That’s precisely why I urged Khrushchev to launch them. And of course Cuba would have been utterly destroyed in the exchange.”

Castro's regime's was granted new status. Let's call it MAP, or Mutually-Assured-Protection. Cuban freedom-fighters working from south Florida were suddenly rounded up for "violating U.S. neutrality laws." Some of these bewildered men were jailed, others "quarantined," prevented from leaving Dade County. The Coast Guard in Florida got 12 new boats and seven new planes to make sure Castro remained unmolested.

JFK's Missile Crisis “solution” also pledged that he immediately pull the rug out from under Cuba's in-house freedom fighters. Raul Castro himself admitted that at the time of the Missile Crisis his troops and their Soviet advisors were up against 179 different "bands of bandits" as he labeled the thousands of Cuban anti-Communist rebels then battling savagely and virtually alone in Cuba's countryside, with small arms shipments from their compatriots in south Florida as their only lifeline.

Kennedy's deal with Khrushchev cut this lifeline. This ferocious guerrilla war, waged 90 miles from America's shores, might have taken place on the planet Pluto for all you'll read about it in the mainstream media and all you'll learn about it from Kennedy’s court scribes, who scribbled Kennedy’s Missile-Crisis “victory.” To get an idea of the odds faced by those betrayed Cuban rebels, the desperation of their battle and the damage they wrought, you might revisit Tony Montana during the last 15 minutes of "Scarface."

SOURCE

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The Folly of Resentment

by Theodore Dalrymple

There is one group of people whom it is morally permissible to hate, and of whom in these times of speech codes it is allowed or even obligatory to speak hatefully: namely, the rich. This is rather odd when one thinks of it, for economic resentment was ultimately responsible for more deaths in the last century than racial hatred. Yet to be a racist is to put yourself outside the pale of decent society; to be an economic egalitarian is to establish your generosity of spirit and profound sense of justice.

Perhaps this is because this world’s rewards are not distributed according to anyone’s idea of how they ought to be distributed; that is to say, in accordance with anyone’s individual scale of values. They seem rather to be bestowed capriciously and not in accordance with merit. Some, of course, have merely inherited their wealth; others have made it in ways of which we do not approve or even despise.

Not all rich people are well-behaved; indeed, they can be tactless, offensive, vulgar, and tasteless. When Mr. Ambani built his domestic skyscraper in Bombay I was appalled not by the expenditure (though I had walked through the slums of that city) but by the complete aesthetic worthlessness of what he built. To spend a billion dollars on a house and to detract, slightly, from the beauty of the world is, in a way, an achievement; but one of the functions of the rich is to preserve and increase such beauty. These days they don’t make a very good job of it; the rich these days seem often to have no better taste than the poor. One has only to consider the relative prices on the art market to understand that of all personal qualities, good taste is the rarest.

Still, hatred of the rich, which people do not hesitate to express as if it were a virtue to do so, rests fundamentally on two human connected emotions, both of them unattractive: envy and resentment. It also rests on the primitive notion of an economy as being a cake of a fixed size to be sliced up according to some plan, just or unjust as the case may be. On this view, a crumb in one man’s mouth is a crumb taken from another man. Poverty is the result, therefore, of wealth: which is true enough if you define poverty as being a certain percentage of the average or median income, as is all too often done. If you define poverty as the lack of subsistence or even physical ease, it is quite otherwise.

In France, President Hollande, who during his campaign said (as if it were a sign of decency) that he did not like the rich—the rich of course being those who had more money than him—imposed a 75% tax on people earning more than a million euro ($1.3 million) a year. Initially, the Constitutional Court rejected this tax because the constitution forbids confiscatory taxes (France has an unfortunate history in the matter of confiscation), but the president stuck to his so-called “principles,” or at least to his election promise, and taxed the companies that paid their employees more than one million euro a year.

This has enraged French football (soccer) teams, who pay many of their players more than one million euro a year. The football teams are therefore going on strike, for if they cannot pay their players more than that amount, the best of them will simply decamp to neighboring countries.

The regime of bread and circuses such as is now regnant in most Western countries is dangerously dependent for its stability on its circuses, and of all the circuses in Europe football is by far the most important. The Times of London, for example, devotes far more of its space to football than to foreign news, and no public figure would dare avow a lack of interest in football for fear of appearing to be an Enemy of the People. When I listen to conversations in the street, football rivals in importance difficulties in love affairs. A strike by football teams is therefore a serious matter; if it lasted or resulted in permanent damage to the standard football played, it could lead to social unrest.

I would be dishonest if I did not admit that I find the amounts of money paid to sportsmen grotesque; but their incomes, I am afraid, are a reflection of the importance millions of my fellow citizens accord to sports. To object to their high incomes is therefore to object to the taste of the masses, of which their high incomes are merely a reflection. Personally I would much rather the masses had a taste for my books and articles.

To judge by the commentary on French websites (which seems to be in concert with opinion polls), the French public is very much in favor of high taxes on footballers, whose incomes they very much resent even while it is their own interest in, even obsession with, football that drives up those incomes.

(We think of the French as a nation of Left Bank intellectuals, but the daily sporting paper, L’Équipe [The Team], has a circulation larger than nearly any national daily newspaper, and one that is holding steady, unlike that of the other newspapers.)

Why do the French—80% of them, according to some polls—want the footballers to be more highly taxed? Here is a fairly typical, though slightly more articulate than average, comment: Si, si il faut tenir sur les 75% et aider les nécessiteux avec l’argent des vaniteux et des footeux. (Yes, yes we must hold to the 75% [tax] and help the needy with the money of the puffed-up and of the football players.)

The effect of resentment on the ratiocination of a perfectly intelligent man is here evident. First he assumes that an economy is a cake whose proceeds can be redistributed without any effect whatever upon the size of the cake to be redistributed; and second he supposes that a euro taken by the state from the pocket of a footballer goes straight into the pocket, without any deduction by a greedy or inefficient state, of the needy (that is to say, in a country such as France, those who would like a larger flat-screened TV than they already have, or the latest iPhone).

The 75% tax appeals to similar low emotions as racism: I am poor because they are taking from me something that I deserve to have. It used to be said that anti-Semitism was the socialism of fools, but socialism is the anti-Semitism of intellectuals.

SOURCE

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ObamaCare Doubles Premiums for Young Women

Because it’s not really about Sandra Fluke’s birth control. It’s about funding another expansion of the welfare state. It’s a tax hike looped through private companies. It’s wealth redistribution through the back door with a government mandate.

The vast majority of the population will be screwed by ObamaCare. A small number of people with medical problems who have jobs will benefit, but it would have been far easier and cheaper to pay to cover them. This is still about the Government Class and its insatiable welfare lust.

War on Women? The young women targeted for this in ads don’t benefit from it.

Healthy young women will see their premiums rise by an average of almost 200 percent under Obamacare, with increases occurring in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a new study.

Earlier this month, the American Action Forum released an analysis that found the average 30-year-old male nonsmoker would see his premiums rise 260 percent.

Using the same metrics, the organization found that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be just as harsh on women trying to purchase bronze level plans, the cheapest insurance available in the marketplace.

Overall, states averaged a 193 percent increase in premiums for 30-year-old female nonsmokers.

For example, a woman earning $31,597.50 would receive a 23 percent subsidy, totaling $653. However, her yearly premium would still be $2,186, compared to the $218.47 penalty she would incur in 2014 for not having insurance.

Welcome to ObamaCare. You’re doing your part to subsidize an unsustainable welfare state.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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28 October, 2013

The Kids Aren't All Right

Younger Americans are being suffocated by spending, subsidies, and debt

A word of caution for kids heading off to college this year: Your degree may be worth less and cost more than you think. Your job prospects will likely be grim, whether or not you get that sheepskin. Oh, and you're on the hook for trillions in federal debt racked up by your parents and grandparents.

Washington has willfully ignored the looming crisis of entitlement spending, knowingly consigning young Americans to a future of crushing debt, persistent underemployment, and burdensome regulation. Politicians on both sides of the aisle share the blame.

This summer, Congress made a big bipartisan show of cutting student loan rates to 3.4 percent from an already artificially low 6.8 percent. But even that seemingly helpful gesture will wind up hurting the Americans it claims to help. Federal student aid, whether in the form of grants or loans, is the main factor behind the runaway cost of higher education. Subsidies raise prices, leading to higher subsidies, which raise prices even more. This higher education bubble, like the housing bubble before it, will eventually pop. Meanwhile, large numbers of students will graduate with more debt than they would have in an unsubsidized market.

And when those new, debt-laden graduates head out into the labor market with their overpriced diplomas, they may not be able to find a job. According to data provided to me by my Mercatus Center colleague, former Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) commissioner Keith Hall, fewer than half of Americans today between the ages of 18 and 25 are employed. For those in that cohort actively on the job market, the unemployment rate is 16 percent, versus 6 percent for job-seekers aged 25 and above.

These young folks are also more likely to be long-term unemployed: While accounting for just 14 percent of the labor force, they make up 19 percent of the long-term unemployed, defined by the BLS as 27 weeks or longer.

The lucky few young'uns with jobs of some kind also suffer from rampant underemployment. In a recent blog post, Diana Carew of the Progressive Policy Institute wrote: "In July 2013, just 36 percent of Americans age 16-24 not enrolled in school worked full-time, 10 percent less than in July 2007." In other words, of these 17 million young Americans, 5.6 million were working part-time, 3.2 million were unemployed, and 8.4 million were out of the labor force altogether.

This jobs crisis will have long-term consequences for young Americans. A forthcoming paper in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics on Canadian college graduates by the economists Philip Oreopoulos, Till Von Wachter, and Andrew Heisz shows that in economies like ours, during normal times, the average person sees 70 percent of career wage growth in the first 10 years on the job. That is terrible news for people who are unemployed or underemployed at the start of their careers. The study also shows that those unlucky enough to graduate during a recession will suffer a 9 percent pay hit from the start of their careers-and it will likely take them a decade to climb out of that hole.

Weak economies always hit younger people hard, but this weak recovery is taking a particularly heavy toll, despite the massive government intervention in the form of stimulus and job programs. In fact, much of the uncertainty that gets in the way of employers hiring new full-time workers can be traced to government policies.

Take the president's health care law. Because ObamaCare requires employers with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance to all employees or pay a $2,000 penalty per worker, the law will likely increase the cost of current and future employees (those working at least 30 hours per week). There is increasing evidence that the new rules are leading employers to hire more part-time workers and/or to cap their workers' time at 30 hours, especially in the retail and fast-food industries. Outfits ranging from Walmart and Forever 21 to Virginia community colleges have already started increasing their share of part-time employees.

Health insurance premiums are also going up, thanks to ObamaCare's requirement that health insurers accept everyone who applies, that they never charge more based on preexisting medical conditions, and start paying for many medical conditions that previously went uncovered.

But not everyone is equally affected by the increase in premiums. In fact, while some Americans-mostly older and sicker-will benefit from lower rates, others (mostly younger and healthier) will see their rates go up significantly, even after accounting for federal subsidies. A 2013 study by Society of Actuaries fellows Kurt Giesa and Chris Carlson in the latest issue of Contingencies, the American Academy of Actuaries' bimonthly magazine, shows that 80 percent of Americans in their 20s will face higher costs under the law.

That fact is rather ironic: Since about two-thirds of the uninsured population is under the age of 40, this law, too, could end up hurting the very uninsured Americans it was supposed to help. As the Manhattan Institute's Avik Roy wrote of the study in a blog post at Forbes, because "premiums for younger, healthier individuals could increase by more than 40 percent," some will choose to pay the individual-mandate penalty rather than get coverage. In other words, they still won't be insured, the job market will still be constricted by ObamaCare, and they'll be poorer by the amount of the penalty.

Even if lawmakers repeal provisions in the new health care law, younger people will still not be out of the woods. That's because before Obama­Care, there was Medicare. And in addition, there is Social Security. Spending on these programs will explode in the near future, creating a massive pile-up of debt and unfunded liabilities. Medicare is the bigger ticking time bomb, with a projected shortfall of more than $30 trillion. Social Security's unfunded liabilities total about $7 trillion.

According to a Cato Institute report published this year by economist Jagadeesh Gokhale, making these two programs sustainable would require payroll taxes to be more than doubled immediately. Alternatively, the Cato report implies that Social Security and Medicare benefits would have to be cut immediately by more than 60 percent. In either case, ensuing payroll tax surpluses would have to be invested in securities that earn annual average real returns of about 3.5 percent. These calculations imply that for each year that passes without such fiscal policy adjustments, the combined fiscal imbalance of these two programs would grow by about $2.4 trillion.

While the entitlement problem represents the largest and most visible example of how younger Americans will be penalized by government overreach, it is far from the only trouble spot. Take farm subsidies: Not only do they artificially jack up the price of food, they also increase the value of farm lands, making it harder for young farmers to buy or rent land. The same can be said of the mortgage interest deduction, which artificially increases the value of homes, making it harder for first-time buyers. Like student loan subsidies, the mortgage interest tax deduction gives people an incentive to get deeper into debt than they would have otherwise.

From poor public schools to the minimum wage, well-intentioned policies tend to backfire. In addition, we are about to embark on a massive transfer of wealth from younger to older Americans. It is today's youth who will take the brunt of punishment from Washington's decades of "helping" previous generations of Americans. It is today's youth who will most likely see their own federal benefits cut dramatically, their taxes increased, or some combination of the two. And it is today's youth who will find it harder to get a good job (let alone start a company), buy a home, support a family, or do many of the things that were long considered a near-certainty for college graduates.

SOURCE

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Census: 49% of Americans Get Gov’t Benefits; 82M in Households on Medicaid

In the fourth quarter of 2011, 49.2 percent of Americans received benefits from one or more government programs, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

In total, the Census Bureau estimated, 151,014,000 Americans out of a population then estimated to be 306,804,000 received benefits from one or more government programs during the last three months of 2011. Those 151,014,000 beneficiaries equaled 49.2 percent of the population.

This included 82,457,000 people--or 26.9 percent of the population--who lived in households in which one or more people received Medicaid benefits.

Also among the 151,014,000 who received benefits from one or more government programs during that period: 49,901,000 who collected Social Security; 49,073,000 who got food stamps; 46,440,000 on Medicare; 23,228,000 in the Women, Infants and Children program, 20,223,000 getting Supplemental Security Income;13,433,000 who lived in public or subsidized rental housing; 5,098,000 who got unemployment; 3,178,000 who got veterans' benefits; and 364,000 who got railroad retirement benefits.

SOURCE

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Michigan store owner fights the feds

Store owner takes on federal government over $35,000

Imagine having federal officers come into your home or office, flash their badges, and they tell you they've seized a bank account holding $35,000 of your money.

That's exactly what a Fraser grocery store owner says happened to him in January. He said it happened without warning, no questions, no court hearing, and he was stunned.

"I said, what do you mean you took my account? How am I going to pay my supplier ... This is the capital we work with! She said, 'I don't care,'" Terry Dehko, owner of Schott's Market on 14 Mile Road, told Local 4.

What could have happened to trigger this seizure of property? Dehko's attorneys say the IRS used an anti-money laundering statute, triggered because the store made frequent deposits of less than $10,000. Federal law requires banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 to the IRS.

Dehko says his deposits had nothing to do with skirting IRS regulations. He says it's all about his insurance policy.

"Well, we can't keep $10,000 in cash in the store either because of our insurance," he said. In addition to insurance concerns, Dehko says it’s also store policy to not allow the cash to build up in the store to prevent a robbery.

Sandy Thomas helps her dad run the store. She says the policy of seizing money makes sense if the government has evidence of wrongdoing. However, her father has never been charged with any wrongdoing, and she says the government shouldn't be able to hold the money for so long without providing evidence of any wrongdoing.

Thomas says having that much money in the government's hands has made running their family business more difficult. "We have a business to run and it’s a struggle. It's embarrassing that some of the companies that we've had credit with have pulled our credit," she said.

Dehko hired an attorney soon after the seizure in January. He says he spend about $10,000 in legal fees. Currently, the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based non-profit, public-interest law firm, is representing Dehko. They have asked a judge to speed up this process, which has already taken 10 months. They are currently waiting for the judge's ruling.

The United States Attorney's Office in Detroit says the process is moving along as required by law, and it cannot comment further on pending litigation. The IRS referred any questions to the United States Attorney's Office.

Frequent shoppers who were buying groceries at Schott's said they were standing by their favorite local grocer. "I love the store, along with other people. It always has many people in here. The IRS is wrong!" said Debbie Koslowski, of Fraser.

"I think it’s terrible," said customer Mary Ann Kuechle, "How can you seize property without any proper paperwork?"

Given the expense of a long legal fight, Sandy Thomas says if the Institute for Justice hadn't stepped in, they probably would have made a business decision to give up the fight. She fears that's what happens to many people caught in similar situations, they can't afford to right, give up, and the government keeps the money.

Her father says he's standing up for a principle. "I'm fighting for myself and fighting for all America!"

SOURCE

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BDS antidote may come from China

An apparent antidote to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is coming from a once unlikely source. Chinese magnate Li Ka-Shing, among Asia’s richest businessmen, recently donated $130 million to Israel’s Technion University, as part of a joint venture with Shantou University that will establish the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology (TGIT).

The gift, one of the largest ever to an Israeli university, is indicative of a pervasive deepening in the connection between Israel and one of the world’s emerging powers, China. This is the first time a school from any other country has been invited to establish an entirely new academic college based in China.

In addition to the $130 million gift to Technion, for strengthening Technion’s home campus in Haifa, Guangdong Province will invest approximately $150 million to develop the new Technion Guangdong campus.....

“China wants to make the transition from being a manufacturing power to becoming innovators, and they believe that the Israeli innovative spirit can help them accomplish that goal,” Witte said.

SOURCE

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27 October, 2013

The Tyranny of Electronic Systems

Some eight years ago the media was excited that Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich had formed an alliance about reforming health care. In 2005 Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post about a joint appearance in gushing terms –

Clinton, asked about electronic medical records, deferred, again, to her friend. “Newt has a very dramatic way of saying this,” she said, “which is ‘Paper kills.’” Gingrich sent the praise right back at her, hailing Clinton’s legislation on medical records as a “major breakthrough” in Congress. “This is absolutely the case that Hillary is making,” he said.

Of course, they were not alone. President Bush had already embraced the idea in his State of the Union speech to Congress.

Later, President Obama built the HITECH Act into his 2009 stimulus package and appropriated some $20 billion to make it happen. All promised to get everyone’s complete medical records in digital form by 2014.

Man, this is going to be GREAT! A model of modern efficiency! Bipartisan support! Interoperable! WOWSA!

Now, of course there were the usual naysayers and Gloomy Gusses. I was one of them in this research and commentary I wrote for the Heartland Institute. Dr. Bruce Landes, who comments here frequently, was another. Dr. Scott Silverstein at Drexel University was also skeptical. And Dr. Deborah Peele was very concerned about patient privacy in a digital era.

Most of these concerns were not about whether digital technology is a good thing. Of course it is, or can be, a very good thing. But the track record of top-down, politically imposed solutions is abysmal. And when you add vast amounts of money to the mix, chaos is inevitable. Great Britain went through a similar, though more modest, exercise and recently concluded that the whole thing was a failure, but only after spending some $12 billion.

But we skeptics were not able to overcome the hordes of advocates who were eager to get their hands on a bit of the $20 billion.

Now the results of all this are coming to the fore. The Washington Post recently ran an op-ed piece by Dr. Dan Morhaim, who is also a Democrat member of Maryland’s House of Delegates. (One of the refreshing things about bipartisan ideas is that the opposition can also be bipartisan.) He writes –

These systems tend to be fantastically complex. One doesn’t have to be intimately familiar with, say, Hertz or Enterprise to rent a car online. But many electronic health record systems have pull-down screens listing each of the 68,000 possible diagnosis codes in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and 87,000 possible procedure codes.

Or consider what happens when I write a prescription: Every potential drug interaction or side effect listed generates a warning prompt. Inevitably, recognizing that the warnings are generally inapplicable and take time to sort out, clinicians start to bypass the alerts. Sooner or later, ignoring one will lead to serious complications.

Dr. Morhaim concludes –

"Perhaps the most pernicious side effect is the erosion of the provider-patient relationship. When I first began working with electronic health records, I caught myself staring at the computer screen instead of engaging patients, who rightly felt ignored. Like many colleagues, I’ve reverted to the practice of talking with the patient and taking notes with pen and paper. After the evaluation is over and the patient has left, I type in the data. This takes much more time, but it is the only way to complete a proper history and exam."

The result is decreased productivity and frustrated providers — and a lack of meaningful data to manage patient care.

And The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published a study finding that ER physicians are now spending 43% of their time on data entry and only 28% on direct patient care.

So we have spent well over $20 billion (that was the appropriation for the first year alone), and are left with a system that reduces productivity, fails to provide “meaningful data,” and destroys the patient/physician relationship. From 2011 to 2012 there was a 21% reduction in the number of family physicians who had “meaningful use” of electronic medical records, according to the American Association of Family Physicians. Yet the mandate to use this system continues.

Boy, isn’t it great to have policies with bipartisan support?

Meanwhile, I don’t know about you, but I think it would be swell to have a simple wallet-sized card that listed my emergency contacts, personal physician, allergies, and current medications. But that isn’t grandiose enough for the Washington elite.

SOURCE

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This Is What a Health Insurance Death Spiral Looks Like

A handful of reports last night suggested that the Obama administration had moved to delay the health law’s individual mandate—the penalty the law imposes on those who are uninsured. That’s not quite right: Instead, the administration will align the 2014 penalty date, which had been February 15, with the end of Obamacare’s open enrollment period, March 31.

It had been possible to buy insurance between February 15 and March 31 next year and still pay a pro-rated uninsurance penalty—something the Obama administration only found out a few weeks ago when a tax prep firm let them know.

Delaying the individual mandate might seem like an obvious response to the ongoing failure of the federal exchange system. But it’s a rather drastic step. And, in isolation, a potentially problematic one.

That’s because the premiums that health insurers calculated for the exchanges this year were determined based on the assumption that the penalty for remaining uninsured would be in effect, and would encourage people to buy into the market.

If you change the enrollment requirements—by, for example, ditching the mandate—while leaving the law’s preexisting condition rules in place, health plan participation will likely be lower. The result, as one insurance official told NPR yesterday, is that insurers will want to change their premiums. And in this case, “change” means “raise.”

That’s where the real trouble starts. Insurers raising prices as a result of lower than anticipated enrollment is an early step toward an insurance death spiral, in which premiums spike and enrollment figures drop until the only participants who remain in the market are very people paying very high premiums. We know because we’ve seen it before—in New York, Washington, and handful of other states that enacted preexisting condition regulations similar to Obamacare’s but without an individual mandate.

New York state’s guaranteed issue and community rating rules—the two regulations that limit how insurers can charge based on health history and require them to sell policies to all comers—took effect in 1994. At the time, there were about 752,000 policyholders in the state’s individual market, or about 4.7 percent of the non-Medicare population. But by 2009, according to a Manhattan Institute report by Stephen Parente and Tarren Bragdon, the state’s individual market had practically disappeared, leaving just 34,000 participants, or about 0.2 percent of the non-elderly population. Individual insurance premiums, meanwhile, were among the highest in the nation—about $388 on average in 2007, compared with just $151 in California, another big Democratic-leaning state. In New York City, the annualized premium cost for individuals was more than $9,300 and more than $26,400 for a family.

The result, in other words, was a combination of sky-high premiums and far fewer insured individuals.

Around the same time that New York was overhauling its insurance market, Washington state was implementing a similar set of health plan rules. Insurers faced new regulations regarding plans sold to individuals with preexisting conditions, and the requirement that they sell to everyone. For a brief period, there was a coverage mandate, but that never went into effect. The state’s individual market deteriorated. One insurer raised premiums by 78 percent in a three year period. As premiums rose, relatively healthier people left the market, and insurers were left covering a lot of very sick, very expensive individuals. In the end, many insurers simply dropped out of the market rather than lose money. According to a report on the reforms commissioned by the insurance industry, there were 19 carriers in the individual market in 1993. By 1999, there were just two—and they weren’t taking new applicants.

The individual market was effectively killed off by the reforms.

A delay of just the individual mandate would likely put the federal exchange system—which facilitates the sale of guaranteed issue, community-rated plans—on the same track.

(The administration, it should be noted, has made it quite clear that it thinks the mandate is absolutely essential to the larger insurance scheme, arguing repeatedly in court that the law cannot function without it.)

Now, it’s true, as The Incidental Economist’s Adrianna McIntrye points out, that there are risk adjustment mechanisms built into the law designed to protect insurers who end up with too many sick individuals. But as a Health Affairs brief on the law’s risk adjustment provisions makes clear, those provisions are designed to make sure that no one plan gets stuck with too many sick individuals. Plans with fewer sick people pay into a fund that creates a backstop for plans with a greater than expected share of sick policyholders. That helps mitigate individual plan risk. But it doesn’t really solve the problem if the entire pool, across most all of the insurance plans, is smaller and sicker than expected. A death spiral that shifts some premium income around is still a death spiral.

The larger worry is that we may be on track for an insurance market meltdown no matter what happens with the individual mandate. If too few young and healthy people sign up for insurance through the exchanges, for whatever reason, insurers will have to adjust their prices eventually. The access problems in the exchanges exacerbate this risk by making it more frustrating to buy policies; as a result, only the most motivated people—which is to say, the sickest and most desirous of coverage—will end up buying coverage. The same goes for the high individual market premiums that many young adults will be faced with. A mandate delay would make the risk even higher. But it may be the case that Obamacare is heading toward a death spiral no matter what, and that if it remains in place, no plausible policy response will avoid it.

SOURCE

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Vulnerable Democrats: No, Seriously, Who's Up For an Obamacare Delay?

And they're not talking about the White House's two-bit non-delay delay either. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's working on a bill that would delay Obamacare's individual mandate tax for a full year (bipartisanship!), while North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan wants the law's enrollment period extended by a few months. It's easy to understand the political instincts at play here: Obamacare is unpopular, the individual mandate tax is extremely unpopular, and the idea that the government might end up fining people for failing to enroll through the government's broken website is outright toxic. We've got to do something to at least buy ourselves some time, these Democrats are muttering to themselves, shell-shocked as the law for which they've taken major political risks implodes. Alas, as I've noted previously, these "solutions" are untenable. They're worse than that, actually; they're counter-productive. Do these Democrats -- who've voted to pass and protect this law repeatedly -- even understand how it works? It seems not. An education:

* Delay the individual mandate. On top of the incredible political embarrassment that would come from delaying a provision the Obama administration spent years defending in federal court, policy-wise, this would only exacerbate the problem mentioned above. If Americans aren't penalized for failing to purchase insurance, the young and healthy ones will have even less incentive to buy it. Insurers, who agreed to take on individuals with pre-existing conditions in concert with an individual mandate, would no doubt have something to say about this. If Obama bypasses Congress to impose this delay, perhaps injured insurers could craft a legal challenge. Heck, they could even borrow the Obama administration’s own briefs about how inextricably linked the individual mandate is to the greater regulatory scheme of the law.

* Extend open enrollment. Though the White House has emphasized that the enrollment period extends until March 31, the penalty for not purchasing insurance would hit people after Feb. 15 — including those who purchase insurance after that date. So even if the enrollment period is extended past March 31, it may not pull in that many more customers because those who haven't purchased by that point would have to choose to pay premiums on top of the penalty. It's also important to keep in mind why the time to enroll is limited. It seems counterintuitive at first. Wouldn't insurers want individuals to be able to buy their product all year round? The problem is that if there were no such limitation, then healthy people — knowing insurers could never legally deny them coverage — could simply pay the fine and only purchase insurance if they became sick or injured. How do you think the car insurance business would work if people could sign up for coverage after they were involved in an accident? Obviously, there’s a difference when extending open enrollment in the first year of the program’s operation, but for this scheme to work, it’s also important to instill in younger Americans a sense of urgency to buying insurance by setting a hard deadline and sticking with it.

If Washington delays the mandate tax and/or extends open enrollment without passing parallel delays of other elements of the law like guaranteed issue and community rating, the so-called "insurance death spiral" threat only becomes more acute.

SOURCE

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

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

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25 October, 2013

Did Obama win the battle only to lose the war?

Janet Daley has some good points below but what she overlooks is that the shutdown should have SEARED into everybody's mind that the GOP fought tooth and nail against Obamacare. And as Obamacare implodes, the GOP should get some credit for being right and the Donks should get the blame that they deserve. But then again:



One hesitates to ascribe too much credit to Boehner & Co. but it could be that an awareness of how quicky Obamacare was crumbling lay behind abandonment of the shutdown -- JR


There is now virtually no one in Washington who does not believe that Barack Obama's army won the Battle of the Shutdown. The Republicans took a big hit in the opinion polls and their Tea Party faction was particularly reviled for its bloody-minded insistence on demanding the delay of Obamacare as the price for allowing the federal government to function. That was then.

This is now. That flagship policy on which the White House refused to accept any delay or conscientious doubt is turning into a political car crash for the administration. So hopelessly unfit for purpose is the website which was supposed to be the portal to a new reformed healthcare future, that it has permitted only a trickle of users to enroll in the brave new venture of universal health insurance. This might have been excused as an early-days teething problem if the White House had not been so vindictively adamant about its refusal to consider any deferment of the rollout. Having insisted that there could be absolutely no relenting on the date of launch of what proved to be an untested, faulty system, makes them look as if they were putting political gamesmanship above responsibility to the citizen.

In fact, the scale of the inadequacy of this programme is raising a pantheon of criticisms of the entire principle on which it is based which could have real long-term consequences for the credibility Obama's policy. Is is right that the federal government should be operating such an enormous universal programme? Is the premise on which it relies – that young, healthy people can be coerced into sharing the health insurance burden against their inclinations – even viable? Is this bizarre mix of state enforcement and private provision in which people are made to buy a product they do not want under threat of legal penalty, the right answer to the problem of escalating American healthcare costs? Even the Obama loyalists in the media and the Leftwing satirists are having a rip-roaring time tearing into the disaster of the Obamacare launch.

So how is this for irony? Now that the Republicans' "shutdown" farrago is over, the delay that they were demanding in the Obamacare programme might become necessary after all. And now that everyone is forgetting about the politically disastrous attempt to undermine it, the president's radical healthcare reform might collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

SOURCE

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Rollout Was Bad, but the Law Is Worse



Barack Obama had just the solution to the train-wreck rollout of Healthcare.gov: He gave a speech. He assured us Monday in the Rose Garden that "nobody's more frustrated by that than I am" about his own website not working. Small comfort. "There's no excuse for the problems," he said. "There's no sugarcoating it." He had, of course, just spent 10 minutes trying to sugarcoat it and would continue to do so for the remainder of his lengthy remarks. In fact, the president spent 30 minutes not explaining what happened or why.

Not to worry, though, there's good news: "The product is good," he says, and even though the website doesn't work, people "can still buy the same quality affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way, offline -- either over the phone or in person." So he gave an 800-number to call, but, if callers didn't get a busy signal, they were redirected to ... the website. And the website refers people to the phone number. Press "3" for the Pony Express.

The speech was certainly little more than an infomercial intended for low-info voters. Obama was flanked by a baker's dozen people out of whom only a couple had successfully signed up for coverage, though he claimed, "Thousands of people are signing up and saving money as we speak." No, that was actually just one guy in Iowa trying a hundred times. And by all means, let the successful few tell us how much they've "saved."

