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30 September, 2011

'Centrists' Are Abandoning Ship

Jonah Goldberg

President Obama's failure to fully achieve the liberal agenda and remain popular in the process is fueling dangerous radicalization in the oddest of places: the media establishment, which considers itself the guardian of the political center.

I should say "the so-called center," because one of those most tedious -- yet meticulously maintained -- fictions is the claim that the establishment is, in fact, "centrist."

If you've ever met these people and talked to them about how they see the world, heard them give a college commencement address, read their books or endeavored to find out the political views of their spouses, you'd have all the evidence you need to learn that the establishment's centrist facade is so much Potemkin poster board.

For example, remember the media obsession with the cockeyed fantasy that Obama was the next FDR? Go back and watch some of those late-2008 and early-2009 episodes of "Meet the Press." The guests were so giddy about the prospect they looked like 6-year-olds at a birthday party ordered to sit still while the clown got ready to make balloon animals.

But Obama is no FDR, nor a Lincoln, nor a liberal Reagan. At this point he's simply hoping to not be a Carter. And that's fomented establishment despair. Tina Brown editor of both the Daily Beast and Newsweek, recently let it slip on MSNBC (a trifecta of establishmentarian liberal media outlets!) that she thinks Obama "wasn't ready" for the job in 2008.

The establishment can't bring itself to blame liberalism (or themselves). So instead they blame the system. Obama's own re-election theme of running against "Washington" -- a town he had near total control over for two years and in which he is still the most powerful figure -- is a variant of the same argument. Obama can't blame the party he leads, so he blames the "system."
That idea -- that the system itself is to blame -- has now gone viral.

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who's been pushing and predicting a "geo-green third party" since 2006, is convinced there will be something like that in 2012. Why? Because his gut tells him so.

Friedman's gut is a terrifying thing. During the fight over "Obamacare," he didn't just think the political system "sucks" (to borrow Democratic wise man Tony Podesta's term), he found it demonstrably inferior to China's authoritarian regime.

Just last week, Bev Purdue, Democratic governor of North Carolina, declared, "I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make." She now says she was joking, an interpretation hard to square with the audio recording.

Similarly, former Obama aide Peter Orszag (now of Citibank, of course) also pinpoints democracy as the real problem. In the latest New Republic, he proposes that we empower more "depoliticized commissions" to make the important decisions.

Friedman likes "depoliticized commissions" too, like the Chinese politburo. That's why he's written how he wishes we could be just like "China for a day," so we could simply impose all the policies he likes.

At least Matt Miller, an avowed radical centrist, doesn't want to scrap democracy. He just wants to scrap the two-party system. Now, this isn't undemocratic. It's not even necessarily a terrible idea (though I don't endorse it).

But what's interesting about Miller's argument is how un-centrist it is. Writing for the Washington Post, Miller explains how he wants a new third party that will reject "the Democrats' timid half-measures and the Republicans' mindless anti-government creed."

The new centrism: No more half-measures, just full-blown liberalism.

As you go through Miller's platform, you can tell he's serious. He wants to spend vastly more money over "a couple years" to "fix the economy." Ever more taxpayer dollars will be poured into infrastructure, make-work service jobs and education. Once unemployment is lower, he wants to tax "dirty energy" and impose trade tariffs.

That's pretty much Friedman's ideal agenda too.

Come to think of it, it's also Barack Obama's! Perhaps not in every particular, but as several left-wing bloggers have noted, Miller's third party sounds an awful lot like the Democratic Party with a new coat of paint.

This is a fascinating departure from the usual pabulum from centrists who insist that they are neither right nor left. This is nothing less than a desperate abandonment of Obama and the Democratic Party in order to preserve the credibility of the ideas driving Obama and the Democratic Party.

There are few things more pathetic than rats deserting a sinking ship while claiming they're a superior breed of rat.



Who Owns History?

The Southern Poverty Law Center is appalled by the results of a new study finding that states are not teaching the history of the civil rights era. The SPLC, which commissioned the study of state curricula, concludes that students in at least 35 states are missing out on important facts about our history. And even in states that include units on civil rights, "their civil rights education boils down to two people and four words: Rosa Parks, Dr. King and 'I have a dream.'"

On one hand, you want to welcome disgruntled liberals to the club of those worried about historical amnesia among the young. We conservatives have been worrying about it for decades. On the other hand, it's tough to believe that American students are being cheated of knowledge about civil rights, compared with say, knowledge about World War II, or the progressive movement or the nullification crisis. One of my sons, who has been educated in public schools most of his life, offered that in his experience, American history is taught as "the Revolution, the internment of the Japanese during World War II and the civil rights movement."

When Common Core, an advocacy group for educational standards, surveyed American teenagers in 2008, they found that nearly a quarter were not able to correctly identify Adolf Hitler, but 97 percent knew who delivered the "I have a dream" speech. Care to speculate about how many would know who Joseph Stalin was?

Teaching history is inevitably a somewhat political act -- which is why an effort during the 1990s to establish national standards foundered in acrimony and bitterness. Some textbooks in wide use in America devote pages and pages to the so-called "McCarthy era" while neglecting much else and are written in a tone of condescension toward our forebears. Fights over textbook content in leading states like Texas have become protracted tugs of war between competing visions of our nation.

One suspects that only Howard Zinn's version of history would meet with the approval of the SPLC, and there are perhaps some on the right who might want to airbrush Joe McCarthy out altogether. But if we cannot come to some meeting of the minds on teaching the fundamentals of our history, we will have a drastically diminished future. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found in 2010 that only 12 percent of high school seniors were proficient in history.

The founders believed that special skills were necessary for free, self-governing individuals. Our second president, John Adams, said, "Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom." Thomas Jefferson proposed a system of public schools to instill the necessary knowledge and attitudes, saying memorably "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

When Ronald Reagan reflected on his eight years as president in his farewell address, he mentioned that one of the things he was proudest of was the renewed spirit of patriotism in the country. "This national feeling is good," he said, "but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge." Recalling that his generation had absorbed "almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation for its institutions," he noted that "Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children." And in what may have been the understatement of the decade, he said ". . . As for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style."

"We've got to do a better job," Reagan warned, "of getting across that America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection."

When liberals tell the story of America -- and they overwhelmingly dominate the education establishment -- they tend to focus excessively on our flaws and sins. By all means, our kids need to know about the civil rights movement, just as they should know all about slavery and Jim Crow. But they should also be taught that this country overcame an ugly history of slavery and racism to a degree unequaled by any other nation on Earth. Nations that have practiced slavery (some still do) and racism are in legion. Those that have managed to transform themselves -- to listen to the "better angels of their nature" -- are incredibly rare.

In this, as in so much else, the U.S. is exemplary. If the public schools could convey just that much, it would be progress.



For the GOP, Romney and Perry Are Still the Guys to Beat

Thus far, the maddening Republican storyline in the presidential election cycle is complicating the party's prospects of winning back the White House in 2012.

A clear majority of the American people disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, particularly on jobs and the economy, but the GOP's rank-and-file remains deeply divided over who their nominee should be.

Actually, they are worse than divided, which is not unusual in a large field of candidates. Some Republicans, if not many, do not like the choices they have and are looking around for a new contender to enter the presidential primary race in the 13 months before our nation goes to the polls next year.

That has left many uncommitted Americans on the sidelines, including campaign donors whose contributions will be critical to any serious bid for the White House.

The postwar history of presidential politics is clear on what it takes to win: plenty of time, preparation and money to mount a nationwide organization in all 50 states. This is not a game where a candidate can jump in at the 11th hour -- especially a candidate, no matter how worthy, who is not widely known.

For all practical purposes, the Republican race for the nomination has come down to two contenders, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

But there are others with sizable followings, including Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, backed by his die-hard libertarian supporters, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who draws strength from the Christian right, and even dark-horse business executive Herman Cain, who pulled an upset in the Florida straw poll, beating Perry and Romney by large margins.

Making the GOP's battle even more intense is the issue of party purity, which is expected in Republican primaries. But it has been become a more divisive issue this time, fueled in large part by the tea party conservatives who demonstrated their power in the 2010 midterm elections by toppling House Democrats from power.

In this case, though, it turns out that political purity, at least among the front-runners, is hard to find.

The newest example of this is Chris Christie, the blunt, tough-talking, take-no-prisoners New Jersey governor who made his reputation as a U.S. attorney who put a number of crooked officials -- Democrats and Republicans -- behind bars. In his first year and a half, he has balanced the state's budget, capped property taxes, cut retirement benefits for teachers and state employees, all without raising taxes.

However, he differs with his party on several fronts. He has suggested there ought to be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and that being here "without proper documentation is not a crime." He has supported some gun control laws as well as civil unions for homosexual couples.

But conservatives, who may not be aware of these positions, find his blunt speaking style appealing and are pleading for him to run, most recently when he spoke at the Reagan Presidential Library Tuesday night when he called Obama a "bystander in the Oval Office."

Even so, Christie has said he will not be a candidate for one big reason: He doesn't think he's ready. He wants to complete his term as governor, run for a second term, and show some major accomplishments before considering higher office.

Perry and Romney have problems with party purity as well.

Romney's biggest problem has been his enactment of a sweeping state health-care law that requires everyone who can afford it to buy private health insurance, as would Obamacare. He has said it is a state program dealing with a state problem, but has vowed to repeal one-size-fits-all Obamacare and to give waivers immediately to states to drop out.

His strength is his long business career as a venture capital investor whose company provided seed money for promising start-up businesses that, like Staples, grew into major job creators. His advisers think that the recession trumps all other issues. "I know how to fix the economy. I know how to create jobs," he says.

Perry, on paper, looked like the answer to conservatives who do not trust Romney. He is a longtime conservative governor of a major state with a booming oil economy, no individual income tax, low tax rates and a stellar record of job creation.

But then came his approval 10 years ago of an in-state college tuition break given to children of illegal immigrants, which he defended in a recent debate, saying that anyone who opposed helping these kids get an education was "heartless."

After stinging criticism for his disjointed, often rambling performance in his last presidential debate, a chastened Perry retreated somewhat. Calling his remarks "inappropriate," Perry said he had been "over-passionate" in his answer. "I probably chose a poor word to explain that."

Romney, by the way, said he vetoed a similar state law.

As things stand now, Perry and Romney remain the front-runners in a primary season that begins in just three months, and that seems unlikely to change as things stand right now.

Perry, who surged into the lead soon after he entered the race, has clearly been wounded by his performance in the debates. Romney has made no missteps yet and has stayed focused like a laser beam on the salient issue that will decide the outcome of this election: the jobless Obama economy.

Party purity, all things considered, takes a back seat in that equation.


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

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


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


29 September, 2011

The Key to Creating Jobs

By John Stossel

Politicians say they create jobs, but they really don't. Or rather, they rarely create productive jobs. Government has no money of its own. All it does is take resources from one group and give them to another.

The pharaohs might have claimed they created work when they ordered that pyramids be built, but think how much richer (and freer) the Egyptians would have been if they'd been allowed to pursue their own interests.

It's individuals in the marketplace who create real jobs -- when they have the protection of life and property under the rule of law.

Economic freedom is the key. The theory couldn't be more clear, and at this late date in human history, it shouldn't be necessary to rehearse the abundant evidence. Look at the various indexes that correlate economic freedom with economic growth. The healthiest economies are those with the most economic freedom. Unemployment is low in those places -- 3 percent in Hong Kong, 2 percent in Singapore, 5 percent in Australia. Alas, the United States places ninth, behind Canada, and those countries with the least economic freedom have few real jobs and no prosperity.

Unfortunately, most politicians still don't understand -- or have no incentive to understand -- that economic freedom, and therefore less government, creates prosperity.

Well, maybe that's changing. This year is first I've heard so many presidential candidates talk about the private sector. Indeed, one candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, told me he created "not one single job. ... Government does not create jobs."

The truth is we have too few jobs today because government stands in the way. If I'm an employer, why would I want to hire someone when Congress and the Labor Department have so many rules that I might not be able to fire that person if he can't do the job? Why would I take a risk on an investment when still-to-be-written rules about ObamaCare, financial regulation and the environment could turn my good idea into a losing venture?

Last week on my Fox Business show, I refereed a debate on whether government creates or impedes economic activity. "Government can spend and create jobs," said David Callahan, co-founder of Demos. "If government steps up and provides stimulus money to hire people, what we get is more people spending money in this economy, more hiring, and we get that virtuous cycle going."

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, replied: "It is ridiculous to assume you can tax the people that are working and give the money (to people) who are not working and somehow this creates economy activity. You are destroying as much by taking from those who are working and creating."

Callahan then invoked the magic I-word: "One place we need more government spending is for infrastructure. Drive down any road, go across any bridge, you are likely to see dilapidation. There was a bipartisan panel that said we need to spend $2 trillion or more on infrastructure."

"Don't pretend that stimulates the economy," Brook rebutted. "That money has to come from somewhere, that $2 trillion that you would want to spend on infrastructure is taken from the private economy."

"This is a fallacy," Callahan replied. "Twenty million jobs were created in the 1990s when we had higher tax rates than we do today. After World War II -- also a period of high tax rates, also incredible job growth.

And, by Keynesian logic, war can stimulate the economy: "World War II was the great stimulus. ... That kind of external crisis can inject a lot of new capital."

"This is one of the worst fallacies of economics," Brook said. "This is called the broken-window fallacy." The fallacy comes from Frederic Bastiat's story of the boy who breaks a shop window, prompting some to believe that replacing the window will stimulate a ripple of economic activity. The fallacy lies in overlooking the productive things the shopkeeper would have done with the money had the window not needed replacing.

"World War II did nothing to promote economy growth," Brook said. "Blowing things up is not an economic stimulus. Destruction does not lead to progress."

Don't expect most politicians to learn this any time soon.



Strange maneuvers over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Maybe because China is not a signatory -- which makes the whole thing futile anyway

Despite serious Constitutional concerns in the US, and significant legal questions in the EU, it appears that the US and the EU, along with most of the other participants in the ACTA negotiations are planning to sign ACTA this weekend in Japan. In the US, this may very well lead to a Constitutional challenge. President Obama, via the USTR, is ignoring the Senate's oversight concerning treaties, by pretending ACTA is not a treaty, but rather an "executive agreement." Pretty much everyone else agrees that ACTA is a binding treaty -- in fact, EU negotiators have been quite vocal on that point.

But even if this is considered "an executive agreement," the President does not have the authority to sign an executive agreement concerning intellectual property issues. Executive agreements can only be signed if they cover issues solely under the President's mandate. But intellectual property issues are clearly under Congress's mandate, and nowhere in the Constitution is the President given a mandate over IP issues. This is a clear end-run around Congress, and seems likely to be unconstitutional.

What I really don't get is why they're making such an end-run. As we've seen with things like PROTECT IP, most of the Senate seems to have no problem propping up the entertainment industry's legacy players with bogus laws and "greater enforcement." It seems likely that ACTA would probably sail through the Senate with little problem. But the administration seems to not even want to have the slightest debate on the topic -- which is greatly troubling, considering that the USTR negotiated the agreement in near total secrecy, refusing to allow public comment or debate (outside of leaks which it tried to block) until after the document was done.

The others that are listed as planning to sign the document are Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. Basically all the countries who took part in the negotiations. The fact that Mexico is on that list is interesting, given that the Mexican Congress has already told the Mexican President that it will not ratify ACTA, and made it clear that Mexico needs Congress to ratify ACTA to have it go into effect. In other words, it sounds like Mexico is facing a similar executive run-around as in the US.

It's pretty amazing. This isn't even just about Presidents doing an end-run around the public, but around their own legislatures. And for what? A bailout of some legacy entertainment industry players who are unwilling to adapt.



Elizabeth Warren's Voodoo Economics

The liberal Senate candidate sets fire to a straw man

Elizabeth Warren is cheesed off.

Received wisdom says conservatives are the ones driven by anger—Republicans took the House last year because 2010 was another “year of the angry white male,” and all that. But in August remarks about class warfare that have gone viral, the Democratic candidate for a Senate seat from Massachusetts is visibly seething.

That’s okay; everyone gets worked up now and then, and most of us are lucky enough not to be caught on camera at the moment. Funny thing is, Warren’s comments—her rage and resentment and sarcasm—have made her an overnight heroine.

In the video, she addresses an imaginary captain of industry:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she lectures. “Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory . . . .Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

A few points.

(1) This is a pretty powerful takedown—of a position nobody holds. Or at least nobody outside an Ayn Rand novel. If Warren can find someone who thinks he does not live in community with other people, then she might have an argument. But don’t sit on a hot stove waiting.

(2) For someone who objects to the term class warfare, she sure draws a mighty bright line between “you” and “the rest of us.”

(3) The question is not whether a captain of industry should pay taxes—but how much. Reasonable people can debate where to set marginal tax rates. But when the richest fifth of Americans pay 64 percent of federal income taxes while the bottom two-fifths pay less than 3 percent, the case for even greater progressivity is not beyond rational debate.

(4) Outside of a few anarchist collectives, there isn’t a soul around who minds paying taxes for roads, cops, firemen, or schoolteachers. It’s the jillion other things government does—from corporate welfare to the Iraq war—that people object to.

(5) Plenty of smart, well-meaning people also think even government’s core functions could be delivered better and for less—just as the Obama administration has used the Dartmouth Atlas to argue for greater efficiency in medical care. E.g., since 1970 inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in public K-12 education has doubled. Class size has been cut in half. Neither change has produced any substantial effect on academic performance. Why don’t we have the equivalent of a Dartmouth Atlas for public education?

(6) Warren’s remarks epitomize the caricature of a progressive as someone who loves jobs but hates employers. She implies the captain of industry is simply sponging off society and hoarding the proceeds. But hiring workers is a huge social good. So is providing a funding basis for pensions, which generally rely on stock returns. So is creating products people want. Five bucks says Warren has a smartphone and a DVR and a bunch of other modern conveniences, and that she didn’t buy any of them with a gun to her head. So why is she so mad at the people who offered to sell them?

(7) Warren suggests the principle of fair play means the industrialist owes society a debt, to be repaid in steep taxes because his other contributions do not count. But this argument is one of the weakest of all the arguments for political obligation, for reasons most people can figure out after a few minutes’ thought. (E.g., Suppose I mow your lawn without asking, then demand payment because it’s “only fair.”) Why hasn’t she given them any?

(8) Perhaps, like film critic Pauline Kael, who famously didn’t know anyone who had voted for Nixon, Warren doesn't know anyone who believes government and taxes should be small. And, therefore, perhaps she does not understand their reasoning. She certainly doesn’t give any indication that she does.

So for the record, the reason is that—as Sheldon Richman wrote recently in The Freeman—“government is significantly different from anything else in society. It is the only institution that can legally threaten and initiate violence; that is, under color of law its officers may use physical force, up to and including lethal force—not in defense of innocent life but against individuals who have neither threatened nor aggressed against anyone else.” Many of those who truly love peace prefer to live in a society where the use or threat of violence is minimized. Maybe that idea simply hasn’t crossed Warren’s mind.

Maybe that’s why she looks like she’s ready to haul off and hit someone.




Obama’s latest jaw dropper: "The latest gem out of the White House comes via Robert Pear of the New York Times, who reports that Obama wants to provide civil rights protection for people who are unemployed. Apparently, Obama believes that the reason that there are 14 million unemployed Americans is because employers are discriminating against them. His remedy? Allow an unemployed person to drag an employer who doesn’t hire him or her into federal court to prove that the reason they weren’t hired, and presumably, someone else was, is because they were unemployed. I’m pretty confident that threatening job creators with lawsuits by 14 million people who were not hired is not going to encourage opportunity. In fact, I’m pretty confident that threatening legal action against job creators for failing to hire someone who is currently unemployed is going to significantly reduce the willingness of that business to put out a help wanted sign at all."

The Fascist instinct rears its head again: "Republicans rebuked North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue after she suggested Congress suspend elections for two years so lawmakers can get to work stimulating the economy unencumbered by anxiety about what voters think. The governor's office has since claimed the remark was 'hyperbole.' But the North Carolina GOP isn't buying it."

Study: Health insurance costs up nine percent in year: "Company-provided health insurance, one of the largest costs of US businesses and households alike, rose nine percent over the past year despite the sluggish economy, according to a new study released Tuesday. The average cost for employer-provided family healthcare insurance has hit $15,073 a year, a burden that has more and more companies dropping coverage for employees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual study of health insurance costs."

Once accused, forever guilty? "The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents. ... Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops."

Freedom isn’t free at the State Department: "On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. The evidence of my crime? A posting on my blog from the previous month that included a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Web."

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

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


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


28 September, 2011

L'Shana Tovah to my Jewish readers

The Jewish new year starts today -- or one of them does, anyway. Judaism has several different New Years for different purposes


Israel as the Dutch Republic in the Thirty Years War

by Spengler

A small country, its land reclaimed from a hostile nature, fights for survival against overwhelming odds for 80 years. Surrounded by enemies dedicated to its destruction, it fields the world's most innovative army and beats them. Despite three generations of war, the arts, sciences and commerce flourish. Its population grows quickly while the conflict empties the failed states that surround it. And it becomes a beacon of hope for the cause of freedom.

I refer not to Israel, but to the Dutch Republic of the 17th century, whose struggle for freedom against Spain set the precedent for the American Revolution. The final three decades of the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) coincided with the terrible Thirty Years War.

In 1600, a million-and-a-half Dutchmen faced an Austrian-Spanish alliance with more than 10 times their population; by 1648, the people of the Netherlands numbered two million, while the Spanish and Austrians had perhaps a quarter of their people. Holland had become the richest land in the world, with 16,000 merchant vessels supplying a global trading empire, graced by artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer and scientists like Huygens and Leeuwenhoek.

We might speak of the "isolation" of the Dutch at the outset of the Thirty Years War, although England backed them from the outset; that is why Philip II of Spain launched the Great Armada in 1588. Holland faced more formidable enemies than modern Israel; in place of the feckless Third World armies of Egypt and Syria, the Dutch fought Spain, the superpower of the 16th century, with the world's best professional infantry bought with New World loot. The superior Dutch navy disrupted Spanish lines of communication, and a new kind of mobile infantry defeated the static Spanish square with continuous musket fire.

Holland confronted a formidable adversary, determined to extirpate its Protestant religion; Israel faces a group of failed or gradually-failing states whose capacity to make war is eroding. Seven months after the start of the Arab uprisings, Israel's position is a paradox.

The prospects for a formal peace are the worst since 1977, while Israel's military position has improved. The Syrian army is too busy butchering protesters to attack the Jewish state, and the uncertain position of the Bashar al-Assad regime weakens its Lebanese client Hezbollah. Egyptian popular sentiment has turned nastily against Israel, but the last thing the Egyptian army needs at the moment is a war with Israel that it inevitably would lose.

Egypt is a failed state. It has no way out. Chinese pigs will eat before the Egyptian poor, as wealthy Asians outbid impoverished Arabs for grain. Egypt imports half its caloric consumption, and its foreign exchange reserves last week dipped below what its central bank called the "danger" level of $25 billion covering six months of imports, down from $36 billion before Hosni Mubarak was toppled.

The reported reserve numbers probably include Saudi and Algerian emergency loans. With no tourism and much of the economy in shambles, the country is sliding towards destitution; it barely can feed itself at the moment. What will Egypt do when its reserves are gone? Almost half of Egyptian adults can't read, and the 800,000 young people who graduate yearly from the diploma mills are qualified only to stamp each other's identity cards. It is not surprising that football rowdies attacked Israel's embassy in Cairo last week.

The rupture in Israeli-Turkish relations, in turn, reflects Turkish weakness as well as the fanaticism of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey faces a short-term squeeze and a long-term crisis. Erdogan won re-election last June more as an economic manager than as neo-Ottoman imperial leader, but his economic success rested on a 40% rate of bank credit growth, and a consequent current account deficit equal to 11% of gross domestic product, the same level as Greece or Portugal.

As I reported last month (Instant obsolescence of the Turkish model, Asia Times Online, August 10, 2011), Turkey's stock market has fallen by nearly half in dollar terms since late 2010, and its currency has lost 20% of its value. Erdogan's economic Cave of Wonders has dissolved into the Anatolian sand, and Turkey faces a long period of belt-tightening.

Turkey's economic problems are a discomfort; its ethnic problems, by contrast, present an existential threat in the long run. In a quarter of a century, Kurdish will be the cradle-tongue of nearly half of all Turkish children, as Kurds have four to five children per family while Turkish-speakers have just 1.5. At some point, Turkey in its present form will cease to exist. Kurdish nationalism is stronger than ever; as Omar Aspinar [1] of the Brookings Institution wrote on September 11 in Zaman Online:

"Kurdish political aspirations have reached unprecedented levels in the last 10 years ... Kurdish ethnic, cultural and political demands are fueled by a young and increasingly resentful generation of Kurds who are vocal and frustrated not only in Eastern Anatolia but also in Turkey's large Western cities including Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin and Adana. Turkey's nightmare scenario is Turkish-Kurdish ethnic violence in such western urban centers."

The Kurds know that the demographic future belongs to them, and that Erdogan's frantic calls on Turkish women to have more babies will do nothing to change matters. "The Kurdish issue," warns Aspinar," remains Turkey's Achilles' heel."

Rather than isolate Israel diplomatically, Turkey and Egypt have buttressed its diplomatic position. By declaring the United Nations' Palmer Commission report on the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident "null and void", Turkish President Abdullah Gul put his country in the position of the rogue state. Egypt's failure to prevent an attack on Israel's embassy was a gross violation of international standards. Diplomacy, though, makes little difference, because Israel requires only the support of the United States.

The most likely outcome is a prolonged low-intensity war in which Israel suffers more rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, and occasional terrorist infiltration from Sinai and the West Bank, but no organized military threat from its immediate neighbors. Iran's nuclear program presents an existential threat to Israel, and remains the great unknown in the equation.

As Jonathan Speyer [2] wrote in a September 11 report for the Gloria Center, Iran's attempt to lead an anti-Israel resistance bloc "has fallen victim to the Arab Spring", particularly after Tehran aided the despised Syrian regime. But Speyer warns that this "should because for neither satisfaction nor complacency".

A country that knows it must fight daily for its existence may thrive under interrupted stress. That is unimaginable for the Israeli peace camp, which dwindled into political insignificance after the Intifada of 2000, as well as for America's liberal Jews. But most Israelis seem to have adapted well to a long-term war regime.

The Dutch certainly did. When the Thirty Years War began in 1618 over Bohemia's attempts to cast off Austrian rule, Holland knew that Spain would take the opportunity to settle accounts with its breakaway Protestant province. Expecting a Spanish invasion, the English Separatists living in Holland decided instead to become Pilgrims to the New World. ''The Spaniard,'' their leader William Bradford wrote in 1618, ''might prove as cruel as the savages of America, and the famine and pestilence as sore here as there.''

A year after the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth Rock in 1620, Spain sent an army into Holland, and in 1625 the Spanish took the great Dutch fortress of Breda, just 90 kilometers from Amsterdam; Velasquez's canvas depicting the city's surrender hangs in Madrid's Prado Museum. The Dutch defenders kept the Spanish army away from their coastal cities only by opening the dikes and flooding the countryside. Had the Pilgrims stayed and the Spanish won, the Pilgrims likely would have been burned as heretics.

Spain embargoed Dutch trade and succeeded in damaging its economy, although Dutch attacks on the Spanish fleets bringing treasure from the New World provided some breathing room. One by one, Holland saw its German and Danish Protestant allies beaten by Austro-Spanish alliance, and by 1625 was fighting alone. By the late 1620s, though, Holland was winning a war of attrition against overextended Spain, and could match the Spanish in the field.

The military balance remained precarious; in 1629 the Spanish army was within 40 kilometers of Amsterdam. The turning point came in 1632, when the Dutch took the Flemish city of Maastricht, breaking Spain's hold on the Catholic Low Countries. When Spain and France went to war in 1635, the victorious Netherlands dominated European trade and its "Golden Age" reached fruition.

Holland boasted the world's strongest navy and a dominant position in world shipping trade, and its home provinces became impregnable.

The Dutch were smart and tough, but they beat the Spanish empire in large part by being better than their adversaries. The Dutch republic offered Europe's first example of religious toleration. Iberian Jews and French Huguenot found refuge in Holland against religious toleration, and the skilled immigrants made invaluable contributions to the Dutch economic miracle - something like the Russian immigrants to Israel today.

When Dutch armies invaded the Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium) they offered religious freedom to the Catholics they absorbed. Countries that attract talented people have an enormous advantage over countries that drive them out.

Without stretching the analogy too far, the religious conflict that surrounded 17th century Holland have something in common with today's Middle East. Americans know almost nothing of the Thirty Years War; not a single Hollywood film nor one popular novel recounts its major events. It is a tale of unrelenting misery, of battles and marches and countermarches that left nearly half of Central Europe dead.

It degenerated into a duel between two powers who both acted out of the mystical conviction that they were God's chosen people: the France of Cardinal Richelieu and the Spain of the Count-Duke Olivares. It foreshadowed the neo-paganism that nearly conquered Europe in what British statesman Winston Churchill called "the second Thirty Years War" of 1914-1945.

The conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam may cause something like a Thirty Years War in the Middle East, as Arabs, Turks and Persians fight for the mantle of Divine Election. The difference is that Europe descended into the maelstrom from a peak of economic and cultural success; the Muslim nations of the Middle East are goaded by a profound sense of humiliation and failure.

What transpires may be even more horrific than the events of 1618-1648. The methods the American military employed to win a respite in Iraq might set such a conflict in motion, as I argued last year in "General Petraeus' Thirty Years War" [3]. Once again, the nation that embodies religious faith embedded in democratic values will prevail despite the chaos around it.



Superman vs. warm body

By Thomas Sowell

One of the problems in trying to select a leader for any large organization or institution is the tendency to start out looking for Superman, passing up many good people who fail to meet that standard, and eventually ending up settling for a warm body. Some Republicans seem to be longing for another Ronald Reagan. Good luck on that one, unless you are prepared to wait for several generations. Moreover, even Ronald Reagan himself did not always act like Ronald Reagan.

The current outbreak of "gotcha" attacks on Texas Governor Rick Perry show one of the other pitfalls for those who are trying to pick a national leader. The three big sound-bite issues used against him during the TV "debates" have involved Social Security, immigration and a vaccine against cervical cancer.

Where these three issues have been discussed at length, whether in a few media accounts or in Governor Perry's own more extended discussions in an interview on Sean Hannity's program, his position was far more reasonable than it appeared to be in either his opponents' sound bites or even in his own abbreviated accounts during the limited time available in the TV "debate" format.

On Social Security, Governor Perry was not only right to call it a "Ponzi scheme," but was also right to point out that this did not mean welshing on the government's obligation to continue paying retirees what they had been promised.

Even those of us who still disagree with particular decisions made by Governor Perry can see some of those decisions as simply the errors of a decent man who realized that he was faced not with a theory but with a situation.

For example, the ability to save young people from cervical cancer with a stroke of a pen was a temptation that any decent and humane individual would find hard to resist, even if Governor Perry himself now admits to second thoughts about how it was done.

Many of us can agree with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's contention that it should have been done differently. But it reflects no credit on her to have tried to scare people with claims about the dangers of vaccination. Such scares have already cost the lives of children who have died on both sides of the Atlantic from diseases that vaccination would have prevented.

The biggest mischaracterization of Governor Perry's position has been on immigration. The fact that he has more confidence in putting "boots on the ground" along the border, instead of relying on a fence that can be climbed over or tunneled under where there is no one around, is a logistical judgment, not a question of being against border control.

Texas Rangers have already been put along the border to guard the border where the federal government has failed to guard it. Former Senator Rick Santorum's sound-bite attempts to paint Governor Perry as soft on border control have apparently been politically successful, judging by polls. But his repeated interrupting of Perry's presentation of his case during the recent debate is the kind of cheap political trick that contributes nothing to public understanding and much to public misunderstanding.

Those of us who disagree with Governor Perry's decision to allow the children of illegal immigrants to attend the state colleges and universities, under the same terms as Texas citizens, need at least to understand what his options were. These were children who were here only because of their parents' decisions and who had graduated from a Texas high school.

Governor Perry saw the issue as whether these children should now be allowed to continue their education, and become self-supporting taxpayers, or whether Texas would be better off with a higher risk of those young people becoming dependents or worse. I still see Governor Perry's decision as an error, but the kind of error that a decent and humane individual would be tempted to make.

I have far more questions about those who would blow this error up into something that it is not. Error-free leaders don't exist -- and we don't want to end up settling for a warm body.

Ultimately, this is not about Governor Perry. It is about a process that can destroy any potential leader, even when the country needs a new leader with a character that the "gotcha" attackers demonstrate they do not have.




AL: Go to church or go to jail: "Bay Minette, Alabama is telling people convicted of small crimes to choose Jesus or choose jail. Starting this week, the city judge will implement Operation Restore Our Community (ROC), which gives misdemeanor offenders a choice between fines and jail or a year of Sunday church services. 'Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,' Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland told the Alabama Press-Register. 'It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.'"

On the buses: "The UK bus sector has prospered in recent years, despite all the prophecies of gloom when Lady Thatcher’s Conservative Government decided that competition was the best answer to reversing decades of under-investment, lousy service and poor time-tabling."

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

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


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


27 September, 2011

President Obama’s ‘Brownshirts’ May Be Closer to Smashing Down Your Front Door Than You Think

By Paul R. Hollrah

In a speech in Colorado Springs on July 2, 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) ignored his teleprompter for a moment and spoke from the heart:

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” he said. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded (as the military)… People of all ages, stations, and skills will be asked to serve.”

It brings to mind scenes from the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, East Germany, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea and, more recently, Venezuela, where every city, town, village, and neighborhood had(has) groups of citizens, called cells, who keep tabs on each other and their non-cell neighbors.

Farfetched? Most Americans ignore the possibility that Obama might attempt to copy his leftist counterparts in the communist, fascist, and socialist world. But Obama’s “brownshirts” may be closer to smashing down your front door than you think. Consider just a few recent incidents.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, heavily armed agents of the U.S. Department of Justice, carrying search warrants signed by a federal judge, raided facilities of the Gibson Guitar Company [See reports here and here] in Memphis and Nashville. The raid was similar to a previous raid carried out in November 2009 when more than a dozen federal agents, armed with automatic weapons, raided Gibson’s U.S. manufacturing facilities and confiscated more than $1 million worth of valuable wood products imported from Madagascar.

The Justice Department maintains that the wood confiscated in the 2009 raid was obtained in violation of Madagascan law. However, Gibson has in its possession documents from the Madagascan government, certifying that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under their laws and that no law has been violated.

This year’s raid appears to involve quantities of rosewood and ebony imported from India. According to Gibson, the Justice Department “has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of the law in India…”

What was Gibson’s crime? Inasmuch as many Gibson guitars are produced by U.S. craftsmen, using rosewood and ebony imported from India, the Obama Administration finds Gibson in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the Rainforest Alliance, “… the law makes it illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken or traded in violation of the laws of the U.S., a U.S. State, or relevant foreign law (emphasis added).”

Because the ban on illegal timber, as defined in the Lacey Act, has not been defined by a clear set of regulations, it leaves the Obama administration a wide range of discretion to persecute businesses that may have displeased them. The law is so broad and ill-defined that, according to Gibson officials, a user can run into trouble even though they have no knowledge of a law in force in a foreign country.

“We have letters from a very high-level government agency in India that says that this product was (an) allowable export,” argued Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. “And in fact, we have been buying the same product for well over 17 years… Wood that we are buying is being bought by other companies in the industry and they have not had any kind of action… not so much as a letter or a postcard.” [Note: A glimpse at the pages of the CF Martin & Company catalog (above right) backs up what Juskiewicz said.]

What should give us all cause for concern, especially those of us who are among Obama’s most consistent critics, is the knowledge that C.F. Martin & Company, another leading guitar maker, uses the same imported woods. So exactly what is it that distinguishes Gibson from Martin? Chris Martin IV, CEO of the Martin guitar company, is reported to be a long-time Democratic Party contributor, donating tens of thousands of dollars to Obama and other Democrats. By contrast, Gibson’s Juszkiewicz has a long history of supporting Republican candidates.

In another recent case, 24 federal agents raided Atlanta-based A-440 Pianos, which had imported a number of antique Austrian Bösendorfer pianos outfitted with 855 keys made of old ivory. According to an Aug. 28 report in the Wall Street Journal, when A-440 was preparing to import the pianos, knowing that the piano keys were made of ivory more than 100 years old, they asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to prepare the necessary paperwork. Convention officials alerted U.S. Customs.

“There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys,” according to the Journal. Unfortunately, A-440 executive Pascal Vieillard apparently did not have all of his paperwork in order when two-dozen federal agents swarmed into his warehouse. Facing a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison and a maximum fine of $100,000, Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Lacey Act and was given a $17,500 fine and three years probation. His company faces a maximum fine of $500,000 and five years probation.

How long does it take for a piano importer, a small business, to earn $500,000 in net profits, and how many jobs will be lost because Obama’s “brownshirts” were unable to control themselves?

National Review Online was incredulous. Mark Steyn asked, “Two dozen federal agents? To raid a piano importer? Does the piano industry have a particular reputation for violent armed resistance? Or is it that the most footling bureaucrat now feels he has no credibility unless he’s got his own elite commando team? …But look at it this way: Imagine if, instead of 24 agents, the federal piano police had to make do with a mere dozen to raid a small importer.”

In Obama’s world, that would represent a real breakdown in law enforcement.

As a Republican activist who has experienced numerous threats on my life and on the lives of my wife and children, and as one who has been beaten unconscious by union thugs at a public political event, I have some sense of the level of violence that always exists just beneath the surface when Democrats and their leftist constituencies feel threatened. But all of those things happened at a time when the American people could have some faith that the rule of law was respected by the people and by law enforcement agencies alike.

We now live in a different era. We live at a time when the Attorney General of the United States feels no obligation to enforce the law against armed New Black Panther thugs who threaten and intimidate voters outside a polling place in Philadelphia… just because the thugs were there in support of Democratic candidates. We live at a time when violent union thugs are allowed to occupy the capitol building of a sovereign state… just because the Republican governor and the Republican members of the state legislature did the jobs they were elected to do. And we are living at a time when the executives of a failing “green energy” company can… after paying four visits to the White House… obtain a $537 million loan guarantee, and for no better reason than that Obama needed a “poster child” for his ill-conceived initiative.

Law-abiding citizens, I’m sure, held out some hope for justice when they saw televised reports of FBI agents hauling away dozens of cartons of documents from the headquarters of the failed Solyndra solar energy company in Fremont, Calif.. But what they fail to consider is that the FBI reports to Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, and that Holder reports to Obama, whose reelection chances are in jeopardy. What viewers saw as a collection of evidence of massive political corruption may have been, in fact, the confiscation and destruction of evidence of massive political corruption.

With memories of the Kennedy assassination, Wounded Knee, Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma City Bombing cover-up fresh in our minds, do we really trust the FBI to conduct a full and complete investigation of criminal conduct while they are under the direct supervision of political thugs such as Holder and Obama?



Obama as an American imperialist?

The article below is from a libertarian source so is a bit hysterical about "imperialism" but the view that Obama is in fact a loyal American (in his own confused way) intent on expanding American influence abroad does have some cogency. It is certainly true that Obama has expanded American military committments overseas. He is no peacenik. During his run for the Presidency he was rather mocked for saying that he would expand the war into Pakistan -- but he has been doing just that for some time now, even catching Osama bin Laden in the process. Increased military engagements are of course also consistent with Fascism

Obama’s apparent inconsistency on several issues has helped fuel the public debate over his beliefs. But if anything in Obama’s rhetoric and policies has been constant, it is his devotion to the American empire. Throughout the presidential campaign, he promised to fulfill the mission of his heroes, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy: strengthening American influence across the world. Obama declared that, like the globalist American leaders of the past, “we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events.”