Obama's magnetic personality isn't going to fix the law's implementation just because he says the law is great. Because of the massive failure, the White House is even seemingly open to more delay while a "tech surge" works to rewrite millions of lines of code in some indeterminate time. How many more millions of dollars will that cost?

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that the site had "almost no testing" -- the consumer end wasn't tested fully until Sept. 26, five days before rollout, and it failed those tests -- and that Obama didn't know of the problems until after the rollout. Republicans calling for Sebelius' resignation, however, are missing the point: To suggest she should be held responsible for the Healthcare.gov debacle implies that a better HHS Secretary might have made it work. Fact is, the failure of the rollout is but a metaphor for the reality that no government bureaucracy is ever going to successfully manage 18% of the U.S. economy, much less a basic commerce website for insurance comparisons.

Obama did say one thing Monday that was more true than he perhaps intended: "The Affordable Care Act is not just a website." Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal notes, ObamaCare's "real goal ... is to centralize political control over health care," and conservatives should keep that in mind as we continue to oppose the law and Democrats are saddled with full ownership of health care.

SOURCE

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Some fun

About 4 hours ago, I tried to log on (from Australia) to healthcare.gov. I did get on but after a couple of steps, this is what I got:

The System is down at the moment.
We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Please try again later.
Please include the reference ID below if you wish to contact us at 1-800-318-2596 for support.
Error from: https%3A//www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/global/en_US/registration%23signUpStepOne
Reference ID: 0.cd7755b8.1382607921.61cbcc.238110

Impressive, no? JR

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Interpol Chief: Fight Terrorism With Armed Citizens

In September, terrorists waged a days-long attack on a Kenyan mall, killing dozens. This week, Ronald Noble, secretary general of the international policing agency Interpol, discussed the problem of “soft targets,” using the mall as an example. “Societies have to think about how they're going to approach the problem,” he said. “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you're going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”

But here's where we did a double take: “Ask yourself,” he added, “If that [mall attack] was Denver, Colorado, if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly? What I'm saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, 'Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?' This is something that has to be discussed.”

Fortunately, there were a couple of armed citizens who took action in Nairobi, saving many lives. But for a European bureaucrat to understand something that the American Left vociferously opposes is really something. Armed citizens can't always prevent attacks, but they can at least be equipped to respond to evil. Our Founders certainly understood that national security begins with armed citizens. That's why they codified that God-given right in the Second Amendment.

SOURCE

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What Isn't Racist? According to the Media, Nothing

President Obama's election was supposed to usher in an era of racial unity greater than any Americans had previously experienced. By making the historic move to place the first black president in the White House, Americans signified that they were ready to move beyond the racial conflicts of the past and move forward, arm-in-arm.

At least that's what we were told. So much for that.

In the last two weeks, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, official hot-air-trial balloon for the Obama administration's public relations strategy, has played the race card incessantly. First, he proclaimed that Republican New Jersey senatorial candidate Steve Lonegan was using a racist "dog whistle" when he stated that Cory Booker's Newark was a "black hole" for state tax funds. Then, Matthews said that tea partiers using the word "we the people" to describe the country signified racism, since not everyone agrees with the tea party program. Then, to top it all off, Matthews declared Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is of Cuban descent, a racist for joking upon his return to Texas, "Gee, it's great to be back in America." That led Matthews into this wild rant: "This 'We're Americans, we white people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities: the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those liberals, they're not Americans.' This guy either has a total lack of understanding of American history and the hell we went through in the McCarthy period or he knows it damn well and is playing that card."

Matthews has not been strapped into the straitjacket yet, but he's getting close.

Meanwhile, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., went further than Matthews, declaring that the tea party was akin to the Ku Klux Klan. He put out a flyer to his constituents with a burning cross in place of the "t" in the word "tea." The flyer stated, "The Tea Party is no more popular than the Klan." When called on to disown this race-baiting trash, Grayson instead doubled down, stating, "there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the shoe fits, wear it." Grayson did not explain why the KKK was a group that voted unanimously Democrat, why progressive hero Woodrow Wilson was a huge fan of the KKK, and why KKK former honcho Robert Byrd was treasured by the Democratic Party until the day he died.

Charges of racism have echoed from nearly every left-leaning mouth of late. Opposition to Obamacare: racist. Opposition to President Obama on the shutdown: racist. Don't like the president's tie-shirt combination? Racist.

This is not what Americans were promised. What's worse, it's un-American drivel. Ascribing racial motives to those who have none has become a near pathological condition among those on the left who cannot come to terms that their beloved leader's second term is a policy disaster. Racism is the last bullet in the leftist arsenal. And they're running out of ammo quickly.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Greece: State funding cut off to Golden Dawn party: "Greek lawmakers voted to cut off state funding to the far-right Golden Dawn party early on Wednesday, the latest effort by the government to clamp down on a party it has branded a 'neo-Nazi criminal gang.' Golden Dawn had steadily risen on the back of an anti-austerity and anti-immigrant agenda to become Greece's third-most popular party, until the killing of a left-wing rapper by a party supporter last month triggered the government crackdown."

Fascism in WA: "An elderly woman has turned down the City of Seattle's offer to purchase her prime, waterfront parking lot. So, what does the city do? The Seattle City Council voted 8 to 0 to acquire 'through negotiation or condemnation' the waterfront parking lot that belongs to a 103-year-old Spokane woman."

Germany: Vatican suspends “bishop of bling”: "The Vatican has suspended a senior German Church leader dubbed the 'bishop of bling' by the media over his alleged lavish spending. Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst is accused of spending more than 31m euros (£26m; $42m) on renovating his official residence. The Vatican said it deemed 'appropriate ... a period of leave from the diocese' for the bishop. The suspension comes two days after he met the Pope to discuss the matter."

Obamacare’s real kink: Fuzzy math: "At an event on Monday to boost the Affordable Care Act after its glitch-rich rollout, President Obama asserted that his signature healthcare plan is a hit because 'prices have come down.' That's the administration's big lie: that Washington can mandate universal healthcare with beefed-up benefits and somehow the plan will save everyone money."

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

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

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24 October, 2013

Socialism and the individual

The extreme forms of socialism (Nazism, Communism, Fascism) show us vividly what lies beneath the "good intentions" of "Progressives" generally. Writing below, Richard A. Koenigsberg shows us how inimical to conservative ideas of individual liberty socialist ideas are.

From their devotion to the collective rather than the personal, it is hard to avoid the impression that socialists must have dismal personal lives. Love of family must be largely alien to them. It is certainly true that Marx hated just about everybody; Hitler's largely unconnected personal life is well-known and Stuckart (excerpted below) appears to have been a "mother's boy" well into his adulthood

Incidentally, the quote from Stuckart could well have been from Hegel, the philosophical tutor of Karl Marx. The ideas are just about identical -- JR


Bob Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone” —one of the most popular of the twentieth century—may contain esoteric meanings:

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?


However, it also serves as a description of one’s emotional reaction upon coming to live in New York City—the ultimate “Gesellschaft society.”

Sociologists define the “Gemeinschaft society” as one characterized by personal interaction: one’s relationship with other human beings defines the community. The Gesellschaft or urban society, on the other hand, is characterized by the absence of interaction and intimacy among people in the physical environment.

One of the first questions I asked myself when I began living in New York City was, “How can I connect with other human beings?” I knew no one on my block (West 95th Street near Central Park West) and barely spoke to people in my apartment building. What was my “community,” and how would I develop a relationship to it?

I began reading The New York Post and The New York Times—and following the Knicks. Like so many others, my relationship to the community came to be constituted by a relationship with the mass media and “famous people.”

The mass media are so ubiquitous now that we take them for granted. We forget that one has to learn—be socialized into—this feeling that we have an intimate and personal relationship with events and people in the “outer world.”

When I was young, there was a clear distinction between one’s personal life and life presented by the mass media. One had to be seduced into paying attention to “current events” (David Letterman uses the term current events in a satirical way, bringing us back to a time when we didn’t take public events so seriously). We clearly distinguished between our “real lives,” on the one hand, and what was happening “out there”: what we read about in newspapers, heard on the radio, and saw on television.

What is totalitarianism? It is an ideology insisting that public life—the national community—is far more significant than one’s personal life. Totalitarian ideologies insist that there is no such thing as private life: one’s personal existence should be subordinated—always and forever—to the “life” of one’s nation.

Hitler explained to his people, “You are nothing, your nation is everything.” Nazi legal expert Wilhelm Stuckart described the German “Volk community”:

"The community of the Volk is the primary value in the life of the whole as well as of the individual. National Socialism does not recognize a separate individual sphere which, apart from the community, is to be painstakingly protected from any interference by the state. The moral personality can prove itself only within the community. Every activity of daily life has meaning and value only as a service to the whole."

Totalitarian ideology revolves around the idea that there is no domain of life or sphere of reality separate from the national community. Totalitarianism means devotion to “the whole.” The significance of the individual is denied. Totalitarianism means denial of separateness and separation.

The development of the modern nation-state is dependent upon accepting the proposition that one’s own fate and destiny are intimately linked with the fate and destiny of one’s nation. Totalitarian ideology takes nationalism a step further, insisting that the fate of the individual and the nation are entirely bound together: there can be no domain of reality where individuals pursue desires unrelated to the state’s goals.

Embracing the Volksgemeinschaft, Hitler required that individuals identify absolutely with Germany. It was necessary to overcome “bourgeois privatism” in order to “unconditionally equate the individual fate with the fate of the nation.” The Volk would encompass each and every German: “No one is excepted from this crisis of the Reich,” Hitler declared. “There may not be a single person who excludes himself from this joint obligation.” The Volk, Hitler explained, “is but yourself.”

Karl Marx similarly embraced the proposition that separation of the individual from society was intolerable, explaining that “liberty as a right of man” is not founded on the relations between men, but rather upon the “separation of man from man.” Human rights were founded on the “right of such separation”—the right of the “circumscribed individual withdrawn into himself.”

“Man as a member of civil society,” Marx said, is an individual separated from the community—“wholly preoccupied with his private interest and private caprice.” Like Hitler, Marx disdained “bourgeois individualism”: a mode of existence insisting upon the individual’s freedom to pursue personal interests and private aspirations.

According to Marx, “Human life is the true social life of man.” Only by virtue of one’s relationship to society did one become a human being. The ideology of freedom or the “rights of man”—asserting the individual’s right to act in accord with private interests—produced an exclusion from societal life that was “more complete, unbearable and dreadful” than exclusion from political life.

The liberal idea of freedom, from Marx’s point of view—the right to become “released from the shackles and limitations imposed by man”—was the expression of man’s “absolute enslavement and loss of human nature.” Liberation from society was a form of slavery.

The true achievement of “human emancipation,” Marx insisted, would occur only when the individual man had “absorbed into himself the abstract citizen.” Liberation would occur when the individual—in his everyday life, work and relationships—had become a “species being.”

What Nazism and Communism had in common, philosophically, was the idea that there could be no truly human existence unless one’s life was devoted to the life of the community or collective. “Society” was all. The individual was required to subordinate himself to, and live for, “the whole.”

Hitler’s life consisted of his determination to kill off the idea of separation or separateness. This is precisely what “the Jew” meant: someone who was incapable of integrating into a national society. The Jew symbolized a “free-floating individual,” unable to bind to a nation-state—like a bacterium that roamed within a body, but was unable to find a permanent, stable place within it.

In killing “Jewish bacteria,” Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels sought to kill off the idea of individuality: exterminate individuals who were imagined to exist in a condition of separateness from the nation-state. As one ideologue put it, “You will be a Nazi—or we will bash your head in.” “You are one of us—part of the German nation—or you have no right to exist.”

Hitler’s Official Programme (Feder, 1927) put forth as its central plank, “The Common Interest before Self-Interest,” condemning leaders of public life who “worship the same god—Individualism” and “make personal interest the sole incentive.” Nazi totalitarianism was a revolution against individualism—the idea that a human being can exist in a state of separateness from society, the national community.

Germany was everything. That which was or desired to become separate from Germany could not—would not—be permitted to exist. Hitler’s fantasy of mass-murder was generated by his desire or need to destroy anyone and everything that was not part of the German self.

Received via email from Richard A. Koenigsberg, author of "The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism"

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"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days" -- Ecclesiastes 11:1.

For people not used to Biblical metaphors, the quote tells you to good deeds and you WILL be rewarded for them

A single mother has been repaid - and then some - after TV host Ellen DeGeneres heard about the generous act she performed for two National Guard members affected by the government shutdown.

Sarah Hoidahl, a waitress at a Hew Hampshire restaurant, made local headlines after paying the lunch bill for two women who were on furlough during the shutdown.

The bill had come to $27.75, and the 22-year-old, who is living with her mother and 15-month-old son, Ashton, covered it all.

“They were trying to decide what to get, they were looking through the menu ... they mentioned that with the government shutdown they were furloughed and not getting paid. That just got me thinking,” Hoidahl said. “I just decided I’m going to do something good today, I’m going to buy their lunch for them.”

Paying for the lunch meant that Hoildahl would take home only around $8 - "not even enough to cover gas," she said - but she took care of the bill and left the women a note explaining why. "Thanks to the gov shutdown the people like you that protect this country are not getting paid. However I still am. Lunch is on me!" it said.

That note was later shared on Facebook by the National Guard members, where it was seen by thousands of people, before coming to the attention of Ellen producers. Hoidahl was then then flown to California to appear on the program.

“I always end each show by saying be kind to one another, and our first guest is a waitress from Henniker, N.H., who did just that,” DeGeneres said while introducing Hoildahl to the audience.

The TV host first paid Hoidahl back the $27.75, then gave her a large screen TV – a welcome change, as the family's TV was broken.

“She gave me a TV and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this isn’t happening ... I have a TV, I can watch Ellen now,’” she said.

“Then she brought the cheque book out.” Hoidahl then sat in shock as DeGeneres signed a cheque for $10,000.

“In that moment when she opened it and I saw it, I just couldn’t even contain my emotions. I just started crying,” she said later. "I have medical bills, student loans, some debt to pay off. Obviously, I have a 15-month-old. “And I do plan on donating some of it to charity.”

It still all doesn’t feel real for the mum, who will be heading back to work as normal today. “It feels like I’m dreaming and I’m going to wake up and I’m going to be like, ‘Oh man, I wish that was real,'” Hoidahl said.

SOURCE

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90,609,000: Americans Not in Labor Force Climbs to Another Record

What's 10 million people between friends?

The number of Americans who are 16 years or older and who have decided not to participate in the nation's labor force has climbed to a record 90,609,000 in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS counts a person as participating in the labor force if they are 16 years or older and either have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks. A person is not participating in the labor force if they are 16 or older and have not sought a job in the last four weeks.

In from July to August, according to BLS, Americans not participating in the labor force climbed from 89,957,000 to 90,473,000, pushing past 90,000,000 for the first time, with a one month increase of 516,000.

In September, it climbed again to 90,609,000, an increase of 136,000 during the month.

In January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, there were 80,507,000 Americans not in the labor force. Thus, the number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by 10,102,000 during Obama's presidency.

The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the non-institutionalized population 16 years or older who either have a job or actively sought one in the last four weeks, was 63.2 percent in September. That was unchanged from August.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent.

More HERE

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

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





23 October, 2013

Stereotype threat

Putting it bluntly, Stereotype threat is an invented process to explain why blacks do poorly on IQ tests. If blacks know that they are expected to do badly they allegedly get all anxious and do even worse than they otherwise would. But shouldn't the knowledge that they are expected to do badly energize them and make them try harder -- just to prove the stereotype wrong? I would have thought so but I am not a Leftist.

I have had a bit of a laugh at the theory before (e.g. here) and also see here

The theory has also been used to explain away the fact that women on average do badly on mathematical tasks (those nervous ladies!) and there has recently been some interesting work suggesting that the theory is wrong in that field too. Steve Sailer summarizes:

"Although the social sciences are considered a bastion of progressivism, it's remarkable how few data-driven ideas they generate in support of their ideology. We can get a feel for this by noting how rare are the "exceptions to the rule" studies that become immensely popular due to bolstering the dominant worldview, such as Hart & Risley's finding that black people don't talk enough and Claude Steele's little study of Stereotype Threat in which he induces black students at Stanford to score lower on a low stakes test of his devising than their high stakes SAT scores would predict. (I wrote about Stereotype Threat in VDARE.com in 2004, suggesting it's not hard to get across the message to black or female students that the professor wants them to not exert themselves fully on this meaningless test. That you can "prime" groups of people to work less hard on an unimportant test does not prove that you know how to make them score higher on an important test.)

Lately, the evidence has been mounting that the existence of Stereotype Threat is quite dependent upon the file drawer function: studies finding its existence are quickly published while studies not finding its existence are in much less demand. A recent article:

An Examination of Stereotype Threat Effects on Girls' Mathematics Performance

By Colleen M. Ganley et al.

... Conclusion

Taken together, the findings from published research, unpublished articles, and the present studies reveal inconsistency in the effects of stereotype threat on girls’ mathematics performance. The discrepancy in results from published and unpublished studies suggests publication bias, which may create an inaccurate picture of the phenomenon. A recent review suggests that this publication bias may also be an issue in the literature on stereotype threat in adult women (Stoet & Geary, 2012). Overall, these results raise the possibility that stereotype threat may not be the cause of gender differences in mathematics performance prior to college. Although we feel that more nuanced research needs to be done to truly understand whether stereotype threat impacts girls’ mathematics performance, we also believe that too much focus on this one explanation may deter researchers from investigating other key factors that may be involved in gender differences in mathematics performance. For example, there are a number of factors (e.g., mathematics anxiety, mathematics interest, spatial skills; see Ceci & Williams, 2010) that have been shown to be consistently related to mathematics performance and mathematics-and science-related career choices and may warrant more research attention than does stereotype threat."

SOURCE

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Loving and Hating America

As I've documented in the past, many leftist teachers teach our youngsters to hate our country. For example, University of Hawaii Professor Haunani-Kay Trask counseled her students, "We need to think very, very clearly about who the enemy is. The enemy is the United States of America and everyone who supports it." Some universities hire former terrorists to teach and indoctrinate students. Kathy Boudin, former Weather Underground member and convicted murderer, is on the Columbia University School of Social Work's faculty. Her Weather Underground comrade William Ayers teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bernardine Dohrn, his wife, is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. Her stated mission is to overthrow capitalism.

America's domestic haters have international company. 24/7 Wall St. published an article titled "Ten Countries That Hate America Most." The list includes Serbia, Greece, Iran, Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan. Ranking America published an article titled "The U.S. ranks 3rd in liking the United States." Using data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, it finds that just 79 percent of Americans in 2011 had a favorable view of Americans, compared with Japan and Kenya, which had 85 and 83 percent favorable views, respectively. Most European nations held a 60-plus percent favorable view of Americans, compared with countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, with less than 20 percent favorable views.

An interesting facet of foreigners liking or hating America can be seen in a poll Gallup has been conducting since 2007 asking the questions: "Ideally, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move permanently to another country, or would you prefer to continue living in this country? To which country would you like to move?" Guess to which country most people would like to move. If you said "the good ol' US of A," go to the head of the class. Of the more than 640 million people who would like to leave their own country, 23 percent -- or 150 million -- said they would like to live in the United States. The U.S. has been "the world's most desired destination for potential migrants since Gallup started tracking these patterns in 2007." The United Kingdom comes in a distant second, with 7 percent (45 million). Other favorite permanent relocations are Canada (42 million), France (32 million) and Saudi Arabia (31 million), but all pale in comparison with the U.S. as the preferred home.

The next question is: Where do people come from who want to relocate to the U.S.? China has 22 million adults who want to permanently relocate to the U.S., followed by Nigeria (15 million), India (10 million), Bangladesh (8 million) and Brazil (7 million). The Gallup report goes on to make the remarkable finding that "despite large numbers of people in China, Nigeria, and India who want to migrate permanently to the U.S., these countries are not necessarily the places where the U.S. is the most desired destination. Gallup found that more than three in 10 adults in Liberia (37 percent) and Sierra Leone (30 percent) would move permanently to the U.S. if they had the opportunity. More than 20 percent of adults in the Dominican Republic (26 percent), Haiti (24 percent), and Cambodia (22 percent) also say the same." That's truly remarkable in the cases of Liberia and Sierra Leone, where one-third of the people would leave. That's equivalent to 105 million Americans wanting to relocate to another country.

The Gallup poll made no mention of the countries to which people would least like to relocate. But I'm guessing that most of them would be on Freedom House's list of the least free places in the world, such as Uzbekistan, Georgia, China, Turkmenistan, Chad, Cuba and North Korea.

I'm wondering how the hate-America/blame-America-first crowd might explain the fact that so many people in the world, if they had a chance, would permanently relocate here. Maybe it's that they haven't been exposed to enough U.S. university professors.

SOURCE

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Judicial Benchmarks: Ending Discrimination

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides “No state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Nothing has been more of a muddle in the courtrooms than weak-kneed jurists' attempts to reconcile this clear language with the fundamentally discriminatory nature of “affirmative action.” The most recent groundbreaking cases have had to do with public universities.

In the 1978 case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court held that racial quotas are unconstitutional but that educational institutions could legally use race as one of many factors to consider in their admissions process. However, the Supremes muddied the water in the companion cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. In Grutter and Gratz, the Court upheld both Bakke as a precedent and the admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School. Nevertheless, in Grutter, it allowed schools to consider race as a factor in admissions for the purpose of diversity. But in Gratz, the Court invalidated Michigan's undergraduate admissions policy on the grounds that the undergraduate policy used a point system that was excessively mechanistic. Got that?

Fed up with convoluted rationalizing, 58% of Michigan voters supported a definitive policy by supporting Proposition 2, amending the state constitution to prohibit discrimination by race in education, government contracts or hiring. That amendment has been challenged in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action now before the Supreme Court. At issue is a question both bizarre and laughable: Does it violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on racial discrimination for a state to ban racial discrimination?

The plaintiff, the Coalition for Affirmative Action, believes it does, arguing that Prop 2 disproportionately burdens minorities in education. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, in an 8-7 en banc decision, that Proposition 2 “placed special burdens on the ability of minority groups to achieve beneficial legislation.” Dissenting Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote that this logic contradicts “elementary principles of constitutional law” and that under the ruling “for the first time, the presumptively invalid policy of racial and gender preference has been judicially entrenched as beyond the political process.” Well said.

SOURCE

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Feds try to eliminate housing for the deaf -- at complex built for hearing-impaired

Obama just wants to hurt Americans (preferably white ones) any way he can.

Arizona is defying a federal order to eliminate apartments for deaf seniors at a housing complex built specifically -- for the deaf.

"I think it's about the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who attempted to negotiate the impasse. "There are a lot of stories of out-of-control regulators, but this just seems to be going to the extreme."

A 2005 federal study found that the U.S. had virtually no affordable housing for the deaf. So the federal government helped build Apache ASL Trails, a 75-unit apartment building in Tempe, Ariz., designed specifically for the deaf. Ninety-percent of the units are currently occupied by deaf and deaf-blind seniors.

But now, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development says Apache ASL Trails violates civil rights law -- because it shows a preference for the hearing-impaired.

"A preference or priority based on a particular diagnosis or disability and excluding others with different disabilities is explicitly prohibited by HUD's Section 504 regulations," says a HUD memo about the project. "There is no legal authority contained in any of Apache Trails funding to permit such a priority or preference."

HUD is threatening to pull all federal housing aid to Arizona unless it limits the number of hearing-impaired residents to 18 people. The agency would not forcibly remove current residents, but wants many of their units to be blocked off to deaf residents in the future once they leave.

However, when HUD approved and helped fund the project in 2008, it did so knowing that the property was specifically "designed for seniors who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind."

"It's impossible to walk into this building and not see that real people were hurt and continue to be hurt," said Mary Vargas, an attorney for the residents.

The National Association for the Deaf has also stepped in, calling HUD's actions "atrocious" and "a tragic irony." "HUD is forcing deaf and hard of hearing residents to live in isolation and firetraps," said the Association's CEO Howard Rosenblum in a letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "There is no statute or regulation that mandates any 25 percent quota."

State housing director Michael Trailor refuses to comply with the federal orders. "Quite frankly, the attorneys I dealt with at HUD I would characterize as ignorant and arrogant and much worse, they are powerful," Trailor told Fox News. "And if they worked for me, I would have fired them a long time ago."

State taxpayers and the apartment's developer have spent $500,000 so far fighting HUD. After two years of negotiation, Trailor met with Donovan earlier this year hoping to resolve the dispute.

Trailor said: "He looked me in the eye and said, 'if you say we have taken too long to resolve this, you are right. If you say we haven't handled this very well, you're right. We're committed to solving this -- but to do so can you be patient?'"

Trailor asked "what patience means in terms of time," and was told it would be a matter of weeks. "It's now been five months," he said.

All 74 units at Apache ASL Trails accommodate wheelchairs. Blinking lights signal when the doorbell rings and when utilities like the garbage disposal and air conditioning are running. A video phone lets residents "talk" with friends.

"It's nice to have a life that's equivalent to other people that are not deaf," said resident Linda Russell. "This building is designed for deaf people, by deaf people, and we know what is best for our needs. And people that don't understand our needs, should not be putting themselves in decision-making positions for us."

HUD provided the Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens Coalition and its developer $2.6 million in funds and tax credits to build the complex in 2008. It is now fully occupied, with 69 of the 74 rented to deaf and deaf-blind residents. They meet daily in a large events room to talk, watch television and play games. The room is largely silent but the residents are animated and busy talking in sign language.

"I've been living here for two and a half years," said 74-year-old Rose Marie Pryce. "I love the deaf environment. We have a great time together. I have lots of friends. (If forced to move) I would be devastated. I would cry. I want to stay here, we need this place."

SOURCE

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

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





22 October, 2013

My First Multicultural Experience

The story of Billy Chubbs, an indoctrinated person

John Lennon was a great, great, GREAT man. He truly was the voice of the baby boomers, unarguably the greatest generation to have ever lived. His calls for world peace rang out from the windows of the high class building he lived in, echoing messages of hope across a gentrified Manhattan which at the time had an evil majority population of 70% white people. Lennon was such a great soul that he recognized the importance of ethnic cross breeding, choosing as his life mate Yoko Ono, a Japanese women from a high class family.

Ono’s family had spent their lives living in the lands of evil white men, having sent Yoko to a Christian school to be tutored by more evil white men – so she knew all about their evil by the time she moved to white cities and spent her time hanging out with white people. Evil, evil white people.



John Lennon and his ethnically safe soul mate Yoko Ono

And yes, Lennon had made mistakes in the past – perhaps biggest of all having married a woman from his own cultural and societal background, a white woman, and having fathered an evil white BOY with her. Of course Yoko Ono, who by the grace of not being Western or white was mentally and morally superior by default, quickly put that evil white boy in his place by helping Lennon cut off contact with him, making sure their inheritance was denied and squandered so they couldn’t hatch evil white man plans against the world.

Truly, Lennon and Ono were shining beacons of what a multicultural utopia could be. Just listen to the greatest song ever written.

Stirring is it not? Dig those lyrics brah…

Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do.

We are so lucky. We truly are. John never got the chance to see how our evil nation states – created to protect and enrich JUST the lives of the people who lived within their borders – are morphing into borderless squares of politically correct corporate fiefdoms.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man.

Wow. The world John envisions is so beautiful isn’t it? A world where no one feels hunger, no one feels the need to generate wealth, where we’ll all live in houses whatever size we want built by all of us just to see the smiles on our fellow humans. I mean, imagine a world where, like, we needn’t have to breathe so we could live in the water with whales and dolphins. Imagine a world where beautiful people had to pair up with ugly people so that in the end everyone just has plain and mediocre genes. Imagine a world with nothing that makes us feel any sort of emotion what so ever!

Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world…

John and you other baby boomers, you may have been a bunch of dreamers, but this dream of yours is finally coming true. It’s taken far, far too long but we’re almost there brother. We’re almost there. Thank you for leading we younger generations to it.

I was listening to the above video not too long ago, and it made me reflect on the joys of my own experiences in growing up in a small multiculturally diverse Canadian city. Multiculturalism has been getting a lot of bad rep lately and I honestly find this mind boggling.



I think most of the people saying how multiculturalism destroys peace within a nation or takes opportunity away from those whose parents, grandparents and greater ancestors who built the country are simply haters and bigots. I don’t think they’ve ever really lived in or experienced the joys of being in a multicultural community.

Well folks, old Billy Chubbs has. I spent my childhood growing up in a city that is a shining example of the multicultural utopia currently being created around us. Unfortunately my parents moved me away during 8th grade, so I never got to fully mature in that glorious rainbow of skin colour and differing religions. I think I am worse off for that lack of experience. I can, however, recount some lovely incidents I had during the golden age of my life that I spent within that multicultural Nirvana.
Billy Chubbs first experience with a different culture

There I was, fresh faced and precocious, ready for another day of 1st grade. My colouring books and lunch safely tucked away in my favourite Power Rangers backpack. After a kiss and hug from my mommy I was out the door. The day was bright and sunny. The leaves were beginning to change into their fall colours but for the end of September the weather was exceptionally warm. School was seven blocks away and I took my time meandering to it, watching squirrels gather their nuts, looking at the pretty flower gardens carefully kept in front of the middle class houses. I noticed a lot of them down this street had For Sale signs up but I thought nothing of it – in fact, I enjoyed those signs quite a bit that day, giving each one I passed a satisfying bonk with a stick.

Turning south two blocks away from the school I had my first multicultural experience.



A bit of background on my city first. For most of the 20th century my city was predominantly full of evil white men. It was truly a hell hole; no, there wasn’t much in the way of crime or uncomfortable experiences, but what we had in safety we lost in soul. The city council, baby boomer dreamers that they are, decided to do something about this. The 90s and early 00s were a rough period for the innocent parts of the world. Wars and genocides in African and the Middle East – caused by us evil white men of course – were ravaging the disenfranchised 2nd and 3rd worlds.

Realizing something needed to be done to help their fellow man, and to give our city some much needed culture, our council held several closed door meetings in their suburban McMansions and agreed to accept a lot of refugees from these culturally superior countries.

Our first big slice of multicultural utopia arrived in 1999 in the form of several hundred Somalians. The apartments right by the school had been rented out to them. I had walked this route last year with no incidents and boy howdy, was that ever boring! As a young man what I really craved a bit of excitement on my way to school, and a nice Somalian man provided it. He was sitting on the corner, swaying and smelling of mouth wash. That explained his big toothy white smile when he saw me walking by. He hopped right up and began stumbling over.

Now two weird things happened, which the doctors at the hospital later told me was probably just euphoria from me realizing I was about to experience a non-Western – and therefore superior – culture.

My body went numb and I froze. A voice inside my head said;

This is your brain Billy. I’m releasing Dopamine; it will make you numb.

To which I thought back; Are you trying to kill me?

No Billy, I’m making you not care.

And behind the nice man’s shoulder, there was a bright white light and suddenly an Angel appeared. Apparently, much like our encounter, at the time no one seemed to notice it. The Angel had a sad face and was stretching out his hand, mouthing; You’re going home my child.



Of course, being white AND a man, I knew the Angel did not have my best interests at heart and therefore could not be trusted. Besides, I wasn’t going home! I was going to school! I ignored the silly Angel and stood there waiting to see what the nice Somali man wanted.

He began by trying to teach me his language, and as was his culture’s way it involved yelling at me and pushing me around. As an evil white boy, I had some reservations about standing there absorbing the Somalian culture. For a long time afterward I thought I didn’t run because I was frozen from sheer fear and terror but recently some feminists explained how it was my duty to welcome all cultures, and that my refusal to run was my mind recognizing that simple fact of nature. They couldn’t explain why the Somali then took my back pack off, held it between us and unzipped it to shake all my books and lunch out onto the sidewalk. But those feminists assured me that, as an evil white man, it was my fault.