Many of the candidate’s most loyal supporters were veterans of the movements against U.S. interventions in Southeast Asia and Central America, but Obama himself flatly asserted that the United States “has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known” and therefore “must lead the world, by deed and example.” Before audiences who somehow saw him as a peace candidate, he lauded Franklin Roosevelt for building “the most formidable military the world has ever seen” and promised to continue the tradition. As lifelong peaceniks plastered his face on their cars and homes and made their children march in parades for him, the candidate made it clear, in speeches, articles, and the 2008 Democratic National Platform, that if elected he would seek to enlarge the Army and Marine Corps, increase military spending, and escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Similarly, 10 months after taking office, Obama used the Nobel Peace Prize to declare war on potentially most of the world. In his October 2009 acceptance speech, the president pledged to go “beyond self-defense”—with armed intervention when necessary—anywhere “the inherent rights and dignity of every individual” are denied. Moreover, he ominously asserted that economic development “rarely takes root without security” and that “military leaders in my own country” believe that “our common security hangs in the balance” so long as climate change is not swiftly and forcefully addressed. Seldom has a political leader delivered such a strident and comprehensive call for American hegemony.

As we now know, Obama’s imperial rhetoric was not empty. With the cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, he did in fact increase Pentagon spending and expand the Army and Marine Corps to create the largest and most powerful military in the history of the world, tripled down in Afghanistan and Pakistan, launched new military operations in Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, and maintained 50,000 troops in Iraq.

Clearly, anyone who saw Obama as a peacemaker simply did not listen to what he was saying. But his commitment to preserving and expanding the American empire should also be no surprise to anyone familiar with the facts of his childhood. Obama is, after all, the empire’s son. Neither New York Times reporter Janny Scott nor conservative public intellectual Dinesh D’Souza—the authors of books on Obama’s mother and father, respectively—understand this. But for anyone with knowledge of the involvement of the United States in Indonesia and Kenya during Obama’s childhood, the information Scott and D’Souza provide makes it clear that Obama is fundamentally a product of American imperialism.

Let us begin with a physical fact: Obama literally would not exist without the Central Intelligence Agency. His father and mother met at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center, which was created by Congress and directed by CIA operatives. Obama’s father was brought to the University of Hawaii by the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation and the U.S. State Department at the request of Tom Mboya, a CIA-backed leader in the Kenyan independence movement. The dormitory where Obama Sr. lived at the East-West Center was funded by the Asia Foundation, also a creation of the CIA. According to a 1961 congressional report, the mission of the East-West Center was to inculcate pro-American sentiment in foreign students and thereby “win the battle for men’s minds.” John Witeck, a scholar who once worked at the center, has called it “a true cult of imperialism.”

More important than the CIA connections of Obama’s parents, the world in which he was raised was filled with people devoted to bringing American ways of life to the rest of the world. From Janny Scott’s biography of Stanley Ann Dunham, A Singular Woman, we learn that Obama’s mother built her life around a commitment to spreading American business practices to rural Indonesia. What we don’t learn from Scott’s book is the political context or meaning of Dunham’s state-sponsored secular missionary work.

Shortly after divorcing Obama’s father, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, the son of an upper-class Javanese family and a lieutenant in the Indonesian army, who in 1962 was sent by the Indonesian government to study at the East-West Center. Scott tells this story but omits what made the liaison possible. At the time, the Kennedy Administration, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was sending tens of millions of dollars per year to the Indonesian government in an attempt to win its loyalty against similar bribery from the Soviet Union. Much of that funding was used to send elite Indonesian students, such as Soetoro, to American schools. In particular, to schools—such as the East-West Center—that worked directly with U.S. intelligence and security agencies and trained foreign students to teach American business methods and philosophies back in their home countries.

In 1966 Soetoro returned to Indonesia to work for the military, which had just carried out mass executions of communists and suspected communists. Scott does not mention that according to a congressional report, 1,200 of the Indonesian military officers who organized and led this purge, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, had been trained in U.S.-based counterinsurgency programs, or that many of the weapons used in the killings were supplied by Washington. The elimination of communists, who had violently protested U.S. influence in Indonesia, cleared the way for a greater influx of American and American-trained nation builders, such as Soetoro and Dunham. Obama’s mother and stepfather were the velvet glove of “development” covering the iron fist of state violence.

In 1967 Dunham moved with Obama to join her husband in Jakarta, and she soon took a job at a school operated by the USAID. Obama wrote in his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father that the move was part of “the promise of something new and important” for his mother, namely “helping her husband rebuild a country in a charged and challenging place beyond her parents’ reach.” Dunham taught English to Indonesian businessmen to prepare them for U.S.-sponsored training in American business schools. It is well documented that during this period the USAID and CIA worked together closely in developing pro-American elites in Indonesia and elsewhere. One of those pro-American elites was Obama’s stepfather, who sometime in the late 1960s or early ’70s began working as the governmental liaison in the Jakarta offices of the California-based Union Oil Company.

Obama’s mother spent several years at the USAID school, then took a series of jobs—all sponsored directly or indirectly by U.S. government agencies—studying and promoting American-style economic development in rural Indonesia. Through the 1970s Dunham worked on a string of projects funded by the USAID; then in 1981 she was hired by the Ford Foundation’s Southeast Asia regional office in Jakarta to help develop microfinance programs in rural Indonesia. The Ford Foundation’s entanglement with the CIA during this period has always been public knowledge, with journalists, academic scholars, and congressional investigators documenting a long history of covert funding and what the sociologist James Petras has called “a close structural relation and interchange of personnel at the highest levels between the CIA and the Ford Foundation.” A 1976 congressional investigation showed that close to half of the foundation’s international projects were funded by the agency. Dunham left the foundation in 1988 to work as a consultant and research coordinator for Bank Rakyat Indonesia, with her work again funded by the USAID. In narrating Dunham’s and Soetoro’s careers, Scott consistently fails to mention the intimate connections between Obama’s parents and U.S. agencies or, more important, to notice that an expansive U.S. foreign policy created Obama’s world.


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

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


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


26 September, 2011

Intellectual Roots of Leftism

Can the laboratory of communism also shed light on the viability of a related political philosophy, which also relies on centralized governmental coercion to achieve its goals: modern liberalism?

The communists did all at once what stealthy left-liberals apparently intend to do piece by piece while we sleep. We just lived through a century in which liberals enacted several recommendations of the Communist Manifesto and transformed a night-watchman state into a welfare/warfare state with a continual flow of "progressive" legislation and various "Democrat wars" and crusades with the result that no one in my law school class in 1983 could identify, in response to Professor Henry Mark Holzer's query, any aspect of life that was not in some way regulated or controlled by the state. Seventeen years later, are they through?

Has liberalism closed up shop? Will they ever be through? Not until they have established an egalitarian utopia where virtually all responsibility for living has passed from the individual to the state. In the liberal utopia, if I may pilfer Paddy Chayefsky's words, "all necessities [will be] provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused."

If you think I exaggerate, consider that liberals and communists share five critical premises: egalitarianism, utopianism (the use of impossible "ideals" as a guide to policy), the efficacy of force in accomplishing positive goals, hostility to civil society (nonstate institutions, e.g., Boy Scouts, private schools), and the individual's inability to govern himself.

In light of the recent attempted coup d'élection, I am tempted to add a sixth similarity — willingness to win political fights at all costs. Further evidence of some basic affinity between communism and modern liberalism is the latter's frequent coverups and apologies for the former. Finally, communists and liberals share a tendency to expressly support "mass democracy" while they in practice concentrate power in secretive elite bodies such as politburos and appellate courts.

In that spirit of fascination with the enemy, I recently read The Black Book of Communism, a clinical and relentless dissection of the crimes of communism in the 20th century — defined by "the natural laws of humanity" — written by several ex–fellow travelers led by Stephane Courtois.

It is not a book to be read before, during, or after a meal. You would not want to spoil a good meal with the image of Bolshevik troops throwing live human beings into a blast furnace. The Black Book is a story of mind-numbing and mindless brutality. Mao Zedong, one of the stars of the book, said, "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Communists killed all types of people but focused their most intense fury on entrepreneurs, community leaders, and the highly educated. They made some half-hearted efforts to abolish money and decried "speculators," "rich bastards," and, "shopkeepers." Lenin said that "speculators … deserve … a bullet in the head." As the Nazis later would, the communists recruited many of their murderous thugs from the dregs of society. Thus, communism may be defined as the execrable executing the exceptional.

Leaving aside being forced to read all three volumes of Das Kapital, the communists' means of torture included partial asphyxiation, burning with red hot irons, confinement in tiny cells without plumbing, systematic rape and forced prostitution of "bourgeois women," mock execution, beatings, near starvation, being forced to eat the flesh of recently executed family members, forced marches, electric shocks, kneeling on broken glass, being manacled in tight handcuffs, hanging by the wrists or thumbs, and prolonged sleep deprivation leading to madness.

When communists were not destroying individual persons, they were busy destroying individual personality. They made heavy use of concentration camps and transported prisoners there in cattle trucks (sound familiar?). Prisoners were deprived of all privacy and were forced to confess their innermost thoughts. Spies were everywhere. No one could be trusted. There was only the "brutish imposition of a heavy-handed ideology" and the "permanent saturation with the message of orthodoxy." The result was an "abdication of the personality."

To rationalize their mass murder and torture, the communists first used the technique usually associated with the National Socialists — rhetorically dehumanizing their enemies. The communists exhorted their thugs to "shoot them like dogs," and referred to the bourgeoisie as "vultures," "pygmies," "foxes," "lice," "insects," and "pigs."

Left-liberals, who on economic issues favor a dictatorship of the majority, would have been happy with socialized medicine, communal day care, and the total abolition of private firearms. Lenin, in a cautiously worded policy analysis, recommended "immediate execution for anyone caught in possession of a firearm." He understood that "gun control" means the control that an armed citizenry has over a tyrannical government. The Bolsheviks systematically disarmed the peasants before systematically starving millions of them to death. Peasant pitchforks proved no match for Bolshevik machine guns.

Liberals also would have been ecstatic over the enshrinement of their moronic slogan "People over Profits" by the communists. There was not a capitalist profit to be made in communist countries, other than a few rubles for waiting in line to buy toilet paper for a comrade.

I knew that the communists killed millions. There were surprises in the book, however. In the winter of 1939–40, many Polish Jews fled east to escape the advancing German army. They ran into the heroic Red Army, which five years later would boast of liberating the Jews from concentration camps. The Red Army greeted the fleeing Jews with bayonets and machine-gun fire. Many Jews returned to the German sector. Ultimately, 400,000 Polish Jews who ended up in Soviet-controlled territory died during deportation, brutal concentration camp life, and forced labor.

The Black Book of Communism is a brilliant description of the crimes of communism. Its concluding chapter, written by Courtois, which attempts to explain "Why?" faces a more difficult challenge. The "why?" will perhaps never be fully understood. Courtois points to a number of factors, many of which are related to the philosophical similarities between communists and left-liberals previously discussed.

The inability of the individual to govern himself without coercive direction from the state. Courtois locates the genesis of Leninist terror in the French Revolution. Robespierre ruled by fear and terror because the people "were not yet pure enough" to grasp the wisdom of the revolution. All left-wing thought is premised on the individual's inherent inability, intellectually and morally, to function without continual direction from the state.

Elitism. Of course, if people are incapable of successful living without external guidance, that implies the need for a small elite, the "moral guardians of society" — Courtois's words describing the Bolsheviks' self-image — to give them their marching orders.

Utopianism. This concept is critical to understanding the crimes of communism. Utopians posit some imagined, allegedly ideal state of affairs, which, not being grounded in human nature and the human condition, cannot be achieved. Yet, it must be achieved, and since it is the ultimate moral value, any and all means necessary to achieve this ideal are sanctioned. As Courtois writes:

"the real motivation for the terror … stemmed from … the utopian will to apply to society a doctrine totally out of step with reality. … In a desperate attempt to hold onto power, the Bolsheviks made terror an everyday part of their policies, seeking to remodel society in the image of their theory, and to silence those who, either through their actions or their very social, economic, or intellectual existence, pointed to the gaping holes in the theory. … Marxism-Leninism deified the system itself, so that categories and abstractions were far more important than any human reality"

Egalitarianism. The primary targets of communism were persons of accomplishment: businessmen, successful farmers, intellectuals, and priests. It was easy to harness the natural envy of the masses toward their betters, particularly when this age-old envy was dressed up in utopian and moralistic terms.

The efficacy of force. Naturally, at the heart of Leninism was a fervent belief in the use of force and violence. Society can be improved by killing, starving, torturing and generalized terror. Trotsky said it best: "only force can be the deciding factor … Whoever aims at the end cannot reject the means."

Violence begets violence. Courtois deems it significant that communism first emerged from the wreckage of World War I. The war "to make the world safe for democracy" made it safe for a murderous communist dictatorship in Russia. The senseless violence of the war habituated the Russian people to the senseless violence of Leninism and Stalinism. Later communist regimes were nurtured in the womb of other senseless wars. Courtois quotes Martin Malia:

"crime begets crime, and violence violence, until the first crime in the chain, the original sin of the genus, is expiated through accumulated suffering… it was the blood of August 1914, acting like some curse of the Atreidae on the house of modern Europe, that generated the chain of international and social violence that has dominated the modern age."



George Soros gives money to false prophet

THE global financial crisis, the latest episode of which boiled over last week, did more than destroy wealth and jobs, or embarrass the rating agencies. It exposed the malaise within the economics profession and the deep flaws in its orthodox theories.

George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, was among those who joined the search for new ideas.

Mr Soros funded a new organisation called the Institute for New Economic Thinking which for the past two years has handed out millions of dollars in grants, funding research projects that look at economics in fresh ways.

This month, the institute gave more than $125,000 to an Australian. Steve Keen, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance at the University of Western Sydney, has won a grant to turn his money-based model of the macro-economy - which draws on the theories of economists such as Hyman Minsky and John Maynard Keynes - into a computer program for students and economists.

Professor Keen says his program will make it easy to develop "dynamic" models of the economy that incorporate money and debt - something that orthodox models do not do.

Last year, Professor Keen had to walk from Canberra to Mount Kosciuszko after losing a bet with Rory Robertson, the then interest rate strategist for Macquarie Bank.

Professor Keen had bet in 2008 that Australian house prices would lose 40 per cent in value in the aftermath of the financial crisis.. [They showed only a slight fall overall]



"Campaign finance reform" is a crock designed to protect incumbents

Washington state provides a fresh example of the exhaustion of the "campaign finance reform" project, which tries to empower government to restrict speech about the composition and conduct of government.

The state law at issue is awful, but usefully awful: It perfectly illustrates how the political class crafts campaign regulations for the purpose of protecting the job security of members of that class – elected incumbents.

Pierce County, near Seattle, has an assessor-treasurer, Dale Washam, whose comportment in office has offended Robin Farris and others. The details about what Washam has done to stir a recall clamor need not concern us; courts consider whether the details are sufficiently grave before allowing a recall election to proceed. For the record, the Tacoma News Tribune says Washam's two-year tenure "has turned a minor government office into a fountain of perpetual controversy. ... Investigations state that Washam retaliated against his employees, wasted government resources, abused his power and hindered the inquiries. Costs of those investigations and other legal matters tied to Washam's office now exceed $108,000. Four damage claims – preludes to lawsuits – seek a collective total of $4.25 million."

The right of the people to vote to recall elected officials is a legacy of Western populism. Farris, a retired naval officer not previously politically active, and some kindred spirits have failed to gain enough signatures to force a vote to remove Washam – perhaps because of the impediments to signature gathering.

Not unreasonably, Washington state law, in order to prevent attempts to overturn elections for frivolous reasons, requires a superior court judge to have a "sufficiency hearing" to determine whether the charges against an official attain a threshold of seriousness by involving "malfeasance or misfeasance." This judge's opinion can be appealed to the state Supreme Court. So a recall campaign necessarily involves significant litigation expenses – even before beginning the efforts to collect sufficient signatures to get the recall question on the ballot.

What is, therefore, highly unreasonable – and unconstitutional – is the regime of restrictions on raising and spending money on recall campaigns. So say Farris and the Oldfield & Helsdon law firm, which ran afoul of state law when it volunteered to do pro bono work on behalf of Farris and the Recall Dale Washam Committee she helped to organize.

Farris and the firm are represented by the Institute for Justice – a public-interest law firm based in Arlington, Va. State law restricts individual contributions to most recall campaigns to $800. This low limit on the indispensable means of disseminating political speech is a huge impediment to buying newspaper advertising. Such advertising is necessary – see above – to collect the requisite 65,495 signatures in a county of 1,800 square miles.

And the $800 limit has a wee constitutional defect: The Supreme Court has held that the only permissible reason for any limits on political contributions is to prevent corruption or the appearance thereof – basically, quid pro quo transactions between candidates and their supporters. But who exactly can be corrupted by the spending of persons supporting the recall of an elected official?

It gets worse. Washington state says that lawyers who do pro bono work on behalf of a recall effort – who volunteer their time to help with litigation the state makes mandatory – must count their time as a financial contribution subject to the $800 limit. This, too, has the effect, surely intended, of crippling recall efforts.

You almost have to admire the audacity of Washington state's political class in writing a law that constitutes such a comprehensive attack on citizens' First Amendment rights of speech and of association – of assembling to petition for redress of grievances.

The law provides a right of recall – and then vitiates that right. It turns a de jure right into a de facto nullity by mandating an expensive process, then arbitrarily limiting the ability of participants to meet those expenses. It does this by placing low limits on monetary contributions to recall campaigns and, even more insidiously, it compels volunteer lawyers to monetize the time they contribute to litigation the state requires.

This rigging of a process threatening to the serenity of the political class is unambiguous proof that protection of that class is always a – in this case the – purpose of government regulation of politics in the name of "campaign finance reform."




The Constitution may not be perfect — but it is much better than what we have now!: "Our Constitution created a pro-property rights, pro-contract rule of law -- a system promoting entrepreneurial growth. On this 224th Anniversary of the creation of the Constitution, the business community should recognize its value and act to defend it. The Founders sought a balance between the need for a strong government (Madison’s observation that because men aren’t angels, governments are necessary) and George Washington’s warning that government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a powerful master."

The Social Security reality: "Although Mr. Perry's Ponzi analogy is not technically correct, it has some validity in that Social Security benefits are financed by ever more subscribers -- that is, wage earners. But unlike a Ponzi scheme, Social Security is not fraudulent, and it doesn't pay large benefits relative to taxes. Indeed, it pays low benefits. A Ponzi scheme promises high returns. That's why people freely, although foolishly, play the game. Social Security promises low returns. That's why people are forced to play the game."

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

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

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


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


25 September, 2011

Is Hispanic immigration a threat to the GOP?

Although almost totally marginalized within Republican establishment ranks, the anti-immigrationist wing of the conservative movement has maintained a vigorous intellectual presence on the Internet. Over the years, its flagship organ, the VDare.com website run by Peter Brimelow, a former National Review senior editor, has been scathing in its attacks on the so-called Rove Strategy, instead proposing a contrasting approach christened the Sailer Strategy, after Steve Sailer, its primary architect and leading promoter (who has himself frequently written for The American Conservative). In essence, what Sailer proposes is the polar opposite of Rove’s approach, which he often ridicules as being based on a mixture of (probably dishonest) wishful thinking and sheer innumeracy.

Consider, for example, Rove’s oft-repeated mantra that a Republican presidential candidate needs to win something approaching 40 percent of the national Hispanic vote or have no chance of reaching the White House. During the last several election cycles, Hispanic voters represented between 5 and 8 percent of the national total, so the difference between a candidate winning an outstanding 50 percent of that vote and one winning a miserable 30 percent would amount to little more than just a single percentage point of the popular total, completely insignificant based on recent history.

Furthermore, presidential races are determined by the electoral college map rather than popular-vote totals, and the overwhelming majority of Hispanics are concentrated either in solidly blue states such as California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey, or solidly red ones such as Texas and Georgia, reducing their impact to almost nothing. Any Republican fearful of a loss in Texas or Democrat worried about carrying California would be facing a national defeat of epic proportions, in which Hispanic preferences would constitute a trivial component. Pursuing the Hispanic vote for its own sake seems a clear absurdity.

Even more importantly, Sailer argues that once we throw overboard the restrictive blinkers of modern “political correctness” on racial matters, certain aspects of the real world become obvious. For nearly the last half-century, the political core of the Republican Party has been the white vote, and especially the votes of whites who live in the most heavily non-white states, notably the arc of the old Confederacy. The political realignment of Southern whites foreshadowed by the support that Barry Goldwater attracted in 1964 based on his opposition to the Civil Rights Act and that constituted George Wallace’s white-backlash campaign of 1968 eventually became a central pillar of the dominant Reagan majority in the 1980s.

In many cases, this was even true outside the Deep South, as the blue-collar whites of Macomb County and other areas surrounding overwhelmingly black cities such as Detroit became the blue-collar Reagan Democrats who gave the GOP a near lock on the presidency. While the politics of racial polarization might be demonized in liberal intellectual circles, it served to elect vast numbers of Republicans to high and low office alike. George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad and Jesse Helms’s “White Hands” ad have been endlessly vilified by the media, but they contributed to unexpected come-from-behind victories for the candidates willing to run them. And in politics, winning is the only metric of success.

Sailer suggests that a very similar approach would work equally well with regard to the hot-button issue of immigration and the rapidly growing Hispanic population, arguing that the votes of this group could be swamped by those of an angry white electorate energized along racial lines. He cites Pete Wilson’s unexpected California gubernatorial reelection victory in 1994 as a perfect example. Deeply unpopular due to a severe statewide recession and desperately behind in the polls, Wilson hitched his candidacy to a harsh media campaign vilifying illegal immigrants, and although his Hispanic support plummeted, his white support soared to an equal extent, giving him a landslide victory in a race the pundits had written off and sweeping in a full slate of victorious down-ticket Republicans.

Sailer’s simple point is that individual white votes count just as much as Hispanic ones, and since there are vastly more of the former, attracting these with racially-charged campaign themes might prove very politically productive.

An additional fact noted by Sailer is that the racial demographics of a given region can be completely misleading from a political perspective. As mentioned earlier, Hispanics and other immigrants tend to be much younger than whites and much less likely to hold citizenship. Therefore, a state or region in which whites have become a numerical minority may still possess a large white supermajority among the electorate. Once again, today’s California provides a telling example, with Hispanics and whites now being about equal in numbers according to the Census, but with whites still regularly casting three times as many votes on Election Day.

The Sailer analysis is ruthlessly logical. Whites are still the overwhelming majority of voters, and will remain so for many decades to come, so raising your share of the white vote by just a couple of points has much more political impact than huge shifts in the non-white vote. As whites become a smaller and smaller portion of the local population in more and more regions, they will naturally become ripe for political polarization based on appeals to their interests as whites. And if Republicans focus their campaigning on racially charged issues such as immigration and affirmative action, they will promote this polarization, gradually transforming the two national political parties into crude proxies for direct racial interests, effectively becoming the “white party” and the “non-white party.” Since white voters are still close to 80 percent of the national electorate, the “white party”—the Republicans—will end up controlling almost all political power and could enact whatever policies they desired, on both racial and non-racial issues.

Many might find this political scenario quite distasteful or unnerving, but that does not necessarily render it implausible. In fact, over the last couple of decades, this exact process has unfolded in many states across the Deep South, with elected white Democrats becoming an increasingly endangered species. Each election year, blacks overwhelmingly vote for the “black party,” whites overwhelmingly vote for the “white party,” and since whites are usually two-thirds or so of the electorate, they almost invariably win at the polls. Although Republican consultants and pundits make enormous efforts to camouflage or ignore this underlying racial reality, it exists nonetheless.

By contrast, appeals for white support based on racial cohesion would be almost total nonstarters in 95 percent white Vermont or New Hampshire, or in many other states of the North in which the local demographics still approximate those of the country that overwhelmingly supported the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. But today’s national white percentages are much closer to those of 1960s Alabama and Mississippi, where whites fought that legislation tooth and nail on racial grounds. And as the nation’s overall demography continues its inexorable slide from that of Vermont to that of Mississippi, will white politics move in that same direction, especially if given a push?

Now I think a strong case can be made that such a process of deliberate racial polarization in American politics might have numerous adverse consequences for the future well-being of our country, sharply divided as it would become between hostile white and non-white political blocs of roughly equal size. But given the extremely utilitarian mentality of those who practice electoral politics for a living, the more important question we should explore is whether it would actually work, purely on the political level.

Much more HERE


Fear and loathing for conservatives in Chicago

Jeff Carter

Friday morning on CNBC, Joe Kernan was teasing Jack Welch about living in NYC. Joe said, “Most of your friends are liberal.”. I empathize with that.

I live in Chicago. It’s home of machine politics. Politicians of course will tell you there is no machine but they are full of Obama stimulus. Normal Chicagoans that try to do business in the city will quote you chapter and verse stories of graft and payola. Chicagoans know how the machine works.

I actually find that there are very few true blue Democrats in Chicago. It’s just that the machine is established in the Democratic Party and inertia pushes them that way. So many people make so much money off the machine, you just can’t change it. But, there are enough hard core true believing Democrats around to keep the ship sailing straight.

When people find out that I am a conservative, there are three reactions. One, they can’t believe it and think I am kidding them, but then talk to me and we become friends. The second is abject horror, they sort of tolerate me but behind my back they insult me. The third is they start pigeon holing me into the most radical of conservative classes.

There are many people in Chicago that I know that will not invite me to parties because I am a conservative. It makes them uncomfortable. Welch said on CNBC that sometimes he has to keep his mouth shut if he wants to have a social life on the upper east side of NYC.

Many times at cocktail parties, my wife and I are introduced as “their conservatives but they are okay”, or “our favorite Republicans”, or “the only Republicans I know”.

I do have some very good friends that are pretty liberal and they are accepting of me. We actually have a lot of common ground on some things. We get together and have a good time, but I wonder how they would feel if they were in the minority?

At some parties that I have been to, I have found some conservatives. They tell me in hushed tones under their breath. They are afraid people might find out. It would compromise them professionally, and personally. It’s far easier to be gay and come out of the closet than it is to be a conservative in the city of Chicago.

I have been invited to parties as the “token Republican” in a room full of fire breathing liberals. Once, as I was riding in the elevator down from one, a professor said, “Wouldn’t it be better if only people like us could vote.”. When I mentioned to him his statement sounded like the poll taxes and Jim Crow laws he was not amused.

One time I was at a dinner. At the end of the dinner a far left lawyer asked my daughter, “Do you get both sides at home?”. I retorted, “No, she goes to school. She gets the other side in the classroom.”. Probably a bit caustic. I don’t think the lawyer understood, but that is the nature of the left these days.

It’s always fascinating to me that liberal Democrats are supposed to be all accepting, and the live and let live party. However, in practice I find they are less tolerant, and want to tell and direct everyone more than the right wing Christian conservatives they love to pillory.



Where are the jobs for the college-graduates going to come from?

An email below and then a response

What I don’t see, and I would suspect that Rand Corp Think Tank guys are still pondering the multiple possibilities of the issue, is the plight of college graduates…something of immense concern to me because of the potential “revolutionary” pressures that could be (are?) building.

A recent statistic indicated that 80%-85% of the 2011 college graduating class moved back in with their families because of the lack of “career-centered” work. That would be close to 2 million graduates from my understanding of the numbers. I don’t have the figures from 2010, but I know they are large and 2012, 2013….20xx(?)…still bad news since employment recovery is estimated to take at least 3 years to secure jobs for the 12-14 million unemployed (and that doesn’t count the 25 million of part-timers, many looking for full-time). I also don’t believe the unemployed and part-time statistics fully account for the unemployed group of students who have never been employed.

So…..the basic question being what do you do with an ever increasing pool of excessively educated people who, for arguments sake, now will compete for the blue collar jobs or find that their only income is to replace some Indian in Bombay doing customer service tips for Verizon customers?

I sensed a similar situation several years ago happening in China, only there the college educated issue is 10X the U.S. problem. One difference of course is that the rise in the college educated ranks in China is quite a bit the result of government mandates to be educated with little regard to where they will place those college taught skills. In fact, one of the places for them is in the blue-collar ranks and I have seen it happening.

Our society could be facing a redistribution of attitude, politics, and social life style that makes the 60′s/70′s Viet Nam counter-culture revolution appear microscopic. What do you hear from your learned friends on the issue?

A response

There are no solutions. That’s the problem. There is no theory of a steady-state modern, industrial, or post-industrial, if you will, economy. The entire planet has ventured into new territory and we are not sufficiently evolved socially, let alone morally, to handle it. And 19th century economic theories on the part of the Chinese, the Obamites and Eurozone twits will not suffice. Personally, I don’t think anybody in power really knows what they’re doing other than, to some extent, how to maintain their own power – for the time being, that is.

We find ourselves on an insane planet run by the inmates. And there are no political answers. As far as I can tell, the American experiment is winding down to an unsuccessful completion.



Gallup: Majority in U.S. Continues to Distrust the Media, Perceive Bias

More perceive liberal bias than conservative bias

The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 44% of Americans who have a great deal or fair amount of trust and the 55% who have little or no trust remain among the most negative views Gallup has measured.

The majority of Americans (60%) also continue to perceive bias, with 47% saying the media are too liberal and 13% saying they are too conservative, on par with what Gallup found last year. The percentage of Americans who say the media are "just about right" edged up to 36% this year but remains in the range Gallup has found historically.

Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively.

Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right.


Americans remain largely distrusting of the news media, with 55% saying they have little or no trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly, and 60% perceiving bias one way or the other. These views are largely steady compared with last year, even as the media landscape continues to change rapidly.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

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

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


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


24 September, 2011

Abbas gives his final answer to Palestinian statehood

On Friday afternoon, Abbas said he was adamant about not recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.

"They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state," Abbas said in a meeting with some 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the US, shortly before taking the podium and delivering a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.


What he denies to Israel will inevitably be denied to him


A veiled threat of a pre-emptive strike on Iran?

Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's speech to the UN. The reference to an Iranian winter suggests a nuclear winter and when it is followed by a statment that: "I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking", it seems rather clear that Israel is ready to use nuclear weapons to contain the Iranian threat

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland -- it was then that this was braided -- branded, rather -- shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't praised; it was denounced! And it's here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel -- the one true democracy in the Middle East.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me -- and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here's what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel's prime minister, I didn't come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is -- the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have. (Applause.)

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents -- in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday -- can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.



It's an old story

Why shouldn't the United Nations recognize an Arab state of Palestine alongside the Jewish one called Israel? It wouldn't be the first time. On November 29, 1947, the UN's General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, to partition the disputed territory then called Palestine into two states whose people were going to live happily ever afterward.

Fat lot of good it did.

Riots erupted throughout the over-Promised Land as soon as the vote was recorded. The Arab Higher Committee for Palestine declared it would "fight for every inch" of old Palestine. The learned sages of Al-Azhar University in Cairo declared jihad against the infidels. (The term would become familiar to Americans after September 11, 2001).

Arab militias, aka gangs, began attacking Jewish settlements all across the Galilee. The British, who were supposed to keep the peace as the mandatory authority in Palestine, declared themselves unable to stop the assaults; they had all they could do to disarm the Jews. They wound up turning over their bases in the country to the Arab fighters streaming across the border from what was then Trans-Jordan. ("I will have the pleasure and honor to save Palestine." --King Abdullah I, April 26, 1948.) Suspected of making peace with the Jews, the king would be assassinated by the inevitable fanatic three years later. The UN, to no one's surprise, would prove as impotent then as it is now. It still passes plenty of resolutions; only resolve is lacking.

In 1947, the American president who was shifting back and forth on the Palestine question, now known as the Middle East conflict, was Harry Truman. He would wind up recognizing the Jewish state once it was declared. By then it was a presidential election year, and one of his political advisers (a then young Clark Clifford) kept urging Mr. Truman to support the idea of a Jewish state if he intended to carry New York in the fall.

In 2011, the American president shifting back and forth is Barack Obama. Appearing before the United Nations this past week, he was no longer emphasizing the need for Israel to negotiate on the basis of its vulnerable pre-1967 borders, which were essentially the 1949 armistice lines. Instead, he shifted his emphasis to urging direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, which the Israelis very much want to resume.

It's a familiar pattern: The closer a presidential election year gets, the closer an American president gets to the Israeli position. Especially if the president's party has just lost a congressional election in a largely Jewish district of New York, as Barack Obama's just did. It would be unfair to say that this president puts his vaguely leftish ideology first when it comes to making important decisions. It's clear, as in this case, that he puts winning re-election first. I'm not sure which is worse.



Who's Your Daddy?

For millions of folks, the federal government is now their sugar daddy. According to The Wall Street Journal, 47 percent of people in this country, both citizens and non-citizens, are receiving one or more federal benefits payments. That is the highest entitlement percentage in U.S. history.

And that's just the way some in the Democratic Party want it. Get the folks hooked on government benefits, and you'll have their votes for life because those mean Republicans are so full of self-reliance that they'll always oppose federal largesse.

From 2007 to 2010, the Democratic-controlled Congress added $5.3 trillion to America's already astronomical debt -- a record spending spree over a three-year period of time. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the wild ride, with Presidents Bush and Obama signing off on the binge.

Now, the USA is approaching bankruptcy, and the Democrats still don't want to rein in spending. They fight cuts every step of the way, offering up phony "take the rich" mantras to deceive the voting public into believing that increasing revenue will dig America out of its well of red ink.

Liberal Americans like to think of themselves as compassionate, championing a vast flow of public money to those who have not. But what is compassionate about wrecking an entire economy?

America's economic status was downgraded because our government has failed to deal aggressively with deficit spending. The dollar is being hammered because confidence in it is flagging all over the world. While countries like Switzerland and Germany retain healthy balance sheets, the USA is following the philosophy of Zorba the Greek: dancing all day long rather than confronting the reality of irresponsible behavior.

Simply put: The federal government cannot continue fiddling while the economy burns. It must begin implementing aggressive spending cuts across the board.

If that were to happen, we finally could look at revenue enhancement in a fair and effective way.

But it's a lot easier to trot out Warren Buffett in the role of the ancient mariner. My secretary pays more income tax than I do, he whines. Well, Warren, you could write a monstrous check to the Treasury anytime you wish in order to right that wrong. But demanding the feds raise the capital gains tax will assure a long winter for the stock market. Would it not?

President Obama will not win re-election on the class warfare ticket, but it seems he is determined to try. By all means, close up loopholes that allow corporations like General Electric to avoid paying taxes. Yes, dial back lavish deductions that fat cats use to dodge responsible tax payment. But let's knock off the "fair share" myth, OK? Affluent Americans have been paying a disproportionate amount of income tax for decades, and still the nation remains deeply in debt.

Punishing achievement is not the road to fiscal solvency, Mr. President. Just ask the Swiss.



Look What We've Made in Taiwan

As I write this column, my plane is taking off from Taiwan's Taoyuan Airport to bring me back home. It was a special visit to Taiwan -- one that helped put so many earlier visits into a larger perspective.

My first visit to Taiwan occurred 40 years ago. The changes since then have been remarkable.

When I first visited, U.S. foreign aid was still a mainstay of the Taiwan development pattern. Today Taiwan provides assistance to other nations. Back then, products made in Taiwan were certainly not high-quality -- the label "made in Taiwan" was something of a joke.

Today workers there build components for the most sophisticated consumer electronics and high-tech industries around. "Made in Taiwan" is now a label of quality and a badge of pride.

On the political front, Taiwan has long since shed its martial-law past and has evolved into a full-fledged democracy. In January 2012, elections for the legislature and the presidency will take place. The two primary candidates for president are running neck and neck, and the people of Taiwan are paying attention to real policy questions.

The Americans who participated in the first policy roundtable discussion -- liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats -- have served in various presidential administrations over the years, but all of us share a single commitment. We've seen how Taiwan has developed as a democracy with free institutions. We've seen it become home to a thriving, market-based economy and a carefully constructed rule of law. And we're determined to highlight the fact that these principles can indeed work in the Chinese context.

It's important for other leaders throughout Asia to recognize this. It's also a moment for us to take pride that we have stood by the people of Taiwan through some difficult times and worked with them in developing a free and prosperous society.


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

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


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


23 September, 2011

Leftist "civility" again -- including racial slur: "Chink"

‘Go Give Someone a Pedicure Chink’: Alec Baldwin Fans Attack Michelle Malkin Over Davis Execution

Wednesday’s execution of convicted murderer Troy Davis sparked heated, passionate debate, though perhaps no protests reached the same level of vitriol as a Twitter exchange between actor Alec Baldwin and conservative commentator Michelle Malkin.

Baldwin live-tweeted a chronicle of events as they unfolded Wednesday, including the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant a last-minute stay of execution. Once it was announced that Davis was dead, shortly after 11 p.m., Baldwin turned his ire toward Malkin, who had also been following the developments:

It didn’t stop there. Over the next couple hours, Baldwin attacked former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the “blood-thirsty right wing trash”:

On her own Twitter page, Malkin began re-posting and responding to some of the hateful, racist slurs she began receiving from other online users, presumably at Baldwin’s behest:

It appears Malkin was the first one to engage Baldwin Wednesday night with the following tweet touching off the ensuing back-and-forth:

Regardless, the sheer level of maliciousness Malkin received in return is decidedly stunning. Incidentally, Baldwin’s attacks on Malkin did not end Wednesday night. Thursday morning, he posted:



More "civility"

Texas Teacher Calls Tea Party President A ‘Nazi’

On Tuesday, the San Antonio Tea Party was part of a panel supported by a local public radio station – 89.1 KSTX. The topic of discussion – the DREAM Act and the problem of illegal immigration.

Jonathon Bryant, a Government Studies teacher from John F. Kennedy High School attended the event along with some of his students (who, according to Bryant, may be illegals). Mr. Bryant asked a question of the panel about students that were illegal aliens and what should be done with them.

After the president of the group affirmed his support for the laws governing illegal aliens in the schools, Mr. Bryant just couldn’t contain himself. He decided to levy a “Nazi” charge:



Bam's Government Loans to Nowhere Bill

Michelle Malkin

President Obama still hasn't learned the classic First Rule of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging. Up to his earlobes in failed stimulus grants and tainted federal loan guarantees, the shoveler in chief tunneled forward this week on his latest Government Loans to Nowhere bill. His willful ignorance is America's abyss.

Little noticed in the White House jobs-for-cronies proposal is a provision creating yet another corruption-friendly "government corporation" that would dole out public infrastructure loans and loan guarantees.

Because, you know, the government-chartered, political hack-stacked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "public-private partnerships" -- which have incurred an estimated $400 billion in losses while enriching bipartisan Beltway operatives -- worked out so well for American taxpayers.

The new monstrosity, dubbed the "American Infrastructure Financing Authority" (AIFA), would "provide direct loans and loan guarantees to facilitate investment in economically viable infrastructure projects of regional or national significance," according to the White House plan.

President Obama would have the power to appoint AIFA's chief executive officer and a seven-member board of directors. No doubt the nominees would include the likes of AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka on the left and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the right -- strange Obama bedfellows who have formed a Big Labor-Big Business-Big Government alliance supporting Obama's infrastructure slush fund.

In addition, a new bureaucracy to support AIFA would be created, including a "Chief Lending Officer" in charge of "all functions of AIFA relating to the development of project pipeline, financial structuring of projects, selection of infrastructure projects"; the "creation and management of a Center for Excellence to provide technical assistance to public sector borrowers in the development and financing of infrastructure projects"; and creation and funding of "an Office of Rural Assistance to provide technical assistance in the development and financing of rural infrastructure projects."

In its first two years, AIFA would rake in $10 billion in congressional appropriations; $20 billion over the next seven years; and $50 billion per fiscal year after that. How would Obama ensure the loan review process is protected from special interest favor-trading and White House meddling? If the ongoing, half-billion-dollar stimulus-funded Solyndra solar company loan debacle is any indication, the answer is: not very well.

And consider Obama's naked partisan stunt on Thursday at the Brent Spence Bridge connecting GOP House Speaker John Boehner's home state of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky. "There's no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects. There's no reason to stand in the way of more jobs," he railed. "Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work. Pass this jobs bill right away!"

While he has high-mindedly called on "Washington" (as if he isn't at the center of it) to put country over politics, he continues to use tax dollars to travel the country for campaign events assailing Republicans in front of decrepit bridges that wouldn't see a dime of his "immediate" jobs bill money for years. If ever.