When I asked what he was doing with it he finally communicated with me in my own evil and inferior language.

“MONEY?!”

Oh! I thought, He is just a hungry hobo. John Lennon says nobody should be hungry, so I reached into my pocket and took out my two loonies for milk money (one dollar coins for the 98% of you reading this who aren’t Canadians) and happily held them out to the man.

The nice man then gave me a Somalian goodbye by kicking me in the stomach with his engineer boot before prying open my hand and taking my two dollars. I tried not to cry as the wind was knocked out of me. I shamefully admit I had a brief thought about why a grown man had struck me, a small child, and if he was white I suppose I would have thought the man a criminal. He was, however, a different colour then me and since I was the white male it was simply my duty to accept his culture.

The teacher made a big deal out of my being late and then of the massive red welt which turned into a 3 inch bruise on my stomach. Then my parents and the police made a big deal out of trying to get me to identify the attackers. When I did they stopped making such a big deal, recognizing that I was not the victim of a crime but just experiencing multiculturalism. They showed me a big binder with a lot of faces inside, asking me if I recognized any of them. There were lots of evil white men inside, a few disenfranchised brown Native Americans and black men but none matched the nice Somali that taught me about his ways. The incident was soon dropped.

I had many more enlightening multicultural encounters after that, the most shameful of which occurred in grade 6 when me and my friend committed a hate crime by attacking some Sikh kids that had earlier cornered my friend’s sister and tried to make her lift her skirt up for them. That was their culture, and we evil white boys should have known better by then. I felt absolutely no revulsion or hatred for the older men in my city and society in general as my Principal and Vice Principal, both evil white men who had fortunately embraced multiculturalism, forced my friend and I to shake hands with the Sikh boys we had attacked for no good reason.



It’s not a crime, it’s their CULTURE.

My friend’s family could not get over their evil whiteness and moved shortly thereafter. My own mother and father tried their best to avoid giving into their hatred, even as in my weaker moments I admit I begged them to leave as well. When our evil white neighbour got hit with a brick in the head walking to his car after work, I guess my mom and dad finally realized that multiculturalism can affect the morally superior baby boomers too, no matter how much they tried to make our city a Multicultural Utopia.

So, the cowards we are, the Chubbs shamefully retreated to a smaller town. The population was almost 90% white and I spent my boring high school years soullessly safe. My grades skyrocketed since my classes were full of calm, boring evil white people who didn’t scream at each other in different languages or bring pellet guns into class. To make up for my shameful ways I attended university, giving tens of thousands of dollars and three years of my life to further the feminist indoctrination institution.

And today, now that my country is thoroughly multicultural, I don’t have to worry about finding any more evil white communities! Chasing careers in a crowded job market saturated with affirmative action laws and immigrant driven wage undercutting, I get to relive my childhood every single day! I just hope those evil white people living in suburbs, gentrified neighbourhoods and gated communities get to experience the sheer joys of multiculturalism one day. After all, they’re the ones who instituted it in the first place and have spent so much time spouting how good it is for everyone. I know they’re afraid of affecting the rest of society with their evil whiteness, but it’s okay. Most of us Millennials and Generation Xers have paved the way for you baby boomers; we have met multiculturalism and it is us!

So come on folks. Erase those borders, open up those gates and for god sakes build a project or two in mostly white neighbourhoods. Multiculturalism ain’t so bad, and it’s-a-comin’ anyways – don’t you want to be ahead of the curve?

Maybe we just need some more examples; why don’t you, gentle reader, share some of your experiences with multicultural utopianism below?



SOURCE

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In another world



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I found the contrast above profoundly depressing. So I retreated to my Christian past for strength -- as under

Who would true valour see



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

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

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21 October, 2013

Kees Jan can't

Kees-Jan Kan, a young Dutchman, has recently rediscovered one of the most basic facts in IQ testing: That it's easiest to detect IQ differences if the people you are studying (Ss) have a common background. So if the Ss are all in the same class at school, for instance, a vocabulary test (finding out how many hard words they know) will give you a quick and easy way to sort them out. And you will find that the guys who know lots of words are also good at a whole range of puzzles, even mathematical ones.

So a common background optimizes your chances of assessing IQ accurately. And to be a bit technical, vocab loads highly on 'g' (the general factor in intelligence), meaning that, where it can be used, it is a powerful predictor of other abilities. Vocab is however convenient rather than essential in IQ measurement. Tests designed for use among people who do not have a common background (such as the Raven PMs) don't use it but still work perfectly well.

On those basic facts, KJK has erected an elaborate theory, which comes to the conclusions that IQ is mostly cultural, with a genetic component much smaller that is generally thought. And it is the cultural part which is hereditary.

To arrive at that, KJK goes via the concept of the "cultural load" of each IQ question -- which he assesses by looking at how often a question has to be altered when you are adminstering it to a new and different population. And he finds that by removing (statistically) the influence of cultural load, all other correlations are much reduced.

When we look more closely at his data, however (e.g. Table 3.1 in KJK's doctoral dissertation) we find that only two out of 11 question types have a high cultural load: Vocab and general knowledge. And the cultural dependency of those two question types has been obvious to everyone since the year dot.

What is interesting however is that the remaining 9 question types have low to negligible cultural load. In other words, we could remove the vocab and knowledge subtests from the overall test and still have a robust test. So my conclusion is that what KJK should have done from the beginning is to remove those two flawed item types from his calculations altogether. Once you do that all his exciting findings melt away. His findings rely on items that he himself knows to be flawed.

There is a summary of KJK's dissertation at The Unscientific American -- JR

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The New York Times: America Sucks

Dennis Prager

This past Saturday, the New York Times published an article, "Behind Flurry of Killing, Potency of Hate," on the roots of monstrous evil. The article largely concerned a former paramilitary member of the Irish Republican Army, and as such was informative.

But when it ventured into a larger discussion of evil, the moral confusion and contempt for America that characterize leftism were on display.

The article contains a breathtaking paragraph that exemplifies both qualities. After noting that atrocities against groups of people are often the result of the dehumanization of the victimized group, the writer gives four such examples:

"The Hutus in Rwanda called the Tutsis cockroaches, the Nazis depicted the Jews as rats. Japanese invaders referred to their Chinese victims during the Nanjing massacre as 'chancorro,' or 'subhuman.' American soldiers fought barbarian 'Huns' in World War I and godless 'gooks' in Vietnam."

This paragraph is noteworthy for its use of false moral equivalence to justify its anti-Americanism.

Let's begin with the moral equivalence -- equating how the Hutus viewed and treated the Tutsis, how the Nazis viewed and treated the Jews, and how the Japanese viewed and treated the Chinese with the Americans' views and treatment of the Germans in World War I and Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.

In 1994, over the course of about 100 days, Hutus slaughtered between half a million and a million Tutsis. This was not a war between armies, but against a civilian population marked for extinction.

The Nazis murdered about six million Jews, all of whom were civilians. Indeed more than a million were children. The Nazis had targeted the Jews for extinction.

The Japanese likewise slaughtered Chinese civilians en masse and regarded the Chinese as so subhuman as to be worthy of being systematically experimented upon in ghoulish medical experiments that paralleled those of the Nazis.

What do any of those examples have to do with Americans fighting in World War I or in Vietnam?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing about these other three examples applied to America in World War I or in Vietnam.

Nicknames -- even derogatory ones -- for enemies have probably been used in every war by every nation's soldiers. That is not at all the same as a serious view of another racial or national group as unworthy of life, as subhuman.

Unlike any of the other examples, Americans did not have a term that -- by definition -- meant that Germans or Vietnamese were not members of the human race, as are "cockroaches," "rats" and "subhumans."

Unlike any of the other examples, the killing by Americans in World War I and Vietnam was confined to war. No war, no killing. The Nazi and Hutu examples had nothing to do with waging war. The Tutsis and Jews were targeted for annihilation, period. And the Japanese committing of hundreds of thousands rapes, tortures, and medical experiments on Chinese civilians -- such as cutting them open without anesthetic or freezing people's limbs and then cutting them off, also without an anesthetic -- had nothing to do with war aims.

Moreover, what does "godless" have to do with subhuman categories? Again, nothing. Why, then, was it included in this article -- "godless 'gooks'"? Because the Times writer wanted to render the term "godless" as offensive as the term "subhuman." Being largely godless itself, and aiming for a godless West, the left detested the right's calling Communism "godless" -- even though Communists were vocal and proud of their godlessness.

Lumping America's actions in those two wars with the other three examples is typical of the left's defamation of America and of its facile use of false moral equivalence.

But that is how a generation of Americans who have attended college -- including most likely the Times author herself -- have been taught to think. And that is what is taught to your child today at the left's seminaries, our universities:

Nazis, Hutu murderers, Japanese rapists, Americans at war: All pretty much the same.

SOURCE

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Monks Slay Regulatory Monopoly in Louisiana Casket Case

Extremely tired reference to Jesus being a carpenter goes here.Courtesy of Institute for JusticeA five-year battle by Benedictine monks in Louisiana for the right to make and sell caskets is over, and the holy carpenters have won. The Supreme Court declined this week to get involved in the fight between St. Joseph Abbey and the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, letting stand a ruling that declared a state-enforced industry monopoly illegal.

The law in question required anybody who wanted to sell caskets to undergo funeral director training and set up embalming equipment, rules that have nothing to do with creating or selling fancy wooden boxes with which to store dead bodies, but everything to do with making sure the funeral industry controlled the marketplace. Reason’s Damon Root had been following the case when the U.S. Court of Appeals struck it down in March, ruling “That Louisiana does not even require a casket for burial, does not impose requirements for their construction or design, does not require a casket to be sealed before burial, and does not require funeral directors to have any special expertise in caskets, leads us to conclude that no rational relationship exists between public health and safety and limiting intrastate sales of caskets to funeral establishments.”

The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors attempted to bring the case to the Supreme Court, but it is not to be. The Institute for Justice represented the monks. Like me, they are unable to avoid puns related to death when responding to the case being put to rest:

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of review puts the final nail in the coffin for the state board’s protectionist and outrageous campaign against the monks,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Scott Bullock. “The Abbey’s victory in this case will not only protect their right to sell caskets, but the rights of entrepreneurs throughout the country.”

The monks’ victory is one of only a handful of cases since the 1930s in which federal courts have enforced the constitutional right to economic liberty.

Abbot Justin Brown, who heads the monastic community said, “Today is a good day for us at the Abbey. Knowing that not only has our economic liberty been protected forever, but that we also helped secure the same rights for others makes this years-long battle worth it.”

SOURCE

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Calling Fraud for What It Is

It’s been well-documented that someone registered to vote in Washington, D.C. under the name Mr. Barry Soetoro at the White House address of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D.C. 20500.

If you are a liberal, this spoof is more proof that conservatives are spiteful racists who wish to remind the president of his somewhat obscure past.

If you are a conservative, however, you see the spoof for what it really is: an indictment of a voter registration process that allows anyone to register under any made up name and then vote under that name with the flimsiest of documentation.

When I go pick up my son from school early for a doctor’s appointment, I have to show a valid government I.D., even though presumably my son, who is well-known to me, wouldn’t call a stranger “dad” or get into a car with someone not his dad—at least I hope not.

When I check into a hotel, I have to show valid I.D. for the purposes of positive identification.

When I, as a naturally-born citizen of the United States, travel abroad, I have to stand in line to show U.S. Customs agents my passport that proves I’m an American citizen to regain entry to the country.

When I adopted my dog from the rescue shelter, I had to show I.D. DirecTV verifies who I am before setting up service for me, a hospital won’t admit me without knowing who I am. The list of activities that require the positive identification of a person is long.

It’s probably too long.

And yet, when it comes to voting, liberals support a system where anyone, with a made-up name, can successfully register and vote in the most important function of the ordinary citizen in our representative republic.

You and I and everyone else knows that this is just an attempt to allow fraudulent voting using as an excuse minority populations that tend to poll higher for Democrats.

That this practice of mass, fraudulent voter registration is supported by liberals by using arguments that are inherently racist and do not apply equal justice under the law, is just another example of liberal deconstructionism that turns the concept of “justice” into a tyranny.

SOURCE

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ObamaCare's Third World Experience

Closer examination of the design and implementation of the ObamaCare enrollment website reveals a long list of mistakes that could have been avoided, but instead were compounded by politically motivated decisions made by the Obama administration. And problems likely won't be resolved for months.

Late in the design phase of the exchanges, the Department of Health and Human Services removed fundamental elements of the site that would have allowed consumers to actually see the cost of insurance so as to reduce “rate shock.” It had become apparent even to the true believers that ObamaCare wasn't affordable or flexible in its options. The truth would have led to reduced enrollment, so HHS opted to reject transparency for the sake of political expediency – and they still got low enrollment. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius still refuses to reveal the true number of enrollees, which private sources estimate is a paltry 20% of the government's target for October.

The administration, fearing Republican and public criticism, opted to keep the construction and testing of the website in-house with trusted campaign tech gurus. Major decisions were made behind closed doors without oversight, like granting the no-bid contract to CGI Federal to build the site. CGI Group, the Canada-based parent company of CGI Federal, was fired by the Canadian government in 2012 for missing three years of deadlines and developing a substandard product that proved unworkable. It will now take several months of continuous patches to a half-billion-dollar website built with decade-old technology and rife with security problems just to gain basic functionality – like providing the correct information to insurers.

SOURCE

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

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

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20 October, 2013

Conservative Capitalism: a strange way to remain the same

My heading above is lifted from an article by the Australian Leftist Grant Wyeth. My leading post on Friday was also a comment on one of his lucubrations so I thought I might have a bit more fun with him today. On Friday I solved for him his puzzle over why Left and Right are so starkly different and opposed. Today I want to solve for him the puzzle in the heading above: He cannot fathom that change is in the essence of capitalism so *therefore* conservatives should oppose it, not support it

Like many Leftist writers before him (e.g. Altemeyer), Wyeth's problem is that he wouldn't know conservatism if he fell over it. His concept of conservatism is the caricature of it that circulates in his own little Leftist bubble.

And he even realizes dimly that he doesn't know what it is. With a schoolboy level of sophistication, he even turned to his dictionary to find out what it is! Sad that so many historians have written in vain for Wyeth! Altemyer is the same.

And what Wyeth found in his dictionary is that conservatives are opposed to change. That is exactly what Leftists say about conservatives but it ignores one of the most salient facts about politics worldwide -- that conservative governments are just as energetic in legislating for their agenda as Leftists are. Both sides busily make new laws all the time. And the point of a new law is to change something. The changes that Left and Right desire are different but both sides push for change. On Wyeth's understanding of conservatism, a conservative government that wins an election should do no more than yawn, shut up the legislature and go home until the next election!

So in good Leftist style, Wyeth ignores one of the most basic facts about politics. That sure is a weird little intellectual bubble that he lives in. EVERY conservative that I know has got a whole list of things that he would like to see changed. But Wyeth obviously doesn't know any conservatives.

So Wyeth finds politics puzzling because his most basic premise is faulty.

So what is conservatism? I have taught both sociology and psychology at major Australian universities but when it comes to politics my psychologist's hat is firmly on. One can understand conservatism at various levels but to get consistency, you have to drop back to the psychological level. And at that level it is as plain as a pikestaff. Conservatives are cautious. And that is all you need to know to understand the whole of conservatism.

In science, however, explanations just generate new questions and, as a psychologist, I am interested in dropping down to an even lower level of explanation and asking why conservatives are cautious. And I think that is pretty obvious too. It is in part because they can be.

As all the surveys show, conservatives are the happy and contented people. And with that disposition, conservatives just don't feel the burning urgency for change that Leftists do. Leftists cast caution to the winds because they want change so badly. ANYTHING seems better to them than the existing arrangements. Conservatives don't have that compulsion. Leftists are the perpetually dissatified whiners whereas conservatives can afford to take their time and get things right from the outset.

And why does that difference in happiness exist? As the happiness research often reminds us, your degree of happiness is inborn and, as such, is pretty fixed. Leftists are just born miserable.

So we have now dropped down into a genetic level of explanation. And we can at that level even derive and test a hypothetico-deductive prediction. If conservatives are happy and happiness is genetic, then conservatism should be genetic too. And it is. As behaviour geneticists such as Nick Martin have shown, conservatism has a strong genetic component -- which suggests that some people are just born cautious. It is, of course, no surprise that caution and happiness go together.

So I think I have now gone as low as I can go in explaining conservatism. There are of course even lower levels of explanation possible (tracing the brain areas involved, studying the DNA) but our understanding of those levels of function is at the moment so crude that anyone purporting to offer explanations at that level is merely speculating.

So having gone down the levels of explanation, I now need to go up the levels of explanation too. What does being cautious lead to? It rather obviously leads to distrust: Distrust of the wisdom and goodwill of one's fellow man, both as individuals and in collectivities. In Christian terms, man is seen as "fallen" and ineluctibly imperfect.

But trust and distrust are matters of degree and conservatives are perfectly willing to give trust when it has been earned. So where ideas are concerned, conservatives usually trust only those ideas that have already been shown to work as intended or which extend existing successful ideas. Leftists, by contrast, trust and put into action ideas that "sound" right to them -- without bothering to test first whether their ideas really do generate the consequences that they envisage. They usually don't of course. Leftists are theorists extraordinaire. They have no use for Mr Gradgrind's "facts". That theory is useful only insofar as it is a good guide to facts seems to be beyond their ken.

The enthusiasm for "whole language" methods in teaching kids to read is an example of untested Leftist policy being implemented. It was widely adopted in the schools but worked so badly that most schools have now reverted to phonics -- the old "tried and tested" method.

And conservative caution leads to conservatives valuing stability generally -- because sweeping changes could well not work out well -- and usually don't. Leftists usually seem to think they know it all but conservatives know that they don't. So conservatives want various changes but also want to proceed cautiously with change. They want "safe" change, change off a stable base -- a base that embodies what has worked in the past.

And the traditional conservative advocacy of individual liberty also stems from caution. It is highly likely that a tyrant won't have your particular interests at heart so you want to be free to pursue your own interests yourself. And in the economic sphere that is capitalism.

I think I have by now said enough to solve all of Wyeth's puzzles below but if I have left anything out, you will probably find it in my big historical survey of conservatism -- JR

ON FRIDAY LAST WEEK in The Age, Waleed Aly wrote a thoughtful piece on the tensions that currently exist globally within “the Right” of politics.

Aly hit the nail beautifully on the head when he wrote that modern ‘…conservative politics [has come] to be built on a contradiction: a pact between the opposing forces of free market-liberalism and social conservatism.’

However, Aly didn’t quite go far enough in explaining just how strange and counter-productive to conservative ideals this alliance has become. Modern political thought tends to view this as a perfectly consistent philosophy, but I would contend that nothing could be further from the truth.

The way I see things, World War II and the Cold War induced conservatives in the West to go looking for the most anti-socialist (both national and garden variety) philosopher and economist they could find. It led them to F. A. Hayek, a man who diagnosed the brutally restrictive machines of state-centric Fascism and Communism earlier than most. However, this was an ironic choice for conservatives, seeing he had also written an essay entitled Why I’m Not A Conservative.

However, as insightful (and misunderstood) as Hayek was (and still is), I think we need to look towards another economist for a more succinct reason as to why this is such an odd match.

Joseph Schumpeter noted: ‘Capitalism is by nature a form or method of change and not only never is, but never can be, stationary.’
Which is why I find it strange that we conventionally call capitalism “economic conservatism”, when the dictionary tells me that conservatives are uncomfortable, opposed, or suspicious, of change.

Schumpeter, however, also observed that capitalism is: ‘…a process whose every element takes considerable time in revealing its true features and ultimate effects.’

This could be considered “conservative”, in that the more rational conservatives believe change needs time to digest, not full-scale resistance. But since the post-World War II period, market-fuelled economic and social change has moved at such a rapid and multiplying pace that surely conservatives would advocate more state intervention against the market, not less?

The train, the car, the aeroplane and the internet – all major inventions fuelled and enhanced by competition and the free exchange of ideas – have been instrumental in breaking down ethnic and cultural barriers as they moved the masses out of the monoculture of the village and into the wonderful world of difference. Firsthand knowledge is the biggest enemy of the ignorant, and capitalism has given us these wonderful tools to gain it.

Furthermore, when it comes to cultural and ethnic relations, the conservative adherence to the market is again odd. If, as Hayek would promote, the state is a physical impediment to exchange amongst humans, then surely the nation is a mental one? The nation is one particularly dangerous form of collectivism that conservatives seem to have overlooked.

Swedish academic Hans Rosling has noted that a capitalist invention such as the simple washing machine was a significant tool in the women’s liberation movement. The massive amount of time it saved allowed women to educate and organise themselves. The result being that within a very short period, women now out-attend and out-perform men in education, and will soon translate this to out-earn.

The state just doesn’t have the knowledge, the mechanisms, nor the self-interest to create change on this scale. And when it has tried, it has ended up with a lot of dead bodies.

The state is a reactionary institution in the purest sense. Its role is to react to what occurs around it, and when you concentrate considerable power and prestige in it, the state is less likely to be comfortable with change that may threaten this power.

This is why I refer to both the state itself, and the ideas of “the Left”, as “structurally conservative”. Presently, “the Right” have the desire to resist change, but “the Left” have all the instruments to do so.

This is something Bob Katter understands with his conservative “Old Labor” instincts. He may be backwards, but at least he is philosophically consistent. There are no homosexuals in the seat of Kennedy, just as there are none in Tehran and Pyongyang. By a head in the sand or a gun in the hand.

However, in a modern liberal society, the issue is lost for poor Bob. The prevalence of gay characters on television now, and the popularity of a prime time show like Modern Family, indicates just how far the state in Australia is behind.

In reference to his own support for gay marriage, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden noted: “I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.”

Shows such as these are not just educational tools though. Their prominence is actually a reflection of society’s values. They’re shown in prime time for a reason. The state only hears the loudest voices, the market has a much more finely tuned ear.

Aly notes that: ‘Bob Katter’s constituency have long been globalisation’s losers.’

A similar thing can be said about America’s Tea Party movement. I (smugly) call them “Reagan’s Losers”. Yet what The Tea Party miss, that Katter understands, is that they only sow the seeds of their own further discomfort by advocating for increased liberalisation from the state. The increased “freedom” they call for, is actually the freedom that will continue to create significant global, economic and social change.

Theirs is an essentially nationalist movement, they attach themselves to market-liberalism due to America’s national mythology, not due to its cosmopolitan outcomes.

This existential crisis within the Republican Party, along with the rise of UKIP that Aly mentions, the minor parties formed out of the Coalition and the irrational and unhinged rhetoric that spews from elements on the Right these days, are all symptoms of conservatives struggling to reconcile this pact with market-liberalism that doesn’t provide them with the outcomes they desire.

The changes occurring globally and locally in the 21st Century are too strong for this contradictory alliance of ideas to hold. Conservatives are going to either have to learn to embrace the era in which they live, or find a different philosophical and economic model to align themselves in order to resist it.

SOURCE

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Even HuffPo is pissing on Obamacare

We read:

More than two weeks into the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov, the website created by President Barack Obama's health care reform law still isn't working right.

"The website that was supposed to do this all in a seamless way has had way more glitches than I think are acceptable," Obama said during a Tuesday interview with KCCI television in Des Moines, Iowa. But the administration won't disclose exactly what's wrong with the health insurance exchange website, or when consumers can expect to see the promise of convenient, one-stop shopping for health benefits and financial assistance fulfilled.

Time remains for these problems to be resolved, but not much. "If things aren't resolved in three weeks, we've got some serious, serious problems," said Timothy Jost, a law professor and health care reform expert at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va., and an Obamacare supporter. "I don't think we're anywhere close to there yet, but if the whole thing collapses, it'll be another generation before we get this problem fixed."

More HERE

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

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

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18 October, 2013

When two tribes go to war

The article below by an Australian Leftist has some correspondence with reality. Left and Right do seem to some extent to exist in separate universes. The author does not know why, however. I think the answer is obvious. I think that the separation exists because the Left has a reflex of closing its ears to anything it does not want to hear. They do that because their beliefs are so easily open to challenge. They cannot AFFORD to listen. Reality is against them. They have to invent a fictional mental world where, for instance, "all men are equal", despite the perfectly obvious fact that all men are different. All men are (allegedly) equal only in the sight of God -- and Leftists don't generally believe in him/her.

Global warming is a good example of reality denial too. It is agreed on both sides of the divide that the total amount of warming over the last 150 years has been less than one degree Celsius. Why is such a triviality worth notice? Leftists never say. Global warming scientists theorize that the warming might suddenly leap but that is mere prophecy -- and we know how successful prophecies generally are.



Conservatives, on the other hand spend most of their time in politics discussing and refuting Leftist arguments. Read almost anything on Townhall.com, for instance, and it will be discussing and refuting Leftist arguments and policies with appeals to the facts -- anything but ignoring them. By contrast, the fact that Leftists do NOT generally address conservative arguments is what makes them seem alien to conservatives. It makes them seem alien to rationality. Leftists very often mock conservative arguments in a superficial and cherrypicked way but that is a far cry from seriously working through them and honestly addressing ALL the relevant facts -- JR

My parents don't know anyone who would vote for the ALP [Leftist party] or Greens.

My friendship and cultural circles don't know anyone who would vote for the Coalition [conservatives].

Both view those without their voting intentions as highly strange, suspicious and people to fear. The opportunities, and the desire, for conversation are non-existent.

In mainstream political discourse we talk about 'Left' and 'Right', or 'progressive' and 'conservative', as political groups, hanging on to antiquated notions of consistent political ideas, but in fact it is becoming increasingly evident that these are now simply cultural groups.

We can broadly describe a culture as the behaviours and beliefs of a particular group of people. These behaviours and beliefs compound themselves as they are continually practiced. Large distinctions in cultures occur when groups are isolated and not exposed to any different influences or practices.

Both of these cultural groups are what could best be described as 'subscription packages'; with a checklist of positions to hold in order gain membership.

For the 'Left' we have positions that fall under the umbrella of socially liberal and economically interventionist. For the 'Right' it is the binary opposite: socially conservative and economically liberal. Regardless of the outcomes they produce these are the standpoints of the tribe.

These coalitions of ideas feel consistent because everyone in the group continually reiterates them. The beliefs of the group are reinforced by the group's beliefs. With an added constant suspicion of outsiders, any attempt to influence their positions is vigorously resisted.

The internet was meant to be the great conversation, the space where difference would converge and enlightenment would prevail. Yet it instead seems to be forming into information ghettos, where these 'Left' and 'Right' groups inhabit spaces exclusive to one another. Increasingly this is even becoming the way that we consume our mainstream news.

While news outlets have always had perspectives and agendas, we are now experiencing what is best described as the 'Foxification' of news. It is a model that preaches solely to the converted and strokes and manipulates their biases. In the US we have seen Fox's tribal rival MSNBC adopt this model for the 'progressive' cultural group with similar success.

In Australia this is mimicked in a less extreme, but still significant, fashion by the News Ltd/Fairfax divide.

As a result public debate has now become an endless game of Pong, where these two cultural groups simply expel rhetoric into public space to be rejected by the other. The suspicion between the two cultural groups is so strong, that if one iterates a position then the other simply claims the opposite must be the truth.

Persuasive arguments aren't worth communicating because there is little intention of them being considered. Greater comprehension or even conversion are not motives. The objective is solely about expressing one's outrage at topic du jour.

This kind of rhetoric is designed solely to consolidate one's position within the pack. It is a combination of conformity to the group and a desire to increase your power within it. The louder you yell, the more impassioned your indignity, the more removed you are from the other reviled group.

Social media plays an important role in highlighting this phenomenon. There is the obvious echo-chamber of following only those who are members of your tribe.

However, there is also the interesting device of changing a Facebook profile picture to indicate a voting intention, or using a Twibbon to demonstrate support for a cause. These are not intended to be a persuasive arguments, in fact there is no argument at all. The audience is their peers, an indication that you above reproach with your adherence to the team.

This firm adherence to the group is expected of each member of the group, and anyone who would stray will not be tolerated.

Former ALP President and prominent Indigenous Australian Warren Mundine is a good current example of this. It is believed that he is 'selling out' by working with the new conservative government on indigenous issues. Instead it is expected that he get in the trenches and throw solution-less grenades at them. The conflict between the two tribes takes priority over any potential positive results. Conflict is the oxygen that they need to survive.

Conspicuous free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs insistence on choosing warriors like Andrew Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen to speak at their events indicates that their intentions are combative, and not persuasive.

No other organisation looking to attract sympathisers would go anywhere near such polarising figures. These are hostile acts, roadblocks to conversation that entrench mindsets and make finding consensus increasingly difficult.

During the election campaign I had to explain to my mother that Kevin Rudd's use of the phrase "working families" was an attempt to talk to her. As a member of a family that worked she was offended that someone not from her tribe would use a term that described her in his vision.

It was an indication of the depth of this cultural divide.

I'm not naïve enough to believe that differing political allegiances have ever simply been disagreements in the approach to problem solving. Yet the idea that we view our opposing group in this political culture as actively nefarious is highly detrimental to any problems being solved.

SOURCE

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Longing to be a Victim

John Stossel

These days, being seen as a victim can be useful. You immediately claim the moral high ground. Some people want to help you. Lawyers and politicians brag that they force others to help you.

This turns some people into whiners with little sense of responsibility.

Joe Biden's niece was arrested recently for throwing a punch at a cop. The New York Post says she's addicted to alcohol and pills, but rather than take responsibility for her actions, she blamed them on the "pressure she faces" because her uncle is vice president.

Give me a break. America was founded by people who were the opposite of victims, by people with grit. Overcoming obstacles is the route to prosperity -- and happiness, too.

I had to overcome stuttering to work as a TV reporter. Had today's disability laws existed when I began work, would I have overcome my stuttering problem? Maybe not. I might have demanded my employer "accommodate" my disability by providing me a job that didn't demand being on-air.

Now that the laws exist, it's no coincidence that more Americans say they are disabled.

Tad DeHaven of the Cato Institute writes that this is part of a disability-industrial complex : collusion between specialty law firms, doctors vouching for applicants with dubious claims and federal administrative law judges awarding benefits.

It changes the way people calculate their options.

Despite improved medical care and the workforce's dramatic shift from physical to mental labor, the number of Americans claiming disability keeps growing. You start to feel like a sucker if you're not one of them.

On my TV show, DeHaven said today even poor parents "try to get their kids on psychotropic medications in hopes of qualifying for a check that goes to Dad and Mom."

Since the 80s, there has been a 300 percent increase in disability claims for hard-to-prove illnesses like back pain, stress and other "non-exertional restrictions." Over the past two decades, the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits grew from 4 million to 11 million.

"It's like any other government program," says DeHaven. "You start off with good intentions and then it becomes something that it was never supposed to be."

We all want to help the genuinely disabled, but a wide range of subjective ailments are affected by attitude. Labeling people victims, telling them they need help, teaches some to think like victims. Social scientists call that "learned helplessness."

Private charities are pretty good at separating real victims from malingerers. But government is not. Its one-size-fits-all rules encourage people to act like victims.

Whether people have real physical ailments or just see the economic deck stacked against them, the most damaging thing say to them is: Give up. You can't make it on your own. Wait for help.

Pessimism changes what we think is possible. It shrinks our horizons.

We in the media keep an eye out for people who are victimized. Sometimes that's a valuable service. But it often means looking for victims when they really aren't there. This makes reporters feel like heroes -- noble sentries protecting the powerless.