The point was made not by evil GOP obstructionists, but by the local Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, which pointed out that the Brent Spence Bridge is not named in Obama's jobs bill, has no guarantee of funding in the jobs bill, and "is still in the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance phase. In a best case scenario, the earliest that workers would be hired would be in 2013, but more likely 2015."

It gets worse. Obama's infrastructure loan corps wouldn't just oversee bridge loans to nowhere. The AIFA board would get to dispense billions and score political points for their favorite photo-op-ready roads, mass transit, inland waterways, commercial ports, airports, air traffic control systems, passenger rail, high-speed rail, freight rail, wastewater treatment facilities, storm water management systems, dams, solid-waste disposal facilities, drinking water treatment facilities, levees, power transmission and distribution, storage, and energy-efficiency enhancements for buildings.

As I reported in my Tuesday column, a separate $6 billion "private nonprofit corporation" would be created by the Obama jobs plan to oversee the "Public Safety Broadband Corporation." The panel would consist of 11 board members and four Obama administration officials. It, too, would be tasked with choosing winners and losers. Instead of local and state governments overseeing construction, this new federally created investing entity would "hold the single public safety wireless license granted under section 281 and take all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a secure and resilient nationwide public safety interoperable broadband network."

Given last week's bombshell revelations of White House pressure on military and government officials to promote the president's old broadband cronies at shady LightSquared Inc., the idea of empowering a new Obama bureaucracy to dole out more broadband contracts in the name of "public safety" is unsettling at best. Deeper and deeper we go.



Romneycare update

A leading indicator of where Obamacare is heading

Paying for more benefits for more people inevitably makes medicine more expensive. Costs for Commonwealth Care, the Massachusetts government's subsidized insurance program alone are up a fifth over initial projections. Last year State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill wrote: "The universal insurance coverage we adopted in 2006 was projected to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. However, since this program was adopted in 2006, our health-care costs have in total exceeded $4 billion. The cost of Massachusetts' plan has blown a hole in the Commonwealth's budget."

State finances have not collapsed only because RomneyCare spread the costs widely, forcing virtually everyone in and out of the state to share the pain. Cahill cited federal subsidies as keeping the state afloat financially. Indeed, a June study from the Beacon Hill Institute concluded that "The state has been able to shift the majority of the costs to the federal government." The Institute pointed to higher costs of $8.6 billion since the law was implemented. Just $414 million was paid by Massachusetts. Medicaid (federal payments) covered $2.4 billion. Medicare took care of $1.4 billion.

But even more costs, $4.3 billion, have been imposed on the private sector — employers, insurers, and residents. This estimate is in line with an earlier study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which figured that 60% of the new costs fell on individuals and businesses.

As expenses have risen, so have premiums. Noted Kuttner, "because serious cost containment was not part of the original package, premium costs in the commonwealth have risen far faster than nationally — by 10.3%, the most recent year available." Economists John F. Cogan, Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel Kessler figured that RomneyCare inflated premiums by 6% from 2006 to 2008. This at a time where the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care was displacing private insurance for many people, thereby reducing demand, which should have reduced cost pressures.

Unfortunately, noted the Beacon Hill Institute, "private companies have no choice but to pass the higher costs onto the insured. Some of these costs fall in the double-digit range." That naturally displeased public officials, since it undercut their claim to have solved Massachusetts' health care problems.

Gov. Deval Patrick responded like King Canute: he insisted that premiums not rise. Predictably, his rejection of proposed rate hikes required insurers to operate at a loss and placed several in financial jeopardy.

Robert Dynan, the career insurance commissioner tasked with maintaining insurer solvency, wrote that the state "implemented artificial price caps on HMO rates. The rates, by design, have no actuarial support." Last year Sandy Praeger, Kansas' insurance Commissioner, observed: "Right now, premium increase have never been more political. If there is any way to justify not granting the increase, commissioners are looking for them."

Thankfully, Gov. Patrick's price controls did not fare well when challenged in court and his administration eventually negotiated reduced rate hikes. But the governor then came up with a new legislative program to arbitrarily reduce medical costs.

Even weaker restrictions would be counterproductive. The Beacon Hill Institute warned that "Controlling costs will translate into capping services provided by physicians and other caregivers. These are, in effect, price controls that will dampen the incentive to provide services and lead to longer wait times and the rationing of healthcare."

Even worse, bankrupt insurance carriers would mean either no health care coverage or expensive government bail-outs. Yet John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute detailed shrinking margins and pervasive losses for Massachusetts health insurers. He warned "that if politicians refuse to allow health plans to increase their premiums at a rate commensurate with the increase in medical costs, health plans will plunge into financial crisis within a remarkably short period of time." Indeed, carriers "will stand at the precipice of insolvency if the political class in Massachusetts insists on continuing to follow the path that it has chosen."

Unfortunately, worse is likely to come. The Rand Corporation concluded that "in the absence of policy change, health care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double to $123 billion in 2020, increasing 8% faster than the state's" GDP. Added Rand, continued cost increases of this magnitude "threaten the long-term viability of the initiative." Nor can the state count on an increasingly strapped federal government to continue its generous subsidies. Moreover, at some point people and businesses will flee the state rather than pay ever more to underwrite the state's health care program.

Finally, RomneyCare inflated demand for medical services without increasing the corresponding supply. The Beacon Hill Institute concluded: "The vast number of the newly insured residents in Massachusetts is responsible for bottlenecks in the primary care system that forces residents to utilize emergency room care at a significantly higher than expected rate."

A fifth of adults report difficulty in finding a physician to treat them. Earlier this year the Massachusetts Medical Society discovered "more than half of primary care practices closed to new patients, longer wait times to get appointments with primary and specialty physicians, and significant variations in physician acceptance of government and government-related insurance products."

New York internist Marc Siegel observed: "The wait time for an appointment is now routinely over a month for primary-care doctors and specialists. Internists and family practitioners report being so overwhelmed — too many patients, too much time pressure — that more than half are closing their practices to new patients." You'd think Massachusetts was a province of Canada.

The state's subsidized programs effectively drive away doctors. Explained Siegel: "More than half of primary-care docs in Massachusetts find themselves unable to work with Medicaid or Commonwealth Care (state-subsidized insurance), which both pay providers poorly." Acceptance rates are far lower than even for Medicare, and one Massachusetts legislator has proposed making medical licensure contingent upon acceptance of state-subsidized plans.

Although the expansion of insurance was supposed to reduce emergency room use, visits rose 9% from 2004 to 2008. Ironically, noted Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, "difficulties in getting primary care have led to an increasing number of patients who rely on emergency rooms for basic medical services." Thus, uncompensated care still costs more than $400 million annually.

The state also encouraged adverse selection, as predicted. Many healthy people chose to remain uninsured and pay the fine (or lie about having purchased coverage). They then bought insurance when sick, and dropped the policy when it was no longer necessary. Massachusetts was forced to institute an open enrollment period, limiting when people could sign up for insurance — an otherwise bizarre restriction when the objective is to increase the number of people insured.

ObamneyCare is bad policy. Gov. Romney's signature policy achievement, no less than President Obama's principal legislative victory, is a bust.


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

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


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


22 September, 2011

A small note on the Tuskegee Syphilis study of the 1930s

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study has been widely condemned as an example of American racism -- and Leftists love it for that reason. It enables them to be "holier than thou". THEY would never do such an evil thing! It is usually portrayed as the U.S. government infecting black men with syphilis.

The truth is nothing of the sort, of course. The key fact that nobody seems to notice is that the study lasted for 40 years. 40 years? Shouldn't the men have died long before that? Once you ask that question, the truth begins to come out. The men recruited for the study ALREADY HAD tertiary syphilis. And in the tertiary stage the disease has usually been naturally "beaten" in some way. In other words, most such patients are no longer ill and live on rather as if they had never been infected. THAT intriguing fact was what sparked the study. It was an attempt to get more information about the life history of tertiary syphilitics. Richard Shweder has all the details.

And the amusing thing is that the study was founded and carried out by "progressives". "Progressivism" was overwhelmingly dominant in pre-war America. And it wasn't even a government study initially. It was started by a private charity funded by the former chairman of Sears Roebuck, a Progressive Jew named Julius Rosenwald. A small excerpt from Wikipedia:
Julius Rosenwald, an American clothier, became part-owner ofSears, Roebuck and Company in 1895, and eventually served as its president from 1908 to 1922, and chairman of its Board of Directors until his death in 1932.He became interested in social issues, especially education for African Americans, and provided funding through Dr. Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college (HBCU), prior to founding the fund....

The Rosenwald Fund was also one of the original backers of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. With support from the Rosenwald Fund, an ambitious program had begun to improve the health of African Americans in US southern states in 1928. Emphasis was on treating people with syphilis, then found at a high rate in poor African-American communities.

I am pointing that out in the hope that it will take one of the Leftists' toys away from them. Where other facts fail to penetrate their prejudiced brains, perhaps the fact that the study was the work of a "progressive" Jewish philanthropist might cause them to lose their erections.


The Attack on Accidental Americans -- and would-be expatriates

Being American is a trap that is very difficult to escape. There's no Berlin wall but there is a big financial wall, courtesy of Obama. So too bad if Obama piles up debt for your children or devalues your savings

When Julie Veilleux discovered she was American, she went to the nearest US embassy to renounce her citizenship. Having lived in Canada since she was a young child, the 48-year-old had no idea she carried the burden of dual citizenship. But the renunciation will not clear away the past ten years of penalties with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).[1]

Born to American parents living in Canada, Kerry Knoll's two teenaged daughters had no clue they became dual citizens at birth. (An American parent confers such status on Canadian-born children.[2] ) Now the IRS wants to grab at money they earned in Canada from summer jobs; the girls had hoped to use their RESPs (registered education savings plans) for college.[3]

The IRS is making a worldwide push to squeeze money from Americans living abroad and from anyone who holds dual citizenship, whether they know it or not. It doesn't matter if the "duals" want US status, have never set foot on US soil, or never conducted business with an American. It doesn't matter if those targeted owe a single cent to the IRS. Unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States requires citizens living abroad to file tax forms on the money they do not owe as well as to report foreign bank accounts or holdings such as stocks or RSSPs. The possible penalty for not reporting is $10,000 per "disclosed asset" per year.

Thus, Americans and dual citizens living in Canada (or elsewhere) who do not disclose their local checking account — now labeled by the IRS as "an illegal offshore account" — are liable for fines that stretch back ten years and might amount to $100,000. A family, like the Knolls, in which there are two American parents and two dual-citizen children, might be collectively liable for $400,000.

Approximately 7 million Americans live abroad. According to the IRS, they received upwards of 400,000 tax returns from expatriates last year — a compliance rate of approximately 6 percent. Presumably the compliance of dual-citizen children is far lower. Customs and Immigration is now sharing information with the IRS and, should any of 94 percent expats or their accidentally American offspring set foot on US soil, they are vulnerable to arrest.

So far, the IRS push into foreign territory has been a rousing success by their own standards. In 2009, the IRS offered "amnesty" — that is, lessened but still hefty penalties — to whoever stepped forward to disclose foreign bank accounts. According to FOX Business News, the 2009 program netted

the government $2.2 billion in tax revenues … and $500 million in interest from the 2011 program, for a total of $2.7 billion.… Moreover, the IRS says it has yet to reap penalties from these evaders, which could rake in hundreds of millions more.
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman stated,

we are in the middle of an unprecedented period for our global international tax enforcement efforts. We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we are making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion.[4]

Going after the college money earned by children born and raised in Canada (or elsewhere) is just one part of the international enforcement effort. The entire package is called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA; it was a revenue-raising provision that was slipped into one of Obama's disastrous stimulus bills.

Starting in 2013 — or 2014 if an exemption is granted — every bank in the world will be required to report to the IRS all accounts held by current and former US citizens. If account holders refuse to provide verification of their non-US citizenship, the banks will be required to impose a 30 percent tax of all payments or transfers to the account on behalf of the IRS. Banks that do not comply will "face withholding on U.S.-source interest and dividends, gross proceeds from the disposition of U.S. securities, and pass-through payments."[5]

Australia and Japan have already declared their refusal to comply. Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has publicly stated that the proposed American legislation "has far-reaching extraterritorial implications. It would turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians."[6]

According to the Financial Post:

"Toronto-Dominion Bank is putting up a fight against a new U.S. regulation that would compel foreign banks to sort through billions of dollars of deposits to find U.S. citizens who might be hiding money.… TD has complained that the proposed IRS rule is unreasonable because it would require the bank to make US$100-million investment in new software and staff. Other lenders resisting the effort include Allianz SE of Germany, Aegon NV of the Netherlands and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.… Now the Canadian Bankers association has joined the fray. In an emailed statement the CBA called the requirement "highly complex" and "very difficult and costly for Canadian banks to comply with."[7]

The Financial Times reports:

"[O]ne of Asia's largest financial groups is quietly mulling a potentially explosive question: could it organise some of its subsidiaries so that they could stop handling all US Treasury bonds? Their motive has nothing to do with the outlook for the dollar.… Instead, what is worrying this particular Asian financial group is tax. In January 2013, the US will implement a new law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.…

[T]he new rules leave some financial officials fuming in places such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.… Implementing these measures is likely to be costly; in jurisdictions such as Singapore or Hong Kong, the IRS rules appear to contravene local privacy laws.… Hence the fact that some non-US asset managers and banking groups are debating whether they could simply ignore Fatca by creating subsidiaries that never touch US assets at all.

"This is complete madness for the US — America needs global investors to buy its bonds," fumes one bank manager. "But not holding US assets might turn out to be the easiest thing for us to do."[8]

Meanwhile, banking will become more difficult within the United States. FATCA will hold banks liable for any "improper" transfer of money to outside the United States. The Wealth Report, a financial analysis site, states:

"US banks will be desperately trying to cover their liability by checking the exact purpose of the payment, to make sure it doesn't come within the scope of the legislation. The burden of proof will naturally pass to the account holder who is trying to transfer money, to demonstrate that the transaction is not subject to the new withholding tax. If the sending bank in the USA has any doubt at all about the purpose of the transaction, they will be forced to deduct 30 percent tax. Net result? It is going to be darned difficult for anyone to transfer money out of the USA. If that isn't a form of currency control, then I don't know what is!"

Returning to the Little Guy and Gal

Expat Americans and children — a.k.a. dual citizens — will be caught in the indiscriminate steel net that the IRS wants to throw around the globe. Their innocence or ignorance will not matter. The IRS wants money. If expats and duals do not owe money from their earnings, then the IRS will pursue obscure reporting requirements and apply them to people who did not even know they were American. It will try to yank their college funds and drain their parents' retirement savings.

They can renounce their American citizenship but that is an imperfect solution. For one thing, it does not immunize them from the past ten years of nonreporting. For another, following the United States' "exit" sign takes many people directly through the Treasury Department where they may be required to pay a brutal one-time exit tax. Basically, for those with more than $2 million dollars in assets, the tax comes to $600,000.

Moreover, renunciation is a difficult process. The Globe and Mail is one of many Canadian newspapers now explaining to readers how they can renounce American citizenship. G&M states:

"Renouncing your U.S. citizenship starts with a hefty fee — $450 (U.S.), just for the chance to appear in front of a consular official. Need it done in a hurry? Forget about it. It can take about two years to get an appointment.[9]"

The true hope lies in a worldwide refusal to comply. The only power strong enough to rein in the United States is the world itself. There is hope that this will happen. Reuters declared:

"A U.S. law meant to snuff out billions of dollars in offshore tax evasion has drawn the criticism of the world's banks and business people, who dismiss it as imperialist and "the neutron bomb of the global financial system." … A senior American finance executive at the Hong Kong branch of a major investment house [declared] that FATCA was "America's most imperialist act since it invaded the Philippine Islands in 1899." The regulation … was "engendering a profound and growing anti-American sentiment abroad."[10]



Don't be deceived by the propaganda of the victors

A BOOK REVIEW of "Great Wars & Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal" By Ralph Raico. Reviewed by: George C. Leef

Essential to the maintenance of support for the government (almost any government, any time) is the idea that the nation’s wars have been just and heroic, and that the leaders who presided over them were great men. Ugly truths about those wars and leaders are routinely swept under the rug. Court historians (and yes, democracies have them) try to convince people that all the blood, sweat, and tears were never expended in vain.

History professor Ralph Raico is a dedicated opponent of the court historians’ cant and deception. Great Wars and Great Leaders is a collection of his essays challenging the conventional wisdom, ranging from the beginning of World War I to just after World War II.

As Robert Higgs notes in his introduction, “Raico’s historical essays are not for the faint of heart or for those whose loyalty to the U.S. or British state outweighs their devotion to truth and humanity.” Raico is usually called a “revisionist” historian, but a more fitting term would be “correctionist” because his work corrects false ideas that glorify wars and political leaders who deserve the sharpest condemnation.

The book’s opening essay is about World War I. What most Americans think they know about that war is roughly this: Militaristic Germany was itching for a reason to launch an expansionist war, and the outbreak of fighting in the Balkans gave it an excuse to attack the peaceful democracies France and Britain. Eventually the United States was compelled by German belligerence to enter the war and “make the world safe for democracy.”

The victors get to write the history, and Raico shows that it’s mostly wrong. The Germans and their Austrian allies were not as devilish as they’ve been portrayed, and the Allies were far from angelic. Most important, President Woodrow Wilson was an authoritarian eager to engage in military interventions to advance his fevered notions of “good government.” Raico points out that Wilson had sent U.S. troops into Mexico in 1914. Some of them died—utterly in vain.

Throughout 1915, 1916, and early 1917 Wilson pursued a provocative policy meant to serve British interests. He was glad to trample on international law with respect to the rights of neutrals and declined to pursue diplomatic efforts at restoring peace. Nevertheless, most historians grade Wilson a “near-great” president. Raico shows how undeserved that accolade is.

Winston Churchill’s lustrous reputation also takes a beating in the book. Most people think of Churchill as a rock-ribbed defender of Western traditions. After all, he was a Conservative prime minister who abhorred communism and fascism. Raico makes it plain, however, that he had no real principles when it came to the economic order. At one point in his career Churchill advocated free trade, but he later abandoned that position when it became a political liability. Nor was Churchill an opponent of the advancing British welfare state. He supported the Trades Union Act that gave legal privileges to unions and advocated “a sort of Germanized network of state intervention and regulation” over the labor market. That made him popular with the socialists. Beatrice Webb applauded him for his support of “constructive state action.”

There are hordes of politicians who will get on popular crusades even though they carry the seeds of long-run social ruin. What puts Churchill in a different class is his willingness to sacrifice innocent lives. Raico gives several particulars. Against the advice of his officers Churchill ordered the British fleet to fire on the French Navy, harbored at Mers-el-Kebir in Algeria after the Germans had defeated France in 1940. The French commander had said that he would neither surrender his ships to Britain nor permit them to fall into German hands. Nevertheless, the British shelled the ships, killing more than 1,500 sailors. Raico comments that this was a war crime and Germans at Nuremberg were sentenced to death for less. Worse still was the continuing bombing campaign against German cities long after it was evident that Hitler was on the verge of defeat. The bombing of Dresden, a city with no military importance, killed some 30,000 civilians in February 1945.

Another “great leader” Raico demolishes is Harry Truman. Truman is often praised these days for his supposed common sense, but the truth is that he was a statist demagogue whose instincts were to escalate the New Deal’s attacks on liberty and property. Americans are fortunate that most of his efforts were parried by Congress or the courts. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, about his decision to use atomic bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Raico eviscerates the excuse that Truman “had to” use the bomb because the Japanese would otherwise have fought on and killed half a million Americans.


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

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


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


21 September, 2011

Obama's Thought Police

The trouble with the White House's "Attack Watch" initiative

To whatever high school intern probably came up with the idea, the White House's "Attack Watch" website and Twitter account must have seemed a spark of genius. After all, they yoked together two trendy ideas—rapid response and crowd-sourcing—in service to the president. Give people the opportunity to report false and malicious things others are saying about Obama, so the administration and its supporters can fight back. What could possibly go wrong?

The intern—whoever it was—must have been too young to remember the left's Bush-era motto: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

But some adult in the West Wing ought to have stepped in. He or she should have pointed out that encouraging Americans to inform on their fellow citizens carries a whiff not just of Nixonian creepiness but of totalitarian menace.

Police states routinely rely on citizen informants; dungeon cells from Cuba to Saudi Arabia are full of political prisoners arrested for "insulting the president and the regime," "disrupting internal order," and other dysphemisms for speaking your mind.

Fortunately, Attack Watch inspired little more than a "national fit of giggling," as Reason magazine put it. Enemies of the People—i.e., conservatives—immediately began denouncing all manner of offenses against Our Beloved Leader: Someone was squeezing the Charmin in aisle six, reported one. Wrote another: "There's a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob."

Funny. But also not funny. Because this is not an isolated incident. It is only the latest in a string of episodes in which the administration has made itself look creepily authoritarian.

It started even before the administration was an administration, with a campaign that depicted Barack Obama as The One—the savior who would lead a broken people out of darkness. That isn't sarcastic exaggeration. Obama himself described his capture of the Democratic nomination as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Not even Chairman Mao promised that much.

Scarcely had the planet-healer been sworn in before the public learned that the White House's Office of Public Engagement had teamed up with the NEA's Yosi Sargent to mau-mau artists into cranking out agitprop. "I would encourage you to pick something, whether it's health care, education, the environment," Sargent said in an August 2009 conference call with various artists. "Then my task [to you] would be to apply your artistic, creativity community's utilities" to advancing the cause. "We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government," he said.

And for those who don't "speak with the government," there could be Consequences. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made that clear last year when she sent a letter to the president of AHIP, the national Association of Health Insurance Providers. "It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act," Sebelius sniffed. "There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increase," she went on, warning that those who did not come to heel might be shut out of the new government-run exchanges.

There have been other episodes, too—the EPA employees ordered to take down a video critical of cap-and-trade legislation, for instance. When the Bush administration silenced NASA scientist James Hansen, Rep. Henry Waxman fumed that "Democrats are not going to sweep [censorship of scientists] under the rug." By the time Obama's EPA started silencing dissent, he had found his broom.

HHS Secretary Sebelius isn't the only one who objects to "misinformation." In the first chapter of On Rumors, Cass Sunstein, the president's regulatory czar, writes: "As we have seen, false rumors can undermine democracy itself." But as others have noted, we have "seen" no such thing. (Was Sunstein trying to start a false rumor?) Nevertheless, Sunstein numbers among the apparently numerous administration officials who think the government should be managing people's thoughts and ideas much more closely. He has even suggested government agents should "cognitively infiltrate" groups that promote ideas of which the government disapproves.

One doesn't want to strain analogies too far. Albert Einstein and Josef Stalin both wore mustaches, but the similarities end there. Nobody expects the Obama administration to start hauling dissidents off to the Lubyanka. Still, let us not forget Naomi Wolf's most popular essay from the Bush years. In "Fascist America in Ten Easy Steps" (later expanded into a book), she noted: "In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China—in every closed society—secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours."

Liberals worried about our government doing that kind of thing, once upon a time.



Ponzi, yes, but is it a lie?

By Walter E. Williams

During the recent GOP presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Social Security is a "monstrous lie" and a "Ponzi scheme." More and more people are coming to see that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but is it a lie, as well? Let's look at it.

Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said: "After the first 3 years -- that is to say, beginning in 1940 -- you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year." Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay."

Another lie in the Social Security pamphlet is: "Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you. ... The checks will come to you as a right." Therefore, Americans were sold on the belief that Social Security is like a retirement account and money placed in it is our property. The fact of the matter is you have no property right whatsoever to your Social Security "contributions."

You say, "Williams, you're wrong! We have a right to Social Security payments." In a U.S. Supreme Court case, Helvering v. Davis (1937), the court held that Social Security is not an insurance program, saying, "The proceeds of both (employee and employer) taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like internal revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way." In a later Supreme Court case, Flemming v. Nestor (1960), the court said, "To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands."

Belatedly, the Social Security Administration is trying to clean up its history of deception. Its website says, "Entitlement to Social Security benefits is not (a) contractual right," adding, "There has been a temptation throughout the program's history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. ... Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law." That's the SSA's dishonesty. After all, it was the people in that administration who said, in their 1936 pamphlet, that "the checks will come to you as a right."

There's more deceit and dishonesty. In 1950, I was 14 years old and applied for a work permit for an after-school job. One of the requirements was to obtain a Social Security card. In bold letters on my Social Security card are the words "For Social Security Purposes -- Not For Identification." According to the SSA's website, "this legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning in 1972."

That's a shameless, unadulterated lie. Because we're idiots, we're asked to believe that the sole purpose for the removal of "Not For Identification" was for design purposes. The fact that our Social Security numbers were going to become a major identification tool had nothing to do with getting rid of the statement.

Aside from these lies, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The major difference between Social Security and Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is his was illegal. Three Nobel laureate economists have testified that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Dr. Paul Samuelson called it "the greatest Ponzi game ever contrived." Dr. Milton Friedman said it was "the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth." Dr. Paul Krugman predicted that "the Ponzi game will soon be over."

Three cheers to Gov. Rick Perry for having the guts to tell us that Social Security is a monstrous lie and a Ponzi scheme.



Another Obama disaster unfolding

Corrupt, of course

If you thought the half-billion-dollar, stimulus-funded Solyndra solar company bust was a taxpayer nightmare, just wait. If you thought the botched Fast and Furious border gun-smuggling surveillance operation was a national security nightmare, hold on. Right on the heels of those two blood-boilers comes yet another alleged pay-for-play racket from the most ethical administration ever.

Welcome to LightSquared. It's a toxic mix of venture socialism (to borrow GOP Sen. Jim DeMint's apt phrase), campaign finance influence-peddling and perilous corner-cutting all rolled into one.

The company is building "a state-of-the-art open wireless broadband network." Competition in the industry is a good thing, of course. But military, government and civilian aviation experts have long objected to LightSquared's potential to interfere with the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network. As the government's own Positioning, Navigation and Timing agency explained:

"The GPS community is concerned because testing has shown that LightSquared's ground-based transmissions overpower the relatively weak GPS signal from space. Although LightSquared will operate in its own radio band, that band is so close to the GPS signals that most GPS devices pick up the stronger LightSquared signal and become overloaded or jammed."

Two high-ranking witnesses -- Air Force Space Command four-star Gen. William Shelton and National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Director Anthony Russo -- have now blown the whistle on how the White House pressured them to alter their congressional testimony and play down concerns about LightSquared's threat to military communications. According to Eli Lake of The Daily Beast, both officials were urged to express confidence in the company and endorse its promise to address any technical concerns "within 90 days."

Gen. Shelton had noted earlier this year: "Within three to five miles on the ground and within 12 miles in the air, GPS is jammed by (LightSquared's) towers. ... If we allow that system to be fielded and it does indeed jam GPS, think about the impact. We're hopeful we can find a solution, but physics being physics, we don't see a solution right now."

Despite industry-wide protests, the firm somehow received fast-track approval for a special FCC waiver that grants LightSquared the right to use wireless spectrum to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap. Ken Boehm, of the conservative watchdog National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) in Washington, D.C., summed up the deal earlier this year: "LightSquared will get the spectrum for a song, while its competitors (e.g., AT&T and Verizon) have to spend billions."

The current "fix" LightSquared proposes to address the interference problems is a costly, conceptual pipe dream that could require massive retrofitting of millions of handheld GPS devices. GPS expert Eric Gakstatter scoffs: "I've been pretty open-minded about LightSquared proposing a solution, but this really insults our intelligence. (A)s we've seen previously with LightSquared, it's not about finding a practical solution for the GPS user community; it's all about selling an idea to the FCC. The problem is that the FCC doesn't have to live with LightSquared's half-baked 'solution'; we do."

So, what's greasing LightSquared's skids? Hint: It used to be known as "Skyterra." In 2005, Obama put $50,000 into the speculative firm -- raising eyebrows even among his water-carriers at The New York Times. The paper noted that Skyterra's principal backers at the time of the investment included four Obama "friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees."

One of those pals who urged him to buy stock in Skyterra was George Haywood, a major Skyterra investor and campaign donor who chipped in nearly $50,000 to Obama's campaigns and to his political action committee along with his wife.

Coincidentally, Obama bought his Skyterra stock the very same day the FCC "ruled in favor of the company's effort to create a nationwide wireless network by combining satellites and land-based communications systems." The Times reported that immediately after that morning ruling, "Tejas Securities, a regional brokerage in Texas that handled investment banking for Skyterra, issued a research report speculating that Skyterra stock could triple in value."

Coincidentally, Tejas and its chairman, John J. Gorman, were also major backers of Obama -- flying him in a private plane for political rallies and pitching in more than $150,000 for his campaign coffers since 2004. Obama sold his stock at a loss in November 2005, but his political relationship with the company was cemented. In 2009, shady billionaire hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone -- whose firm Harbinger Capital Partners is reportedly under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for market manipulation abuses -- acquired Skyterra.

Coincidentally, Falcone, his wife and LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja have contributed nearly $100,000 between them to the Democratic Party during critical White House meeting periods and negotiations over LightSquared's regulatory fate.

Oh, and coincidentally, there's $6 billion earmarked for a "public safety broadband corporation" buried in the Obama jobs proposal just as LightSquared pushes into that market, too.

It's all just one strange quirk of timing, Team Obama shrugs. Except, as we all should know by now: There are no coincidences in Chicago on the Potomac. Just an endless avalanche of quids, quos and taxpayer woes.




Another view of the Boston Tea Party: "In 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to import tea to the colonies duty-free. Suddenly, all the people who imported tea to the colonies, legally and illegally, were priced out of the market by a competitor that received special government favors. Some of the people on the boats in Boston Harbor the night of December 16 were concerned about overreaching government authority and a pattern of abuse, but lots of them were smugglers or legal shippers who were rebelling against the loss of their livelihood to a government policy that favored one business at the expense of others"

How to make legal advice, services more affordable without taxpayer subsidies: "At Truth on the Market, I discuss how to make legal advice and legal services more affordable at this link. I also discuss the extent to which the legal profession should be deregulated to reduce the cost of legal services and increase their accessibility to people of modest means, and what kinds of regulation need to remain in force to protect the public."

Obama the Greek: "Greece is in economic meltdown. Its economy has become so biased towards the public sector that it is now literally unsustainable. It cannot afford to pay its bills and will surely default soon, unless Germany can be persuaded to bail it out. Unfortunately for America, the principles that got Greece into this mess are the same ones that President Obama wants to use to supposedly get America back to work."

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

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


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


20 September, 2011

Why no increase in living standards?

In the excerpt below, economic historian Martin Hutchinson sets out clearly that real incomes for almost all Americans have not increased for a long time. Even the entry of many more women into the workforce has not helped. In the light of past income gains and all the technological progress over recent decades, this is pretty astounding. So why?

Congress, is the simple answer, sometimes with the assistance of the President. Their ever-increasing and amazingly stupid meddling in the economy has choked off growth. The half a billion dollars that Mr Obama recently wasted on a failed "green jobs" company (Solyndra) is merely the latest example of that.

As Hutchinson points out in detail, the blizzard of regulation does fairly closely coincide with the economic pause. He then goes on to blame a second factor for the pause: The expansion of international trade. But that is mightily eccentric. From ancient Athens onward, trading nations have always been beacons of prosperity -- so I think we can regard Hutchinson's excursion in that direction as either a descent into populism or a desire to provoke, probably the latter.

But there IS a second cause of the economic hiatus. The blizzard of regulation has produced both direct and indirect harms. Hutchinson concentrates on the indirect harms: The innumerable costly barriers that business now has to surmount before they can produce anything.

Quite amazingly, however, Hutchinson overlooks the direct harm of ever-increasing regulation: The vast expansion of a largely useless bureaucracy. It is the bureaucrats who are eating the worker's lunch. Why does America need Federal departnents of health, education and the environment, for instance? The States all have departments dealing with those matters. Abolishing all the Federal departments that overlap with State functions would slash the bureaucracy hugely and free up the penpushers to do something useful.

Making a useful citizen out of a penpusher would not happen overnight but with retraining it could happen over time. And doing something useful -- something people will voluntarily pay for -- is what wealth consists of. The national wealth consists of goods and services, not bits of greenbacked paper. The wealth is what the money will buy, not the money itself.

So if Obama had something more than a vacuum between his ears he would be blaming bureaucratic over-reach, not "The rich" for America's present doldrums

The Census Bureau’s study of American incomes, poverty and health coverage issued last week was most interesting when considered, not as a metric of this recession, but as a long-term picture of where American living standards are going. If median incomes are back to 1996 levels in real terms, then the stagnation which followed the 1973 living standards peak has intensified and the prognostication for the future must be thoroughly unpleasant. It’s thus worth examining how much of the decline is only a medium-term problem, due to mistaken policies that can be reversed, and how much is an inevitable and permanent decline from what may have been a fleeting middle class Nirvana in 1950-73.

Real U.S. median household income of $49,445 in 2010 was 6.4% below its level in 2007 and 7.3% below its peak in 1999. Given the performance of the economy it’s likely that this position has worsened in 2011. More alarmingly, median household income is only 0.9% above its value in 1989 and 6.3% above its level of 1973. For most households, an entire working life of 38 years has elapsed with no significant increase in living standards. As is well known, the dispersion of income has also sharply increased; in 1973 only 1.2% of households had an income above $200,000 in 2010 dollars, whereas in 2010 3.9% of households exceeded that level. The middle middle class, with incomes of $35,000 to $74,999 has shrunk from 40% of the population to 31%.

Even this grim tale does not give a full picture of the decline, because household income has been sustained compared to 1973 by a much higher proportion of women in the workforce. Real median male earnings have declined by 4% since 1973, whether you consider all men or only those with full-time, year-round jobs. However the picture is brighter for women, whose workforce participation rate was around 70% of men’s in 1973 if you consider all jobs, or a mere 43% of men’s participation if you consider only full-time, year-round jobs. Today female workforce participation is 90% of male whichever way you look at it. Furthermore women’s earnings have done much better than men’s, up by 85% for all workers or 33% when only full-time workers are considered. Still the bottom line is that for traditional families, real incomes have only increased since 1973 at the cost of the wife going out to work and childcare being hired (if necessary.)

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. workforce is thoroughly disgruntled, with attitudes to public institutions, politicians, churches the media etc. having declined catastrophically since the 1970s. This is in no way a sign of deteriorating national character, but simply of stagnating and in many cases declining national fortunes.

There appear to be two culprits for stagnating or declining living standards, apart from technological change, which may also have played a complex role. The first was a blizzard of regulation beginning in the 1960s and intensifying after 1970, with a second burst in 1989-94 and a third since 2009. In the 1970s, living standards’ fall from their 1973 peak coincided with (i) more U.S. income going into environmental cleanup (probably mostly beneficial, even if not directly included in GDP) (ii) into intensified safety and workplace welfare legislation (a bonanza for trial lawyers but probably little benefit to others, and certainly tending to reduce wages and increase healthcare costs) and (iii) such nonsenses as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which added a huge drag to the U.S. economy, wiped out well over a million high-paid jobs in the U.S. automobile industry and achieved far less fuel saving than would have been achieved by a 50 cent tax on gasoline. Second and third bursts of regulatory hyperactivity, in 1989-94 and since 2009, have coincided with further erosions of U.S. living standards; this is most unlikely to be a coincidence.

The other major culprit, which kicked in around 1995 or so, is globalization, caused by the immense technological change of the Internet and modern cellphones, which have made multinational logistical sourcing chains infinitely more efficient and cheaper. This is not simply a one-off effect; outsourcing a product or service to India, China or Vietnam not only makes it cheaper, but also increases the capabilities of the local Indian, Chinese or Vietnamese workforce, raising its capability still further and making it competitive in more sophisticated products and services. In this respect David Ricardo’s Doctrine of Comparative Advantage, which essentially said that outsourcing was beneficial to both the rich outsourcer economy and the poor outsourcee economy, has been proved to be completely wrong. Ricardo failed to take account of the improved capabilities in the outsourcee that would result from the outsourcing, and the ability of newly empowered impoverished outsourcee workforces to learn the business, clamber up the value chain and eat the outsourcer’s lunch.



The Dodd-Frank Layoffs: As regulation cuts profits, Bank of America cuts 30,000 jobs

What is the cost of overregulation? Bank of America appears to have provided part of the answer by announcing yesterday that the nation's largest bank will cut 30,000 jobs between now and 2014. CEO Brian Moynihan said the bank's plan is to slash $5 billion in annual expenses from its consumer businesses.

Mr. Moynihan didn't say this, but we will: These layoffs are part of the bill for the last two years of Washington's financial rule-writing. After loose monetary policy had combined with insane housing policy to create a financial crisis, the Democrats who ran Washington in 2009 and 2010 enacted myriad new rules that had nothing to do with easy money or housing.

Take the amendment that Illinois Democrat and Senator Dick Durbin (with the help of 17 Senate Republicans) attached to last year's Dodd-Frank financial law. Mr. Durbin's amendment instructed the Federal Reserve to limit the amount of "swipe fees" that banks can charge merchants when customers use debit cards.

How exactly does forcing banks to charge Wal-Mart less money for operating an electronic payment system prevent the next financial crisis? Readers may wait a long time for a satisfactory answer, but the cost of this Dodd-Frank directive is straightforward.

The Fed dutifully ordered banks to cut their fees almost in half. Bank of America disclosed in its most recent quarterly report that this change will reduce the bank's debit-card revenues by $475 million in just the fourth quarter of this year. The new rules take effect on October 1, so BofA seems to have sensible timing as it begins to shed workers from a consumer business that has become suddenly less profitable by federal edict.

Make that the latest federal edict. In 2009, when a comprehensive overhaul of financial regulation was still a gleam in Barney Frank's eye, President Obama signed the CARD Act into law. It limited the ability of banks to increase rates on delinquent borrowers and to charge fees on unprofitable customers. As Washington encouraged card issuers to be more selective in advancing credit and to demand higher rates when they do, interest rates on card customers predictably increased relative to other types of lending in the months after the law took effect.

Restricting bank profits on a particular product may have obvious populist appeal, but politicians shouldn't be surprised if banks decide that such consumer credit operations aren't good businesses and can function with fewer employees. Add in the various federal programs aimed at extracting penalties for this or that mortgage-foreclosure error and it's understandable that a bank would have trouble forecasting growth to justify its current work force.

To be sure, Bank of America is also suffering from its own mistake in deciding to buy Countrywide Financial in 2008. As for the financial industry generally, it had become distended and needed to shrink after the bubble years of easy money.

But given the real-world results for bank employees, politicians should not be allowed to pretend that there are no consequences when they deliberately reduce the profitability of employers. Mr. Obama proposed last week to spend some $450 billion more in outlays or tax credits to create more jobs, but it would have cost a lot less to save these 30,000.



Obama Tax Plan Would Kill Jobs, Small Firms Say

While President Obama's deficit-reduction proposal is sure to win plaudits from Warren Buffett, it may get a chillier reception from small businesses.

Obama's $3 trillion deficit reduction plan includes $1.5 trillion in tax hikes. It would end Bush-era tax cuts on the rich, cap deductions on mortgage interest and charitable donations and close various corporate loopholes.

But the plan's "Buffett Rule"may prove its most controversial feature. It would require those making more than $1 million to pay effective income-tax rates comparable to the middle class. "Any reform should follow (a) simple principle," said Obama. "Middle-class families should not have to pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires."

Small Firms' Big Objections

Ray Keating, chief economist with the conservative Small Business Entrepreneurship Council, responds, "That's going to raise taxes on capital. Among high-income earners, you're talking about the people with resources to invest in start-ups, new businesses and growing jobs."

Dan Danner, president of the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest small-business lobby, said in a statement: "New tax increases on America's biggest job creators are the last thing this economy needs to get back on track. At least 75% of small businesses file taxes on business income at the individual rate."

The Buffett Rule was inspired by the billionaire who lamented in a recent New York Times op-ed that due to various loopholes he pays a lower effective tax rate than his employees.

But Obama gave few details. It's not clear how the Buffett Rule would be enforced or how much revenue it would generate. "My understanding is that the president does not even count the revenue from the Buffett Rule" in the deficit plan," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a conference call with reporters. "Instead, he means it as a first principle as we seek to cut our debt."

While Obama's deficit plan may hike taxes on entrepreneurs, the economic plan he released on Sept. 5 tries to spur job creation. It includes proposals such as a payroll tax holiday for adding new staff or increasing pay and a $4,000 tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed.

"This is the detachment from reality among part of the political class," said Keating. "Businesses aren't going to hire somebody because of a one-time $4,000 tax credit. They weigh costs vs. returns. They look at where their business is going."

John Arensmeyer, CEO of the liberal Small Business Majority, replied, "It may not change a small business' decision if it doesn't need to fill a position, but makes it less costly to fill positions that it needs to fill."

Republicans accused Obama of engaging in class warfare. "Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

But it may shore up the president's flagging support among his base. Just 68% of liberals told Gallup last week that they approve of his performance, an all-time low.

The Obama plan also cuts spending by $2 trillion — excluding the $447 billion jobs plan. That includes $1.1 trillion from the already-expected wind-down of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, $580 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies and other programs, and $430 billion in interest savings.

Keating points out that many of the spending cuts are actually reductions in the rates of growth. "Spending cuts should be spending cuts," he said.

James Horney, vice president at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, replies, "The right way to look at it is to say here is the path we're headed on, how much are we proposing to change that path?"



An amazing Grand Mufti of Australia

Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed feels duty to 'cure' radicals

HOMEGROWN Muslim radicals are like "ill" patients in need of guidance and whose extremism is often fuelled by examples of injustice abroad such as the simmering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Australia's new Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, told The Australian young Muslims who were in the orbit of extremist preachers must be "corrected".

Speaking just days after his appointment, Dr Mohamed said homegrown radicalisation, considered by security agencies to be the most serious terror threat Australia faces, was the result of a distorted view of Islam. "Our duty is to clarify those matters," Dr Mohamed said through an interpreter.

"An extremist is like an ill person, an unhealthy person. You need to cure him and find the right cure for him more than just to destroy him and finish him off."

Dr Mohamed has earned a reputation as a bridge-builder between Australia's disparate Muslim communities. One law enforcement source contacted by The Australian described the Islamic scholar as "highly respected and very influential".

Dr Mohamed urged Australians to have some perspective on sharia law, saying the Islamic legal code was largely misunderstood and punishments were only a small part. "Sharia also calls for freedom, justice, right of speech and this is something we are very fortunate to have," he said.

"These are all matters that we already implement here as Australians, and we're proud to have it as Australian values."


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

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


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


19 September, 2011

Leftist anti-science

The major theme in Democrat attacks on GOP Presidential contenders at the moment seems to be that they are "anti-science". As usual, if we want to see what is true of Leftists, we just have to look at what they say about conservatives. Leftists are such good "projectors" that they would be star employees in any movie house. And the multiple fallacies in global warming theory reveal who are the religious believers and who is pro-science.

And if belief in God is anti-science, what are we to make of core Leftist beliefs such as "all men are equal"? Such beliefs are clearly false in any physical sense. They are anti-science beliefs. They are religious (metaphysical) beliefs. And even though I am an atheist I think that belief in "all men are equal" is a lot nuttier than belief in God. Anybody can see with their own eyes that the Leftist belief is false. As many have argued, Leftism is a religion too.

I am very pleased however to present a third argument that it is the Left who are anti-science. Brilliant young American philosopher Nathan Cofnas has given me permission to present a small excerpt from his forthcoming book
Reptiles with a conscience. See below:

Just as some conservatives, mainly religious conservatives, are opposed to science that they perceive as threatening to their religious beliefs, many liberals are opposed to science that they perceive as threatening to their liberal beliefs.

For example, when president of Harvard Larry Summers suggested and provided evidence that innate, biologically rooted differences in aptitude between the sexes explain some of female underrepresentation in quantitative fields, two motions to censure him were introduced by two professors of humanities—anthropologist J. Lorand Matory and sociologist Theda Skocpol—and the ultimately successful movement to fire him was led almost entirely by other professors of humanities, most with no training in psychometrics.

In April 2005 I had an e-mail correspondence with a well-known critic [Nancy Hopkins from MIT] of Larry Summers’ comments on women’s underrepresentation in quantitative fields. Summers said that, because men have a larger variance in math ability, among those qualified to teach mathematics at top universities, which he suggested requires ability corresponding to a math IQ of 160, about 20 percent are women.

I pointed out to this critic that Summers provided data in support of his hypothesis, whereas I had not seen her provide data in any of her public rebuttals of him. She began her response to me with the statement that she is “interested only in the truth!”

She then explained that real potential in mathematics is not measured by the tests on which Summers’ data were based. She wrote: “The top math students in North America are not measured by the SAT score and its tail as Summers suggested, but rather by a much more competitive test that measures the true math genius whiz kids. This test is called the Putnam competition.…

This year, 1 of the 5 Putnam Fellows is a girl. In addition, this year, 4 of the top 15 students in the competition… were women.”

As politely as I could, I pointed out that one out of five is 20 percent, and four out of fifteen is about 27 percent, which is consistent with Summers’ assertion that males are overrepresented at the high end of ability at a ratio of 1:5.

Her response was to tell me that I “cannot listen to the facts that are put before [me]” and that “Old folks like…[me] should retire gracefully into the sunset.”

Her response was very curious to me (not just because I was a seventeen-year-old high school student at the time, which presumably she didn’t know). Why, if Summers said that woman are underrepresented at the high end of ability at a ratio of 1:5, would this critic counter with evidence that confirms exactly that?

She is not stupid. She is a scientist at a top university, and entirely capable of realizing that her own data support the very hypothesis she opposes. If she has no commitment to accepting the implication of evidence, why cite evidence? And why assert interest in truth so emphatically? If she has the intellectual capacity to realize that her own argument is invalid, why would she expect that argument to convince anyone else?

I think that I now can answer these questions. Truth is a value to almost everyone. But most people have many other values to which they are more committed than they are to truth—like in this case, commitment to the belief that the male and female populations have the same distribution of all cognitive abilities and proclivities.

When truth conflicts with more important values, people do not outright deny truth or its importance; they pay as much homage to truth as possible without compromising their more important values. One way of doing this is to pretend to use the method of discovering truth—namely, appealing to empirical evidence or logical argument—to arrive at their predetermined conclusion.


Throw out cheating Greece before the rot cripples rest of the world

Greece may be far away, it may be a small economy, but it is dragging down the value of your superannuation because its problems are a drag on the global sharemarket. The root cause of the problem is simple. The national sport of Greece is cheating. Cheating across every tier of society.

Greece needs to be thrown out of the euro zone. The crisis is coming to a head, as it must, but we will all pay. It is merely the most extreme manifestation of a failure of democracy by the European Union.

The Greeks are being forced into a humiliating and unsustainable austerity program, which is contracting their economy into a depression. This is one of several misguided policies by the European Central Bank and the EU, which have not grasped the impossibility of maintaining the fiction that Greece is a viable member of the euro zone, or even the European Union itself.

Feel no sympathy for Greece. The Greek government lied its way into the Economic and Monetary Union in 2001, presenting false data, and ever since Greece has been a cancer in the euro zone.

Ostensibly, the national sport of Greece is football, but even football is compromised by the real national sport of cheating. Two years ago, the governing body of European football, UEFA, sent the Hellenic Football Federation dossiers detailing a pattern of illegal betting and match-fixing involving dozens of games. Some of the biggest clubs in Greece were involved.

The Hellenic Football Federation, like so much of the rest of Greek society, preferred the path of delusion, delay and denial. It did not respond. It did nothing. After 18 months, UEFA officials went to the Greek criminal justice system. News of the meeting broke in the media. The Greek government had to begin a criminal investigation. In June, authorities charged 84 officials with offences related to match-fixing, involving 54 games, including even a game last year between the two domestic giants, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. In July, two other Superleague clubs were demoted for match-fixing.

It was a metaphor for the nation which Transparency International rates as the most corrupt in Europe (with Bulgaria and Romania, except that they had to emerge from a repressive communist system). Greece has the highest rate of tax evasion in Europe. So pervasive is this problem that the nation is bankrupt. Confronted with a need to cut spending and raise revenue, the government has been crippled by an inability to raise taxes because the tax system is so rotten and the culture of evasion is so ingrained across everyday life.

Whereas in most Western countries, including Australia and the US, studies have shown that people do not begrudge paying taxes if they believe the tax system is equitable, no such ethos applies in Greece.

Almost every element of society shares in this inglorious achievement. Successive governments piled up debt to pay for social services and pensions. The public service was bloated and its unions demanded early retirement and generous pensions. Public debt has blown out to about 150 per cent of gross domestic product. The courts have a backlog of 300,000 tax cases. The tax-collection system is riddled with a culture of bribery. The banks have been reckless. The business community is immersed in tax avoidance. A large anarchist subculture wants to cripple capitalism. And the rich are the biggest tax cheats of all.

The black economy in Greece, where tax is avoided altogether, is estimated at 27.5 per cent of GDP, about double the scale of the black economy in Australia, and does not include the underground economy of crime.

As for the larger failure in which the Greek failure is unfolding, Western Europe has created a structural tension between the wishes of its various national peoples, expressed through their parliaments and central banks, and the dictates of a transnational bureaucracy, the European Union.

The most dangerous fault line is the conduct of the European Central Bank, which cannot set the fiscal policies of EU members but is acting as if it can. It has been buying zombie bonds issued by Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the derisively called PIGS economies. The markets see this as folly because the debt mountain of the pigs is much greater than the resources of the European Central Bank.

The euro zone is fractured between the profligate Mediterranean PIGS and the prudent northern bloc led by Germany and the Netherlands, which in recent days have indicated they have reached the limit of their willingness to bail out Greece.

The bond market has worked out this policy schism. The sharemarket has worked it out. The markets have stopped believing in the credibility of European political solutions. The result is a run on the banks most vulnerable to PIGS debt. Greek debt is becoming untouchable, with the yield on two-year debt now an extraordinary 47 per cent.

Ever since the high point for modern Greece, the 2004 Olympics in Athens, it has become increasingly clear that the country was living on borrowed time and borrowed money, a state of collective delusion. Even Greece's two biggest Olympic stars, two medal-winning sprinters, turned out to be drug cheats. They even staged a fake accident to avoid a doping test.

The whole country is heading into a crash now and it is not fake.



Belgian parties reach deal on government

Dutch-speaking and Francophone parties reached a breakthrough yesterday in the world’s longest negotiations to form a new governing coalition a record 15 months after elections were held.

The eight parties announced they had reached a deal on the breakup of an electoral district in and around bilingual Brussels, an issue that had vexed politicians for almost half a century and was at the heart of the long standoff between the linguistic groups as they sought to change the constitution.

The parties said that negotiations on other issues, such as economic and social policy, would continue later yesterday. “Our work is far from over, and we still need a lot of negotiations,’’ said the joint statement.

Still, after a government stalemate already considered by far a world record, news of the breakthrough was lauded by many as fundamental. “It is a historic breakthrough. It is extremely important and positive,’’ said caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme.



Tax the Rich and Then What?

Warren Buffet has finally gotten his wish on taxation: “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

President Obama is listening, and is now proposing a “Buffett Rule”. After all, the “the most fortunate among us...”, can afford to pay a “lil’ bit more”...right?

“Balanced approach”, “shared sacrifice”, “tax breaks for corporate jets”...no matter how you characterize it, it’s a war on the people who hire us and create things. The takers vs. the makers.

It always sounds good to those “less fortunate” to make those “more fortunate” pay all the bills, regardless of whether their lack of “fortune” is related to laziness, bad decisions, or anything else in their control. With the exception of inherited wealth, the “fortunate” have earned their money, through innovation and motivation.

When my husband and I discuss what to do with our money each month, these are the questions we are forced to answer. How much will be allocated, and where will it be allocated? Debt, savings, investments? If there’s any left, that is.

The New York Times said, “...restoring capital gains and dividend rates to the levels before the Bush tax cuts — when capital gains were taxed at a top rate of 20 percent and dividends were treated as ordinary income — would bring the Treasury an additional $340 billion over the next decade.” And your point is...? That’s less than chicken feed, in a world where billion is the new million.

If Obama confiscated every dime of wealth from Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Steve Jobs, (none of whom acquired their wealth through luck), the amount wouldn’t even cover the debt that’s increased under Obama’s watch, let alone balance the budget. And I wouldn’t be any better off than I am now. Not to mention the detrimental effect such a policy would have on American innovation and competitiveness.

It goes without saying that all of us should be able to keep as much of our earnings as possible. Sure, it costs money to pay for fire fighters, police officers, roads, etc., but do they have to costs as much as they do?

Can we afford to keep dumping endless money into an education system that isn’t effective? High speed rail lines to nowhere? Employing government workers whose job descriptions are vague at best? Of course not, and those problems won’t be solved by fleecing the rich.




Report: VA hospital readmission rates deal blow to Medicare: "The Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated healthcare system in the country, has long employed many of the approaches Medicare is pushing on all hospitals to reduce unnecessary readmissions. But new data show VA hospital patients are just as likely to end up back in a hospital bed as are patients at private hospitals"

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

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

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


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


18 September, 2011

No "Common Ground" With the Left

Christopher Adamo

Among the most desperate and futile efforts by an extreme leftist to don a mantle of credibility is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s characterization of his venomous writings as “The Conscience of a Liberal.” Under this colorless title he has not only authored a book, but also regularly presents Internet postings.

It is particularly outlandish to promote oneself under such a contradiction in terms, since with each passing day, each biased news story from the “mainstream” media, and each ensuing example of flagrant double standards, it becomes more apparent that a liberal cannot have a conscience or even a soul (nor do many of them even concede the existence of the latter). Also, as evidenced by Krugman’s malevolent September 11 tirade entitled “The Years of Shame,” it becomes increasingly obvious that his kind do not have much of a memory either.

The essence of Krugman’s diatribe is that the ten-year commemorations of the September 11 attacks seem “subdued” because President Bush, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and their minions “hijacked” and exploited the original event for their own purposes, thereby trivializing it. Krugman then broadens his brush to include everyone who, at the time, temporarily put aside partisan politics to voice support for the President and the stunned nation he sought to rally. In a typical leftist inversion, Krugman maintains that such national unity, brief though it was (liberals could not long remain in the same league with the flag-waving pro-America crowd), actually represented a divisive “wedge,” while the unabated ankle biting from the far left exuded real principle and national cohesiveness.

As to the shameless politicization of September 11, perhaps Krugman has forgotten that it was those on his end of the political spectrum who openly lamented that the al Qaeda attacks had not occurred during the Clinton years, since that would have afforded an unparalleled opportunity to display his “greatness.” And their perverse sentiments are certainly not without precedent. Clinton indeed displayed a willingness to make political hay from horrific tragedy, as with his unconscionable exploitation of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Nor can the intellectually honest (an admitted rarity among Krugman and his colleagues) fail to recall the menacing words of Obama-crony Rahm Emanuel who famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Again, the proof of this soulless obsession is abundant and inarguable. Since the advent of the Democrat controlled Congress in 2007, and their taking of the White House in 2009, America has been victimized by one contrived crisis after another, invariably followed on close order by transparent liberal demands for ever expanding governmental power, always under the fraudulent guise of compassionate and heroic remedies.

Worse yet, even where no crisis exists, but instead the inescapable realities of the human condition manifest themselves, the liberal cabal is always on hand to shamelessly distort things in a relentless effort to convince as many Americans as possible that they are “victims” ostensibly needing the beneficent hand of a statist government to help them get through the day. Thus, inequities in talent and industriousness are demeaned as rapacious practices of “the super rich,” providing goods and services with an expectation of payment is derided as “heartless,” and any attempt to curb a potentially disastrous federal deficit is castigated as “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.”

The examples of truly hateful and divisive rhetoric abound, and are invariably found on the left. Yet the instigators of such heinous actions are never held to account. Barely nine months have elapsed since the shooting spree by Jared Loughner in Tucson Arizona. But although his monstrous actions were attributed to severe mental problems, the vast and orchestrated liberal effort to lay blame for that atrocity at the feet of conservatives, with no concurring evidence whatsoever, spotlighted the unfettered hate and malevolence of the American left that is regularly unleashed on any who dare to philosophically oppose it.

In the weeks following that appalling event liberal politicians and pundits sermonized endlessly and with near comical sanctimony on the consequences of “incivility” and a political “climate of hate,” though a comprehensive investigation of Loughner’s motivation revealed absolutely no such correlation. Furthermore, even if Loughner had ever claimed some personal impetus on that basis, it is incontrovertibly clear that the major forces of the political right do not operate on that basis.

In stark and revealing contrast, the hostile and malignant actions of the American left are espoused and encouraged by those in official leadership. Unlike the contrived claims of voter intimidation in Florida in 2000, real voter intimidation actually did occur in Philadelphia in 2008, ultimately receiving the blessings of racist Attorney General Eric Holder. Bellicose rhetoric is regularly invoked by leftist radicals and their “community organizer” minions at every crucial juncture in the ongoing contest for control of the nation’s future.

Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently voiced an indefensible and clearly “uncivil” admonition to the Tea Party, which she crowed “can go straight to Hell,” followed ominously by the threat “And I intend to help them get there.” Surpassing even this was James Hoffa’s characterization this week of his supporters as “an army” ready to “march” and “take out” the opposition, whom he described in profane terms.

Yet almost never do these purveyors of hate, nor their many other like-minded cohorts who have expressed similarly venomous sentiments receive even the mildest criticism from the leftist mouthpieces who, in all of their piety, spew endless sermons at the right. Whether from Paul Krugman and his media collaborators or Democrat leaders in the Senate and House or Barack Obama, in the wake of such abominable proclamations the silence among liberals has been deafening.

It is no surprise that, in the wake of 9-11, the fifth-column of the Islamists found fertile ground among these leftists within which it could readily till its hatred for the West and generate sympathy for its murderous cause. Ultimately, the Jihadists recognized that they could count on a liberal culture steeped in “political correctness” to concur with their motivations and intentions to eradicate the Judeo-Christian foundations of this nation and its culture.

As for those sporadic calls for national “unity” from Paul Krugman and similarly hypocritical liberal pontificators, the sum total of their commentary and actions proves them to be wholly and absolutely insincere. The Alinskyite left, with all of its selective moralizing and glaring inconsistencies between last week’s phony sanctimony and this week’s agenda, has proven that it bears far more similarity to the ghoulish plans and tactics of the militant Islamists than the noble thoughts and ideas of Washington, Jefferson and Adams. Consequently, the establishment of any common ground between liberals and Real America is simply unattainable.



Risk Takers will lead us out of recession —not government

As Congress responds to the President’s jobs speech, the employment news continues to be grim with zero new jobs created in August. This Labor Department announcement combined with the White House’s officially having raised their projections for joblessness nationwide to more than 9 percent through election day 2012 make the question of who creates jobs all the more important.

This point was driven home as a California solar energy company, Solyndra, announced that it is shutting down and laying off more than a thousand workers in spite of a heavy federal government bet of a $535 million loan guarantee, while it has been revealed that another Obama green energy initiative in Seattle has generated only 14 jobs while costing taxpayers $20 million.

However, there is one bright, shining light that continues to battle through the fog of federal government economic incompetence and their wasteful green spending spree – the individual entrepreneur.

The individual entrepreneur continues to fight to build a prosperous future by meeting the needs of the marketplace rather than looking for a government handout to build a business. The individual entrepreneur struggles forward trying to provide a service or build a product that will be profitable and achieve the real American dream of providing a better life for himself and for his children.

The Washington Post recently highlighted one individual who exemplifies this spirit.

German Morales is a house painter who has employed as many as five people but due to tough economic times is down to one person who he employs part time. Every day, he wakes up with the hope of finding new clients, doing a great job and getting referrals for his next set of jobs.

Morales doesn’t look to government to provide a contract, grant or any other benefit, he looks to private home and apartment owners, developers and rental housing owners looking to hire someone with the skills he possesses who can help them make a profit on their investment.

He worries that there won’t be enough work to keep his family afloat, while continuing to invest every dollar he owns into making his company a success.

German Morales is the great American entrepreneur. Risking his security for a better life, and when times are tough paying the price through cutbacks and sacrifices.

The genius of the American economic system is that there are not any guarantees. The Declaration of Independence says that Americans have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not a guarantee of happiness.

This is why the German Morales story is so encouraging in the wake of economic news that seems to overwhelm with storm clouds for as far as the eye can see.

Because ultimately, it is the German Morales’ around the nation who are going to lead the way out of our nation’s recession, not Barack Obama and his ‘experts’.

Every city has scores of similar stories of people making their own way, putting their futures on their own backs and risking to make their own American success story. Some will be wildly successful and in ten to twenty years, everyone will know their names. Some will succeed in creating a small business and through their ingenuity, courage and skill will provides employment to five to ten people helping drive their local economy, the anonymous heroes of the American free enterprise system.

And some will fail, but they will have known that they tried, which is the ultimate genius of an economic system that wrings the best out of us through the competitive marketplace, ultimately giving consumers the best possible product for the lowest cost.

German Morales and others like him are the heroes of America’s future, and will be the employers who give the next generation jobs.

As we reflect on this Labor Day just passed, rather than the tired union-boss labor marches, America needs to celebrate those who provide the jobs due to the sweat of their brow and the risk to their fortune. It is time that our nation recognizes the entrepreneur as the true worker’s hero, because without people like German Morales, there are no jobs to go to, and no economic prosperity to celebrate.



Nero in the White House

by Mychal Massie, chairman of the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives-Project 21

Three significant historical events have been eclipsed by Obama: 1) Jimmy Carter will no longer be looked upon as the worst president in American history; 2) Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton will no longer be recognized as the greatest liars in presidential history; 3) Clinton's stain on Monica's dress, and what that did to the White House in general and the office of the president specifically, will forever pale in comparison to the stain and stench of Obama.

I need not spend much time on the failure of Obama as president. His tenure has been a failure on every measurable level. So much so, in fact, that some of the staunchest, most respected liberal Democrats and Democratic supporters have not only openly criticized him – some even more harshly than this essayist – but they have called for him to step down.

Richard Nixon's words "I am not a crook," punctuated with his involvement in Watergate, and Bill Clinton's finger-wagging as he told one of the most pathetic lies in presidential history, in the aftermath of Obama, will be viewed as mere prevarications.

Mr. Nixon and Clinton lied to save their backsides. Although, I would argue there are no plausible explanations for doing what they did, I could entertain arguments pursuant to understanding their rationales for lying. But in the case of Obama, he lies because he is a liar. He doesn't only lie to cover his misdeeds – he lies to get his way. He lies to belittle others and to make himself look presentable at their expense. He lies about his faith, his associations, his mother, his father and his wife. He lies and bullies to keep his background secret. His lying is congenital and compounded by socio-psychological factors of his life.

Never in my life, inside or outside of politics, have I witnessed such dishonesty in a political leader. He is the most mendacious political figure I have ever witnessed. Even by the low standards of his presidential predecessors, his narcissistic, contumacious arrogance is unequalled. Using Obama as the bar, Nero would have to be elevated to sainthood.

As the stock markets were crashing, taking with them the remaining life savings of untold tens of thousands, Obama was hosting his own birthday celebration, which was an event of epicurean splendidness. The shamelessness of the event was that it was not a state dinner to welcome foreign dignitaries, nor was it to honor an American accomplishment – it was to honor the Pharaoh, Barack Hussein Obama. The event's sole purpose was for the Pharaoh to have his loyal subjects swill wine, indulge in gluttony and behavior unfit to take place on the property of taxpayers, as they suffer. It was of a magnitude comparable to that of Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski's $2 million birthday extravaganza for its pure lack of respect for the people.

Permit me to digress momentarily. The U.S. Capitol and the White House were built with the intent of bringing awe and respect to America and her people. They were also built with the intent of being the greatest of equalizers. I can tell you, having personally been to both, there is a moment of awe and humility associated with being in the presence of the history of those buildings. They are to be honored and inscribed into our national psyche, not treated as a Saturday night house party at Chicago's Cabrini-Green.

The people of America own that home Obama and his wife continue to debase with their pan-ghetto behavior. It is clear that Obama and family view themselves as royalty, but they're not. They are employees of "we the people," who are suffering because of his failed policies. What message does this behavior send to those who today are suffering as never before?

What message does it send to all Americans who are struggling? Has anyone stopped to think what the stock market downturn forebodes for those 80 million baby boomers who will be retiring in the next period of years? Is there a snowball's chance in the Sahara that every news program on the air would applaud this behavior if it were George W. Bush? To that point, do you remember the media thrashing Bush took for having a barbecue at the White House?
Like Nero – who was only slightly less debaucherous than Caligula – with wine on his lips Obama treated "we the people" the way Caligula treated those over whom he lorded.

Many in America wanted to be proud when the first person of color was elected president, but instead, they have been witness to a congenital liar, a woman who has been ashamed of America her entire life, failed policies, intimidation and a commonality hitherto not witnessed in political leaders. He and his wife view their life at our expense as an entitlement – while America's people go homeless, hungry and unemployed.


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

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


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


17 September, 2011

British women turning Right: Female voters back spanking in the home, armed police and teen curfews

Large majorities of women are calling for hardline measures to improve discipline in the wake of last month’s riots, supporting curfews on under-16s, the arming of police and smacking in the home.

A startling survey reveals that women voters have turned sharply against the culture of ‘children’s rights’ built up over several decades and want the Government to take radical steps to redress the balance.

The poll of 1,000 women by a new female-only polling company, HerSay, shows that 58 per cent now believe youngsters have too many rights and 67 per cent believe the rioters are the product of a ‘violent society’, described by some as Broken Britain.

Some 87 per cent support the naming and shaming of children found guilty of a criminal offence, 72 per cent want under-16s banned from going outside after 9pm and 76 per cent say rioters should be sent to army boot camps to be disciplined.

The poll found 40 per cent of women think parents should stop children wearing hoodies, 45 per cent support the use of the cane in schools and 49 per cent think parents of children caught rioting should have their benefits removed.

A startling 57 per cent of women support the arming of the police, and 52 per cent agree with the use of smacking in the home to instil discipline.

Some 41 per cent wish they could do something when other people’s children are misbehaving in public, while 37 per cent say that in the past they have felt threatened by children in their communities.

HerSay director Jo Tanner said: ‘This research clearly illustrates that UK women recognise the importance of personal responsibility in disciplining their children. ‘They are, however, looking for support from the wider community and the authorities, whether it be tougher measures in schools or curfews for under-16s. ‘This survey dispels the myth that British women are a soft touch on parenting and discipline.’

Tory MP Priti Patel said the findings of the poll were ‘clear and striking’. She added: ‘There has been a fundamental breakdown in society whenit comes to law and order and discipline. 'This poll shows women in this country want a restoration of discipline and responsibility. Women want more respect for figures of authority. ‘Schools should be able to do more to discipline their pupils and off the back of what has just happened with the riots, the police do need more power to take action.

‘The riots were terrible and unfortunate, but they have focused government thinking and energy as to how we can deal with a lot of these areas. 'We need people who step out of line to fear the full force of the law.’



Now the TRUTH about education unions is starting to surface

And it's a lesson we all need to learn. Democrat politicians are one corrupt bag of manure using tax money to fund their elections

Dick McDonald

Remember the violent and disgusting demonstrations over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doing away with collective bargaining for teachers' unions? The results are in. Some school districts went from a $400,000 deficit to a $1,500,000 surplus as a result. Why?

It seems that the insurance company that provided all the "so-called" benefits to the teachers was an insurance company owned and operated by the teacher's union. Since the outfit was guaranteed to get the insurance business from the teachers, and the State had to pay for it (not the teachers) the insurance company was increasing annual costs every single year to become the most expensive insurance company in the state. Then the company was donating millions and millions of dollars to its favorite democrat politicians who, when they got elected, guaranteed to keep funding the union's outrageous costs. In other words, the insurance company was a "pass through" for Wisconsin taxpayer money directly to the democrat politicians.

Nice racket, and this is the racket that is going on in every single State that allows collective bargaining.

No wonder the States are taking it away. Now the State of Wisconsin is free to put the insurance contract out for bids and, lo and behold, they have saved so much money it has turned deficits into surplus amounts. As a result, none of the teachers had to be laid off, everyone got a raise, etc., etc., and the taxpayers of Wisconsin don't have to pay more taxes to fund the union's political ambitions.

If you weren't aware of the reasons Gov. Walker was fighting to take away collective bargaining, it gives you an idea of the problem the Republican Party has. Outside of one or two, none of them know how to speak up and explain properly what the problem was. We could sure use a Ronald Reagan now, someone who could explain things for people to understand, since we know that people don't like to read anymore.

More details HERE


More Democrat hate speech. "Civility" forgotten in a rush of foul and unsubstantiated allegations

James Carville: ‘There Were Enough Deaths at Stalingrad’ to make ‘Tea Party Collectively Orgasm’

In a recent article penned for CNN addressing President Obama, unabashed Democratic strategist James Carville revealed his true feelings about the Tea Party. Carville boldly asserted that its members harbor a deep seated blood-lust — a kind so egregious in fact that they would have orgasmically rejoiced over the deaths at Stalingrad.

The “Rajun’ Cajun“ also lamented the ”clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.”

“This may be news to you [Obama] but this is not going well. For precedent, see Russian Army 64th division at Stalingrad. There were enough deaths at Stalingrad to make the entire tea party collectively orgasm,” Carville blasted.

Strangely, the bizarre tirade appeared in a “letter” that was focused on Obama’s re-election strategy. For Carville, smearing conservatives and Obama’s re-election apparently go hand in hand. He continued:

“As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation,” Carville fretted. “I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.”



California Legislature Tries to Stop Cities From Privatizing Their Own Libraries

In the Orange County Register, Reason Foundation's Harry Kenny explains how library privatization has helped cities and why California Gov. Jerry Brown should veto a union-backed bill aimed at preventing cost-savings: "California's unemployment rate rose to 12 percent in July. More than 2 million Californians are out of work, and a third of those people have been unemployed for more than a year. So what is the state Legislature doing? It wants to prevent cash-strapped local governments from privatizing libraries.

Apparently, the folks in Sacramento believe that cities looking for ways to reduce expenses are better off with no libraries at all than with privately operated libraries.

Assembly Bill 438, sponsored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk because Democrats in Sacramento voted to control local decisions and prevent cities from making choices about what is best for their own libraries.

The bill represents a dramatic overreach by Sacramento into local communities. Via AB438 the Legislature mandates that cities choosing to privatize are not allowed to reduce the size of their library staffs.

Further, the bill mandates that every single current library employee must keep his or her job in any future public-private partnership agreement, which explains why powerful unions have been pushing the bill. Cities will also be forced to spend time and money preparing and submitting studies and reports to Sacramento in order to obtain the state's permission to privatize."



An explanation of politics for Democrat supporters

The folks who are getting free shit don’t like the folks who are paying for the free shit because the folks who are paying for the free shit can no longer afford to pay for both the free shit and their own shit. And this is creating a shitstorm.

The folks who are paying for the free shit want the free shit to stop, and the the folks who are getting the free shit want even more free shit on top of the free shit they are already getting.

Now, the people who are forcing the people who pay for the free shit have told the people who are receiving the free shit that the people who are paying for the free shit are the problem.

So, the people who are getting the free shit resent the people who are paying for the free shit because of the smears by the people who are forcing other people to pay for the free shit.

Can you believe this shit? We have let the free shit giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free shit than paying for the free shit.

Now understand this, all great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figure out they could vote themselves free shit by electing people who promised to give them free shit in exchange for electing them.

The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 231 years ago. The number of people now getting free shit outnumber the people paying for the free shit. We have one chance to change that in 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.

ELECTION 2012 IS COMING. Vote the Shit Out. Vote a Conservative In



Democrat lies hard to budge

One more proof that if you tell a big enough lie often enough people will believe it

I’ve only recently come to realize the nature of the hurdle this country faces in trying to turn around a stalled economy and horrendous deficit. Here it is: liberal Democrat politicians have fully convinced huge numbers of people that our economic/fiscal mess is the result of two principal demons: 1) “the rich” and 2) the Tea Party. The former, of course, has been a longtime liberal scapegoat; the latter is a new one.

I’ve realized this painfully in the last few weeks as a result of several commentaries I’ve done (USA Today, FoxNews, among others), viewed by a large portion of Americans from across the political spectrum. In these commentaries, I tried to stick to statistics and facts. I naively thought my approach would be convincing. It was not, as evidenced by the many people I continue to argue with in emails.

Here today, I’ll reiterate the one fact that I thought was irrefutable:

As I noted in an article titled, “It’s the spending, stupid,” the federal government, from 1965-2009, never cut spending one single year. That’s right, not one time—nope, nada, nothing. To repeat: from 1965-2009, the federal government never decreased annual spending. To see the figures on a chart is eye-opening. The annual rise in spending has been a steady, non-stop, unbroken, upward climb for over 40 years. To the contrary, revenues to the federal government have gone up and down, the result—not of tax rates on “the rich,” but—of the status of the economy from year-to-year, especially during recessions. It’s both amazing and depressing to see that the federal government, unlike you and your family and your household and your business and your anything and everything else, is apparently incapable of adjusting (i.e., decreasing) its spending based on available revenues. It used to do so, under both Democrat and Republican presidents, but that changed in 1965, when the federal government, starting with the Great Society, began an outright spending addiction.

As I noted in the article, seeing this for yourself is as easy as Googling “historical tables deficit,” where one can view two sources: CBO historical tables (Congressional Budget Office)and OMB historical tables (Office of Management and Budget). These are the official sources for data on federal budgets. In the OMB link, look at Table 1.1, titled, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits: 1789-2016.”

In my articles and emails, I even included hyperlinks (as I have here) to these tables, imploring people to look for themselves rather than accept my word. And yet, I can’t begin to recount the angry emails I got from people insisting that the reasons for our deficits/debt is not over-spending by the federal government but greed by wealthy people who don’t pay “their fair share” of income taxes and by dastardly “racist” “terrorists” in the Tea Party. And, yes, I actually got emails (many of them) from people insisting that Tea Party members are “terrorists.” To observe an American public, only a decade removed from September 11, somehow equating Tea Party members with “terrorists” leaves me almost speechless and hopeless.

I will not bother responding to that particular smear, but I would like to address the charge that the rich are not paying “their fair share.” Again, I will stick to data.

If you Google the words “Who pays income tax?” you will find a chart (click here) from the National Taxpayers Union. It includes these telling statistics:

The top 1 percent of income earners pay 38 percent of all federal tax revenue. The top 5 percent pay 59 percent. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. The top 25 percent pay 86 percent. The top 50 percent pay 97.3 percent. Conversely, the bottom 50 percent pay merely 2.7 percent of all federal tax revenue.

As the data shows, the rich are certainly paying their fair share. In fact, they pay the vast share. The poorest Americans, conversely, pay literally nothing in income taxes.

If anything, the system is disproportionately titled against the wealthy. Our “rich” are paying for the reckless behavior of politicians addicted to spending; they are subsidizing spending addicts. And to watch those addicts blame their mess on the rich for not paying enough? It’s downright obscene.

But the folks who have emailed me have the complete opposite opinion. It is an incorrect opinion.

Let me repeat: America’s deficit/debt problem is a spending problem. It is not the fault of rich people who pay too little income tax or Tea Party members guilty of “terrorism.” Don’t take my word for it. Look at the data.

My fear, however, is that the data just doesn’t matter to a huge number of followers of the party line. And that’s a very serious problem for this country, a giant propaganda hurdle that may be insurmountable.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)

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

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


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


16 September, 2011

Mark Twain conservatism

Attempting to categorize conservatism in the 21st century runs the risk of plunging into the briar patch of academic labeling or the fever swamp of left-wing vitriol. In the first category, one finds such designations as conservatism, neo-conservatism, and paleo-conservatism, while those things liberals say about conservatives may be relegated to the realm of overheated political rhetoric. But this still leaves those sympathetic to conservatism with the problem of self-definition, especially during a time when Tea Party enthusiasts have captured so much attention in the context of discussions about conservative views.

The word conservatism itself is usually and rightfully associated with political principles of the Founding Fathers, but the neo-conservative and paleo-conservative forms of conservatism seem puzzling to many. Not helpful on either score. And we have seen that even Tea Party metaphors can be dismissed with sound bites by liberal smear-aholics.

Here’s where Mark Twain comes to the rescue, especially since he was too busy mocking others to care about what others had to say about him, and his attitude toward politicians of every stripe pretty much says it all: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Likely his observations of today’s congressional shenanigans would leave him rolling on the ground with laughter—or breaking down in tears. Either way, he would make great fun of it, no doubt with incredulity, skepticism, and no small amount of contempt. But does this make Twain a conservative?

The answer, I believe, is yes, for the following reasons. First, unlike America’s current ruling class, Mark Twain lived a very rich and full life, filled with events that burned the lessons of experience into his soul, all of which reinforced his understanding of the reality principle: that is, the relationship between cause and effect and taking responsibility for one’s actions. For instance, one does not advance to the position of river-boat pilot on the Mighty Mississippi with no more experience than negotiating a rowboat on a stream. His considerable income did not prevent him from losing all of it in failed business ventures; he traveled throughout the world, met thousands of people, was swindled by a few of them, became personally familiar with life’s many vices and tried briefly to give up smoking, drinking, lying and swearing, but couldn’t. The best he managed was to control his drinking and write an essay that was “An Appeal Against Injudicious Swearing,” which is as far as he would go on this very important topic.

In short, does anyone for a moment think that this man would be fooled by starry-eyed appeals for hope and change, to remake America, or to believe anything proclaimed by members of what he regarded as America’s only known criminal class, the U.S. Congress? Not likely.

His excellent short story, “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” was a brilliant statement on humankind’s self-righteousness and gullibility, and should be required reading for everyone, especially those contemplating a political career. He did not believe it possible that politics could alter fundamental tendencies of human nature, a view that has been a staple of progressive thought since the 19th century.

Further, Mark Twain had contempt for that redemptive embodiment of liberal-progressive thought, from the publication of Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” to (in modern times) Al Gore’s latest fulminations on climate change: the expert. After all, the experts responsible for the country’s current financial meltdown—for $1.5 trillion deficits—belong to the same type who, according to Twain, once figured that “just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of 1,300,000 miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod” (“Life on the Mississippi”). No doubt, Twain would be appalled by his country in its current condition, but he would not be surprised; after all, it was designed by that most despicable of creatures, the political expert, those who likely had learned the art of the hoax from Twain’s very own, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

All of which made Twain, and those who follow him, conservatives; that is, individuals who understand life by actually living it, who are skeptical of human nature and the pretensions of government, and who distrust the flimflammery of self-proclaimed experts. Call them Mark Twain conservatives, after the man who proudly claimed that he was not just “an” American. Like all true conservatives today, he was THE American: Mark Twain.



Obama Looking for Love

Jonah Goldberg

"If you love me, you've got to help me pass this bill." That was part of Barack Obama's response to an exuberant fan who shouted "I love you!" at a campaign rally. And so it has come to this. "The One" has gone from messiah to pleading like a teenage boy on a date. "Come on, baby. If you love me, you'll do it."

A gossip website reports that the New York Times is working on a story that the president is depressed. That's unconfirmed. But if he isn't depressed, I'd hope the self-proclaimed "paper of record" would investigate why on earth he's not.

According to the standard calendar, autumn is fast approaching. According to the White House calendar, we're finishing up our second "Recovery Summer." But for the president, this is darkest winter.

When Obama unveiled his first stimulus, he promised it would lift 2 million people out of poverty. Instead, the Census Bureau announced this week that 2.6 million more people fell below the poverty line last year, pushing the number of poor people to the highest level in a half-century.

That stimulus was also intended to jump-start a new economy, fueled by high-paying clean energy jobs. The crown jewel of that multibillion-dollar effort was a solar power company called Solyndra, which not only closed its doors and fired its workers, but has exposed the White House as at best politically incompetent and ideologically blinkered.