Even the newly crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, who sure seems like a winner by conventional standards, was portrayed as a victim in many news stories. Since she's the first Miss America of Indian descent, some trolls on Twitter made racist remarks.

But skeptical writer Gavin McInnes did a little digging. He found those racist Twitter users were almost certainly just irresponsible little kids. One of the media's most quoted tweets, "You look like a terrorist," was sent by a Twitter user with zero followers.

If millions of people are familiar with that remark now -- and some Americans grow up a little bit more frightened that they will be victimized -- it will be largely because media hyped racism rather than because of the handful of racists themselves.

America is full of success stories. But if we obsess over stories about victimhood, that is what we'll get.

SOURCE

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Obamacare: Sticker Shock Hits Obama's Home Town

Ballooning premiums leading to huge deductibles. And for many medical problems, huge deductibles mean ZERO insurance cover. You have to be rich to afford Obamacare -- JR

This law is harmful and damaging for reasons far beyond the shocking incompetence of its launch:

(1) While we're on the topic of the online exchange meltdown, you'll likely be interested in the Washington Examiner's report that the Obama administration only entertained one contract to build the now-infamous federal exchange website. Several years and nearly $100,000,000.00 later, Obama's no-bid contract has produced a complete mess. Lest you'd forgotten, liberals railed against no-bid contracts during the Bush years, muttering endlessly about Dick Cheney and Halliburton, for instance. Barack Obama pledged to reform the government procurement process; like many Obama promises, it has gone unfulfilled. The result is the monument to government ineptitude known as healthcare.gov.

(2) CNN estimates that a paltry 117,000 Americans have enrolled in Obamacare so far -- a statistic that may or may not suffer from the duplication issue that's plagued the suppressed-then-leaked federal numbers. In individual states, things continue to go badly. In most states, enrollment data is incomplete or unavailable.

(3) Hospitals are shedding staff, and insurers are still pulling out of markets, both phenomena will exacerbate consumers' "access shock" in places like California and New Hampshire.

(4) In Massachusetts -- the state-level laboratory for Obamacare -- an acute doctor shortage is becoming more severe, raising access concerns. Obamacare expands this issue on a national scale.

(5) The San Francisco Chronicle has discovered a brilliant method of lowering one's healthcare costs under the new law: Earn less money. To come out ahead under this scheme, individuals or families would have to reduce their income to the point that it dips below the maximum threshold for government assistance. What a message that sends. Work less, earn less, get more from Uncle Sam hard-working taxpayers.

(6) Finally, and importantly, we're witnessing more premium shock for average people. We wrote about Obamacare's terrible consequences for a disabled mother of a young child on Friday; now the Chicago Tribune introduces America to some additional victims of the president's "Affordable" Care Act:

"Adam Weldzius, a nurse practitioner, considers himself better informed than most when it comes to the inner workings of health insurance. But even he wasn’t prepared for the pocketbook hit he’ll face next year under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. If the 33-year-old single father wants the same level of coverage next year as what he has now with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals, his monthly premium of $233 will more than double. If he wants to keep his monthly payments in check, the Carpentersville resident is looking at an annual deductible for himself and his 7-year-old daughter of $12,700, a more than threefold increase from $3,500 today. “I believe everybody should be able to have health insurance, but at the same time, I’m being penalized. And for what?” said Weldzius...

A Tribune analysis shows that 21 of the 22 lowest-priced plansoffered on the Illinois health insurance exchange for Cook Countyhave annual deductibles of more than $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for family coverage. Those deductibles, which represent the out-of-pocket money consumers must spend on health care before most insurance benefits kick in, are higher than what many consumers expected or may be able to stomach, benefit experts said."

Premium shock is only one part of the puzzle. Out-of-pocket sticker shock is just as pernicious, and just as unaffordable for many working families.

SOURCE

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

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

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17 October, 2013

Some data on education, religiosity, ideology, and science comprehension

I have lifted the article below from a Leftist source holus bolus. It is of the genre that tries to find something psychologically wrong with conservatives and religious people -- a long quest going back at least to 1950 which is yet to turn up anything convincing. So it is pleasing that the guy below finds nothing discreditable to conservatives and religious people either. He seems to be an honest Leftist

Because the "asymmetry thesis" just won't leave me alone, I decided it would be sort of interesting to see what the relationship was between a "science comprehension" scale I've been developing and political outlooks.

The "science comprehension" measure is a composite of 11 items from the National Science Foundation's "Science Indicators" battery, the standard measure of "science literacy" used in public opinion studies (including comparative ones), plus a 10 items from an extended version of the Cognitive Reflection Test, which is normally considered the best measure of the disposition to engage in conscious, effortful information processing ("System 2") as opposed to intuitive, heuristic processing ("System 1").

The items scale well together (α= 0.81) and can be understood to measure a disposition that combines substantive science knowledge with a disposition to use critical reasoning skills of the sort necessary to make valid inferences from observation. We used a version of a scale like this--one combining the NSF science literacy battery with numeracy--in our study of how science comprehension magnifies cultural polarization over climate change and nuclear power.

Although the scale is designed to (and does) measure a science-comprehension aptitude that doesn't reduce simply to level of education, one would expect it to correlate reasonably strongly with education and it does (r= 0.36, p< .01). The practical significance of the impact education makes to science comprehension so measured can be grasped pretty readily, I think, when the performance of those who have and who haven't graduated from college is graphically displayed in a pair of overlaid histograms:



The respondents, btw, consisted of a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults recruited to participate in a study of vaccine risk perceptions that was administered this summer (the data from that are coming soon!).

Both science literacy and CRT have been shown to correlate negatively with religiosity. And there is, in turns out, a modest negative correlation (r= -0.26, p< 0.01) between the composite science comprehension measure and a religiosity scale formed by aggregating church attendance, frequency of prayer, and self-reported "importance of God" in the respondents' lives.

I frankly don't think that that's a very big deal. There are plenty of highly religious folks who have a high science comprehension score, and plenty of secular ones who don't. When it comes to conflict over decision-relevant science, it is likely to be more instructive to consider how religiosity and science comprehension interact, something I've explored previously.

Now, what about politics?

Proponents of the "asymmetry thesis" tend to emphasize the existence of a negative correlation between conservative political outlooks and various self-report measures of cognitive style--ones that feature items such as "thinking is not my idea of fun" & "the notion of thinking abstractly is appealing to me."

These sorts of self-report measures predict vulnerability to one or another reasoning bias less powerfully than CRT and numeracy, and my sense is that they are falling out of favor in cognitive psychology.

In my paper, Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection, I found that the Cogntive Reflection Test did not meaningfully correlate with left-right political outlooks.

In this dataset, I found that there is a small correlation (r= -0.05, p= 0.03) between the science comprehension measure and a left-right political outlook measure, Conservrepub, which aggregates liberal-conservative ideology and party self-identification. The sign of the correlation indicates that science comprehension decreases as political outlooks move in the rightward direction--i.e., the more "liberal" and "Democrat," the more science comprehending.



Do you think this helps explain conflicts over climate change or other forms of decision-relevant science? I don't.

But if you do, then maybe you'll find this interesting. The dataset happened to have an item in it that asked respondents if they considered themselves "part of the Tea Party movement." Nineteen percent said yes.

It turns out that there is about as strong a correlation between scores on the science comprehension scale and identifying with the Tea Party as there is between scores on the science comprehension scale and Conservrepub.

Except that it has the opposite sign: that is, identifying with the Tea Party correlates positively (r= 0.05, p= 0.05) with scores on the science comprehension measure:

Again, the relationship is trivially small, and can't possibly be contributing in any way to the ferocious conflicts over decision-relevant science that we are experiencing.

I've got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I'd be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.

But then again, I don't know a single personwho identifies with the Tea Party. All my impressions come from watching cable tv -- & I don't watch Fox News very often -- and reading the "paper" (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).

I'm a little embarrassed, but mainly I'm just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.

Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments--all very negative-- of what I understand the "Tea Party movement" to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.

I'll now be much less surprised, too, if it turns out that someone I meet at, say, the Museum of Science in Boston, or the Chabot Space and Science Museum in Oakland, or the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicagois part of the 20% (geez-- I must know some of them) who would answer "yes" when asked if he or she identifies with the Tea Party. If the person is there, then it will almost certainly be the case that that he or she & I will agree on how cool the stuff is at the museum, even if we don't agree about many other matters of consequence.

Next time I collect data, too, I won't be surprised at all if the correlations between science comprehension and political ideology or identification with the Tea Party movement disappear or flip their signs. These effects are trivially small, & if I sample 2000+ people it's pretty likely any discrepancy I see will be "statistically significant"--which has precious little to do with "practically significant."


SOURCE

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Big Insurance: Obamacare’s Wealthiest Lobby and Largest Beneficiary

One of the country’s top lobbyists for Obamacare is now pushing to end the law’s tax on health insurance premiums. This doesn’t represent a change of heart, however. It merely shows her commitment to advocating on behalf of the insurance industry. Karen Ignagni, the CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, spearheaded efforts for health reform to include mandates and government subsidies—the net effect of which is to line the pockets of insurance executives. Already, Obamacare has done wonders for the stock prices of the leading insurance companies, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan notes in an op-ed published in the Orange County Register and many other McClatchy newspapers.

In the two-plus years since President Obama signed his signature healthcare legislation into law, Aetna’s stock price has risen by one third, UnitedHealth’s has increased by 65 percent, and Humana’s has jumped more than three-fourths. “It pays to be one of the few sellers of a product the government is going to force everyone to buy and provides subsides to help them do it,” McQuillan writes.

Although the insurance industry is campaigning to eliminate a tax on insurance premiums, Ignangi’s group has actively supported efforts to enroll consumers in the new healthcare exchanges, via its contribution of seed money to Enroll America. This may be good for the insurance industry, but it’s bad news for consumers, McQuillan argues. “Americans would be better served by a patient-driven system of privately purchased, affordable and portable health insurance with health savings accounts and payment assistance for the poor,” he writes. “Tax breaks would go to individuals, not employers. This would put more buying power in the hands of patients seeking the best health care at the lowest price.”

SOURCE

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The People v. K Street: The Obamacare Battle

(K street is where most congressional lobbyists have their offices)

The K Street vultures are out in force.

With both the continuing resolution and debt ceiling extension legislation pending, the tassel loafer lobbying crowd has descended on Capitol Hill with Obamacare fixes and other wish lists to be crammed into any final resolution.

Big Labor wants changes in the way reinsurance is taxed under Obamacare, and suddenly the Senate Democrats have this “important” reform in the still mysterious “compromise” they are fashioning.

Medical device manufacturers like General Electric have never liked the tax imposed on their products through the Obamacare law arguing that it will drive production of the devices oversees and will stifle new life enhancing research. House Republicans included the elimination of this tax in one of their offers to end the partial government shut down. Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats reportedly have not included the medical device tax into their legislation, leaving it as a bargaining chip.

The debt ceiling debate is perhaps even worse as every special interest that gets a dime from the federal government is being heard in lawmakers offices asking for “relief” from the sequester that has driven down real dollar discretionary federal spending much to the horror of those who thrive on it.

This almost shark like feeding frenzy trying to get goodies into these two must-pass pieces of legislation is as predictable as the rising sun, and it is why the battle to shrink the size and scope of government seems like a one step forward, two steps back proposition.

Growers of government spending have a financial vested interest in hiring former appropriators, congressional best friends, former staff of key legislators and Administration hacks to ensure that they get their piece of the big government pie. Each has a “legitimate” need that is worth borrowing money to achieve, and they are pressing all their buttons to get their client’s desires funded, or lower the taxes imposed on their products.

These hordes of special interest lobbyists from business, labor, environmental groups, and a myriad of others dwarf the inside the beltway voices demanding less government and that a disastrous law like Obamacare be stopped.

Ironically, the very health insurance lobby that the left demonizes as being against the law, has already adapted and is most likely one of the behind the scenes voices for the status quo.

Harry and Louise have been long retired as the industry cut deals to ensure their survival under Obamacare.

The next few days are going to be filled with Members of Congress and the Administration gaining carve outs for their preferred constituencies in exchange for their votes.

This is the Washington, D.C. that the people reject, where you have to pass legislation to know what is in it.

Now is the time for House Republicans should stand firm, expose these special deals and demand that Obamacare be defunded or delayed in its entirety.

Obamacare is broken and everyone knows it. But unlike a vehicle with a bad water pump that can easily be repaired, Obamacare is fraught with design flaws that are beyond repair.

It would be almost criminal to allow it to go forward, while allowing the politically connected protection from the law while the rest of America is forced to deal with it.

So far, House Republicans and nineteen Republican Senators can tell their constituents that they are doing everything in their power to stop this train wreck from impacting their family’s health care.

Perhaps it is time for those Americans to say thank you. While the easy path is to help your lobbyist buddies and get accolades in the New York Times for your trouble, the hard one is to keep fighting for stopping the law.

The people always say in polling that they want legislators who will fight for what is right, elected officials who stand with them over the powerful special interests.

Today America has this group of legislators and they are being excoriated from all sides for standing up for the people.

The people need to stand up and thank those who are fighting Obamacare against all odds now, or forever hold your peace.

SOURCE

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

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

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16 October, 2013

Green-Shirted Thugs

In post–World War I Italy, the rise of fascism in that country was marked by Benito Mussolini’s thugs, who made a point of visually distinguishing themselves by wearing black shirts as they engaged in intimidating tactics against Mussolini’s political opposition. Germany’s Adolph Hitler liked that idea so much that he copied it for his political militants—only there, the choice of shirt color was brown.

In the United States, green shirts are the preferred uniform color of the National Park Service.

Public Domain Image: NPS Law Enforcement Graduating Class #88 at Southwestern Community College (Part of the North Carolina Community College System, a statewide organization of public, two-year, postsecondary educational institutions)

The park service’s enforcement arm, a graduating class of which is pictured above, has been pretty busy during the partial government shutdown. But not in a good way. Ed Morrissey explains how they’ve made the transition to becoming “Obama’s Private Army”:

The United States established the Civil Service 142 years ago, in response to the massive corruption that followed from the previous “spoils system” in Washington DC. Prior to that, all federal employees served at the pleasure of the President, and jobs got handed out to those who boosted the fortunes of the party in power.

The result was rampant abuses of power, payoffs and kickbacks, and unaccountable performances at the federal level. It took nearly 40 years to transform the federal workforce into an independent and professional corps, and almost 70 years before Congress formally forbade civil-service workers from conducting political activities, through the Hatch Act of 1939.

Seventy-four years later, the civil-service system has been exposed as a failure – at least in this administration. Instead of an independent workforce of professionals who implement federal regulation in an even-handed and competent manner, we have returned to the era of partisan retribution and politically-motivated malevolence.

Basically, President Obama’s politically appointed administrators have given the park service’s employees very politically motivated marching orders, which they’re acting to carry out:

The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.

“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Morrissey describes what making life more difficult for people has meant:

When the shutdown went into effect last week, NPS reacted not by going off the job or closing national parks alone, but by actively blocking access to areas normally accessible 24/7 without impediment. That included putting up signs and guards at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, despite the fact that (a) the memorial was built with private funds, and (b) there are no gates or barriers under normal conditions at the memorial – nor at the Lincoln Memorial, nor at the Martin Luther King Memorial, both of which were similarly shut down by the National Parks Service.

When people simply moved the barricades to access the memorials, the supposedly shut down NPS arrived on scene to wire them together. When people gathered anyway, the US Park Police arrived on horseback to disperse them. Stephen Hayes asked an NPS spokesperson who ordered these actions, and was told that the Office of Management and Budget – a White House agency – ordered them to barricade the memorials.

It gets even worse than that. Unknown at the time but reported this week, the National Parks Service chased down a group of senior citizens at Yellowstone National Park when the shutdown commenced on October 1st. After informing the busload of tourists, some of whom were tourists from other countries, that the park was no longer accessible, the rangers locked them into a closed hotel for several hours with armed guards posted at the exits. When finally allowed to get back on the bus and leave Yellowstone, rangers stopped the tourists from pausing to take pictures, chasing after them for “recreating.”

Fox News has a video interview with one witness to the Yellowstone park closure who personally experienced the heavy-handed police state tactics used by the National Park Service’s enforcers.

In one case, the political masters of the National Park Service have even attempted to close down the public’s access to the ocean. All in pursuit of President’s Obama’s goal to make the partial shutdown of the federal government as painful as possible to regular Americans.

And the list of abuses just goes on, including the closure of parks that don’t have to be closed...

In light of these abuses of power, a good question to ask is why have such people been allowed to have so much authority over regular Americans that they can deny them access to the nation’s natural treasures at their political whimsy?

The only correct answer is that they shouldn’t. The best answer we have to address that situation is to turn the management and operation of the nation’s national parks over to the people, through the private sector. It’s a model that has been proven to work, provided only that the forces of political intimidation are denied the power to disrupt them.

And that should start with a massive reform of the National Park Service.


SOURCE

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Park Service Paramilitaries

The government has King John’s idea of public lands

By Mark Steyn

If a government shuts down in the forest and nobody hears it, that’s the sound of liberty dying. The so-called shutdown is, as noted last week, mostly baloney: Eighty-three percent of the supposedly defunded government is carrying on as usual, impervious to whatever restraints the people’s representatives might wish to impose, and the 800,000 soi-disant “non-essential” workers have been assured that, as soon as the government is once again lawfully funded, they will be paid in full for all the days they’ve had at home.

But the one place where a full-scale shutdown is being enforced is in America’s alleged “National Park Service,” a term of art that covers everything from canyons and glaciers to war memorials and historic taverns. The NPS has spent the last two weeks behaving as the paramilitary wing of the DNC, expending more resources in trying to close down open-air, unfenced areas than it would normally do in keeping them open. It began with the war memorials on the National Mall — that’s to say, stone monuments on pieces of grass under blue sky. It’s the equivalent of my New Hampshire town government shutting down and deciding therefore to ring the Civil War statue on the village common with yellow police tape and barricades.

Still, the NPS could at least argue that these monuments were within their jurisdiction — although they shouldn’t be. Not content with that, the NPS shock troops then moved on to insisting that privately run sites such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm and privately owned sites such as Mount Vernon were also required to shut. When the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway declined to comply with the government’s order to close (an entirely illegal order, by the way), the “shut down” Park Service sent armed agents and vehicles to blockade the hotel’s driveway.

Even then, the problem with a lot of America’s scenic wonders is that, although they sit on National Park Service land, they’re visible from some distance. So, in South Dakota, having closed Mount Rushmore the NPS storm troopers additionally attempted to close the view of Mount Rushmore — that’s to say a stretch of the highway, where the shoulder widens and you can pull over and admire the stony visages of America’s presidents. Maybe it’s time to blow up Washington, Jefferson & Co. and replace them with a giant, granite sign rising into the heavens bearing the chiseled inscription “DON’T EVEN THINK OF PARKING DOWN THERE.”

But perhaps the most extraordinary story to emerge from the NPS is that of the tour group of foreign seniors whose bus was trapped in Yellowstone Park on the day the shutdown began. They were pulled over photographing a herd of bison when an armed ranger informed them, with the insouciant ad-hoc unilateral lawmaking to which the armed bureaucrat is distressingly prone, that taking photographs counts as illegal “recreation.” “Sir, you are recreating,” the ranger informed the tour guide. And we can’t have that, can we?

They were ordered back to the Old Faithful Inn, next to the geyser of the same name, but forbidden to leave said inn to look at said geyser. Armed rangers were posted at the doors, and, just in case one of the wily Japanese or Aussies managed to outwit his captors by escaping through one of the inn’s air ducts and down to the geyser, a fleet of NPS SUVs showed up every hour and a half throughout the day, ten minutes before Old Faithful was due to blow, to surround the geyser and additionally ensure that any of America’s foreign visitors trying to photograph the impressive natural phenomenon from a second-floor hotel window would still wind up with a picture full of government officials.

The following morning the bus made the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the park boundary but was prevented from using any of the bathrooms en route, including at a private dude ranch whose owner was threatened with the loss of his license if he allowed any tourist to use the facilities.

At the same time as the National Park Service was holding legal foreign visitors under house arrest, it was also allowing illegal immigrants to hold a rally on the supposedly closed National Mall. At this bipartisan amnesty bash, the Democrat House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said she wanted to “thank the president for enabling us to gather here” and Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart also expressed his gratitude to the administration for “allowing us to be here.”

Is this for real? It’s not King Barack’s land; it’s supposed to be the people’s land, and his most groveling and unworthy subjects shouldn’t require a dispensation by His Benign Majesty to set foot on it. It is disturbing how easily large numbers of Americans lapse into a neo-monarchical prostration that few subjects of actual monarchies would be comfortable with these days. But then in actual monarchies the king takes a more generous view of “public lands.” Two years after Magna Carta, in 1217, King Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, which despite various amendments and replacement statutes remained in force in Britain for some three-quarters of a millennium, until the early Seventies.

If Magna Carta is a landmark in its concept of individual rights, the Forest Charter played an equivalent role in advancing the concept of the commons, the public space. Repealing various restrictions by his predecessors, Henry III opened the royal forests to the freemen of England, granted extensive grazing and hunting rights, and eliminated the somewhat severe penalty of death for taking the king’s venison. The NPS have not yet fried anyone for taking King Barack’s deer, but it is somewhat sobering to reflect that an English peasant enjoyed more freedom on the sovereign’s land in the 13th century than a freeborn American does on “the people’s land” in the 21st century.

And we’re talking about a lot more acreage: Forty percent of the state of California is supposedly federal land, and thus officially closed to the people of the state. The geyser stasi of the National Park Service have in effect repealed the Charter of the Forest. President Obama and his enforcers have the same concept of the royal forest that King John did. The government does not own this land; the Park Service are merely the janitorial staff of “we the people” (to revive an obsolescent concept). No harm will befall the rocks and rivers by posting a sign at the entrance saying “No park ranger on duty during government shutdown. Proceed beyond this point at your own risk.” And, at the urban monuments, you don’t even need that: It is disturbing that minor state officials even presume to have the right to prevent the citizenry walking past the Vietnam Wall.

I wonder what those Japanese and Australian tourists prevented from photographing bison or admiring a geyser make of U.S. claims to be “the land of the free.” When a government shutdown falls in the forest, Americans should listen very carefully. The government is telling you something profound and important about how it understands the power relationship between them and you.

The National Park Service should be out of the business of urban landmarks, and the vast majority of our “national” parks should be returned to the states. After the usurpation of the people’s sovereignty this month, the next president might usefully propose a new Charter of the Forest.

SOURCE

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

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15 October, 2013

Keep Jesus Out of Your Socialism

Michael Youssef

The headline of the full-page ad asks, "What Would Jesus Cut?—A budget is a moral document." The text continues, "Our faith tells us that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor."

The ad was produced by Sojourners, a self-described "evangelical" organization whose slogan is "Faith in Action for Social Justice." The ad was signed by Sojourners president Jim Wallis and more than two dozen Religious Left pastors, theologians, and activists. They urge our legislators to ask themselves, "What would Jesus cut?" from the federal budget.

How would you answer that question? My answer would be, "It's a nonsense question. Your premise is faulty. Your priorities are not His priorities."

Jesus had many opportunities to confront the Roman government about its spending priorities. It was, after all, one of the most brutal regimes in history. If the question "What would Jesus cut?" has any biblical relevance, we should be able to cite instances where Jesus lectured the Roman oppressors the same way the Religious Left lectures America.

Just compare ancient Rome with America today. Rome sent its armies out to conquer; America sends its soldiers out to liberate. Rome demanded tribute from other nations; America sends aid and emergency relief around the world. Rome enslaved nations; America rebuilds nations.

If the federal budget is a "moral document," what does it say about America? It suggests to me that America may be the most moral nation on earth! Name one other country that has spent $15 billion fighting AIDS in Africa. Name one other country that has provided more disaster relief, that has built more schools and water treatment plants, that has supplied more food aid around the world, that has sent more doctors, teachers, and technical advisers to developing nations.

Even America's military budget—much of which is being spent to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan—reflects the basic compassion and unselfishness of the American people. Clearly, America hardly deserves any scolding from the Sojourners soapbox.

Did Jesus ever lecture the Roman Empire about its budget priorities? In Matthew 8, when the Roman centurion approached Jesus in Capernaum, our Lord could have said, "How dare you, a Roman warmonger, come to Me asking favors? Change your priorities! Tell your bosses in Rome to stop buying chariots and start funding welfare programs!" But Jesus didn't lecture the centurion. He said, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith!"

In Matthew 22, when the Pharisees asked if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, the Lord could have thundered against Caesar's misplaced budget priorities. Instead, He said, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

In John 18, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect, a friend of Caesar. Why didn't He give Pilate an earful about the injustice of Roman rule? If ever there was a time for Jesus to "speak truth to power" and become the "social justice Messiah," that was it!

But Jesus didn't preach the social gospel to Pontius Pilate. Oh, he spoke truth to power, all right. He delivered a profound message to Pontius Pilate—and to you and me: "My kingdom is not of this world."

Now, I'm not saying that Christians are never called to confront their government. God bless Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church for standing against Nazi genocide. But that's not the situation here.

And I'm not saying there isn't a social and compassionate dimension to the Christian gospel. There certainly is! Jesus had great compassion for the poor.

He preached in Nazareth, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." He sent word to John the Baptist, "The deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor." Jesus presented the obligation to help the poor as an individual responsibility, a Kingdom responsibility—not the duty of the secular government.

Both the religious and secular Left in America seem to want government to replace the church in ministering to the poor and needy. One of Barack Obama's first proposals as president was a plan to slash tax deductions for charitable donations by high-income taxpayers. President Obama reasoned that a tax deduction "shouldn't be a determining factor as to whether you're giving that hundred dollars to the homeless shelter." Maybe so—but since private charities do so much good for the poor, why eliminate incentives for charitable giving? Could it be that liberals see private charities as competing with the big government welfare state?

In Romans 13, Paul tells us that we pay our taxes and support the government so that we will have a just, orderly society in which law-abiding citizens are protected from wrongdoers. But the responsibility for mercy and compassion belongs to the church—not the government.

What would Jesus cut? When He stood before the Roman Empire, He didn't suggest cuts. He received cuts. His flesh was cut by Roman nails and a Roman spear. He was bruised for our transgressions, and with His cuts we are healed. That's the gospel of Jesus Christ.

SOURCE

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Honesty and Trust

By Walter E. Williams

Dishonesty, lying and cheating are not treated with the right amount of opprobrium in today's society. To gain an appreciation for the significance of honesty and trust, consider what our day-to-day lives would be like if we couldn't trust anyone.

When we purchase a bottle of 100 pills from our pharmacist, how many of us bother to count the pills? We pull in to a gasoline station and pay $35 for 10 gallons of gasoline. How do we know for sure whether we in fact received 10 gallons instead of 9 3/4? You pay $7 for a 1-pound package of filet mignon. Do you ever independently verify that you in fact received 1 pound? In each of those cases, and thousands more, we simply trust the seller.

There are thousands of cases in which the seller trusts the buyer. Having worked 40 hours, I trust that George Mason University, my employer, will pay me. People place an order with their stockbroker to purchase 100 shares of AT&T stock, and the stockbroker trusts that he'll be paid. Companies purchase 5 tons of aluminum with payment due 30 days later.

Examples of honesty and trust abound, but imagine the cost and inconvenience if we couldn't trust anyone. We would have to lug around measuring instruments to make sure that it was in fact 10 gallons of gas and 1 pound of steak that we purchased. Imagine the hassle of having to count out the number of pills in a bottle. If we couldn't trust, we'd have to bear the costly burden of writing contracts instead of relying on a buyer's or a seller's word. We'd have to bear the monitoring costs to ensure compliance in the simplest of transactions. It's safe to say that whatever undermines honesty and trust raises the costs of transactions, reduces the value of exchange and makes us poorer.

Honesty and trust come into play in ways that few of us even contemplate. In my neighborhood, workers for FedEx, UPS and other delivery companies routinely leave packages that contain valuable merchandise on the doorstep if no one answers the door.
The local supermarket leaves plants, fertilizer and other home and garden items outdoors overnight unattended. What's more, the supermarket displays loads of merchandise at entryways and exits. In neighborhoods where there's less honesty, deliverymen leaving merchandise on doorsteps and stores leaving merchandise outdoors unattended or at entryways and exits would be equivalent to economic suicide.

Dishonesty is costly. Delivery companies cannot leave packages when the customer is not home. The company must bear the costs of making return trips, or the customer has to bear the costs of going to pick up the package. If a supermarket places merchandise outside, it must bear the costs of hiring an attendant - plus retrieve the merchandise at the close of business; that's if it can risk having merchandise outdoors in the first place.

Honesty affects stores such as supermarkets in another way. A supermarket manager's goal is to maximize the rate of merchandise turnover per square foot of leased space. When theft is relatively low, the manager can use all of the space he leases, including outdoor and entryway space, thereby raising his profit potential. That opportunity is denied to supermarkets in localities where there's less honesty. That in turn means a higher cost of doing business, which translates into higher prices, less profit and fewer customer amenities.

Crime, distrust and dishonesty impose huge losses that go beyond those suffered directly. Much of the cost of crime and dishonesty is borne by people who can least afford it - poor people. It's poor people who have fewer choices and pay higher prices or must bear the transportation costs of going to suburban malls to shop. It's poor people in high-crime neighborhoods who are refused pizza delivery and taxi pickups.

The fact that honesty and trust are so vital should make us rethink just how much tolerance we should have for criminals and dishonest people.

SOURCE

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The Nobel peace prize -- discredited again

Comment by Larry Pickering, an Australian conservative cartoonist

No person has ever been more deserving of a peace prize than little Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai. The world shed a tear as she bravely recovered from the Taliban’s cowardly attempts to kill her and her dream that little Pakistani girls might be educated.

She also gave the Norwegian Nobel Committee of academics one last chance at legitimacy, but again they blew it.

Oh well, we can't expect too much, after all, the Nobel Committee did see fit to award a Nobel Peace Prize to one of the world’s most notorious terrorists, Yasser Arafat. Arafat pioneered the art of suicide bombings and murdered thousands

Amid charges of bribery and corruption the Nobel Committee has awarded many prizes of dubious merit. A laureate among them was Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai, who famously claimed HIV/AIDS was developed by Western scientists specifically to depopulate Africa.

Another recipient, Linus Pauling, won multiple Nobels. He blazed a trail as one of the world’s leading chemists working on chemical weapons projects for the U.S. military.

The list is long... but one is my favourite: Failed rock star and three-time Nobel nominated, Bob Geldof. He was awarded the Nobel Man of Peace for his “feed the world” campaign. But Geldof caused many hundreds of thousands to starve to death. Please explain, you demand?

Okay you have heard it before, it goes like this: “Please don’t give me a fish, teach me how to fish.” But teaching starving people how to catch or grow food wasn’t in Geldof’s self-promotion manual.

All creatures, including indigenous humans, breed in marginal areas when conditions allow. Some animals can even prolong gestation until conditions improve.

Australia’s kangaroos have learnt to survive the most severe of droughts and are masters of this technique.

They have figured out how to lactate an embryo at the same time as carry a joey in the pouch and another in the uterus. The whole regenerating process can be slowed to a stop during droughts and booted back up when food is plentiful.

Bob Geldoff, in pursuit of propping up his failed rock star career, and armed with $150 million in donations, fed the world. But only once! Yes… just once!

It gave him notoriety and a lucrative job as a presenter on cable television, but it killed a million innocent children. How did this happen?