Now, in fairness, the Department of Energy considers the bankrupt company a winner. "The project that we supported succeeded," Damien LaVera, a Department of Energy spokesman, told the New York Times. "The facility was producing the product it said it would produce, and consumers were buying the product. The company struggled because the market has changed dramatically."

That's true. If Obama had been able to pass cap-and-trade as the market once foolishly expected, things might have been different. He wanted to make electricity rates "skyrocket," which could have made Solyndra's expensive products profitable. As it is, Solyndra was only marginally more legitimate an enterprise than Paul Newman's bookie parlor in "The Sting." At least Newman only stung one mobster. With this green con job, we're all feeling the bite.

Indeed, Vice President Joe Biden was right when he said Solyndra is "exactly what the Recovery Act was all about." For instance, the Washington Post reported this week that $38.6 billion in loans have netted a "few thousand" jobs rather than the 65,000 Obama promised. So if the program had "succeeded," that would amount to nearly $600,000 per job in government-backed loans.

Then there's the politics. Tuesday afternoon, even as polls remained open in congressional elections in New York and Nevada, high-level Democratic donors and strategists gathered on a conference call. A participant in the discussion told Politico that the mood was "awful." "People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless," he added.

That was before the election results came in. In Nevada, the Republican crushed a top-flight female Democratic candidate by 22 points. In New York, the seat that once belonged to Geraldine Ferraro, Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner went to Republican Bob Turner -- the first time the seat since has gone Republican since 1923. A liberal strategist put a rosy spin on it: "The mine hasn't collapsed, but the loss in New York is definitely a dead canary."

In both races, the Democrats used their trump card: scaring seniors by telling them the GOP wants to take away their Medicare and Social Security. It didn't work.

This came against a backdrop of abysmal poll numbers showing Obama's approval falling with every constituency, including Democrats, Independents, Hispanics and African-Americans. That might be why congressional Democrats are openly balking at his must-pass stimulus do-over.

But, please. Don't share any of this with AttackWatch.com, the third and newest operation set up by this president inviting good and decent Americans to hand over the names of critics who say mean things about the president.

It seems ominous -- and would have been denounced as Orwellian if George W. Bush had done anything of the sort. But the truth is, it's sad. The aim, I'm sure, is to inspire liberals -- who now hate Obama's enemies far more than they love Obama -- to get involved in his re-election.

In 2008, the "politics of hope" campaign trained volunteers to testify about how they "came to Obama" the way one talks of "coming to Jesus." Now they ask supporters to help build a digital enemies list. Which they'll do, of course. But not because they love him.



Cheney: Israel would strike Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney believes Israel would attack Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons capacity, he said in an interview aired Monday.

When asked about the possibility of an Israeli preemptive attack against Iran, Cheney told Newsmax TV that "Iran represents an existential threat, and [the Israelis] will do whatever they have to do to guarantee their survival and their security.”

Cheney said his assessment did not come from consultation with a particular Israeli leader, but was rather a reflection of a number of discussions with Israeli officials. “I can’t attribute it to any one particular Israeli leader. I wouldn’t want to do that," he said. Nevertheless, he added that he "had a number of conversations with a lot of Israeli officials, and I think they correctly perceive Iran as a basic threat.”



What Job 'Training' Teaches? Bad Work Habits

A 1969 government study warned that teens in federal jobs programs 'regressed in their conception of what should reasonably be required in return for wages paid.'

Last Thursday, President Obama proposed new federal jobs and job-training programs for youth and the long-term unemployed. The federal government has experimented with these programs for almost a half century. The record is one of failure and scandal.

In 1962, Congress passed the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) to provide training for workers who lost their jobs due to automation or other technological developments. Two years later, the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that any trainee in this program who held a job for a single day was counted as "permanently employed"—a statistical charade by the Department of Labor to camouflage its lack of results. A decade after MDTA's inception, GAO reported that it was failing to teach valuable job skills or place trainees in private jobs and was marred by an "overriding concern with filling available slots for a particular program," regardless of what trainees actually needed.

Congress responded in 1973 by enacting the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). The preface to the new law noted that "it has been impossible to develop rational priorities" in job training. So instead of setting priorities, CETA spent vastly more money, especially on job creation. Notorious examples reported in the press in those years included paying to build an artificial rock for rock climbers, providing nude sculpture classes (where, as the Pharos-Tribune of Logansport, Ind., explained, "aspiring artists pawed each others bodies to recognize that they had 'both male and female characteristics'"), and conducting door-to-door food-stamp recruiting campaigns.

Between 1961 and 1980, the feds spent tens of billions on federal job-training and employment programs. To what effect? A 1979 Washington Post investigation concluded, "Incredibly, the government has kept no meaningful statistics on the effectiveness of these programs—making the past 15 years' effort almost worthless in terms of learning what works."

After CETA became a laughingstock, Congress replaced it in 1982 with the Job Training Partnership Act. JTPA spent lavishly—to expand an Indiana circus museum, teach Washington taxi drivers to smile, provide foreign junkets for state and local politicians, and bankroll business relocations. According to the Labor Department's inspector general, young trainees were twice as likely to rely on food stamps after JTPA involvement than before since the "training" often included instructions on applying for an array of government benefits.




Give thanks to “price gougers”: "Some things never cease to amaze me, for example, the willingness of state officials to vilify and prosecute those who dare to raise prices during an emergency. As far as superficial demagoguery and economic illiteracy go, those initiatives are right up there. Thirty-one states have some form of anti-price-gouging law, and a recent statement from North Carolina’s attorney general, Roy Cooper, is typical of the accompanying rhetoric."

DC: Food truck advocate fights on behalf of street food: "Food trucks have proliferated in D.C. in recent years, at such a rate that they can no longer be considered a fad. But their popularity has put them at odds with bricks-and-mortar restaurants and business improvements districts, and has left the city scrambling to update its regulations. One local attorney, seeing this tension, has started a nationwide fight in defense of street food."

AZ: Perry seeks endorsement of Sheriff Joe: "Gov. Rick Perry, who once said he was 'intrigued and open' to an amnesty program for Mexican workers in the United States illegally [sic], is now courting the support of a famous immigration hardliner: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona."

Will Obama and Congress slay the Sarbox job-killing monster?: "In the middle of trotting out the tired old 'solution' of stimulating by taxing, borrowing and even more spending, the president had one brief outline of a potential agenda item that was new and surprising. And if he indeed follows through with the initiative he hinted at, it will probably do more to boost job growth than the entire so-called American Jobs Act he dropped in Congress' lap on Monday"

It’s time to get rid of FEMA: "Unfortunately, FEMA’s failure in New Orleans went well beyond the blundered mistakes of a few inept bureaucrats. Their inability to be effective was a symptom of a much deeper problem. FEMA consistently responds to political influence rather than the victims’ needs."

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

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


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


15 September, 2011

Britain shows the way? 111,000 state jobs go in record losses as Government cuts public sector

I didn't think it was possible

A record number of public sector jobs were lost between March and June in the biggest cull of the State workforce since records began, official figures revealed yesterday. Some 111,000 state workers lost their jobs in that three-month period when the private sector workforce grew by 41,000.

Experts warned the problem is likely to get worse as the Government continues to cut the public sector, which accounts for one in five workers. Women will be hit particularly hard as around two-thirds of the state workforce is female. Already 1.06million women are unemployed – the largest number since 1988 – with another 450 a day becoming jobless.

The Office for National Statistics figures were published yesterday, which was described by Labour as ‘a day of misery’.

Nida Ali, economic adviser to the accountant Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said: ‘The labour market has turned for the worse. There is no good news in the figures.’ On all fronts, the figures are heading in the wrong direction. Between May and July, employment dropped by 69,000 people – and unemployment rose by 80,000 to 2.51million. It is only the second time since 1994 that unemployment has breached the landmark 2.5million level.

The number of job vacancies is falling, and there are 5.6 unemployed people chasing every opening, according to the figures.

To make matters worse, many of the women who do have a job are frustrated because they have been forced into part-time work. The ONS said the number of women who are working part-time only because they ‘could not find a full-time job’ has reached an all-time high of 701,000.

Young people are also being hit hard by the jobs crisis. The ONS said 20.8 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds are unemployed – the highest rate since records began. Between May and July, an extra 78,000 youngsters became unemployed, raising the total to 973,000.

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, warned that the situation was unlikely to improve in the short-term. He said: ‘The storm clouds are gathering. It is difficult to see how this might reverse.’

Employment Minister Chris Grayling admitted yesterday’s figures ‘underline the scale of the challenge that we face.’



What Jews Should Know About Christians

Barry Rubin tries to talk sense into his fellow Jews

Most Jews today (or should I merely say many?), even the most secular among them, have a tremendous fear of Christians—especially fervent believers of the type represented today by Evangelicals–and conservatives. There is a material basis for this fear based on past Jewish experience. But it is the year 2011; things have changed; and it is time to reconsider these assumptions and see if they still make sense.

Let me begin by mentioning two specific situations I have witnessed that show the foolishness of this blindness:

1. In a particular city a group of Jews organized a march for Israel. Several Christian groups wanted to participate. Since some elements among the Jews disagreed with the Christians on other political issues, they cancelled the march rather than participate alongside pro-Israel Christians.

2. In a particular other city, an Israeli speaker was invited to speak by the main pro-Israel Jewish group. He was also invited to speak by a respectable pro-Israel Christian group. The potential speaker was informed that if he spoke for the Christian group not only would the pro-Israel Jewish group refuse to have him as a speaker but its leaders would even refuse to meet with him privately.

This kind of behavior is simultaneously shameful and stupid. We are not speaking here of political sophistication but about a mode of thinking equivalent to a fear of catching cooties.

True, in general, for almost 2000 years many Christians and their institutions have often persecuted Jews, either materially or at least had very negative views toward Jews. In this short space I will not attempt to review that history or get beyond generalizations. Readers are able to do that for themselves.

For 200 years, modern conservative and nationalist thought in the West has also often persecuted Jews, in words, attitudes, and actions. A good starting point for that phase is the triumph of German nationalists over Napoleon and the reversal of the French revolution’s grant of rights to Jews in those lands. And of course the culmination was in the Nazi death camps.

It is understandable, then, that Jews supported parties of the liberal and left type where they were welcomed, where modernity was extolled, and where Jews believed they could integrate with the masses and thus defuse grassroots’ antisemitism. That strategy made perfect sense.

With Communism’s betrayal of the Jews, the contemporary tendency for the far left to take over traditional social democratic and liberal institutions, and the left’s romance with Third World (and particularly Palestinian, Arab, and Islamist radicalism), the world has changed. The left has largely abandoned Israel as a cause, often become antagonistic, and even evinces antisemitism.

There is still hope for reviving the social democratic and liberal tradition of being pro-Jewish and pro-Israel, but that won’t happen until the infiltration and seizure of intellectual hegemony of the far left is defeated.

Meanwhile, there has also been a change among many Christians (especially those called Evangelicals) and conservatives toward a greater friendship regarding Jews and Israel. A key reason for this shift—and proof of its authenticity—are a set of transformations in the thinking of these groups.

Before discussing the details, though, let me make it clear that Jews do not have to become conservatives or even agree with them—or with Evangelical Christians—on a wide range of issues. What is worthwhile, however, is to accept the offer of friendship on certain specific issues, respectfully disagree on others, and not demonize such people.

As noted above, many conservatives and pious Protestants have changed their view of Jews. Factors that once made for antisemitism have now been reversed. Here is a brief summary:

–Formerly, Jews were seen as subverting Christianity. Now, in an increasingly secular world, Jews (even only slightly religious ones) are seen as fellow believers, allies in preserving religiosity in the face of huge challenges.

–A key element in antisemitism were Christian documents of Jews as the “suffering servant” whose humiliation proved Christianity to be correct and “replacement theology” which says that Jews are no longer a “chosen people” but their role has been replaced by Christians. These ideas have been widely abandoned by Evangelicals. There is a new interest—and gratitude—at the Jewish roots of Christianity and a view of Jews as fellows in a Judeo-Christian religious community.

They are very much aware of Biblical verses that, for example, say that the creator of the universe will not bless those who attack or hate the Jewish people. There is also a real understanding of the history of the Holocaust and past antisemitism along with a desire to make amends. While there are those seeking converts, of course, and some who believe that supporting Jews will bring Armageddon, these are largely outdated concepts

–Conservatives tended to view Jews as cosmopolitan anti-nationalists, leftists, and pacifists. Today, however, the existence of Israel has given a different perspective on this. Jews, in the eyes of most conservatives, have created a model nation-state, a country that is willing and able to fight in its self-defense, where religion is respected as an important element in Jewish peoplehood.

–An especially important question has been how conservatives deal with the fact that there are so many Jews on the left, that is, among their political opponents and those who fight against religion in various ways. In the twentieth century especially, this was a huge source of antisemitism and a central element in Nazi doctrine.

Contemporary conservatives have, however, developed a new way of viewing this issue. First, of course, they have observed the left’s growing antagonism against Israel and even against Jews. Most importantly, they view leftist and anti-religious Jews as enemies of their own people. This neatly dispenses with a traditional core issue of antisemitism.

Someone like, say, Noam Chomsky is not seen as part of the Jewish conspiracy against America but as a person who has so broken with his Jewish roots and the interests of his people to be as much against the Jews as he is against his country or conservative values. In a sense, this concept parallels what most Jews—especially the religious and the pro-Israel majority—also think of such people.

In France and Italy, Holland and Spain, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, conservative parties are more pro-Israel than their counterparts on the left. This has less to do with Israeli or Jewish behavior—whatever claims are made to the contrary—than it does the philosophical and political evolution of politics within those countries.

Let me make this absolutely clear: to cooperate with liberals on supporting Israel one need not be a liberal; to cooperate with conservatives on supporting Israel one need not be a conservative. To cooperate with Christians on supporting Israel one need not be a Christian.

Of course, a distinction must be made between much larger conservative forces and smaller neo-fascist ones. The Le Pen party in France, the British National Party, and other forces continue the historic antisemitism of the right-wing. In the United States, right-wingers like Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul also still hold traditional antisemitic concepts.

Yet the Jewish people have always survived by a willingness to understand the world as it is and to act as necessary without sacrificing core principles. While working to maintain and rebuild relations with real liberal and moderate social democratic forces where possible, Israel and Jews should also shake the extended hand of conservatives and Christians which is so often sincerely offered.



Liberty's resilience, even after 9/11

I think Jeff Jacoby is a bit optimistic below but he has a point. I am also reminded of the wise words of judge Learned Hand: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."

WAS THE 9/11 DECADE a disaster for individual freedom?

Within hours of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the noted libertarian activist John Perry Barlow warned that the night of totalitarianism was about to descend on American liberty.

"Control freaks will dine on this day for the rest of our lives," wrote Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a research fellow at Harvard Law School, in an e-mail to his followers. "Within a few hours, we will see beginning the most vigorous efforts to end what remains of freedom in America."

Barlow's voice was only the first in what would eventually be a deafening chorus denouncing the government's reaction to 9/11 as an assault on fundamental freedoms. George W. Bush, Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek, "thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator." John Ashcroft, attorney general for the first three years of the Bush administration, was accused by the American Civil Liberties Union of displaying "open hostility to protecting civil liberties." Former Vice President Al Gore slammed the White House for using the war on terrorism "to consolidate its power and escape any accountability for its use."

Nearly every change in domestic national-security policy over the past decade, from airline no-fly lists to the data-mining of telephone records, was portrayed as another step down the slippery slope to a police state. Most reviled of all: the Patriot Act, passed by Congress six weeks after 9/11 and reauthorized several times since. Feverish critics characterized the law as the gateway to an American gulag. Under the Patriot Act, cried the ACLU, "the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads or . . . the web sites she visits." To Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, debating the law on the House floor, it was "crystal clear" that the administration was determined "to abuse, attack, and outright deny the civil liberties of the people of this country in defiance of our constitution."

Some of this uproar was partisan, of course. That is why it was never directed at Barack Obama, even though he extended nearly all of Bush's national-security legacy.

But in fairness, committed civil libertarians had reason to be uneasy. If the first casualty of war is truth, the second is often freedom. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the illegal harassment of political opponents during the Nixon administration, wartime governments have certainly been known to repress dissent and abuse individual rights. During the Civil War, the federal government rounded up thousands of civilians and shut down hundreds of newspapers because they publicly opposed the policies of the Lincoln administration. FDR ordered the internment of more than 100,000 loyal Japanese-Americans during World War II, though they were guilty of nothing but their ethnicity.

It was with historical precedents like these in mind that Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold voted against the original Patriot Act – the only Senator to do so. Explaining his opposition, he quoted Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who warned in 1963 that it is "under the pressing exigencies of crisis that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees."

Yet 10 years later American freedom thrives. To be sure, obnoxious security measures are more common, especially in airports and other public spaces, but political debate, dissent, and activism are as robust as they have ever been. As the New York Times acknowledged this week, the domestic legal response to 9/11 "gave rise to civil liberties tremors, not earthquakes." The Patriot Act, for all the hyperventilating, amounted to little more than "tinkering at the margins" of existing law. By historical standards, "the contraction of domestic civil liberties in the last decade was minor."

Sincere the Feingolds and Barlows may have been, but they were wrong. American history doesn't prove that once the government's "control freaks" get a taste of expanded power, it is only a matter of time before the concentration-camp gates swing shut behind us. If anything, it proves the opposite.

Congress and the president may restrict political liberties during wartime or a crisis, but when the crisis eases liberty rebounds – and then some. The balance between security and freedom shifts back not to where it was, but to even greater liberty and expanded individual rights. Thus, after the Civil War ended, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments made the United States an even freer country than it had been before. Following World War II, FDR's internment of the Japanese was rescinded – and is now so reviled that no mainstream political figure would dream of defending or emulating it.

Americans are more jealous of their freedoms than libertarians sometimes realize. For nearly 150 years, civil liberties in this country have been on the upswing. Ten years after 9/11, they still are.


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

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


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


14 September, 2011

US poverty rate highest since 1993

THE US poverty rate rose in 2010 to 15.1 per cent, the highest rate since 1993, the Census Bureau has reported in another sign of a sputtering economy following a deep recession. The report showed a sharp increase in poverty from 14.3 per cent in 2009, and a fourth consecutive rise in the number of people below the poverty threshold, to 46.2 million.

The number of people in poverty was the highest since data collection began in 1959, although the rate was 7.3 percentage points lower than in 1959.

The US definition of poverty is an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four, and $11,139 for a single person in 2010.

The survey showed struggles for the rest of Americans, with median household income falling 2.3 per cent to $49,445.

The poverty rate for blacks and Hispanics was much higher than for the overall population at 27.4 per cent and 26.6 per cent, respectively. Among regions, the South had the highest poverty rate at 16.9 per cent and the highest percentage without health insurance, 19.1 per cent.

The report, showing the first full year since the recession officially ended in June 2009, supports the notion that Americans have been losing ground economically. It showed real median incomes fell 6.4 per cent from pre-recession levels in 2007 and were 7.1 per cent below the peak in 1999.



New footage reveals how Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis felt about Martin Luther King

IN early 1964 Martin Luther King was the unchallenged leader of America's civil rights movement, still basking in the glory of his "I have a dream" speech the previous summer.

According to former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, later Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, he was also a "phoney", a sex pest and a "terrible man".

Four months after her husband's death, the First Lady of Camelot sat down with a close friend and a tape recorder to give her calm, candid and brutal assessment of many of those she had met in the White House. The recordings are released today

No one who displeased Mrs Kennedy was spared. Charles de Gaulle was a spiteful "egomaniac". Indira Gandhi was a pushy, bitter "prune". Ted Sorensen, the legendary Kennedy speechwriter, had a "big inferiority complex" and Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and Republican politician, was quite possibly a lesbian.

It was Dr King, who the former First Lady believed had been drunk at her husband's funeral, who came off worst.

"I just can't see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man's terrible," she told Arthur Schlesinger, the former White House aide, during eight hours of intimate recollections recorded four months after the Kennedy assassination but kept secret at her request for 47years.

Mrs Kennedy said she had been told that secret FBI wiretaps of a Washington hotel suite occupied by Dr King the night before his most famous speech revealed that he had spent much of the evening telephoning women to invite them to a sex party.

In sections of the interviews, to be broadcast tonight in the US, she describes hearing from Robert Kennedy, the former US Attorney-General and her brother-in-law, how the civil rights icon "was calling up all these girls and arranging for a party of men and women, I mean, sort of an orgy".

Mr Kennedy also told his brother's widow that Dr King had been heard joking about being drunk and seeing the pallbearers almost drop the coffin at John F.Kennedy's funeral.

Allegations of Dr King's promiscuity are not new but such unvarnished language from one liberal figurehead about another may help to explain why the tapes have stayed under wraps for so long.

The New York Times, required reading for America's liberal establishment, devoted 19 words to the King sections in a 2,000-word front-page article on the tapes yesterday.

Such hesitancy is partly explained by doubts about the authenticity of FBI wiretaps conducted under J. Edgar Hoover, but Mrs Kennedy's views on Dr King are clearly her own. She is not much kinder to Lyndon Johnson, newly installed in the White House at the time of the interviews.

Her husband had dreaded the idea of a Johnson presidency and enlisted his brother to help find alternatives to be the next Democratic nominee, she told Mr Schlesinger.

The interviews do not touch on John F.Kennedy's own affairs, which were still a closely held secret at the time.

They scarcely mention his death but they dwell in detail on the idea of death during the Cuban missile crisis. "I said, please don't send me away to Camp David, you know, me and the children," Mrs Kennedy said. "If anything happens we're going to stay right here with you ... I just want to be with you. I want to die with you, and the children do, too."



A lesson for now: How Britain escaped the worst of the Great Depression

By economic historian Martin Hutchinson

In the 1930s, those hoping for economic recovery got lucky in the British political cycle and unlucky in the American one (and even more unlucky in the German cycle.) In Britain, the economically capable National Government took office in August 1931. Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain promptly banished Maynard Keynes from the Treasury (condemning him to six years of inferior investment returns, since he had been cut off from his sources of information) and instituted an anti-Keynesian economic policy of public spending cuts and a modest Imperial Preference tariff that proved remarkably successful. By 1933, the British economy was recovering fast, and 1932-37 provided the fastest peacetime five year growth period since Lord Liverpool’s era over a century before.

A few weeks ago I carried out a Gross Private Product analysis for the United States, subtracting government spending from GDP and looking at trends in private sector output, from which all wealth and jobs ultimately derive. The same calculations can be done for Britain, using the helpful website ukpublicspending.co.uk, and taking figures from before 1950 with a pinch of salt.

As in the United States, the greatest falls in Britain’s GPP came during the two World Wars, as output was converted to military usage – GPP fell by 45% between 1914 and 1917 and by an astonishing 57% between 1940 and 1945. In both wars, private sector output fell to levels not seen since the nineteenth century, in the second war to the level of 1870.

However the British Great Depression was not all that Great -- GPP fell by 11.7% between 1929 and 1932. This fall has since been exceeded twice in peacetime, by the Heath/Wilson downturn of 1973-75 (14.1%) and the Gordon Brown one of 2007-09 (13.2%.) The Thatcher downturn of 1979-81 and the Thatcher/Major downturn of 1989-93, both of which caused endless angst among the chattering classes and the left, were barely half as severe. Thus while the Chamberlain policy of cutting public expenditure, even slightly (by a mere 2.1% in real terms, peak to trough) opened opportunities for the private sector and turned the Great Depression into rapid recovery, the Keynesian stimulus policies pursued in the much milder global downturns of 1973-75 and 2007-09 produced significantly deeper economic troughs.

In the United States, the political cycle in the Great Depression was as unlucky as that in Britain was lucky. The Republican elected just before the downturn began followed government-enlargement, protectionist and tax-increasing policies, thus making matters much worse. Then the Democrat elected at the bottom of the slump intensified the enlargement of government and added a heavy layer of regulation, ensuring that while output recovered from the appalling depths to which it had fallen, the recovery was only partial. Only when centrist policies were restored in 1939-40 did vigorous growth resume. In summary therefore, while the first year of vigorous growth in Britain was only four years after the beginning of the Great Depression downturn, in the United States there was a full ten years delay before recovery occurred.

From previous discussion in these columns, three things need to occur before we get a vigorous recovery. First, short-term and long-term interest rates need to be raised above the level of inflation. This will allow the U.S. capital base to recover through higher saving. Moreover, a higher cost of capital relative to the cost of labor will lead the corporate sector to refocus from outsourcing jobs by investing in emerging markets to creating jobs in existing U.S. facilities.

Second, the budget deficit, both short-term and long-term needs to be brought down to at most 3-4% of GDP ($500-600 billion) initially and balance thereafter, so that the private sector ceases to be crowded out. Ideally this will be achieved as it was by Chamberlain, simply by cutting out waste in government, but closing tax loopholes can help in this process if it appears necessary – removing the tax deductions for mortgage interest and state income taxes will have little adverse economic effect, while removing that for charitable contributions will have an economically positive effect.

Finally, the blizzard of regulations that has proved a substantial additional obstacle to economic growth in 2011 needs to be cut back. Ideally some of the most egregious new regulations must be repealed, and at least the flow of new regulatory activity must be halted.



Economies flourishes when government leaves them alone

Some more instructive history -- from economist Thomas Sowell

Some people are hoping that President Obama's plan will get the economy out of the doldrums and start providing jobs for the unemployed. Others are hoping that the Republicans' plan will do the trick. Those who are truly optimistic hope that Democrats and Republicans will both put aside their partisanship and do what is best for the country.

Almost nobody seems to be hoping that the government will leave the economy alone to recover on its own. Indeed, almost nobody seems at all interested in looking at the hard facts about what happens when the government leaves the economy alone, compared to what happens when politicians intervene.

The grand myth that has been taught to whole generations is that the government is "forced" to intervene in the economy when there is a downturn that leaves millions of people suffering. The classic example is the Great Depression of the 1930s.

What most people are unaware of is that there was no Great Depression until AFTER politicians started intervening in the economy.

There was a stock market crash in October 1929 and unemployment shot up to 9 percent -- for one month. Then unemployment started drifting back down until it was 6.3 percent in June 1930, when the first major federal intervention took place.

That was the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill, which more than a thousand economists across the country pleaded with Congress and President Hoover not to enact. But then, as now, politicians decided that they had to "do something."

Within 6 months, unemployment hit double digits. Then, as now, when "doing something" made things worse, many felt that the answer was to do something more.

Both President Hoover and President Roosevelt did more -- and more, and more. Unemployment remained in double digits for the entire remainder of the decade. Indeed, unemployment topped 20 percent and remained there for 35 months, stretching from the Hoover administration into the Roosevelt administration.

That is how the government was "forced" to intervene during the Great Depression. Intervention in the economy is like eating potato chips: You can't stop with just one.

What about the track record of doing nothing? For more than the first century and a half of this nation, that was essentially what the federal government did -- nothing. None of the downturns in all that time ever lasted as long as the Great Depression.

An economic downturn in 1920-21 sent unemployment up to 12 percent. President Warren Harding did nothing, except for cutting government spending. The economy quickly rebounded on its own.

In 1987, when the stock market declined more in one day than it had in any day in 1929, Ronald Reagan did nothing. There were outcries and outrage in the media. But Reagan still did nothing.

That downturn not only rebounded, it was followed by 20 years of economic growth, marked by low inflation and low unemployment.

The Obama administration's policies are very much like the policies of the Roosevelt administration during the 1930s. FDR not only smothered business with an unending stream of new regulations, he spent unprecedented sums of money, running up record deficits, despite raising taxes on high income earners to levels that confiscated well over half their earnings.

Like Obama today, FDR blamed the country's economic problems on his predecessor, making Hoover a pariah. Yet, 6 years after Hoover was gone, and nearly a decade after the stock market crash, unemployment hit 20 percent again in the spring of 1939.

Doing nothing may have a better track record in the economy but government intervention has a better political record in getting presidents re-elected. People who say that Barack Obama cannot be re-elected with unemployment at its current level should take note that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected a record four times, despite two consecutive terms in which unemployment was never as low as it is today.

Economic reality is one thing. But political impressions are something very different -- and all too often it is the political impressions which determine the fate of an administration and the fate of a nation.




Republican wins Weiner’s former NY seat: "In a blow to Democrats, a Republican candidate captured the heavily Jewish New York City congressional district previously represented by Rep. Anthony Weiner. The Republican candidate, Bob Turner, beat his Democratic opponent, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, in Tuesday’s special election. The Associated Press called the race for Turner shortly after midnight. The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, with the Jewish vote a particular focus of attention. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support Turner in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to President Obama over his policies toward Israel."

Jobs speech: Back to the future: "Those who are impressed by words seem to think that President Barack Obama made a great speech to Congress last week. But when you look beyond the rhetoric, what did he say that was fundamentally different from what he has been saying and doing all along? ... If government spending were the answer, we would by now have a booming economy with plenty of jobs, after all the record trillions of dollars that have been poured down a bottomless pit."

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

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


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


13 September, 2011

The Leftist vision of man is up against reality


Anyone who follows political commentary on a regular basis through the standard channels of talk radio and television, newspaper and magazine editorials, popular books, blogs, and the like knows the standard stereotype of what liberals think of conservatives:

Conservatives are a bunch of Hummer-driving, meat-eating, gun-toting, small-government promoting, tax decreasing, hard-drinking, Bible-thumping, black-and-white-thinking, fist-pounding, shoe-stomping, morally dogmatic blowhards.

And what conservatives think of liberals:

Liberals are a bunch of hybrid-driving, tofu-eating, tree-hugging, whale-saving, sandal-wearing, big-government promoting, tax increasing, bottled-water-drinking, flip-flopping, wishy-washy, Namby Pamby bedwetters.

Such stereotypes are so annealed into our culture that everyone understands them enough for comedians and commentators to exploit them. And like many stereotypes, both of them have an element of truth. Here, it is an emphasis on differing moral values, especially those we derive intuitively. In fact, research now overwhelmingly demonstrates that most of our moral decisions are grounded in automatic moral feelings rather than deliberatively rational calculations. We do not reason our way to a moral decision by carefully weighing the evidence for and against; instead, we make intuitive leaps to moral decisions and then after the fact we rationalize our snap decisions with rational reasons.

Our moral intuitions—reflected in such conservative-liberal stereotypes—are more emotional than rational. As with most of our beliefs about most things in life, our political beliefs come first, the rationalization of those political beliefs comes second. I suppose this is one reason why I am a libertarian. Libertarian? I know what you’re thinking:

Libertarians are a bunch of pot-smoking, porn-watching, prostitution-supporting, gold-hoarding, gun-stashing, Constitution-waving, secession-mongering, tax-revolting, anti-government anarchists.

Yes, like the other two stereotypes, there is some element of truth in this one as well. Yet basically, libertarians are for freedom and liberty for individuals, while recognizing that in order to be free we must also be protected. Your freedom to swing your arms ends at my nose. As John Stuart Mill explained in his 1869 book On Liberty, “The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”[1]

The development of democracy was an important step to defeating the tyranny of the magistrate that reigned for centuries in European monarchies, but as Mill noted, the problem with democracy is that it can lead to the tyranny of the majority: “There needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own.”[2] This is, in fact, why our country’s founders produced the Bill of Rights. These are rights that cannot be taken away no matter how big the majority in a democratic election.

Libertarianism is grounded in the Principle of Equal Freedom: All people are free to think, believe, and act as they choose, so long as they do not infringe on the equal freedom of others. Of course, the devil is in the details of what constitutes “infringement,” but there are at least a dozen essentials to liberty and freedom that need shielding from encroachment:

The rule of law.

Property rights.

Economic stability through a secure and trustworthy banking and monetary system.

A reliable infrastructure and the freedom to move about the country.

Freedom of speech and the press.

Freedom of association.

Mass education.

Protection of civil liberties.

A robust military for protection of our liberties from attacks by other states.

A potent police for protection of our freedoms from attacks by other people within the state.

A viable legislative system for establishing fair and just laws.

An effective judicial system for the equitable enforcement of those fair and just laws.

These essentials also incorporate moral values embraced by both liberals and conservatives, and as such form the foundation for a bridge between the Left and the Right. Nothing new needs to be invented or introduced into the system. These are values deeply ingrained in our nature and thus will likely remain a relatively permanent part of future political patterns.

What is the evidence that these political values are part of our evolved nature? After all, democratic politics developed over the past couple millennia, far too short a time for evolution to have reworked our nature from the tiny bands of hunter-gatherers who lived without any form of centralized politics.

We begin with research by behavior geneticists on identical twins separated at birth and raised in different environments. For most traits measured, about 40-50 percent of the variance among people is accounted for by their genes, including both religious and political preferences.[3] Of course, just as genes do not code for particular religious faiths, we don’t inherit political party affiliation directly. Instead, genes code for temperament, and people tend to sort themselves into the left and right clusters of moral values based on their personality preferences, with liberals emphasizing values that involve care for the needy and fairness and equality of outcomes for all peoples, whereas conservatives underscore such values as group loyalty, respect for authority and the rule of law, and the moral sanctity of family, community, and nation.

This would explain why people are so predictable in their beliefs on such a wide range of issues that are seemingly unconnected—why someone who believes that the government should stay out of the private bedroom nevertheless believes that the government should be deeply involved in private business (liberals); or why someone who believes that taxes should be lowered nevertheless wants to spend heavily on military, police, and the judicial system (conservatives).

In his book A Conflict of Visions, the economist Thomas Sowell argues that these two clusters of moral values are intimately linked to the vision one holds about human nature, either as constrained (conservative) or unconstrained (liberal), and so he calls these the Constrained Vision and the Unconstrained Vision. Sowell shows that controversies over a number of seemingly unrelated social issues such as taxes, welfare, social security, health care, criminal justice, and war repeatedly reveal a consistent ideological dividing line along these two conflicting visions. “If human options are not inherently constrained, then the presence of such repugnant and disastrous phenomena virtually cries out for explanation—and for solutions. But if the limitations and passions of man himself are at the heart of these painful phenomena, then what requires explanation are the ways in which they have been avoided or minimized.” Which of these natures you believe is true will largely shape which solutions to social ills will be most effective. “In the unconstrained vision, there are no intractable reasons for social evils and therefore no reason why they cannot be solved, with sufficient moral commitment.

But in the constrained vision, whatever artifices or strategies restrain or ameliorate inherent human evils will themselves have costs, some in the form of other social ills created by these civilizing institutions, so that all that is possible is a prudent trade-off.” It’s not that conservatives think that we’re evil and liberals believe we’re good. “Implicit in the unconstrained vision is the notion that the potential is very different from the actual, and that means exist to improve human nature toward its potential, or that such means can be evolved or discovered, so that man will do the right thing for the right reason, rather than for ulterior psychic or economic rewards,” Sowell elaborates. “Man is, in short, ‘perfectible’—meaning continually improvable rather than capable of actually reaching absolute perfection.”[4]

In his masterpiece analysis of human nature, The Blank Slate, the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker re-labels these two visions the Tragic Vision and the Utopian Vision, and reconfigures them slightly: “The Utopian Vision seeks to articulate social goals and devise policies that target them directly: economic inequality is attacked in a war on poverty, pollution by environmental regulations, racial imbalances by preferences, carcinogens by bans on food additives. The Tragic Vision points to the self-interested motives of the people who would implement these policies—namely, the expansion of their bureaucratic fiefdoms—and to their ineptitude at anticipating the myriad consequences, especially when the social goals are pitted against millions of people pursuing their own interests.”

The distinct Left-Right divide consistently cleaves the (respectively) Utopian Vision and Tragic Vision along numerous specific contests, such as the size of the government (big versus small), the amount of taxation (high versus low), trade (fair versus free), healthcare (universal versus individual), environment (protect it versus leave it alone), crime (caused by social injustice versus caused by criminal minds), the constitution (judicial activism for social justice versus strict constructionism for original intent), and many others.[5]

Personally I agree with Sowell and Pinker that the unconstrained vision is utopian, which in its original Greek means “no place.” An unconstrained utopian vision of human nature largely accepts the blank slate model and believes that custom, law, and traditional institutions are sources of inequality and injustice and should therefore be heavily regulated and constantly modified from the top down. It holds that society can be engineered through government programs to release the natural unselfishness and altruism within people. It deems physical and intellectual differences largely to be the result of unjust and unfair social systems that can be re-engineered through social planning, and therefore people can be shuffled across socioeconomic classes that were artificially created through unfair and unjust political, economic, and social systems inherited from history. I believe that this vision of human nature can be achieved in literally No Place.

Although some liberals embrace just such a vision of human nature, I strongly suspect that when pushed on specific issues most liberals realize that human behavior is constrained to a certain degree—especially those educated in the biological and evolutionary sciences who are aware of the research in behavior genetics—so the debate turns on degrees of constraint. Rather than there being two distinct and unambiguous categories of constrained and unconstrained (or tragic and utopian) visions of human nature, I think there is just one vision with a sliding scale. Let’s call this the Realistic Vision. If you believe that human nature is partly constrained in all respects—morally, physically, and intellectually—then you hold a Realistic Vision of human nature.

In keeping with the research from behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology, let’s put a number on that constraint at 40 to 50 percent. In the Realistic Vision, human nature is relatively constrained by our biology and evolutionary history, and therefore social and political systems must be structured around these realities, accentuating the positive and attenuating the negative aspects of our natures.

A Realistic Vision rejects the blank slate model that people are so malleable and responsive to social programs that governments can engineer their lives into a great society of its design, and instead believes that family, custom, law, and traditional institutions are the best sources for social harmony. The Realistic Vision recognizes the need for strict moral education through parents, family, friends, and community because people have a dual nature of being selfish and selfless, competitive and cooperative, greedy and generous, and so we need rules and guidelines and encouragement to do the right thing.

The Realistic Vision acknowledges that people vary widely both physically and intellectually—in large part because of natural inherited differences—and therefore will rise (or fall) to their natural levels. Therefore governmental redistribution programs are not only unfair to those from whom the wealth is confiscated and redistributed, but the allocation of the wealth to those who did not earn it cannot and will not work to equalize these natural inequalities.

I think most moderates on both the left and the right can embrace a Realistic Vision of human nature. And they should, as should the extremists on both ends, because the evidence from psychology, anthropology, economics, and especially evolutionary theory and its application to all three of these sciences supports the Realistic Vision of human nature. There are at least a dozen lines of evidence that converge to this conclusion:[6]

* The clear and quantitative physical differences among people in size, strength, speed, agility, coordination, and other physical attributes that translates into some being more successful than others, and that at least half of these differences are inherited.
The clear and quantitative intellectual differences among people in memory, problem solving ability, cognitive speed, mathematical talent, spatial reasoning, verbal skills, emotional intelligence, and other mental attributes that translates into some being more successful than others, and that at least half of these differences are inherited.

* The evidence from behavior genetics and twin studies indicating that 40 to 50 percent of the variance among people in temperament, personality, and many political, economic, and social preferences are accounted for by genetics.

* The failed communist and socialist experiments around the world throughout the 20th century revealed that top-down draconian controls over economic and political systems do not work.
The failed communes and utopian community experiments tried at various places throughout the world over the past 150 years demonstrated that people by nature do not adhere to the Marxian principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

* The power of family ties and the depth of connectedness between blood relatives. Communities have tried and failed to break up the family and have children raised by others; these attempts provide counter evidence to the claim that “it takes a village” to raise a child. As well, the continued practice of nepotism further reinforces the practice that “blood is thicker than water.”
The principle of reciprocal altruism—I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”—is universal; people do not by nature give generously unless they receive something in return, even if what they receive is social status.

* The principle of moralistic punishment—I’ll punish you if you do not scratch my back after I have scratched yours—is universal; people do not long tolerate free riders who continually take but almost never give.

* The almost universal nature of hierarchical social structures—egalitarianism only works (barely) among tiny bands of hunter-gatherers in resource-poor environments where there is next to no private property, and when a precious game animal is hunted extensive rituals and religious ceremonies are required to insure equal sharing of the food.