Simply because when artificial conditions are imposed on a people who have adapted to extreme drought conditions over millennia, they breed according to what is available to eat. A starving mother will have no milk.

An inevitable higher birth rate will occur when food is freely available. And in this case, it was Geldof’s artificial food. And what about the next cyclical drought? Of course it arrives, but where is Bob Geldoff now?

Well, Bob is swanning around the world describing his wondrous philanthropic nature to paying audiences while starving parents describe the great meal they once had to their starving children.A starving nation cannot be fed just once!

“Get rich, get famous, and get laid,” was Bob’s stated ambition. It was a costly one, but not to him.

The Poms gave him a knighthood so now we need to call him Sir Robert Geldof.

I wonder what the starving children would call him, if they understood what he had done to them. I would just like 15 minutes in a locked room with him.

Never mind little Malala darling, if you were my daughter I would cry with pride... you will be rewarded in far better ways than with a discredited Nobel Prize.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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14 October, 2013

David Horowitz analyses the Left:

There are four defining features of the left, which distinguish it as a movement of individuals who approach politics quite differently from pragmatically-minded conservatives.

The first of these features is their alienation from country: If you ask progressives about their patriotic feeling, they will tell you that they don’t think of themselves first as Americans but as “citizens of the world.” That even has a Harvard imprimatur. They are, in fact, so profoundly alienated from their country as to be in some sense foreigners to it. They are hostile to its history and to its core values, which they see as reflections of a society that has been guilty of racism and oppression on an epic scale. And they are fundamentally opposed to its constitutional arrangements which the framers specifically designed to thwart what they deemed “wicked projects” to redistribute income and share individual wealth.

This is perhaps the hardest feature of their progressive adversaries for conservatives to comprehend. It is difficult to imagine that people as privileged by America’s generosity as Barack Obama and his entourage of despoilers should be so alienated from their country as to feel themselves in it but not of it. And there is no more shocking example of this than Benghazi. No matter what your politics, or what solutions you propose to the problems that confront this nation, ask yourself this: Could you have done what Barack Obama did that night? Could you as commander-in-chief abandon three Americans fighting for their lives under your command? These men had served their country for more than a decade. For seven hours they cried out for help from their government, but you refused to give it.

How, as a fellow American, could Obama have just left these men to die? No one with an ounce of patriotic feeling could. But he did. Even Alexei Kosygin, the Soviet premier of a Communist dictatorship, maintained contact with his astronaut as he burned up in space. But not our president. When the attack on our embassy in Benghazi began, he hung up the phone and went to bed, and then on to a fundraiser with Beyonce and Jay-Z in Las Vegas in the morning. This, with four Americans including our ambassador dead.

As a nation we are now confronted by mortal enemies in Iran and Syria, in Hizbollah and Hamas – enemies who have openly declared that we are the devil’s party and should be erased from the face of the earth. How could an American president deliberately set out to appease such enemies? How in the face of such threats could he reduce our country to an international laughing stock, no longer respected by our friends, no longer feared by our foes? How could he be so cavalier about having failed so miserably to have defended his country’s security and uphold its honor? How could an American commander-in-chief then put himself in a position to be snubbed by the Iranian Hitlerites, which is what they are, and which is what Obama did? How could he snub our Israeli allies and at the same time grovel before our Islamic enemies? But he did. How could he create a vacuum in the Middle East allowing Russia to become the new regional power? How could he make himself an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, which slaughters Christians, and promises the extermination of the Jews and spawns terrorist armies like al-Qaeda and Hamas?

The answer to all these questions is that Obama doesn’t identify with our country. He sees himself as a “citizen of the world,” and a redresser of grievances for the suffering he imagines America has inflicted on our adversaries, including Hitlerite Iran.

The second feature of the progressive left that is key to understanding it is its instinctive, practiced, and indispensable dishonesty. As I previously noted, the Communists in the circles I frequented in my youth never identified themselves as Communists but always as “progressives” and “Jeffersonian democrats” (which is the last thing they were). When I was a young man and Stalin was alive, the goal of the Communist Party U.S.A. was a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” and a “Soviet America.” But under Stalin’s inspiration the official slogan of the Communist Party was “Peace, Jobs, and Democracy.”

The lesson? People on the left may be delusional but they are not stupid. They know what they can say and get away with, and what they can’t. Barack Obama is a born and bred member of the left and not coincidentally is the most brazen and compulsive liar ever to occupy the American White House. What other politician could have successfully explained away the fact that two of his closest political confidantes over a twenty-year period were an anti-American racist, Jeremiah Wright and an anti-American terrorist William Ayers?

There is a marked difference between the radicals of the Sixties and the radical movement Obama is part of. In the Sixties, as radicals we said what we thought and blurted out what we wanted. We wanted a revolution, and we wanted it now. It was actually very decent of us to warn others as to what we intended. But because we blurted out our goal, we didn’t get very far. Americans were onto us. Those who remained on the left when the Sixties were over, learned from their experience. They learned to lie. The strategy of the lie is progressives’ new gospel. It is what the progressive bible — Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals — is all about. Alinsky is the acknowledged political mentor to Obama and Hillary, to the service and teacher unions, and to the progressive rank and file. Alinsky understood the mistake Sixties’ radicals had made. His message to this generation is easily summed up: Don’t telegraph your goals; infiltrate their institutions and subvert them; moral principles are disposable fictions; the end justifies the means; and never forget that your political goal is always power.

An SDS radical wrote in the Sixties: “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” The Alinsky version is this: The issue is never the issue; the issue is always power: How to wring power out of the democratic process, how turn the process into an instrument of progressive control. How to use it to fundamentally transform the United States of America — which is exactly what Barack Obama warned he would do on the eve of his election.

The chosen legislative instrument to begin this transformation was Obamacare. It was presented as an act of charity, a plan to cover the uninsured. That was the “issue” as they presented it. But the actual goal of Obamacare’s socialist sponsors was a “single payer system” – government healthcare — which would put the state in control of the lives of every American, man, woman and child. That is the reason that none of the promises made about Obamacare was true, beginning with his campaign lie that Obamacare government health care was not a program he would support. Obamacare will not cover 30 million uninsured Americans, as Obama and the Democrats said it would; Obamacare will not lower costs, as they promised it would; Obamacare will deprive many Americans of their doctors and healthcare plans, as they assured everyone it would not; Obamacare is a new tax, as they swore it wouldn’t be. All these promises Obama and the Democrats made were false because they were only a camouflage for their real goal actual goal, which was universal control.

A third feature of progressives that defines their politics is that they regard the past, which is real, with contempt, and are focused exclusively on a future, which is imaginary.

To understand why this is important, think of progressives as a species of religious fundamentalists planning a redemption. Like fundamentalists they look at the world as fallen – a place corrupted by racism, sexism and class division. But the truly religious understand that we are the source of corruption and that redemption is only possible through the work of a Divinity. In contrast, progressives see themselves as the redeemers, which is why they are so dangerous. Because they regard those who oppose them as the eternally damned. Progressives are on a mission to create the kingdom of heaven on earth by redistributing income and using the state to enforce politically correct attitudes and practices in everyone’s life. They want to control what you do, and who you are, and even what you eat. For your own good, of course.

The fact that they see themselves as saving the world – or “saving the planet” as they would prefer — results in a fourth key characteristic of their politics, which is that they regard politics as a religious war. This explains why they are so rude and nasty when you disagree with them or resist their panaceas (and of course if they had the power, the punishments would be more severe); that is why the politics of personal destruction is their favorite variety, why they are verbal assassins and go directly for the jugular, and why they think nothing of destroying the reputations of their opponents and burying them permanently. And that is why they can perform their character assassinations without regrets – or did I miss Obama’s apology to Romney for accusing him of killing a woman with cancer during the campaign? Why apologize when you did it for the good of a world transforming cause?

To sum this up: Progressives see themselves as an army of the saints, and their opponents as the party of Satan; and that will justify almost anything you can get away with.

If you want to fight the left you have to fight fire with fire. That means first and foremost you have to hold them to account for hurting the people they are pretending to help. Whose opportunities are going to be wrecked by Obamacare? Health care taxes will go up for those who pay taxes – the middle class — while their incomes will go down. Already Obamacare is cutting the workweek to 30 hours. Whose pocket books do you think that is hitting?

They claim conservatives are conducting a war against minorities; we need to throw the truth back in their faces. We need to tell the people that progressives are the principal oppressors and exploiters of minorities and the poor in this country. Progressives control the inner cities, which are teeming with the nation’s minorities and poor; and they run the broken public school systems that have become dumping grounds for those who cannot afford a private education.

The city of Milwaukee has been run by liberals and progressives without interruption for more than 100 years. What is the consequence of this progressive rule? Milwaukee’s median household income is forty percent below the rest of the country. The black unemployment rate is 27%, three times the national average for everyone. Milwaukee’s population is majority black and Hispanic, and 30% of it lives below the poverty line. A third of Milwaukee’s public school children drop out before they graduate; those who do are barely literate. That’s what progressive policies achieve. Don’t let them forget it.

Conservatives need to put the human disasters of progressive policies in front of people every chance they get. We need to confront progressives with the misery they have created in America’s bankrupt cities, Detroit and Chicago, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, St. Louis, and the nation’s capital, and every city they have controlled for 25, 50 and 100 years, without interruption.

Conservatives need to talk less to the voters’ heads and more to their hearts. Government debt is not just an accountant’s nightmare. Debt is a form of economic slavery. If you add up all the taxes Americans pay — federal, state, local, income, sales — Americans already work half the year for government rather than for themselves. Like Obamacare and the political use of the I.R.S., debt is a threat to individual freedom.

Freedom is what our cause is about not just fiscal responsibility. Fiscal responsibility has no emotional appeal except to people who already understand what it means. Fiscal responsibility is a means to an end. The end is freedom, and that is what inspires commitment and sacrifice and the passion necessary to win. Because it speaks to the heart.

Conservatives need to speak up as champions of the little guys, the underdogs, whose lives are being steadily constricted – made less free — by the ongoing destruction of a system that once afforded more opportunity for more people than any other in the history of the world. Conservatives need to speak up for the young whose future horizons are being rapidly diminished as the trillion dollar Obama deficits pile higher and higher. Conservatives need to speak for all Americans whose security under Obama has been degraded to the most dangerous levels since the end of the Cold War.

This is the threat we face, and the sooner we grapple with it the greater our chances to survive it. The most important battle in the world today is not being waged in the Middle East but here at home in the United States. If we lose this battle, everything is lost. But if we will take the measure of the enemies of freedom and prepare ourselves to fight them, we have a better than even chance to win.

More HERE

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Breaking the censorship

For the past six months, there has been a steady drip of bad news for Obamacare, but you wouldn't know it if you watched only the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks. Here are just a few of the Obamacare stories they've downplayed or completely censored:

A study released by the Society of Actuaries predicts that costs will shoot up an average of 32 percent by 2017 for insurers serving the individual health care market.

Economists, business owners, and employees all report that Obamacare is shrinking the number of full-time jobs as they are being replaced by less stable, lower-paying part-time jobs.

A Quinnipiac University poll shows two-thirds of self-identified Democrats expect the law will either hurt them or have no benefit.
Aside from one random report by NBC, not one of these trouble spots for Obamacare has been mentioned on ABC, CBS, or NBC's evening news or their morning show broadcasts.

Earlier this summer, when Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat and chief architect of the law, opined that Obamacare will be a "train wreck," it took nearly two weeks before any major network acknowledged the senator's dire prediction.

And even when PBS's News Hour featured a story about President Obama's efforts to defend his health care law amid increasing public skepticism, those on the show conveniently failed to mention the harsh criticism of the law from three prominent labor union leaders and an increasing number of Democrat congressmen. This censorship has to stop.

The fact is, the liberal media helped usher Obamacare into law, which makes them very reluctant to report any story that might undermine its success and ultimately damage their credibility. But the Media Research Center won't let them get away with it.

SOURCE (Email)

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

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

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13 October, 2013

Park Service removes handles from water fountains

Pure Obama hate and vindictiveness. This is nothing to do with money. There is an alien mind behind this -- certainly not the mind of a President who loves his people

driking-fountain-recyclingIn what can only be described as an act of spite, National Park Service rangers removed the handles from all sources of drinking water along several popular scenic bicycle and jogging paths.

The paths, running from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal will be closed at Cumberland, Maryland, and in an apparent effort to make it more difficult for the athletes, handles have been removed from all the well pumps along the way, according to the Cumberland Times-News.

This is just the latest example of outrageous conduct committed by the National Park Service since the government shutdown, all apparently in an effort to make Americans feel the pain.

SOURCE

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The real voting fraud



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Is our system broken?

By Rick Manning

Many Americans look at what is happening in Washington, D.C. and ask two simple questions, “Is our system broken, and why can’t these politicians just get along?”

In fact, these are two of the most frequent questions I get when doing radio interviews across the nation, particularly during the call-in portion.

As tough as it is to believe, the system is not actually broken when the Congress is fighting with itself and with the President, in fact, that is exactly the outcome our founding fathers intended when they built it.

There is supposed to be tension between the House and the Senate, and there is definitely supposed to be fighting between Congress and the Executive Branch.

The House of Representatives was given the constitutional responsibility of being where all spending bills must originate. The Founders wanted the body closest to the people, who faced election every two years, to hold the purse strings of government. The same House was proportionally elected whereby each Member represented approximately the same number of people, with every state guaranteed at least one House Member.

Until 1913, Senators were appointed by their respective state legislatures, two to a state in staggered six-year terms. This insulation from the voters was designed to create the ultimate insiders club, to serve as an offset to the constant political demands in the House.

The Senate was also set up to defend parochial state interests as individual senators’ power was directly tied to the desires of the politicians in their home states. Additionally, one of the great constitutional compromises was to protect the small states’ interests from being overrun by the large ones by offsetting the proportional representation in the House by giving each state equal representation in the Senate.

Just as the House has primary responsibility on money and tax issues, the Senate has sole responsibility in serving as a check on the Executive Branch through the ratification of treaties and the confirmation of political appointments among other powers.

American history is replete with examples of massive, almost heroic long-time congressional battles that somehow lose their passion in the stale retelling in school books.

Tensions leading up to the American Civil War were so high, that in 1856, a member of the South Carolina delegation to the House of Representatives physically beat a Massachusetts senator rendering him unconscious in the wake of a particularly blistering speech attacking aspects of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

A few years earlier, House Speaker Henry Clay gained the moniker, the Great Compromiser, due to his fashioning of a congressional deal between diametrically opposed members of Congress that brought America back from the brink of the inevitable war that was fought out a decade later in places like Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Vicksburg.

Over the course of time, Congress has been divided over issues like whether the paper currency created to fund the Civil War should be maintained or if the country should return to strictly using gold and silver for its money, how to reintegrate the southern states into the union after the war, whether to enter what is now known as World War I, and many others.

Since the 1970s, there have been seventeen other government shutdowns due to disputes that caused parts of the government to not be funded on time. And some of these were over what, looking back, were petty issues.

There are those who speak about the good ole days when President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neil had such a good relationship back in the 1980s. They forget that Tip O’Neil shut down the government on twelve different occasions using the power of the purse. O’Neil even went so far as to shut it down because he did not like that the Fairness Doctrine had been allowed to expire.

In fact, the abnormality of the past forty years is that the government has not faced a shutdown since 1995.

Our nation’s history is shaped by the great battles that have taken place not just by soldiers on foreign and domestic fields, but in the halls of Congress. The very soul of our nation’s future is determined through these arguments, which oftentimes get ugly. They are not for the faint of heart, but they are worth fighting.

Finding a solution when both sides know that the decision creates a tipping point from which there is no return is not possible until one side determines that the battle is no longer worth waging — telling itself that they will return to it again one day, a day that never comes.

Democrats view Obamacare as the culmination of a fifty year fight to have government take over the nation’s health care system. A fight that has incrementally changed the way Americans receive health care with a quantum shift — pushed over the edge without the aid of a single Republican vote.

Republicans view Obamacare as the final destruction of the private health care system that will inevitably lead to socialized medicine. A system that is intended to drive doctors out of private practice and into big corporate health entities, where government decides who gets what health care and at what cost, and ultimately the people suffer due to doctor shortages and substandard service.

But at its core, Republicans in Congress believe that government has no business being in the health care business and Democrats desperately want government to control and run it.

Those irreconcilable differences should lead to great debates, shutdowns and a real national discussion over the direction our nation is taking.

Is our national system of government broken? No, it is working exactly as it should.

SOURCE

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Americans Don't Want A Shutdown and They Don't Want Obamacare

It was not a good week for progressives. Democrats thought they’d be sitting in the catbird seat during a government shutdown, but their own arrogance, World War II veterans, children with cancer and their own words have cost them what they were sure would be a easy victory.

Conceptually, progressives had hoped a government shutting down would send ripples of panic throughout the country, putting pressure on Republicans to give in to their demands. It didn’t. The vast majority of Americans who don’t work for the government, went about their lives as if nothing had happened.

Having learned from the sequestration battle, progressives knew the shutdown needed visible effects, not just theoretical ones. With the closing of public tours of the White House as their guide (and still in place, therefore unavailable to them now), Democrats closed open-air national monuments that are routinely open and unstaffed 24/7, 365 days per year.

The reason they did this is obvious – so media around the world would broadcast tourists upset their vacation plans were ruined by mean Republicans. What actually happened reinforced the old joke: If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.

While tourists were upset, the real story happened at the World War II Memorial. Members of the Greatest Generation weren’t going to let some flimsy gates stand in the way of them paying tribute to their fallen brothers. Nearly 70 years after storming barricades erected by other governments, they again stormed ones erected by their own.

Progressives tried to reinforce the barricades, but the next day they were stormed again.

Attempting to deny veterans in their 80s and 90s their last chance to visit a memorial to themselves, coupled with the threat of arrest, was too much for progressives and they caved. Veterans flown to Washington on “Honor Flights” will be allowed to visit, marking yet another victory for the brave men and women who defeated the forces they battled long ago.

A Park Service ranger told the Washington Times what we’d all suspected: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Speaking of disgusting, the second PR disaster for progressives this week was committed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and it’s even more telling of their nature.

During the gun control debate, progressives repeated the mantra “If it only saves one child’s life, we have an obligation to act.” This child was theoretical, and would be “saved” only in the abstract from some future potential event that could, might, maybe happen. It was a weak argument then, but the “logic” behind it was turned on them.

Dana Bash of CNN asked Reid, who personally had refused to allow a vote on a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health that includes clinical trials for cancer treatment for children, why not just allow a vote on that to help those children?

Reid’s answer was as heartless as it was unsurprising. He said, “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.”

Reid tried to explain away this callous response as a gaffe; that of course he cares about children with cancer. But it was no gaffe. He didn’t just say, “Why would we want to do that?” he equated those children with people who to that point had had two days off of work, saying, “They have a few problems of their own.” Bed sores and “video game thumb” do not equal terminal cancer.

And remember, you don’t participate in clinical trials on a whim. You do so because it’s your last resort. These children are dying. Conventional treatment hasn’t worked, and this is their last hope. Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats are denying that last hope out of obstinacy.

The monument strategy didn’t work. Maybe a body count, especially one with children, will.

If that sounds harsh it’s only because it is. Individuals never have mattered to progressives; they are about the collective. Individuals are replaceable, interchangeable and expendable to progressives. Not those in power, naturally, but the faceless masses and “great unwashed.” History tells this tale clearly.

Under the “progressive” umbrella are fascism, socialism and communism, differing only by a few degrees. The early 20th century infighting between these groups was over which was the standard bearer and which would lead under the progressive banner – and not over ideological differences. And no political philosophy had a higher body count in the last 100 years than the progressive movement.

Hundreds of millions were slaughtered or sacrificed for “the greater good” of the progressive Utopia. What’s a few more kids?

Reid hasn’t backed down on this. He’s still denying those children their last hope, but he’s exposed now. If children die while he’s obstructing their care, he and his fellow progressives in politics and the media will try to spin their deaths as Republicans’ fault. The truth is different, but he’s fine with that. To put it more bluntly: Harry Reid doesn’t WANT children to die of cancer, but he can live with it if it advances the cause.

This was no “gaffe,” this was accidental truth-telling from an unprepared politician so comfortable in the knowledge that the media would have his back that he was thrown by a simple question he should have been prepared for.

On Friday, an Obama administration official was quoted by the Wall Street Journal saying, “We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.”

This has been the progressive way since its inception – the agenda is what matters, not the individual.

Imagine this: If progressives are willing to obstruct World War II veterans visiting their memorial, if they’re willing to refuse funding for children with cancer to avoid something as simple as a one-year delay in Obamacare or having to live under it themselves, what won’t they do? Remember, they’re taking over all of health care, slowly but surely. If they get it, what’s to stop them from blocking funding for any health care for anyone to get their next dream program in place?

Once you cede power to the government, you aren’t likely to get it back. A political movement willing to sacrifice children to the cause, a political philosophy with hundreds of millions of bodies behind it, will think nothing about adding a few more to the pile.

SOURCE

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

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

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11 October, 2013

Federal Thugs Use Force As Anti-Obama Civil Disobedience Spreading

Recently, we suggested that the civil disobedience of those World War II vets who stormed the shutdown-closed World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, might be catching, and it looks like we were right.

Of course some of what looks like civil disobedience doesn’t have any clear political content – people who planned a vacation or wish to drive through a scenic vista the government has fenced off as federal property simply want to follow through on their plans and don’t understand why armed federal law enforcement officers are being employed to keep them out.

However, such inadvertent civil disobedience isn’t without its risks – even if it has no obvious political content – and the reaction of the National Park Service in particular has been completely outrageous in both the use of force and the use of supposedly furloughed federal employees.

Among the most egregious examples of excessive use of force by the National Park Service we have discovered was the experience of Pat Vaillancourt of Salisbury, Massachusetts, as reported by John Macone of the Newburyport (Massachusetts) Daily News.

Macone reports that “Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.

The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

When their bus stopped along a road as a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“The armed ranger responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

Macone quoted Ms. Vaillancourt as saying her experience with the National Park Service reminded her of her father, a World War II veteran who survived three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

“My father took a lot of crap from the Japanese,” she recalled, her eyes welling with tears. “Every day they made him bow to the Japanese flag. But he stood up to them.”

“He always said to stand up for what you believe in, and don’t let them push you around,” she said, adding she was sad to see “fear, guns and control” turned on citizens in her own country.

In the thuggery of the National Park Service the American people are finally getting a taste of what Obama and Obamacare are really all about – fear, feds with guns and most of all control.

SOURCE

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Obamacare Waivers Granted to Nevada and New Hampshire

President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, has now granted Obamacare waivers to the entire states of Nevada and New Hampshire. In its letter to Nevada, HHS admits that, without the waiver, “there is a reasonable likelihood” that Obamacare would result in “market destabilization, and thus harm to consumers.” Thus, to try to keep insurers from fleeing that state, HHS has exempted Nevada from a portion of Obamacare’s long list of mandates and requirements. HHS also admits to a “reasonable likelihood” that Obamacare would “destabilize the individual market” in New Hampshire, and has granted it a statewide waiver as well.

So, just to summarize: The federal government passes almost unbelievably complicated and intrusive legislation that even its own Department of Health and Human Services admits is reasonably likely to disrupt markets and harm people. States and other entities then make the case to HHS that this would in fact happen. Sebelius and her underlings then decide — or decide not — to bequeath exceptions to the law for given states, companies, unions, or collections of companies in a given representative’s district. This is not how things are supposed to work.

Nevada and New Hampshire will be two of the most closely contested states in the upcoming presidential election, which of course will determine whether Sebelius will get to keep her job. In the past eight presidential elections, the candidate who has won Nevada has also won the presidency. And in seven of the past eight presidential elections, the candidate who has won New Hampshire has also won the presidency (the only exception being when John Kerry, from neighboring Massachusetts, beat George W. Bush by just over 1 percentage point).

SOURCE

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Varieties of conservatism

In 2008, the writer George Packer argued in a New Yorker article titled “The Fall of Conservatism” that the disarray then engulfing the Republican Party was actually symptomatic of deeper problems characterizing American conservative thought. Conservatism’s apparent meltdown in the United States, Packer suggested, partly flowed from fierce internal disagreements over issues ranging from foreign policy to government-spending levels. Yet the challenge facing conservatives went far beyond, Packer claimed, these explicit tensions. Conservatism’s real crisis, he said, was one of ideas per se. To this end, Packer quoted one of contemporary conservatism’s most astute products, the political analyst Yuval Levin, who maintained that “The conservative idea factory is not producing as it did. You hear it from everybody, but nobody agrees what to do about it.”

For many conservatives, ideas have never been something that people should embrace too enthusiastically. Some ideas, they note, have helped facilitate some of history’s greatest barbarisms. There is a straight line, for example, between Karl Marx’s ruminations jotted down in the sedate settings of the British Library, and the Killing Fields of far-away Cambodia one hundred years later. In this light, we shouldn’t be surprised to find some conservative thinkers such as the Tory M.P. and later Lord Chancellor Quintin Hogg insisting in his 1959 book, The Conservative Case, that conservatism wasn’t “so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself.”

The truth, however, is that for every “attitude-conservative,” there has been just as many “idea-conservatives.” Indeed few things divide conservatives more today than ideas. Among the many groups that have appropriated the term “conservative,” we find self-described fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, southern agrarians, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, conservative liberals, business conservatives, traditionalists, libertarian conservatives, national security conservatives, conservative Democrats, Reagan conservatives, limited government conservatives, Tories, isolationists, bioconservatives, Thatcherites, progressive conservatives, federalists, fusionists, religious conservatives, and so on and so forth.

The differences between these ever-shifting clusters are often profound. The deepest, usually unspoken philosophical division is perhaps between those conservatives who ground their thinking in natural law reasoning and those committed to its polar-opposite: skepticism. But even within particular conservative alignments, there are sometimes noteworthy splits regarding specific questions. Some social conservatives, for instance, are outspoken free traders. Other, however, verge on economic nationalism.

The imprecision associated with the word conservative becomes even more evident when we consider figures that claim the moniker. Britain’s David Cameron, for example, never ceases proclaiming his conservative credentials. Yet does anyone seriously doubt that David Cameron has more in common with President Barack Obama than with, say, Senator Rand Paul or Senator Ted Cruz? What, some might ask, does Britain’s present Conservative Prime Minister have to do with conservatism at all?

That said, it’s worth noting that the various forces associated with conservatism haven’t ever and aren’t likely to achieve complete unity. Conservatism’s political expressions have often consisted of alliances of constituencies united less by common commitment to deeply-held beliefs, than by agreement on particular points during certain time-periods and some degree of “the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” logic. The imperative of defeating the diabolical evil of Communism, for example, produced a number of less-than-obvious bedfellows. Beyond these political conveniences, a considerable degree of internal debate on the right is highly desirable, not least because it forces people to defend and refine their positions.

The political importance of building and sustaining “broad-church” conservative coalitions shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, they help realize what has to be an important part of modern conservatism’s agenda: opposing and rolling-back a left that, however absurd its goals, is truly relentless in seeking to realize its dreams. But any revival of conservatism can’t just be about focusing upon what it is against. Nor can conservatism’s energy be completely consumed by policy-battles, as important as these are. For if conservatives lose the broader conflict about the type of civilization we aspire to live in, then all their policy-victories will ultimately count for naught.

Genius of the West

This brings me to what I think has to be conservatism’s long-term agenda as well as a central element in any lasting conservative resurgence: the defense and promotion of what we should unapologetically call Western civilization. By this, I mean that unique culture which emerged from the encounter of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, the brilliance of which—if I may be deeply politically-incorrect for a moment—is somewhat harder to discern in other societies. As anathema as this culture may be in the contemporary faculty lounge, this is the tradition that conservatives should be in the business of safeguarding and advocating: not just in opposition to those who deploy violence in the name of a divine un-reason, but also against the obsessive egalitarianism, rank sentimentalism and wild-eyed utopianism of those who live inside the West’s gates but who have long inhabited a different mental universe altogether.

The best minds from whom conservatives continue to draw inspiration, ranging from Edmund Burke and Wilhelm Röpke to Augustine and Alexis de Tocqueville, have always understood that civilizational questions are the ones which ultimately matter. The genius of the West can be expressed in a number of propositions, but among the most prominent are the following: that freedom is to be found in the self-mastery that results from freely choosing to live in the truth rather than lies; that reason includes but encompasses far more than just the empirical sciences; and that in awareness of our fallen nature and the lessons of history we find some of the best defenses against our restless impulse to attempt to construct heaven-on-earth.

Yet as the French theologian Jean Daniélou S.J. once observed, there is no true civilization that is not also religious. In the case of Western civilization, that means Judaism and Christianity. The question of religious truth is something with which we must allow every person to wrestle in the depths of their conscience. But if conservatism involves upholding the heritage of the West against those who would tear it down (whether from without and within), then conservatives should follow the lead of European intellectuals such as Rémi Brague and Joseph Ratzinger and invest far more energy in elucidating Christianity’s pivotal role in the West’s development—including the often complicated ways in which it responded to, and continues to interact, with the movements associated with the various Enlightenments.

Such an enterprise goes beyond demonstrating Christianity’s contribution to institutional frameworks such as constitutional government. Conservatives must be more attentive to how Judaism and Christianity—or at least their orthodox versions—helped foster key ideas that underlie the distinctiveness of Western culture. These include:

their liberation of man from the sense that the world was ultimately meaningless;

their underscoring of human fallibility and consequent anti-utopianism;

their affirmation that man is made to be creative rather than passive;

their insistence that there are moral absolutes that may never be violated,

their tremendous respect for human reason in all its fullness;

their crucial distinction between religious and civil authority; and

their conviction that human beings can make free choices.

This last point is especially important precisely because of the difficulty of finding strong affirmations of the reality of free choice outside orthodox Judaism, orthodox Christianity, and certain schools of natural law thought. Beyond these spheres, the world is basically made up of soft determinists (like John Stuart Mill) or hard determinists (like Marx).

There is, however, something more elemental of which modern conservatism stands in desperate need. In the first episode of his acclaimed 1969 BBC series Civilisation, the art historian, the late Kenneth Clark, sat in the foreground of an old viaduct and spoke about the Romans’ “confidence.” By that, he didn’t mean arrogance. What Clark had in mind was the Romans’ self-belief: their conviction that the ideas and institutions which they had inherited, developed, and extended throughout Europe and the Mediterranean amounted to a singular cultural accomplishment worthy of emulation.

Obviously the Roman world was far from perfect. As illustrated in the novel Satyricon, most likely written by the Roman courtier Gaius Petronius Arbiter during Nero’s disastrous reign, substantive decay had already set in among Rome’s elites by the first century A.D. What, however, seems difficult to dispute is the need for contemporary conservatives—however they prefix or suffix themselves—to develop and display a Roman-like confidence in the West’s achievements. For, absent such confidence, how will conservatives be able to re-infuse self-belief back into a West presently awash in soft despotism, nihilism, emotivism, and rampant self-loathing?

“Civilizations,” wrote the historian Arnold Toynbee, “die from suicide, not from murder.” Preventing the West from continuing to drift toward self-oblivion is surely a task—nay, a duty—of any principled conservative worthy of the name. In fact, as Margaret Thatcher was fond of saying, there is no alternative.

SOURCE

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

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

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10 October, 2013

Are European Jews mostly of Italian ancestry?

Greg Cochran is one of the authorities on Jewish genetics so his conclusions below carry weight. As usual, he even has some little jokes about it. From my own observations, I must say that there does seem to be an unusual warmth towards Israel among modern-day Italians -- JR

For some time, we have known that many Jewish populations had mostly-Near Eastern paternal ancestry (looking at y-chromosomes) and mostly-local maternal ancestry looking at mtDNA). Autosomal admixture studies generally agree. This is easiest to see when the host population is fairly distant from Europe or the Near East, and thus has significantly different mtDNA types: it’s obvious in the case of Indian Jews. Roughly speaking, Jewish men settled distant lands, as traders or sometimes refugees and POWs. They married local girls, and later, mostly with the advent of Rabbinical Judaism, rules emerged that forbade further intermarriage – and presto, Roberta’s your aunt.

It’s a bit more difficult when comparing Europe and the Near East, since there has been a lot of population movement between those regions, most of it from the Near East into Europe in the form of the first farmers. So even though the mixed origin of Jewish populations (Near Eastern men and local women) was clear in a number of cases, it wasn’t so clear in the most important case, the Ashkenazi Jews, who make up most of the world’s Jews and and account for almost all Jewish intellectual accomplishment.

But even when the same mtDNA haplotypes are found in both Europe and the Near East, the sub-haplotypes are different – the fine details clarify the story.

Back in 2006, Doron Behar and company looked at Ashkenazi mtDNA. Four mtDNA lineages accounted for almost half: K1a1b1a, K1a9, K2a2a, and N1b. About 20% of Ashkenazi Jews have K1a1b1a mtDNA. Behar concluded that all of these lineages originated in the Near East. This was plausible for N1b (about 9% of Ashkenazi mtDNA), which is common in the Near East and rare in Europe (although it was common back in the LBK culture). He couldn’t find any closely related versions of the K1a9 and K2a2a lineages outside of the Ashkenazim – and went on to say that they probably originated in the Near East, based on nothing. He also concluded that K1a1b1a was probably Near Eastern, since the only close non-Jewish versions were found in Portugal, Italy, France, Morocco, and Tunisia: a conclusion which flew in the face of what evidence he had. It is if one knew that all the languages closely related to Russian (Polish, Ukrainian, Serbian, etc) were found in Eastern Europe, and then concluded that the Russian language must therefore have originated in South Africa.

In other words, Doron Behar is a liar. I was going to include something about the probable origins of Ashkenazi mtDNA (mostly Italian) and Behar’s follies in the book. I wrote it up (in a little essay titled “Special K”), but space prohibited, and anyhow liars are boring.

A new paper by Maria Costa et al (with Martin Richards as senior author) settles the issue. We have a lot more data now – more people, and more detail. Turns out that all of those major Ashkenazi mtDNA lineages originated in Western Europe – even N1b, fairly rare in Europe. The majority of the less common Ashkenazi mtDNA lineages also originated in Europe – probably mostly in Italy. Altogether, > 80% of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry is European – mostly Italian, but a bit from France and Germany as well.

You may have heard of Arthur Koestler’s Khazar hypothesis – the notion that Europeans Jews are largely descended from Khazar converts. It’s not true – these results show that it is impossible. Charles Murray suggested that selection leading to higher intelligence in Jews occurred a long time ago, as far back as the Babylonian Captivity. That’s not true either. It never made any sense, because there’s not a scintilla of evidence that Jews in Classical times were smarter than the average bear – but the Ashkenazim being half Italian crushed it yet again. If ancestral Jews had the genetic IQ magic, the Ashkenazim should be watered-down, closer to the European norm: but they’re not.

Lots of European admixture does not contradict our model of the evolution of superior Ashkenazi intelligence, because we think that the relevant selection occurred well after that admixture, during a period in which inward gene flow among the Ashkenazim was very low – as evidence by the fact that this study found plenty of Italian mtDNA, but little from Eastern Europe.

As Michael Balter cheerfully points out in Science, this result may be a bit troublesome to those that believe that Jewish identity descends through the female line. In that case, most Ashkenazi Jews – aren’t.

I haven’t heard anyone else mention this, but logically, someone who is Ashkenazi could now decide that he and his cousins are really the true heirs of the Roman Empire, rather than a member of the Chosen People. I’m sure that wouldn’t cause any trouble.

Doe this mean that the Palestinians have a better genealogical claim to the land of Israel than the Ashkenazi Jews? Maybe – but over the years, they’ve mixed too. They have a lot of South Arabian and African ancestry that wasn’t there 2000 years ago. That’s true of much of the Middle East – but that’s another post… I’m sure that modern DNA technology will answer this question anytime anyone cares to look, and obviously everyone will accept the verdict of Science, whatever it may be.

Anyhow, if Italy really is the Ashkenazi urheimat, that’s not so bad. I’d trade the Judean Hills for Tuscany in a New York minute. And even if trading homelands would require some toe-to-toe combat with the Italians – how hard would that be, really?

SOURCE

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Why the Left Hates the Old

Dennis Prager

The latest left-wing tactic to discredit conservative views is to dismiss the age and race of conservatives. "Old white males" and "old white people" are the left's latest favored negative epithets for those holding conservative views.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman of the New York Times, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ("angry old white men") are among the many on the left who have used this epithet.

Last week, on her nightly MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow showed a picture of an ad for Washington, D.C. talk radio station WRC that featured the station's talk show hosts. You will notice, she said, that they are all "old white Republican males." It was brought to my attention because I am one of those talk show hosts (and, it should be noted, nearly all of my colleagues and I are younger than her colleague, Chris Matthews, an old white Democratic male.)

What is going on here?

The answer is: quite a bit. The left's dismissal of old people is much more than another left-wing ad hominem attack. Therefore, to understand it is to understand much of what animates leftism.

As a rule, the left rejects the old.

The left's attack on teaching the works of "Dead White European Males" was one such example. It infuriated the left that Shakespeare was studied so much more than, let us say, living Guatemalan playwrights. As a result, one can now obtain a college degree in English -- let alone every other liberal arts department -- without having taken a course in Shakespeare.

So, too, in art and music, the new is almost always favored over the old. New composers and artists -- no matter how untalented -- are studied as much as or more than the great masters of old. And the old standards of excellence are neglected in favor of the latest avant-garde experimentation.

Rejection of the old is a reason the left has contempt for the Bible. To progressives, the idea of having 2,000 and 3,000-year-old texts guide a person's behavior today is ludicrous.

Low regard for the old is also a major factor in the left's dismissal of the Founders and of the original intent of the Constitution. Talk about "old white males," the Founders are white males who are now over 200-years-old. What could they possibly have known or understood that a progressive living today does not know more about or understand better?

What, then, is at the core of the left's contempt for the old, and its celebration of the new and of change?

There are two primary answers.

One is the yearning for utopia. Since Marx, the left has sought utopia in this world. And that means constantly transforming every aspect of society. As then-Senator Barack Obama said prior to the 2008 election: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

By definition, those who seek to transform consider the old essentially worthless.

The other answer is self-esteem. The left began the self-esteem movement in large measure because of its own high self-esteem. Those on the left are certain that they are smarter, kinder, more moral and more compassionate than -- in every way superior to -- their opponents.

That is a major reason for the left's problem with the old: If the old is great, then they and their new ideas are probably not that great.

Just about everyone who is not on the cultural left knows that all the great masters were incomparably superior to Jackson Pollock and other 20th-centuries artists who produced meaningless and talentless art. And because there are so few artists at any time who measure up to the old standards (standards that are synonymous with standards of excellence), the old standards have simply been abandoned.

This applies equally to morality. The left doesn't want to be bound or answerable to a higher moral authority. Rather, one's heart and reason are the best moral guides. Here, too, the old codes, especially as embodied in traditional religion, must be overthrown.

Prior to the ascendance of the left, it was assumed that the old had more wisdom than the young. Indeed, even every leftist I have asked, "Are you wiser today than 20 years ago?" has answered in the affirmative.

Nevertheless the left has transformed "old" -- a title that commanded respect in every civilization prior to the pre-1960s West -- into a pejorative.

As a result we live in the age of new music, new art, new families, new morality, new education, and now new marriage. If you think all these are good, then "old white males," like almost everything else old, do indeed constitute a threat. If you think the left's belief in "new" and "change" hurts society, "old" sounds good.

SOURCE

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"Diversity" as Fascism

If any of the mainstream media outlets in the United States, with the obvious exception of Fox News, were to draw up a list of the least tolerant groups, associations and organizations in the nation, the result would be completely predictable. Not necessarily in this order, it would read: The TEA Party; the NRA; the Republican Party; Rush Limbaugh listeners; Fox News viewers and, no doubt, anyone who works for Fox News; Glenn Beck listeners; Christians; any other group that believes in patriotism, the Constitution and traditional values.

The pre-programmed refrain would be that these groups do not accept diversity. True diversity, however, occurs when people of different faiths, lifestyles, ethnic backgrounds and nationalities come together organically. When diversity is forced upon a people, it is nothing more than a political charade; it is, indeed, a type of fascism.

The above list is, of course, dictated by those who provide the thoughts that fill the heads of today’s American Liberals. Completely ignored is the fact that neither the TEA Party, the NRA nor the Republican Party have any more restrictions on who they accept than does the Democratic Party or any leftwing organization in the country. Demographically, the make-up of the TEA Party closely reflects the make-up of the nation in every way but age-group.

The Republican Party has put more blacks in Congress than the Democratic Party, whose members founded the Ku Klux Klan. In addition, the Republican Party has given the nation more female cabinet members and state governors than the Democratic Party. It has also given the nation more state Governors from ethnic minorities. As for Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck; these three undisputed media giants employ, collectively, more Liberals than all other media outlets, collectively, employ Conservatives. Their viewers and listeners, if intolerant at all, are no more so than those who watch MSNBC or CNN or those who listen to NPR.

The Progressive movement, in order to conceal its agenda of complete control and enslavement, has, years ago, taken up the banner of ‘diversity’. In truth, however, the Progressive movement is the least tolerant and least diverse entity in the US. Those who identify with it have routinely – and publicly – made sexist, racist and homophobic comments; they have issued death threats and incited violence against those with whom they do not agree. President Barack Obama himself – the Progressive movement’s most useful puppet – is notoriously thin-skinned and completely unwilling to even engage in a serious discussion with anyone who opposes him politically or ideologically.

The various special interest groups in the US which pretend to fight for nothing more than acceptance, equality and ‘social justice’, such as the LGBT community, the NAACP and amusingly titled Planned Parenthood are, in fact, pushing for far more than mere equality; they are campaigning forcefully to impose their views upon everyone. Whilst the American political Right is more and more influenced by the Libertarian philosophy of Don’t Tread on Me, the political Left has become an alarmingly authoritarian movement; a veritable SS panzer division, ready to crush all those who oppose it and round up the survivors for re-education – or extermination.

Case in point: A private citizen with their own business – a bakery – refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Firstly, that should clearly be a matter of the individual in question making a decision based upon their personal values and principles. The same-sex couple in question could merely have taken their business elsewhere. However, they were so filled with hatred and intolerance for anyone who refuses to conform to their beliefs that they stimulated – no pun intended – a campaign that lead to the afore-mentioned small business owner shutting down the business. Which party was the least tolerant, here? Which, the greater believer in ‘diversity’? The baker did not start a campaign to prevent the couple getting married, they simply declined to be connected with that marriage. The same-sex couple, by contrast, was determined to ruin a business – and quite prepared to destroy a life – because they came across someone who did not share their values.

Are those same-sex partners believers in diversity? Clearly not, or they would have brushed off the baker’s refusal to co-operate with a shrug and gone elsewhere for their cake; they would have accepted the fact that ‘diversity’ extends also to opinion and to values. The couple in question have every right to marry, if they are living in a state that permits same-sex marriage. The federal government has no constitutional right to deny their wishes; other private citizens may disapprove, but have no right to prevent their marriage – other than through the state-level ballot-box. Members of the LGBT community – or, as Al Sharpton calls them, homos – have a right to expect tolerance and freedom from persecution; they have no right to force everyone else to accept their lifestyle as normal.

Aside from the fundamentalists of the so-called Christian Right – America’s very own version of the Muslim Brotherhood – nobody else on the political Right wishes to force gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals to give up whatever lifestyle they have chosen. One has the right, however, to disapprove of whatever one wishes. The moment any group forces its will upon others and hounds, threatens, ridicules, demonizes – and discriminates against – anyone who happens to hold a different set of values, then that group has, itself, become the standard for intolerance, hatred and bigotry.

Diversity is, by definition, a complete acceptance of – and, indeed, a complete disregard for – differences of faith, lifestyle, skin-color, principle and belief. One simply cannot claim to embrace diversity whilst, at the same time, declare that anyone who holds a different opinion should be silenced, excluded and even punished.

The LGBT community – so long as it remains complicit in the drive to eliminate all dissent – is nothing more than a willing tool – no pun intended, again – of a Progressive movement that promotes a grotesque parody of ‘diversity’ which is, in reality, a form of fascism.

SOURCE

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

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

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9 October, 2013

Is Iran a Lunatic State or a Rational Actor? Neither: It is a Rational Aggressor

Barry Rubin is an astute and experienced observer of the Middle East so his unusual analysis below is thought provoking

So is Iran a lunatic state or a rational actor? A hell of a lot more rational than U.S. foreign policy is today

Iran is a rational actor in terms of its own objectives. The issue is to understand what Iran wants. Policy is always best served by truth, and the truth is best told whether or not people like it. Iran is an aggressive, rational actor.

Remember: The problem is not that Iran is eager to use nuclear weapons but that the Obama Administration is not going to apply containment properly and credibly. And that encourages Iran’s non-nuclear aggression and terrorism.

The fact is that the history of the Iranian Islamic regime does not show suicidal recklessness. A key reason for this is that the leaders of Iran know they can be reckless without risking suicide. In other words, Iran did face threats from the West commensurate with what Tehran was doing. Therefore, the risks it took were not suicidal. If apparently suicidal rhetoric does not produce suicide but serves a very specific purpose, that rhetoric is not in fact suicidal.

What, then, did Iran want? Its basic goal was to be as powerful a regional hegemon as possible–including control over Syria and Lebanon. It would like to take leadership of all Muslims in the area. Today, however, it is clear that the Sunni Arabs reject Tehran’s leadership and will fight against it.

In other words, the ultimate extent of Iran’s zone of influence could only include part of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, southwest Afghanistan, Bahrain, and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. That is the maximum, and Iran is far from achieving that goal. And it will probably never achieve it.

Iran’s influence is limited by the location of Shia Muslims. Not all Shia Muslims favor Iran, and pretty much all Sunni Muslims oppose it. Therefore, whatever the outcome is in Syria–in other words if the regime wins–Iran will at most keep its current levels of influence. But if the regime wins, the Sunnis will hate Iran even more and will fight against it harder.

So Iran still wants to get the most power without fearing reprisal. Nuclear weapons are a defensive shield to carry out conventional aggression.

As I’ve insisted for many years, it is increasingly clear that Iran will get nuclear weapons. We should start discussions in that framework. The recent brilliant decision of the Iranian elite–who is not only more ruthless but strategically smarter than Western leadership–to pick a national security insider, who is at best a slightly moderate extremist, as president guarantees it.

The question is only: when will Iran get nuclear weapons? The evidence seems to show that this is several years away. (It would be interesting if that development was too late to affect Syria’s civil war, and such will probably happen.)

Why will Iran certainly get nukes?

First, the West isn’t going to take strong enough action to stop it because the alternatives are deemed–perhaps accurately so–too risky. No surgical Israeli strike is going to stop it, and Obama will never support such a strike.

Of course, there is a great deal of indifference about the potential victims and lots of greed about the money to be made from Iran. The sanctions may seem tough, but there are more holes than cheese. U.S. companies sensing profits as sanctions hopefully fall are chomping at the bit. After Ahmadinejad, though, there is perhaps a better money-making climate. His successor will further soothe Western willingness to battle on this nuclear issue.

And of course they just don’t care that much about potential genocide in Israel.

Second, with international support at a low point, the logistical difficulties, and a U.S. president who is incredibly reluctant, Israel is not going to attack Iran to stop it from getting nuclear weapons. What Israel should and will do is to make clear it will attack Iran if there is any reason to believe that Tehran might launch nuclear weapons. It will build up a multilayer defensive and offensive system. This is not mere passive containment but would mean assured massive retaliation.

Note that there is more than one potential victim of Iran’s nuclear weapons. People, including the Israelis, talk a lot about Israel. Yet the Sunni Arab states are increasingly involved in shooting situations with Iranian proxies. Unlike Israel, they won’t do anything and perhaps can’t, except to beg the United States to take strong action. But the U.S. won’t do so.

And of course everyone can just hope everything will turn out all right.

A rare piece of good news, however, is that before the “Arab Spring,” it was conceivable that Iran might become leader or hegemon of the Arabic-speaking world. Israel-bashing was an important tool to do so. Now the Sunni Muslims have their own successful–even U.S.-backed!–Muslim Brotherhood movement. They not only don’t need Iran any more, they fight against Tehran.

Pushed on the defensive with more limited prospects–and knowing the Israel card won’t work–Tehran has lots less incentive to stake its survival on that issue. The nuclear weapons arsenal isn’t intended for a big bang to get revenge on Israel, it’s intended to keep the current regime in power against a growing number of enemies.

Put bluntly, Iran won’t waste its nuclear weapons on Israel or, as they might put it in Tehran, to give Israel an “excuse” to attack Iran. No pile of quotes from Iranian leaders to the contrary changes anything.

The key factor is not an appeal to the “international community” to protect Israel. Israel’s power rests precisely in old-fashioned credibility and deterrence: Only Israel can credibly destroy the Islamic regime. And the Islamic regime in Iran knows that.

Israel was so important in Iranian verbal declarations precisely because Israel could at one time be turned into a card that strengthened Iran’s appeal with the Arabs and the Sunni. Iran certainly had very few other cards. But the Sunni and Arabs don’t care about this, given the big change of the last two years. The Israel card–as shown by the Syrian regime’s failure with it–is worthless.

Note that while Iran has been the leading sponsor of international terrorism and poured invective out against Israel, Iran did not notably take any material action against Israel beyond terror attacks and its sponsorship of Hizballah, Hamas, and Syria–which were its allies at the time. Compared to Arab efforts in the second half of the twentieth century, this was not very much.
In other words, against Israel, the Tehran regime talked a big game but did relatively little.

On other issues, too, Iran did not act like a country bent on suicide. Against its Arab enemies, it did not take considerable risks. Iran could wage a proxy war against America in Iraq, because the United States didn’t do very much about it.

All of the above in no way discounts an Iranian threat. Yes, of course, Iran sponsored terrorism and sought to gain influence and to spread revolution. Yet it did not attack a single country in open terms of warfare. Remember, Iran was invaded by Iraq. And when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself was persuaded that the United States was entering the war against him, he quickly ended it, though he said that doing so was like eating snakes and scorpions; but that was necessary to preserve the regime.

Iran is the kind of aggressor who was once described by Winston Churchill as a thief who went down the street rattling doors to find one that was open.

Second, Iran sought to defend itself by threatening antagonists with total destruction and by obtaining the ultimate deterrence, nuclear weapons. This does not mean one should sympathize with Tehran since, after all, it sought nuclear weapons to ensure its defense while it continued aggressive policies.

Iran can also complain about American encirclement. Of course, if it did not follow the policies that were being practiced, there wouldn’t be a U.S. motive for any such efforts. The point, however, is that the claim that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons so it could destroy itself by attacking Israel is just not demonstrated.

Thus, Iran is not a demonic, crazed, kamikaze country. It is simply a typical aggressor who wants to have insurance against having to pay the price of such continued activity. North Korea and Pakistan sought nuclear weapons for the same reason, and it is working for them.

Let’s approach the issue in another way. Suppose Iran helped the Syrian regime win the civil war. Would the danger to Israel be increased? No, certainly it would not be from a nuclear standpoint. Assad would reestablish control over a wrecked and tottering country where the damage would take years to rebuild. But the problem is that Iran will be more secure in defending itself which means it will be more aggressive, but now with nuclear weapons.

The USE of nuclear weapons loses whatever the possession of nuclear weapons gains.

Iran would be relieved at the Syrian regime’s survival but would not be better able to carry on a (nuclear) war against Israel. The Sunnis would be prepared to cooperate with the United States against Iran and even, covertly, with Israel up to a point.

Indeed, the ability of Sunni Islamists to attack Israel would be reduced because of their obsession with the principal danger.

Again, I don’t want Assad to win in Syria. I believe that Iran is a threat. I think Iran will succeed in getting nuclear weapons. I don’t think the Tehran regime consists of lunatics who cannot wait to immolate themselves in a fiery funeral pyre. They want to stay in power for a long time. Israel has an alternative of preemption if necessary. But the United States will never help stop Iran’s getting of nukes.

This analysis should be conducted in a sober fashion. I believe, indeed I see clearly, that Israeli policymakers understand these issues. We should remember that Iran is not an insane state and that there are threats other than Iran in the Middle East.

The problem is not that Iran is eager to use nuclear weapons but that the Obama Administration is unlikely to apply containment properly and credibly. And then its version of containment might fail.

SOURCE

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Shutdown Preparations Prove Most Government Is Waste

Some prescient comments from before the shutdown

When the government shuts down, the president will do without three-fourths of his White House staff — 1,265 taxpayer-salaried federal workers. That's a fraction of the government's total waste.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who didn't show up to vote on the budget last week, recently claimed, "the cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make" in a government that spends almost $4 trillion each year.

But it's funny how when the massive state apparatus is starved of its cash flow, lots of things magically appear in that bare cupboard.

A Sept. 26 letter from the assistant to the president for management and administration to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (couldn't those jobs be merged?) comically outlines the shutdown plan.

"Approximately 436 employees will be designated as excepted or exempt to perform excepted functions," the manager of the White House budget tells the manager of the executive branch budget. "The remaining 1,265 will be placed in furlough status once they have concluded activities necessary to shut down their offices."

Activities like what? Turning off the lights?

The Executive Office of the President "has carefully reviewed its personnel needs ... to ensure that the mission ... is carried out without significant interruption."

But the letter says during the shutdown it'll take 12 taxpayer-paid employees "to support the vice president in the discharge of his constitutional duties." Call them the dirty dozen, since they take care of what Vice President John Nance Garner called "a bucket of warm spit."

What do these 12 absolutely essential non-Secret Service vice-presidential staff do, guarantee that Joe Biden doesn't make a gaffe during the shutdown?

He also gets one staffer for the vice president's residence. Can't "average Joe," who as a senator famously rode the commuter train with the riffraff from Delaware to Washington every day, make his own meals for a few days? Or put up with Dr. Jill's cooking?

Why are 61 U.S. Trade Representative employees required during the shutdown "for developing, coordinating, and advising the president on U.S. trade policy"?

And how many of the more than 20 members of the first lady's staff, at least four of whom are paid six figures by the taxpayers, will be deemed non-essential?

The White House is just a microcosm of the out-of-control growth in federal government personnel. Shameless federal worker unions already plan to sue to get paid for days they stay home during the shutdown.

One thing a government shutdown does is prove that millions of them can, and should, stay home every day.

SOURCE

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

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

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8 October, 2013

Sticker Shock: Californians suddenly discover why all the Republican shouting over #Obamacare

Meet Tom Waschura, Californian, father of two – oh, and right: Obama supporter. Just got a letter from his healthcare provider telling him that his private health insurance just went up by ten grand a year:

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,” Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.

“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Let me tell you a secret: we don’t need people like Mr. Waschura to love us. We just need people like him to vote their class interests, to quote the Marxists who unaccountably confidently expect this rotating disaster of a health care rationing system to fuel public outcry for socialized medicine.

They don’t have to vote Republican forever, you know. We’ll be happy if they vote Republican just enough to allow the party to kill this thing. With that in mind, let me just be the first to assure Mr. Waschura that his hope that the rates will be adjusted down in a few years is only half-justified: left unchecked, they will be adjusted. Only upwards.

The Democrats always expected and planned that Obamacare would be funded by raiding the incomes of as many people as possible; making the insurance companies the mechanism for jacking up premiums was the only way to get the insurance companies on-board.

In other words, Mr. Waschura: what happened to you was not a bug in the system. It is the system. And now you have to ask yourself: are you really prepared to pay ten grand a year and rising for the privilege of having a legislator theatrically agree with you on, say, first-trimester abortion? – Because I’m sure that the California Republican party will be able to find a candidate that won’t go out of his or her way to aggravate you on that topic.

We’ll finish this up with an observation from Cindy Vinson. Also Californian, also Obama supporter; she got hit with a $1,800/year increase on her individual policy.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

The most expensive thing in the world is something that’s free, Ms. Vinson. And if you sit down at the poker table and you don’t know after a half hour which person is going to be taken to the cleaners, it’s going to be you.

SOURCE

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California’s New Feudalism Benefits a Few at the Expense of the Multitude

Once famous as a land of opportunity, the Golden State is now awash in inequality, growing poverty, and downward mobility that’s practically medieval, writes Joel Kotkin

California has been the source of much innovation, from agribusiness and oil to fashion and the digital world. Historically much richer than the rest of the country, it was also the birthplace, along with Levittown, of the mass-produced suburb, freeways, much of our modern entrepreneurial culture, and of course mass entertainment. For most of a century, for both better and worse, California has defined progress, not only for America but for the world.

As late as the 80s, California was democratic in a fundamental sense, a place for outsiders and, increasingly, immigrants—roughly 60 percent of the population was considered middle class. Now, instead of a land of opportunity, California has become increasingly feudal. According to recent census estimates, the state suffers some of the highest levels of inequality in the country. By some estimates, the state’s level of inequality compares with that of such global models as the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Republic of the Congo.

At the same time, the Golden State now suffers the highest level of poverty in the country—23.5 percent compared to 16 percent nationally—worse than long-term hard luck cases like Mississippi. It is also now home to roughly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients, almost three times its proportion of the nation’s population.

Like medieval serfs, increasing numbers of Californians are downwardly mobile, and doing worse than their parents: native born Latinos actually have shorter lifespans than their parents, according to one recent report. Nor are things expected to get better any time soon. According to a recent Hoover Institution survey, most Californians expect their incomes to stagnate in the coming six months, a sense widely shared among the young, whites, Latinos, females, and the less educated.

Some of these trends can be found nationwide, but they have become pronounced and are metastasizing more quickly in the Golden State. As late as the 80s, the state was about as egalitarian as the rest of the country. Now, for the first time in decades, the middle class is a minority, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Great polarization of wealth -- as in other Latin American polities

California produces more new billionaires than any place this side of oligarchic Russia or crony capitalist China. By some estimates the Golden State is home to one out of every nine of the world’s billionaires. In 2011 the state was home to 90 billionaires, 20 more than second place New York and more than twice as many as booming Texas.

The state’s digital oligarchy, surely without intention, is increasingly driving the state’s lurch towards feudalism. Silicon Valley’s wealth reflects the fortunes of a handful of companies that dominate an information economy that itself is increasingly oligopolistic. In contrast to the traditionally conservative or libertarian ethos of the entrepreneurial class, the oligarchy is increasingly allied with the nominally populist Democratic Party and its regulatory agenda. Along with the public sector, Hollywood, and their media claque, they present California as “the spiritual inspiration” for modern “progressives” across the country.

Through their embrace of and financial support for the state’s regulatory regime, the oligarchs have made job creation in non tech-businesses—manufacturing, energy, agriculture—increasingly difficult through “green energy” initiatives that are also sure to boost already high utility costs. One critic, state Democratic Senator Roderick Wright from heavily minority Inglewood, compares the state’s regulatory regime to the “vig” or high interest charged by the Mafia, calling it a major reason for disinvestment in many industries.

Yet even in Silicon Valley, the expansion of prosperity has been extraordinarily limited. Due to enormous losses suffered in the current tech bubble, tech job creation in Silicon Valley has barely reached its 2000 level. In contrast, previous tech booms, such as the one in the 90s, doubled the ranks of the tech community. Some, like UC Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, advance the dubious claim that those jobs are more stable than those created in Texas. But even if we concede that point for the moment, the Valley’s growth primarily benefits its denizens but not most Californians. Since the recession, California remains down something like 500,000 jobs, a 3.5 percent loss, while its Lone Star rival has boosted its employment by a remarkable 931,000, a gain of more than 9 percent.

Much of this has to do with the changing nature of California’s increasingly elite—driven economy. Back in the 80s and even the 90s, the state’s tech sector produced industrial jobs that sparked prosperity not only in places like Palo Alto, but also in the more hardscrabble areas in San Jose and even inland cities such as Sacramento. The once huge California aerospace industry, centered in Los Angeles, employed hundreds of thousands, not only engineers but skilled technicians, assemblers, and administrators.

This picture has changed over the past decade. California’s tech manufacturing sector has shrunk, and those employed in Silicon Valley are increasingly well-compensated programmers, engineers and marketers. There has been little growth in good-paying blue collar or even middle management jobs. Since 2001 state production of “middle skill” jobs—those that generally require two years of training after high-school—have grown roughly half as quickly as the national average and one-tenth as fast as similar jobs in arch-rival Texas.

“The job creation has changed,” says Leslie Parks, a long-time San Jose economic development official. “We used to be the whole food chain and create all sorts of middle class jobs. Now, increasingly, we don’t design the future—we just think about it. That makes some people rich, but not many.”

In the midst of the current Silicon Valley boom, incomes for local Hispanics and African-Americans, who together account for one third of the population, have actually declined—18 percent for blacks and 5 percent for Latinos between 2009 and 2011, prompting one local booster to admit that “Silicon Valley is two valleys. There is a valley of haves, and a valley of have-nots.”

The Geography of Inequality

Geography, caste, and land ownership increasingly distinguish California’s classes from one another. As Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and the wealthier suburbs in the Bay Area have enjoyed steady income growth during the current bubble, much of the state, notes economist Bill Watkins, endures Depression-like conditions, with stretches of poverty more reminiscent of a developing country than the epicenter of advanced capitalism.

Once you get outside the Bay Area, unemployment in many of the state’s largest counties—Sacramento, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Fresno, and Oakland—soars into the double digits. Indeed, among the 20 American cities with the highest unemployment rates, a remarkable 11 are in California, led by Merced’s mind-boggling 22 percent rate.

This amounts to what conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson has labeled “liberal apartheid,” a sharp divide between a well-heeled, mostly white and Asian population located along the California coast, and a largely poor, heavily Latino working class in the interior. But the class divide is also evident within the large metro areas, despite their huge concentrations of affluent individuals. Los Angeles, for example, has the third highest rate of inequality of the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas, and the Bay Area ranks seventh.

The current surge of California triumphalism, trumpeted mostly by the ruling Democrats and their eastern media allies, seems to ignore the reality faced by residents in many parts of the state. The current surge of wealth among the coastal elites, boosted by rises in property, stock, and other assets, has staved off a much feared state bankruptcy. Yet the the state’s more intractible problems cannot be addressed if growth remains restricted to a handful of favored areas and industries. This will become increasingly clear when, as is inevitable, the current tech and property boom fades, depriving the state of the taxes paid by high income individuals.

The gap between the oligarchic class and everyone else seems increasingly permanent. A critical component of assuring class mobility, California’s once widely admired public schools were recently ranked near the absolute bottom in the country. Think about this: despite the state’s huge tech sector, California eighth graders scored 47th out of the 51 states in science testing. No wonder Mark Zuckerberg and other oligarchs are so anxious to import “techno coolies” from abroad.