* The almost universal nature of aggression, violence, and dominance, particularly on the part of young males seeking resources, women, and especially status, and how status-seeking in particular explains so many heretofore unexplained phenomena, such as high risk taking, costly gifts, excessive generosity beyond one’s means, and especially attention seeking.
The almost universal nature of within-group amity and between-group enmity, wherein the rule-of-thumb heuristic is to trust in-group members until they prove otherwise to be distrustful, and to distrust out-group members until they prove otherwise to be trustful.

* The almost universal desire of people to trade with one another, not for the selfless benefit of others or the society, but for the selfish benefit of one’s own kin and kind; it is an unintended consequence that trade establishes trust between strangers and lowers between-group enmity, as well as produces greater wealth for both trading partners and groups.

The founders of our Republic established our system of government as they did based on something very much like this Realistic Vision of human nature, knowing full well that the tension between individual liberty and social cohesiveness could never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and so the moral pendulum swings Left and Right, and politics is played mostly between the two 40-yard lines of the political playing field. This tension between freedom and security, in fact, would explain why third parties have such a difficult time finding a toe-hold on the political rock face of America. Typically they crater after an election or cower in the shadows of the two behemoths that have come to define the Left-Right system.

I believe that the Realistic Vision of human nature is best represented by the libertarian political philosophy, and is what James Madison was thinking of when he penned (literally) his famous dictum in the Federalist number 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”[7]

SOURCE. See the original for references)



Privatization of post office long overdue: "Ronald Reagan tried to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. The effort was dropped after he left office in 1989. It's time to take up the idea again. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified last week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the USPS, essentially, is broke. He said the USPS can't make a required $5.5 billion employee pension payment to the U.S. Treasury by the Sept. 30 deadline. 'We do not want taxpayer money,' he said. 'We have got to get our finances in order.' But the taxpayers are the only ones who could pay the tab."

Tax avoidance and money laundering: "Why are so many people involved in tax avoidance, tax evading and money laundering? The human being has a deeply entrenched desire to enjoy the fruit of his work: to consume it, to invest it and to make his assets grow. But taxpayers become disgruntled when they see their money handed out to people they don’t know and used for purposes they don’t agree with."

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

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


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


12 September, 2011

An amusing Leftist evasion about Christian faith and abortion

NPR has an article up titled: "Evangelical: Religious Right Has Distorted the Faith"

That immediately led me to expect a debate about Bible doctrine and I was figuratively rubbing my hands about that as I think I can say without boasting that I know my Bible extremely well. Check my Scripture blog if you doubt it.

Instead what I found in the article was a discussion about how evangelicals were slow to react to Roe vs. Wade. The article was a summary of discussions among various Protestant church leaders with nary a single reference to the Bible!

Now I for one take a considerable interest in early church history but anybody who knows anything about modern Protestant groups knows that trying to unify them or even sum them up is like herding cats. They are inherent individualistic and expecting ANY united action from them is extremely optimistic.

And that there was no immediate concerted protest against freely available abortion is the whole complaint of the NPR article.

But that ignores the fact that abortion is an extremely difficult issue for most conservatives and many Christians. The Left are all for abortion. When they get total power they murder people by the millions so who cares about a few unborn babies?

Conservatives however recognize and respect individual rights and perceive that both the mother and baby have rights. So how to resolve a conflict between those rights? To this day, different Christians take different positions on the issue.

But our Leftist NPR writer is so tone deaf to moral argument that he showed no recognition that there was any issue there and that it might take some time to feel a way through the dilemmas involved. Leftists really are morally illiterate, some to the point of psychopathy.

For what I think is becoming a mainstream Christian approach to the abortion issue, see here


How to Reverse the West's Decline

By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

We don't know much about Ibn Khaldun in the West but we should. He was one of the truly great thinkers of the Middle Ages. He has every claim to be called the world's first sociologist. Not for another 300 years would the West produce a figure of comparable originality: Giambattista Vico. Both produced compelling accounts of the rise and fall of civilisations. Both knew what most people most of the time forget: that the greatest civilisations eventually fall. The reason they do so is not necessarily the rise of a stronger power. It is their own internal decay.

Most accounts of al-Qaeda focus on the intellectual influence of the 20th-century thinker and critic of the West, Sayyid Qutb. That influence was real. But the deeper story the leaders of al-Qaeda told in 1989, without which 9/11 is unintelligible, had less to do with Qutb and hatred of the West and its freedoms; and much more to do with the key precipitating event of the fall of Communism: the withdrawal, in 1989, of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.

It was that event that set in motion the rapid collapse of one of the world's two superpowers. It was achieved not by the United States and its military might, but by a small group of religiously inspired fighters, the mujahideen and their helpers. Ibn Khaldun's theory was that every urban civilisation becomes vulnerable when it grows decadent from within. People live in towns and get used to luxuries. The rich grow indolent, the poor resentful. There is a loss of asabiyah, a keyword for Khaldun. Nowadays we would probably translate it as "social cohesion". People no longer think in terms of the common good. They are no longer willing to make sacrifices for one another. Essentially they lose the will to defend themselves. They then become easy prey for the desert dwellers, the people used to fighting to stay alive.

That, so it seemed to those who read history that way, is what happened in Afghanistan. It was never possible for a small group to defeat a superpower by conventional means. But it could go on endlessly inflicting casualty after casualty until eventually the superpower - more like a lumbering elephant than a wounded lion - withdrew. The desert dwellers are hungrier, tougher and more ruthless than the city dwellers who long more than anything for a quiet life.

That was the calculation. The odd thing is, it worked. And those who had fought the Soviet Union looked on in wonder at the effect of their victory. For not only did the Russians withdraw. Within an extraordinarily short time their whole empire collapsed. Ibn Khaldun was right. The society had grown rotten from within. It had lost its asabiyah, its cohesion. It had lost the will to fight.

If that is what a small group of highly motivated religious fighters could do to one superpower, why not the other, America and the West? America could not be defeated on its own ground. But what if it could be tempted, provoked, into occupying the very same ground that had seen the humiliating withdrawal of the Soviet army, namely Afghanistan itself? To do so would require a truly massive provocation, one so shocking that it would make the Americans forget what everyone knew, that Afghanistan is a death trap that ultimately defeats all invading armies. That is when 9/11 was born.

The theory was that the Americans and the Russians might be unalike in every other respect, but this they shared: that they were advanced urban civilisations in which the social bond, asabiyah, had grown weak. They were no longer lean and hungry. They were overweight and lacked the capacity for sustained sacrifice. If America could be provoked into occupying Afghanistan, it could be defeated exactly as the Soviets had been, not by any decisive battle but by sustained asymmetric warfare. The proof was that American troops had withdrawn from Lebanon in 1984 and Somalia in 1994 under just such circumstances. They had no more staying power than the Russians. Like the Russians, within a decade they would be looking for an exit strategy. 9/11 was the attempt to lure the United States into Afghanistan, and it worked.

The aim of al-Qaeda never was the collapse of the West. It was the withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia, together with larger aspirations for the revival of the Caliphate and the reemergence of the Umma as a world power. But the collapse of the West was foreseen. It was not an aim but a consequence, and it followed from Ibn Khaldun's theory of the decline and fall of civilisations.

Has it happened? Not yet. But ten years on, the United States has been humiliated into renegotiating its trillions of dollars of debt. Western economies, almost all of them, are ailing. The European Union is under strain, its future in doubt. There have been riots and looting on the streets of London and Manchester, just as there have been in recent years in France, Greece and Spain. The global economy looks far less stable than it did before the collapse of 2008. In Europe, following a series of scandals, bankers, politicians, journalists and even the police have been tried and found wanting. Those who read the runes of the future are turning their eyes eastward to India, China, and the fast-growing economies of south-east Asia. The West no longer looks invincible. As a narrative, the "end of history" has proved less predictive than the "decline of civilisations".

The real challenge of 9/11 is not what it seemed at the time: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb and radical Islam. These were real and present threats, to be sure, but they were symptoms, not cause. The challenge was the underlying moral health of Western liberal democracies, their asabiyah, their sense of identity and collective responsibility, their commitment to one another and to the ideals that brought them into being. The counter-narrative of 1989 and the fall of Soviet Communism saw it not as a victory for the West but as part of a law of history that says: all great civilisations eventually decline, and the West will be the next to go.

That view is not limited to enemies of the West. It was most recently stated by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson in his Civilization: The West and the Rest. It was most powerfully formulated by Alasdair MacIntyre in his masterwork, After Virtue. My favourite version of it comes from Bertrand Russell in the introduction to his History of Western Philosophy, speaking about the tendency of the most creative civilisations to self-destruct:

What had happened in the great age of Greece happened again in Renaissance Italy. Traditional moral restraints disappeared, because they were seen to be associated with superstition; the liberation from fetters made individuals energetic and creative, producing a rare florescence of genius; but the anarchy and treachery which inevitably resulted from the decay of morals made Italians collectively impotent, and they fell, like the Greeks, under the domination of nations less civilised than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion.

Social cohesion is what Ibn Khaldun called asabiyah. And Russell's description of Renaissance Italy fits precisely the postmodern, late capitalist West, with its urge to spend and its failure to save, its moral relativism and hyper-individualism, its political culture of rights without responsibilities, its aggressive secularism and resentment of any morality of self-restraint, and its failure to inculcate the habits of instinctual deferral that Sigmund Freud saw as the very basis of civilisation. Sayyid Qutb hated the West. Ibn Khaldun would have pitied the West. The pity is more serious than the hate.

There is a simple choice before us. Will we continue to act in ignorance of this other narrative? If so, we will replicate the fate of Greece in the second pre-Christian century as described by Polybius ("the people of Hellas had entered on the false path of ostentation, avarice and laziness"), and that of Rome two centuries later, when Livy wrote about "how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first subsided, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to our present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure." If we carry on as we are going, the West will decline and fall.

There is, to my mind, only one sane alternative. That is to do what England and America did in the 1820s. Those two societies, deeply secularised after the rationalist 18th century, scarred and fractured by the problems of industrialisation, calmly set about remoralising themselves, thereby renewing themselves.

The three decades, 1820-1850, saw an unprecedented proliferation of groups dedicated to social, political and educational reform-building schools, YMCAs, orphanages, starting temperance groups, charities, friendly societies, campaigning for the abolition of slavery, corporal punishment and inhumane working conditions, and working for the extension of voting rights. Alexis de Tocqueville was astonished by what he saw in America and the same process was happening at the same time in Britain.

People did not leave it to government or the market. They did it themselves in communities, congregations, groups of every shape and size. They understood the connection between morality and morale. They knew that only a society held together by a strong moral bond, by asabiyah, has any chance of succeeding in the long run. That collective effort of remoralisation eventually made Britain the greatest world power in the 19th century and America in the 20th.

It is a peculiarity of the Abrahamic monotheisms that they see, at the heart of society, the idea of covenant. Covenantal politics are politics with a purpose, driven by high ideals, among them the sanctity of life, the dignity of the individual, the rule of justice and compassion, and concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. G.K. Chesterton called America a "nation with the soul of a church". Britain used to be like that too. In the 1950s there was no television at certain hours on Sunday so as not to deter churchgoing. Sundays helped keep families together, families helped keep communities together, and communities helped keep society together. I, a Jew growing up in a Christian nation, did not feel threatened by this. I felt supported by it - much more than I do now in an ostensibly more tolerant but actually far more abrasive, rude and aggressive society.

What is unique about covenant is its seemingly endless possibility of renewal. It happened in the Bible in the days of Joshua, Josiah and Ezra. It happened in America between 1820 and 1850 in the Second Great Awakening. It happened in Britain at the same time through the great Victorian social reformers and philanthropists. Covenant defeats the law of entropy that says that all systems lose energy over time. It creates renewable energy. It has the power to arrest, even reverse, the decline and fall of nations.

None of us should be in any doubt as to the seriousness of what is at stake. Europe today is pursuing the chimera of societies without a shared moral code, nations without a collective identity, cultures without a respect for tradition, groups without a concern for the common good, and politics without the slightest sense of history. Ibn Khaldun, were he alive, would tell them precisely where that leads.

The question is not radical Islam but, does the West believe in itself any more? Is it capable of renewing itself as it did two centuries ago? Or will it crumble as did the Soviet Union from internal decay. "We have met the enemy," said the cartoon character Pogo, "and he is us." That is the challenge of 9/11. It's about time we came together to meet it.



Social Security is Not Sending a Thrill Down Chris Mathew's Leg

He Admits Social Security is a Ponzi scheme

On MSNBC’s Thursday broadcast of “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews committed the mortal sin — he nearly parroted the theory that mortified so many of the network’s hosts and guests throughout the day. Matthews called Social Security “a Ponzi scheme” the day after Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry doubled down on his previous statements echoing that sentiment in the Republican debate.

Matthews first put forth what he thought Social Security was originally intended to be: “You pay for it while you work. When you retired and have no other form of income, this will help you out. In fact, a lot were impoverished in the old days without Social Security. It’s a great anti-poverty program. But then people started to live past 65.

“Today, lots of people fortunately make it past 65,” he said. “They live into their 80s and 90s. They’re still getting checks. The system doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s not as healthy as it once was. So, how does a Republican deal with the fact it is a Ponzi scheme in the sense that the money that’s paid out every day is coming from people who have paid in that day. It’s not being made somewhere.”




FL: ACLU sues state for drug testing welfare recipients: "The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to court, forcing him to defend his highly controversial law requiring all welfare recipients to be screened for drugs. The ACLU Tuesday sued the state of Florida on behalf of 35-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Luis Lebron, a single parent who lost his job in 2008 after his employer downsized. Lebron says he does not take illegal drugs but contacted the ACLU because 'it really hit hard when I had to go down there and go through this.'"

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. I don't share all of Chris's views but I applaud his "incorrectness".

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

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


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


11 September, 2011

Texas Gov. Perry and science

A regular reader of this blog has become so irritated at Leftists labeling Texas Gov. Perry as “anti science”, that he has sent the following for me to publish:

In the context of labeling Texas Gov Rick Perry as “anti science” over his skepticism about Global Warming (thousands of “real scientists” agree with him), here is MY not so humble opinion:

* I have an MD from SUNY Buffalo, a Residency in Anesthesiology at Mass General Hospital (Harvard U) and a PhD from Mass Institute of Technology in biological science. So I might be considered a “science guy”.

* NASA is in Texas. Texas Medical Center, with more than 50, 000 employees dedicated to science and the practice of medicine, is unique in all the world. UT Houston Medical School matches grants 1 to 1, unheard of elsewhere.

* Texas Southwestern University in Dallas has a number of Nobel Prize winners.

* Funding of University of Texas and Texas A&M University is, in part, by the “permanent university fund”, by dividends from oil money; for physical plant, second to none.

* Many “high tech” businesses have descended on Austin, perhaps, in part, of “deal making” by Perry and others.

The list goes on. But for me, it’s personal:

At age 67, I have 4 children who graduated from Lubbock HS in Lubbock, TX (the “town in the rear view mirror”). All 4 were on the Lubbock HS Math and Science Team. IVY colleges recruited there.

* Daughter Jane (now age 39, with son Roey – age 3 this week) graduated from Columbia U in History and Sociology, and attained a Masters in Statistics from Columbia U. PhD from UC Berkeley. Now studying Russian Economics at U AZ Tucson.

* Son Tom was Math and Science champion of Texas, Team won national competition, got trip to DC (photo with First Lady Barbara Bush) and Australia courtesy of Supercollider Project. Grad Cal Tech, now programmer in Santa Barbara CA.

* Son Scott got BA Biology from Rice U, now Pharm D from Midwestern U in Phoenix.

* Daughter Leslie got degree in Computer Science from Bryn Mawr in Philly, now programmer (troubleshooter) for Microsoft in Seattle.

So PLEASE – don’t give me this crap about Texans or Perry being “anti science”.


The blocked ears of political correctness allowed the 9/11 disaster to happen

All the intelligence needed to stop the attacks was there but nobody at the top wanted to hear it

Like millions of people around the world, former US intelligence operative Haig Melkessetian remembers exactly what he was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked New York and Washington.

But even as he learnt of the carnage, he felt sick with anger and frustration. Over the preceding two years, Melkessetian had taken part in two separate investigations in the Middle East which might have thwarted the attacks – only to find his work dismissed as irrelevant.

He had identified the secret ‘hawala’ method which the hijackers would use to transfer money from al-Qaeda into their bank accounts, and the very office in the Persian Gulf they would use.

He also passed on to his bosses the real means by which the Taliban could be ousted and Bin Laden delivered up: by ‘buying off’ much of their tribal, military support. This was the very plan later deployed to defeat the Taliban - but only after the disaster of 9/11.

Like many other ground-level operatives in Western intelligence and security services, he had to stand back while the hidebound bureaucrats at the top failed to take action.

‘In 2001, you could feel the terrorist train coming down the tracks,’ says a former FBI counterterrorism analyst. ‘But at the top, they just weren’t listening to the people in the trenches, and their perspective was ignored.’ And while Melkessetsian’s story exemplifies that problem, it hasn’t, he adds, been rectified.

Ten years later, his bitter disappointment is as intense as ever. ‘I watched it unfold on TV,’ his says Melkessetian. ‘I knew immediately that this was a terrorist attack. And my next thought was that this should never have happened.’

A Christian Lebanese of Armenian descent who has been a naturalised US citizen since 1984, Melkessetian, 49, has revealed his story to the Mail on Sunday for the first time. But inside the secretive community of counterterrorism experts, he has long inspired awe.

‘We see movie characters like James Bond and Jason Bourne, and we assume they’re simply fiction,’ says a former US State Department official who knows Melkessetian well. ‘But then you meet Haig and realise he matches the fictional narrative with fact.’

Melkessetian’s attitudes were determined by his upbringing. ‘Being a Christian in the Middle East wasn’t easy,’ he says. ‘The terrorists started with us and just kept on going until they blew up New York.’

By the age of 17, he was fighting with the Christians’ special forces in Lebanon’s brutal civil war, and in the 1980s he played a key role in a secret intelligence unit that located the secret prisons run by Shia extremists, where more than 20 western hostages, including the British journalist John McCarthy, were being held hostage.

By the summer of 1986, he and his colleagues had planned a daring military operation that would have both freed the hostages and inflicted serious damage on the terrorists’ network.

But after months of Washington in-fighting, it was vetoed. ‘They were just too risk-averse,’ says Melkessetian. ‘The same weakness bedevilled us before 9/11.’

Melkessetian’s fluent Arabic and cultural knowledge meant he was able to move freely around the Gulf states, mixing easily with all strata of society, from Arab police and security chiefs to the denizens of the souks.

‘Pretty soon his unit, Detachment 246, was the single most productive source of actionable intelligence in the whole CENTCOM area [which covers most of the Middle East and Central Asia],’ the former State Department official says. ‘That was down to Haig.’

Melkessetian’s March 2000 official staff appraisal praised his ‘extensive knowledge of terrorist groups, membership and leadership,’ and his ‘unique ability’ at recruiting local sources. It added: ‘His role was the reason for gaining vital intelligence information, which was passed on to the highest levels of the US government.’

Much more HERE


The Texas model

Below is the second part of an article that contrasts government-dominated Detroit, MI, with business-friendly Houston in Texas

Mario Loyola

During World War II, Detroit was called “the Arsenal of Democracy,” but Houston was hardly less critical. It contributed ships, airplanes, and, of course, oil to the war effort. While Detroit suffered from the consolidated nature of its core industry, Houston thrived on its diversity. The land from which the precious resource was extracted was owned by thousands of private citizens. The oil was extracted by hundreds of independent drillers and operators. Huge multinational corporations eventually aggregated in Houston, but their interests were not entirely coincident with those of the independents, which limited the ability of all parties to seek political favors.

The Texas oil boom continued for most of the 20th century. During the 1970s, the Houston Chronicle became widely distributed in Detroit, chiefly for its help-wanted ads. By the early 1980s, “black taggers” — cars bearing the black Michigan license plate — were a common sight in Houston. In the second half of the century, the size of the two cities’ population positions flipped. In the 1950s, Detroit had 2 million residents, Houston only about 700,000. Today, Houston has far more than 2 million residents, Detroit just over 700,000.

But Houston would suffer its own bad luck. In 1985 the Saudis abandoned their position as “swing producer” in OPEC and dramatically ramped up production, from 2 million barrels per day to 5 million barrels, in a matter of months. The price of a barrel of oil fell from an average of nearly $30 in 1985 to around $20 in January 1986 and then nosedived to under $10 by midyear.

For Houston, “it was a bloodbath,” recalls one former Shell executive. Profit margins had already been in the single digits, and businesses rapidly went bust left and right. In a matter of months, massive layoffs rocked the city. Real-estate values plunged, and Texas was sucked into the savings-and-loan crisis. The unemployment rate for the state as a whole jumped from 6.1 percent in September 1984 to 9.3 percent just two years later.

As soon as oil prices fell, the independent oil producers cried out for protection, much as Detroit’s Big Three had done just a few years before. But the largely Houston-based oil giants were international traders, so they fought against tariffs. Beset by these conflicting appeals from the oil sector, the government was paralyzed in its response — and, happily, did nothing. Unemployment rates in the city dropped quickly, reaching 5 percent in 1990.

More recently, Houston has benefited from a spike in oil prices, and for that Texans can thank Washington liberals more than Lone Star conservatives. Obama’s policies, and those of congressional Democrats, have significantly constricted the domestic production of oil, creating upward price pressure. These policies don’t benefit the environment a whit; the chief beneficiaries are the oil companies, which see windfall profits as the value of their reserves rises.

Texas likes to brag that it is “business friendly,” but it would be more accurate to say that it is, by both philosophy and force of circumstances, “competition friendly.” Like most states, Texas has an economic-development fund, but it’s a small one: Since it was created, the Texas Enterprise Fund has disbursed slightly less than $363 million. That’s one-tenth the amount Michigan has spent on economic development in recent years, and Texas has almost three times the population. In other words, the government of Texas spends about one-thirtieth as much per person on corporate-development projects as Michigan.

Texas has prospered from the fact that it is a right-to-work state. This is not to say that Texas is anti-labor, or even that it is anti-union. Many refineries in Texas are unionized. But Texas seeks to reward labor through the free market. In the words of one former Shell executive, “If you’ve got good management, people aren’t going to want to get unionized. And management has gotten smarter and smarter over time. That’s why the unions are in trouble.

Houston weathered the storm nicely, in large part through a rapid reallocation of human and material resources. Diversification was the key. Before the bust, the energy sector accounted for about 80 percent of Houston’s economy; now it’s barely 50 percent. Of the 51 Texas companies on the Fortune 500 list, there are computer makers, airlines, retailers, gas-and-electrical utilities, food-and-grocery companies, construction companies, and a telecommunications company. The Texas Medical Center in Houston is the world’s largest, employing nearly 100,000 people and receiving nearly 6 million patients per year.

The diversification of Houston’s economy has been particularly potent in heavy industry. For the state as a whole, employment in the oil-and-gas sector increased by 5.1 percent between June 2010 and June 2011, largely because of natural-gas projects made possible by “fracking.” Employment in heavy construction and civil-engineering construction, by contrast, increased 10.6 percent in the same period; in primary metal manufacturing, 6.6 percent; in fabricated metal products, 8.2 percent; and in machinery manufacturing, 11.9 percent. Meanwhile, the government work force contracted 1 percent.

Tolerance of cultural diversity has become a hallmark of Houston’s ascent, despite the state’s checkered history of race relations. Texans take individual freedom and individual responsibility very seriously, so meritocracy comes naturally to them. In the words of George Strake, one of Houston’s most venerated oilmen, “Everyone’s welcome here, so long as you’re willing to pull the wagon and not just sit in it.” That is perhaps why anti-immigrant feeling is not nearly as pronounced in Texas as it is in other parts of the Southwest. Like Detroit, Houston is minority white, but more diverse: Blacks make up 25 percent of the population, Hispanics 37 percent, and Asians (chiefly Vietnamese and Chinese) more than 5 percent.

Texas has managed to preserve something very essential about America, namely the frontier mentality, what the great Texas historian T. R. Fehrenbach described as the “cult of courage.” Or, in the words of Mr. Strake, “Give me wide open spaces. Let me enjoy the good times, and don’t feel sorry for me in bad times.” Naturally, this leads to a certain vision of government: Defend our shores, deliver the mail, and get the hell out of the way.

Gov. Rick Perry has been true to that vision. When recession created enormous gaps in the state budget, as in 2003 and 2011, Perry resisted pressure to raise taxes or raid the state’s “rainy day fund,” and managed to balance the budget mostly through spending cuts. (The state still has no personal-income tax.) Perry’s signature tort reforms essentially broke the power of the trial bar and have drawn thousands of doctors and substantial business investment to Texas.

The state’s environmental health has improved dramatically as state regulators worked to meet national air-quality standards in cost-effective ways without imposing needless burdens on business. Houston, home of the world’s largest petrochemical industrial complex, satisfied federal ozone standards in 2009 and 2010, after massive investments by the private sector. Perry can justly run on a record of keeping government off people’s backs and letting the free market innovate its way out of recession. The Lone Star State is now the industrial engine of the American economy, singlehandedly responsible for half of the country’s job growth in recent years.

James Madison believed that one purpose of government was “to reward the best and punish the worst.” In Detroit, the best were punished until they finally left, and under Obama, the country is marching down that very same slope. That’s the significance of losing half our deepwater drilling rigs to other shores, of forcing corporations to relocate to Europe in order to avoid stifling corporate tax rates, of shutting down coal plants regardless of recent retrofits and other emissions improvements.

As the next election looms, Americans should consider how rapidly we could unleash the power of American industry and bounce out of this recession, if instead of taking our cue from Detroit, we follow Houston.



Israeli embassy personnel in Cairo rescued from violent protests

Some 80 personnel and family members of Israel's embassy in Cairo are safe after being removed in an emergency rescue operation.

During a riot outside the embassy Friday night, violent protesters broke down the eight-foot-high security wall surrounding the embassy compound and entered the building.

Once the riots turned violent, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, embassy personnel, their families and Israelis staying at the embassy were evacuated to Cairo's airport and returned to Israel on a special Israel Air Force flight.

Six employees stranded in the building were later removed by an Egyptian commando unit during a special rescue operation in which the men reportedly dressed in Arab kaffiyeh headdresses.

More than 1,000 Egyptians demonstrated at the embassy, many after an Egyptian Facebook group called on protesters to gather at the embassy and "urinate on the wall," Ynet reported


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

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


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


10 September, 2011

Obama's Unaffordable and Harmful New 'Stimulus'

by Hans Bader

President Obama wants Congress to pass a $447 billion proposal called the “American Jobs Act,” a costly set of recycled stimulus plans that contains no new ideas about how to fix the economy. It contains more money for the long-term unemployed, more infrastructure spending, and funds for hiring laid-off teachers. It also would extend a cut in the portion of payroll taxes paid by employees. The measures would be financed mostly by deficit spending, but partly by raising taxes on the so-called “rich” — a category that includes most of the small business owners who actually hire people — and by eliminating what the administration refers to as “tax loopholes” — which are not really tax loopholes at all, but rather provisions that allow industries disfavored by the administration to benefit from the same tax code provisions as other industries.

(What is a tax “loophole” to the Obama administration is actually evenhanded non-discriminatory treatment of different industries, according to The Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney and other observers. For example, to Obama, letting the petroleum industry receive the benefits of tax code provisions that also apply to other energy or resource-extraction industries like mining qualifies a “loophole,” as does treating the oil companies the same as farmers or timber companies; while giving tax credits solely to a politically-favored industry or manufacturer, such as a politically-connected “green-jobs” firm, or a taxpayer-subsidized ethanol manufacturer, is not a tax loophole to Obama).

Even the least-bad of Obama’s proposals will not grow the economy. Aid for the long-term unemployed will reduce the size of the economy by encouraging some people to not accept jobs that pay far less than they were accustomed to, even when those are the only jobs available to them. Obama’s proposed infrastructure spending will not grow the economy either, as Veronique de Rugy and others note, since it will be accompanied by costly Davis-Bacon mandates designed to favor unions (which raise the cost of transportation projects and exclude many small non-union contractors), and some of it will be wasted on rail boondoggles and pork rather than roads and bridges, or on Obama Administration pet projects, like energy efficiency, that require specialized skills that most unemployed construction workers lack. (Ironically, Obama removed most transportation spending from the original $800 billion stimulus package for political reasons, replacing it with more harmful welfare and social spending.)

By requiring above-market wages for the jobs it funds due to laws like Davis-Bacon, the Obama administration’s proposal virtually guarantees that it will end up siphoning off people who are already employed from other employers, rather than just hiring the jobless, who are more likely to be willing to work for modest wages. Only 42 percent of the people hired under the stimulus package, for example, were previously unemployed, partly due to the above-market wages paid by many of the government jobs it subsidized, which resulted in some private employers losing employees and having to spend costly sums training their replacements. As a result of the stimulus, grant recipients “poached workers from their competitors,” financially injuring those companies.

Meanwhile, by sucking money out of the private-sector economy, the stimulus wiped out a million private-sector jobs, even as other stimulus provisions outsourced American energy jobs to foreign countries, and wiped out jobs in America’s export sector, resulting in a net loss to the economy of 550,000 jobs, according to two economists. The Obama administration’s use of taxpayer money to subsidize above-market wages for government employees is at odds with what economists like Lord Keynes (the father of the Keynesian school of economics) counseled in past recessions, and what Franklin Roosevelt did in the Great Depression, when he hired people to do construction and transportation projects in the WPA but paid them only very modest wages, providing opportunities to the unemployed without siphoning off useful talent from private-sector businesses.

Continuing unemployment benefits at current levels for the long-term unemployed is a mistake. Generous unemployment benefits discourage people from taking lower-paying jobs, and sometimes result in people gaming the system. Giving people unemployment benefits for years on end, without scaling down those benefits, encourages people not to relocate in search of work, and not to take productive jobs that they think are beneath them, even if those jobs are the only jobs that they will realistically find once their jobless benefits come to an end, because of the disappearance of the type of job they once performed.

As the Heritage Foundation notes, “The consequences of extended unemployment benefits are some of the most conclusively established results in labor economic research. Extending either the amount or the duration of UI benefits increases the length of time that workers remain unemployed. UI benefits subsidize unemployment. They reduce the incentive unemployed workers have to search for new work and to make difficult choices–such as moving or switching industries–to begin a new job.”

The President’s proposed subsidies for laid-off teachers discriminate in favor of one occupation, without any legitimate reason for doing so: the unemployment rate among teachers is vastly lower than for many occupations, and lower than for most. It is best understood as the Administration pandering to the teachers’ unions. The proposed payroll tax cut will increase the deficit (which will increase debt-service costs in the long run, thus crowding out private investment over the long haul) while creating relatively few jobs. (The CBO similarly concluded that the $800 billion stimulus package would shrink the size of the economy over the long run by increasing the national debt and thus resulting in increased government spending on interest payments that will crowd out private investment).

SOURCE. (See the original for links)


Fascism by another name

The ever-increasing control over every aspect of people's lives that is driven by America's Left makes America more and more like a classic Fascist state. Since the Fascists were Leftists this is no surprise but it a worrisome direction for America to be travelling in. Great swathes of liberty have been lost and more losses are on the way

First, and this is key, we must look at the economic system. The liberals are proud to have had a role in creating its socially democratic elements. The conservatives are proud of America’s towering financial and military institutions. Republicans and Democrats all pretend America has a free enterprise system, attacking greedy profiteers while crediting themselves for the benefits of capitalism, blaming laissez faire for all our problems while dissonantly congratulating themselves for having supplanted it with sensible regulation and safety nets once and for all.

The dirty little secret is that there has been a bipartisan project of corporatism, the economic underpinning of fascism, for almost a century. The regulatory bureaus, the banking establishment, agricultural policy, telecommunications planning, even the welfare state all enrich corporate interests, but at the ultimate direction of the state. One could say this arrangement was foreshadowed in Lincoln or even Hamilton. But it was during the World Wars and New Deal that the nation embarked upon something decisively fascistic.

Hitler, Mussolini, and the other fascists all employed a general approach of co-opting the market through huge governmental takeovers of industry while maintaining the pretense of private property. Along with this came interventions that would be considered socialistic in other contexts. Lew Rockwell very nicely summed up the economic programs of Hitler, which mirror the great prides of Progressive politics of the 20th century:
He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public works programs like Autobahns, protected industry from foreign competition, expanded credit, instituted jobs programs, bullied the private sector on prices and production decisions, vastly expanded the military, enforced capital controls, instituted family planning, penalized smoking, brought about national health care and unemployment insurance, imposed education standards, and eventually ran huge deficits. The Nazi interventionist program was essential to the regime's rejection of the market economy and its embrace of socialism in one country.

Much of this agenda was adopted in the United States during World War I, and then brought back to life in the New Deal. John T. Flynn, a leftist who initially supported Franklin Roosevelt then became disenchanted with the president’s program of central planning, described the 1930s atmosphere of political ideology in his seminal work, The Roosevelt Myth:
There was indeed a good deal of tolerance for the idea of planning our capitalist system even in the most conservative circles. And a man could support publicly and with vehemence this system of the Planned Economy without incurring the odium of being too much of a radical for polite and practical society.

There was only one trouble with it. This was what Mussolini had adopted – the Planned Capitalist State. And he gave it a name – fascism. Then came Hitler and adopted the same idea. His party was called the Nazi party, which was derived from the initials of its true name, but it was dedicated to fascism. . . .

Whatever it was, it was the direct opposite of liberalism. It was an attempt, somewhere between Communism and capitalism, to organize a stable society and to do it by setting up a State equipped with massive powers over the lives and fortunes of the citizens. . . . Yet this curiously un-American doctrine was being peddled in America as the bright flower of the liberals. Of course they did not call it fascism, because that had a bad name. . . . They called in the Planned economy. But it was and is fascism by whatever name it is known.

In specific, FDR’s National Recovery Administration was fashioned after the industrial policy of Mussolini. Flynn explains:
[Mussolini] organized each trade or industrial group or professional group into a state-supervised trade association. He called it a corporative. These corporatives operated under state supervision and could plan production, quality, prices, distribution, labor standards, etc. The NRA provided that in America each industry should be organized into a federally supervised trade association. It was not called a corporative. It was called a Code Authority. But it was essentially the same thing. These code authorities could regulate production, quantities, qualities, prices, distribution methods, etc., under the supervision of the NRA. This was fascism.

Such an analysis of the New Deal as fascism is not only found in the Old Right or their libertarian successors. Historian Thaddeus Russell’s great chapter "Behold a Dictator: Fascism and the New Deal" in his new book A Renegade History of the United States comes from a leftist perspective and arrives at much the same conclusions. Many of the greatest progressive intellectuals and business elites of Roosevelt’s time were especially enamored of Mussolini’s regime. "The men who made the New Deal were driven by dreams of a machinelike society, in which all members, from the leaders of government to the lowliest workers, would be parts designed, built, and employed entirely for their function within the whole apparatus. But to their dismay, these men found that most Americans rejected such dreams, except during times of crisis. The First World War was the first such crisis. . . . But then came the peace and prosperity of the 1920s, a long time of waiting for another national emergency that could make their fantasies of social order come true."

This mirrors Robert Higgs’s ratchet effect thesis and the insights found in his books Crisis and Leviathan and Depression, War, and Cold War, in regard both to the general expansion of state power during crises and the particular ways World War I and the New Deal solidified a state that Higgs has, with a nod to Charlotte Twight, referred to as "participatory fascism."

What makes FDR’s role in American fascism so insidious is that as the greatest 20th century liberal president who led America to war with the Nazis, he is often characterized as the prototypical U.S. anti-fascist. The great Smedley Butler, a brilliant critic of America’s merchants of death, was very concerned that reactionary forces along with the military came close to dethroning FDR and creating a fascist regime. But one must ask, could anyone tell the difference? What would the anti-FDR fascists do – wage total war? Nationalize the economy? Put American citizens into concentration camps based on race? Create a permanent military-corporate establishment? To discuss a possible fascist coup in the years of Franklin Roosevelt is to ignore that it in fact happened – a "revolution within the form," as Garet Garrett described it.

Also insidious is the great respect most Republicans have for FDR, whether it’s acknowledged or not. Reagan was a devout New Dealer who never abandoned this orientation when he became governor or president. George W. Bush’s entire economic program was also thoroughly Rooseveltian – expanding Medicare to the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies, an Ownership Society (how fascist does that sound!?) intended to shore up the real estate and finance sectors, an attempt to corporatize Social Security (thereby saving FDR’s domestic triumph, itself a copy from a Prussian program of the 19th century), the bipartisan bailouts of financial institutions, steel tariffs, further nationalization of education, and all the rest.

The Democrats, for their part, continue with the fascist economics they adopted four generations ago, and it leads to a good deal of confusion as they are the "liberal" party. Yet when Obama plans to force individuals to buy private health insurance, picks corporate giants to head up regulatory offices, schemes to create a phony market in carbon credits, and widens the revolving door between Wall Street and the Oval Office, he along with his party is only continuing down the road of their Mussolinian predecessors.

One of the most horrifying parts of fascist economics, autarky, has even been mimicked by all presidents since Nixon in their crazed calls for "energy independence." We also see it in the hysteria about jobs being oursourced. Today it often has an environmental spin, and there is not the beating on the podium and screaming of Lebensraum, but the protectionism and codependency between favored American businesses and the omnipotent state, all with a nationalist focus, are nevertheless there for anyone to see.

It could be countered that many other nations have corporate states as well. Perhaps they too have fascist tendencies. Yet there are a few corporatist features singular to the United States. As the holder of the world’s reserve currency, and given that money is half of most economic transactions, the United States boasts one of the most significant corporatist arrangements in the world in its alliance between the Federal Reserve and the big banks. The U.S. government, in absolute terms, claims the largest of all regressive welfare programs in the form of Social Security. It is likely the global leader in intellectual property enforcement, both in domestic and international terms, with most nations trailing considerably behind in this increasingly draconian form of corporate privilege. As the grandest leviathan preying over the world’s richest nation, the U.S. corporate state is in its own class.

Flynn’s insight that the economic structure of America’s planned economy is fascist whatever label we affix to it is echoed in a much more recent and popular authority. In an episode of South Park, Kyle the idiosyncratically precocious kid has this great exchange with his father:
Kyle’s dad: "You see Kyle, we live in a liberal-democratic society, and democrats make sexual harassment laws, these laws tell us what we can and can't say in the work place, and what we can and can't do in the work place."

Kyle: "Isn't that Fascism?"

Kyle’s dad: "No, because we don't call it Fascism."

Up and down the economy, at all levels of government, bureaucrats and planners dictate details in nearly all areas of economic behavior, with the principle that some sectors should simply be free of government intrusion having been totally discarded. If we have large swaths of economic liberty in America, and we do, this is by accident, or merely due to the state’s institutional limits in being able to run everything. The ideological thrust of U.S. economic policy is that we may live our commercial lives freer than in many places, but all upon the good graces of the state, its cartels, licensing boards, and regulatory apparatuses. Even our homes are private property only insofar as it serves the interest of the state, which claims the right to seize anything we own if it bolsters the tax receipts garnered through the state-business nexus. The business environment adheres to a rapidly expanding litany of commercial codes, many of them designed not even by legislature but by executive or judicial fiat. Taken together, this is the essence of economic fascism.


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

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


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


9 September, 2011

Obama's Combative Save-My-Job Speech

Targeted tax credits for businesses and individuals (not all of which are bad ideas, but that economists agree won't make much of a dent). Infrastructure spending on highways, bridges, and schools. Bailouts to states to help save government jobs. Mortgage bailouts. Job training programs. Unspecific regulatory reform. Not all of these proposal are necessarily bad, but not one of them is new.

It was the 2009 Recovery Act all over again, except with a smaller (but still gargantuan) price tag -- and without any acknowledgement of the previous stimulus and its abject failures. As Body Snatcher Obama tends to do, the president spoke tonight as if this was his very first jobs plan. Relevant, inconvenient context (think "shovel ready jobs") was nowhere to be found. Indeed, if this were such an obvious, "not controversial" set of ideas, why didn't Democrats pass them easily when they controlled every elected lever of power in Washington for two full years?

The tone and tenor of the address, which was sprinkled with superficial appeals to bipartisanship, was highly political and practically unhelpful. Strawmen were introduced and torched at record pace. Lost in the shuffle, the cost of this grand scheme somehow jumped from $300 Billion on Tuesday to nearly $450 Billion today. Those are estimates, of course, because there is no tangible legislation yet. Which means it can't be passed "right away," nor can it be scored by the CBO. As we've learned many times in recent months, the CBO cannot score a speech. But not to worry, America. Everything is paid for! How? I'll let the president explain the nitty-gritty specifics:
The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan – a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run. This approach is basically the one I’ve been advocating for months.

That's right, Obama punted the heavy lifting to the super-committee, and pledged to introduce another general deficit plan in twelve days. How, or if, this will differ from his unanimously-defeated February budget, or his dreadful April deficit speech, is anybody's guess. He does give us a big clue, though: It's "basically the [same ideas] I've been advocating for months." This likely means very modest changes to unsustainable entitlement programs and big tax hikes on the rich. Absolutely nothing new. In short, Obama insisted on a nationally-televised joint session address to describe an old plan which will be funded by a plan he'll describe later. What a joke.

Two quick examples that illustrate why this entire spectacle was a sham:

(1) Obama lamented teacher layoffs: "While they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong." But later in the speech, he went out of his way to condemn budget fixes like Wisconsin's, which limited collective bargaining "rights" for government employees, but has saved thousands of teachers' jobs.

(2) The president demanded swift action on three pending trade agreements, heavily implying that Congress has been dragging its feet on these items: "Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea..." But the reason these agreements have stalled is because he refuses to send them to Congress unless Republicans agree to lard them up with special goodies for labor unions.

Republicans should help pass the acceptable and benign features of this plan, insist that it's all really paid for (without raising taxes in a recession), and resist its worst elements.

Yuval Levin summarizes: "Spend $450 billion dollars now, it will create jobs, and I’ll tell you how I’m going to pay for it a week from Monday. If you disagree, you want to expose kids to mercury."



Rick Perry knows his history

But putting history into reverse is a big ask

In an article last Friday, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote an interesting article entitled “Rick Perry’s Campaign Against the New Deal,” in which Gerson pointed out several radical things that Perry has stated in the past about Franklin Roosevelt’s famous program.

According to Gerson, Perry told Newsweek last fall, “I happen to think that the Progressive movement was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution from the standpoint of it being abused and misused to do things that Congress wanted to do, and/or the Supreme Court wanted to implement. The New Deal was the launching pad for the Washington largess as we know it today.”

Gerson also observes that Perry has pointed out that Social Security, which is the crown jewel of the New Deal and the modern-day welfare state, is a “Ponzi scheme,” a “monstrous lie,” and a “failure” that “we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now.”

That’s not exactly the kind of rhetoric that is common to conservatives — well, at least not for the past several decades. That’s the way libertarians talk! For years, we’ve been pointing out that Roosevelt’s new-fangled program that he foisted on the American people was nothing more than a socialist-fascist system, one that rejected the principles of economic liberty, private property, and limited government on which America was founded.

Consider, for example, Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act, which established cartels for American businesses and industries, cartels that would work in partnership with the federal government to set prices, wages, production, and working conditions.

How could such a system not be considered fascist? It’s precisely the type of program that Benito Mussolini was establishing in fascist Italy.

Moreover, Roosevelt’s infamous Blue Eagle campaign, with its program of threats and intimidation against businessmen who refused to participate, was straight out of Mussolini’s playbook.

For an excellent analysis of Roosevelt’s socialist-fascist program, I recommend the book Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Here’s a review of the book by David Boaz of the Cato Institute entitled “Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt.”

Hitler? Yes Hitler, whose program of National Socialism included Social Security, public works, a military-industrial complex, government health care, public schooling, and government-business partnerships. Why wouldn’t he love Roosevelt’s new-fangled program for America? Consider this passage from John Toland’s biography of Hitler:

Hitler had genuine admiration for the decisive manner in which the President had taken over the reins of government. “I have sympathy for Mr. Roosevelt,” he told a correspondent for the New York Times two months later, “because he marches straight toward his objectives over Congress, lobbies and bureaucracy.” Hitler went on to note that he was the sole leader in Europe who expressed “understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt.”

Consider this personal note that Hitler sent Roosevelt through U.S. Ambassador Thomas Dodd on March 14, 1934, reflecting the economic philosophy shared in common by Hitler and Roosevelt:

The Reich chancellor requests Mr. Dodd to present his greetings to President Roosevelt. He congratulates the president upon his heroic effort in the interest of the American people. The president's successful struggle against economic distress is being followed by the entire German people with interest and admiration. The Reich chancellor is in accord with the president that the virtues of sense of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline must be the supreme rule of the whole nation. This moral demand, which the president is addressing to every single citizen, is only the quintessence of German philosophy of the state, expressed in the motto "The public weal before the private gain."

So, what will Perry do now? Will he call for the immediate dismantling of a system that he himself knows is immoral and destructive? Or will he do what most every conservative has done since the 1930s — abandon his principles and meekly support Social Security, Medicare, and the entire welfare state he himself condemns?

My hunch: He’ll throw in the towel, in order to appear more mainstream, more credible.

Why do I say that? Because ever since the New Deal, conservatives have always caved. That’s been their modus. In the 1930s and 1940s, there were still conservatives who talked like we libertarians talk today, but as the years went by they realized that to speak the truth about the New Deal and, later, the Great Society, might well cost them votes, influence, money, and political power.

Thus, conservatives learned to seal their lips and, even worse, began promoting the idea to their children and others that Roosevelt’s socialist-fascist program was actually a much-needed reform that saved America’s free enterprise system.

Gerson gives two examples of conservative cave-ins.

In his 1976 presidential campaign. Ronald Reagan stated, “Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal.” But his presidency, Gerson points out, was “an extended accommodation with the New Deal…. Social Security spending rose dramatically during the Reagan years.”

In his 1964 campaign, Barry Goldwater stated, “I think Social Security ought to be voluntary.” But when challenged, Goldwater answered, “I don’t know where you ever got the idea.”

What’s interesting is that Perry is a devout Christian. Why, just recently he hosted a national prayer session in Houston in which thousands attended. If he caves, which is likely, how is he going to reconcile his religious devotion with his support of a program that he himself knows is immoral and destructive? How does he resolve it within his own conscience? How does he explain his abandonment to God?

The amusing part of this controversy is that for years the mainstream has marginalized libertarians for speaking the truth about what Roosevelt did to our nation with his socialist-fascist program, and yet here is a mainstream presidential candidate leading the polls in the Republican Party spouting the same things we libertarians have been saying for decades. How’s that for funny?

I’d like to think that this time things will be different. I’d like to hope that Perry will be one conservative who won’t surrender, who won’t reject his own beliefs, who won’t trade himself for a mess of pottage, one who will call for the immediate dismantling of Social Security, Medicare, and the rest of the socialist-fascist scheme that Roosevelt foisted upon our nation. I’m not holding my breath.



Prophecies of an egalitarian utopia based on false assumptions

As the British parliament rose for its summer recess this year, Opposition Leader Ed Miliband handed the members of his shadow cabinet some holiday homework. He told them to read a book that has been capturing the attention of the Left, not only in Britain but across the Western world.

Written by a couple of socialist academics, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the book is called The Spirit Level. The clue to why so many on the Left have been drawn to it is in the subtitle: Why Equality is Better for Everyone.

This book seeks to reinstate radical income redistribution at the heart of the Left's political agenda. Socialists always have believed in greater equality, of course, but until now their case has rested on an ethical principle that it is morally wrong for some people to have a lot more money than others.

As with all ethical principles, this can be challenged. Why should people who work hard have the fruits of their labour taken away to be given to lazier folk, for example? The Right points out that hard work and risk deserve reward, and equalising shares can be quite immoral.

The Spirit Level aims to break away from these ethical conundrums and to replace them with the authority of science. It says governments should redistribute incomes, not because it is moral but because equality produces happier people and better-functioning societies. It claims everybody stands to benefit from income redistribution, rich and poor alike.

If this claim were true, it would pull the rug from under the feet of the Right. If a radical redistribution of income and wealth really did benefit everybody, how could the Right continue to hold out against it? The case for high taxes, big government and massive income transfers would be unanswerable. But it's not true. This book has many flaws (even though Miliband, and others on the Left appear blind to them).

The book's evidence consists of a series of graphs apparently showing that people in more equal countries live longer, are less likely to get murdered, enjoy higher literacy rates, suffer less mental illness and trust each other more. These findings are repeated for the 50 US states, where the authors find that states with the widest income spread have worse outcomes. But little of this evidence stands up to critical scrutiny.

Their sample of countries is biased. It excludes nations such as South Korea, where strong social outcomes coexist with high income inequality, as well as those such as the Czech Republic, with poor social outcomes despite a compressed income distribution.

Their choice of measures is also biased. Community strength is measured by whether people say they trust their neighbours, but membership of voluntary organisations is ignored. Drug dependency is included as an indicator of social pathology but not alcohol abuse. Murders likewise are in, but suicides are out. Prison numbers are analysed, but not crime figures. Government aid to foreign countries is included as a measure of generosity and compassion, but not private donations to charities. High teenage births are analysed as an indicator of family dysfunction, but not high divorce rates.

What is striking about this list of inclusions and exclusions is that, in every case, the measures that Wilkinson and Pickett selected fit their argument while the alternative measures would have undermined it. In short, they cherry-picked.

Their data analysis, too, is suspect, for they allow extreme cases to create the appearance of an association where there is none. For example, they claim that inequality produces a higher homicide rate, but this depends entirely on the US, where the murder rate is three times higher than anywhere else. Look beyond the US and you often find the most equal countries, such as Sweden and Finland, have a worse murder rate than less equal ones, including Britain and Australia. Yet appealing to their misleading graph, the authors claim Britain's murder rate would be three times lower if it had Scandinavian levels of income inequality.

The Scandinavians, it is true, do fare better than the "Anglo" countries on many of their measures, but this is not because inequality is lower in Scandinavia. It rather reflects the homogeneity of the Nordic countries as against the diversity of the Anglo nations, for the greater the social mix, the weaker the social bonds tend to be. We see this clearly in the variations between US states. Wilkinson and Pickett find the more equal states (usually those in the northeast) do better than the less equal ones (concentrated in the south).

But had they taken account of the ethnic mix of these states, they would have found ethnicity is a much stronger predictor of social outcomes than income distribution. Ethnicity is 18 times more powerful in predicting a state's infant mortality rate, for example.

The issue of equality is important, and it generates strong and impassioned arguments on both sides. But The Spirit Level is little more than polemic. It is to be hoped that we do not allow its spurious claims to scientific status to muddy the waters of our political and moral debate.


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

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


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


8 September, 2011

Left Paints the Campaign as a Religious War

Bigotry comes easily to the Left when it suits them

The fundamental facts of the presidential race at this moment are that unemployment is high, the economy is by far the most important issue to American voters, and President Obama's handling of economic questions is overwhelmingly unpopular. Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and others are hammering the president daily on matters of job creation and economic growth.

Now some of Obama's activist allies and supporters in the press are engaged in a sharply focused effort to change the subject. Even as economic anxieties continue to rise, some of the nation's premier political journalists are consumed with the alleged influences of obscure religious philosophers on Republican candidates; on questions of creationism, evolution and the age of the Earth; and on the fantasy that a Republican president might transform the United States into an Iranian-style theocracy.

For example, the Daily Beast/Newsweek recently published an article titled "A Christian Plot for Domination?" claiming that Perry and Bachmann are "deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism" known as dominionism. A widely discussed article in the Texas Observer claimed that dominionists -- a "little-known movement of radical Christians" -- are readying an "army of God" to "commandeer civilian government," with Perry the "vessel" for their ambitions. Finally, The New Yorker published a long article claiming that Bachmann believes "Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns."

Surveying those articles, the executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, concludes that "an unusually large number" of Republican candidates "belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans." Perry and Bachmann, in particular, are connected to "fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity," which Keller says "has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction." Fearing that Perry or Bachmann could be a "Trojan horse" for a religious takeover of the government, Keller advocates strict questioning of candidates on doctrinal issues.

Put aside whether there is some bias against Christianity in these baseless charges, or whether liberals are proposing the kind of religious test for office that the Founders explicitly rejected. It has often been remarked that, given today's terrible economy, Barack Obama cannot run in 2012 on the theme of hope, as he did in 2008. With his record, he'll have to run on fear -- that is, on convincing voters that Republicans are just too scary to elect.

This is what running on fear looks like. Could the president's political strategists be anything less than delighted with the work of Keller and his colleagues?

Out on the campaign trail, Democratic activists are trying to maneuver the candidates into statements to feed the Republicans-are-religious-nuts narrative. For example, in New Hampshire a few weeks ago, a young boy approached Perry with a series of questions about science. How old is the Earth? the boy asked. As Perry answered (he said he didn't know), the boy's mother pushed her son to confront the governor. "Ask him about evolution," she ordered the boy. "Ask him why he doesn't believe in science." Perry's answer -- that evolution is a theory that has "some gaps" -- provided more material for Keller and the subject-changers.

Elsewhere on the trail, so-called "trackers" from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, David Brock's American Bridge and other organizations follow Republicans around, sometimes posing out-of-the-blue questions in hopes of throwing a candidate off message. "It's all about homosexuality, Islam, anything that is remotely sensitive socially," says Ellen Carmichael, spokeswoman for frequent target Herman Cain. "That's what they usually ask about."

Not even the longest of long-shot candidates is immune. Back in May, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson spoke at a tea party rally in Greenville, S.C., touting his record on job creation and spending cuts. After Johnson's talk, a staffer for the Center for American Progress approached him with questions about Shariah law. Johnson was baffled.

Meanwhile, with the economy still tanking, some liberal commentators have worked themselves into a virtual panic over religion. On one recent day, a Washington Post columnist declared flatly that "Rick Perry is a theocrat," while another discussed the urgent task of "saving America from Rick Perry."

Will these diversionary efforts succeed? Political journalists can talk about theocracy all they want, but Americans are still overwhelmingly concerned with jobs. The more hysterical the religious speculation becomes, the more voters will be able to spot an effort to change the subject.



American Jews and the Liberal Art of Demonization

Caroline Glick

US election season is clearly upon us as US President Barack Obama has moved into full campaign mode. Part and parcel of that mode is a new bid to woo Jewish voters and donors upset by Obama's hostility to Israel back in the Democratic Party's fold.

To undertake this task, the White House turned to its reliable defender, columnist Jeffrey Goldberg. Since 2008, when then-candidate Obama was first challenged on his anti-Israel friends, pastors and positions, Goldberg has willingly used his pen to defend Obama to the American Jewish community.

Trying to portray Obama as pro-Israel is not a simple task. From the outset of his tenure in office, Obama has distinguished himself as the most anti-Israel president ever.

Obama is the first president ever to denounce Jewish property rights in Jerusalem. He is the first president to require Israel to deny Jews property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as a precondition for peace talks with the Palestinians.

He is the first US president to adopt the position that Israel must surrender its right to defensible borders in the framework of a peace treaty. He has even made Israeli acceptance of this position a precondition for negotiations.

He is the first US president to accept Hamas as a legitimate actor in Palestinian politics. Obama's willingness to do so was exposed by his refusal to end US financial assistance to the PA in the aftermath of last spring's unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

He is the first US president to make US support for Israel at the UN conditional on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.

Even today, Obama has refused to state outright whether or not he will veto a Security Council resolution later this month endorsing Palestinian statehood outside the context of a peace treaty with Israel. As he leaves Israel twisting in the wind, he has sent his chief Middle East Peace Processors Dennis Ross and David Hale to Israel to threaten Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into caving to US-Palestinian demands and beg PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to accept an Israeli surrender and cancel his plans to have the UN General Assembly upgrade the PLO's mission to the UN.

Given Obama's record - to which can be added his fervent support for Turkish Prime Minister and virulent anti-Semite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his courtship of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and his massive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt - it is obvious that any attempt to argue that Obama is pro-Israel cannot be based on substance, or even on tone. And so Goldberg's article, like several that preceded it, is an attempt to distort Obama's record and deflect responsibility for that record onto Netanyahu. Netanyahu, in turn, is demonized as ungrateful and uncooperative.

Goldberg's narrative began by recalling Netanyahu's extraordinary statement during his photo opportunity with Obama at the Oval Office during his visit to Washington in May. At the time, Netanyahu gave an impassioned defense of Israel's right to secure borders and explained why the 1949 armistice lines are indefensible.

Goldberg centered on then-secretary of defense Robert Gates's angry statement to his colleagues in the wake of Netanyahu's visit. Gates reportedly accused Israel of being ungrateful for all the things the US did for it.

After presenting Gates as an objective critic whose views were justified and shared by one and all, Goldberg went on to claim that the administration's justified antipathy for Netanyahu was liable to harm Israel. That is, he claimed that it would be Netanyahu's fault if Obama abandoned traditional US support for Israel.

Goldberg's article is stunning on several levels. First, his distortion of events is breathtaking. Specifically he failed to note that Netanyahu's statement at the Oval Office was precipitated by Obama's decision to blindside Netanyahu with his announcement that the US supported an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. Obama made the statement in a speech given while Netanyahu was en route to Washington.

Then there is his portrayal of Gates as an objective observer. Goldberg failed to mention that Gates's record has been consistently anti-Israel. In his Senate approval hearings during the Bush administration, Gates became the first senior US official to state publicly that Israel had a nuclear arsenal.

Gates was a member of the 2006 Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group that recommended the US pressure Israel to surrender Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights in order to appease the Arab world and pave the way for a US withdrawal from Iraq.

Gates did everything he could at the Pentagon to deny Israel the ability to attack Iran's nuclear installations. He was also a fervent advocate of massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia that upset the military balance in the Middle East.

The Obama administration bases its claims that it is pro-Israel on the fact that it has continued and expanded some of the joint US-Israel missile defense projects that were initiated by the Bush administration. Goldberg sympathetically recorded the argument.

But the truth is less sanguine. While jointly developing defensive systems, the administration has placed unprecedented restrictions on the export of offensive military platforms and technologies to Israel. Under Gates, Pentagon constraints on Israeli technology additions to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters nearly forced Israel to cancel its plans to purchase the aircraft.

It is an open question whether American Jews will be willing to buy the bill of goods the administration is trying to sell them through their media proxies in next year's presidential elections. But if next week's special elections for New York's Ninth Congressional District are any indication, the answer is apparently that an unprecedented number of American Jews are unwilling to ignore reality and support the most anti-Israel president ever.

The New York race is attracting great attention because it is serving as a referendum on Obama's policies toward Israel. The district, representing portions of Queens and Brooklyn, is heavily Jewish and has been reliably Democratic. And yet, a week before the elections, Republican candidate Bob Turner is tied in the polls with Democratic candidate David Weprin, and the main issue in the race is Obama's policies on Israel.

To sidestep criticism of the president's record, Weprin is seeking to distance himself from Obama. He refuses to say if he will support Obama's reelection bid. And he is as critical of Obama's record on Israel as his Republican opponent is.

But Turner's argument - that as a Democrat, Weprin will be forced to support his party and so support Obama - is gaining traction with voters. According to a McLaughlin poll of the district released on September 1, Turner's bid is gaining steam, and Weprin's is running out of steam, with Turner's favorability rates on the rise and Weprin's declining.

Deflecting substantive criticism by seeking to demonize one's opponents is a standard leftist play. Obama and his political supporters engage in it routinely in their demonization of their political opponents as "terrorists" and "extremists." And now, with the American Jewish vote in play for the first time since 1936, they are doing it to Netanyahu.

It is encouraging to see that at least in New York's Ninth Congressional District, American Jews are refusing to be taken in.



Americans Vote Conservative--With Their Moving Vans

Conservatives yearn for a big, clarifying electoral victory in November of 2012, but they’re already winning decisively whenever Americans vote with their feet--or their moving vans.

New Census numbers show citizens fleeing by the millions from liberal states and flocking in comparable numbers to bastions of rightwing sentiment. Call it the Great Political Migration.

Between 2009 and 2010 the five biggest losers in terms of “residents lost to other states” were all prominent redoubts of progressivism: California, New York, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. Meanwhile, the five biggest winners in the relocation sweepstakes are all commonly identified as “red states” in which Republicans generally dominate local politics: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia. Expanding the review to a 10-year span, the biggest population gainers (in percentage terms) have been even more conservative than last year’s winners: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Texas, in that order.

The shift in national demographics has already rearranged the playing field for the upcoming presidential election. States that Barack Obama carried were the biggest losers in the reapportionment that followed the 2010 Census, with New York and Ohio dropping two electoral votes each. Texas, meanwhile, gained a whopping four votes all by its Lone Star lonesome self. Even in the unlikely event that Obama carried exactly the same states he carried in 2008, he’d still win six fewer electoral votes in 2012. Even more tellingly, if the epic Bush-Gore battle of 2000 played out on the new Electoral College map, with the two candidates carrying precisely the states they each won 11 years ago, the result would have been a far more clear-cut GOP victory margin of 33 electoral votes (instead of the five-vote nail-biter recorded in history books).

Fifty years ago, the United States saw a mass migration from East to West. Today we’re witnessing a comparable migration from left to right.

This significant shift in population not only presents progressives with significant problems in terms of practical politics, but also confronts them with profound ideological challenges.

If liberal approaches work so well, why are so many people choosing to pack their bags and desert some of the most progressive, pro-labor, big-government states in the union?

And if uncompromising conservatism is a cruel, fraudulent disaster, why do small government, pro-business, low tax, gun-toting and church-going states draw such a disproportionate number of America’s internal immigrants?




US Army orders its first batch of hand held killer drones: "Soldiers who fly hand-launched drone scouts to spot enemies on the battlefield may soon get a deadly robotic device capable of also delivering a knockout blow. The U.S. Army has ordered its first batch of small suicide drones that are capable of launching from a small tube, loitering in the sky and then diving at a target upon command. The backpack-size 'Switchblade' drone and its launch tube give individual soldiers a new level of precise control over an explosive weapon."

A case against the case against Walmart: "Walmart's effect on prices -- particularly food prices -- is one of the reasons economist Jason Furman called the company 'a progressive success story.' Walmart's effect on food prices disproportionately benefits poorer households, which tend to spend a larger percentage of their income on food than wealthier households."

Soaking the rich is not fair: "Liberals view high income -- meaning any income that exceeds their own -- as the result of luck or anti-social behavior. Hence liberals believe 'fairness' justifies government-imposed transfers from the rich to everyone else. Many conservatives accept this view implicitly. They oppose soak-the-rich policies because of concern over growth, but they do not dispute whether such policies are fair."

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

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


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


7 September, 2011

President Zero

It hasn’t happened in the lifetimes of anyone who isn’t eligible for social security.

Zero net jobs were created in the month of August for the first time since 1945. It is almost mind boggling to think about what may turn out to be this President’s singular accomplishment — ending a 792 month job creation winning streak for the American economy.

Historians will be looking to determine just how the Obama Administration reached this milestone? What were Obama’s secrets? Just how did he spend almost a trillion dollars in ‘stimulus’ funding and get to a very round number? The search for answers takes us around the country and indeed around the globe.

In Seattle, Washington, the federal government spent $20 million dollars on a federal grant to weatherize homes as part of their greening of America plan. How many jobs were created for $20 million? Fourteen total, eight of which are specifically tasked with administratively handling the grant.

The green economic boom continues in California where the Obama Administration provided Solyndra Corporation, a $550 million loan guarantee to make solar panels. The President himself thought so highly of this company and its future that he visited this Bay Area factory last year. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the business visited by the man with the reverse Midas touch just announced that 1,100 workers will be laid off immediately and it is expected to file for bankruptcy.

In his zeal to promote job creation, this president pumped $2 billion into an offshore oil drilling operation that promises to create a secure energy future — in Brazil. While in the U.S., the same president is blocking offshore oil drilling that would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and in reaction to the Gulf oil spill has driven job creators out of business. After all, it’s not easy being green.

Of course, Obama’s taxpayer funded venture capitalist misadventures are not solely responsible for his getting the first zero on a monthly job creation scorecard since Harry Truman was reincorporating hundreds of thousands of troops coming home from the Big One.

His Administration partners in crime have jumped into the job destruction game with an almost unparalleled zeal.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has been at the forefront in the Obama quest for zero. Her agency has promised new air quality regulations that are estimated to eliminate 1.4 million jobs by 2020, while just one regulation in her war on coal is projected to eliminate 800,000 jobs. Of course, Jackson is not content to just use her agency’s new found authority to push a radical anti-job agenda using the Clean Air Act, as she is also using the Clean Water Act to put mining and other resource industries under the gun.

While Jackson has been incredibly effective at stifling our nation’s job creation to zero, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s continuous calls for higher taxes on job creators cannot be ignored as a factor in the Obama zero strategy.

Of course, you can’t get to zero without an active Labor Department, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has been a vigorous conspirator in the fight. Her focus on bringing employers to heel through OSHA and Wage and Hour regulators, who sometimes seem to have been turned into proxy union organizers, has certainly created the business climate necessary for the Obama success story.

The Obama labor team of course includes his National Labor Relations Board appointees who have received notoriety for their decision to battle Boeing Corporation because they had the audacity to try to create new jobs in South Carolina.

But you cannot really have the perfect storm unless you threaten the bottom line of every company in the nation by “reforming” health care and increasing their per employee costs substantially. Nothing quite stimulates hiring new people like the specter of facing a major per employee cost increase in the near future, and O’s continued aggressive regulatory pursuit of this major bureaucratic boondoggle is the coup de grace that ensured his achieving his zero.

It takes a lot to achieve something that not even Jimmy Carter dreamed of, and the entire Obama team deserves full credit for what they have done.

Unfortunately, this attainment hasn’t been fully appreciated within the Administration as the President himself offered a curt no comment on the August employment numbers while he raced to catch Marine One for a quick trip to his weekend retreat at Camp David. Of course, no one can blame him for needing a rest, after all, he had been back on the job from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation for a full four days.

Having created these changes that no one had hoped for it is not hard to understand why O is becoming known by the new superhero name, President Zero.



And now a word from a job creator

Fear rules as government acts like a runaway train

By Mike Whalen, founder of Heart of America Group, which owns and operates hotels and restaurants

As a job-creating entrepreneur out here in the hinterlands, I am amazed at the Keynesian priests in Washington calling for more stimulus fueled by debt.

“The Rev.” Paul Krugman, “the Rev.” Robert Reich and their many cohorts argue that the stimulus was too small to offset falling aggregate demand and that the prescription for our laggard economy is another, bigger stimulus.

Those who talk about Keynesian economic theory think economic contractions are worsened and prolonged because consumers and businesses hunker down in caution, causing aggregate demand to fall. We can all agree this has happened.

According to the Keynesians, the remedy for today’s economic problem is for the federal government, as the single biggest actor, to “prime the pump.” As government money starts to ripple through the economy, consumers and businesses will be encouraged and cautiously respond with limited increases of their own. Vroom! The economic engine steadily revs up in billions of responsive steps until happy days are here again. This pump-priming reaction is termed the “multiplier effect.”

I think John Maynard Keynes would be horrified at the slavish adherence to this simplistic strategy by so many policymakers and economic thinkers, as his theory was much more complex. This thinking might be correct under circumstances other than those in which we find ourselves. If the ratio of our national debt to gross domestic product was low - say 25 percent - and the federal government had run surpluses before the downturn, this college freshman-level Keynesian analysis would have great weight. Put another way, if Uncle Sam were a rock-solid financial entity with low debt to value and he had judiciously used debt for capital improvements that were accretive in value, as the biggest dog on the porch, a stimulus might work.

But with a national debt of more than $14 trillion and unfunded, future “off the books” debt of Social Security and Medicare combined at $104 trillion in present value, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve, Uncle Sam ain’t the man he used to be. This in turn makes American businesses that are sitting on a pile of cash focus on deleveraging. The American consumer is doing the same. In fact, from where I sit, it appears as though everyone except Uncle Sam is working like mad to strengthen his balance sheets. The legitimate fear across the country is that Washington’s refusal to join our common-sense parade will result in higher taxes, more regulations, more inflation and Japanese-style stagflation. In other words, Washington’s attempts at stimulus through spending are having the opposite effect. Businesses and consumers stay hunkered down.

I know this is counterintuitive to the college-freshman Keynesian analysis from above, but as a business owner, I can tell you an additional stimulus would create more fear and further dampen demand in the private sector. Keynes was correct in focusing on aggregate demand as critical, but the confidence context and potential behavior responses have to be considered, and that requires real-world, Main Street knowledge - not just textbook theory. In this environment, if the federal government announced a real road map to fiscal soundness, the impact would be truly stimulating. If American businesses and consumers saw that Washington was really cutting, not just reducing future increases, there would be tremendous relief and an increase in confidence across the country. Job creators would sing “hallelujah”; they would get off their wallets, start hiring, and then you’d see that Keynesian multiplier kick in.

Modern Keynesians suffer from the misguided notion that government is the great engine that will restore our economy to prosperity. In fact, the great engine is a diverse system of private citizens anxious to go to work to provide for their families and build their businesses.



Obama the flake

Can you imagine what the media would do if a Republican President made these errors? Yet Obama remains untouched. This is not a fair system. Dan Quayle misspelled potato and we never heard the end of it.

A man would could make this many errors is unqualified to be the most powerful man on earth.


Democrats Running on Empty

Over at Salon, Matt Stoller takes a good hard look at President Obama and concludes that he is ruining the Democratic Party.

Stoller's right, and the problem for Democrats is that the spectacular failure of the Obama presidency (at least thus far) presents them with two distinct threats from two distinct groups that are essential to their party's long-term survival: Young people, and African-Americans.

Young people came out and voted for "hope and change" in 2008, and are now reaping the whirlwind in the form of massive unemployment. As it turns out, the Obama presidency is disillusioning them both with Big Government and with the Democratic Party, likely -- at least in some cases -- for a lifetime.

As for African-Americans, that group has long been a linchpin of Democratic electoral hopes. So when people like Stoller delicately raise the question of whether it might be smarter to replace Obama on the ticket (or have a mainstream Democratic primary competitor), it's crazy to think that idea will go anywhere. That's because an intraparty coup against the President will insult and infuriate African Americans -- and be attributed to racial animus, even though it would have nothing to do with race (which might be an instructive lesson on how conservatives are treated on a regular basis) -- thereby threatening the very core of the Democratic coalition.

But it's hard to feel sorry for the Democrats, who are indeed trapped in a very sorry situation (at least for now). That's because they were all too willing to exploit the hopes of young people and bask in the glow of moral superiority when Barack Obama was riding high. Now, they're seeing the downside.



Are scientists becoming the new priests?

Debra J. Saunders

"I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," GOP presidential hopeful and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman recently tweeted. You've got to hand it to Huntsman - he sure knows how to endear himself to folks who won't vote in the Republican primary.

Huntsman has said that he fears that the GOP will be perceived as the "antiscience party." That is, he gave a nod to Democrats' conceit that theirs is the party of science. Why? Because the Dems don't tolerate questions about evolution or global warming.

For the record, I believe in evolution. But I also have respect for those who see God's handiwork in the process - and see little reason to try to marginalize those with different personal beliefs.

I also share the skepticism voiced by a number of scientists - yes, scientists - who reject global-warming orthodoxy in defiance of a political/academic machine that enforces submission to one view. Those who do not agree with alarmist predictions on climate change do so at their careers' peril.

As then-Delaware state climatologist David Legates told me in 2007, he would tell students who were not global-warming true believers, "If you don't have tenure at a major research university, keep your mouth shut."

Huntsman's reverential tone, however, suggests that university science departments are havens of harmony, with scientists as priest-like figures to whose greater wisdom the public should defer.

With scientists on this pedestal, who needs religion?

It's worth noting that among the Obama ticket and GOP field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul probably have the strongest science backgrounds. Perry, a farmer, rancher and former Air Force pilot, has a degree in animal science from Texas A&M University. Paul was an Air Force flight surgeon and then a practicing physician until 1996.

Both Perry and Paul are global-warming skeptics. Paul rejects evolution outright, while Perry calls evolution "a theory."

Huntsman majored in international politics. Hence, his decision to "trust scientists on global warming."

Trust? Scientists know things that non-scientists don't know, but they are human, which makes them fallible. And as recent events have shown, not all scientists are above the political fray.

Consider Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winning physicist. In 2009, Chu's staff approved $535 million loan guarantee to the Fremont solar company, Solyndra. Within two years, despite half a billion in taxpayer dollars, Solyndra announced last week it was filing for bankruptcy, shuttering its remaining plant, and laying off 1,100 workers. That was one miscalculation. Mistakes happen.

But the biggest blunder was not made by a scientist, but by a politician who so trusted the hollow promises of the climate-change lobby that he bet the U.S. economy on green jobs that never did proliferate. That was President Obama, and you see the fruit of his misguided faith.


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

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


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


6 September, 2011

Obama's New Policy to Crush Small Businesses

President Obama and his team of economic advisors are continuing their crusade against entrepreneurs and small companies that are the traditional engine to economic growth. The latest anti-business Obama policies appear in a just-released Executive Order 13495, a new rule to be enforced by the Department of Labor. This particular regulation is aimed directly at small business owners and attacks small businesses' most valuable asset--their employees.

Executive Order 13495, which will be both complicated and costly to enforce, represents just another example of Team Obama’s complete lack of understanding of the concerns of small business owners. After 15 years as a small business owner, and as the former Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I've been to the circus a few times and seen all the strings connected the federal government and its indifference to the plight of small business owners. For small businesses, Executive Order 13495 is perhaps the most damaging action yet to come out of the Obama Administration.

First, in our country, a business has the freedom to hire the workers it thinks are best suited to ensure the company's success. The new Team Obama contracting rule tramples over that basic, capitalist principle by requiring any company which wins a federal contract to hire the employees that the government identifies.

This means that the government has new and expanded powers to direct the hiring, firing and promotion of employees at private companies.

Second, government contracting is challenging and intensely competitive. Profit margins are wire thin. Companies need to have the freedom to hire those whom they best believe can provide the best value to the government at the lowest cost. This new rule will make that kind of entrepreneurial freedom almost impossible as the federal government forces the company into employment and salary negotiations with persons of the government’s choice, with the government participating in the negotiation process.

Third, this new rule shows that Team Obama has no understanding of the challenges facing small businesses. Small businesses create 3 out of every 4 jobs in the United States. Small businesses are the source of much of the innovation in the United States. They are more agile because of their size and more willing to take risks.

A small business' employees are its life's blood. Successful small business leaders all understand the need to hire, retain and build a dedicated base of employees and provide them with whatever additional training is needed to give the business an edge and ability to compete. But now, in this new regulation, Obama seeks to undermine small business owners with a too-heavy, government hand that will give the government broad new powers to poach and strip a successful small business owner of its most valuable employees whenever it wishes. Raiding the employee rolls of small companies robs them of their most important asset.

Lastly, this rule shows a profound disrespect for the employee, and treats them as a kind of indentured servant or slave, chattel to be passed from one company to another without consideration of the employee's desires.

Obama's colossal ignorance of the challenges facing small businesses seems a clear sign that once again, the President just doesn’t get it. Time and again, new, burdensome regulations are heaped upon small businesses and the nation’s job creators. And yet, Obama seems simultaneously unaware of the damage he has done and continues to do, even as he issues platitudes and half-baked thoughts about the need to create jobs.

Unless I miss my guess, Obama’s big Jobs Speech is likely to be "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The fact is, the president lacks even a basic understanding of how difficult it is to start a small business and see it grow. This disturbing anti-business trend is quickly becoming the primary Obama legacy.

Small business owners understand that creating jobs requires a system that encourages risk-taking because it makes it possible for risk takers to reap rewards. What government should do is provide regulatory relief for many of the arcane and obsolete requirements that hinder job creators.

Unfortunately, this latest executive order tells us that Obama is moving his Administration in the opposite direction and has decided to add to the regulatory thicket by making it hard for entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed.

Creating jobs is fairly straightforward. Getting the White House to abandon union-generated ideas that stifle innovation, crush competitiveness, and condescend to small businesses—well, that's a lot harder.



Heaven Help the Aged

They say there are only two sure things in life: death and taxes. Thanks to unbelievable gains in medical technology in recent years however, most Americans are now able to delay the former inevitability for decades longer than their ancestors. Because of this, at a time when America’s real estate industry is struggling, there’s one market sector that’s proving to be recession proof: senior housing.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “[d]emand for nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement communities is expected to balloon in the next two decades as baby boomers retire and the incidence of progressive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease increases. The number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to double to 71 million by 2030, and 7.7 million of them will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a 50 percent increase from today, according to the Alzheimer's Association.”

In the words of one industry insider, “it’s a great time to develop senior housing.”

Why the commodification of aging? Well, as the article points out, America is undergoing a remarkable demographic shift that is changing the face of our nation. Because people are generally having fewer children, there are fewer young people to take care of their aging parents. There are more elderly men and women requiring long-term care and fewer young people to provide it. Thus, the only resource available to meet this need – aside from our crumbling entitlement infrastructure, of course – is the profit-driven real-estate industry. This is how denigrated the aged have become in our culture’s eyes. Because we have failed to enact responsible entitlement reform, and because we have increasingly eschewed traditional family arrangements in favor of a uni-generational, “me, myself, and I” mentality, the fate of our parents and grandparents now rests in the hands of an industry that time and again has chosen the bottom line over the health and welfare of its elderly wards.

Indeed, many today speak of the elderly as if they are merely parasites draining our time and money. Older men and women are often treated with little respect. I see it every day in my law practice, where I frequently represent men and women who are victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Weak and helpless elders are at the mercy of caregivers who are often underqualified and overworked. The result is an epidemic of preventable pressure sores, malnutrition, dehydration, and falls among the institutionalized elderly.

There is no doubt that the Roe v. Wade ethic has had a striking effect on how we view the aged. Other than the unborn, no single age group in the United States suffers from a diminished view of the value of human life more than the elderly. Rather than viewing our aging relatives as persons worthy of our utmost reverence and care, Roe has taught us to look at other people in terms perceived convenience. If someone is wanted – if we feel that they contribute to our overall quality of life – then their life has worth; if not, it is permissible to store them away somewhere for others to care for until they die. Out of sight, out of mind.

Now that we are facing a future where elderly men and women will be seen as economically inconvenient, where some will be unwanted and unloved, and where many will lack the mental or physical capacity to defend themselves, it is clear that the elderly are in danger of abuse, neglect, or perhaps even worse… unless of course they are lucky enough to afford a unit in one of the new, ultra-luxurious assisted living facilities currently under construction in some of the nation’s wealthier enclaves.

Will we allow ourselves to see our mothers and fathers, our grandparents as inconveniences to be managed, or as people who are to be nurtured, cared for, and cherished? Will we see the dignity in their lives even when they are no longer “useful” to us? Will we love them regardless of their abilities, recalling the intergenerational debts that bind us all?

In the increasingly utilitarian age in which we live – an age where moral absolutes are mocked and the notion of transcendent truths is ridiculed – the answer to these questions can be terrifying. Heaven help the aged when even money ceases to be an effective bargaining chip and society forgets them completely.



Obama's tricky language

He rivals Goebbels in his ability to call things what they are not

This week, as President Obama prepares for a big jobs speech (yet again!), even his partisans have begun to lose hope that he’s going to have any new or effective ideas about how to create jobs in America’s stalled economy. But one thing is certain: Whatever he says, it will be cloaked in euphemism.

There’s an old cliché insisting that fuzzy speaking means fuzzy thinking. Somehow, however, the Obama Administration has managed to turn the aphorism on its head. The President and his supporters resort to the use of euphemisms not because their thinking is fuzzy, but because they believe that ours is.

Take, as an example, the host of euphemisms that’s been trotted out as part of the Obama Administration’s approach to the war on terror. Since 2009, “rogue states” have become “outliers”; vague phrases like “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” “countering violent extremism” and – most recently – “kinetic military action” have entered the national lexicon.