As in medieval times, land ownership, particularly along the coast, has become increasingly difficult for those not in the upper class. In 2012, four California markets—San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles—ranked as the most unaffordable relative to income in the nation. The impact of these prices falls particularly on the poor. According to the Center for Housing Policy and National Housing Conference, 39 percent of working households in the Los Angeles metropolitan area spend more than half their income on housing, as do 35 percent in the San Francisco metro area—both higher than 31 percent in the New York area and well above the national rate of 24 percent. This is likely to get much worse given that California median housing prices rose 31 percent in the year ending May 2013. In the Bay Area the increase was an amazing 43 percent.

Even skilled workers are affected by these prices. An analysis done for National Core, a major developer of low income housing, found that prices in such areas as Orange County are so high that even a biomedical engineer earning more than $100,000 a year could not afford to buy a home there. This, as well as the unbalanced economy, has weakened California’s hold on aspirational families, something that threatens the very dream that has attracted millions to the state.

This is a far cry from the 50s and 60s, when California abounded in new owner-occupied single family homes. Historian Sam Bass Warner suggested that this constituted “the glory of Los Angeles and an expression of its design for living.” Yet today the L.A. home ownership rate, like that of New York, stands at about half the national average of 65 percent. This is particularly true among working class and minority households. Atlanta’s African-American home ownership rate is approximately 40 percent above that of San Jose or Los Angeles, and approximately 50 percent higher than San Francisco.

This feudalizing trend is likely to worsen due to draconian land regulations that will put the remaining stock of single family houses ever further out of reach, something that seems related to a reduction in child-bearing in the state. As the “Ozzie and Harriet” model erodes, many Californians end up as modern day land serfs, renting and paying someone else’s mortgage. If they seek to start a family, their tendency is to look elsewhere, ironically even in places such as Oklahoma and Texas, places that once sent eager migrants to the Golden State.

In neo-feudalist California, the biggest losers tend to be the old private sector middle class. This includes largely small business owners, professionals, and skilled workers in traditional industries most targeted by regulatory shifts and higher taxes. Once catered to by both parties, the yeomanry have become increasingly irrelevant as California has evolved into a one-party state where the ruling Democrats have achieved a potentially permanent, sizable majority consisting largely of the clerisy and the serf class, and funded by the oligarchs. Unable to influence government and largely disdained by the clerisy, these middle income Californians are becoming a permanent outsider group, much like the old Third Estate in early medieval times, forced to pay ever higher taxes as well as soaring utility bills and required to follow regulations imposed by people who often have little use for their “middle class” suburban values.

More HERE

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

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7 October, 2013

Obamacare attempts to transfer healthcare resources from whites to blacks

If Obamacare did anything to expand the number of doctors, hospitals and nurses, blacks could be benefited without reducing services to whites. But the controls and regulations show every likelihood of REDUCING the numbers of doctors and nurses. So what will actually happen? EDs will close; doctors will impose "no new patients" rules; British-style waiting lists will emerge; Costs will rise for all; and blacks will have LESS access to healthcare. So the optimism below is amusing. Perhaps the writer thinks that Obama can repeal the law of supply and demand. The implosion will be amusing to watch and the Donks won't be able to shrug off responsibility for it -- JR

The verdict was in even before the first enrollee inked their signature October 1 on a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. The law is an unmitigated triumph for the millions of uninsured in America. The triumph is even greater for African-Americans. The checklist of pluses is well-known. More than 7 million African-Americans will now have access to a health plan, there will be subsidies for low-income persons to offset the costs, a half million children will be covered under their parent's plans, millions of dollars will be allocated for research and testing, the establishment of more than 1000 new health care facilities in many rural and urban communities, the National Health Service Corps workforce will be tripled and more than 4 million elderly and disabled African-Americans covered under Medicare will have no cost access to health care preventive services. The triumph is even greater because of the grim figures on the health care crisis that has been a national disgrace for so long for African-Americans

The dismal figures have repeatedly told why. Blacks make up a wildly disproportionate number of the estimated 50 million Americans with absolutely no access to affordable or any health care. The majority of black uninsured are far more likely than the one in four whites who are uninsured to experience problems getting treatment at a hospital or clinic. This has had devastating health and public policy consequences. According to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, blacks are far more likely than whites to suffer higher rates of catastrophic illness and disease, and are much less likely to obtain basic drugs, tests, preventive screenings and surgeries. They are more likely to recover slower from illness, and they die much younger.

Studies have found that when blacks do receive treatment, the care they receive is more likely to be substandard to that of whites. Reports indicate that even when blacks are enrolled in high quality health plans, the racial gap in the care and quality of medical treatment still remains low. Meanwhile, private insurers have routinely cherry picked the healthiest and most financially secure patients in order to bloat profits and hold down costs. American medical providers spend twice as much per patient than providers in countries with universal health care, and they provide lower quality for the grossly inflated dollars. Patients pay more in higher insurance premiums, co-payments, fees and other hidden health costs.

It's been a perfect storm mix of politics, race, and ignorance and fear that has driven the GOP's mania to dump Obamacare. It's included every slander, lie, and false flag, countless votes and threats to defund the Act and a crude attempt at blackmail to shut down the whole government over it. Some claim that this is big government intrusiveness since it allegedly whipsawed Americans into buying insurance and that it was too costly, too overburdening on businesses, and supposedly too unpopular with a majority of Americans.

The race part is two-fold. One it was proposed by President Obama, and anything, that's any program or initiative that's been proposed by him by him for every moment of the five years he's been in the White House has been the trigger for GOP knee jerk opposition. The other part is the great fear of GOP health care reform opponents and the health care industry lobby which includes private insurers, and for a time pharmaceuticals and major medical practitioners was that they'd have to treat millions of uninsured, unprofitable, largely unhealthy blacks. That would be a direct threat to their massive profits. The pharmaceuticals eventually dropped their opposition only after getting assurances that they would not have to cut costs of drugs to make way for more generics and drug competition from Canada and that the millions of newly insured recipients will be drug purchasers.

The Act is not totally out of the woods. House Republicans have already gotten their way on one point and that's to delay for one year requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty. They will play for time and push their inept demand for a one year delay. After the provisions kick in, they will latch onto to too every real or imagined mishap or negative experience with a business owner, provider, or recipient to scream loudly that the Act is a bust and must be scrapped. GOP ultra-conservatives will continue to assault the Act with their favorite attack weapon and that it is big government run amok at the expense of the health of Americans.

Their ploys will not succeed in scuttling the Act. Too many millions will have been helped, even saved by it, for that. And millions of them are African-Americans. Obamacare is a triumph that can't be taken away.

SOURCE

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Obama to usurp Constitutional power from Congress

According to sources in Congress and the White House, Barack Obama is preparing to usurp the Constitutional power of Congress to control the purse strings of the federal government. The Obama plan entails using the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to bypass Congress on the upcoming debt ceiling debate and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.

On Thursday Mark Levin cited several Congressional sources who have told him that Obama has no intention of negotiating with Congress on the debt, which is just under $17 trillion, the highest in U.S. history. When unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare are added in, the real debt is over $125 trillion -- a figure so astronomically high that the country has no hope of ever paying it back. Uncontrolled spending has led the nation to this point.

According to Levin, Congressional sources say that Obama does not want any limits on his spending ability, in spite of the fact that the Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to control spending. Further, the use of the 14th Amendment to bypass Congress has never been done before. Thus, such an act would be an entirely new "interpretation" of the 14th Amendment and would raise a plethora of Constitutional issues concerning separation of powers.

The 14th Amendment is written in several main sections, one of which deals with debts incurred by the federal government. Nowhere does the Amendment give a president the power to raise the debt ceiling. Nowhere does the Amendment mandate that overall federal spending be increased at the whim of a president, or anyone else in government, not even Congress.

The only mandate contained in the 14th Amendment regarding the national debt is that if the government runs out of money, the interest and principal on Treasury Notes, Bills, and Bonds, must be paid first before money is spent on anything else.

This means, simply, that the federal government must first make payments on the national debt before it funds anything else. Nothing is stated concerning raising the debt ceiling and borrowing more money, and certainly not spending more money in the middle of a debt crisis.

Thus, the use of the 14th Amendment to excuse such actions on Obama's part would be illegal and an impeachable offense. Yet he is being urged, according to Levin, to break the law by advisers inside and outside of government, such as Bill Clinton, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, liberal law professors, and members of liberal think tanks.

It is also safe to assume that he is being urged to break the law by George Soros, given that the last time this subject was raised a couple of years ago, it was Soros who encouraged Obama to bypass Congress entirely, set the Constitution aside, and do whatever he wants.

Levin maintains that this would create a Constitutional crisis of historic proportions, one that could lead the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.

SOURCE

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Tackling leftist anti-Semitism

Success of Jews and Israel poses life-threatening challenge to worldview of leftist intellectuals

Most Jews are baffled by the reaction of leftist commentators to events in the Middle East. There is relatively little outcry when Syrians butcher Syrians, no outcry when Iraqis murder Iraqis, whereas any Palestinian finger grazed by an Israeli bullet invites immediate outbursts of wholehearted indignation. The cognitive dissonance of leftist elites has reached such proportions, that many Jews have decided that perhaps anti-Semitism plays a role in generalized hostility towards Israel.

Claiming that criticism of Israel is a manifestation of anti-Semitic feelings is a risky business. After all, many Israel-bashers are deeply enamored of Jewish thinkers like Marx, Trotsky and Walter Benjamin and count as allies Jewish figures like Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe. Thus, can we still classify their attitude as anti-Semitic? Or does one do a disservice to the Jewish people by labeling leftist foes of Israel the same way one would genocidal Nazis?

In order to address this issue one must recall that Nazi anti-Semitism was far more than an aesthetic aversion towards stereotypical Jewish facial features. Nazism loathed the values which the Torah and the Jewish tradition embodied, namely – justice, compassion and love for the destitute and the stranger. It is no coincidence that those driven by the belief that the weak should serve the strong, saw in the Jewish ethos an intellectual and ethical threat of the highest order. Thus, one could say that the racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis was merely a pretext for a far more deeply-embedded spiritual and ethical anti-Semitism.

In our day and age the threat posed by rightwing anti-Semitism has been supplanted by the spiritual anti-Semitism of the left. In fact, the social success of Jewish minorities in the Western world, together with the astonishing economic and scientific achievements of the State of Israel is unbearable for leftists. The reason for this is simple: This reality shatters the cultural romanticism and social worldview of the left. If second- and third-generation North Africans of Jewish descent successfully integrate in European society while their Muslim peers populate urban ghettoes, it becomes hard to claim that racism, welfare-spending cuts and capitalist alienation are to blame for some of the most pressing social problems of the Western world.

Likewise if Israel as a democratic free-market economy vaunts impressive human development figures while its neighbors are mired in poverty and strife, it becomes hard to persuade people that Western political and economic institutions are to blame for the region’s problems. It is thus evident that Jews and Israel pose a life-threatening challenge to the worldview of leftist intellectuals. This threat can only be countered by highlighting with disproportionate diligence every abuse and injustice committed by Jewish Israelis, since doing so is critical to the intellectual credibility of the left.

In order to reduce leftist antipathy to Israel it does not help to flaunt the Jewish state’s economic and technological achievements. Doing so only exacerbates leftists’ conviction that Israel is the spoilt child of the West. Instead, Israel should showcase selective strengths such as the few kibbutzim where communal property has flourished and highlight happy Arab-Jewish gay couples living in Tel Aviv.

In addition, in order to reassure intellectuals that Israel is another excellent example of how free-markets threaten the well-being of society, Israel should publicize domestic problems like pollution, poverty, alcoholism and drug-use. This approach is more likely to win over leftist hearts than boasting about achievements in the fields of high-tech and business.

Unless Jews realize that leftist anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment is a phenomenon with far deeper roots than the presence of checkpoints near Ramallah or Hebron, they will misdiagnose the disease and the therapy needed to treat it.

SOURCE

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Rent controls and the Bombay tragedy

There's a growing number of calls for rent controls here in the UK. This really isn't all that sensible an idea for as has been pointed out before:

"Swedish economist and socialist Assar Lindbeck commented years ago that, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing.”

As Mark Perry goes on to point out this has implications for that most recent disaster in Mumbai, when an apartment block collapsed in the night, killing scores:

"Mumbai’s buildings department is known for its corruption, and bribing inspectors and other government officials is considered part of the normal cost of doing business. One result is that many buildings are visibly crumbling. Another problem is rent-control rules that allow tenants to live in apartments for a few dollars a month and even pass those rights on to their descendants, giving landlords little incentive to invest in building maintenance. The city requires extensive approvals for even minor repairs, a process so cumbersome that repairs are often either delayed or done illegally and without consultation from engineers."

Rent controls are exactly like any other form of price control. If you set the price above the market price, as we've been doing with farming for decades, then we'll get a glut. If we set the price below that market price (as has always been true of rent controls, always, everywhere) then we'll get a shortage. And that shortage will come about in two ways. Less new building than otherwise will take place and extant building will not be maintained leading to appalling tragedies like this one.

There is of course the vague possibility that the government might stumble across a rent price which doesn't cause either shortage and decay, nor a surplus, but at that point said rent controlled price would be exactly the same as the market price so why bother?

The real question we should be asking those who advocate rent control is, well, so why is it that you want to reduce the quantity and quality of housing in the UK?

SOURCE

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6 October, 2013


Munich on the Hudson

The article dated Oct. 5 from Sweden below (excerpts only) uses the Hitler/Chamberlain history to warn of the way Western countries today are prepared to sacrifice Israel to its enemies. The article rightly points out that Chamberlain was frantic to avoid war but in the end facilitated it. Another point that is less well known is that Chamberlain was not totally foolish in hoping that Hitler was a man of peace. In his election campaigns of the '30s Hitler repeatedly presented himself as a man of peace -- as Leftists generally do. Western leaders of today have no such excuse. The boiling hostility of the Muslim world towards Israel is there for all those with eyes to see and ears to hear



The German philosopher Hegel once remarked that great historical patterns seem to appear in human history twice, in a repeating configuration. Karl Marx added that, though great historical patterns may appear twice, they appear first as tragedy, and the second time as farce.

Historical patterns surrounding Munich seem to be casting a shadow on current Middle Eastern events. Let's refresh our memory with a quick look at Munich's original 1938 context.

Hitler's vision of world conquest began with a push to create a Greater Germany (Grossdeutsches Reich). This began with the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria on March 12, 1938, one day after the successful Nazi coup d'‚tat in Vienna. Rogers and Hammerstein built their box-office hit The Sound of Music around these events.

Hitler's next step involved the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. His preference was straight military conquest, and he gave orders that a military invasion should begin by October 1, 1938.

This caused his top generals much trepidation. They believed that an armed assault on Czechoslovakia would lead to immediate hostilities with Britain, France and possibly the Soviet Union. The generals felt that Germany was not ready for such a conflict.

At that time the German Wehrmacht had only 31 active divisions and 7 reserve divisions, while France had over 100 divisions and the Czechs had 45. On August 4 Nazi Chief of General Staff General Ludwig Beck presented a super-secret strategic analysis to Germany's top military brass, urging a cancellation of Hitler's plan.

Incredibly, Chamberlain believed that negotiations with Hitler could avoid a World War. His impression was that Hitler could turn out to be a man of peace. "In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in his face, I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word."

At meetings with Hitler on September 15th (Berchtesgaden, Bavaria), 22nd (Rheinhotel Dreesen, Bad Godesberg) and 29th (the brand new Nazi building Fuehrerbau, Munich), Chamberlain was manipulated and bullied into finally abandoning England's Czechoslovak ally to the tender mercies of the Nazi juggernaut.

The representatives of Czechoslovakia were not allowed to take part in any negotiations due to Hitler's refusal to allow their participation. Up to that point the Czechs had refused to bow to any form of diplomatic surgery, preferring to trust in their small though well-trained army and in their political alliances with France and the Soviet Union.

The Munich Agreement was signed at 01:30 on September 30, 1938 by Hitler, British PM Sir Neville Chamberlain, Italian Fascist PM Benito Mussolini and French PM Edouard Daladier.

This Quartet's meeting was known as the Four-Power Conference. It sanctioned the immediate Nazi invasion and annexation of Czech Sudetenland. A few hours after having signed away Czechoslovakia,

Chamberlain took a light nap, arose and asked Hitler to sign a peace treaty between the United Kingdom and Germany. Hitler happily agreed. The German High Command's plot to stop Hitler was shelved, and Europe tumbled slowly into the abyss.

But Hitler no longer had any fear that the West would opposite his genocidal plans. His comments about Chamberlain and Daladier were telling on this point: "I did not think it possible that Czechoslovakia would be virtually served up to me on a plate by her friends."

Even more telling was Hitler's conclusion, "Our enemies are little worms. I saw them at Munich" ("Unsere Gegner sind kleine Wuermchen. Ich sah sie in Muenchen" - www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/1939/22-08-1939.php). In March 1939 Hitler invaded and conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Back in England, Chamberlain stood in front of Number 10 Downing Street, London on September 30, 1938 and proclaimed: "We regard the agreement signed last night as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again ."

On Monday October 3, 1938 PM Chamberlain addressed the House of Commons in London and declared: "It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Czechoslovakia will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past."

"I say in the name of this House and of the people of this country that Czechoslovakia has earned our admiration and respect for her restraint, for her dignity, for her magnificent discipline in face of such a trial as few nations have ever been called upon to meet.It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Czechoslovakia will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past."

On October 5, 1938 MP Winston Churchill spoke boldly in the House of Commons against the Munich Agreement, calling it "a total, unmitigated defeat."

"I will, therefore, begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which I must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat . we are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France. Do not let us blind ourselves to that...The system of alliances in Central Europe upon which France has relied for her safety has been swept away, and I can see no means by which it can be reconstituted. we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: `Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting.' And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."

The majority of British public opinion at the time wanted to appease Hitler. They were prepared to abandon a democratic Czechoslovakia as the price for avoiding international conflict and destruction. The mainstream believed that protecting an ally was not worth risking a wider conflict. This is the essence of the Munich dynamic.

One of the main differences between those who supported the Munich Agreement and those who opposed it had to do with trust. Was Hitler a man of peace, a man whose word could be trusted? Was he bent on conquering Europe and establishing a totalitarian dictatorship there? Or was Hitler only interested in self-determination for his own people and in righting historic wrongs?

Would he be satisfied with the fruits of diplomacy, and then would he agree to disarm and agree to peaceful co-operation? Were his calls for destruction of the Jewish people merely politicking and meant only for `internal consumption'?

Only when the blitzkrieg against Poland began on September 1, 1939, did the unpalatable truth become unavoidably clear.

Churchill and his comrades - those once ridiculed as warmongers - were belatedly seen as prophets who had tried to mobilise a generation of soporific cowards.

On Friday October 5, 2001 Israeli PM Ariel Sharon gave an evening press conference where he said:

"We can rely only on ourselves.Today Israel suffered another murderous Palestinian terrorist attack which took a heavy toll. All of our efforts to reach a cease-fire have been torpedoed by the Palestinians. Fire did not cease, not even for one day. We are currently in the midst of a complex and difficult diplomatic campaign. I turn to the Western democracies, first and foremost the leader of the free world, the United States. Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when the enlightened democracies of Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for the sake of a temporary, convenient solution. Don't try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We will not accept this. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terror."

In a blunt response on October 6, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said: "The President believes that these remarks are unacceptable. Israel could have no better or stronger friend that the United States and no better friend that President Bush."

Why Sharon's strongly worded declaration? What were the events that shaped the immediate context of Sharon's words?

Point one - Barely a month before Sharon's statement, President George W. Bush decided to abandon traditional diplomatic positions vis-…-vis Israel due to Saudi Arabian pressure. His decision was to unilaterally push for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Point two - what weighed heavily on Sharon was the post- 9/11 White House's determination to block Israel from participating in a coalition of nations fighting terror - even though Israel had been and still is one of the main targets of jihadi Islamist attack.

Point three - was a spate of Palestinian terror attacks that occurred that very week. On Tuesday October 2 two Palestinian terrorists attacked Elei Sinai, a Jewish farming community in the Gaza Strip, killing two and wounding fifteen.

Sharon saw the writing on the wall. America was brushing off Israel as an embarrassment. It was trying to curry Arab favour by giving Israel the cold shoulder. All this would involve a sea-change in diplomatic Middle East strategies.

The majority of Western leaders in October 2001 sought appeasement with the Arab world and were prepared to turn a cold shoulder to Israel (their democratic ally) as the price for avoiding increasing Middle Eastern conflict.

This was truly a modern-day expression of the Munich Agreement dynamic.

The recent address by Hassan Rouhani (President of the Islamic Republic of Iran) at the United Nations has raised the spectre of Munich-style appeasement once again.

The representative of a radical jihadi Shi'ite Islamist dictatorship - which has publicly declared (as did Hitler) its intention to annihilate the Jewish state - greeted the world body with smiles, talked about inaugurating direct flights between Teheran and JFK, and spoke of peaceful nuclear intentions.

European leaders fell over each other with unconcealed enthusiasm, suggesting that the UN authorise continuing nuclear development in Iran "for peaceful purposes" while Western leaders insisted that they needed to "give peace a chance"; perhaps Rouhani was representing a newer, gentler Iran.

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu also addressed the UN General Assembly a few days after Rouhani. At the conclusion of his address he emphasised a point that would have made Czechoslovakia and Ariel Sharon proud: "Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map."

"Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others"

One day after PM Netanyahu warned the U.N. General Assembly on October 1 that Iran is only months away from having the capability to build nuclear weapons, the U.N. member states elected Iran on October 2 to serve as the rapporteur of the U.N. First Committee on Disarmament and Internal Security.

This puts Iran in charge of officially reporting on of all the committee's proceedings and actions. This committee is chaired by Libya, while Iran currently serves as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, the largest bloc of nations at the U.N.

Iran's website crows that "the UN General Assembly members .... chose Iran to prove ineffectiveness of the row stirred up by the Zionist prime minister . The recent vote.is a clear indicative of the world community trust in Iran's efforts in the course of disarmament and a practical response to the groundless allegations of the spurious Zionist regime" (ed. sic.; http://english.irib.ir/analysis/commentaries/item/118203-iran-appointed-as-r).

An appeaser, in the words of Churchill, is one who feeds the crocodile while hoping it will eat him last.

SOURCE

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Chad Henderson Exposes The Media

Just another Leftist liar

There is no greater hatred than that born out of affection spurned and trust betrayed. Yesterday, the media loved Chad Henderson. Today, they hate him.

He, along with a handful of other individuals, were recently the subject of profiles in the press demonstrating both how navigable the exchange system is and how they are benefiting under the Affordable Care Act. It’s difficult to overstate how absurd the media coverage of Henderson’s reportedly successful effort to sign up to health care exchange has been.

Henderson’s story was particularly attractive. He was precisely what the media, and the White House, needed: a young, ostensibly healthy individual willing to pay a substantial portion of the meager income into the system so that it can support older, more chronically ill patients who will be partaking in health care services regularly.

In the media’s rush to make a star out of Henderson, they failed to vet him thoroughly. Most of the press missed the fact that Henderson is a current political activist and Organizing for America volunteer. Somewhat more egregiously, they also missed the fact that Henderson’s story was not true.

According to Henderson’s father, Bill Henderson, neither he nor his son have enrolled in any plan associated with the ACA. “As of yet, however, the pair had not picked a plan or completed enrollment,” reported Reason’s Peter Suderman. “ But he hoped they would shortly.”

Suderman goes on to note that the other details Henderson provided the press were “difficult to verify.”

"He told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he got his coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield. But the cheapest unsubsidized Bronze exchange plan at Blue Cross Blue Shield’s online Quick Quote system offers for a 21-year-old in Flintstone, Georgia is $225.09 a month.

Additionally, Chad could not have purchased a separate plan for his father from his own login to HealthCare.gov, the website for the federal exchanges. A customer assistance representative on HealthCare.gov’s LiveChat system told me that purchasing separate plans for a son and a father in Georgia would require two separate logins. Which means that Chad would have had to successfully create two different accounts, and complete enrollment twice, at a time when almost no one was able to get through on the system."

This is not say that Henderson is not still valuable to the press. On Thursday, his story provided Mediaite readers with entertainment after reading the comically absurd deluge of press interest he was exposed to for simply being able to complete the reportedly three hour process of signing up for a health care exchange. On Friday, Henderson provided the nation with another service: exposing the media’s interest in painting the ACA in a positive light regardless of the facts.

SOURCE

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

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

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4 October, 2013


Wow: Government Erecting Barricades Around WWII Memorial to Deny Vets Access -- for the second day running

Shutdown? What shutdown? No expense spared to shaft America's heroes!



In my item last evening, I noted that a group of World War II veterans pushed aside "government shutdown" barriers and visited the open-air war memorial on the National Mall. I chalked it up as an isolated act of ignoring one of the administration's heavy-handed "shutdown" ploys -- one that would be overlooked by the powers-that-be for obvious reasons. Wrong. America's Big Government overlords were apparently quite displeased that these war heroes were permitted to survey a public monument to their brothers in arms who paid the ultimate price in the fight against Imperial Japan and the Nazis. Parks workers were dispatched to erect additional fencing to prevent today's crop of 'Honor Flight' vets from accessing the memorial:

Amazingly, one of the park workers told reporters that she was specifically exempted from shutdown-induced furlough in order to guard the memorial against the scourge of octogenarian visitors. Surreal. As Carol wrote last night, this officious absurdity was explicitly orchestrated by the White House:

"The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi Republican told The Daily Caller Tuesday. Palazzo helped the veterans commit an act of civil disobedience against the Park Service Tuesday, when the heroes stormed through barricades around the closed memorial."

Indeed, sending staffers to block access to this location actually takes more effort, and costs more money, than
simply leaving it open:

"Remember, WWII memorial is regularly open when it is unstaffed. An astonishing act from Obama administration."

The White House has promised to veto House Republicans' bill that would re-open national parks, fully fund the VA, and restore the flow of money to DC's local government. The GOP is also weighing NIH funding, to neutralize this talking point. Will Democrats block that, too? So far, our president says he won't sign a bill designed to re-open this memorial, but he will release park service workers from their mandatory furlough status to go and inhibit senior citizens' access to said memorial. What lessons might Americans draw from this posture? Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) decries the whole situation as "cynical." Not the act of turning an unstaffed, open-air war memorial into a fortress, mind you -- the attempt to re-open it:

UPDATE - Just like yesterday, the veterans -- and throngs of applauding supporters -- defied the government and entered the memorial:

SOURCE

NOTE: "A group of honor veterans from Iowa said that their congressman - Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) - assisted in removing the barricades, telling MRCTV's Dan Joseph they thought King's actions were "wonderful."

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National Park Service Closes Only Private National Park in the Country

Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a living history, family-friendly site that, according to 1771.org, “authentically portrays the life of an 18th Century American family building a life on the nearer edges of civilized society.” It is also the only National Park in the country run by a non-profit organization. Yet, even this privately funded space, which has not received a penny from the Federal government since 1980, was not safe from Monday's shutdown.

Anna Eberly, the Managing Director of Claude Moore Colonial Farm, told supporters via email today what she thought about the closure,

"For the first time in 40 years, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally succeeded in closing the Farm down to the public. In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm. We weren't even informed of this until mid-day Monday in spite of their managers having our email addresses and cell numbers.

The first casualty of this arbitrary action was the McLean Chamber of Commerce who were having a large annual event at the Pavilions on Tuesday evening. The NPS sent the Park Police over to remove the Pavilions staff and Chamber volunteers from the property while they were trying to set up for their event. Fortunately, the Chamber has friends and they were able to move to another location and salvage what was left of their party. You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don't have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money."

In The Washington Post, NPS spokeswoman Carol Bradley Johnson claimed the agency is concerned about the security of the memorials and the safety of visitors at unstaffed sites. "It is not something we enjoy doing," Johnson said. "But it's important that we protect and preserve our monuments for future generations."

Eberly’s response?

"What utter crap. We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.

… In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for 6 years in Richmond where I grew up, then as an NPS employee at the for 8 very long years and now enjoyably as managing director for the last 32 years - I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS."

Eberly goes on to say that the NPS has denied each appeal they’ve made to reopen the farm, making her wonder if it’s really all about control.

I can’t help but wonder the same thing. Does the government really feel threatened by a farm that allows parents and children to experience the “struggle that balances the hopes, harrows and hard work of a colonial family with the dynamic character and rich diversity of the surrounding community?”

Perhaps the NPS is uncomfortable with the farm’s independence, which has allowed the latter to excel despite the federal government halting its funding over 30 years ago. The recent closure perhaps just confirms how much of a nuisance the park is to the NPS -- and that’s not a bad thing.

Families may have to find “dynamic character” and “rich diversity” elsewhere for a few weeks, but the Claude Moore Colonial Farm’s bold, independent spirit suggests they won’t be grounded for long.

SOURCE

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You've got a history of fraud and corruption? Welcome to a job with Obamacare!

Welcome to ObamaWreck! Americans nationwide spent Tuesday struggling with the much-hyped "Affordable Care Act" health insurance exchanges. Server meltdowns, error messages and security glitches plagued the federal and state government websites as open enrollment began. But when taxpayers discover exactly who will be navigating them through the bureaucratic maze, they may be glad they didn't get through.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius controls a $54 million slush fund to hire thousands of "navigators," "in-person assisters" and counselors, who are now propagandizing and recruiting Obamacare recipients into the government-run exchanges. As I warned in May, the Nanny State navigator corps is a serious threat to Americans' privacy. Background checks and training requirements are minimal to nonexistent. A history of fraud is no barrier to entry.

Case in point: the seedy nonprofit Seedco. This community-organizing group snagged lucrative multimillion-dollar navigator contracts in Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and New York. The New York Post reports this week that the outfit "is partnering with dozens of agencies, such as the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Food Bank for New York City and the Chinese American Planning Council, in each of (the Big Apple's) five boroughs." They'll have access to potential enrollees' income levels, birthdates, addresses, eligibility for government assistance, Social Security numbers and intensely personal medical information.

Given the enormous responsibility to handle sensitive data in a careful, neutral manner, combined with the overwhelming pressure to boost Obamacare enrollments, you'd think the feds would only choose navigators with the most impeccable records. Yet, less than a year ago, Seedco agreed to settle a civil fraud lawsuit "for faking at least 1,400 of 6,500 job placements under a $22.2 million federally funded contract with the city."

Seedco's corrupt behavior went far beyond defrauding taxpayers through abuse of New York City programs, federal Labor Department funding and federal stimulus dollars. Seedco (which stands for "Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation") tried to destroy and defame whistleblowing official Bill Harper, who discovered and reported the rampant falsification of data.

First, Seedco denied the charges; next, they trashed Harper's reputation in the pages of The New York Times. Only after the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan brought suit did the organization acknowledge systemic, repeated wrongdoing. Seedco forked over a $1.7 million settlement in December 2012. Mere months later, they were racking up federal Obamacare navigator work.

The feds and Seedco assure us that new management is in place. They rearranged some deck chairs, created a new "compliance program" and hired an independent reviewer. But an ethos of by-any-means-necessary book-cooking and a culture of intimidating whistleblowers don't disappear overnight. Seedco shredded documents for three years to phony up their job placement statistics; city government overseers knew about it. The Nonprofit Quarterly noted that Seedco's fraud was "kind of breathtaking" in its "creativity and illegal audacity," including:

--"Taking credit for a job candidate's prior employment as job placements;

--Reporting job placements when the job candidates remained unemployed;

--Falsifying dates of job placements;

--Using other Seedco programs to collect information on clients in order to falsely report job placements; and

--Reporting job placements for people who were not Seedco clients and had not been placed in their jobs by Seedco."

The feds detailed how Seedco managers would instruct clerical workers to troll Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com for resumes and then "report the employment of individuals sourced from those downloaded resumes as job placements." Other employees exploited their relationships with businesses to "gather information from the businesses' current employees. Seedco then used that information to falsely report that employment as a job placement obtained for the candidate by Seedco, although the individuals had no prior relationship with Seedco and had not been recruited into the job by Seedco."

This entire government-nonprofit alliance rests on dragooning as many people as possible into government programs, including food stamps, CHIP (the federal Children's Health Insurance Program) and now Obamacare. One of Seedco's officials actually said the fraud case "made us a stronger organization." Yes, they actually sold their deliberate number-fudging as an asset instead of a liability. And four states swallowed the pitch whole. The spirit of fraud-stained ACORN and its Nanny State progeny lives.

So, buyers, beware: Obamacare security "glitches" are not just a bug. They're a feature.

SOURCE

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What if We Had a Government Shutdown and Nobody Noticed or Cared?

Daniel J. Mitchell



What’s the likely outcome of the government shutdown fight?

Well, in my libertarian fantasy world, we leave it closed. Or at least we never bother to reopen counterproductive bureaucracies such as the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, etc, etc.

In my realistic/optimistic world, the federal Leviathan remains, but we get some sort of delay for parts of Obamacare.

In my realistic/pessimistic world, the media and the left work together to not only protect Obamacare, but they also get additional spending to circumvent the sequester.

For what it’s worth, I think the final outcome will be somewhere between optimism and pessimism. The government will be funded, including Obamacare, but at lest we protect the sequestration, which was the biggest victory for taxpayers this century.

I’d like to be more hopeful, but Republicans are probably too divided to prevail in this battle. Which is a shame, because when they had more unity during the 1995 shutdown fight, they won a very important victory. Here’s what I wrote about that battle.

"…they succeeded in dramatically reducing the growth of federal spending. They did not get everything they wanted, to be sure, but government spending grew by just 2.9 percent during the first four years of GOP control, helping to turn a $164 billion deficit in 1995 into a $126 billion surplus in 1999. And they enacted a big tax cut in 1997."

So let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best. But we’re relying on politicians, so prepare for the worst.

SOURCE

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

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

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3 October, 2013


Netanyahu: Israel won't let Iran get nuclear arms

I have just been listening to a mighty statement of faith, the great Welsh Hymn "Cwm Rhondda" which is about a pilgrimage to Israel. How can Christians not have a devotion to Israel in their hearts? The Bible is an Israeli book. You can find a famous rendition of the hymn here -- JR

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played the spoiler Tuesday to Iran's attempts to ease relations with the West, calling the Iranian leader "a wolf in sheep's clothing" and declaring that Israel will do whatever it takes to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it has to stand alone.

Speaking to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu gave a point-by-point rebuttal of President Hassan Rouhani's speech last week signaling a willingness to discuss Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Accusing Rouhani of a "charm offensive" aimed at getting the West to lift crippling sanctions, Netanyahu portrayed him as "a loyal servant of the regime" who has done nothing to stop his country's nuclear program since he took office in June.

Rouhani, he added, must have known about terrorist attacks carried out by Iranian agents in Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Berlin in the 1990s because he was national security adviser at the time.

Israel's hope for the future is challenged "by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction," the Israeli leader said.

A year ago at the General Assembly, Netanyahu held up a drawing of a spherical bomb with a sputtering fuse, then pulled out a red marker and drew a line across what he said was the threshold Iran was fast approaching and which Israel would not tolerate — 90 percent of the uranium enrichment needed to make an atomic bomb.

"Iran has been very careful not to cross that line," Netanyahu said Tuesday. "But Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing."

"I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don't because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran's savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani's soothing rhetoric."

He pointed to Iran's continuing enrichment of uranium to a 20-percent level, its addition of thousands of new centrifuges and its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles "whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads" that the U.S. says will be capable of reaching New York in three or four years.

"Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map," Netanyahu declared. "I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone."

After his address, Netanyahu, like Rouhani, received warm applause but Iran's seat in the assembly chamber was empty, as it continued its longstanding boycott of Israeli speeches.

Iran exercised its right of reply later, with Khodadad Seifi, a deputy ambassador to Iran's U.N. mission, accusing Netanyahu of "saber rattling" and warning that he should "avoid miscalculation."

"Iran's centuries-old policy of non-aggression must not be interpreted as its inability to defend itself," Seifi said. "The Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran, let alone planning for that."

He reiterated Iran's readiness to engage in "meaningful, time-bound and result-oriented negotiations" and "to ensure that its nuclear program will continue to remain exclusively peaceful."

Earlier, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Netanyahu's nature was "to lie."

"Over the past 22 years ... Israel has been saying Iran will have nuclear arms in six months," said Zarif, speaking in New York in an interview broadcast on Iranian state TV. "The continuation of this game, in fact, is based on lying, deception, incitement and harassment."

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said Netanyahu's skepticism about Iran and its intentions is "entirely justifiable" because until recently Iran's leadership "was pledging to annihilate Israel."

The U.S. shares Israel's goal of keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Carney said. He stressed that President Barack Obama will be "very firm" on demanding verifiable, transparent action to ensure that Iran has given up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Netanyahu warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would have a choke-hold on the world's main energy supplies.

"It would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger," the Israeli leader said.

Netanyahu said the greater the pressure, the greater the chance for diplomacy to succeed. The only diplomatic solution, he said, is one that requires Iran to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program and prevents it from starting one in the future.

This would require a halt to all uranium enrichment, removing uranium stockpiles from Iran, dismantling the infrastructure for "nuclear breakout capability" — reaching the point where the country can make a quick dash to a nuclear weapon.

He also said it would require stopping all work at a heavy water reactor aimed at producing plutonium, which like uranium can be used to produce nuclear weapons, he said.

At the U.N. last week, Rouhani presented a more moderate face of the hard-line clerical regime in Tehran.

He agreed to the first nuclear talks with six world powers since April at a meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the General Assembly, where Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met privately. On Friday, Rouhani and Obama spoke on the phone for 15 minutes, the highest-level contact between the two countries in 34 years.

But Netanyahu said Rouhani's goal was the same as his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community," Netanyahu said.

All Iranian presidents serve the same "unforgiving regime" where the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a dictator and the real power, Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu asserted that Rouhani must have known about the murder of 85 people in a terror attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1992, as well as the killing of 19 American soldiers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 and the slaying of Iranian opposition leaders in Berlin in 1992 because he was head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council from 1989-2003.

The U.S. has also accused Iran of sponsoring acts of terrorism around the world throughout the 1990s, blaming Iran and its proxy Hezbollah for a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people, as well as the community center attack two years later. Some analysts linked Iran's Quds Force to helping direct the 1996 bombings of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American military personnel.

Netanyahu said Rouhani condemned the "violent scourge" of terrorism. "Yet in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 countries on five continents," he charged, without providing any evidence.

He also accused Iran of lamenting the human tragedy in Syria, while at the same time directly participating in President Bashar Assad's murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. He said Iran is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.

He said Rouhani denounced attempts to change the regional balance in the Middle East through proxies. "Yet Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and many other Middle Eastern countries," Netanyahu said.

He cited an attempt by Iranian agents to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States in Washington two years ago, and the arrest of an Iranian agent three weeks ago trying to collect information "for possible attacks against the American Embassy in Tel Aviv."

Israel's Shin Bet security agency says Iran recruited the Belgian-Iranian national Ali Mansouri last year and sent him to Israel to spy. He was arrested on Sept. 11 at Israel's international airport.

SOURCE

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The Beltway Lies of the Obamacare War

Twice in the last week House Republicans have voted unanimously to fund the U.S. government. If national polls are to be believed, those House Republicans are doing exactly what America wants. A majority of Americans oppose a government shutdown. And a majority oppose Obamacare.

Who, then, is preventing the government from being funded? Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Neither will accept any continuing resolution that does not contain Obamacare. Both will shut down this city rather than accept any such CR. It is Harry and Barry who are saying: If we don't get full funding of Obamacare now, we shutdown Washington until the House delivers.

The battle, then, is over this question: Will the next great liberal entitlement program, Obamacare, with its manifest failings and flaws, be imposed upon the nation -- against its will?

The House says no. The Beltway says yes.

Few disagree that, in any national plebiscite, Obamacare would be buried in a landslide. Few disagree that if Obamacare were put to a vote of the Congress today, it would fail in both houses.

Why, then, is it radical for the House to use its power of the purse to defund a program America does not want?

Why is it statesmanship for Obama to say he will shut down the entire government if any resolution to keep it running contains even the slightest tweak to his cherished program?

What these questions suggest is that this is at root a political and ideological war, and the Beltway has assembled its usual bodyguard of lies and liars to conceal that truth.

Consider this keening from the Washington Post yesterday about the terrible consequences of a government shutdown:

"[W]e would hope that Mr. Boehner would have compassion for thousands of moderately paid breadwinners who would find themselves in very difficult circumstances. We would hope he would be troubled by how a shutdown would disrupt research at the National Institute of Health and safety inspections at the Food and Drug Administration."

About this lugubrious passage, several questions:

Since Reid and Obama have both said they will block any CR that does not contain Obamacare in its pristine form, why are they not charged with some responsibility for a shutdown?

Answer: The Post is not interested in conveying the truth about this conflict, because in this battle it is as much a political ally of Obama as Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But it is a more effective ally, since some still presume it is being truthful and objective.

Assume that today John Boehner came out and said at a press conference: "I have taken note of the Post's concerns about an interruption of service at NIH and the FDA. I share those concerns. Therefore, at my direction, the House will vote this afternoon to fully fund both agencies."

Anyone think the Washington Post would celebrate Boehner's compassion and statesmanship the next morning?

Of course not. All this weeping and gnashing of teeth about the terrible consequences of a government shutdown is designed to whip up political animosity, direct it at House Republicans, and break John Boehner. Failing that, it is to foist upon the House Republicans full responsibility for a shutdown that the House has voted twice to avoid.

What this battle confirms is that, on major national issues that pit social and populist conservatives against Big Government liberals, the Beltway press corps invariably acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee.

More problematic, there is a slice of the Beltway right -- the contributions bundlers and kennel-fed conservatives, the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, the George McClellans -- that prefers prancing, parading and posturing to the actual fighting.

With them the excuses are always the same. We can't win. We have been beaten on this terrain before. The press will kill us. The White House has a microphone we can't match. We will only hurt ourselves in the polls and throw away our great opportunity in the coming election. Besides, our corporate contributors don't want this fight.

Some "conservatives" even cynically suggest that the GOP let Obamacare take effect, as it will prove such a disaster there will be a backlash against it in 2014 -- and from that we can benefit.

With Reid's refusal to accept the House CR with the one-year suspension of Obamacare, a shutdown seems certain.

Every Republican should be out front, on TV, radio and in print this week with a simple message:

"We have twice voted to fund every agency and program of the U.S. government (save Obamacare) in a single CR. We will proceed now to pass CRs for each department and agency of the U.S. government, separately and individually.

"And if Harry Reid's Senate refuses to pass a single one of those CRs, who then is shutting down NIH and the FDA?"

SOURCE

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

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

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2 October, 2013


Government Ignoromics Harms Workers

California governor Jerry Brown has approved legislation that hikes the current minimum wage of $8.00 an hour to $10.00 an hour by 2016. Supporters of the legislation say this “moral imperative” will help workers and their families but it’s more likely to harm them.

As Thomas Sowell notes, 90 percent of American economists find that minimum wage laws increase the rate of unemployment among low-skilled workers. Such laws do that by pricing low-skilled inexperienced workers out of a job. That is the likely result of the hike, according to the California Restaurant Association, and the California Chamber of Commerce called the measure a “job killer.” Sowell recalls that killing jobs is sometimes the intention of those promoting minimum wage laws.

For example, the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, the first federal minimum wage law, targeted companies using non-union black workers who were able to outbid white union members. In South Africa under apartheid, “white labor unions urged that a minimum wage law be applied to all races, to keep black workers from taking jobs away from white unionized workers by working for less than the union pay scale.” In similar style Australia’s early minimum wage law targeted the Chinese.

Politicians now believe that those working in, say, fast-food jobs should stay there for life. As politicians see it, if hiking the minimum wage increases unemployment, that can only be due to malevolent business interests. Whatever the result, hiking the minimum wage allows politicians to indulge the illusion that their actions help workers prosper, not the workers’ own productivity, experience, and efforts toward self-improvement. A business-friendly environment is also important. If minimum wage hikes were the key factor, why not raise the wage to $100 an hour for everyone? And don’t forget free hors d’oeuvres in every bar.

Alas, the world does not work that way and command economies have a record of failure. Politicians should know that too but they prefer their own brand of ignoromics over reality. One notes that their own budgetary efforts are not very businesslike, that they run up fathomless debt, and that they prefer double standards. In their own precincts politicians are fond of paying salaries much higher than in the private sector, and with much better benefits that embattled taxpayers can expect. The ruling class takes care of its own in fine style.

SOURCE

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Destroying Household Jobs

Thomas Sowell

Despite evidence from around the world that minimum wage laws can price low-skilled workers out of jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor is planning to extend minimum wage coverage to domestic workers, such as maids or those who drop in from time to time to do a few household chores for the sick and the elderly.

This coverage is scheduled to begin in January 2015 -- that is, after the 2014 elections and nearly two years before the 2016 elections. Politicians show a lot of cleverness in protecting their own interests, even if they show very little wisdom as far as serving the public interest.

If making household workers subject to the minimum wage law is expected to produce good results, why not let those good results begin early, so that voters will know about them before the next election?

But, if this new extension of the minimum wage law opens a whole new can of worms -- as is more likely -- politicians who support this extension want to insulate themselves from a voter backlash. Hence artfully choosing January 2015 as the effective date, to minimize the political risks to themselves.

The reason this particular extension of the minimum wage law is likely to open a can of worms is that both household workers and those who employ them will face more complications than employers and employees in industry or commerce.

First of all, ill or elderly individuals who need someone to help them from time to time are not like employers who have a business that regularly hires people and may have a personnel department to handle all the paperwork and keep up with all the legal requirements when government bureaucrats are involved.

Often the very reason for hiring part-time household workers is that some ill or elderly individuals have limited energy or capacity for handling things that were easy to handle when they were younger or in better health. Bureaucratic paperwork and legal technicalities are the last thing they need to have to add to their existing problems.

The people being hired to do household chores also have special problems. Often such people have limited education, and may also have limited knowledge of the English language.

Why make it harder for ill or elderly people to get some much-needed help in their homes, and harder for low-skilled people to get some much-needed jobs?

Despite all the talk about how we need more people with high-tech skills, there is also a need for people who can help clean a home or carry groceries or do other things that need doing, and which do not require years of schooling. As the elderly become an ever growing proportion of the population, there will be a growing demand for such people.

More precisely, there would be more jobs for such people if the government did not step in to complicate the hiring process and price potential workers out of jobs, with minimum wages set by third parties who do not, and cannot, know what the economic realities are for either the ill and the elderly or for those whom the ill and the elderly wish to hire.

Minimum wage laws in general are usually set with no real knowledge of the economic realities and alternatives for either employers or employees. Third parties are simply enabled to indulge themselves by imagining what is "fair" -- and pay no price for being wrong about the actual economic consequences.

That is why countries with minimum wage laws usually have much higher rates of unemployment than those few places where there have been no minimum wage laws, such as Switzerland or Singapore -- or the United States, before the first federal minimum wage law was passed in 1931.

Government interventions in labor markets have already created needless complications, and not just by minimum wage laws. The welfare state has already taken out of the labor market millions of people who could perform work that would be well within the capacity of inexperienced young people or people with limited education.

With welfare, such people can stay home, watch television, do drugs or whatever -- or else they can hang out in the streets, often confirming the old adage that the devil finds work for idle hands.

SOURCE

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The Late, Great Middle Class

Obama promised to restore the middle class. In truth, he has enacted the very policies that have done it the most damage in years. That paradox may explain why his base of support remains the very rich and the very poor. Goldman Sachs, federal bureaucrats and aid recipients are helped in a way that the strapped hardware store owner, Starbucks barista and part-time welder are not.

For all the talk of infrastructure or stimulus, the latest $6 trillion in federal borrowing seems to have been wasted on bailing out insider banks and green companies, growing the federal workforce, regulating the private sector into stasis, and subsidizing those who are not working.

The Federal Reserve still keeps interest rates at near zero. That mostly helps Wall Street, where money flows madly in search of any sort of return.

Most real interest rates for consumer purchases somehow remain exorbitant. Banks obtain their money cheaply and lend it out expensively. No wonder that so many Wall Street and banking executives -- Timothy Geithner, Jack Lew, Peter Orszag, Gene Sperling, Larry Summers -- revolve in and out of the highest levels of this "no revolving door" administration.

Middle-class workers see little chance of retiring when their meager savings earn almost no interest, so they are apt to stay on the job longer. In circular fashion, their continuance only makes unemployment rates for young entry-level workers even worse.

Obama always threatened higher taxes on the well-off. He achieved that goal with a new 39.6 percent federal rate on upper incomes -- well apart from state and payroll taxes. Yet such steep taxes do not much affect the super-rich. Their income is often exempted through sophisticated tax-avoidance or, more often, earned through less taxed capital gains.

Small employers in many states have no such recourse and now pay more than half their incomes in assorted federal, state and local taxes. Naturally, they are hiring fewer people and making fewer capital investments.

That greater tax hit might have been worth it had the new rates been part of a balanced-budget agreement like the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich deal of 1997 that froze spending levels and for a time stopped our ruinous borrowing.

Not this time. We end up with the worst of all worlds: once again a 39 percent top tax rate, but now with out-of-control federal spending and more multibillion-dollar budget deficits.

By virtually shutting down gas and oil leases on federal lands, the administration has declined the chance to create millions of new energy jobs and to lower fuel prices. For now, cheaper power bills and gasoline prices, and the creation of more jobs in energy, depend entirely on those who drill on private lands -- despite, not because, of federal efforts.

Even the many sires of Obamacare now deny their past parentage. Unions want out of it. Congress demands exclusion from it. Well-connected businesses won exemption from it.

The poor who mostly do not pay federal income taxes will get a largely free, bureaucratized federal health-care system. Many of the rich praise Obamacare but will quietly use their own money to avoid it. The middle class will see their premiums soar and the quality of their coverage erode.

These are surreal times. Wealthy elites who help to shut down jobs in energy, timber and mining are deemed liberal -- but not always so the middle classes, who suffer the consequences in lost jobs and higher prices.

Universities voice progressive bromides, but they care mostly for the tenured and the technocrat, not the part-timer and the indebted student. Despite soaring tuition, campus is now the haunt of the very wealthy who can afford exorbitant tuition and the very poor who are often exempted from it. The less romantic middle class goes $1 trillion into debt for their high-interest student loans.

Never has it been so good to be invested in a vastly expanding federal government -- either to distribute or receive federal subsidies. Never has it been so lucrative to work in banking or on Wall Street. And never has it been so bad to try to find a decent job making something real.

To paraphrase the Roman historian Tacitus, where we have made a desert of the middle class, we call it a recovery.

SOURCE

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$9 Gas and $3800 Gold coming?

Although the analysis below is from a gold bug, it is conventional economics. The only real question is WHEN the greenback will drastically lose its purchasing power. China is buying everything it can worldwide while their big store of greenbacks will buy something

Now that the Fed has announced they will not taper their enormous stimulus program, it's more obvious than ever that a few powerful men have hijacked our economic, financial and political structure. And here's a news flash: They aren’t socialists or capitalists. They’re criminals. The Fed's decision to continue buying $85 billion worth of toxic banking assets and U.S. debt per month means the money-printing factory has just gone into high gear. Not only can you say goodbye to your paper-based savings and retirement, but the Fed just guaranteed $9 gas and $3800 gold.

Every month in 2013, the Fed has been increasing its balance sheet by $85 billion, consisting of $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion in 10-30 year treasuries. The Fed is on pace to monetize roughly half of the US budget deficit in 2013. Putting it all together, the Fed's balance sheet will increase to $4 trillion on December 25, 2013. A total increase of $1.17 trillion in one year!

The Fed has been promising to taper their stimulus program pending the improvement of the labor market. But as the labor market continues to stagnate, now the Fed has reversed course and announced that they will continue their reckless stimulus program (a.k.a "money printing") for the foreseeable future.

They call it “Quantitative Easing," or QE. The reason QE is like the gift that keeps on giving for a holder of gold is because it blatantly debases the U.S. dollar. Allow me to illustrate:

Round one (QE1) started November 25, 2008 and ended March 31, 2010. During that 17-month period, a gallon of gas rose from $1.75 to $2.75 and gold rose from $725/oz. to $1125/oz.

QE2 was started Nov 3, 2010 and lasted seven months until June 30, 2011. During the seven months of QE2, gas prices rose from $2.80 to $3.60 and gold from $1325 to $1700. QE2 was also marked by massive global food inflation and global riots. QE2 ended June 30, and we have had no further ‘major’ balance sheet expansion until mid-September 2012.

In the last few weeks leading up to QE3 and the week after, gold rose 15%. During the summer of 2013, when the Fed starting backing off their "tapering" talk, gold rose a staggering 13% in a matter of months. The proof is in the numbers.

This policy is complete insanity. By 2018 when the debt peaks, gas will be over $9 per gallon! These same factors put gold at $3800 by 2018! It debases the U.S. dollar significantly at a time when we need fiscal responsibility more than ever.

More HERE

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

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

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1 October, 2013


The kneejerk reflex of the liberal mind



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O'Bagy Shows The Road to Success: Lie for Obama, Kerry, and McCain on Syria

Barry Rubin

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
--T.S. Eliot

For one who has made a career as an international political analyst this is the equivalent to the end of the world.
Elizabeth O’Bagy was a Georgetown University graduate student. She wrote an article for Atlantic Monthly saying that most Syrian rebels are radical Islamists.

Of course. Everyone knows that, even the Syrian rebels.

But then O’Bagy got two new jobs. One was for a consulting firm that promoted the Syrian rebels-- Institute for the Study of War--who did not want to be thought of as radical Islamists since it would hurt their chances of getting U.S aid. hich gets U,S. State Department dollars from an Obama Administration which wanted to give the money so they paid only if they were portrayed as moderates.

The other was at a advocacy group, the Syrian Emergency Task Force. By the way, the group is run by someone who also supports Hamas. Might it be a Muslim Brotherhood front?

This is a conflict of interest. But wait. There’s more. She then wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that said the Syrian rebels are moderates.

The Wall Street Journal knew about the conflict of interest but said nothing. Why? Because they supported the Syrian rebels.

Now O’Bagy is all over the television news. Truth isn’t important it is simply what policy people support. And then she is taking Senator McCain on a visit to Syrian rebels, organized by a man who supports Hamas with two al-Qaida participants attending.

Then Secretary of State John Kerry says he depends on O’Bagy’s lying and corrupt statements. Well, after all he paid for them!

But a small group of people with memories expose the lies. By the way, while O’Bagy has presented herself as a PhD, she wasn’t even accepted for the PhD program! So because she is exposed as a liar, she is fired. But what about the lies she told? Nothing.

What about the State Department taking advice from a Hamas supporter? Nothing.

What about U.S. policy being based on the lie that Syrian rebels are moderate? Nothing.

What about U.S. policy being made by Kerry and McCain without confronting the lie? Nothing.

What’s the new act in the saga of O’Bagy?

Not does anyone pay any price. On the contrary, she is rewarded for being a serial liar and a friend of the Muslim Brotherhood (at your taxpayer expense) by being hired in McCain’s office. The senator says she is a good researcher.

When the history of this era is written—maybe by crayon—this saga will be the perfect example to use.

SOURCE

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More Great News About Obamacare: provisions will allow ‘forced’ home inspections by gov’t agents

Citing the Heath and Human Services website, a report posted Wednesday at the Freedom Outpost says that under Obamacare, government agents can engage in “home health visits” for those in certain “high-risk” categories.

Those categories include:

* Families where mom is not yet 21;
* Families where someone is a tobacco user;
* Families where children have low student achievement, developmental delays, or disabilities, and
* Families with individuals who are serving or formerly served in the armed forces, including such families that have members of the armed forces who have had multiple deployments outside the United States.

According to HHS, the visits fall under what is called the “Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program” allegedly designed to “help parents and children,” and could impact millions of Americans.

Constitutional attorney and author Kent Masterson Brown said that despite what HHS says, the program is not “voluntary.”

“The eligible entity receiving the grant for performing the home visits is to identify the individuals to be visited and intervene so as to meet the improvement benchmarks,” he said. “A homeschooling family, for instance, may be subject to ‘intervention’ in ‘school readiness’ and ‘social-emotional developmental indicators.’ A farm family may be subject to ‘intervention’ in order to ‘prevent child injuries.’ The sky is the limit.”

Joshua Cook said that while the administration would claim the program only applies to those on Medicaid, the new law, by its own definition, has no such limitation.

“Intervention,” he added, quoting Brown, “may be with any family for any reason. It may also result in the child or children being required to go to certain schools or taking certain medications and vaccines and even having more limited – or no – interaction with parents. The federal government will now set the standards for raising children and will enforce them by home visits.”

According to Cook, the program will require collection of a massive amount of private information including all sources of income and the amount gathered from each source.

One of the areas of emphasis mentioned by HHS is the “development of comprehensive early childhood systems that span the prenatal-through-age-eight continuum.”

Last session, Cook added, South Carolina State Rep. Bill Chumley introduced a measure that would make the forced home visitations illegal in his state. The measure passed in the House but died in the Senate.

SOURCE

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The Terrible Ten: A Century of Economic Folly

New Independent Institute book charts nation’s worst economic blunders – and how to avoid them in future

2013 is the 100th anniversary of the income tax and the Federal Reserve Act but American taxpayers should not be celebrating, according to The Terrible 10: A Century of Economic Folly, a new book from the Independent Institute.

“American taxpayers are victims of a century of disastrous government policies that cost trillions of dollars in wasted resources, created mass unemployment, and kept millions of people in poverty who otherwise would have participated in the nation’s growing prosperity,” said author Burton A. Abrams, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Director of the Institute's Government Cost Calculator (MyGovCost.org), and Professor of Economics at the University of Delaware.

* The Terrible 10 charts the blunders chronologically, beginning with Prohibition, “a massive, precedent-setting governmental intervention in personal freedom,” that wasted resources, aided criminals and corrupted public officials and ordinary citizens alike.

* Joining this “miserable failure” was monetary policy during the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve was created to prevent the widespread runs on banks that plagued the U.S. economy. But the biggest banking panic in U.S. history was in the making, and “the Fed’s failure to act decisively was one of the most costly economic policy errors in the past 100 years.”

* The Republican-sponsored Hawley-Smoot Act, signed over the objections of more than 1,000 economists, touched off a trade war and helped set the stage for World War II. President Ronald Reagan called Hawley-Smoot “the most destructive trade bill in history.”

* The Terrible 10 portrays Social Security as “the second largest Ponzi-type scheme sponsored by the U.S. government,” a “non-transparent welfare program that redistributes enormous amounts of wealth, often in ways that most Americans would find undesirable.”

* The income tax has become “excessively complicated, non-transparent, and costly” and “hides more than a trillion dollars in hidden subsidies that distort economic decision-making and produce economic waste.”

* According to The Terrible 10, Medicare is “the single worst Ponzi-type scheme in the government’s arsenal” and “$20 trillion to $30 trillion dollars in the red and in far worse shape than Social Security.”

* Abrams shows how Republican president Richard Nixon pressured Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns to overheat the U.S. economy prior to Nixon’s reelection bid. This launched the Nixon-Burns Political Business Cycle, “a decade of inflation that required three recessions to extinguish.”

* Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency and now, says Abrams, “Wasteful environmental regulations are the rule, not the exception, and usually they benefit special-interest groups while harming society at large.”

* Paternalistic policies by Democrats and Republicans fostered the Great Real Estate Bubble, followed by Government Failure and the Great Recession. “The economic damage to the young and less fortunate added another cruel dimension to the economic catastrophe.”

* Abrams notes the rapid and unprecedented peacetime run-up in the nation’s public debt that threatens to sink the economy. So irresponsible deficit spending, is a major part of the problem. But the author also provides key lessons to help the nation avoid repeating such policy mistakes in the future.

“Government decision-makers, regardless of political party, tend to favor short-run benefits for friends while imposing costs on current and later generations,” said Abrams. If national leaders want to steer a course toward prosperity and economic growth for the next 100 years, they need to avoid these destructive tactics:

(1) caving in to special-interest groups; (2) treating adult citizens like the government’s children; (3) allowing electoral majorities to take advantage of the rest of society; (4) obsessing about the short run – what Abrams calls immediosis; (5) choosing to stay ignorant about the deeper ramifications of government policies; and (6) rationalizing bad policies on the grounds of their “plausible acceptability.

SOURCE

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The Dodgy New HHS Report on Obamacare Premiums

How much will insurance plans cost on Obamacare’s exchanges? This has been a big, and contentious, question since before the law was passed. Late last night, we got some new information: the Department of Health and Human Services released selected details on plan prices for insurance premiums in the federally run exchanges that will operate in the majority of states.

Administration officials are spinning the new numbers as good news for Obamacare. “The prices are affordable,” Gary Cohen, a top HHS official, told The Wall Street Journal. The White House is happily declaring that the premiums are “lower than expected.” And multiple news reports on the numbers are following suit, running headlines on the “lower than expected” premiums coming under Obamacare.

But “lower than expected” is, of course, not the same as lower than they are currently. That’s not the comparison the administration wants to make. "Because of the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance that people will be buying will actually cover them in the case of them getting sick. It doesn't make sense to compare just the number the person was paying, you have to compare the value people are getting," HHS official Cohen told the Journal. Accordingly, there are no comparisons in the report to current premiums. All that lower than expected really means, then, is that premiums won’t go up as much as the Congressional Budget Office initially estimated.

It's also worth noting that the HHS report isn’t comprehensive. It focuses on two thin slices of the insurance market—lowest cost premiums for 27-year-olds who make $25,000 annually, and four-member families with $50,000 incomes. As Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute writes at Forbes, it’s a safe bet these two slices weren’t picked accidentally; most likely they represent demographics best served by the law.

What about everyone else? As a Politico piece on the release notes, “the report doesn’t actually reveal very much about what most people will pay.” Instead, it “gives lots of examples of the kinds of people who will get good prices — but everyone else will remain in the dark until at least next Tuesday, when Obamacare is supposed to open its doors.”

Nor did the administration want reporters digging too much into the data before writing stories today. “The report was issued to news organizations on Tuesday under a strict embargo, with specific instructions not to share the information with anyone else, like outside health insurance experts who might be able to provide more analysis of the numbers," Politico reports.

The report leaked out anyway, but the embargo guidelines suggest that HHS was wary of early scrutiny of the numbers. And along with the selective reporting, it does make one wonder whether HHS is anxious about premium levels when enrollment begins next week. If a comprehensive report on premiums could stand up to outside scrutiny, wouldn’t HHS be putting out a fuller picture, and courting outside analysis?

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


MYTH BUSTING:


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)

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.



R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.



IN BRIEF:

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU

"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."



The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"


Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean


It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out



JEWS AND ISRAEL

The Bible is an Israeli book

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


ABOUT

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation


My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"




Index page for this site


DETAILS OF REGULARLY UPDATED BLOGS BY JOHN RAY:

"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


BLOGS OCCASIONALLY UPDATED:

"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Recipes"
"Some memoirs"
"Paralipomena"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


BLOGS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED

"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
OF INTEREST (2)
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues


There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)



Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)



Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/42197/20121106-1520/jonjayray.comuv.com/