It’s not an accident, and it’s not because the administration is unaware of the ugly facts about the war on terror; in fact, President Obama has retained most of the Bush-era policies. It’s because members of the administration hope that watered-down language will help Americans forget the existential threat our country still faces from Islamic jihadists – and thus more willingly accede to a less powerful, less exceptional America, content to “lead from behind.”

Similarly, when the President addresses the nation on Thursday night, be prepared to hear a lot about “investment” rather than “government spending.” The term “stimulus” – discredited by his earlier, failed almost-trillion-dollar boondoggle – will be replaced with the innocuous-sounding “targeted measures.” Realize that when he advocates higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” he’s really talking about individuals earning more than $200,000 per year, or couples earning more than $250,000. And just know that when the President invokes “revenue enhancement” and “shared sacrifices” and “a balanced approach” and “making spending reductions in the tax code,” he’s trying to make his single-minded obsession with tax increases more palatable to a government-weary, overtaxed electorate. Put simply, however novel (or creative) the words, the song will be the same: More taxing, more government spending, and more efforts to “spread the wealth around.”

Certainly, per the old cliché, it would be dispiriting to believe that President Obama’s constant resort to euphemism is a result of fuzzy thinking. But it’s even more unpleasant to know that it’s part of an effort to obscure a far-left agenda to which Americans are deeply (and increasingly) hostile. And most of all, it’s profoundly insulting to realize that the President thinks that we are “intellectually challenged” (read: stupid) enough to fall for it.



Lies from the Congressional Black Caucus

Last week, Indiana Congressman Andre Carson [above] told a CBC gathering in Florida that members of Congress who are members of the tea party want to see blacks "hanging from trees." Because he is both a Democrat and a black congressman, the liberal news media, which means essentially all of our news media, has barely reported what is an almost uniquely vicious libel in American political history.

Given this uniqueness, it demands an explanation.

First, it is meant to create racial tension. Without racial tension -- specifically, black Americans resenting white Americans, especially conservatives -- the Democratic Party fears that it cannot survive as a national force. And it is right.
The day the majority of black Americans adopt the attitude that Washington Post correspondent Keith Richburg has written of in "Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa," the Democratic Party will be rendered irrelevant. As a black American, Richberg considers himself a member of the most fortunate group of blacks living anywhere in the world. No Democrat can win a presidential election without more than 90 percent of the black vote. And the only way to ensure that vote is to label whites in general and conservatives in particular as racists.

Second, the CBC is happy to race-bait for the Democrats. The CBC's power emanates from its party's power, so its leaders need to tell fellow blacks regularly how despicable the American majority is -- and therefore how only Democrats and the left can save them from everything ... even lynching.

Third, it is the CBC -- not the tea party -- that should be described as racist. While race plays no role in tea party membership, race is the only criterion for membership in the CBC. One must be black. Nothing else matters.

A black member of Congress whose district is largely non-black can be a member of the CBC, but a non-black Congressman whose district is largely black cannot be a member. Democratic Congressman Steven Cohen, whose Tennessee district is largely black, applied for membership in the CBC and was turned down for one reason: He is white.

What we have here is a racist group hurling false accusations of racism at a group that is on no way racist. But since it is an axiom of the left that blacks cannot be racist -- because whites are the authors of racism and because racism is only possible when practiced by the racial group in power -- few call the CBC what it is.

Fourth, when you are used to getting away with taking immoral positions, you feel free to continue doing so.
In 2009, seven members of the CBC visited Fidel Castro. Not only were they full of praise for the tyrant -- in that regard, they were hardly alone on the left -- but they also refused to meet with any democratic dissidents, including Cuba's leading black dissenter.

As a Washington Post editorial noted at the time, "In five days on the island, the (CBC) Congress members found no time for dialogue with Afro-Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ... Mr. Garcia, better known as 'Antunez,' is a renowned advocate of human rights who has often been singled out for harsh treatment because of his color. "'The authorities in my country,' he has said, 'have never tolerated that a black person (could dare to) oppose the regime.'

"His wife, Iris, is a founder of the Rosa Parks Women's Civil Rights Movement, named after an American hero whom Afro-Cubans try to emulate."

As the snub of Cuba's leading black freedom fighters demonstrated, in a conflict between helping the left and helping blacks, the CBC chooses the left. On its website, the CBC calls itself "the conscience of the Congress since 1971." Its members probably believe it. But it has about as much truth as Congressman's Carson's accusation.


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

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


5 September, 2011

Another good article on Nazism/Fascism as Leftist

I reproduce below the first page of a recent 4 page article in "Forbes" that introduces the same ideas that appear in my monograph and Jonah Goldberg's book on the subject.

The main thing that the article below is weak on is pointing out that many things considered Rightist today (such as patriotism) were strongly Leftist in the prewar era -- and in fact continued to be so until some time after the war. JFK's famous quotation from Pericles ("Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country) was probably the last gasp of genuine patriotism on the American Left.

And Leftists of all sorts were great advocates of eugenics in Hitler's day. And even Karl Marx was a great antisemite. Hitler was in fact a fairly mainstream leftist by the standards of his time. He just applied German thoroughness to Leftist ideas

The author below does make one slight mention of it but one of the most damning things about the American Left of the prewar era is that they were in fact a major source of Hitler's ideas. I set out the details of that at some length here.

The article below is unreferenced but my monograph on the subject should supply all the references anyone needs --JR

By Bill Flax

“The line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.” John T. Flynn

Numerous commentators have raised alarming comparisons between America’s recent economic foibles and Argentina’s fall “from breadbasket to basket case.” The U.S. pursues a similar path with her economy increasingly ensnared under the growing nexus of government control. Resources are redistributed for vote-buying welfare schemes, patronage style earmarks, and graft by unelected bureaucrats, quid pro quo with unions, issue groups and legions of lobbyists.

In Argentina, everyone acknowledges that fascism, state capitalism, corporatism – whatever – reflects very leftwing ideology. Eva Peron remains a liberal icon. President Obama’s Fabian policies (Keynesian economics) promise similar ends. His proposed infrastructure bank is just the latest gyration of corporatism. Why then are fascists consistently portrayed as conservatives?

In the Thirties, intellectuals smitten by progressivism considered limited, constitutional governance anachronistic. The Great Depression had apparently proven capitalism defunct. The remaining choice had narrowed between communism and fascism. Hitler was about an inch to the right of Stalin. Western intellectuals infatuated with Marxism thus associated fascism with the Right.

Later, Marxists from the Frankfurt School popularized this prevailing sentiment. Theodor Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality devised the “F” scale to demean conservatives as latent fascists. The label “fascist” has subsequently meant anyone liberals seek to ostracize or discredit.

Fascism is an amorphous ideology mobilizing an entire nation (Mussolini, Franco and Peron) or race (Hitler) for a common purpose. Leaders of industry, science, education, the arts and politics combine to shepherd society in an all encompassing quest. Hitler’s premise was a pure Aryan Germany capable of dominating Europe.

While he feinted right, Hitler and Stalin were natural bedfellows. Hitler mimicked Lenin’s path to totalitarian tyranny, parlaying crises into power. Nazis despised Marxists not over ideology, but because they had betrayed Germany in World War I and Nazis found it unconscionable that German communists yielded fealty to Slavs in Moscow.

The National Socialist German Workers Party staged elaborate marches with uniformed workers calling one another “comrade” while toting tools the way soldiers shoulder rifles. The bright red Nazi flag symbolized socialism in a “classless, casteless” Germany (white represents Aryanism). Fascist central planning was not egalitarian, but it divvied up economic rewards very similarly to communism: party membership and partnering with the state.

Where communists generally focused on class, Nazis fixated on race. Communists view life through the prism of a perpetual workers’ revolution. National Socialists used race as a metaphor to justify their nation’s engagement in an existential struggle.



The Obama recession is by far the worst since WWII

It's jobs day, so of course today's CHART OF THE DAY is the latest update of this classic, which we've dubbed The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever.

What the chart (made by Calculated Risk) shows is the trajectory of job losses and gains during the great recession, compared to previous recessions.

So as you can see, the depth of the decline was much worse than any other recession, and what's more, the pace of the recovery is much weaker than in previous ones. Over a year it was looking as though the recovery might be kind of V-Shaped (a really big, wide V), but now it's clear that the comeback won't look anything like the decline. And now the comeback is basically flatlining. Yeah, scary.



Warmist attack on Gov. Perry

Refuted further below


Texas Gov. Rick Perry stirred up controversy on the campaign trail recently when he dismissed the problem of climate change and accused scientists of basically making up the problem.

As a born-and-bred Texan, it's especially disturbing to hear this now, when our state is getting absolutely hammered by heat and drought. I've got to wonder how any resident of Texas -- and particularly the governor who not so long ago was asking us to pray for rain -- can be so cavalier about climate change.

As a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, I can also tell you from the data that the current heat wave and drought in Texas is so bad that calling it "extreme weather" does not do it justice. July was the single hottest month in the observational record, and the 12 months that ended in July were drier than any corresponding period in the record.

I know that climate change does not cause any specific weather event. But I also know that humans have warmed the climate over the past century, and that this warming has almost certainly made the heat wave and drought more extreme than it would otherwise have been.

I am not alone in these views. There are dozens of atmospheric scientists at Texas institutions such as Rice, the University of Texas and Texas A&M, and none of them dispute the mainstream scientific view of climate change.

This is not surprising, since there are only a handful of atmospheric scientists in the entire world who dispute the essential facts -- and their ranks are not increasing, as Gov. Perry claimed.


Steven Goddard comments:

Andy Dessler claims that Aggie summers are getting hotter. His claim seems to be based on one month.

The closest USHCN station to College Station, Texas is at Brenham. Maximum temperatures there averaged 104 F in August – the hottest month on record. Over the last 60 years, the trend has been downwards – including 2004 which was the coolest August in the last 60 years.

July maximum temperatures are also on a downwards trend. The past decade (2001-2010) had the coolest July maximum temperatures of any decade in the last century.



Black unemployment the result of Leftist policies

Overall U.S. unemployment is 9.1 percent. For white adults, it's 8 percent, and for white teens, 23 percent. Black adult unemployment stands at 17 percent, and for black teens, it's 40 percent, more than 50 percent in some cities, for example, Washington.

Chapter 3 of "Race and Economics," my most recent book, starts out, "Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today." Up until the late 1950s, the labor force participation rate of black teens and adults was equal to or greater than their white counterparts. In fact, in 1910, 71 percent of black males older than 9 were employed, compared with 51 percent for whites. As early as 1890, the duration of unemployment among blacks was shorter than it was among whites, whereas today unemployment is both higher and longer-lasting among blacks than among whites.

How might one explain yesteryear's lower black unemployment and greater labor force participation? The usual academic, civil rights or media racial discrimination explanation for black/white socio-economic differences just wouldn't hold up. I can't imagine even the most harebrained professor, civil rights leader or media "expert" arguing that there was less discrimination a century ago and that explains why there was greater black labor market participation. Racial discrimination or low skills can explain low wages but not unemployment.

During the 1930s, there were a number of federal government interventions that changed the black employment picture. The first was the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which mandated minimum wages on federally financed or assisted construction projects. During the bill's legislative debate, the racial objectives were clear. Rep. John Cochran, D-Mo., said he had "received numerous complaints ... about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South." Rep. Clayton Allgood, D-Ala., complained: "Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. ... That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country." Rep. William Upshaw, D-Ga., spoke of the "superabundance or large aggregation of Negro labor." American Federation of Labor President William Green said, "Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates." For decades after Davis-Bacon enactment, black workers on federally financed or assisted construction projects virtually disappeared. The Davis-Bacon Act is still on the books, and tragically today's black congressmen, doing the bidding of their labor union allies, vote against any effort to modify or eliminate its restrictions.

The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 broadened the number of workers covered by minimum wages, with negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries. Good intentions motivate most Americans in their support for minimum wage laws, but for compassionate public policy, one should examine the laws' effect. That's seen by putting oneself in the place of an employer and asking, "If I must pay $7.25 an hour to no matter whom I hire, does it pay me to hire a worker who's so unfortunate as to have skills that enable him to produce, say, only $4 worth of value an hour?" Most employers would view hiring such a worker as a losing economic proposition; therefore, a minimum wage law discriminates against low-skilled workers by reducing employment opportunity.

Being unemployed has significant negative social consequences, one of them noted in the 1960s by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who raised the alarm about the link between joblessness and the decline of the black family, saying that men without work become less attractive as marriage partners. Between 1890 and 1940, a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. Today black marriage rates have fallen precipitously, where 72 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.




Zogby Poll: Rick Perry is it for GOPers: "In his first polling test against other announced Republican candidates for President, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is far ahead of the field with 41%, more than three times the total of second-place trailer Mitt Romney. Four of the announced GOP candidates are tied or ahead of President Barack Obama, with Romney the only one with a lead beyond the poll's margin of error. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who continues to say he will not run for president, continues to be the strongest possible Obama opponent in our IBOPE Zogby polling with a 49%-40% lead. Romney leads Obama, 45%-40%, while Perry has a two-point lead over the president". In addition to taking a big lead as GOP voters' first choice for the nomination, Perry is now seen among Republican voters as most likely to win the nomination"

Yes, it is a Ponzi scheme: "Texas governor Rick Perry is being criticized for calling Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme.' Even Mitt Romney is reportedly preparing to attack him for holding such a radical view. But if anything, Perry was being too kind"

Coming battle over extending jobless benefits: "There are two Americas. In one America, working stiffs wonder if it makes sense for the government to pay unemployment benefits for 99 weeks. In this America, folks have a lot of sympathy for those who are out of work through no fault of their own, but they also fear that when government writes unemployment checks for almost two years, that's an incentive to not get a job. In another America, there is strong support for President Obama's call for another extension of jobless benefits to 99 weeks. Like Obama, these Americans believe that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy. ... These two Americas are about to collide."

Eliminate the minimum wage prop to big business: "Walmart has pushed for a higher minimum wage. But Walmart already pays above minimum wage, so raising it would barely affect them. But it would impose costs on various Walmart competitors. So Walmart gets to advocate for what looks like social justice, while hobbling its competition."

Organs for sale: "Whilst the topic of financially incentivising organ donation is a divisive one, with many people concerned with the huge potential for exploitation, selling parts of oneself is not as extreme as you might think. It is, of course, a rarity to hear of someone selling a kidney to buy an iPad. Yet selling plasma, hair and even semen has been the practice of many cash-strapped students in the US and other countries."

Afghanistan: Taliban blow one-another up: "Eight Taliban militants have been killed after a bomb in their possession went off in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, Press TV reported. The powerful explosion took place in Maiwand district of the militancy-hit province on Thursday afternoon as the militants were making a bomb. Another four people were also wounded in the blast."

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

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

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


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


4 September, 2011

There are SOME things that can get a good blogger down

Try blindness for instance. A complication of my recent surgery meant that I went nearly blind. So I had to go to hospital for a couple of days to put that in reverse. I am now just back from there and seem to be as good as ever. So I will be doing a bit of reading now and should be back to full-strength blogging tomorrow.

2 September, 2011

Early Obama Letter Confirms Inability to Write

The man is an impostor through and through -- enabled by a media obsessed with skin color

On November 16, 1990, Barack Obama, then president of the Harvard Law Review, published a letter in the Harvard Law Record, an independent Harvard Law School newspaper, championing affirmative action.

Although a paragraph from this letter was excerpted in David Remnick's biography of Obama, The Bridge, I had not seen the letter in its entirety before this week. Not surprisingly, it confirms everything I know about Barack Obama, the writer and thinker.

Obama was prompted to write by an earlier letter from a Mr. Jim Chen that criticized Harvard Law Review's affirmative action policies. Specifically, Chen had argued that affirmative action stigmatized its presumed beneficiaries.

The response is classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged. In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.

"Since the merits of the Law Review's selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues," wrote Obama, "I'd like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works."

If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that "merits ... have." Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone. He had vindicated Chen in his first ten words.

Although the letter is fewer than a thousand words long, Obama repeats the subject-predicate error at least two more times. In one sentence, he seemingly cannot make up his mind as to which verb option is correct so he tries both: "Approximately half of this first batch is chosen ... the other half are selected ... "

Another distinctive Obama flaw is to allow a string of words to float in space. Please note the unanchored phrase in italics at the end of this sentence:

"No editors on the Review will ever know whether any given editor was selected on the basis of grades, writing competition, or affirmative action, and no editors who were selected with affirmative action in mind." Huh?

The next lengthy sentence highlights a few superficial style flaws and a much deeper flaw in Obama's political philosophy.

"I would therefore agree with the suggestion that in the future, our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer who would even insinuate that someone with Mr. Chen's extraordinary record of academic success might be somehow unqualified for work in a corporate law firm, or that such success might be somehow undeserved."

Obama would finish his acclaimed memoir, Dreams from My Father, about four years later. Prior to Dreams, and for the nine years following, everything Obama wrote was, like the above sentence, an uninspired assemblage of words with a nearly random application of commas and tenses.

Unaided, Obama tends to the awkward, passive, and verbose. The phrase "our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer" would more profitably read, "we should focus on the employer." "Concern" is simply the wrong word.

Scarier than Obama's style, however, is his thinking. A neophyte race-hustler after his three years in Chicago, Obama is keen to browbeat those who would "even insinuate" that affirmative action rewards the undeserving, results in inappropriate job placements, or stigmatizes its presumed beneficiaries.

In the case of Michelle Obama, affirmative action did all three. The partners at Sidley Austin learned this the hard way. In 1988, they hired her out of Harvard Law under the impression that the degree meant something. It did not. By 1991, Michelle was working in the public sector as an assistant to the mayor. By 1993, she had given up her law license.

Had the partners investigated Michelle's background, they would have foreseen the disaster to come. Sympathetic biographer Liza Mundy writes, "Michelle frequently deplores the modern reliance on test scores, describing herself as a person who did not test well."

She did not write well, either. Mundy charitably describes her senior thesis at Princeton as "dense and turgid." The less charitable Christopher Hitchens observes, "To describe [the thesis] as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be 'read' at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn't written in any known language."

Michelle had to have been as anxious at Harvard Law as Bart Simpson was at Genius School. Almost assuredly, the gap between her writing and that of her highly talented colleagues marked her as an affirmative action admission, and the profs finessed her through.

In a similar vein, Barack Obama was named an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Although his description of the Law Review's selection process defies easy comprehension, apparently, after the best candidates are chosen, there remains "a pool of qualified candidates whose grades or writing competition scores do not significantly differ." These sound like the kids at Lake Woebegone, all above average. Out of this pool, Obama continues, "the Selection Committee may take race or physical handicap into account."

To his credit, Obama concedes that he "may have benefited from the Law Review's affirmative action policy." This did not strike him as unusual as he "undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my academic career."

On the basis of his being elected president of Law Review -- a popularity contest -- Obama was awarded a six-figure contract to write a book. To this point, he had not shown a hint of promise as a writer, but Simon & Schuster, like Sidley Austin, took the Harvard credential seriously. It should not have. For three years Obama floundered as badly as Michelle had at Sidley Austin. Simon & Schuster finally pulled the contract.

Then Obama found his muse -- right in the neighborhood, as it turns out! And promptly, without further ado, the awkward, passive, ungrammatical Obama, a man who had not written one inspired sentence in his whole life, published what Time Magazine called "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician."

To question the nature of that production [i.e. to say it was written by Bill Ayers], I have learned, is to risk the abuse promised to Mr. Chen's theoretical employer. After all, who would challenge Obama's obvious talent -- or that of any affirmative action beneficiary -- but those blinded by what Obama calls "deep-rooted ignorance and bias"? What else could it be?



Bill Keller, Christianity and fear of a past that never existed

Yesterday I was at the Border Grille for lunch to talk ads with the owner when I ran into an old friend of mine who I haven’t seen in a few years. We talked about the show a bit and our mutual love of gaming when the subject of the election came up and I saw a phenom that I’ve seen a lot lately in the Republican Party.

My friend is an educated man in his 40′s. Both he and his father owned small business and are longtime republicans. We were going through the potential GOP nominees when he declared he was afraid of Rick Perry because of his fundamentalist belief in the Bible (specifically on evolution). He argued that if he doesn’t believe in Evolution what OTHER science does he not believe in?

I’ve already said something in my gut doesn’t care for Rick Perry but this caused me to do a double take; I answered:

“Unemployment is 9.1%, the economy is in the tank and you’re worried about a candidate’s position on how old the planet is?”

This whole “The GOP candidates are religious nuts” motif has been a big theme for the left and the media culminating in Bill Keller’s piece at the NYT yesterday.

Byron York pointed out that there is a method in this belief in madness via a pair of tweets pointing out:

Also on Keller: Time spent discussing religious tests, Trojan horses and ‘fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity’…is time spent not discussing unemployment. With jobless rate at 9.1%, that’s a major Democratic goal.:

After all to a guy who has just finished his 99 weeks of unemployment and is on food stamps no issue is more vital than if the world is 6000 or 600,000,000,000 billion years old!

The distraction method is important to the Democrats trying to win, but there is something more visceral going on nationally that goes beyond mere party that is being missed. Lisa Graas (my guest on DaTechGuy on DaRadio this week) spotted a piece of the puzzle in this with interview with Rick Santorum in the Colorado Independent:

But at least today I think what you’d see is that Catholics are pretty much all over the board. I mean, when I was growing up as a kid, pretty much everybody I knew that was Catholic was Democrat. That’s not the case anymore.

The question is whether you’re church-going or not.

If you’re a church-going Catholic by and large you’re a Republican, just like if you’re a church-going Protestant by and large you’re a Republican. And if you’re not church-going by and large you’re not.

This goes back to something I wrote about years ago:

Since the 60′s two unifying forces, for good or ill, were removed from the country: the removal of Judeo/Christian values as the semi-official moral code of the public schools) and the death of the draft/aka Vietnam. (actually ending in the 70's). These two changes had one thing in common, it took two generations for them to have the following effect:

It is now unlikely that a student going to school today, had a teacher or parent who 1. Served in the military or 2. Was taught that moral code in school. To a whole generation now being born these are things that belong to outsiders. This makes the military and religious people outsiders and strange to one group and vice versa. Since the military draws predominantly from those two groups it will become more isolated from the rest of the public as time goes by.

There are now two parallel cultures in the US: One the culture born out of the 60′s that is secular and narcissistic. To that culture the primary sin is to …define something as sin or forbidden. The other is the Judeo-Christian culture that the country has lived under since its founding.

The distinguishing characteristic of the secular culture, driven by their lack of belief both in God and in themselves, is fear: Fear of salt in food, fear of traumatizing children by making rules, fear of offending anybody, fear of judgement calls. Simply put fear of being held responsible for anything. That is why it loves government control. Every responsibility and decision that government takes on is one less that they have to make for themselves or can be blamed for.

And Rachel Maddow wonders why we don’t build great things?

This brings us to Rick Perry and my friend’s fear of him. When I look at Perry the remarkable thing about him is how unremarkable he is. Anytime in the last 100 years his background and beliefs would be decidedly uncontroversial. In large swaths of the country where the traditional culture exists he is just another pol (with a good record on jobs).

The problem is in that parallel secular culture where so many of the left live, these views are totally alien and moreover the entertainment & news media that informs them (drawn primarily from that secular culture) alternates between mocking religious Americans as ignorant fools or painting them as murderous inbred fanatics.

It’s reached the point where the left fears the United States return to an imaginary past that only exists in their minds, bearing no resemblance to that time that still exists in living memory.

To them prior to Abington School District v. Schempp, the US lived in a Christian Theocracy where Jews and Gays are slaughtered and all culture was repressed. They are able to look at Pat Robinson and see Bin Laden while at the same time can look at Major Malik Nadal Hassan and see nothing. They look at the era before the sixties and see only segregation and repression while still calling the architects of that era “The Greatest Generation” without blinking an eye. It’s that cultural change that I noted before Obama’s inauguration:

Until 2008 a pastor like Rick Warren would never have been considered a controversial choice to be at any inaugural event. His inclusion wouldn’t have caused an eye to bat once.

Until 2008 a Bishop like Gene Robinson would have been impossible to include in any inaugural event without a massive uproar that would have been politically untenable.

So why all the panic about a Rick Perry now? Consider:

For just about 40 years the levers of our pop and media culture have been firmly in the hands of that secular culture. It was at its peak of power in the 90′s and seemed poised to fundamentally and permanently change the nation when it was hit by two giants jolts:

1. The internet which began the rise of alternate media and the demise of their monopoly on communication

2. 9/11 where reality caused the country to turn to the military, an institution overwhelmingly populated by members of the traditional culture that they feared and distrusted.

For a moment it looked like the nomination of Obama, a person deeply steeped in their own culture, might bring the nirvana they always dreamed of, but instead of the final nail in the coffin of traditional culture, his fecklessness, inability to lead and his multiple failures everywhere but, ironically, in war, threatens to turn the country right back in the direction they thought was totally purged.

Even worse it seems to confirm their culture’s inferiority complex. To a culture that decided to use everything from drugs, to politics to the earth itself to fill the empty space that religion once held the achievement of those who came before towers over them. I suspect they dub their grandparents the “Greatest Generation” because it excuses them from even attempting to achieve what their Grandparents & Great Grandparents did in much harder times. It’s why a person like Sarah Palin disgusts them so. She and people like her are a constant reminder of what they could have been but rejected.

More here


Feds to Trucking Company: You Cannot Fire Alcoholic Drivers

"Anti-discrimination" at work -- and to hell with the safety of other road users

The federal government has sued a major trucking company for its firing of driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem.

Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit against the Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company on August 16, noted that while “an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.” The EEOC detailed the case on its website:
Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., a trucking company with a service center in Fort Smith, Ark., violated federal law by discriminating against at least one truck driver because of self-reported alcohol abuse, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The company should have met its legal obligation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act while assuring safety, rather than permanently sidelining self-reporting drivers, the EEOC contended.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:11-CV-02153-PKH in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas), the driver at the Fort Smith location had worked for the company for five years without incident. In late June 2009, the employee reported to the company that he believed he had an alcohol problem. Under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, the employer suspended the employee from his driving position and referred him for substance abuse counseling. However, the employer also informed the driver that the employer would never return him to a driving position, even upon the successful completion of a counseling program. During the investigation, the EEOC discovered drivers at other service centers whom the employer had allegedly subjected to similar treatment…

“The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace. Old Dominion’s policy and practice of never returning an employee who self-reports an alcohol problem to a driving position violates that law,” said Katharine Kores, director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, whose jurisdiction includes Arkansas. “While the EEOC agrees that an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

If the EEOC prevails, of course, it will mean that Old Dominion will still be liable both for any damage to life or property that results from a potential relapse by one of its recovering drivers – which in turn increases the risks involved in investment in the company – and for the cost of trying to ensure that such damage never occurs. All of these new burdens will raise Old Dominion’s cost of doing business, and hence the cost of everything they transport. And all of this can’t possibly ensure that a recovering driver does not relapse without the company’s knowledge.

The Cato Institute’s Walter Olsen notes that the EEOC has made a number of similar decisions:
For years the ADA has provided legal muscle to employees terminated for alcohol problems — just the other day, for example, a Florida State University administrator dismissed after frictions with staff sued the university for not accommodating his alcohol abuse. But that’s just the academic setting, where many administrators can glide by in a bit of a haze for years without causing real problems. (UCLA’s Steve Bainbridge quips that the college official’s description of drinking as a “handicap” is off base: “it’s always come in handy for me.”) Are we really required to take chances with 18-wheelers on the highway?

Despite the apparent precedent for alcoholism-related lawsuits, EEOC’s case might not be a slam dunk. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Hans Bader notes, a federal appellate court ruled in 1995 that employers can fire someone for problems caused by an ADA-qualified disability if that disability “poses a significant risk [to others] that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.”

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals established that standard when it ruled against an HIV-positive individual who sued the University of Maryland Medical System Corporation for firing him from its residency program for fear that he might inadvertently infect hospital patients with the virus.


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

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


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


1 September, 2011

You can't keep a good blogger down

My surgery went according to plan. I had two excisions of skin cancers close to my right eye. As anticipated, however, the result has been swelling in that area which has completely closed off that eye. And I don't see very well through my left eye. Ideologically appropriate!

So I won't be doing much reading for a day or two but before I went in I picked out three recent essays that seemed to make good points and I present them below


Seduced by the Cult of Experts

Jonah Goldberg

When asked what posed the greatest challenge to statesmen, Harold Macmillan, the former British prime minister, responded, "Events, my dear boy, events."

That's because events tend to throw everybody off their plan. For example, Hurricane Irene ended President Obama's vacation early. And the hurricane's steady deterioration upset the plans of news producers who anticipated something more dramatic for their wall-to-wall coverage.

In a similar fashion, Obama and his advisors predicted the economy would do better -- much better -- than it has, and those predictions were wrong. The president blames events: the European debt crisis, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the political tsunami of the 2010 elections. Some of that is plausible, but the two years of anemic job and economic growth that preceded those events can hardly be blamed on them. An earthquake in Japan didn't make Obama's green-jobs initiative a bust, and the Euro crisis didn't render "shovel-ready jobs" a myth. And it's those failures that have scuttled Obama's plans for an easy re-election in 2012, and left him and his supporters stunned and shocked.

My National Review colleague Jim Geraghty has chronicled how, over the last few years, the media have greeted bad economic news by saying it is unexpected. For instance, Bloomberg reported "Sales of U.S. previously owned homes unexpectedly dropped in July." Reuters tells us that "Consumer spending unexpectedly fell in June." And so on.

Many who've been following the trend point to media bias. The press corps, writ large, wants Obama to succeed, argues American Enterprise Institute political analyst Michael Barone, so "they characterize economic setbacks as unexpected, with the implication that there's still every reason to believe that, in Herbert Hoover's phrase, prosperity is just around the corner."

I certainly think there's more than a little truth to that. The media get hooked on a story line -- hurricanes are getting worse because of climate change, Obama's a pragmatist doing the smartest things to fix the economy -- and when the facts contradict the story line, it's, well, unexpected.

But it can't be simply media bias because the experts whom reporters call for quotes also are surprised. As Geraghty notes, groupthink is a culprit too. The guys on Wall Street use the same Keynesian computer models as the folks in the White House.

There are no more devout members of the cult of expertise than mainstream journalists. They rely on experts for guidance about what is "mainstream" and accurate and what is not. Sometimes that's fine. Surgeons are extremely reliable sources to explain how a heart attack happens. They're not as reliable at telling you who will have one, save in a statistical sense, and even less reliable at telling you when a specific person will have one.

That's because prediction is hard. Experts -- in politics, economics, climate -- are very, very bad at telling people what will happen tomorrow, let alone next year or next century. How many of the economists who tell us what to do now failed to see the mortgage debt crisis coming? Nearly all of them.

Philip Tetlock's 2005 book, "Expert Political Judgment," documents that the predictions of even the most credentialed and experienced experts are often worse and very rarely better than random guessing. "In this age of academic hyperspecialization," he writes, "there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals -- distinguished political scientists, area study specialists, economists, and so on -- are any better than journalists or attentive readers of the New York Times in 'reading' emerging situations."

The cult of experts has acolytes in all ideological camps, but its most institutionalized following is on the left. The left needs to believe in the authority of experts because without that authority, almost no economic intervention can be justified. If you concede that you have no idea whether your remedy will work, it's going to be hard to sell it to the patient. Market-based ideologies don't have that problem because markets expect events in ways experts never can.

No president since Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt has been more enamored with the cult of expertise than Obama. That none of his economic predictions have panned out is not surprising. What is surprising is that so many people are surprised.



The NYT still lies in its teeth

The Ari Goldman scandal is a gift that keeps on giving. Two weeks ago Goldman, formerly a religion writer for The New York Times, publicly confessed to having remained silent for 20 years about his paper's distorted coverage of the Crown Heights riots. For Goldman, it was up close and personal. He was on the phone, right there in Brooklyn, calling in reports from the streets where black mobs were attacking Jews, yelling "Heil Hitler" and "Kill the Jews!" But, he now tells us, his Times editor found this news not fit to print. There was to be no black anti-Semitism, and no anti-Jewish pogrom in the nation's "paper of record."

Instead, Goldman explained, the Times doctored the news by forcing inconvenient facts into story lines it preferred. In Crown Heights, a Hasidic Jewish driver mistakenly killed a black boy, Galvin Cato, in a car accident, and then blacks rampaged and murdered a Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum. The paper, unhappy with these clear and simple facts, instead told a tall tale: "Blacks and Jews clashed," it reported, implying there was blame on both sides, though neither Goldman - nor anyone else - saw any Jew attacking a black. "Clashed" was simply a lie that enabled the Times to treat the accident that killed Cato and the murder of Rosenbaum as morally equivalent tragedies. That's the "news" they wanted to publish.

Commentators explain that Times editors are disciples of post-modernist theory, now spoon fed to every one of our $25,000-a-semester children in their spa-like centers of "higher education." There is no "truth," you see. That's old-fashioned. There are only "narratives," and each side's version of reality must be given equal treatment (unless that side is the Judeo-Christian); otherwise, we'd all remain stuck for life as morally sick, white-skin-privileged xenophobes.

Goldman, now a journalism professor at Columbia University, has an opportunity to do more than set things straight by outing his paper for fabricating "news reports" 20 years ago; he can explore, as a serious student of journalism might, just how and why the mainstream media has become such a fraudulent enterprise, fulminating fibs, especially but not exclusively about Jews, Christians, Muslims and the Middle East. He could use his own experience in Crown Heights to probe the reasons today's editors rush to equate accidents with murders.

Students dissecting such a topic could almost do a daily lab: The Times concocts a lot!

Take its coverage of the latest round of Gaza-Israel clashes. On Thursday, Arab/Muslim terrorists from Gaza (merely "militants" in Times speak) crossed into southern Israel from Egypt and carried out a carefully laid plot that murdered Israeli men, women and children. The Israelis retaliated and, while killing some terrorist leaders, unfortunately hit and killed Palestinian civilians.

Channeling Crown Heights, the Times worked hard to shift blame to the Jews for the now widening violence. In a story August 21, the Times reported that the Israeli airstrike "ignited cross-border exchanges after months of relative quiet under an informal cease-fire with Hamas." As the media watchdog HonestReporting.com aptly put it, it was as though the clock only started when the Jews responded to attacks. Does there exist a Times editor who would publish the view that the non-Jewish side might be engaging in inexcusably criminal acts that logically should be deterred? Would a Times editor have the capacity to think such a thought?

On the other hand, Timesmen are linguistic magicians: "Cross-border exchanges" implies, as HonestReporting writes, "moral equivalence between Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets and Israeli responses." Evenhandedness uber alles. The SS might have fared pretty well: "Deaths on both sides as Jews and Nazis clash in Warsaw."

Rubbing in the salt, the paper chose to headline its Sunday coverage, "Casualties on Both Sides as Israelis and Gazans trade fire." It's Galvin Cato/Yankel Rosenbaum all over again. Tragedies everywhere, oh my!

Earlier this month, the Times, channeling the old USSR, actually began airbrushing facts it no longer has use for. Last year, the whole world saw dramatic footage of Israeli soldiers, set upon and beaten with staves and pipes, as they slid down on ropes from helicopters onto a flotilla "peace" boat dispatched from Turkey. Even the Times reported it as it happened. But now as it covers Turkey's efforts to extract an apology from Israel, the Times transforms the thuggish attack from a clearly established matter of fact to that of one side's allegation.

CAMERA caught the Times in flagrante delicto: "Isabel Kershner recounted the incident as if it is unknown what happened. 'By Israel's account, the Israeli soldiers met with violent resistance as they landed on the deck,' she wrote." The New York Times," CAMERA explains, "is now "telling readers that maybe the soldiers were met with violence, or maybe they were not." CAMERA notes that even Kershner herself previously reported that "video images... showed Israeli commandos being set upon as they rappelled onto the ship's deck." Stalin, after he killed a former comrade, would have the man's image airbrushed out of published news photos. Et tu, comrade Kershner?

I'm reminded of the old joke: a man's wife catches him in bed with another woman. Without missing a beat, the adulterer screams: "I didn't do it! Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?!" The Times adulterates the truth. Jews should get a divorce.



America's slow death by regulation

Once upon a time selling a chicken was fraught with few if any legal implications. Remodeling a shed was equally simple from a regulatory standpoint. Today, however, we live in more enlightened times. Protected from our wayward desires by an empowered bureaucracy, we can rest easier knowing that decisions like what we eat and where we build are being carefully managed by authorities.

Playing Chicken

Josh is a Mennonite friend who happens, by the grace of native talent and a powerful work ethic, to produce magnificent chickens. Raised on green growing pasture, they are never medicated, never fed artificial supplements or genetically selected to grow abnormally fast. They develop rich golden fat and a deep flavor, characteristics that have been more or less lost in modern, streamlined, highly efficient poultry production. Not surprisingly, Josh’s chickens are in high demand among food cognoscenti and fine restaurants. A couple of years ago I began bringing Josh’s chickens to my farmers’ market stand to sell alongside our equally popular grassfed beef. Josh and I, in a classic entrepreneurial endeavor, have made these wholesome chickens available to happy, discerning customers who would otherwise be unable to justify a three-hour commute to buy a bird for dinner.

Josh processes his chickens on his farm under a legal exemption allowing him to avoid industrial (and expensive) processing plants. Each chicken he produces is clearly labeled as to origin, method of production, and added ingredients (none); the label also cites the statute that allows him to operate unmolested.

Recently he was informed by the Food Safety Inspection Service, the regulatory arm of the USDA, that he faced a “situation.” They had discovered a chink in the otherwise protective “non-molestation” statute. Because he is marketing chickens to an intermediary (me), his product is therefore rendered illegal and he must desist. In a disturbing addendum the inspector also let slip that the USDA would be willing (“free of charge”) to take over inspection of his facilities and that they would be “more than happy to help him get going,” presumably in the chicken business.

The same authority willing to allow a company to distribute (and I’m not making this up) a neon-green sugar drink with the word “sweetener” (in quotes) on the ingredient list believes that customers cannot be trusted to buy a natural chicken from a reputable farmer.

Raising the Roof

I have an old shed I’d like to turn into an office. It’s a small, uncomplicated project. I do not intend to host conventions there or otherwise expose innocents to my construction acumen.

I could use a hand, so I called a man advertising his handyman services on a placard outside the feed store. We talked it over; he needed capital and I needed labor; we had a deal. I had expected to be hammering on joists this morning instead of this keyboard but for the fact that he didn’t show up today. Why? The county, vigorously addressing this “situation,” had torn down all his signs (including one in front of his home), citing him for neglecting to indicate his contractor’s license. Fair enough, you say; he knows the rules and got burned. So why the stink?

Well, here is a gentleman in his mid-50s with more than 25 years of construction experience who was a licensed contractor in Florida before moving to Arizona. For more than six months he has been fighting to gain the requisite licensing. He is obliged, among other onerous duties, to provide 25 references spanning his entire career and from across a continent before his application can enter the waiting list. He estimates his application will cost $10,000 and take another six months. He is afraid to work with me, even as a “tutor,” because he has been told that counties often set people up to entrap them.

Once again presumptuous authority has stepped between educated, intelligent adults to prevent free, fully cognizant transactions. Am I a pathological obediphobe to find such meddling unsavory?

Even if these cases turn out to be simple errors in communication or an innocent overstepping of authority, the damage has already been done. The perception alone is enough to chill behavior. In relaying these injustices I have now wasted hours that could have otherwise been spent creating outstanding beef; Josh is reducing his next order of chicks; and an out-of-work man with a lifetime of skills sits idle wishing for work.

Perhaps these are just the fickle vagaries, the marginalia of an otherwise appropriate regulatory regime. But I’m afraid they represent a deeper, metastasized, problem. The late Mr. Jefferson, that “intellectual voluptuary” according to his Big Government nemeses, explained that government’s only purpose is to secure natural rights. Governments, he believed, exist to protect life, liberty, property, and little else. It’s probably archaic of me to wish for a return to such a limited view, but I can’t help it. The kind of absurd oversight now considered standard practice feels fundamentally unjust.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where selling a chicken and remodeling a shed weren’t rife with official allegations or burdened with State prohibitions.


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

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among people who should know better, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I will attempt it: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"